JANUARY

Jade Rhoden of the Leongatha SES and volunteer Leesa Hemming helped with the food and goods that arrived for the bushfires in East Gippsland at the Leongatha Fire Station in January.

On January 11, Bill Slade of Bass was tragically killed while on active duty fighting the East Gippsland bushfires. More than 2000 people attended the funeral at the State Coal Mine.

FEBRUARY

Eight-year-old Sophia Licciardello and Ivy Matthews, three, enjoyed the 125th annual Korumburra Show in February.

Although we didn’t know it at the time, February was the last taste of normality for the year.

The Mirboo North Italian Festa drew 20,000 people with food trucks, music, grape stomping and spaghetti eating.

The fourth annual Meeniyan Garlic Festival and Foster Show were among the last events held in February before communities were forced to cancel celebrations due to COVID-19 restrictions.

MARCH

In March, chief medical officer Dr Renee Kelsall and emergency department nurse unit manager Jane Ori prepared for any suspected cases of COVID-19 at the Wonthaggi Hospital.

Pubs, clubs, gyms, restaurants, cafes and churches closed at noon on March 23, as part of a nationwide lockdown of non-essential services to slow the spread of COVID-19, with Victorian schools closing the next day.

APRIL

High tides and waves threatened to break through to Cape Paterson-Inverloch Road in April.

After a heaving pounding by king tides and high seas on Easter Saturday, Regional Roads Victoria started laying down a wall of rocks near the corner of Cape Paterson-Inverloch Road (Bunurong Road) and Surf Parade.

In April, the Sentinel-Times started publishing online newsletters in lieu of a printed newspaper as local businesses grappled with the effects of COVID-19 restrictions.

MAY

Erosion to the west of the Inverloch Surf Life Saving Club revealed never before seen sections of the Amazon Shipwreck of 1863.

Restrictions began to ease on May 12, with 10 people allowed to gather outdoors to socialise, among other relaxations.

JUNE

The community rallied behind Leongatha singer Janie Gordon in June on her journey on the popular Channel 9 TV show, The Voice.

The 21-year-old singer was a stand-out auditionee and with coaching from celebrity judge Delta Goodrem, made it through several rounds before bowing out just before the semi-finals.

The Sentinel-Times was back to print editions by June 2.

JULY

General Manager of Leongatha Motors Russell Hemming and former local Holden dealer principal Graham Fixter said goodbye to the end of an era as the Holden signage came down on Koonwarra Road in July as parent company General Motors started to retire the brand in Australia and New Zealand.

The second wave of COVID-19 hit later in the month, with the ‘ring of steel’ set up between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Motorists were required to show ID and have a valid reason to travel into regional Victoria.

AUGUST

In August, the humble wooden spoon was decorated into a character and ‘planted’ in spoon villages, known as Spoonville, in what became a huge COVID-19 lockdown craze for kids.

We masked up in August, with regional students returning to online learning from home and community sport shut down again.

Two Cowes brothers made headlines when they were caught allegedly stealing over $650,000 from local small business owners following a major bust by Bass Coast Crime Investigation Unit.

SEPTEMBER

Premier Daniel Andrews apologised to Leongatha woman Nina Smith for the delay she had to face in receiving a COVID-19 test due to lack of services to people living with a disability in regional Victoria.

Nina, who is blind, had to wait in isolation for days before she was able to be tested, and thankfully tested negative.

September brought the term ‘roadmap’ to the forefront of people’s minds, as we tried to decipher the steps to return to COVID-normal.

OCTOBER

October saw young Wonthaggi mountain bike riders fighting to keep their homemade tracks at the Wonthaggi Bushland Reserve as Parks Victoria threatened to shut down the locally known ‘Hell Track’.

By late October, small steps were being taken to ease some restrictions with gyms, live music and swimming pools among those returning to normality.

NOVEMBER

A fisherman’s ute sunk into Anderson’s Inlet after a failed boat launch at the Inverloch Jetty in November.

A crowd gathered as a crane fished the drowned ute from the water, with calls to improve the maintenance of the jetty to avoid it happening to others.

November 8 saw the removal of the ‘ring of steel’, with families finally able to reunite safely.

DECEMBER

The Korumburra Commonwealth Bank closed in early December, leaving many local business owners in the lurch.

Several drownings in the Bass Coast and South Gippsland areas throughout December rocked the community, with questions raised as to how to prevent more deaths from occurring.

Finally, after a year of unprecedented hardships, families were able to reunite for Christmas and holiday celebrations, heralding in the new year last week, surely wishing for a smoother 2021.