Happy New Year!
Wow, what a crazy day it was! The short version (for those who have a hangover): we didn’t sleep for a day and a half, spent New Year Eve in Sydney along with 1.5 million people, and watch the fireworks in Darling Harbour and at the Opera House.
The long version… When we arrived in Australia three weeks ago, we learned that every single hostel was booked for New Year Eve. And not only that, but a lot of places required a minimum seven-day stay and charged as much as $150 for a dorm bed. So we decided to stay in Newcastle, a three-hour train ride from Sydney. But first, we had to get out of Queensland.
On the 31st, we got up at 5:30 a.m. to catch a plane from the Gold Coast (Queensland) to Newcastle. This saved us a 16-hour bus ride—thanks God for budget airlines. We checked in at the hostel and jumped on a train to Sydney.
Four hours later, we were in Darling Harbour. The place was packed and we watched the sun setting on Sydney, waiting for the first fireworks at 9 p.m. We were lucky and got a good spot on the bridge. And boy, what a show!
As soon as the fireworks ended, we followed the crowd to Circular Quay and Darling Harbour. It was chaotic and Georges Street was packed but overall, the atmosphere was pretty friendly. We tried to get a spot at the Opera House, but loudspeakers announced that the area was closed because it was at maximum capacity—I could well believe that, we could barely move in the crowd. The metallic voice in the loudspeaker reminded me of these zombie movies: “the zone is now contaminated, please move to the quarantined area…!” We tried other spots but it seemed we were always a step late as most areas were already fenced off to prevent more people from getting in.
Finally, we somehow got in right besides Sydney Harbour Bridge, in front of the Opera House. We waited two hours there, taking turn to lean on a palm tree, our feet tired and our legs sore. But the fireworks didn’t disappoint. When midnight struck, the bridge lit up and the harbour was like on fire.
We somehow made our way back to Central, lost in the crowd and exhausted. The train was there, waiting for us, and I just wanted to seat down and sleep. But it was freezing cold with the air-con and I crossed my arms, trying to warm up, for a couple of hours, drifting between sleep and wakefulness (I don’t really remember taking the last picture though).
We arrived in Newcastle just before 6 a.m. as the sun rose. The sky was still midnight blue and the world was quiet. We quickly fell asleep after taking a shower, and woke up on the first day of 2011.