Melbourne plans extravaganza for NYE

Fireworks, loud music and human gridlock: for many, New Year’s Eve is the party of the year.
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More than half a million people are expected to pour into the city on Wednesday for what Premier Dan Andrews and lord mayor Robert Doyle have promised will be an “extravaganza”.

“Anywhere you can see the skyline of the city, you will be able to see the fireworks of the city,” Cr Doyle said. He expected about 100,000 at Yarra Park alone to watch the family fireworks at 9.30pm.

The city and surrounds will offer parties for all tastes, ranging from the burlesque of the Mad Hatter’s Ball, to be held at St Brigid’s Parish Hall in Fitzroy, to prayer at a special service at the Catch the Fire Ministries’ Apostolic Centre in Hallam.

Bimbo Deluxe manager Brendan Kenner said the Brunswick Street institution and its south-of-the-river counterpart Lucky Coq will host a “no frills” night to cater for “those that see New Year’s Eve as something that’s a little over-rated, a bit full-on and intense”.

For those seeking a more solitary New Year’s Eve, the Melbourne Shyness and Social Anxiety Meetup group will be watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show from 7.30pm at the Astor. The organiser of the meetup group did not respond to emails for comment.

If you have the $650 spare to attend Vue de Monde’s New Year’s event atop the Rialto, you may look down on a crowd topping 550,000 while you eat herring and drink 1993 Chateau d’Yquem.

For a mere $400 per person, you could catch an Edwardian-era steam yacht for a cruise on the bay. Drinks and finger food included. Or, for $290 a couple, you could rise above the rabble for a late-night high tea at the Hotel Windsor.

Party centres will be organised at the city’s four corners: Docklands, King’s Domain, Treasury Gardens and Flagstaff Gardens. These will play host to music and entertainment, as well as a digital countdown to the year’s final seconds.

Victoria Police will take to the streets, the skies, the waterways, the roads and public transport networks, “to keep the extravaganza as safe as possible for everyone”, Deputy Commissioner Lucinda Nolan said.

“We will have a big contingency of uniform members, plainclothes police officers and a lot of our specialist capability to ensure that we can actually deal with anything that comes up,” she said.

“We don’t want people to wake up in 2015 with something worse than a hangover, which could be fines for drunk in a public place, $590, or fines for drunk and disorderly, $758.”

More than 60 suburban rail stations would remain open and patrolled until 7am on New Year’s Day, marking a first for Victoria, Ms Nolan said.

However, city loop railway stations including Flagstaff, Melbourne Central and Parliament will close at 11.45pm to avoid the problem of passengers trying to board trains that would arrive full from Southern Cross and Flinders Street stations, which will remain open.

In light of Australia’s heightened terror environment, Ms Nolan said Victoria Police had conducted rigorous risk and security assessments for New Year’s Eve festivities.

“We certainly have well and truly gone into that because of recent events,” she said. “We’re very confident about the arrangements and I think that Melburnians and the rest of Victorians will come out in numbers just because that’s just the sort of people we are.”