NYE in Sydney – Alternatives to Circular Quay

Goat Island Fireworks by Lyn Lindfield

What do you do if you are not one for HUGE crowds but still want to watch the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks from a front-row seat?  Well, I asked 3 Sydney bloggers to share their experiences of spending New Year’s Eve in Sydney on the western side of the bridge. 

View the NYE Fireworks from Barangaroo – Tara from Travel Far Enough

Tara from Travel Far Enough spent last NYE at Barangaroo and shared her insider tips on making the most of this location. 

Barangaroo is a relatively new destination for watching the New Year’s Eve Fireworks in Sydney. While it doesn’t give you the main Sydney Harbour show, the spirit of New Year’s Eve is in top form here.

NYE Fireworks Sydney from Barangaroo by Tara Marlow - Travel Far Enough

From Barangaroo, you virtually get a front row seat to the fantastic fireworks display on the other side of the Harbour Bridge. The bonus is that the reserve is not as crowded as many of the more popular viewpoints, like Circular Quay or Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, so you can arrive later (before 5 pm), find a spot to spread out and settle in just as the evening begins.

What can you see?
Because the Reserve slopes toward the water, you get unobstructed views of the Harbour Bridge, North Sydney, Balmain, Balls Head and Goat Island. Wheelchair accessibility is available, and because of limited capacity at the New Year’s Eve event, food and drink are plentiful, the lines are manageable, and there are plenty of toilets available for the masses. You are welcome to bring a BYO picnic, and picnic baskets are available for purchase when you buy your ticket.

Our insider tips:

  • Sit in the alcoholic-free section for a less raucous event and prime seating. With kids, it’s a brilliant strategy, but even if you’re kid-free, it’s a great way to take in the Sydney New Year’s Eve ambience without dealing with the increasingly drunk crowd.
  • Get in line before 5 pm. When the gates open at 6 pm, head straight to the (alcohol-free) section, claim your spot with a big blanket, then break out the deck of cards and settle in.
  • To get early bird tickets at a discount, sign up to the Barangaroo eNews on their website. Tickets are limited, so it’s best to buy them early.

Tara and her husband Rich travel full-time and are currently making their way around Australia. You can read about their travels on their blog Travel Far Enough or follow them on Facebook.

New Years Eve from Goat Island – Lyn from the Travelling Lindfields

Sydneysider Lyn shared her experience seeing in the New Year from one of Sydney’s Harbour Islands.

NYE in Sydney from Goat Island Fireworks by Lyn Lindfield

Goat Island lies due west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is very much a families and couples venue. If your idea of a fun New Year’s Eve is a wild party, then Goat Island is not for you, but if you want a venue which is easy to access, doesn’t require arriving ridiculously early to get a good spot and has a quiet, low-key atmosphere then Goat Island is perfect.

What can you see?
There is a main fireworks barge between the island and the Harbour Bridge. These are the fireworks you will be watching. You can see other fireworks, but they are further away.

You cannot see the Opera House or the eastern side of the Harbour Bridge. In most years this side of the bridge has been a major focal point. However in 2016, when we went, it didn’t seem to be quite as important.

Where can you sit?
There is nothing to sit on except grass. Bring a picnic rug or low beach chair.  There is a separate area for wheelchairs on the roof of the toilet block. It sounds weird, but it has a ramp up to it and a great view.

What can you buy?
Goat Island is BYO. Bring your own drinks, including alcohol, food, and anything else you might want.

How do you get there?
Access is by a dedicated ferry from King St Wharf. The cost of the ferry is included in the tickets.

What are the pros?

  • An uninterrupted close-up view of one of the main fireworks barges set against the background of the Harbour Bridge.
  • The only cost for the evening is your entry ticket. Goat Island is one of the few venues where you can bring your own alcohol.
  • You don’t need to arrive early and join a long queue to get a good spot. Because numbers are limited there is enough room for everyone.

What are the cons?

  • You can’t see the main (eastern) side of the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House.
  • There is no entertainment. Waiting several hours for the fireworks can get a bit tedious.

Insider tips

  • There are two ferry departure times. Get a ticket for the earlier departure if you can. The prime positions went to those who arrived first.
  • There is only one ferry. It makes two trips to the island and back. After the fireworks, leave quickly if you don’t want to wait around for it to return for the second pick-up.
  • Bring a torch. It gets dark.
  • Bring a picnic rug or low chair and all the food and drink you will need.

Lyn and her husband David are regular travellers taking their bicycles with them whenever they can. Follow The Travelling Lindfields on Facebook to keep up to date with all of their travels and check their blog for more great Sydney articles.

New Years Eve from Darling Harbour – Sarah from Gluten Free Traveller

Sarah from Gluten Free Travellers spent NYE at the 4 Points Sheraton in Darling Harbour and loved it. 

NYE in Sydney from Darling Harbour by Gluten Free Traveller

New Years in Sydney is an extraordinary experience no matter how you choose to spend it. I decided to stay away from the crowds of Sydney Harbour and take in the New Years’ atmosphere from a rooftop looking over Darling Harbour. Accompanied by my parents who were over from the UK for Christmas and my sister, we had a simply fabulous evening.

Where did we go?
The 4 Points by Sheraton, Darling Harbour, hosts an annual intimate cocktail party at its rooftop bar, with table service, delicious canapés (plenty of gluten-free options, which I was very pleased with!), unlimited drinks and a DJ.

Do you need to be a hotel guest?

I believe ticket priority is given to guests staying at the hotel over New Year and I must say being able to stumble just a few steps to my room at the end of the night was luxury.

The event hosted enough people to generate a celebratory atmosphere but not so many that you feel claustrophobic or can’t take a seat at a table to give your feet a rest! Tables were reserved for every guest.

What can you see?

Darling Harbour has its own set of fireworks displays similar to those around the Sydney Harbour Bridge and no less spectacular. The view is amazing and unobstructed (no fighting for your spot on the riverbank here!)

It’s the perfect place to see in the New Year champagne in hand, without the crowds. The only downside is that you don’t get the iconic backdrop of the Harbour Bridge, but I have to say the view from Darling Harbour is no less spectacular.
Would I do it again – absolutely! A gorgeous view and a glass of bubbles what could be better?”

You can find more from Sarah on her Facebook page or her blog.

Still sorting out your NYE plans? Check out my mega list of things to do on NYE in Sydney for more inspiration.

Need help planning your trip to Sydney? Join our Sydney Expert Facebook Group where you can ask questions, stay up to date with what’s happening in Sydney and meet a bunch of friendly locals just waiting to share their advice!


  1. Aaah the never ending challenge of seeing the Sydney NYE spectacular without going insane. Ha. Some great tips here – maybe I’ll brave it this year! Great post!

  2. Some great alternatives here. I image Circular Quay must get sooooo busy! There are some good vantage points that are less popular but equally very good…

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