Beare Park is a sleepy harbourside reserve, right on the water at Elizabeth Bay and normally a haven for those seeking some solitude from the hustle and bustle of nearby Potts Point and Kings Cross. During the mid eighties it had a somewhat mixed reputation and was a favourite with junkies looking to shoot up late at night.
All that changed in the noughties when the park underwent a considerable upgrade and the safe injecting room contained the drug scene to Darlighurst Road. In recent years it’s become a favourite with family groups, toddlers and their mums, the occasional picnickers and local residents just looking to chill out for an hour or two.
A few weeks ago on New Year’s Eve however, all that serenity was routed when the grassy expanse became the location for Sydney’s biggest ever drunken ‘bingeathon’. The park was advertised on the Council’s NYE site as an official fireworks viewing spot, with BYO alcohol, “toilets available including accessible toilets”, “no managed access” and “no glass”.
It was an invitation that between two and three thousand predominantly foreign backpackers could not resist. The word was definitely out on Facebook and other social media that this was the gathering spot for all UK and other European travellers. From sunset onwards there was a steady stream of partygoers down Ithaca Road towards the park, loaded with slabs of beer and all manner of alcoholic beverages.
By midnight the park was overflowing and so was the urine with punters regularly relieving themselves on nearby residents’ gardens. doorways and garages. Locals described the experience as akin to being under siege – drunken, ugly and with none of the good-natured revelry normally associated with NYE.
When the final slab was exhausted and the balmy army departed to chants of “boring, boring, boring” (obviously not impressed with the million-dollar pyrotechnics), the park resembled the aftermath of a bloody pitched battle and a quote from Grandmaster Flash’s The Message:
“Broken glass everywhere, People pissing on the stairs, you know they just don’t care.”
According to locals it took Council workers well over a week to clean up the mess, removing tonnes of garbage, hosing down urine soaked trees and repairing trampled shrubbery. Why the site was ever advertised as a BYO zone beggars belief, although the Council will probably argue that in recent years it has not been a problem.
It also makes a mockery of the Lord Mayor’s campaign against binge drinking as along with the “world’s best fireworks display” Sydney can now claim to have hosted the world’s biggest ‘drunken piss-up’. Apparently the Council have promised a fully supervised Beare Park site for the next NYE celebration, with strictly no BYO and limited access in terms of numbers allowed into the park.
That’s all a bit late for local residents who are stlll discovering piles of excrement in their communal backyards and garden beds flattened. Maybe the Lord Mayor should throw open the gates of her exclusive Opera House soiree next NYE to any young folk with a European passport, a bulging bladder and a slab of beer on the shoulder with the normally restrained A-list party serving as a de facto detention camp for the highly inebriated. At least it would keep the urinators off the street and well away from the recovering turf of sleepy Beare Park.