THOUSANDS descended on the city to see out the dying hours of 2012 and usher in the new year with the biggest fireworks spectacular Melbourne has seen.
More than 550,000 people were expected to flock to the city to see in 2013 with a bang, with many converging on the Treasury Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens and Docklands for the midnight fireworks display. About 8½ tonnes of pyrotechnics were set off at 25 locations throughout the CBD. The 10-minute show took nine months to prepare and was accompanied by a soundtrack composed by local artists.
The extravaganza was preceded by an Early Eve only in Yarra Park, next to the MCG, which hosted a family event with music from performers including James Reyne and The Bombay Royale, and ended with fireworks at 9.30pm. Hundreds of families had mistakenly crowded the banks of the Yarra River expecting to see the usual early fireworks over the city.
Police had vowed to saturate the streets with officers to keep the celebrations trouble free, and said they would issue on-the-spot fines for drunken, disorderly or antisocial conduct. There had been no early reports of trouble, a police spokeswoman said.
By 6pm people had staked out their spots at Treasury Gardens to get the best views of the midnight extravaganza and to enjoy the night's entertainment.
For Vanda Mullen, New Year's Eve is cause for double celebrations as December 31 is also her birthday. Mrs Mullen and her husband, Barry, travelled from Mount Macedon for the celebrations with their daughters and grandchildren.
Louis Quinteros is down from Queensland to visit relatives. ''We're coming to see if the fireworks are better than Brisbane's,'' he said. ''If they are, we'll come back next year.''
Charlotte Morgan of Preston took her family to Yarra Park. Her daughter Grace, 9, was excited although son Elliott, 5, was unimpressed by the cramped train ride: ''I was squished.''