GALLERY: Hunter celebrates New Year's Eve 

NEWCASTLE

NOVOCASTRIANS arrived early to celebrate the arrival of a new year on Monday night, and to secure the  best views for fireworks displays at 9pm and midnight.

Mandy Elkovich from Holmesville and her extended family set up at the Pitt Street Reserve at Stockton, directly across from Nobbys, on Sunday night.

‘‘You’ve got to get here early to get a good spot,’’ Ms Elkovich said. ‘‘We come every year and the kids just have a ball.’’

Over at the Ballast Ground, Nell Lamb and Lee-Anne McDougall were among dozens of van owners who took advantage of the quieter camping spot.

‘‘We’ll walk down to see the fireworks,’’ Ms Lamb said.

Over on the city side of the harbour, Newcastle’s Kayalah McElevey and her friend Ashlee Rushton, both 19, were off to Queens Wharf Brewery for a Brazilian-style carnavale on the water. 

‘‘We’ve had a good day now we’re preparing for a good night and a good new year,’’ Ms McElevey said.

LAKE MACQUARIE

WANGI Wangi was the centre of the party in Lake Macquarie on New Year's Eve, as thousands congregated in boats and on shore to see the lake’s only fireworks display.

Boats gathered outside the fireworks exclusion zone, across from Wangi RSL, from  early in the afternoon to secure the best vantage points.

With fireworks at Warners Bay and Swansea cancelled due to a lack of money, other Lake Macquarie residents headed into Newcastle, went to parties or stayed home.

At Warners Bay there was disappointment  the fireworks had been cancelled.

Ashliegh Pankhurst, 20, of Maryland, and her friends had spent New Year’s Eve at Warners Bay since they were children.

But with no fireworks they decided instead to have a picnic at Warners Bay in the day and go to a house party at night.

Johley Bird, of Belmont North, said it was a shame because Warners Bay was ‘‘a better location than Newcastle’’.

The pair said Warners Bay was more family-oriented with ‘‘less drunks’’.

MAITLAND

CROWDS at Maitland’s riverside on New Year's Eve were treated to live music, DJs and family activities before a fireworks spectacular at 9pm and midnight.

The younger crowd were kept busy with amusement rides and a kids’ disco while parents were able to enjoy a few drinks, with alcohol restrictions once again lifted.

Adam Akers and his wife Kristy celebrated with family and friends and were glad they could enjoy the fireworks with a few  beers.

‘‘This is our second year coming here and it’s nice to bring the children down,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s just like at home but we’re able to see the fireworks with the children but still have a few beers to celebrate.’’

Event manager Rachel MacLucas said the allowance of alcohol was aimed to ensure the adults had the chance to enjoy a casual drink but still take their family to see the fireworks display.

PORT STEPHENS

FAMILIES and groups of young revellers filled the  Nelson Bay shoreline on Monday afternoon to soak up the last rays of sun and settle down for the fireworks extravaganza.

Among the throng  were Lucy Grace, of Corlette, and a bunch of her friends, who arrived about 4.30pm to take advantage of the warm weather and go for a swim.

The 21-year-old said the group had been heading to the Nelson Bay show for the past four years.

‘‘It’s always a good night here and it’s just about spending time with good friends,’’ she said.

Olivia Mayne took her three children, Branton, Hamish and Ava,  and said the bay was a perfect setting for young families.

‘‘It’s really casual and you can bring a picnic down and the kids can go for a swim,’’ she said. 

D’Albora Marina’s Nelson Bay event manager Deborah Stretton said the commercial hub was entering its 15th year running the region’s family-friendly fireworks. 

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