Q&A – Backpacking Australia

Every day I get messages from travellers and future travellers asking me about my experiences and tips for backpacking through Australia. So I decided to write a blog post that I can refer to, so I don’t need to answer the same questions again and again.

Because there is a lot of information that I want to share with you, I decided to do a series of informative blog posts in the next weeks:

  1. Q&A – Backpacking Australia
  2. Q&A – Work & Travel Australia
  3. Q&A – Solo Travelling
  4. Planning your own Work & Travel Year
  5. About being an AuPair

So I hope I will answer as many questions in all these posts as possible and give you guys the information you may want and need for your own adventures.

If you have more questions or ideas what I should include into the following posts, please comment them down below or message me on Instagram @mind.wanderer

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What have you done/seen so far?

I flew from Germany over Doha to Melbourne and stayed in the city for 2,5 weeks to settle in and also because I met some lovely people and my first friends on my journey that I am still in connection with now.

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Afterwards, I did the Great Ocean Road and met two lovely German girls that I hang out with for a week in Adelaide afterwards.

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Then I did another tour for 6 days that lead me through the Red Centre and Outback of Australia to see the famous Uluru / Ayers Rock.

From Alice Springs I flew to Sydney to spend a week with one of the German girls from the Great Ocean Road in Bondi Beach, Sydney before I had to say goodbye and welcome my Cousine Lisa to Australia that visited me for three weeks.

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We spend 5 days in Sydney, went to the Blue Mountains and then started our journey to Brisbane with stops in Port Macquarie, Byron Bay and Surfers Paradise before we explored Brisbane for a few days and then flew back to Syndey.

When Lisa left me I wanted to take a flight to Perth, but it got cancelled and I had to stay in Bondi Beach for a few more days before I finally got to Western Australia.

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I experienced one very lonely week in Perth and then went to another 6-day tour to Esperance and see Wave Rock, Margaret River and Albany before I returned to Perth and finally meet a nice girl from Korea that I hang out with for another week in Perth before I flew to Cairns.

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In Cairns, I met my parents and brother after 3 months of travelling thousands of miles apart of them. We travelled three weeks with a campervan from Cairns to Sydney over Christmas and arrives for New Year’s Eve in Sydney to watch the world famous fireworks over the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It was a lovely time together with them and I am very glad that I was lucky to spend some time with them, especially for the Holidays.

Afterwards, I stayed in Sydney for a few days before I started my journey along the East Coast for the third time, but solo travelling for the first time. I also now have a lot more time and can stop wherever I want.

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So my first stop was Newcastle where I had two amazing days and wished I could stay longer because I got to meet and do Yoga together with @sjanaelise my favourite Yogi.

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Afterwards, I went to Woolwolga aka Mojosurf Spot X where I did a surf camp for 5 days and learned to ride the waves which is so much fun!

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Then I continued my journey to Byron Bay and was lucky to meet some amazing people in my hostel room that I hung out with for 6 days. It was an amazing time and I was glad to travel along with two guys to Surfers Paradise where I spend 5 more days with them and then finally met my first friend I met in Australia: Sabrina from Italy that I met in Melbourne again and we spend a wonderful weekend together.

Then I had three last days travelling and exploring Noosa on the Sunshine Coast before I met and moved in with my AuPair family that lives in Mudjimba on the Sunshine Coast and that I am now going to spend 1,5 month with.

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Your favourite places?

Not a ranking, because I could never decide:

  • Byron Bay
  • Newcastle
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Fitzroy in Melbourne
  • Bondi Beach in Sydney

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The best memories you made?

Again, I can’t rank them, but here are my favourites:

  • the time with Sabrina and James in Melbourne
  • the Twelve Apostles
  • Sleeping under the stars in the Outback on my Red Centre Tour
  • Living in Bondi Beach for a week
  • Travelling with my family and my cousine
  • Sailingtour on the Whitsundays
  • Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Doing Yoga with @sjanaelise in Newcastle
  • Learning to surf
  • Lots of fun and a wonderful time with friends I met in Byron Bay
  • Spending four days with Sam, a Canadian guy, in Surfers Paradise
  • Weekend in Surfers with Sabrina and Keith
  • Experiencing having an Aussie family

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Are you travelling solo?

