Melbourne city will be split into three party zones for New Year's Eve celebrations as part of a new plan to move crowds away from the central CBD.
Stages will be set up at Docklands, Treasury Gardens and Flagstaff Gardens for revellers, with 4-metre DJ towers, large multimedia screens, and fireworks.
The popular family-friendly 9.30pm fireworks show will again be held at Yarra Park. More than 500,000 people are expected to cram into the city on Monday night to take part in the $2.8 million celebrations, and a 10-minute musical track, recorded by Melbourne musicians for the event, will be played during the fireworks.
Lord mayor Robert Doyle said the new format would spread the crowd and help emergency crews and officials.
"It is a very big party and it takes a lot of organisation. The number one message we have is we want people to enjoy themselves, but enjoy themselves safety. People need to understand that you need to be a little bit patient and you certainly need to be respectful of other people having a good time as well as yourself."
Despite the warnings, Cr Doyle said previous New Year's Eve events had been "remarkably successful" and he expected Monday's to be no different.
This year's event, which will feature $330,000 worth of fireworks set off from across 22 sites, has been promoted as "one of the most exciting and accessible" in the city's history.
"You'll see a very spectacular display [and] I think you'll find the musical soundtrack composed by Melbourne musicians, recorded here specially for the choreographed fireworks, will be a real addition at the live sites."
The fireworks will be widely visible to anyone with a view of the city skyline, he said.
Following last year's fireworks display, which accidentally set the Arts Centre spire alight, the lord mayor joked that it was a "slight smoulder" but that emergency crews would always prepare for the worst-case scenario.
"Here, we try not to set our treasured icons on fire," he said.
Public transport will be free from 6pm on Monday until the first service on Tuesday morning. Extra trains, trams and NightRider buses will operate to help get party-goers home, but the City Loop will be closed just before midnight, with the only operating CBD train stations being Southern Cross and Flinders Street.
A Public Transport Victoria spokesman rejected claims that closing Parliament and Flagstaff stations would cause commuter headaches for those participating in the Treasury and Flagstaff gardens events.
He urged commuters to avoid the peak time between midnight and 1am, saying there will be plenty of services to get people home.
Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner Andrew Crisp said police will "saturate the city with more than 500 officers as part of a crackdown on anti-social behaviour, public drinking and violence in what is often the busiest night for emergency crews throughout the state".
"Our key message is we are friendly, you will see a friendly face, we will be fair, but if you don't respond to that friendly face and that fair way to which to you will be treated, then we will be firm with you," Assistant Commissioner Andrew Crisp said.
Last year, 34 people were locked up for drunken behaviour in the city.
Ambulance Victoria operations manager Paul Holman said staff would be doing everything they could in anticipation of a busy night but asked party-goers to do their part by celebrating sensibly.
Eight members of the bicycle response unit will be posted throughout the CBD in order to quickly get to patients in crowded areas.
"I would promote prevention ahead of cure. If there's the potential to be broken glass on the ground, make sure you're wearing shoes. Too often we see people who have shards of glass embedded in the soles of their feet at this time of year," he said.
Extra crews will be posted in St Kilda, Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas, along with major regional centres and events such as The Falls music festival.
Chief Inspector Ron Cooke said past problems in the Mornington Peninsula area meant police would deter people coming to the peninsula to drink and act loutishly.
“During past New Year's Eve celebrations we've dealt with groups of intoxicated youth gathering on Point Nepean Road between Rye and Portsea," he said. “We just won't tolerate this inconsiderate behaviour."
Police will routinely check vehicles at an intercept point at Rye for traffic offences and roadworthiness.
Fire authorities have also warned people not to light illegal firecrackers on New Year’s Eve, as concerns mount over high fuel loads in forests and dry grass across the state.
The warning comes after a man suffered serious head injuries when an illegal firecracker exploded in Mooroopna on Christmas Day.
Country Fire Authority chief officer Euan Ferguson said the incident highlighted the dangers of illegal fireworks.
“While many people see illegal fireworks as an innocent celebration, they can cause serious issues for fire services.
All these fires and injuries are preventable,” he said.
Melbourne party-goers can expect a partly cloudy New Year's Eve, with a maximum temperature of 24 degrees.
– With Kristian Silva