Light up in Sydney

Ten, nine, eight… we counted down till one, when the sky above the Sydney Harbour Bridge exploded in a burst of spectacular fireworks lasting more than 10 minutes.

Set off from river barges and rooftops on the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, the fireworks were accompanied by elaborate pyrotechnic displays against the backdrop of Sydney Harbour and the iconic Opera House.

The crowd was delirious. Our gang of four had been staking out the spot from 3pm - others had arrived even earlier - for this grand moment.

Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks celebration is recognised as one of the world's largest and most technologically advanced displays.

Comprising two sessions, the 9pm Family Fireworks and Midnight Fireworks displays are watched by 1.6 million people at Sydney Harbour, with millions across Australia and more than a billion worldwide tuning in to the live broadcast of the extravaganza.

Spectators are spoilt for choice with various vantage points on both sides of the harbour, some free and others ticketed.

Fuelled by a hearty lunch of Vietnamese pho (noodle soup) and great anticipation, we had trudged to the Tarpeian Precinct of The Domain - the lawn above the Opera House next to the Royal Botanic Gardens on Sydney Harbour.

Elevated on the harbour front, the venue offers panoramic views of the Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, the Opera House and Sydney Harbour. This was our chosen vantage point to view the New Year's Eve fireworks.

The park was already bustling with revellers, so we wasted no time in securing a spot with our picnic mat. We chatted, read, finished bags of snacks and emptied bottles of wine, till the summer sky finally darkened to make way for the spectacle of the night.

It was time for the first major highlight of the evening - the 9pm fireworks. Families with kids watched and wowed at the stunning display, satiated by the opportunity to welcome the New Year early before retreating to bed.

The evening of entertainment continued with the magnificent Harbour of Light Parade. The Sydney Harbour was transformed into a magical sea of twinkling lights when close to 60 illuminated boats decorated with special rope lights glided across the waters to choreographed music.

When the clock finally ticked towards midnight, the mood was electric. We counted down, along with fellow revellers, and welcomed the New Year with fun, flute and fireworks.

Life's a beach

The morning after, we arrived at the famous Bondi Beach, where many Sydneysiders are known to herald the New Year.

We were greeted by a sea of beautiful bronzed bodies lying on the long stretch of sand. After an intense night of partying, sunbathing was, not surprisingly, the (in)activity of choice for the next day.

Loathe to loaf on New Year's Day, especially since we had just made our New Year's resolution to lead a fitter life, we decided to start our year o on the right foot with an invigorating coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee.

Combining beaches, rockpools, parks and spectacular coastal views, our leisurely walk wound its way along 6km of picturesque coastal paths at the edge of Sydney's eastern suburbs.

Starting by the iconic Bondi Icebergs Club, just above the Bondi Baths, the walk took us past Tamarama and Bronte beaches, onto the beautiful historic Waverley Cemetery on top of sandstone cliffs and rock platforms. The cliff path led us to Clovelly Beach, a popular swimming and snorkelling spot, before our scenic track ended at Coogee.

We had a choice to unwind with a picnic lunch at Coogee's shaded parklands or enjoy a barbecue using the public facilities. We could cool down with a swim in Wylie's Baths, take a dip in Coogee Beach's protected bay, or simply chill at one of the many cafes and bars in the area.

Since summertime in Australia is barbecue season (or "barbie" as the Australians call it), we decided to hunt for a pit. With Lady Luck - and the relentless Aussie sun - shining down on us, we managed to find a vacated one and rewarded our famished tummies with an "Aussie barbie".

As evening descended, we retreated to a cosy beachside cafe. With a cup of latte in our hands, we toasted to a promising year ahead.

GUIDELINES

- We flew from Singapore to Sydney on Singapore Airlines. From the Sydney Airport to the city takes 13 minutes by train or around 20 minutes by car or taxi. Shuttle bus services are also available between the airport and various city hotels and motels.

- Firing up the barbecue in summer is a huge tradition and favourite pastime in Australian culture, especially during the festive season. Convenient gas-fired barbecue pits are available free of charge at various public areas including beaches, parks and nature reserves.

- On New Year's Eve, wear comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk. Other than road closures, taking public transport near the various vantage points can be a nightmare after the event.

- Australia has some of the highest ultraviolet (UV) levels in the world, so always protect your skin with sunscreen whenever you head outdoors in the summer, even on cloudy days.

- Check out where you can view the reworks at www.sydneynewyearseve.com/vantage-points

SERVICES