New Years Eve on Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour NYE fireworks
Move into position well before sunset as popular spots fill up quickly.

There is nowhere in the world which compares with Sydney Harbour’s NYE fireworks spectacular. Sydney Harbour turns into a huge outdoor theatre with the Harbour Bridge and city skyline creating a stunning backdrop for its internationally renowned fireworks display. This is combined with creative and colourful lighting effects on board the many commercial and recreational vessels on the water to watch this incredible annual event.

If you have a boat, there is no better place to be on New Year’s Eve than Sydney Harbour. BUT, be prepared and be safe, Sydney Harbour will be heavily congested with many vessels of all types and sizes, all jostling for a prime position and anchorage to watch the fireworks.

Here is a checklist to provide you with some to tips  which will help you have an incident free New Years Eve on the water.

Prepare your vessel

  • Ensure your engine has been fully serviced – fuel filters changed and steering checked.
  • Check your bilge pumps and alarms.
  • Check safety equipment – lifejackets (accessible and ready for use), fully operational horn, fire extinguishers, (current)current red hand flares, torches (2 fully charged), VHF marine radio, (channel 13 (harbour control) 17 New Year’s Event Control) fenders (minimum 3 either side).
  • Check you have the right size anchor for your vessel. Carry a minimum of 40 metres of line or cable together with a minimum of 3 metres of chain attached to the anchor. Carry a spare anchor.
  • Check Batteries. It’s advisable to have a dual battery system – one battery to operate electronics, navigational lights and sound systems. The other for engine cranking only.
  • Check that your navigation lights are working and visible for 1 nautical mile.
  • Top up fuel and water tanks.
  • Make sure you have a set of tools on board.
  • If you have a small runabout ensure you have a biminy and clears as it can get cool and windy on the water at night.

On the water day and night

  • Stay alert and keep a constant lookout. Nominate others to help with lookout duties.
  • Be aware of wake from larger vessels.
  • Watch for stern lights on small vessels which may not be fitted with navigation lights.
    Adhere to the Know and understand the steering rules and the 6 knot rule restriction in place on Sydney Harbour 3.00pm-1.00pm from Fort Denison to Goat Island.
    Exclusion zones will be in place between Cockatoo Island and Clark Island. No unauthorised traffic will be allowed inside these zones marked by yellow-lit buoys. (special marks)
    New areas have opened on the western side of the bridge.
    A 6 knot minimum wash speed limit applies from 3pm on New Year’s Eve until 2am on New Year’s Day.
    Safety messages will be broadcast on marine radio band 27.88 and VHF channels 17 and 13. In an emergency, call 000 (triple zero).
Sydney Harbour Foreshore
Around many wharves, roads are closed, no glass is permitted and alcohol-free zones apply.

Wharf and foreshore access

  • Around many wharves, roads are closed, no glass is permitted and alcohol-free zones apply.
  • Vessels will be able to access Taronga Zoo wharf to pick up and drop passengers. They must keep out of the way of ferries and obey authorised officers and security.
  • No foreshore access between Taronga Zoo ferry wharf and Taylors Bay around Bradleys Head National Park.
    No foreshore access to Pirrama Park at Pyrmont.
  • Eastern Pontoon and Man O’War Jetty close at 10am.
  • Commissioners and Harbourmasters Steps close from the late afternoon.

Rules to remember

  1. Give way to vessels on your starboard side.
  2. Maintain your course if they are on your port side.
  3. Be prepared to take evasive action to avoid a collision at all times.
  4. Sound your horn– one blast – altering course to starboard, two blasts – altering course to port, three blasts – going astern, five blasts – unsure of your intentions.
  5. It is the Skipper’s responsibility to ensure the safety of passengers, crew, vessel and the safety of other vessels and people on the water.
  6. DO NOT plane your vessel in high density traffic areas unless you have good visibility and you are well clear of other vessels. (including moored vessels)
  7. Keep under the 0.05 alcohol limit if you are the Skipper.
boats farm cove sydney
Vessels 15 metres and over are not permitted to achor in Farm Cove on New Years Eve


On NYE anchoring is a high priority

  • Anchor up early in the day, well before sunset and be mindful of not laying out too much cable, keeping the standard scope of 3 x the depth of water. Be aware that yachts and motor cruisers swing differently in current and wind. If you are have cruiser anchor near other cruisers, or anchor your yacht with other yachts. Cruisers generally lay up into the wind, whilst yachts lay up into the current. Do not allow your vessel to lay of the boundary line. Securing your vessel to shore during this event is not permitted.
  • When dropping anchor ensure you are 200 metres clear of submarine cables or pipelines.
  • Use Farm Cove for anchoring only if you have a vessel less than 15 metres in length. Vessels over 15 metres are not permitted in Farm Cove.
  • Anchor clear of Exclusion Zone buoys.

Best Vantage Points
North-west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Clarkes Point, Greenwich Ferry Jetty, Manns Point, Balls Head, Berrys Bay, Lavender Bay.
South-west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Mort Bay, Ballast Point, Snails Bay.
North-east of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Neutral Bay, Shell Cove, Mosman Bay, Athol Bay.
South-east of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Farm Cove, Woolloomooloo Bay, Rushcutters Bay, Double Bay, Rose Bay.

Download the Sydney Harbour New Years Eve Boating Map.


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