Sydney was illuminated in a $6.5 million firework spectacular as more than a billion people from across the world watched the city herald in the new year.
The controversial fireworks display went ahead despite calls to cancel the event amid devastating bushfires, which have left families fleeing for their lives.
More than a million New Year’s Eve revellers gathered around Sydney Harbour to watch the magnificent display, after queuing for hours in blistering heat and powerful winds.
The stunning spectacle of light illuminated the city’s sky thanks to fireworks launched from eight pontoons and four main barges.
As the clock struck midnight, the 12-minute-long display kicked off, creating a stunning spectacle of light which took 15 months to plan.
Sydney was illuminated in a $6.5 million firework spectacular as more than a billion people from across the world watched the city herald in the new year
The controversial fireworks display went ahead despite calls to cancel the event amid devastating bushfires, which have left families fleeing for their lives
Mallacoota mother Allison Marion took a photo of her son (pictured) wearing a facemask in a boat on the Mallacoota lake trying to stay safe from fire
A group of young women (pictured) get ready to celebrate the dawn of 2020 as they party in Sydney’s CBD ahead of the stunning fireworks display
Meanwhile the NSW town of Cobargo has been ravaged by bushfire, with families forced to flee their homes as the flames engulfed the area
But some Australians have criticised the extravagant display, saying it was ‘inappropriate’ given the devastation faced by hundreds of families who have lost their homes to bushfires.
One wrote on Twitter: ‘My parents are without power, their town is cut off, and the southerly is blowing another fire towards them. A fireworks show feels like a huge slap in the face.’
Another added: ‘Members of my family are spending tonight huddled together on a boat ramp waiting while bushfires bear down, and our PM is throwing a party.’
Despite the controversy, the midnight display went ahead much to the delight of the thousands of people who camped out all day to see the show.
Sydney locals and tourists alike queued for hours on New Year’s Eve to secure prime viewing positions for the harbour fireworks, with more than one million people descending on the city to ring in 2020.
Crowds swarmed Sydney’s CBD (pictured) desperately trying to reach a vantage point on the harbour, with ticketed areas sold out weeks ago
An earlier family-friendly display scheduled for 9pm was delayed by 15 minutes thanks to dangerously strong winds blowing through the harbour.
Excited partygoers were turned away from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, the city’s most sought-after vantage point, at just 5pm after it reached capacity.
The east Circular Quay area was full and closed off at 6pm, while the Dawes Point area filled up just after 8.30pm.
Enthusiastic crowds swelled across the city on Tuesday despite scorching temperatures, with forecasts of more than 40C across western Sydney and in regional NSW.
By midnight, more than one million people had crammed every vantage spot around the harbour.
Around one million people are expected to come to watch the fireworks in Sydney, putting a strain on resources as revellers form huge queues outside toilets
Sydney’s Opera House (pictured) was dwarfed by the magical 9pm firework display, which began at 9.15pm thanks to high winds causing a delay in proceedings
Crowds waited for more than 24 hours to see the stunning fireworks display in Sydney (pictured) which began with a family-friendly 9pm show
A smoking ceremony welcoming visitors to Gadigal land is performed on vessel Tribal Warrior in Sydney Harbour (pictured) as part of its New Year’s Eve celebrations on Tuesday night
Security was stepped up across Sydney, particularly in the Circular Quay area (pictured) as one million people were expected to descend on the CBD by midnight
SYDNEY NYE IN NUMBERS
- 15 months to plan the spectacular
- 285 cleaning staff on hand
- 35 tonnes of waste collected
- 54 trucks and sweepers to clean up
- 17 shipping containers for fireworks
- $133m for the local economy
- One million people attending
- One billion people watching
The celebrated display, involving more than 100,000 fireworks, went ahead despite widespread fire bans across Australia as firefighters continue to tackle unprecedented bushfires.
On Monday NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro on Monday called for the fireworks to be scrapped.
He said funds should be redirected to drought and bushfire relief, echoing calls from a petition signed by more than 275,000 people.
However, the NSW Rural Fire Service on Monday granted the fireworks – seen by one billion people across the world – an exemption from a total fire ban.
Sydney mayor Clover Moore rebuffed calls to cancel the event saying planning for the fireworks began 15 months ago and most of the budget had already been allocated. The event was also a boost to New South Wales’ economy.
