THREE INJURED IN FIREWORKS EXPLOSIONS
HUNDREDS ARRESTED BUT POLICE PRAISE REVELLERS
About 50,000 went to Yarra Park for the 9.30pm fireworks, with 68 pyrotechnicians from around the world working on the fireworks display.
A total of 14 tonnes of fireworks were fired from 22 rooftops across the city.
Cleaning started at 6pm on New Year’s Eve, with the major clean-up taking place from 4am to 9am on New Year’s Day.
Cr Kevin Louey, from the City of Melbourne, said: “Melbourne’s New Year’s Eve revellers welcomed in 2018 with a bang, admiring the biggest fireworks display the city has ever seen.
“We threw an unforgettable party for more than 350,000 people who came into the city to enjoy the superb entertainment at our four live sites and the impressive midnight show, which included an array of floral themed pyrotechnical delights, including dahlias and palm trees.
“The focus of any major City of Melbourne event is safety; this NYE we boosted our security across the city.
“Victoria Police last night arrested 138 people in the north west and southern metro regions, which include the central city. The majority of these offences were for drinking, assaults and behavioural offences.
“An 80-person crew began cleaning the CBD before the first fireworks were even launched and the city is back looking its best this morning.
“It takes a year’s worth of hard work and meticulous planning to stage this world class event. On behalf of the people of Melbourne and the City of Melbourne, I want to thank the police, transport workers, paramedics, firefighters, security, volunteers, event staff and waste collectors who helped to make the celebrations safe and enjoyable.
“I wish everyone a safe, healthy and prosperous 2018.”
Police patrolled party hot spots across the state, focusing their attention on motorists, public transport, and alcohol-free zones.
Melbourne was on high alert over terrorism fears following incidents such as last month’s arrest of Ali Khalif Shire Ali, who is facing court over allegations of a New Year’s Eve massacre plot.
The deadly vehicular attacks in Bourke St in January and in Flinders St last month have also raised tensions.
But Victorians nevertheless turned out in their thousands in a sign of unity and strength to welcome in the New Year.
Hundreds of additional police and security staff did their best to keep revellers safe.
But one man was taken to hospital with serious injuries after letting off a firework in his backyard.
The Caroline Springs 34-year-old badly burned his hand in the incident. Police are investigating.
Meanwhile, in the city, a scuffle broke outside Crown shortly after the fireworks display concluded.
Police swarmed to break up the fight.
A ring of booze buses was deployed around the city in an effort to snare drink- and drug-affected drivers.
People began packing into the city from about 4pm to begin the New Year’s countdown to midnight.
The crowds gathered mainly at four live sites — Treasury Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens, Docklands, and a new site at Kings Domain — to watch the night sky blaze with colour.
Earlier in the evening hundreds of families turned out to celebrate: Yarra Park hosted a spectacular 9.30pm precursor to the main fireworks display.
Mother-of-two Rachael Stothers said she had been hesitant about attending following the Flinders St tragedy, but changed her mind after a conversation with her partner.
“I was a bit worried, given the way the world is at the moment, but my partner reminded me that we can’t live our lives in fear,” she said.
“It’s a nice family fun event, and now that we’re here we feel completely comfortable.”
Father Chris Fullalove of Montrose said it was spectacular.
“We’re really happy with what we saw and the kids loved it,” he said.
“We will continue this tradition as this our second year coming here.”
Richmond primary school student Taidgh Zenisek, 10, said he “really loved” the fireworks.
“We come every year and I think it was the best one that we’ve seen so far,” he said.
“The grand finale was spectacular and I was very upset when it ended.”
A City of Melbourne spokesperson said they expected a crowd of about 80,000 to pack out Yarra Park.
The Flinders St incident, just days before Christmas, prompted the placement of extra bollards around the city.
Antonios Crocaris, 83, died in hospital on Friday night, nine days after sustaining critical injuries after an SUV ploughed through pedestrians on the Elizabeth St corner.
Mother-of-two Ritu Taneja admitted that the Flinder St attack had made her concerned about bringing her family to Federation Square for the midnight fireworks.
“We were a little bit scared, but because of my sister — she’s visiting us — we thought we’d stay,” she said.
