New Year's Cheer
By SALLY GORDON and EMMA CORNFORD
ALMOST 6000 New Year's Eve revellers are expected to converge on Yamba Hill at midnight tomorrow to welcome the start of 2005 with a bang.
The Pacific Hotel's traditional fireworks display on the hill at Yamba is set to go ahead at 12pm for a 25-minute skylight spectacular. The fireworks, in front of the Pacific Hotel, have delighted crowds at Yamba for the past 13 years.
Pacific Hotel part owner and fireworks sponsor Jack McIntosh said families could expect high, aerial pyrotechnics.
"Because it will be high tide, there will be a lot more high, aerial stuff because they've got to do it all from trailers off the beach," he said.
"I think people tend to enjoy those more, there's always a bigger ooh when the big ones go up ... and they make all that noise."
Mr McIntosh said the ambience on the hill for new year's could be enjoyed by all ages.
"Over the last seven or eight years the crowds have been fantastic, there's always lots of police present and it's a good enjoyable night," he said.
"Lots of families come to the hill and all in all, it's a really good atmosphere."
Pubs and clubs in Yamba are expected to close around 1.30am on Saturday.
Along the Clarence Coast, holiday hotspots are preparing for the onslaught of annual revellers.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the police, in conjunction with the Clarence Valley Council, this year have beefed up patrols to curb anti-social behaviour.
NPWS manager of the southern Clarence area, Andrew Lugg, said strict new regulations were in response to last year's new year's party mayhem at the Illaroo camp ground.
NPWS crews and police will be on patrol at Minnie Water, Wooli, Brooms Head and Angourie.
Road blocks will be enforced at the entrance to the Illaroo visitors precinct at Minnie Water, from 9am tomorrow until 7am Saturday.
All national park trails around Minnie Water have been closed.
"People that are in the park will be allowed to stay there but other visitors to the park won't be permitted at that visitor's precinct," Mr Lugg said.
New year's celebrations at venues in Grafton have been scaled down, as it is expected most locals will party on the Clarence Coast.
The Crown Hotel will close at 4pm tomorrow; the Post Office Hotel plans to shut after dinner and the Grafton Hotel also will close early.
An employee of the Royal Hotel at South Grafton said closing time would depend on the crowds.
"... Most people go to the beach nowadays," he said.