An estimated 1.6 million people converged on Sydney Harbour’s great look-outs to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks, and despite the large numbers police said everyone was generally well-behaved.
Crowds camped out for hours at some of the best spots to catch the fireworks display, which cost $7 million, at 9pm and midnight, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“We think it’s really worth it, really worth it to provide a focus and an opportunity for people to come together, our visitors and our multicultural community to have a safe celebration of who we are in Sydney in the 21st century in our wonderful city,” she said.
Ms Moore said the event was worth an estimated $130 million to the local economy.
Some media reported hundreds of people had to queue for up to 90 minutes for toilets at The Rocks, and while Ms Moore did not say how long people were waiting, she said they will try to improve the situation next year.
“I am sorry people had to queue up to go to the loo, that’s a lesson for next time.”
Deputy Commissioner Jeff Loy said he was generally pleased with the behaviour of the crowd overnight.
“It has been a fantastic success,” he said.
Thirteen people were arrested over New Year’s Eve and the early hours of New Year’s Day, seven of those for “alcohol-fuelled violence against police”, he said.
“Now they will go before the court and have to take their consequences,” he said.
“The police came here with a good attitude and going to use as much discretion and empathy as we could but there was no discretion for the alcohol-free zones, we were strong on that.
“We wanted to make it safe for the mums and dads and families to come in and joy the wonderful spectacle.”
While fireworks went off without a hitch in Sydney, crowds on Terrigal Beach on the Central Coast were evacuated during the 9pm fireworks after a barge caught fire, forcing the two technicians to dive into the water to escape.
The technicians were rescued by passing boats and received treatment for minor injuries.
Mr Loy said initial information suggests a wave upset the barge, setting off fireworks in the direction of the crowd.
“Two men that were involved in the process got on the barge, but unfortunately had to get off because of the fire and received some minor injuries and were taken to hospital by the NSW paramedics,” he said.
“The Terrigal surf club and police did a wonderful job moving the crowd on to a safe place.”
In a separate incident, a teenage boy was seriously burnt after a firework exploded in the northern beaches suburb of Cromer Heights about 11.40pm on New Year’s Eve, and was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital.
Mr Loy said the boy was suffering the consequences of his misadventure.
“The young fellow’s made a silly mistake,” he said. “I hope he make a full recovery. It does show the dangers of fireworks. They’re certainly an explosive and they can have dire consequences if not used in a proper way.”
With Miriam Webber