THE south-west welcomed 2014 with a bang as thousands of revellers enjoyed entertainment under clear skies across the region.
Celebrations in Warrnambool, Port Fairy and Cobden drew large crowds to special events to ring in the new year.
At the Shipwreck Bay Holiday Park in Warrnambool, the Pickford, Borg, Ralph, Wright and Carrasco families continued their camping tradition with a street party spanning their five sites.
The families from across Victoria have camped in the same spots for more than 30 years and last night they all came together to celebrate.
Family fun reigned supreme at Flagstaff Hill’s New Year’s Eve On The Hill, with fireworks lighting the sky at 9.30pm and midnight.
More than 1000 people enjoyed the event, with many families bringing a picnic rug to share dinner and listen to the relaxing tunes of musician Phil Royle.
After the early fireworks, Rock ’n’ Roll Sandwich kicked the music up a notch with entertainment for the adults.
Warrnambool City Council tourism services manager Peter Abbott said 950 tickets were pre-sold and perfect weather helped ensure good crowd numbers.
Frances Keegan, from Dublin, left behind the wintry conditions of her homeland for a five-week holiday to relax in the balmy weather with her son Ciaran, his wife Karina and their children Brayden, 8, and Leesha, 5, of Warrnambool.
The Yeoh family, from Canberra, enjoyed dinner on the wharf and the festivities in at Flagstaff Hill during a stopover on the way to Adelaide, via Kangaroo island.
Allansford’s Oliver and Audrey Mumford commandeered the corgo ship the Reginald M before their guitarist dad James played on stage with Rock ’n’ Roll Sandwich. Meanwhile, Cobden’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza was attended by more than 500 people who enjoyed a family carnival, miniature railway, live music and a fireworks spectacular.
West of Warrnambool, love was in the air and lurid colours were everywhere for the “Retro 66” Moyneyana Festival New Year’s Eve parade in Port Fairy.
More than 10,000 people thronged the town centre for the 66th parade that had a Swingin’ Sixties theme.
Many of the floats in the parade took up the theme and the slogan “Make Love Not War” made a big comeback for the night, as did psychedelic colours, afro hairstyles, mini skirts, knee-high boots and guitar-heavy music.
The theme was an easy one for the Port Fairy Citizens Band, that pumped out Beatles, Beach Boys and Credence Clearwater Revival tunes and decorated its float as Al’s Diner with a menu of spiders and milkshakes selling in shillings and pence.
Most of the band members weren’t born in the ’60s but revelled in the experience.
The Port Fairy Riding Group members dressed as hippies, raiding local op shops for their floral design outfits and having a “Love Bug,” — a Volkswagen Beetle — as their float’s centrepiece.
Port Fairy’s Stump Hotel was more esoteric with its entry, creating a replica of the 1966 USS Starship Enterprise of Star Trek fame.
Crew member Jo Macgarvey dressed as Spock but admitted he was flying by the seat of his pants in the role, not being a Star Trek fan.
Brian Steel of Warrnambool could not resist entering his 1966 canary yellow Oldsmobile in the parade because of its connection to the “Retro 66” theme.
Pauline Edgley of Port Fairy added flower power decoration to her father’s gopher — and herself. After many years of persuading her daughter Sally Fraser to take part in the annual parade, she agreed to follow suit go a bit silly to usher in the new year.
Event spokesman Reg Harry said the fine sunny weather helped bring the big crowd in early to enjoy the Backwards Sprint Championships that preceded the parade.
The men’s event was again won by Mark Lardner of Mornington, who clocked the exact same time as his victory last year, 16.84 seconds.
The ladies event was won by Monique Tarrant of East Malvern with a time of 20.5 seconds.