New Year’s Eve Party in Sydney

We considered going to Hyderabad for the New Year’s Eve party at the Secunderabad Club. But we visited Hyderabad for Diwali. Instead, it looked like we’d be in Australia for NYE. So, long before we had airplane tickets or accommodation for Australia Jo bought us tickets for a family-friendly circus-themed NYE party at the Royal Botanic Gardens overlooking the Harbour bridge and the opera house in Sydney.

About one million people line the bay to see the fireworks at Sydney each year. We got our boxed dinners and we spread our king-sized comforter cover (that we acquired for this, and to double as a beach towel). I bought a bottle of sauvignon blanc and we settled back to wait.

Along the bay there are some prime viewing locations where they allow people to come early and sit on their spot. We saw people lining up early in the morning for these spots. Later we saw them setting up golf umbrellas and supplies to last them all day till midnight. When we arrived at the Botanic Gardens close to 8pm, the streets where closed to vehicular traffic and people were thronging the bay. It was all orderly and everyone was chill and respectful of others.

Back in our section, some people knew what to do. Regular lawn chairs aren’t allowed but the type that are low to the ground that look like sawn-off lawn chairs were popular. So were these inflatable cocoon like things that looked light yet comfortable. And a few had brought king-sized full-on inflatable beds and had really settled in.

A little after 9pm there was the smaller fireworks for kids and people who dont stay up till midnight. These were a good bit better than what we see in Austin for New Year’s or 4th of July. Then the music picked up and Vivian and Jo and I went to the makeshift dance floor. A bit later, Vivian and I were dancing when she said “Dad – look at that boy in the yellow t-shirt. Isn’t he cute?” When I nodded she took off through dance floor to the edge where this kid about her age was sitting with his parents. I watched her lean over and ask him. Then he and his parents huddled for a few words. A moment later Yellow t-shirt and Vivian were holding hands and making their way to the floor. I quietly slipped back to our spot and retold what had just happened to Jo, my heart filled with admiration and a tinge of sadness.

The fireworks at midnight were spectacular. Then the grand finale blew us all away. The Harbour Bridge becomes a giant rack from which a dazzling array of pyrotechnics light up the land and the sea and the sky. Barges are towed to under the bridge and there’s fireworks flying off the barges every second. At the end, the entire width of the bridge erupts in a shower of golden sparks that slowly fall down to the bay below as if the bridge was the top of a waterfall of fire. This carries on for several minutes while the crowd cheers madly.

Then it is over and the four of us become a part of the million man march away from the bay. We walk past St. Mary’s cathedral, through Hyde Park, and up the hill at William Street to Kings Cross and home, pondering the human need for celebration and the desire to arbitrarily mark the beginning of a circle, and the year that is past, and the one new one that is upon us.

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