Yes, I am mostly travelling alone, but I travelled three weeks together with my Cousine that visited me from Germany and three more weeks with my family that came over for a road trip along the East Coast over Christmas and New Years.

Sometimes, when I meet some nice people I stay together with them for a few days/ a week or two, but I have not found a long term travel buddy as I oftentimes everyone has their own plans and I prefer doing my thing.

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Is there anything that you completely dislike about Australia / Backpacking / Work & Travel?

To be honest… there is only one thing that I don’t like and that is being away from my family and friends for so long. Everything else is only so small and gets defeated by all the great things here. And even being away and not seeing friends and family is so worth it for the life that I am living now… at least for a year.

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What do you miss about Home/Germany (besides friends & family)?

I miss… German bread, a fridge with a variety of food, a kitchen to myself to cook, bake, test recipes with all the ingredients I need, my own bed and room for some privacy and relaxed & calm times alone, having a routine, cozy cold days for long winter walks, drinking tea and going to the sauna (at least for a weekend), my cat, not having to pack/live out of a backpack, always having washed and fresh clothes/towels if I need them.

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What is the cheapest/best way to travel around?

As I am travelling alone the best way for me is taking a Hop-on-Hop-off bus. I can make as many stops as I want along the way and see all the places that I want to. The Greyhound bus is the more known Backpacker bus, but I am taking the Premier Motor Bus because it is a lot cheaper and besides that you don’t get Wifi it is just as good.

When you are travelling with a friend / a group it is for sure cheaper to rent or even buy a car/van because you can also sleep in it and save the costs for a hostel bed. And you are more free with the time and places you go to and can explore some unknown or further away places.

Where are you staying?

I usually stay in Hostels as they are easy to find and book everywhere in Australia.

With my cousin I stayed in AirBnBs which usually is a bit more expensive than a dorm hostel room but also more private and when you are lucky, book early or travel outside the season you may find some super cheap and very nice places.

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When I travelled with a campervan with my family, we stayed at campgrounds. They are around 60$ per night but there are also free campgrounds or parking spots where free camping is not prohibited.

I also tried Couch surfing in Surfers Paradise with my friend Sabrina for the first time and had a great experience. She found the offer over Facebook and already stayed with this guy once and he invited us to stay with him again and took us on a little adventure in the rainforest to a waterfall and surfing at the beach on the Gold Coast. I hope to be able to do couch surfing more often as it is super interesting (and cheap) but you need to find good people that you feel safe with.

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View from my hostel in Melbourne: The Nunnery.

Where do you book your hostels and what do you look for?

I always book over the Hostelworld App as they have a great overview over all hostels available at a destination for the time and you can choose the best/cheapest one over a rating, read about the hostel and see reviews of past travellers.

A nice central location, Wifi and maybe free breakfast is what I usually look for as well as a good price (between 22-35$ depending on weekend/weekdays, holidays, season and place) and then I read the comments to see if there are many bad reviews on the cleanness, kitchen, facilities and if the hostel is a major party hostel. But I always keep in mind that some travellers are just not used to hostel life and write bad reviews.

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Sadly, I do not have the fitness (and body) like I used to have anymore…but at least I have a tan now :D

How do you try to stay healthy while travelling (and not having access to a full fridge and a variety of foods)?

As you know healthy, fitness and nutritious eating is very important to me. I try to live as healthy as I can while travelling, but that’s not always easy. Especially when you are meeting friends and going out with them or relying on the free breakfast or free food options that hostels have to save money.

When I cook and make food myself, I try to get as many nutrients and vitamins in as possible. Frozen veggies, fresh baby spinach, canned beans or lentils, seasonal fruit and oats are my staples. They are the cheapest and still wholefoods and nutritious.

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I already made a blog post on some healthy, easy, cheap and vegan lunch/dinner meals and showed you my go-to healthy breakfast recipe, as well as a blog post on healthy and cheap food shopping in Australia. In the category ‚What I Eat‚ you also find some What I Eat in a Days from Melbourne or Perth.

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I want to get my post-travelling body back, but on the other hand, I really want to enjoy my travels. So for now, I am eating and enjoying and working out a bit on the side.

