New Year’s Eve in Sydney: How to get the best view for free

For some, New Year’s Eve is a special night; you get dressed up, go to a party, drink champagne, #newyearnewme. For others, it’s just an excuse to get drunk and break those new year resolutions before they’ve even begun, don’t act like you don’t all do that occasionally.

As a bartender, I’ve always been stuck on the wrong side of the bar at midnight and I figured this year, working at The Reveley in Perth, would be the same. Then I suddenly decided that of course I should quit my job and spend NYE in Sydney, a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.

It helped that one of my best friends lived a 10-minute walk from Blue’s Point Reserve, one of the most popular spots to bring in the new year, and it’s easy to see why. The views are perfect. In my opinion, the best in Sydney. Why? Just look at it! Oh, and I guess because it’s free.

Now don’t go thinking you can rock up at 11pm, get a good spot and kiss your bae at midnight with fireworks as a romantic backdrop. No chance. If you want views like this you have to work for it.

First off, you and your group need to agree on your level of commitment. The better the view, the earlier you have to arrive. And I don’t mean like, 4pm, it’ll be fine… Because it’ll already be at capacity and you’ll be stuck on the wrong side of the security fence with no view.

If you want a front-row spot you need to be down there early afternoon on the 30th with a tent and a tarp to secure your territory. Even if you’re happy with being the second or third row you’re still going to want to spend the night. You are allowed to camp, but tents must be down by dusk on the 31st.

If you’re not committed enough to spend the night then you’re gonna want to arrive with the sun. People were pouring in at 5:30am, the grassy area had filled by 8am, and then people were stuck sitting on the road. The good thing is the whole thing is on a slope so you’ll have a good view from almost anywhere.

Spending the day there is actually really fun. It’s got a sort of festival vibe going on; the sun is shining, people are swimming in the harbour (on an inflatable mattress… and what….), there are hour-long queues for the toilets, we had inflatable sofas, endless snacks, music, games and even a bit of alcohol snuck through the bag checks in incredibly creative ways.

Four of us camped with a huge tarp to secure the space for the 15 amazing girls (and a few guys too) that showed up the next day. Who says meeting strangers off the internet is bad? We’re all part of the Girls LOVE Travel group on Facebook, we organised this epic meetup and it made the whole experience better than I could have imagined. Shout out to GLT and to every girl (and guy!) who made it!

As the sun sets you can feel the crowd getting restless, excited. It’s still 4 hours until midnight but guess what, there are two fireworks displays! The first at 9pm, to keep those families with young children happy maybe? It certainly kept us happy. It was incredible, one of the best I’ve ever seen, but it was nothing compared to the big show.

Those last 20 minutes before midnight were intense. Everybody wanted to get into the best position, move closer to the edge, be near their friends, the atmosphere was contagious. Then the countdown started, all at once everyone had joined in, at midnight we heard 20,000 people screaming HAPPY NEW YEAR and then the show started.

We watched in awe as the fireworks from the river barge right next to us exploded with colour, we could see them going off further up and down the river in perfect harmony, maybe 7 boats altogether, then the Harbour Bridge would join in and everyone was just about losing their shit. The noise was deafening, the lights blinding, but you couldn’t take your eyes off it for even a second in case you missed something magical.

It lasted for a good 15, 20 minutes before the grand finale, and you knew when it had begun. Literally thousands of fireworks were exploding from the barges and the bridge, even the Opera House, then the waterfall started and people were screaming and then it was over. Just like that.

The sky had filled with smoke, the crowd was still cheering as it started dispersing and I was left speechless after witnessing one of the world’s best firework displays above one of the world’s most iconic landmarks. It was an amazing experience and I’m so happy I got to spend it with such a large group of wonderful people.

If you’re ever considering a trip to Sydney for New Year’s Eve I cannot recommend it enough. Yes the flights are expensive, and you’ll need to book accommodation months in advance, but at least you’ll have the chance to see this mind-blowing show for free. Even if you pay for a ticket somewhere else, it will still be worth it.

So thank you to Maddie for living so close to Blue’s Point, and to Jess and Sarah for the good times we had camping. Thanks to Mary-Ann for providing the tarp! And thank you to everyone else who came, just for being there.

Click here to view the full album.

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