Australia has ushered in the New Year with fireworks and celebrations, even as the nation grapples with rising COVID cases.
Sydney and Melbourne were the first to greet 2022 before celebrating in other capitals.
Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks are world famous – but the crowds were lower compared to previous years.
The current high rate of COVID infections across NSW means many people have chosen to watch the fireworks from the comfort – and safety – of their own home.
Camping away to secure a place at the port was not planned – this year it was exchanged for tickets for COVID-safe events.
Vaccination was not mandatory, but highly recommended. Masks were ready and QR check-ins were a must.
The official celebrations began at 8:30 p.m. with a Welcome to Country and projections onto the pylons of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
The early fireworks began at 9 p.m. and at 10 p.m. the port became a “blue sea” to honor the workers at the front.
The show was dubbed to a soundtrack created by local electronic music duo The Presets.
Midnight fireworks are launched from the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Opera House and various barges.
A total of 80,000 pyrotechnics were on display, including new shapes and color-changing fireworks.
Pedestrian traffic in Sydney’s CBD was also down compared to previous years, but the mood was not subdued.
“People need joy in their lives – we’ve had two tough years,” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore.
Melbourne weathered a hot New Year’s Eve with a very warm countdown to midnight.
While many stayed indoors with the air conditioning on, others took on temperatures in the high 30s.
After a year of bans, restrictions, queues for COVID tests, protests and isolation, Melbourne’s first outbreak of really hot weather was just another challenge for locals.
Revelers gathered on St. Kilda Beach to ring in the New Year, but the fireworks were best viewed from various vantage points around town.
But not everyone was enthusiastic about the celebrations.
Many families wanting to party closer to home on a day when the state’s COVID case numbers hit another record high have been disappointed with the lack of rooftop CBD fireworks that have kept the crowds in the past few years Delighted the suburbs.
COVID fears and wet weather kept numbers low along the Brisbane River ahead of the fireworks, but many events and venues across the city sold out for the final night of the year.
By noon, the prime properties at Kangaroo Point were almost empty while security in the South Bank Parklands made sure people checked in.
But wherever the Queenslanders decided to ring in the new year, the same hopes were on everyone’s mind – a healthier, happier 2022.
Adelaide’s traditional midnight fireworks display has been replaced for the second year in a row by the Light Up Festival in Rymill Park.
Almost 5000 people were expected to attend the reduced light and pyrotechnic demonstration.
Social distancing and wearing a mask were compulsory, drinking while standing was prohibited, but proof of vaccination was not required.
There was also a street fair in North Adelaide and an alfresco meal on Peel Street.
If a night at the movies was more your thing, there was a drive-in showing of Ghostbusters at Gepps Cross.
The plans of many party-goers in Perth were dashed when COVID restrictions were extended to January 4th, which means nightclubs will be closed on New Years Eve and major music festivals and events have been canceled.
But visitors could still gather around town and northbridge at 9 p.m. and midnight to watch fireworks display with family-friendly events in Yagan Square, the Perth Cultural Center, and Forrest Chase.