Welcome To Country Comes To Life For New Year’s Eve

A stunning animation featuring a grandfather & grandson’s journey along the rivers of the Eora Nation will come to life on the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge this New Year’s Eve (NYE) as part of the Welcome To Country ceremony.

All-new firework effects of local fauna shapes including turtles & eels will accompany the animated story, red waterfall shells and comets will be fired from barges on the Harbour & red flares will shoot from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

Titled A Day In The Life Of Country, the evocative Welcome To Country animation has been created from a narrative by Sydney NYE consultant, Rhoda Roberts (Order Of Australia), who says the images tell a uniquely Sydney story.

“This is a story that shows all of Australia is Aboriginal land & that Sydney is the gateway to Aboriginal Australia” Miss (Ms) Roberts said.


“Sydney has always been a very special place – it was one of the 1st contact points for First Nations Peoples, who have adapted & grown with the nation while never forgetting who they are”

“The First People’s connection to Sydney’s story is unique, there is nothing like it in the world. Our Welcome To Country is continuing what those old people would have done – travelling up & down the state’s river systems calling out to other neighbouring clans & being welcomed”

“We are welcoming Sydneysiders, interstate visitors & people from around the world to Sydney to gather for a Welcome To Country with the help of new technology & a great fireworks display”


Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, said the Sydney NYE Welcome To Country, first introduced in 2015, has allowed Australia to honour Australia’s First Nations Peoples on a global stage.

“It is critical that we acknowledge that we are always on Aboriginal land. Sydneysiders, visitors & global onlookers have responded positively to the beautiful displays that have featured in our NYE celebrations”

“Having the Welcome To Country projected onto the pylons & the Tribal Warrior and Mari Nawi vessels travelling and smoking the Harbour as part of the Harbour Of Light Parade is a wonderful way to share the stories of Sydney’s Indigenous peoples”

The A Day In The Life Of Country animation was produced using state of the art motion graphic digital design to create the effect of a moving painting. The images take the audience on a journey down the 3 river systems that surround the Gadigal land – the Hawkesbury (Deerubbin) in the north, Nepean (Jandhai) in the west & Saint Georges River (Tucoerah) in the south – all of which connect to Sydney Harbour.


“It starts with an old grandfather and a young boy & is about the inter-generational exchange of knowledge as they travel down the river fishing” Ms Roberts said.

“The further we travel down the river, the more we see the environment changing – the trees & stars are replaced by buildings & lights from the city. The young boy is no longer in a traditional canoe, he is in a dinghy & fishing with a rod rather than a spear”

“Slowly we see the transformation of Sydney Harbour with the parting of the reeds to reveal the Sydney Opera House & Harbour Bridge”

“It shows traditional people moving through time but shows that we are always on Gadigal land, connecting the past & the future to the present”


This year, the Welcome To Country will include a tribute marking the 50th anniversary of the Sydney-San Francisco sister city relationship that will be celebrated in 2018.

A message from the Muwekma Ohlone peoples of the San Francisco Bay area will be projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons at the close of the evening’s ceremony.

Ms Roberts said the message marked a close connection between the 2 cities’ First Peoples.

“There is a lovely connection between Sydney & San Francisco – both cities are very similar in their geography & both cities have a strong and vibrant Indigenous culture” Ms Roberts said.

“There is a great synergy between the histories of the First Peoples of these 2 great cities. The language, the stories & the rituals of the Indigenous peoples here & in San Francisco have survived, been recognised and honoured & are still strong today”

At the close of the Welcome To Country, the following words in the language of the Muwekma Ohlone people will appear: “Makkin Mak Muwekma Wolwoolum, Akkoy Mak-Warep, Manne Mak Hiswi!”, which translates: “We Are Muwekma Ohlone, Welcome To Our Land, Where We Are Born, San Francisco Bay Area”.

The Sydney NYE2017 – Wonder program highlights include (Times are Australian Eastern Daylight Time): 

  • 6pm                Pre-Show Entertainment
  • 8:38pm          Welcome To Country – A Day In The Life Of Country
  • 9pm                Family Fireworks
  • 9:15pm           Harbour Of Light Parade
  • Midnight       Fireworks

Visit sydneynewyearseve.com for detailed information on this year’s event.

Media Release: City Of Sydney