2021 in review: The spirit of the Aussie diggers lives on

Call to arms: WWII veteran Bill Maloney, 100, and wife Elaine, 95, reported to Rockdale Town Hall for their first jab in September.
Call to arms: WWII veteran Bill Maloney, 100, and wife Elaine, 95, reported to Rockdale Town Hall for their first jab in September.

Lockdown shrank our lives to a 5-km radius but broadened our focus on life closer to home.

The brief daily walk during lockdown brought many encounters with the local street people not met by those of us who keep normal office hours.

There was:

  • The old man without any teeth who stood outside the 711 every day asking for a dollar so he could treat himself to a Slurpee.
  • The old woman who sat at the local bus stop talking to herself and picking up cigarette butts off the ground.
  • The young guy slept every day on the footpath wrapped in a blanket next to the Westpac ATM.
  • The group of old Greek men sitting outside the Post Office looking lost because their local card club was closed due to COVID.
  • The bearded man in a high viz vest who stood praying outside the closed doors of the local church.

They were there every day on the brief daily walk, meant to relieve the lockdown blues, while so many were home complaining about being locked indoors.

Stand-out stories of the year:

100 year-old World War II veteran William Maloney and his wife Elaine, 95, were the oldest couple to get vaccinated at Rockdale Town Hall.

Their story did not get the attention it deserved and should have been on the front pages of newspapers across the state as an example of how to act during the pandemic.

At a time when anti-vaxxers were protesting in Sydney and Melbourne, William and Elaine calmly made a decision to do their duty for the community.

William and Elaine were also determined to get vaccinated so they could see their family again.

They first went to Bexley to be vaccinated only to be told that the vaccination hub was in Rockdale and so calmly made their way there unassisted.

During the war, William served in Papua-New Guinea, the last line of defence against invasion.

In fronting up to be vaccinated, William showed the qualities of what has been described as The Greatest Generation, those who grew up during the Great Depression and went off in their 20s to defend their country in the second World War.

It would have been interesting to hear his opinion of the behaviour of the anti-vaxxers or those that broke lockdown to attend covert gatherings and parties.

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Field of containment

Field of containment: Artist David Cragg paints a mural across the three shipping containers placed along the Botany Bay foreshore where a number of trees were vandalised.

Field of containment: Artist David Cragg paints a mural across the three shipping containers placed along the Botany Bay foreshore where a number of trees were vandalised.

Bayside made a weighty decision on how to deal with the ongoing problem of tree vandalism along the Botany Bay foreshore.

In July, vandals took chainsaws to a number of mature trees in Cook Park, Brighton-Le-Sands.

It was in the vicinity of where about 12 trees had been cut down the previous year.

The council moved swiftly and delivered three shipping containers to the site where the trees had been cut down.

The containers carried signs as a permanent reminder that tree vandalism had taken place at the site.

They were also painted with a colourful mural of the types of trees that had been vandalised and the wildlife they had supported.

The containers will stay in place until newly-planted replacement trees are planted behind them and have grown.

As one resident said, "We are very quick to complain about the council but when they do the right thing it's only right we give them praise."

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