THE families bravely held their ground at Main Beach foreshore, armed only with food and blankets to enjoy the sunset and see in 2013.
But they were heavily outnumbered by the 10,000 or so young people who had come to Byron from around Australia and the world to party hard.
As soon as families had recovered from their disappointment at the skimpy fireworks display laid on for them at 9pm, they beat a retreat, and the hordes moved in - leading to what some local 20-somethings described as a "scary and dangerous" vibe.
Having set up camps on both sides of the town, the party animals trailed back and forth all night from their tents and vans to the north and south, massing on the roadside in groups of 20, 30, 50.
The revellers slept in cars jam-packed along Sunrise Blvde, Bangalow and Broken Head Rds. They swamped the town, guzzling alcohol, leaving trails of waste in their wake - their own litter or overturned rubbish bins.
NYE 2012 marked the year Byron Bay lost the battle to the barbarians and became party central - just like the bad old days.
Some observers at the beachfront reported the crowd was well behaved and the police smiling.
Others described the scene as "mayhem", with police struggling to keep control.
Away from Apex Park there was brawling, a glassing in Shirley St and an assault and robbery. The alleged offenders were visitors, according to police.
The night was always shaping up to be a colossal, anarchic booze-up.
Sirens became a common sound in the days beforehand, shops were stripped bare of basic food items, alcohol retailers had to ask for ID at unprecedented levels, and Jonson St merchants were so alarmed by bottle smashing youths in the preceding nights that they didn't open - for the first time in 18 years.
Local were left shaking their heads in despair and disgust, exiles in their own community. Revellers swamped the town, guzzling alcohol, leaving trails of waste