The evening was jam-packed, but unlike today, it did not require hordes of security personnel, bag checks, security checkpoints, closed and barricaded streets, or paid-event-only spaces – although the Botanic Garden was partially barricaded off in a vain attempt to protect the foliage from being trampled by eager foreshore crowds.
The Harbour Restaurant menu was simplified for the evening. We served hamburgers and hot dogs by the thousands. Families had assembled early to get the best spot for the midnight spectacular. They were hungry, and the queue snaked out the door all evening. We worked hard and fast without respite.
At midnight everything stopped. Suddenly the crowd dissipated, and the catering staff joined them on the Northern Boardwalk to “ooh” and “aah” at the spectacular bursts of colour and light emanating from fireworks barges in the harbour. Twenty minutes of smoke, explosions and brilliance filled the night, then suddenly it was all over. The staff returned to their positions and the crowd again besieged the Harbour Restaurant. We resumed cooking hamburgers and hot dogs until thankfully the food ran out at 1.30 am.
Wearily we washed down the benches, changed out of grubby uniforms and drove home.
What a night.
Want to experience an unforgettable NYE at the Opera House yourself? Ring in 2022 and take your pick of one of our events – from open-air harbourside parties at Portside Sydney or Opera Bar, to viewing the fireworks from the Forecourt, and more. Discover what’s on.