Where to get the biggest bang

Ignatius Jones, former New Year's Eve creative director

If anyone knows where the best place to view the fireworks on Sydney Harbour, it is Ignatius Jones.

The creative director of six New Years' Eve celebrations for the City of Sydney between 1996 and 2002, Jones describes the fireworks on the harbour as being like a stadium performance.

''It's a show in the round,'' he says. ''The organisers strive to make it work from any angle, but even in a stadium you need a front of house.''

Traditionally, this was the northern forecourt of the Opera House - the venue for the Lord Mayor's Ball. But Jones says this has changed in the past few years because one of the barges carrying fireworks was moved east of Fort Denison.

He says Opera House guests now have a split focus between the first barges to their right, and the Harbour Bridge to their left.

Front-row seats are now ''on a boat on the other side of Fort Denison facing the bridge with one of the major barges directly in front of you,'' Jones says.

''That way you get two barges and the bridge, and frankly what Fortunato [Foti, the director of the fireworks displays] does on the bridge is simply the finest architectural fireworks in the world.''

Jones adds, jokingly: ''He's been doing it for 12 years; he should be able to do it well now.''

Lieven Bertels, the director of the Sydney Festival

Lieven Bertels warns that his opinion about watching the New Year's Eve fireworks is ''the point of view of someone terribly jetlagged''.

''I'd hopped off a plane the day before,'' he says of last year's pyrotechnics. ''I only made it to the kiddies' fireworks because we were too knackered.''

Bertels watched the 9pm fireworks from Cremorne Point Reserve, which he says was excellent because of the panoramic view it has of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. ''It's an amazing vantage point geographically, being on the other side of the water,'' he says. ''Even for people who never venture to the dark side of the North Shore.''

Far from being child-eating trolls, Bertels says there was a ''jolly mood'' among the crowd at Cremorne Point. ''There was a really pleasant feeling about it. ''People were very friendly. We, as newcomers, didn't know the way around but were helped by locals.''

Their friendliness was undoubtedly helped by the ease of access to the reserve.

''Certainly for the kiddies' fireworks at nine, it was fairly easy to get there,'' he says. ''There were certainly no traffic jam nightmares.''

Bruce Beresford, the director of Driving Miss Daisy and Breaker Morant

Forget about the lord mayor's shindig at the Opera House or a swanky yacht on the water. The best things in life are free when it comes to watching the fireworks, so long as you matey up to the film and opera director Bruce Beresford.

''The best spot in the whole of Australia is my house in Birchgrove, but I'm not there,'' Beresford says, sheltering from an Antarctic wind on Flinders Island in Bass Strait. ''It's the best spot you can have. It looks straight down the harbour so you can see absolutely everything.

''You see the Harbour Bridge, the city to the north and the city to the south. It's phenomenal.''

So will you be opening the doors to the public, Bruce?

''Absolutely not,'' Beresford says, laughing. ''There are a couple of parks. One is by the ferry on the point. It's just as good.''

Besides climbing ''bloody freezing'' mountains and working on a film project, Beresford says he will be celebrating New Year's Eve on Flinders Island with his wife's relatives and the remote island's 700-odd other residents. In the meantime, he has handed over the keys to his house to friends: ''I hope they appreciate it.'' But he doubts New Year's Eve will be the same without his hospitality.

''They won't have me running around with endless glasses of French Champagne.''

The story Where to get the biggest bang first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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