Australians have begun farewelling a year many would rather forget with New Year’s Eve celebrations in full swing across the country under circumstances that have never been seen before – and will hopefully never be seen again.
A nation divided by coronavirus and arbitrary border closures is even more split tonight as it welcomes 2021.
Australians who normally flock to harbours, foreshores, riverbanks and beaches to savour million-dollar fireworks displays were instead watching on TV from their living rooms with only a lucky few getting ring-side seats.
While Sydney’s world-famous harbour and bridge exploded with a seven-minute fireworks display at midnight the skies over Melbourne and Brisbane remained darkened.
The harbour bridge, which was lit up in a constellation of blue, pink, green, purple and yellow lights throughout the night, almost gave the impression of any other New Year’s Eve celebration except for the sign ‘Help stop the spread’ hanging eerily off a pylon.
While in previous years millions of people would have crowded around to watch the spectacle, this year only a few hundred lucky enough to score bookings at waterfront restaurants and pubs and clubs or living nearby were able to see it in the flesh.
While Sydney’s world-famous harbour and bridge exploded with a seven-minute fireworks display at midnight the skies over Melbourne and Brisbane remained darkened
After a horror year the skies of Sydney were lit up with a spectacular display of fireworks at midnight on New Year’s Eve
Friends with prime viewing of the Sydney Harbour Bridge prepare to farewell 2020 and watch the seven minute fireworks display
A couple pose in front of a 2021 sign in Sydney as the clock nears midnight on New Year’s Eve
The fireworks display was cut short to just seven minutes this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
Melbourne residents get ready to shout ‘happy new year’ as 2021 rolls around the corner
A security guard patrols a near-empty Sydney Opera House forecourt during New Year’s Eve celebrations
Federation Square was much livelier on New Year’s Eve with Melbourne residents waving goodbye to a year from hell
A group of men are seen dancing during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Melbourne after the city spent more than three months of 2020 in lockdown
The iconic Harbour Bridge is seen lit up in a bright shade of purple as Australians ring in the new year
Australians earlier slowly started arriving in Sydney’s CBD for New Year’s Eve celebrations despite a surge in coronavirus cases and harsh restrictions – but the lack of revellers is unprecedented
Only residents and those with existing bookings at restaurants and pubs are being let into the no-go zone around Sydney’s harbour foreshore – as opposed to the huge crowds of previous years
One well-dressed couple are seen heading out for the night in the Sydney CBD. Celebrations right around Australia have been halted due to the virus
Police are seen patrolling an eerily quiet Circular Quay on New Year’s Eve as Sydneysiders are encouraged to watch the midnight fireworks display from home
Sydneysiders hit the town to celebrate the end of a horror year that began with deadly bushfires and a global pandemic that’s still wreaking havoc across the country
A group of mates clad in sombreros head into Sydney’s city to farewell 2020 – but they won’t have much company
One Melbourne couple are seen celebrating the end of the year in style while millions around the country celebrate at home
Couples and singles headed out for the night across Australia with many trying to end the horror year on a high
A group of friends are seen ringing in the new year in style on the Gold Coast as Australia bids farewell to 2020
If they weren’t stuck in quarantine, forced into self isolation or stranded in lockdown then they may as well be on the grimmest of New Year’s Eves.
Kissing was banned. Singing discouraged. And as for dancing? Only while social distancing.
Perth and Darwin and Hobart stuck to their traditional New Year’s Eve program with fireworks exploding from 9:30pm.
Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide have cancelled their displays to avoid large gathering and community transmission of the virus.
Sydney’s world-renowned fireworks spectacle, which last year cost $6.5 million and was under threat from bushfires, was scaled back to just seven minutes.
A couple take a break from celebrating in Melbourne on New Year’s Eve as residents take to the streets
But even with the display basically cut in half, eager Sydney-siders raced in to get the best view with the Opera Bar filling up fast.
Groups of friends dressed to impress as they headed into Circular Quay with some donning sombreros and ‘happy new year’ headpieces.
Young women were spotted wobbling their way into the harbour in sky-high heels while the men took advantage of the occasion to showcase their best suits.
The CBD on the other hand was eerily quiet compared to earlier years, as countless police officers patrolled the streets ensuring everyone in the city had a permit.
Only residents and those with existing bookings at restaurants and pubs were let into the no-go zone with a relevant permit but venues have been hit with mass cancellations.
Vantage points across the harbour were blocked off from the public with fences and signage turning prospective visitors away for the first time.
Meanwhile scenes were much livelier in Melbourne with residents filling up nightclubs and spilling into the streets after the clock struck 12.
For many in the Victoria, it was the year from hell after Melbourne was plunged into a strict lockdown for more than 100 days.
While the highly anticipated fireworks display in the city were called off thanks to the ongoing pandemic, Victorians were still desperate to celebrate the end of the year.
Many welcomed the excuse to dress up after having spent months confined to their own homes and strutted their stuff around the city as the night rolled into the new year.
Couples were spotted sharing intimate moments as the celebrations carried on into the night while others were just happy to dance in the streets.