For working out there has been a lot of up’s and downs on my travel. It’s not always easy to stay on track with it when you are moving places and cities a lot, trying to see and experience, meeting and hanging out with friends and not knowing where to go for a run or workout.

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Best running view in Bondi Beach, Sydney.

It is definitely easier when you stay at one place for several days and can find a park to run in / workout like I did in Bondi Beach, Perth or Melbourne. As well as when you have an AirBnB hence space to do a home workout without fellow roommates staring weirdly at you.

A lot of parks here in Australia have some outdoor fitness devices which can be handy to use after a run or in addition to your bodyweight exercises. Some backpackers also join Gym chains that exist in whole Australia and that they can use wherever they are, but for me, that’s not worth the money and I rather go to a park.

The good thing is that you are usually very active when you travel, walk a lot or do hikes.

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Surf camp was another thing that kept me fit and where I had a daily and very fun workout in the waves.

I also went to different Yoga classes which is another great and fun workout and if you look for good deals, it doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, in the Yoga Loft Newcastle I paid 20$ as a new member for as many classes as I wanted in 10 days. I only stayed there for 2 days and joined 3 classes, but it was still a good deal. In Byron Bay there was the option to join future Yoga teachers in a teaching practice class and I only paid 5$ for 90 minutes of yoga.

Some hostels also offer free Yoga once a week or at least Yoga mats to use for free.

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What should I pack when backpacking Australia?

You can find my complete packing list for Australia here as well as a guide on what I have with me in my toiletry bag (that is mostly eco-friendly and very light packed as well).

There will be an update of my “What’s in my Backpack” soon when I am leaving my AuPair family as I will probably go shopping a bit now that I am settling down and I will give you some tips and suggestions that I learned travelling with under 15kg for over four months now.

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I love to hear how many people are planning to travel through Australia soon and I hope my tips and suggestions can help you a bit, take your insecurities and make you even more excited for your journey! If you are ever in the same area as I am (stay up to date through my Insta stories @mind.wanderer) please message me and maybe we can meet and hang out together!

If you have more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

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Minimal and Eco-Friendly Travel Toiletry Bag – What I took with me to Australia

My backpack currently weights around 12kg and I try to avoid every additional gram, as it is already hard to carry so much with me around, especially when I need to walk for longer.

Sometimes I see girls having even huger backpacks and I am very lucky that I choose to only take a 50l backpack with me. Because if you have more space, you take more with you.

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When it comes to my toiletry bag I also wanted to stay as minimalistic as possible. I tried to avoid everything that runs out quickly, has a big container and I realised, that it is so much more convenient to have eco-friendly (and zero waste) cosmetic products.

 

It’s not just better for the earth to stop using products in plastic containers, it is also cheaper (in long term, because the products last a lot longer) and a lot smaller and lighter which makes it awesome for travelling!

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Anzeige/PR-Sample // The toothbrush I use is from hydrophil, a German brand that sells bamboo toothbrushes and some other hygiene products. The toothpaste is just the cheapest one from Coles that I got because I run out of mine from home.

A zero-waste substitute for the toothpaste would be dental-taps you can get at bulk stores. You just chew on one them and use them with water and they are super small, light and plastic free.

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I also have a small packaging of tooth floss with me. There are also zero waste options available in bulk stores that I want to try out when I run out of mine.

As a deodorant, I use the deo cream from Wokenseifen that I really like and recommend, and that I filled into a very small container because I don’t need a whole package of it.

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For creams and moisturizer, I have a face cream from lavera that is natural, vegan and cruelty-free.

The body moisturizer I use is shea butter that I filled in an old container at the bulk store. It is super handy because you only need a very small amount as it is super rich and you can easily apply it by rubbing it a bit in your hands so that it melts.

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Anzeige/PR-Sample // One product that saves me so so much money and weight is my soap bar from Duschbrocken. It is a body wash and shampoo in one and because it is all natural and contains many oils, I don’t need to use conditioner as well. I also use it to wash my face and the best thing: it still has almost the same size as two months ago, even though I used it so much!

I already tried out a few different soap bars and I’ve heard from friends who’ve been experimenting with them and I never had (or have heard) of any better product than this. (And I don’t get paid or anything to say this – I just got the product for free to test, nothing more)

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I am super lucky that I don’t have to carry 4 bottles with me and save so much space and weight with this little soap bar in its metal container!

