Youths celebrate in Byron
FOR Australia's late teens and 20-somethings, it seemed all roads led to Byron Bay on New Year's Eve.
Once the family fireworks had finished a little after 9pm, the night was mostly characterised by thousands of fresh-faced wanderers looking for revelry on the streets, on Main Beach, and in the various packed venues dotting the town.
While police were dealing with some serious brawls and bashings in some of the darker recesses of town, the Main Beach car park and stage were generally of good cheer.
St John's Ambulance superintendent Dennis Trevithick, who has been doing New Year's in Byron since 2000, said the night was "par for the course", with cut feet and drunkenness the most typical ailments.
Cut feet were the most typical injury, while three people had been transported to hospital for drunkenness.
Full marks for daring to break the staid fashions of the evening went to the five lads dressed in Wimbledon tennis whites, led by Tom Roberts from Melbourne.
"We just wanted to be different ... to make it memorable. Everywhere we go everyone is loving it," Mr Roberts said.
The pounding world-beat music and the carnival rides kept the punters from lapsing into boredom until the clock struck 12 and hundreds took to the water for the first dip of 2013.
A trio of local surfers sporting shoulder-length hair, tanned torsos and retro surfboards appeared as if from nowhere, boards in tow, claiming to have surfed the first waves of 2013.
It's probably the only place in the world where lifeguards are still on duty at the stroke of midnight.
Observing the young crowd was veteran traveller Juergen Senftleben, who had come all the way from Germany to spend New Year's Eve in Byron Bay.
"Many people told me before I came to Australia I must come to Byron Bay," Mr Senftleben said.
Asked whether the Byron New Year's Eve spectacle was worth coming for, he was optimistic.
"It's so beautiful ... Australia is a very young nation - everybody is so friendly. I think it is good," he declared.