NSW Police officers patrol around Circular Quay on Thursday night. NSW recorded ten new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday
Patrons are seen lining up at a venue in Circular Quay on Thursday night. Only those with bookings and a valid permit are allowed into large parts of the CBD
Many braved the cold and wet weather in Melbourne to celebrate the end of 2020
This year’s New Year’s Eve celebrations will be like no other with police patrolling the CBD to enforce the harsh restrictions
Australians gear up to say goodbye to 2020 as New Year’s Day rolls around the corner
Some revellers get a headstart on the New Year celebrations and enjoy a glass of champagne before the sun goes down
Police officers will be out in full force on Thursday night to ensure those celebrating in the CBD have valid permits
Diners are seen enjoying a meal at the sun begins to set in Sydney while Australians right across the country gear up for a New Year’s Eve like no other
Road closures are seen in Melbourne on New Year’s Eve with residents only allowed into the CBD if they have restaurant bookings
Some Victorians were seen celebrating the end of the year on boats as they sipped on champagne and other alcohol
Many Melbourne residents were glad to have an excuse to dress up after spending more than three months confined to their homes during lockdown
Unfortunately for those in Melbourne, the fireworks display was cancelled for this year’s end of year celebrations
The Opera Bar in Sydney was filled with eager revellers ready to welcome the new year in style
A man and his child pose in front of a 2021 sign with families and friends across Australia celebrating the end to a shocking year
A street performer busts out some tunes for residents in Melbourne on New Year’s Eve
An eruption of celebrations were also spotted in the Gold Coast with Queenslanders spilling out onto the streets of Surfers Paradise.
Queenslanders are allowed to throw house parties with up to 50 people a home and can gather together with 100 others in public spaces.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young, however, said revellers should avoid the traditional midnight pash.
‘I would suggest you limit that to your known close friends and family and don’t randomly kiss and cuddle strangers that might be there in your circle,’ she said.
Families and friends gathered together along the glitter strip as police patrolled the streets to ensure Queenslanders were ringing in the new year safely.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian earlier ordered locals to watch the fireworks at home on their televisions to avoid social mingling amid a new coronavirus outbreak.
Ms Berejiklian urged partygoers to be sensible, avoid large gatherings and locking lips with strangers.
‘When the clock ticks over to midnight from December 31 January 1, I know that’s normally an emotional time where we like to kiss and hug everybody around us. Can I ask for absolute restraint,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
Two friends celebrate the end of 2020 with a few drinks in Melbourne. A new cluster of cases have popped up in the city
Melbourne was much more lively than Sydney on New Year’s Eve with many dressing up to visit nightclubs and other venues
Melbourne residents were keen to get out and celebrate the end to 2020 after suffering through a deadly outbreak of coronavirus cases that plunged them into a strict lockdown
Huge lines to get into nightclubs in Melbourne were seen on Thursday night as many try to forget the horrific 2020
Friends snap photos of each other in Melbourne on Thursday night after getting dolled up to celebrate the new year
Other residents took a more relaxed approach to the new year as a Melbourne couple is seen lying on the artificial grass in Federation Square
Two young women laugh together as the evening rolls on in Melbourne. Melbourne is one of many cities that has been forced to cancel fireworks displays
Other groups of friends in Melbourne were seen celebrating the end of the year on boats
Victorians were excited to let their hair down for a night of celebrations on New Year’s Eve
Patrons attend a small function at the Opera Bar during New Year’s Eve celebrations
In NSW, household parties were limited to just five visitors – including children – in Greater Sydney including Wollongong, Central Coast and the Blue Mountains while outdoor gatherings have been cut from 50 people down to 30.
‘We don’t want New Year’s Eve to be the cause of a super-spreader,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
Brisbane’s South Bank, normally packed with up to 100,000 people for New Year’s Eve, will remain open but the fireworks on the river are cancelled.
People line up to get inside the Billboard nightclub in Melbourne on the evening of New Year’s Eve
Event staff scan the tickets of patrons in Circular Quay on New Year’s Eve – while many following government advice and stay at home
Young men and women donning face masks line up outside restaurants in Melbourne on Thursday night
Melbourne residents are seen scattered around Federation Square on Thursday evening to welcome in the new year
A couple cling onto each other as they make their way into town in Melbourne to say goodbye to a challenging year
A group of friends clad in face masks head out to farewell the end of 2020 in Melbourne on Thursday
Only a handful of boats were seen spread across Sydney’s Harbour on Thursday night to celebrate New Year’s Eve
Household parties have been limited to just five people in Greater Sydney – including Wollongong, Central Coast and the Blue Mountains – while outdoor gatherings have been cut from 50 people down to 30
Masks have become this year’s accessory as the world was plunged into lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic (pictured couple in Sydney celebrating NYE)
Two women are seen showing their passes to a security official to celebrate the end of the year in Sydney’s CBD
A musician in Melbourne is seen serenading diners outside a popular restaurant on New Year’s Eve. The city was forced to canel its fireworks displays
Melburnians are saying farewell to a horror year that saw them locked down for more than 100 days
Families and friends get together in Melbourne on New Year’s Eve. Residents are unable to enter the city’s CBD unless they have a restaurant booking