Australia wakes up after a very different New Year's celebration

A few sore heads? Australia wakes up after a very different New Year’s celebration – but it didn’t stop wild partygoers descending on Bondi Beach for an early morning swim after ringing in 2021

Sydneysiders have marked the start of 2021 with an early-morning dip at the city’s most iconic beach after a night of restricted celebrations.

Revellers splashed their way into the New Year at Bondi Beach, in the eastern suburbs, on Friday morning after the city rung in January 1 with a shortened fireworks display on a vacated harbour.

The beachgoers stripped down to their underwear and made a dash across the famous golden sand, before bracing the chilly water.

Two women pose from the water at Sydney’s Bondi Beach during the early hours of New Year’s Day

Three women make a dash for the water at Bondi Beach after stripping down to their underwear in the early hours of New Year’s Day

A man covers himself with seaweed after stripping down to his birthday suit for a refreshing dip at Bondi Beach

The New Year’s celebrations continued for groups of revellers who descended on Sydney’s most iconic beach on Friday morning

The group were not fazed by the brisk morning conditions, and were instead full of smiles as they played in the waves and danced on the shore.

Couples embraced in the water and on the sand, with some marking the start of the day with a sweet kiss.  

Sydney largely banned crowds for its world-renowned pyrotechnic display on New Year’s Eve, while Melbourne’s fireworks were cancelled weeks ago. 

Canberra, Brisbane and Adelaide also cancelled their fireworks.

The restrictions ensured the Sydney foreshore, including popular vantage points such as the Opera House and The Rocks, were on Thursday night deserted, with no revellers or firework-watchers in sight.

The lively seven-minute fireworks display at midnight carried themes of love and solidarity amid COVID-19, which has killed 909 Australians to date.

A man and a woman, joined by their friends, danced on the sand as they marked the start of January 1, 2021

A group of friends sit on the beach in their outfits from New Year’s Eve, with one reveller still wearing her party hat 

A couple share a sweet kiss on Bondi Beach after Sydney rung in the beginning of 2021 on Friday

Fireworks forming the shape of a heart were set off on the stroke of midnight.

Sydneysiders mostly watched the display on television, with a permit system established for the CBD only for those with pre-existing hospitality bookings.

Boats were permitted on Sydney Harbour with strict guidelines, while the children-friendly fireworks at 9pm did not go ahead.

Residents in Greater Sydney, including Wollongong, the Central Coast and Blue Mountains, were restricted to hosting five visitors in their homes, including children. The limit for outdoor gatherings was reduced to 30.

Central Melbourne was also mostly vacated on Thursday night, with a smattering of people in restaurants but parks and public spaces deserted.

The Victorian government urged people not to head into the Melbourne CBD on Thursday night unless they had a hospitality booking.

A man holds his arms up for the camera after making his way into the water with two friends on Friday morning

A woman in a white swimming costume runs across the sand and into the water at Sydney’s Bondi Beach

A couple embrace as they splash in the water at Bondi Beach on Friday morning, after ringing in the New Year

The city’s new eight-person outbreak prompted authorities to cut indoor gatherings from 30 people to 15 from 5pm on New Year’s Eve.

South Australians were allowed no more than 50 people at their house – indoors or outdoors – for New Year’s Eve celebrations. A maximum of 200 people were permitted at private outdoor gatherings.

Fireworks in Hobart went ahead but, like in Sydney, people were urged not to gather on the waterfront. Darwin residents needed to register and wear wristbands to attend the city’s two fireworks displays.

In marked contrast to the rest of the country, Perth planned celebrations that were close to normal, with two fireworks displays. 

A large gathering of police patrol near a deserted Circular Quay in the Sydney CBD to watch the annual fireworks display

Federation Square was much livelier on New Year’s Eve with Melbourne residents waving goodbye to a year from hell

Starting 2021 in style: A young couple share an intimate kiss as they welcome in the New Year at Melbourne’s Federation Square

With residents barred from the foreshore around the Sydney Harbour Bridge under government restrictions, the city’s festivities paled compared to those enjoyed by Melburnians living under much more relaxed rules.

Large crowds made up of hundreds of revellers partied the night away in Federation Square – punctuated by one loved-up couple enjoying a passionate kiss to see in the New Year.

One woman in leopard print enjoyed the party in style at St Kilda as she treated the pavement like her cat walk, while others ended a year to forget by packing along the foreshore.

At a party event in the bayside suburb, revellers were shoulder to shoulder as they danced the night away – with the pain of lockdowns that have blighted the city this year seemingly miles away.

Bringing in the New Year: A woman in leopard print clothing shows off while enjoying the festivities in Melbourne

Large crowds are seen dancing at St Kilda Beach as Melbournians bring in the New Year in St Kilda

A large group all dressed in white are seen having a midnight pash and bringing in the New Year at Baxter At Pontoon in St Kilda

In Sydney, groups of friends dressed to impress as they headed into Circular Quay with some donning sombreros and ‘Happy New Year’ headpieces. 

Young women were spotted wobbling their way into the harbour in sky-high heels while the men took advantage of the occasion to showcase their best suits. 

The CBD on the other hand was eerily quiet compared to earlier years, as countless police officers patrolled the streets ensuring everyone in the city had a permit. 

Only residents and those with existing bookings at restaurants and pubs were let into the no-go zone with a relevant permit but venues have been hit with mass cancellations. 

Vantage points across the harbour were blocked off from the public with fences and signage turning prospective visitors away for the first time.  

A security guard patrols a near-empty Sydney Opera House forecourt during New Year’s Eve celebrations

One couple entered 2021 sharing a romantic kiss in Sydney as celebrations erupted to mark the end of 2020 across Australia 

Friends with prime viewing of the Sydney Harbour Bridge prepare to farewell 2020 and watch the seven minute fireworks display

One Sydney woman was a little too excited to ring in the new year and was captured with a safety cone over her head

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