Victorians celebrated a sunny start to 2017 on the beach, by the barbecue and packing the city for a spectacular fireworks display
MELBURNIANS rang in the new year in style as hundreds of thousands flocked to the CBD to witness the biggest show of fireworks the city has ever seen.
More than 500,000 revellers defied the fear of terror in the wake of the recently foiled Christmas threats as beefed-up police numbers and scores of CCTV cameras monitored New Year’s Eve celebrations to ensure public safety.
Police, including the mounted, water, air and public order units, were out in force during the celebrations. Tonnes of fireworks were shot from 22 city buildings in a 10-minute display, synchronised to a soundtrack.
Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics’ Rusty Johnson said no other city had attempted the scale of Melbourne’s fireworks this year, which covered almost the entire 8sq km CBD area.
While everybody was having fun in Melbourne, a 46-year-old man was killed 260km away in Hollands Landing, Gippsland, after a firecracker exploded in his face.
Victoria Police spokeswoman Natalie Webster said: “The circumstances of the incident are yet to be determined.” An Ambulance Victoria spokesman said the man had sustained serious head and facial injuries.
Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Chris Godfred said yesterday’s late Melbourne maximum of 24C at 5.40pm was a “bit of a relief” from the past week’s heat and humidity.
Staff from Southbank foodie haven Fatto said it was the busiest and latest night of the year for the business, which overlooks the Yarra River and Melbourne’s city skyline.
Restaurant manager Nathan Schifferle said Melbourne was the “best city in the world”.
“We’ve got an amazing spot here and people love comfortably watching the fireworks.”
Staff from nearby Spanish restaurant Teatro were also preparing for a busy night. Manager Dylan Cosford said the restaurant, which overlooks the Yarra on Southbank, was fully booked weeks in advance and the drink of choice last night was the espresso martini. “What else could you want, it’s the perfect Melbourne mix: caffeine to wake you up, alcohol to keep you happy!”
Andrew Wight, of South Melbourne, was soaking up the fine weather at Southbank with his wife, Tamah. The pair planned to see a movie before taking in the fireworks.
“It is a great show. It has gotten better over the years,” Mr Wight said.
Karen Barclay from Ivanhoe was watching the entertainment at Federation Square with her family.
“We’ve had a fantastic time in the city tonight, it’s a fantastic atmosphere, Federation Square is the place to be tonight!” she said.
Marcello Mly from Springvale was also at Fed Square, with his wife and daughter. “I’ve been to watch the fireworks many times before, the recent foiled terror threats don’t have any impact on me coming here tonight,” he said.
Tamarah de Vries had come down from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and was determined to see the night in style. With her family, she had reserved a prime spot along the Yarra to see the fireworks for a picnic with nibbles.
“It’s amazing, Melbourne’s got a great vibe about it tonight,” Ms de Vries said. “Melbourne’s way more accessible than Brisbane, except for the hook turns, of course.”
Charmaine Ashe from Perth hopped on a 7.30pm river cruise before watching the firework. “It’s divine here, there’s a wonderful atmosphere here,” she said.
Barry McPhillips had come from Mosman in Sydney with his family. “My son received a flower from a stranger, you can see everyone is coming together to enjoy the night.”
French tourist Oliver Cadre saw in the New Year while enjoying the stunning city vista offered by his friend’s apartment near Spring St.
Wem Etuknwa and Sarah Winter enjoy a glass of bubbly at Albert Park Lake while, below, Harriet, Rosie, Finn, Ben and Eddie splash out at Port Melbourne beach. Pictures: CHRISTOPHER CHAN, SARAH MATRAY