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My shaver is probably a little bit heavier than a usual plastic one, but it saves me a lot of money and the planet a lot of plastic waste, so it’s worth it! The first purchase is more expensive, but I don’t have to buy new shaving heads that are much more expensive in the long term.

I paid 18€ for my shaver and 30 razor blades and they will last me for a long time. When you compare a plastic shaver you pay around 10€ for the shaver and maybe 2-3 shaving heads and then need to pay around 5€ for new heads.

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I also carry a hairbrush with me. At first, I only had a comb because I thought that would be enough, but with the wind, salt and sand it is definitely necessary to have a proper brush.

Because I don’t want to spend money on going to the hairdresser, but still want my hair to stay healthy and not look frizzy and dead, I have my own hair scissors with me and occasionally cut my ends a bit. This keeps them so much healthier (the sun is drying them out so bad!) and I save money and length (cause I can cut less than a hairdresser would).

In the little red container, I filled some coconut oil and use it as a moisturizer for my ends once or twice a week.

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For female hygiene products, I have my menstrual cup with me. This is another great example, how much money you can save with eco-friendly products. It costs around 15-20€ and lasts you for years and years. Tampons and napkins however can be super expensive and in some countries, you will have a hard time to even find them.

Also, they are so much better for your body because they don’t contain bleaching chemicals and other nasty stuff you don’t want to put inside your body.

I still have a few tampons and napkins with me if I don’t have the possibility to clean the cup.

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I don’t need and want to wear makeup on a daily basis and if I am going out with friends, I usually find a friend who borrows me her mascara and concealer, so I only took my eyebrow pencil with me. That’s the only thing I really care about if I don’t want to look like I just woke up: eyebrows.

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And the last few small items I carry in my beauty bag are hair ties, nail file and scissors and cotton buds.

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Something that doesn’t fit into my toiletrie bag, but that I still want to mention is my sunscreen. I use this one in SPF 30 or 50 that I brought from Germany which is from Jean&Len. You can get them in most drugstores and they are vegan, cruelty free and have less chemicals in them.

Sadly sunscreen has really toxic ingredients to make it work, but we still need it to protect our skin. This brand is already a lot better than conventional sunscreen and it still has a very nice texture without being too thick and making you white, which is important as well :D

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So this is all I have with me – not zero waste, not completely eco-friendly, but  I try my best and hope to inspire you to swap you plastic toothbrush or shaver and made small steps every day to save our earth from downing in plastic!

If you want to read more about plastic, my thoughts and some amazing pictures, have a look at my blog post We Drown in Plastic.



*Disclaimer: This blog post includes two PR-Sample (as marked), but I still only mention them because I think the products are great and worth sharing with you. I only do PR-Samples (or Advertisings) if I truly support the companies!

Celebrating New Year’s in Sydney – Watching the Fireworks at the Harbour at Campbells Cove

This year was a very special New Year’s Eve because we started the year with fireworks at the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in Sydney!

You might have seen the famous fireworks on TV several times already because they show them every year. Not just because Sydney is the first big City celebrating into the new year every year, but also because the scenery of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House makes an amazing location.

I was not just lucky enough to have my family over for three weeks in Australia and not having to be without them for Christmas, but we also got to end our road trip from Cairns south to Sydney on New Year’s Eve to see the fireworks at the harbour.

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Our New Year’s Eve Day

We already arrived in Sydney on the 30th and stayed the last night in our camper at Burwood Park where it wasn’t prohibited to stay overnight.

The next morning we checked into our rooms in Burwood at Boronia Lodge, left our camper and went straight into the city centre. Luckily Burwood is only 20 minutes away from the city centre.

We had lunch in the city and walked to The Rocks where we had tickets for a cordoned area with a great view over the Harbour Bridge and the Opera that where FREE! You only need to be quick.

All the areas with the best views are cordoned for New Year’s. For some, you have to pay lot’s of money (the cheapest were around 400$ including food), for the Campbells Cove you just need to be quick to get the tickets (we already got them in September).