New Year’s Eve revellers walked in huge groups to try and reach a vantage point around Circular Quay (pictured) where thousands of people had been camped out all day
Thousands of excited New Year’s Eve revellers (pictured) are gathered in Sydney’s Circular Quay eagerly awaiting the fireworks display
Moore added that people viewing the fireworks around the harbour will see a donation link projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons throughout the night.
On New Year’s Eve dairy farmer Patrick Salway, 29, and his father Robert, 63, died trying to defend their home in Cobargo, in NSW, from bushfires.
A third person is missing feared dead.
There are currently five emergency-level fires in New South Wales, including the areas of Batemans Bay, Nowra and Charmhaven.
Police warned that telecommunications may go down overnight on Tuesday leaving those stranded even more isolated.
Victoria has also been badly hit by bushfires and four people remain missing after fires tore through East Gippsland.
More than 4,000 people were stuck at Mallacoota, in the state’s far east, which was hit by fire about 8.30am on Tuesday.
Excited tourists have been queuing up for more than 40 hours to get a glimpse of the fireworks display off Sydney Harbour Bridge (pictured)
A group German tourists (pictured) joined the line in the early hours of Tuesday morning and planned to pass the time by tanning
Crowds rushed down to the jetty and stood on the town’s pier in life jackets waiting for a signal that meant they should ‘get down to the water and get underwater’.
Mallacoota mother Allison Marion took a photo of her son wearing a facemask in a boat on the Mallacoota lake as they desperately tried to stay safe from the fires.
But celebrations continued in Melbourne on New Year’s Eve and crowds arrived early to secure a good vantage point ahead of the multimillion-dollar fireworks display.
Fireworks will be launched from 22 rooftops around the city’s CBD, with around 400,000 people expected to attend the celebration.
The City of Melbourne has spent around $3.4 million on the event, which will showcase a dazzling 14 tonnes of fireworks.
A young girl sits with her father (pictured) on New Year’s Eve in a temporary camp near the NSW town of Bega after fleeing their homes in the bushfires
The city council says New Year’s Eve 2019 will help raise funds for the Salvation Army Emergency Services responding to bushfires in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia.
Tens of thousands of people have lined the Brisbane River to watch the early New Year’s Eve fireworks display.
The crowds came into the city to watch that start of what was tipped to be Brisbane’s biggest ever New Year’s Eve celebration.
The fireworks were the big attraction for the children, Brisbane resident Shalya Welikala told AAP.
Danish tourists Richard and Britt Bunck were set to watch the midnight fireworks during a dinner cruise on the Brisbane River.
On their 12th visit to Australia, the travellers enjoyed the river cruise so much last New Year’s Eve that they returned to see in 2020.
Nine firework-loaded barges on the river provided spectacular shows for crowds gathered at top spots like South Bank, Eagle Street, Howards Smith Wharves, Portside Wharf and Toowong.
Excited New Year’s Eve partygoers have been waiting at Southbank in Brisbane (pictured) all day ahead of the fireworks display at midnight
Crowds gather to watch New Year’s Eve fireworks at Southbank in Brisbane on Tuesday (pictured), camping out all afternoon with picnics
In Brisbane, around 100,000 people are expected to view its own spectacular fireworks display (pictured) on Tuesday night
Paramedics have an extra 241 staff on duty because of an expected spike in cases due to the consumption of liquor and drugs.
About 300 police officers are patrolling New Year’s Eve celebrations across Brisbane but police forecasted a ‘fine celebration for Brisbane’ without any particular problems.
In Darwin, storms are predicted to start around midnight.
But that is unlikely to put off excited revellers, who will enjoy a free concert by Daryl Braithwaite on the Darwin Waterfront.
It will enjoy its own 9pm fireworks display and scores of children’s entertainers.
The city is also hosting another major midnight New Year’s Eve fireworks display at Mindil Beach Casino.
In Perth, Yagan Square is packed to the brim as revellers prepare for a night of live music and entertainment.
As well as numerous musical festivals, fireworks displays will be held in Northbridge, Applecross, City Beach, Gloucester Park, Rockingham, Mandurah and Rottnest Island.