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You may be wondering how to know you’ve got the perfect spot, like we did, for New Year’s Eve in Sydney. Here’s how I know where the perfect spot for New Year’s Eve in Sydney is:
That is the Associated Press photo that was used in a TON of press releases (like this one) regarding New Year’s Eve in Sydney. That is the view of Farm Cove from Mrs Macquarie’s Point.
- Watch from the Water on Your Own Boat
- Pay to Watch from the Water on Someone Else’s Boat
- New Year’s Eve Fireworks from Land for Free
- Fireworks from Land for Fancy
- Additional Resources
Guess where Starry Horizons is in that picture?
It’s 7 pm on December 30th. David and I are debating. Should we move to Farm Cove tonight, or stay in Blackwattle Bay and try for a spot first thing in the morning? Blackwattle Bay has filled up with boats, and I holler over to our neighbor;
Me: “Hi! Are you guys moving out into the harbour for New Year’s Eve?”
Friendly Local Aussie Yacht Neighbor: “Yes!”
Me: “Why aren’t you out there now?”
FLAYN: “It’s much more protected here, so we’ll move tomorrow. We won’t get the BEST spot, but that’s ok.”
David and I look at each other. We are doing this ONCE in our lives. No snoozing on making it the best New Year’s Eve we’ve ever had.
We left our temporary home at Blackwattle Bay at 7 pm on the 30th and motored out past the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. There were some boats out in Farm Cove, but we hoped to still be able to get a spot, and we did!
Sydney’s marine traffic is pretty organized for New Year’s Eve. At 8 pm an Exclusion Zone is enforced. Boats are not allowed to be motoring in the main areas of Sydney Harbour, so it’s important to be in a bay by the time the exclusion zone hits – otherwise you will be stuck where ever you are. This is important because the exclusion zone is designated with yellow flashing buoys. When picking your anchorage, be mindful of the buoys.
When we arrived at about 8pm, the wind was blowing from the south. We dropped anchor about 2/3 of the way between to the Opera House from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. When we pulled tight on our anchor, we were JUST inside the buoys for the exclusion zone. Some neighboring boats were practically touching the buoys. We had a quiet night, and we didn’t think the wakes from the harbour boat traffic was all that bad.
On the 31st, the wind shifted to come from the NE, thus we had swung around away from the buoy. Traffic was coming in and people were anchoring all over the place. Farm Cove grew packed very quickly and we were bouncing around a lot more.
Now, here’s the key point. Marine Services were out in their boats and they did not let any boats anchor between us and the buoy. Which makes sense, because anyone who drops anchor between us and the buoy would swing into the exclusion zone if the wind shifts.
Not only did MS keep our boat in the front row, but they also helped everyone out throughout the day. Those guys were working CRAZY hard, and it would have been a cluster without it. If someone anchored too close, you could flag down the MS guys and they would get whoever was too close to move. There were a lot of people making BAD anchoring choices out there. The wind was pretty high, so many boats dragged anchor. Sometimes they dragged onto another boat. Sometimes people just anchored too close. We even saw a powerboat cut too close to a sailboat’s anchor rode and catch it in his prop. Sucked for the sailboat, as they had a powerboat banging into them until they were able to get the powerboat unhooked, and sucked for the powerboat, as they ended up having to be towed away.
We spent the entire day out on the deck. We got incredibly lucky, as no other boats even touched us the entire day. A few tried to anchor around us but eventually ended up moving. We felt a sense of camaraderie with our neighbors, looking at each other and shaking our heads every time someone dragged off, or shouting (politely) out to a new boat coming in “you’re going to be right on top of their anchor!” or “you’re too close to them!”.
As it got later in the day, the Marine Service guys did allow smaller boats to anchor between us and the buoy. I’m not sure what they were using for a guideline, but no masts blocked our view. Right before the fireworks displays, groups of kayakers came in to watch and there were a few boats (sailboats and motorboats) that were motoring around the anchorage during the show. They all seemed to be commercial charters, so I’m not 100% sure what the deal was there.
The show itself was spectacular. There were two aerial shows, one at 6 pm and one at 8 pm. The 8 pm show was during the exclusion zone time, so they were flying significantly lower. There was a firefighting boat that came through spraying full blast. A parade of boats all lit up took place, which most of the commercial boats in the area (dinner cruises like I used to do!) took part in. There was a smaller fireworks show at 9 pm, and then of course, the big kahuna of a show at midnight. I watched the fireworks shows from the lounge deck on Starry Horizons.
So, here was our view for New Year’s Eve in Sydney:
In the aftermath, David and I stayed up until two am. The exclusion zone reopened at 12:45 am and boats picked up anchor and left. We stayed awake just long enough to make sure almost everyone who was planning on leaving Farm Cove for the night had done so, and then we went to bed. When we woke up (6 or 7 am) there was not a lot of activity in Farm Cove. We upped anchor and were able to get our spot back in Blackwattle Bay.
We had SUCH an amazing night. I don’t know that we will ever have a better New Year’s Eve.
Obviously, if you’ve got a friend who’s willing to take you on for the night, that’s a great way to see the show. If not, There are several sailboats who sell tickets for the show:
One Ocean’s New Year’s Eve in Sydney – Our friends that we originally met in Panama have now purchased a catamaran and are offering charters in the Sydney area.
East Sail’s New Year’s Eve on Sydney – This is one of the companies whose boats were roaming around the anchorage during the show.
I have no idea how you can end up on a kayak in Farm Cove in NYE, but that would be cool. If you have information on that, let me know.
The Royal Botanical Gardens has a free option for watching New Year’s Eve from near Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair. The catch is, the doors open at 10 am, and it’s first come, first serve, in addition to the fact that you can’t BYOB and there’s alcohol for sale on site. You can’t even bring a folding chair. People camp overnight to get the best spots. Sure, we hung out at anchor overnight for our spot, but we had the luxury of Starry Horizons to keep us comfortable.
The next best option to having you own boat (and thus having invested major $$ into it) is to participate in one of the Royal Botanical Gardens’ ticketed events. There are two choices, one called The Point and one called Midnight at the Oasis. Both are adults only, both are hundreds of dollars, plus drinks.
My friend Emily went to Midnight at the Oasis and shared these photos:
Of course, there are many other places in Sydney to view the fireworks, but if you want that best view, the above choices are your best bet.
For more locations, check out The Sydney Expert’s post on all the locations for NYE.