“We’re going to stay near the security because of what happened.”
Some streets in the CBD and Docklands were closed to vehicles.
The 9.30pm and 10-minute midnight fireworks show saw a record 14 tonnes of fireworks launched from 22 city rooftops and a series of ground sites.
An array of pastel floral fireworks, including peonies, dahlias and chrysanthemums, made the skyline sparkle at the stroke of midnight.
The City of Melbourne forked out $2.8 million for last night’s New Year’s Eve party — down from the $3 million spent last year.
About $200,000 of the budget was spent on fireworks.
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Authorities said they had no information that any attacks were planned but specialist Victoria Police squads including the Water Police, the Mounted Branch, the Operations Response Unit, the Public Order Response Team and the Air Wing were drafted in to beef-up security.
The force’s elite Critical Incident Response Teams were also patrolling the city streets.
Police were focusing on keeping a lid on anti-social behaviour to minimise the risks of crowd crushes as people poured into the CBD and entertainment “live sites”.
Large numbers of transit police and Protective Services Officers also patrolled trains and railway stations in the Melbourne metropolitan area and in large regional centres, to ensure revellers reached their destinations safely.
An extra 100 train services were scheduled to get more than 100,000 people in and out of the city.
There was also a heavy police presence in St Kilda, following chaotic scenes on Christmas Day when thousands of revellers trashed the foreshore.
But partygoers were not deterred by a heavy police presence as bar staff struggled to serve packed out venues.
Paramedics and police were roaming St Kilda beach after an alcohol-fuelled party only a few nights ago left thousands of dollars worth of damage.
Families were spending Sunday afternoon lounging in the sun while others played by the water.
Many celebrating in St Kilda made their way to the pier to catch a glimpse of the penguins before festivities moved into full swing.
Southbank was buzzing as people navigated towards bars and restaurants.
Couples, families and friends raised a toast, with music setting the tone.
Sofia Garcia Ladera and Warren Fox, recently back from the UK, said dinner at Southbank and the fireworks were perfect incentive to venture into the CBD.
“We thought we’d come into the city so we could see it all,” Mr Fox said.
The pair considered security when making plans.
“After recent events, and Flinders St, we didn’t know about Fed Square,” he said.
“We’re still concerned but you can’t let that stop you.”
Meanwhile, the man behind Melbourne’s New Year’s Eve fireworks delivered a stunning 14 tonne display over the city skyline.
Pyrotechnician Rusty Johnson, logistics manager for Howard & Sons, said the spectacular boasted more fireworks than Sydney’s renowned Harbour extravaganza.
“We’re the only city in the world to cover seven square kilometres of area, and we’ve got fireworks coming off every building and rooftop in those seven square kilometres,” Mr Johnson said.
Mr Johnson said his team had worked hard to bring fresh ideas to make this year’s fireworks the best ever, sourcing inspiration from overseas.
Melbourne’s night sky was lit up with flowers, as our New Year’s Eve fireworks paid tribute to the city’s award-winning parks and gardens.
Acting Lord Mayor Arron Wood has called it the biggest and best the city has yet seen.
Some 68 of the world’s best pyrotechnicians have spent the past week installing launch sites at 22 city rooftops.
An array of pastel-coloured floral designs, including peonies, dahlias and chrysanthemums, are set to make the skyline “sparkle” at the stroke of midnight.
The 10-minute display was synchronised with a soundtrack from ARIA Award-nominated dance-pop duo Client Liaison.
Revellers also gathered at Docklands to ring in 2018 with a bang.
Hundreds gravitated towards fences along the waterfront, reserving a prime viewing location for the midnight fireworks.
Groups of young children and teens are enjoying a brightly lit pop-up DJ booth, busting out some of their best dance moves for hundreds of onlookers.
Others had their night cut short, with friends seen loading drunken teens into cabs before midnight arrived.
Michelle Raponi visited the busy location with some relatives from Italy for the special occasion.
“It’s been pretty good, we’re enjoying the music and the crowd,” she said.
“So far we feel very safe, we’ve seen a lot of police and PSOs around which is really reassuring.
“We’re really looking forward to the fireworks and I hope 2018 brings good health and happiness.”