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The view from the Botanical Garden over the Harbour is amazing, but the tickets for that venue that includes a dinner where crazy!

After we checked how the land lies because we didn’t know how many people are going to be there / if the view would only be good from specific places that you need to save early etc. we went to get an afternoon snack and some sandwiches for dinner to take away as there weren’t that many food options on the venue area.

From around 4pm we started waiting… because we didn’t have that much information about how the afternoon/evening in Sydney will take place, we had to be there early and wait a lot – but you will be lucky enough to have some more knowledge after reading my blog post and you can improve from our mistakes/experiences!

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Unfortunately, it started raining very hard at around 7pm and we couldn’t stay seated. Luckily there was a bridge on our venue location where everyone looked for shelter from the rain and storm. We also were very lucky that it was still warm because we were not prepared at all and only improvised a rain cape from a garbage bag that kept us dry and warm.

At 9pm there was the first fireworks for the kids which was already amazing and some families also left afterwards.

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We had a few more rain showers and at around 22pm it started to get fuller because they close the gates for the area at 22.30pm. But there was still enough space to sit down and walk around comfortably.

From our place, we could see that that the streets leading to the Harbour through the Rocks where packed. Like really packed. So we were very thankful for our safe space and also the bridge saved us a lot.

All the hours of waiting were very exhausting because there wasn’t a lot of distraction and if we would have known how things work before, we for sure wouldn’t have arrived that early.

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Then it was FINALLY 12pm and the amazing firework started. The firework locations are spread over the whole water area in Sydney and there are no private fireworks allowed (obviously), but the Harbour and Opera view, of course, is the prettiest. It’s just a great show and location!

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After the fireworks, EVERYONE is trying to get to the tram stations as quick as possible and you can’t believe how many people are there. All the streets are packed with people walking in the same direction. It is insane and you can only be thankful that glass bottles and alcohol is prohibited – otherwise, it wouldn’t work out as relaxed!

You can’t really do something to get home quick. It’s just not possible. Everything is crowded and even though there are lots of trams departing they can’t bundle off these millions of humans fast.

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There are lot’s of places you can celebrate the New Year in Sydney with amazing views: rooftop bars, restaurants, at the botanical garden or from a boat – it’s just a matter of how much you want to spend :D

Things you need to know before

  • get lots of information and tickets for the events/locations at sydneynewyearseve
  • in the whole city centre area, glass bottles and alcohol are prohibited and the police (that is very present the whole evening) is allowed to check your bags
  • the streets of the CBD, as well as the Harbour Bridge, are blocked for vehicles from the afternoon on until late at night
  • around 2 million people watch the fireworks at the harbour in Syndey (even more than in New York!) and they all want to leave after the show – don’t even think about getting a taxi/uber or the tram at Circular Quay right away (as long as you don’t stand next to the station while watching the fireworks. When you are close to the Harbour, everyone else behind you will get there before)
  • restaurants and bars might close earlier to prepare for their evening dinners (prebooked way in advance and pretty expensive)

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Celebrating at Campbells Cove

  • more info!
  • they start selling the tickets about in September and you need to be really quick. You can sign up for their e-mail newsletter and be the first to tell when they start selling
  • arrive by tram and walk to the Campbells Cove from Circular Quay – driving by car is just way too stressful when everyone wants to go home and also lots of streets are closed
  • when the weather is supposed to be bad/rainy, lot’s of people that got tickets look for different options or only arrive at around 22pm, but when the weather is good the venue is reaching its capacity at around 5pm, they close the entry at 22.30pm
  • they say they have food and drinks for sale, but there were only 2 stalls and you are allowed to bring your own food and unalcoholic drinks
  • take reusable non-glass bottles to refill so you don’t have to buy their expensive water
  • take blankets, card games, snacks, jackets to survive all the waiting
  • don’t arrive too late (besides that you won’t get a good place) but it also will be hard to get through the crowds to the entry of the venue

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It was an amazing experience and I would never want to miss it, but I have to say that it was also very exhausting and I would not want to do it the same way every year. I am more a person for a chilled dinner with friends and watching the fireworks from distance.

What was your craziest New Year’s experience? How do you like to celebrate the new year? How did you this year? Would you like to see Sydney’s fireworks for New Year’s one day?