Less COVID-19 and less upheaval are common wishes for many in the Illawarra as we head into 2022.
They are certainly something that The Illawarra owner Ryan Aitchison is hoping for after two years of stress and disruption wrought by the pandemic.
He spent Friday preparing for his pub's New Year's Eve Block Party in Market Street, which had become a highly anticipated event in Wollongong.
With the recent spike in COVID cases, Mr Aitchison said some ticketholders had had to bow out, but the hotel had done a lot of work to ensure that the party was a safe event for those who could still come.
The party is to be held outside, with part of Market Street closed off for the revellers, and limited numbers.
Mr Aitchison said they had also hit the jackpot when it came to the weather, with Wollongong enjoying a warm and sunny day to see out 2021.
"We're very optimistic it's going to be a really great event," he said, adding that he had a "midnight surprise" ready for the partygoers.
When it came to the new year, Mr Aitchison said he was looking forward to plenty of sleep on the first day.
But he also said he was looking forward to this current surge of COVID out of the way, which he hoped would turn out to be the "finale" of the pandemic.
Also hoping for less COVID are the Wand family: Wollongong residents Paul and Christine, their son Tim and his wife Kate, and their son Henry.
The family celebrated the end of 2021 at Belmore Basin on Friday afternoon with a late lunch in Osborne Park, before spending a quiet night at home while watching the fireworks from the balcony.
The DeGiorgio family - Grace and Roy along with their children Sofia, Gabriella and Vincent - were also enjoying the sun at Belmore Basin to see out the year.
They had set up in a grassy spot overlooking the water on Friday afternoon, where they planned to stay to watch the fireworks later that evening.
When asked their hopes for 2022, Roy said with a laugh: "To be better than this year".
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