So you want to spend new year’s eve in Sydney but without spending a fortune? Then get ready for chaos, but worry not, in this guide we will review the key points to start next year in the best way possible… and free.
There are paid spots and free spots
Obvious isn’t it? Well it wasn’t for me, in fact it was a pretty unpleasant surprise I got when I arrived at Sydney and started asking what was the best place to spend this unique moment.
Paid spots range from 300 to more than 1000 Australian dollars, but this does not concern us since this guide is for the not-that-wealthy.
On the official website http://www.sydneynewyearseve.com/ you will find which and where the free spots are, with specifications for each of them. Personally, and for obvious reasons, I can only go into detail on one spot, which is the one I went to (of course). But I can ensure that before choosing this place, I did an extensive research in order to select the best.
My goal was to see the fireworks next to the Opera House, the city’s most important landmark. If this is not a priority for you, you can choose any of the other free points, but I won’t be able to help you.
For those who want to capture images like this one:
… keep on reading.
Mrs. Macquaries Point
The one with the best view and of course, the most popular. With a capacity for 14,000 people, of which unfortunately, I would say that an estimate of only 1,400 will see the fireworks show the way you are meant to.
If you want to be part of this lucky 10%, you will need something more than luck: patience and commitment.
The line to enter Mrs. Macquaries Point starts to build up up to two days before New Year’s Eve. I don’t think you need to be among these crazy people, but if you want a good view, I suggest that you bring a sleeping bag and spend the night of the 30th camping since at 8 o’clock in the morning of the 31st the line can stretch up to 700 metres.
The thing one that prevents everyone from enjoying the show is the high amount of trees in Mrs.Macquaries Point. But what is a disgrace for the majority, will be a blessing for a few.
You’ll spend here an entire day, 16 hours under the fury of the elements, unless, you find a spot under a nice tree that can protect you from the sun and maybe some untimely rain.
Once you are inside
As I’ve said before, there are few spots inside Mrs. Macquaries from where you’ll see the show the way you’re meant to.
The most important advice I can give you is that right after you cross the entrance, run straight to the end of the place. There you will find an concrete platform which has an unobstructed view of the Opera House and the Harbour bridge, and of course… is reserved for the media… BUT, to the left of this platform is the best spot to watch the fireworks.
It must be said that there is a transparent plastic fence here, of about 2 meters, whichs purpose is to separate the free point from the paid one that lies a few meters below.
[If someone from the Sydney New Year’s Eve organization is reading this, I would like to say that maybe you could put some security personnel between the the free point and one, instead of blocking the view of all the not rich people with these ugly fences.]
The best spot is against the fences, here you’ll find all the crazies who camped for two days, but if you hurry, you can probably find a place right behind them which is almost as good.
And don’t worry too much about the fences, because if you reach this point I’m talking about, you will get an amazing view of the fireworks, and feel the new year energy of all the people there with you.
List of things to bring
As I’ve said before, you’ll spend here a full day, so some things will be essential.
Food: there is a food trucks area within Mrs. Macquaries. If you want to avoid bringing food for the whole day or would like to have a warm meal for lunch or dinner, you have this option. Prices are high, of course. So if you want to save some cash you will have to bring your own food for the entire day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Bring your water bottles sealed, because if not, they will make you throw them away at the entrance.
Important: you can’t bring your own alcohol, but you can buy it inside. If you want, you can try your luck though, the worst that can happen is that they’ll take it away from you at the entrance, but they’ll let you in anyway. I actually saw how they took a bottle of rum away from a group of guys who were hiding it inside a loaf of bread. Pretty smart but not very effective.
Something to sit on: this may be a blanket or towel. Even better if it’s expendable, since you’ll be stepping on it all day long and will end up trashed.
Another option is this inflatable couch:
You can also rent deck chairs at the place.
Sunscreen: if you don’t find a place in the shade and the clouds are not helping, you are going to have a harsh time under the violent Australian sun, so you better be protected.
Others: card games, a book and headphones (for entertainment); umbrella or parasol (if you don’t find a place in the shade or in case it rains); powerbank (don’t want to run out of battery before the show) and finally, sunglasses.
- Blanket, towel or inflatable couch
- Cards game
Tips for photographers
Those who want to photograph the best New Year’s Eve in the world, pay attention.
You can get it by clicking here (U$D 19).
What this device does, is it makes the camera take pictures by itself. I’ll explain later how it works for the ones who don’t know it.
It’s almost impossible to find a good angle on Mrs. Macquaries Point. People are in a kind of competition to see who can put their hands up higher to snap the best picture, but where the only winners are the ones who brought selfie sticks.
Since you don’t want to participate in this unfair game, what you need to do is the following:
Assuming you followed my previous advice and got a spot relatively close to the fences, you’re going to approach one of the crazies who got the spot right by the fence, and you’ll ask them VERY POLITELY if they would PLEASE let you set up your tripod against the fence where it won’t bother them. Before doing this, take a look and choose someone who has already set up their own tripod, since one more tripod next to it won’t take up too much space, and you’ll also know that this is someone who shares your passion and should understand you.
This is the way I managed to take the pictures you see in this post, thanks to the crazy but cool Taiwanese guys in front of me.
Once you get the OK from your benefactor, you will set up your tripod and configure the timer shutter release remote:
- First, you have to choose how long the delay should be before it starts taking pictures automatically. The fireworks are at 21 and 24 hs. So for example, if it’s 19:30, you’ll set the delay to 1:30 hs. And after the first fireworks show, you’ll need to set it again for the midnight show.
- Then you’ll select every how many seconds each photo should be taken. After this, you’ll select how many shots will be taken. Each fireworks show lasts 20 minutes, so if you set it to take 400 shots, one every 3 seconds: 400 x 3 sec = 1200 seconds, then: 1200 sec % 60 = 20 minutes. This way you’ve got the whole show covered.
- For the camera’s exposure settings I used: Shutter Speed = 1′ (one second) / Aperture = 4.5 / ISO = 100. You can use the settings you want but I give you these as a reference.
- You should leave your camera turned on. Canon cameras go into stand by mode after some time without activity to save battery power, but they are turned back on when the timer shutter release remote starts shooting. I don’t know if other brands cameras have this function, but if yours doesn’t, then you should leave it off and turn it on at the last minute so it doesn’t drain the battery power before the fireworks.
Once all of this is done, you’ll ask for permission and set up your equipment against the fence (don’t forget to set the focus manually and turn off the stabilizer), give “start” to the shutter release cable, thank the guy, back off to your spot and let the camera do its work while you enjoy this unique event.