GALLERY: Fireworks in sky, not on street 

GROWING crowds and behaviour that kept the fireworks limited to the skies have won Hunter revellers a ringing endorsement from the organisers of 2012’s last parties.

Hunter event managers were  toasting a successful and generally safe New Year’s Eve just hours after the last party-goers finally went to bed.

Newcastle City Council major tourism and event developer Mark Stratford said about 40,000 people lined the harbour, with a stronger- than-expected turnout in Stockton nearly matching the main crowd at the Newcastle foreshore.

‘‘Stockton was huge this year,’’ Mr Stratford said.

‘‘Newcastle always turns out a strong crowd but Stockton numbers have certainly grown.’’

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Thousands encircled Wangi Wangi by sea and shore to catch fireworks exploding over Lake Macquarie, with a flotilla of boats spilling out of the bay to both sides of the peninsula for the show.

Nostalgia was high among those farewelling nightlife staple Fanny’s of Newcastle, with more than a thousand revellers walking through the doors for a last hurrah.

Pictures and songs from decades past dotted the night, as memories from the venue’s long tenure were re-lived for a final time.

The venue’s owner Russell Richardson said the landmark, which is planned to reopen rebranded after a facelift, had gone out on a high note.

‘‘Everyone was really enjoying themselves and we had an incident-free night,’’ Mr Richardson said.

‘‘There’s probably a bit of nostalgia with us and the staff but all things come to an end ... I think everyone just had a good, fun night.’’

d’Albora Marinas manager John Bradshaw said crowds of between 4500 and 5000 at Nelson Bay’s fireworks were on par with previous years but the throng had been particularly well-behaved.

‘‘It was probably the best New Year’s Eve behaviour we have had for many years down there,’’ he said.

Mr Bradshaw said the crowd has skewed towards young people and families thanks to zero-tolerance alcohol restrictions, which he also credited with reducing the glass found on the foreshore afterwards.

‘‘I think the temptation for the older crowd to come down and party has gone a little bit,’’ he said.

Maitland’s Riverside Park drew nearly 9000 revellers, who event organiser Rachel MacLucas said had vindicated the decision to allow alcohol.

‘‘It presents some challenges but there were parents and grandparents sitting there with picnic tables and a glass of wine ... the majority of people were well-behaved,’’ she said.

Ms MacLucas said the 9pm fireworks had become a greater drawcard this year, a switch from the larger midnight crowds of 2011.

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