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Into the New Millennium

January 1, 2000

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The year 2000 swept in from the international dateline to Kiribati, Tonga, New Zealand and Australia...

At the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1999, at the international date line, the century of the 1900s came to an end, sweeping quickly westward to bring the first rays of 2000 and the new millennium to the South Pacific, New Zealand and Australia -- the world's first populated land masses to greet the year of the new millennium, or at least the century of the 2000s.

Much has been written that the new millennium did not, in fact, begin until after midnight of December 31, 2000, when the 21st century officially began.

But no matter.

New Zealand and Australia partied all hours on New Year's Eve 1999 until after the dawn of the year 2000.

No Y2K glitches

Despite all the dire warnings, New Zealand and Australia were proved more than ready to cope with the millennium bug, turning over to 2000 seamlessly.

Byron Bay in Australia's northern New South Wales said it was the first place on the continent to view the sun of the new year since it is the most easterly point on the mainland.

Inland from the coast, Mt Warning said it was its peak which first saw the light of the first 2000 day.

Outside Australia, the Chatham Islands in New Zealand said it was definitely among the world's first, after Kiribati and Tonga, to have the first 2000 sunrise.

A boy born at Waitakere Hospital in Auckland's western suburbs at 12.01am Auckland time (10.01pm Sydney time) is said to be world's first 2000 baby.

Parties and fireworks

As far as continental Australia was concerned, it was far ahead of the western continents, including the Americas, which were still in 1999 while Sydney and the rest of the nation were already deep in the revelries of the year 2000.

Australian celebrations focused on Sydney as the city which was to host the 2000 Olympic Games in September.

The most extravagant fireworks displays lighted the Sydney New Year’s Eve sky and the most lavish and most expensive of parties were held at or in the vicinity of the Sydney Opera House.

Costly millennium fanfare

For the first time in its history, the Sydney Opera House precinct was almost completely cordoned off from the public.

Instead, tickets costing as much as $2000 each were being sold for Opera House parties.

But especially where the public could wander about freely around Sydney Harbour, the crowds milled in their 10s of thousands.

Year of the Olympics

It was the year of the Sydney Olympic Games -- some called it the first Olympics in the new millennium -- and this added color and excitement to Australia's welcome to the year 2000.

The stage was set and despite nagging problems, some more serious than others, the Games promised to be the event of the new millennium.

All's well with the world

No serious problems with the dreaded Y2K bug, neither in Australia nor in New Zealand, were reported.

The lights remained on, the water ran, shops were open early on New Year's Day 2000, planes, buses, trains and ferries plied their routes, and computers hummed smoothly to signal all was well with the world.

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