FROM the banks of the Hunter River to the shores of Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens and Newcastle, the Hunter celebrated in style on New Year's Eve, ringing in the new year as breathtaking firework displays filled the night sky.
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Thousands jostled for position close to the waters edge at Maitland, Newcastle, Wangi Wangi and Nelson Bay to witness the sky fill with light and to welcome in 2013 while others avoided the crowds by heading to parties with friends or celebrating at home with family.
The crowds got in early in Newcastle, marking their territory with picnic blankets and chairs while thousands of others scrambled for a spot along the foreshore and in Nobbys Beach Reserve.
Organisers estimated about 30,000 revellers witnessed dazzling firework shows at 9pm and midnight as clear skies and warm weather beckoned people into the city.
For Hunter Hurricanes water polo players Georgia McConville, 16, Philippa Patterson, 16, and Abbey McCord, 15, 2013 will bring added freedom and responsibility as well as a possible life-defining HSC exam period.
‘‘It’s shaping up to be a big year – we’ll be getting our driver’s licence and sitting the HSC,’’ Georgia said.
‘‘We’re really excited.’’
Newcastle not only farewelled another year last night but waved goodbye to a city icon.
The new year saw the final night of dancing for iconic nightclub Fanny’s of Newcastle, which closed its doors for the final time at 3.30am today.
Elsewhere, the Queens Wharf Brewery held a Brazilian-style carnavale on the waterfront.
At Stockton, hundreds camped out to get prime position for the annual pyrotechnics display from Nobbys.
About 8000 people rocked out on Maitland’s riverbanks last night to live music, DJs and two fireworks displays.
In family-oriented celebrations young and old were given enough entertainment to occupy them through the night.
Crowds began to form about 6pm and the fun started with a rubber duck race at 6.30pm with all proceeds going towards Maitland Hospital Sensory Garden Fund.
Bluegrass country band the Do Riders had people dancing along the riverwalk from 7pm until the first lot of fireworks shot into the air at 9pm.
Event manager Rachel MacLucas said the displays were improved from last year thanks to the generosity of the fireworks providers.
‘‘The company decided to contribute a little bit extra to the shows so they were bigger than last year,’’ she said.
Alcohol restrictions were lifted to cater for parents who wanted to enjoy a quiet drink but still give their kids a chance to get prime position for the entertainment.
The sleepy village of Wangi Wangi came alive in Lake Macquarie last night, with revellers partying well into the night.
Thousands gathered on the water or on land to see the lake’s only fireworks display.
The pyrotechnics at Warners Bay and Swansea were cancelled due to a lack of funds meaning many headed into Newcastle, went to house parties or preferred to watch the Sydney fireworks at home.
To watch highlights of the Sydney fireworks display, click play in the frame below.
Peter and Tricia Richardson, of New Lambton, moored their 47-foot catamaran at the Wangi Workers Club wharf three days before New Year’s Eve to get the ‘‘best spot in the house’’.
‘‘I’ve been here since Friday to get this spot,’’ Mr Richardson said.
Meanwhile more than 5000 flocked to the shore at Nelson Bay to beckon in 2013 a little early.
Young and old soaked up the sunshine ahead of last night’s spectacular fireworks display.
Entertainment began at midday, the same time police began enforcing zero-tolerance alcohol restrictions on the waterfront.
Explosions dotted the waterfront for 15 minutes from 9pm, with another display at midnight for those who partied on.