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Australia cautiously ushers in 2022 with fireworks but smaller crowds

Australia has entered the new year more cautiously than usual, with far fewer people attending fireworks and other events.

But after a tumultuous 2021 Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians had much to be thankful for. “Despite the pandemic, despite the floods, the fires, the ongoing drought in some areas, the cyclones, the lockdowns, even mouse infestations, Australia is stronger today than it was a year ago. And we’re safer,” he said in a New Year’s Eve message.

As of the last day of 2021, Australia reported nearly 33,000 new Covid-19 cases in the latest 24-hour reporting period.

“We have one of the lowest death rates and the highest vaccination rates from Covid anywhere in the world,” Morrison said. “And we have one of the strongest advanced economies in the world to get through Covid – more people in employment, more apprentices, more secure credit and companies investing in their future with confidence.”

A kid ready for fireworks at the Sydney Opera House Photo: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

Although thousands of people flocked to the viewing points next to Sydney Harbor to view the city’s internationally renowned fireworks display, only 17,000 tickets went on sale. Masks were encouraged and unvaccinated people were asked to stay at home.

In previous years, more than a million revelers have visited the city for the screenings.

But this year’s displays were not lacking in scale, with six tons of fireworks being launched on two displays at 9 p.m. and midnight.

A sunset fireworks display for kids and families on Melbourne's Yarra River waterfront.
A sunset fireworks display for kids and families on Melbourne’s Yarra River waterfront. Photo: Loren Elliott/Reuters

Melbourne was sweltering during the New Year celebrations with a mercury peak of 37.3°C at 6pm before dropping to the mid-20s for the 9:30pm fireworks.

The city’s mayor, Sally Capp, said it was undeniable that the celebrations had been hit by the pandemic, but she assured people with event zone tickets — open only to double-vaccinated individuals — that there was still plenty to enjoy.

Many of the streets in Melbourne’s central business district were closed for alfresco dining, before people celebrated with glitter balls, DJs, dancing and a midnight fireworks show.

New Year's Eve fireworks over Adelaide Oval after a T20 match
New Year’s Eve fireworks over Adelaide Oval after a T20 cricket match. Photo: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

Adelaide also sweated into the new year with temperatures in parts of the city reaching 40C in the afternoon.

Fireworks were not held in Elder Park as in previous years, but instead in front of 5,000 people in Rymill Park, and more in North Adelaide.

Brisbane’s South Bank saw the return of its fireworks display after being canceled last year, with no crowd limits or tickets.

In Perth, where only one new Covid case was registered on Friday, nightclubs have been closed and festivals canceled due to health restrictions. But fireworks continued in the city with an air show at 9 p.m. and a display at midnight.

Fireworks at Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.
Fireworks at Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. Photo: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

The Northern Territory ushered in the new year with music at Darwin Waterfront featuring Amy Shark, The Veronicas and Conrad Sewell.

Hobart hosted two exhibitions in the middle of the River Derwent.