My Stage is the World

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive

New Year’s Eve

on January 11, 2014

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View of the Bridge

After another day of being a tourist and walking miles (including all of the Botanical Gardens and climbing thousands of steps to check out the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon), it was suddenly New Year’s Eve. Now apparently this is a big deal in Sydney so we wanted to make sure we did it properly. A few people were paying $395 to sit on a boat and get drunk; others were going to a club. So what did Miss H and I do?

Up bright and early, we got the train down to Martin’s Place and walked to the Observatory Gardens. The gates opened at midday so (as it was 10.30) we joined the few other people in the queue. Obviously we made friends with some German guys and an Australian family so were chatting away, taking it in turns to stroll around, get water/ice-cream etc. It was a no alcohol zone, so our bags were cleverly concealing a box of ‘goon’ wrapped in a blanket amongst our picnic.

Bags checked and wine undiscovered, we smugly set off for the best spot – just behind the white line (which nobody was allowed to cross as it was above a very steep slope). From here we had the perfect view of the bridge. We just had 9 hours to wait until the kids’ fireworks and then another 3 until the real ones.

The gardens gradually filled up while we sunbathed, read our books and played Go Fish! About 4pm we decided it was time for some ‘lemonade’ which we mixed with Sprite. It’s pretty nasty stuff, but it grows on you – you just have to be prepared for the goon hangover, that can set in any time after you start drinking.

One of the German guys brought us fresh blueberry muffins and we played a game of Epic Snap with the group behind us. They were drinking ‘Ribena’ and we mixed our picnics together, guarding our sacred space from the many tourists trying to sit in front of the white line, or even next to us. Rude.

Karma Chameleon

Sadly, one bunch of tourists were particularly annoyed that we wouldn’t let them sit with us, so informed the security guards that we were drinking alcohol. This was most displeasing, especially as we were pretty sure that they had guessed, but were turning a blind eye because we weren’t causing trouble. Now, they marched over and demanded we surrender our alcohol. We lied, we cried and we apologised, but we had to hand it over.

Minutes later, the security man came and apologised, promising to return it after the fireworks. Our new friends stopped drinking out of solidarity/fear and the Australian dad gave us his vineyard card, promising us a bottle of wine if we visited. Meanwhile, I made friends with a five-year-old American girl who gave me a glow stick and lent me her brother’s laser gun so we could shoot all the tourists who tried to sit near us. Great fun.

At 6pm we saw some astounding aerial acrobats – the plane flew past us and did a loop. The Red Arrows need have no fear! However, their second show was pretty spectacular, although it did sort of look like the planes were on fire and crash landing!

However, the children’s fireworks at 9pm were pretty epic and the crowd whooped and cheered; my new friend kept whirling her glow sticks around, even though it wasn’t quite dark enough. Then we waited.

However, after the first wave of fireworks, order broke down. People sat in front of the white line, despite our arguments and security’s persuasive powers. The wine stealer fought our corner bravely, explaining that ‘those guys have been here for ten hours, so it’s not really fair that you’re sitting in front of them.’

Most of them grudgingly moved back, but a few persisted, including a balding Swiss man who actually sat on Tom’s lap until he moved up to make room. Then he waved off our protests with ‘no comprende’ even though he clearly did and we also told him in no uncertain French terms to bugger off. In the end we amused ourselves using his head as a tripod and using him as the subject of our ‘three words each’ story, beginning: Once upon a mantelpiece, lived a fat French man who liked to eat sweaty cheese…

The Dutch couple on the other hand were another matter. We explained exactly why they couldn’t sit in front of us and we were told “in my country, we call your sort of people w*****s”. Our retort? “Well we call your sort of people c***s!” Little J and the security man argued with the Romanian family but they just ignored us completely.

After all this excitement and eventual resignation, a lot of us napped, sharing our rugs around as we waited for the ultimate firework spectacular.

The Final Countdown

At 23.45 we woke up Little J and prepared ourselves. We had no idea exactly what time it was, because different people started counting down at different times. But, the fireworks knew and off they went.

They were the most spectacular fireworks we’d ever seen. Lasting more than 15 minutes, there was everything. Purples, oranges, blues and reds, plus white and gold, shimmering and sparkling in the Sydney skyline. There were fireworks from the barges in front of the bridge and two behind, plus the Opera House and the bridge itself.

Breathtaking fireworks that kept on amazing and delighting adults and children alike, ending with a blazing fountain of gold underneath the bridge, making it look as though it was on fire. Photographs couldn’t come close to portraying their true beauty.

Walking back with our new Facebook friends, the streets were wild – Christmas jumpers, steamers, cheering and shouting. Yes, the eight of us were sober, but it had been a fabulous New Year’s Eve.

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