Stories from Sydney Harbour Bridge

There was an almighty crack, it sounded like the clouds were breaking.

The familiar, but ever unsettling, low rumble followed and then the lightning. Shooting up through the clouds with an electric glow, flashing and crackling – illuminating the sky.  And then as if on cue the heavens opened. The screams and shrieks of laughter and haste echoed across the park like a Mexican wave. Unsure whether to hold our ground or run, we looked around and up at the sky. Flight. we packed our bags and ran with the crowds for shelter under the bridge.

There was a hum, you could feel it across the whole city. We had arrived in Sydney 24 hours before New Year’s Eve and you just knew something was building.

Images of golden pink sunsets over the harbour bridge filled my imagination. Champagne-fuelled picnics with toes tickling the grass in the summer evening heat. Sunglasses, books to read, food trucks and a late night. New Year’s Eve in Sydney had been the dream that had kept me crawling on my hands and knees through 2018.

Yet, as I hastily made my dash out of the portaloo, in my attempt to touch as little as possible, I scraped my foot along the corner of the door as it slammed behind me. A large blood-covered red mark looked like tomorrows bruise and in my catastrophizing head, all I could think was “I hope I don’t get hepatitis from such an injury“. The champagne mirage was slowing sippling away.  Stolen picnic blankets, homemade sandwiches and an alcohol-free New Year seemed like the perfect fit for this stormy evening.

As it grew closer and closer to midnight people kept pouring into our harbour bridge park, the atmosphere was building and the rain picked up its pace. The clouds drifted from dark storm colours to the evening night sky so subtlety, you barely realised it had gotten really dark. The hum grew louder.

From sleeping on the curb outside Luna park to queuing for an hour for my caffeine fix, our New Years Eve in Sydney seemed to stretch out before us like a distant finish line on the horizon, but as we got closer and closer the time kept up its pace too. The hours turned to minutes, to seconds, to the “10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2..1″. And then, the hum went still.

There was a split second, right after the moment we counted down to one,  it was as quick as the intake of breath, the blink of an eye, it was that split second before the fireworks started.  If you didn’t listen for it, you would have missed it. Silence. It felt like to the whole crowd was holding that breathe in. Ready for the eruption.

The hum went into overdrive. The rain had stopped. The wait was over. The eyes of the crown seemed to glow. The wait, the rain, it only made the end even more special, even more worthwhile. It made it a better story.

The fireworks along the bridge lit up the sky like the midday sun. The noise exploded and bounced from the bridge to the opera house. The city was so full. The hum was so loud. The colours danced across the sky and cascaded into the water. And it went on. And it went on. A new year. What a way to start it. The hum.

We turned around, our back to the bridge, the harbour, the opera house and hand in hand we walked home and into 2019.

It wasn’t the first time I stood in the rain on that trip. It felt like it was preparing me for the next few months – the dark days and the cold nights. But what I keep learning time and time again, through the difficult lessons and the fun ones, there are only three things you can do in the rain: hide (under a bridge) and wait it out, dance or drink Piña colada’s…

**  In the month on February I’m going to be sharing a picture every day on Instagram of different snapshots and stories of this Australia trip, will you come and join me?

** If you liked this travel story, check out my ‘stories from a red rock‘ Australian adventure

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