Another COVID-ravaged year now done and dusted. The year 2021 has been a complete write-off for us Sydneysiders (what a waste!). As the rest of the world might have heard on the news, Sydney suffered a second wave of the coronavirus – this time with the kick-ass Delta variant – and went into a 15-week lockdown from late June. Up to that point, most of us in Sydney had assumed that we’d seen the back of COVID. But apparently, the bug had other ideas…
Like many, I found this second lockdown much more draining than our first in 2020. With the initial lockdown, there was at least a “We’ll get through this together!” kind of positive vibe and determination among us. But with this second wave, it was more like “Oh no, not again…!” And what made it even worse for me personally was that I was in the middle of job-hunting after completing a Library Diploma course at the end of 2020.
Now, the library sector was again out of business because of this lockdown, which just about killed off hopes of finding ANY job anytime soon.
Just a few months into 2021, my job-hunting was driving me nuts anyway, so I decided to do something else on the side to distract myself and applied for a volunteering role with the Waverley Council as a researcher on their Bondi Story Room project.
At the time of writing this post, the iconic Bondi Pavilion – originally constructed at Bondi Beach in the late 1920s – is undergoing a comprehensive makeover. The Bondi Story Room is a new digital interactive exhibition as a part of the Council’s Bondi Pavilion Restoration and Conservation Project. Once completed, visitors will be able to view and learn about local history, culture, personalities and organizations.
Throughout 2021, a team of volunteer researchers worked on various subjects, usually at the pace of one assignment every two weeks. We would then meet at our fortnightly meeting – either face-to-face or on Zoom, depending on the COVID situation – where we made presentations on our respective ‘stories’ and shared what we’d learned about each subject.
I have largely been in charge of researching sports-themed subjects, including well-known professional athletes, pioneers in sport and local sporting organizations. I’ve also enjoyed researching the notorious ‘Backpackers’ Rip’ at Bondi Beach that drags unsuspecting bathers away from the shore in a flash. (Swimmers, beware!)
The powers that be at the Waverley Council were so impressed with our research work they kindly sent each of us lovey flowers as a token of their appreciation (main image above). But if you look closely at mine, you’ll notice that they are sitting pretty in one of my cooking pots. As I had chucked a lot of my belongings when moving house about 10 months prior, I couldn’t find any suitable flower vase at hand!
But if you ask me, this volunteering role with the Bondi Story Room project has been a savior for mine. It gave me a purpose, camaraderie with my fellow researchers and a sense of belonging – and something to keep myself occupied with during the tough Delta lockdown. Had it just been job-hunting, I would have gone totally insane! So, I should really be the one thanking the Waverley Council for giving me the opportunity to get involved in this project.
If all goes to plan, the Bondi Story Room will open its doors to the public at the restored Bondi Pavilion in July 2022.
Bondi Pavilion: https://www.bondipavilion.com.au/
Main image: Flowers from the Waverley Council – in a cooking pot!