30.12.2012 - 01.01.2013
About a year ago (6 months in advance) we started planning our 2013 New Years Eve. We had plans to meet up with a couple fellow ex-pat Canucks, and some good friends were coming from Canada. So, we decided to do it big, and buy tickets to an event in the Sydney Harbour. Sydney is one of the first major cities in the world to ring in the new year, with the fireworks display being shown around the world; and we wanted to be a part of it.
However, trying to decide what event to attend was not an easy task, with many parties on either side of the harbour, as well as on the water, to chose from. After much deliberation, we decided to buy tickets to the "Opera Bar", one of the events taking place on the concourse of the Opera House. We came to this decision because of the location, price, and a few videos posted on youtube that looked promising.
When it comes to NYE in Sydney, the sky seems to be the limit on price; not only for event tickets, but also for accomodation. As there was a small group of us, we decided to stay at the Sydney University Village; the dorms become available over summer, and it was a great space for our group. I secured a 5 bedroom suite with small kitchen, which allowed us all to stay together, and make a few small meals to assist in the cost of the trip (just be sure to check the room for cooking supplies before you decide what you'll be making... we didn't, but managed to be creative with the small pots and single pan).
The afternoon before NYE, we stopped in at the iconic Australia Hotel, before enjoying a Tall Ship Cruise (www.sydneytallships.com.au). The cruise was an amazing way to see the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, as well as many of the inlets and coves in the bay. The service was excellent; we sat near the back with the captain, who took time to tell us a bit of history of the boat and point out areas of interest. There was also a musician who was near the front of the boat that was very good. The food and beverage services were also top notch. I would recommend it to anyone travelling to Sydney, at any time of year.
New Years Eve day we made a big brunch and then started to get primed and ready for the big event. We arrived in droves to a well-managed, but somewhat chaotic CBD. Only event-ticket holders could get into the harbour area, so have your tickets ready as you get close, because you'll have to flash them to the security guards along the way.
The doors opened at 6pm, and we arrived shortly thereafter; but still too late to secure a table, so we had to stand and hold our beverages all night. As we expected, the drinks were rather costly, but we saved a bit by buying in bulk (jugs) and sharing amongst the group. The dinner was an array of tasty canapes that were brought out on trays by staff, who were attacked by hords of famished party-goers every time they entered the crowd.
The first set of fireworks started at 9pm, and the crowd thinned out somewhat before the grand display at midnight. The only criticism we had with our chosen location is that we were actually too close to the fireworks to be able to take it all in at once. We were on the bridge side of the opera house, so we could see the fireworks off the bridge perfectly, but couldn't see much of anything else at the same time. The fireworks shot off near the opera house were on the opposite side of us, so we could only see the ones that shot high enough to go above the opera house. There were also some fireworks shot off nearby buildings in the CBD, but again, we could only partially see them, and if we were looking for them, we'd miss what was happening on the harbour bridge.
If we chose to do another Sydney New Years Eve, and had the opportunity to be on a boat, I think being on the water would give the best vantage point for the fireworks. We chose not to do that this time because the cost of being on a charter boat was about double what we paid at the Opera Bar. The most cost-effective option (especially good for families) is having a picnic at one of the free parks throughout Sydney, but the space is limited, and we did not want to have to sit at an (alcohol free) park all day waiting for the big event.
Don't get me wrong, it was an fantastic time, mostly because of an amazing group of friends, and a few fun Adelaideans we met there. Being that close to the meyhem and hype was absolutely an experience I will not forget; but at the same time it's not something I feel I need to repeat.