As an annual custom, I take a look back at how the city marked New Year's Eve 25 years ago.
Sydney's fireworks were yet to be an event envied by the world. It was more provincial.
Even the timing was provincial - 9pm. Midnight fireworks were still several years away.
1993 was the fifth straight year of the "skyshow", which was a 30-minute firework spectacular presented by Coca-Cola and 2DAY FM. It had grown quickly in popularity. Reports suggested at least 500 000 were planning to attend as in previous years. It would act as the opener to the 1994 Sydney Festival. Below is a preview from The Daily Telegraph Mirror on December 30, 1993. Syd Howard was given the task of organising the fireworks spectacular. 5000 shells and effects were to be released, just a fraction of what is predicted for 2018 ( 13 000 shells, 35 000 comets and 100 000 effects). By numbers, tonight's show is at least 20 times larger than in 1993 and it will be done in less than half the time (12 minutes).
The cost of this year's celebrations is reported to be $7 million, compared with one million dollars in 1993. Police warned those attending to be on their best behaviour. Alcohol-Free zones would keep partygoers and families safe.
Source: Gee. S. 1993. "Police in New Year Warning". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, December 31: 3.
Below is an advertisement from the State Transit Authority promoting extra bus and ferry services to ferry commuters. For bus commuters, some services were diverted and/or terminated at alternative destinations. Cityrail ran extra services throughout the evening, but did not publish a newspaper advertisement.
Below is a map of road closures and vantage points for the Skyshow. Note that a midnight fireworks show occured at Darling Harbour and fireworks also were released from Sydney Tower. No mention in the press of either show.
Taylor, N. 1993. "It's party time as Sydney farewells '93". The Sydney Morning Herald, December 31: 2.
Crowds were estimated in the city at around 1.5 million which would have made it the largest crowd for an event in the city since the Bicentenary celebrations in 1988. The Sydney Morning Herald reported a conservative figure of 350 000 in its January 1 edition. Articles from The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph Mirror appear below.
While initial media reports generally reported little problems. In the days afterwards, the night did not flow smoothly as it may have been seen.
There was chaos on the transport network. For motorists, city streets and major thoroughfares into the city were clogged. It was reported that some had to watch the fireworks from car bonnets. Rail services were delayed after midnight as Cityrail reported higher than usual absentee numbers. Circular Quay, Wynyard, Town Hall, and Kings Cross stations were temporarily closed due to large crowds, with people also removed from Milsons Point railway station to avoid a crowd crush.
Source: Willis, R. & Tuss, R. 1994: "New Year rail chaos". The Sun Herald, January 2: 7.
Source: Wilkins, M. 1994. "Missing trains strand revellers". The Sunday Telegraph, January 2: 2.
Source: Olsen, S. 1994. "Our night of shame, pain: Chaos as 80 train crew go sick". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, January 3: 5.
The Sunday Telegraph reported on January 2 (below) that city hospitals were inundated with people injured during the night's celebrations.
I do not anticipate problems this evening, as, over the years, management of the event has improved. Cars will virtually be banned from the Sydney CBD altogether and everyone will be expected to travel on public transport. Several stations including Circular Quay and Milsons Point will be closed this evening.
As for transport workers taking the night off - It's possible. I recall that last year saw a similar staffing problem with transport workers calling in "sick" en masse.
I wish you all a very safe and happy new year.
January 1 2019 - I was wrong about the night being smooth. Nature put on its own fireworks show early in the evening. Lighting strikes caused delays on the rail network which flowed into New Years Day, with buses replacing trains in parts of the city. Nine News reported that paramedics and hospitals were also stretched.
To cap it off, organisers wished us a Happy 2018 from the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons. Apparently, it was Groundhog Day.