Melburnians flock to the city for fireworks display

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Federation Square lights up.

Federation Square lights up.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

Earlier on thousands packed into Yarra Park to glimpse the fireworks at 9.30pm, which also lasted 10 minutes. They were designed to a medley of classics such as Aretha Franklin’s Respect.

Pink love heart-shaped fireworks proved to be a crowd favourite, drawing loud cheers from the crowd.

The 9.30pm fireworks at Yarra Park.

The 9.30pm fireworks at Yarra Park.Credit:Luis Ascui

Mother Carla said afterwards the fireworks were “bigger, better” than the early fireworks display she saw two years ago.

“And I loved those hearts,” she said.

Despite a rogue, single firework which erupted five minutes after the end of the show, making the confused crowd pause, streams of people left the area peacefully to make their way home.

Bursts of yellow, pink and green soared into the clear Melbourne sky to “wows” from the revellers for more than five minutes.

It is just a taste of the main event expected to span seven kilometres of the city’s skyline from the stroke of midnight.

Seasoned CBD locals watched from their balconies as crowds streamed from the public transport hubs. Many who attended the city fireworks display had never seen the Melbourne fireworks extravaganza.

Families arrive for the fireworks in Melbourne.

Families arrive for the fireworks in Melbourne. Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

These included young children, part of the hundreds of families who were keen to enjoy the spectacle without the late night.

Crowds started to get heavy from 6pm at Yarra Park in anticipation of the early fireworks, and hundreds of families set up their picnic rugs and settled in for the show in the shadow of the MCG.

For Greensborough mother Erin Whitbread it was to be the first time her two-year-old daughter, Annabelle, saw fireworks.

Erin Whitbread and two-year-old daughter Annabelle at Yarra Park.

Erin Whitbread and two-year-old daughter Annabelle at Yarra Park.
Credit:Simone Fox Koob

“We’re going to attempt it,” she said with a laugh. “We brought ear muffs.

“It’s nice that it’s a family friendly event but it’s still part of the new year vibe, at a decent hour and you can park and then take (the kids) home. And the weather is lovely.”

Nearby, friends James Heywood and Lauren Anderson were “kid-wrangling” for the night, in charge of five children under nine.

Friends James Heywood and Lauren Anderson were “kid-wrangling” for the night, in charge of five children under nine. From left to right; Abigail, 6, Christopher, 7, Joshua, 9, and Emily, 5, Caitlin, 6.

Friends James Heywood and Lauren Anderson were “kid-wrangling” for the night, in charge of five children under nine. From left to right; Abigail, 6, Christopher, 7, Joshua, 9, and Emily, 5, Caitlin, 6. Credit:Simone Fox Koob

They were pleasantly surprised to arrive at 7.30pm to find heaps of room on the grass to spread out with Abigail and Caitlin, 6, Christopher, 7, Joshua, 9, and Emily, 5.

“It’s cheap and easy,” said Ms Anderson, from Murumbeena. “And there’s the early out option. We’ll be on the train five minutes after the fireworks.”

Caitlin, who had never seen fireworks, said she expected them to be “really, really loud, and colourful”.

Elsewhere, the City of Melbourne’s four live sites for viewing the fireworks included King’s Domain, Treasury Gardens, Docklands and Flagstaff Gardens, which were all designated alcohol-free zones.

Some partygoers had even come up to 11 hours early to reserve the perfect spots to view the show, along the banks of the Yarra.

In Federation Square, where live music performances blasted from the stage, there was a heavy police presence with officers and security completing random bag searches.

Sitting in the middle of the throng was Hanae, Aoi, Yui and Madoka, international students from Japan who have been in Melbourne for 10 months.

Japanese international students Hanae, Aoi, Yui and Madoka in Federation Square.

Japanese international students Hanae, Aoi, Yui and Madoka in Federation Square. Credit:Simone Fox Koob

They said it will be a very different new year for them – normally temperatures are below freezing.

“We are enjoying summer,” said Hanae, who said she expected the fireworks display to be better than back home.

The council boasted over 14 tonnes of fireworks were fired from 22 rooftops at midnight, with this year’s display designed to be seen from anywhere with a good view of the city skyline.

The event had been in the works since May, with 75 pyrotechnicians working to prepare and deliver $235,000 worth of fireworks, synchronised to a 10-minute soundtrack by Aboriginal Australian rapper Adam Briggs of the Yorta Yorta people.

Police had also spent the days in the lead up to the celebrations urging punters to stay safe.

Uniform police flooded much of the St Kilda foreshore, taking a visible stance against any threats of violence.

Police patrol St Kilda beach.

Police patrol St Kilda beach. Credit:Erin Pearson

Hundreds flocked to the bay during the perfect New Year’s Eve weather with recent brawls in the area failing to stop the lure of water and a picturesque sunset.

Only a handful in the area were youths, most families and couples out for a romantic stroll.

Police have spent the past three weeks searching people for weapons and arresting others for drug possession and public drunkenness along St Kilda beach ahead of New Year’s Eve.

With AAP, Erin Pearson

Simone is a breaking news reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Australian in Melbourne.

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