GALLERY: New Year's Eve in the Gong

Wollongong revellers farewelled 2012 in spectacular fashion last night, with thousands lining the harbour foreshore to ring in the new year.

Yesterday's festivities kicked off mid-afternoon at Belmore Basin with crowds enjoying live music, amusement rides and tucking into fish and chips and Dagwood dogs by the beach.

Crowds began to build up along the shoreline from late afternoon as families got in early to secure the best vantage points ahead of the 9.30pm fireworks display.

Among those who arrived early were West Wollongong’s Kristina and Daniel Judge, who set up their picnic rugs on the foreshore grass at 4pm to ensure they got a good view of the fireworks.

Mrs Judge said the duo had bought their children for the fireworks last year and enjoyed it so much they decided to invite the rest of the family this year.

‘‘There’s 10 of us coming altogether,’’ she said.

‘‘In previous years we just hung around at home for New Year’s and had dinner with the family but we decided to come out here and make a day of it this year.

‘‘The kids are really loving it.’’

Bowral couple Patrick and Margaret Wilson also arrived in time to set themselves up in a prime spot on the beach.

‘‘It’s the third year we’ve come [to Wollongong] for New Year’s Eve; we’ve made in into a bit of a family tradition now,’’ Mrs Wilson said.

‘‘For us it’s too difficult to get to Sydney and it’s way too busy in there anywhere.

‘‘It only takes us an hour to get home from here so we can be home in time to watch the midnight fireworks on TV.’’

Goulburn mother Amy Tapper also ruled out travelling in to Sydney for the fireworks, instead choosing to mark her 10-month-old daughter Ava’s first New Year’s Eve with a trip to Wollongong.

‘‘It took us about two hours to get here but we’re staying overnight,’’ she said.

Elsewhere across the Illawarra fireworks lit up the sky over Shellharbour and Kiama.

Further south, Ulladulla, Huskisson and Berry also hosted fireworks displays.

Pictures: Andy Zakeli

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