After greeting in 2011 on a boat in Antarctica I began to wonder if I could ever ‘top’ the excitement I had experienced that 31st night. Yet, I had come home to start a new life with Steve and I knew the joy of sharing a 31st night with him would be exciting and so very special in its own unique way. I knew I wanted to make the day special, an experience we would both look back and remember as our first New Years day together. Then it hit me. Greeting a new year from a boat on the harbour had been on my bucket list since I arrived in Australia and witnessed my first fireworks display from across the bridge in the North Sydney oval. I had often wondered what it must be like to see and feel one of the best fireworks displays in the world and be part of that parade of tall boats and barges, all dressed up and lit up for the night.
Getting our tickets online was easy and before we knew it..here we were… on board the Starship Sydney. We are greeted and welcomed aboard and hardly before we have settled down platters of food begin to arrive. The 3 levels on the boat each have a different atmosphere. The bottom deck seems to be where the older people hang out. The tables and chairs are a little more formal as is the decor and I notice the dance floor which will be overflowing with revellers later on in the day. Initially we settle on the second floor, a more informal setup that allows us to exchange stories with our fellow passengers and indulge in Spanish paella, King Prawns, an assortment of Yum Cha, sushi and mushroom risotto. The food reminds me that we live in a truly cosmopolitan city and the accents swirling around me tell me, that even if I am home, I am living in one of the top traveller destinations on the planet. There are platters of roving canapés that seem to find us no matter which floor we are on, so eventually we find ourselves on the open top deck where the younger crowd are enjoying the fresh breeze of a balmy summers evening and a few beers. The smell of chicken kebabs on the barbie greet us as we marvel at the spectacular view – the harbour, the opera house and the expanse of open water. The wet weather that could easily have dampened this celebration has kept away and we feel truly thankful not just for a wonderful evening but to be living in such an incredibly beautiful city.
Steve gets us a couple of glasses of wine and we watch in amazement as a lone plane is piloted in crazy acrobatic manoeuvres over and under the bridge. The words “How Are U Going?” are splashed across the sky and I realise I have never been better. 2012 will be a special year for our family as I hope to turn 50 this year and my mum hopes to celebrate her 80th birthday. Aboriginal elders conduct a cleansing ceremony and smoke coloured violet, blue, green and yellow fill the air above us. There is a sense of excitement in the air as we witness the 9 o’clock fireworks. Champagne glasses clink and people hug each other unashamedly as Sydney puts on her first display. We make our way downstairs to dance for awhile but we are soon back on the top deck watching the parade of tall ships. How many times have I watched this display from the Sydney foreshore but today..I am part of the spectacle. We realise how lucky we are to be here and find a couple of seats to enjoy one of this city’s most special moments.
About half and hour before the magic hour, we make our way to one of the best vantage spots on the boat. The sense of excitement in the air is palpable and as I glance at the bridge I see various messages flash on and off on the pylons. ‘Help Eradicate World Poverty’, the sign pleads, which arouses feelings of guilt inside me and I wonder about the sense of the extravaganza we put on to herald in a New Year. Yes, we need celebrations in our lives but as much of the world is gripped in a global economic crisis, here in Sydney, it appears we still have money to burn!
An incredible evening draws to a close as multi-coloured pyrotechnics explode off the iconic Harbour Bridge as well as from six barges around the harbour. One of the barges happens to be just metres from where our cruise ship has parked. The fireworks explode over our heads and we feel the explosions pounding through our bodies. A waterfall of light cascades into the harbour as Sydney rings in the New Year. The theme of the display this year was – ‘A time to Dream’! I realise for Steve and I, it truly is a time to dream. We’ve started a new stage of our lives together and we are committed as much to our own individual dreams for each other, as we are to those of our combined journey together. They are ambitious dreams of a time when we can truly combine the passions of our life with the ambitions of our careers, so we are not constantly struggling to balance the competing demands of them both. We hope this year will include lots of writing, photography, new discoveries, new friends and travel but most of all we know it will include lots of love…and for that we are both thankful. Happy New Year!!
“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” May Sarton