New Year's Eve celebrations get underway around Australia
January 01, 2013 12:30AM
Crowds surge into Sydney to watch fireworks spectacular Large crowds gather in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide Barbies sizzle, fireworks dazzle and bubbly flows to ring in 2013
NEW Year's Eve is here. The best vantage points are already taken. The bubbly is flowing. The music is pounding. The party has begun.
City skylines have exploded in gold, pink, green and blue.
That's what the crowds came for, all around Australia.
But the New Year's Eve hangover is starting early for many. Public transport systems in Sydney and Melbourne are groaning under the weight of passengers - mostly families - heading home after the early fireworks.
And in Victoria, three people - including a security guard - have been assaulted at the Lorne foreshore.
But the shows go on.
In Sydney, some 130,000 are crowded around Darling Harbour and up to 1.5 million in the surrounding metropolitan area.
Another two million Australians were expected to watch the $6.6 million firework event on their televisions, as will potentially over one billion people worldwide, who will watch Australia be the first major country to enter 2013.
Colours streamed from four barges situated around the harbour, with gold flashes cascading like tinsel as a gold butterfly-like design lit up the bridge.
At one stage fireworks fell from the structure like a waterfall, with the display reaching a kaleidoscopic climax of green, red and blue fireworks.
But the ten minute spectacular - which illuminated the city and dazzled spectators - was just a warm-up for the city's midnight show-stopper.
"There is definitely more people here than last year," firework event organiser Sal Sharah said.
"We've had great weather and a great lead up to this evening. Darling Harbour presents something quite unique for New Years."
"This is really putting Australia on the map in terms of welcoming people to the New Year," Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
Not everybody is happy. Many arrived at their favourite vantage point only discover their view of the Harbour Bridge blocked by the slab-sided skyscraper-style bulk of a cruise liner parked in prime position on Sydney Harbour.
But Sydney didn't get all the action.
An estimated half million revellers surged into Melbourne for a $2.8 million, ten-minute firework spectacular.
Tens of thousands had packed Federation Square, with bands, dancers and DJs entertaining the crowd before the preliminary fireworks display at 9.30pm.
Robyn Smith, of Gisborne, northwest of Melbourne, says she had brought her two children to the city for the past three years.
"I think the fireworks bring out the little kid in everyone," she said.
Around 80,000 revellers flocked into Brisbane's CBD, surrounding South Bank to take part in the city's first fireworks display. But the party was delayed by 10 minutes as a medical helicopter passed overhead to deliver a patient to Princess Alexandra Hospital.
Laser light shows and fireworks that launch underwater among the highlights at South Bank. Up in Queensland's north, torrential rain did little to dampen spirits as the early fireworks show along Cairns's esplanade went off as scheduled.
South Australia's Moana and Christies beaches were closed late in the afternoon after a 2.5m shark was spotted in shallow waters and only 100m offshore. Families attending the Elder Park fireworks display in the city were treated to a more serene atmosphere.
Cartoon superheroes shone on a highrise wall as fireworks lit up the beachfront for the New Year's Eve curtain-raiser at Surfers Paradise.
The event was one of several held up and down the Gold Coast while other centres in Queensland also lit up with their family-friendly displays.
The Sunshine Coast has seen its largest influx of tourists in seven years. More than 50,000 attended alcohol-free events at Mooloolaba and Caloundra's Kings Beach in the late afternoon.
Thousands of revellers took in the 9pm (AEST) show, a precursor to the main event at midnight.
But Sydney's celebration remained the centre of attention for its spectacle and size.