Aussies getting ready to party

2011-12-31 09:28
Sydney - New Year's Eve revellers pushed and shoved Saturday to get the best spots on Sydney Harbour for a fireworks display that traditionally sets off celebrations that roll westwards around the globe.

As more than 1.5 million spectators took up positions on one of the world's most famous waterways, clouds dispersed and the weather made good on forecasts of clear skies for the start of 2012.

Australia's biggest city has had its coldest December in 50 years and police and paramedics were hoping the unaccustomed chill would mean fewer arrests for bad behaviour and fewer medical emergencies than in previous years.

More than 2,800 police are on patrol, searching bags to interdict bottles headed for alcohol-free zones and ready to deal with the rowdy and the drunk.

Hospitals were primed for one of their busiest days of the year, and doctors warned that alcohol, exertion and overeating can bring on what they called "happy new year heart attacks."

"It's the biggest night of the year," said 25-year-old Cheng Mei-sin, as she ticked off the minutes before finishing work at a suburban Sydney vegetable shop. "We go to Darling Harbour and then the Opera House and then we stay up all night."

Some of her chums camped out overnight to reserve prime spots to view pyrotechnics said to be the biggest in the world, and costing 6.5 million Australian dollars (6.4 million US dollars).

Going up in smoke will be 7 tons of fireworks on the bridge itself and on barges in the water, connected up by 60 kilometres of wiring and capable of 100,000 explosions over the 20-minute performance.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore defended the expense, saying it worked out at just 4 Australian dollars for each spectator.

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