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Australia's best New Year experiences

Getaway for NYE

It's not long to go until New Year's Eve, but where are the best places to say goodbye to the old year with a bang? There are plenty of options for those wanting to start 2011 with an experience to remember.

Sydney Harbour

Australia's other big cities do New Year in their own way (and, of course, they all insist that their celebration is better). But to the international visitor, New Year's Eve in Australia is all about the fireworks on Sydney Harbour. And, once the interstate rivalry is put aside, it has to be admitted that Sydney puts on the biggest show.

The spectacle lasts all day, but the main events are the 9pm fireworks at Darling Harbour and the midnight spectacular with the Harbour Bridge as a focal point. More than a million dollars of fireworks go up in smoke every year, and while the fireworks can be seen from all around the harbour, a little advance preparation pays dividends.

To see it from a boat or a harbour island requires buying a ticket in advance — it's not free to watch everywhere — while some locations are more family-friendly than others. Similarly, some locations allow BYO alcohol, while others ban it. At the latter, drinks can only be bought from licensed bars, and the queues can get annoyingly long on the night.

One final consideration is getting back home (or to your hotel). The public transport system is relatively good on New Year's Eve, but demand swamps supply. As for getting a taxi — ha, ha, very funny.

For more information on planning and vantage points, visit

Bondi alternative

The other Sydney option is to forgo the harbour, and head to Australia's biggest New Year dance party. Shore Thing on Bondi Beach consistently manages to attract the big-name DJs, like David Guetta this year, for the big night.

Go to for more information.

The party boat

There are plenty of options for New Year's Eve in Melbourne, but one of the most fun, is to head out on the Yarra on a party boat. Melbourne River Cruises is sending a boat out onto the river in order to get as close to the fireworks as possible. The whole shebang goes on for four-and-a-half hours, and includes food and drink.

Listen to some great bands in the bush

While truckloads of new music festivals seem to crop up in Australia every year, consistently one of the best is the Falls Festival. It started out in Lorne, on Victoria's Great Ocean Road, but has now spread its wings to Marion Bay in Tasmania as well. The intimacy of the rainforest setting combines with a usually superb band line-up. This year is no exception— huge names are playing.

The only problem is that tickets tend to sell out quickly. As festivals go, it's pretty un-corporate and has a friendly, chilled atmosphere.

The Falls Festival runs between December 29 and January 1.

Celebrate New Year, twice

Due to the difference in time zone between New South Wales and Queensland — daylight saving means that NSW is an hour ahead — those living along the border can party twice. The best place to get a double dose of New Year festivities is Tweed Heads. It's the NSW border town, and Queensland's Coolangatta can be reached simply by crossing the road on either Boundary Street or Thompson Street. So why not count down the New Year in NSW, hug a few random strangers and bellow 'Auld Lang Syne', then head straight over and do exactly the same thing an hour later?

Get foodie in Tasmania

While everywhere else is concentrating on blowing up millions of dollars on the fireworks displays, the good people of Hobart like to tuck into a feast. The Taste Festival (formerly Taste of Tasmania until it got a swanky rebranding) is held over the New Year period and sees the city packed with little food stalls. The cuisine is international, but the focus is on the justifiably world famous Tasmanian produce. Throw in a few local wines and beers, and the taste buds are in for a treat.

But don't think it's all about the food — the whole waterfront area is due to be overtaken with street performers, DJs and buskers as part of a week-long celebration.

The festival runs from December 28 until January 3.

Be the first to see the sun rise

There's a common misconception that the first place in Australia to see the new morning is Mt Warning, near Byron Bay. That's the first place on the Australian mainland, but to truly get in ahead of everyone, you need to head to Lord Howe Island. The World Heritage-listed island is about 500km east of Port Macquarie, NSW, and is something of a laid-back paradise.

For New Year, there's no big organised bash — just a few drinks and a bonfire on the beach — but it's far more intimate. And according to local legends, skinny dipping at dawn is the accepted way to welcome in Australia's first daylight of the new year.

For more information visit

Related video: Last year's New Year's Eve celebrations

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