The year in review

MEET THE BLOOMS: This cover pic, by Dallas Kilponen, has been nominated for a portrait award.
MEET THE BLOOMS: This cover pic, by Dallas Kilponen, has been nominated for a portrait award.

IT's curious that in a year with so much time spent indoors, a lot actually happened outside.

Despite coronavirus, rolling lockdowns and local vaccination rates dominating conversations, there was plenty of other news around these parts.

A perennial newsmaker was real estate. When we launched, with the lovely Layne Beachley on the cover, one whole year ago, the median northern beaches property price was $1.7 million. Now it's crept up another $500K - with homes selling in record time and new suburb records busted every week, often fueled by out-of-towners rushing to get a piece of our lifestyle.

We chronicled a less glossy side to the beaches, too.

Dee Why local Alexandra Samootin spoke about losing her home: at 78, she is in the fastest growing homeless cohort. We heard about the too many young people losing their lives to depression, as well as local organisations making a difference, such as Lifeline and One Eighty.

LOCKED DOWN: Due to concerns for walkers, this December edition of the magazine was never printed.

LOCKED DOWN: Due to concerns for walkers, this December edition of the magazine was never printed.

And, as we emerged out of our own special LGA lockdown, local 'eshay gangs' came under the spotlight of police. For weeks, readers from all over the Beaches contacted us to detail various bashings: at bus stops, in parks and in local fast food restaurants, and the local crime statistics showed an increase in juvenile crime. Police urged residents to stop reporting crime via social media, and held crisis talks with local councillors and media, before another lockdown kept the villains largely behind closed doors and the situation calmed.

We also looked at the impact that nicotine and vaping was having on teenagers, a local drink spiking scare - as well as the great success of HSC students, with improvements at almost every local school. Of course, there was the fall and rise and fall of the Sea Eagles to keep us busy, as well as the campaign to save jail-breaker Dougie and investigations into the Wakehurst Parkway phantom and other legendary local ghost stories.

 LOYAL AND LOVED: Col Crawford with his family on holiday in Hawaii five years ago.

LOYAL AND LOVED: Col Crawford with his family on holiday in Hawaii five years ago.

We lost some local giants, notably loved local entrepreneur Col Crawford, known as 'Mr Enthusiasm', who had been putting generations of locals into their first (and consecutive) cars. In the same week, rugby league immortal Bob Fulton also passed away.

There were lighter moments. When Jill Bruce's beloved frog statues were stolen from outside her Narrabeen home and replaced with "ugly, cheap, plaster yoga frogs", she contacted us for help. We couldn't find the culprit, but our mailbox was heaving with sympathy.

Community news will always be our bread and butter and there was more than enough to fill our pages. There was the great divide between southern and northern northern beaches; the selling of parking permits - or the withholding of them by absent landlords; the rubbish, noise and poo debacles of crowds at 'the Office' on Manly's East Esplanade, the too early garbage collections ... as well as anything to do with local dogs and council rates.

Readers also got worked up about: where the Forest High School was moving, what would happen with the Manly Town Hall and the plan for a former secret drug lab in Killarney Point.

We met hundreds of interesting locals, such as Sam and Cam Bloom, triumphing after tragedy with the help of a pesky magpie called Penguin.

We found out what it was like to live full-time in the local caravan park.

We welcomed Kamahl to the neighbourhood, extracted recipes from Silvia Colloca, Hayden Quinn and Miguel Maestre and tramped around Brad Fittler's llama farm.

We interviewed established INXS stars Kirk Pengilly and Tim Farriss, as well as stars on the rise, Barrenjoey High band The Rions, who told us they wanted "Beatles-esque fame". We profiled hero rescuers and WW II heroes, Olympians and Paralympians, authors and actors and plenty of motivated local politicians and community workers.

The events of recent weeks - the Premier (herself, a big fan of Manly) resigning and our own Rob Stokes running unsuccessfully to take her place - show that we will always have lots of local news to break.

Usually just as we are going to print.

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