I hope you’re sitting down.
Believe it or not, but despite being 28 years old and having lived in Australia for most of my life – prior to 2011, I’d never celebrated New Year’s in Sydney.
In fact, I’d celebrated two New Year’s in Gwangju, South Korea before I even thought about standing underneath the world famous fireworks in Australia’s greatest city.
With New Year’s 2011 fast approaching and it becoming painfully clear I wouldn’t have the money (or the time off work) to jet off to some exotic location and emulate last year’s New Year’s in Fiji – I instead opted to stick close to home and show my brothers a night out in the big bad city.
With that in mind, I began the search for the all important venue.
Do we hit the big party at Black Cherry in Newtown or the house party in Annandale my housemate recommended? Would it be best to watch the iconic fireworks from Circular Quay, Observatory Hill, or some quieter spot on the picturesque north shore?
With so many options available to me it made sense that I wouldn’t make the decision until that day. The plan? Pre-drinks at mine, a house party in Ultimo, and then a lengthy walk down to Circular Quay to see the biggest (and first) show of the year.
Pre-Drinks: An Aussie Institution
It’s not a true night out in Australia without the hallowed tradition of meeting at somebody’s place for a few sly bevvies (beverages) before the main event.
So it was that my American friend, my brothers Dom & Leigh, and my brother’s girlfriend joined my housemate and I for a few quiet beers before heading on into town.
After a rainy December, Sydney had turned out a brilliantly sunny day for the affair. Perfect weather for lounging around on our porch with a few ice cold beers, some cheese and crackers, and some entirely inappropriate conversation.
A few beers, mojitos, and tumblers of white wine later we were off to Ultimo for the house party. Stuart and Karyl, our gracious hosts, had again organized a fun shindig to celebrate the end of 2011 and the start of 2012. Mouthgasm inducing cookies, ice cold James Squire 150 Lashes, and a horde of expats were on hand to ensure good times were had.
A room full of Spanish girls, an Irish guy, a handful of Aussies, a lesbian from Melbourne, a Pom and his aunt, two Americans, and a pretty English model sounds like the beginning to some elaborate joke, come to think of it…
All too soon it was 9pm and the distant sounds of the early fireworks display were exploding in the background. We hurried through our final drinks, scarfed down a last cookie or two, and began the walk into the city.
Along the way beers were fished from handbags and the cleavage of our lady friends as we strolled alongside several hundred others who had come upon the same idea. Photos were taken and new friends were made and lost in the space of minutes.
You know how it is.
Somewhere along the way our group got split into two as my posse picked up a clearly drug-addled chap who dubbed himself Steven and tagged along for the rest of the night. He bought our friendship with a massive bottle of rocket fuel (mixed spirits and pineapple juice) and his inability to behave for even two seconds.
No sooner had I bought him a large glowing light saber that he was out whacking strangers across the backsides with it until a female police officer smartly liberated it from him and told him the first shot was free.
The second, she said with grim face, would be assaulting a police office.
Stephen was quiet(er) after that.
Midnight fast approached and we realized our ambling pace wasn’t going to get us to where our friends would be waiting at the Botanical Gardens.
I made an executive decision and hurried everybody to Darling Harbour. After the all important toilet and booze pit stops, we took up an isolated spot (or as isolated as one can be in a crowded area) and settled in to watch the fireworks explode overhead.
The show from our Darling Harbour vantage point was not quite as good as we might have hoped. Obviously the Harbour Bridge and Opera House are not visible from that point, but we still did get quite the display of fiery flowers exploding over Sydney’s iconic skyline while a more modest display took place from a barge nearby.
Thanks to my good friend Danya for providing some snaps for me to use. My own attempts to capture the fireworks with my tiny Finepix point and shoot were nothing to write home about.
As is traditional, couples all across the city locked lips. My brother and his girlfriend got their midnight kiss on and even I was lucky enough to steal one.
And trust me, kissing a relative stranger is slightly less depressing than kissing your girlfriend of two years goodbye to start the New Year…
And the Finish
The night from that point on was a bit of a blur. I personally blame the rocket fuel…
We stumbled up to Strattons Hotel where my friend Olivia works behind the bar. The rest of our party had already made it there by the time we staggered in and ordered our first round of drinks.
I recall precious little of the evening.
English Stu taught my already quite adept brother about fighting. I stole as many kisses as the night would allow me. Shots were had (and spilled) and rounds were shouted. Toe-curlingly good kebabs were eaten. People were dropped off at train stations and taxis were shouted at for refusing to pick us up.
Good times, it is true, were had.
My first New Year’s in Sydney wasn’t any more or less amazing than others I’ve had in the past. We drank, we sang, we kissed, and we did silly things.
Maybe someday I’ll get down to Circular Quay for the fireworks as they should be seen. I know many of my Sydney based blogger friends were lucky enough to do so.
Truth be told, New Year’s is always going to be a disappointment because we have this habit of making it out to be such a significant event. As if midnight ticking over and the calendar changing to a new year somehow erases all of the year’s disappointments and failures.
We’ll magically change and become shiny new people.
2011 was, by and large, a fucking awful year for me. I got 2012 off to a good start. I had a good time with good friends and my fantastic brothers. I kissed a pretty girl.
But when Sunday morning rolled around, nothing had changed. I was still the same guy living in the same house and working the same job and dealing with the same issues.
One of the big lessons I’m learning (very slowly) as I grow up is that there are no magic changes or quick fixes. No date on the calendar or moment on a night out is going to fix the things I don’t like about who I am or where I am in life.
Hopefully this year, in addition to completing my 2012 resolutions, I can also learn that any changes I want to make in my life will need to come from within myself.
How was your New Year’s? How did you ring it in and what will you be aiming to do in 2012 that you didn’t in 2011?