Like other communities around the world, Daylesford and Hepburn have survived another rollercoaster year of disruption and turmoil. As we begin hurtling down the final big hill to the festive finish, we pause to remember the year that was.

The year started optimistically with eased restrictions that had locked down Melbourne and impacted the regions to a lesser extent. Families and friends were able to celebrate the festive season with few, if any, limitations. But winter weather forced people indoors, the Delta strain emerged and lockdowns were once again imposed, at times with only a few hours notice. The rollercoaster of lockdowns and restrictions continued, as it had in 2020, for most of the year.

But the community has demonstrated wonderful resilience. Community social events returned with a celebration of French National Day in the Town Hall. The Hortis and the Friends organised a hugely successful spring festival in Sprout. The community came on board to raise over $100,000 to develop a masterplan for Daylesford Hospital to ensure its survival.  Daylesford and Hepburn football and netball clubs played most of their regular season games although finals were cancelled. Hepburn Cricket Club under 16s won a three-peat premiership, their Seniors backed up with another and they started a women’s team.

Our Councillors and Council staff provided leadership and support through difficult times. The COVID restrictions and the June storms created considerable stress in the community. We started the year with  Mayor, Cr Leslie Hewitt, welcomed Bradley Thomas as our new CEO and finished the year with new Mayor, Cr Tim Drylie.

Yes, there have been many other stories, but with the festive season just around the corner, we thought it best not to mention the “Tyrannosaurus” in the room…

We had regular columns from Petrus Spronk and Victor Szwed who contributed regular weather columns and started a photo quiz. We were joined by Tanya Loos and occasionally by Kevin Childs. Gordon Nightingale and other members of the Daylesford U3A Writers’ Circle made regular creative contributions. We thank our many contributors. Local contributors make a community newspaper what it is.

The Wombat Post has grown considerably over the past year. Our list of subscribers has grown to over 600. We regularly attract 1000 weekly readers and 2500 to 3000 page reads. Over that past year, we have had 40,000 visitors to the Wombat Post and 115,000 page reads. We thank our subscribers, our readers, our advertisers and our sponsors for their support.

We hope that easing restrictions will open up the community and lead to more contributions to the Wombat Post from local clubs and organisations. And we hope that local schools can return to normal operations. We would welcome contributions from some of the younger members of our community.

But, as events around the world have shown, the rollercoaster will continue and there’s a hard, banked turn just ahead. The Omicron variant is likely to bring a new surge in COVID infections which may threaten our hospital system. Premier Daniel Andrews has declared that there will be “no more lockdowns” but it seems inevitable that another round of restrictions will be required in some form or other in the New Year.

The Wombat Post will take a short break over the summer season. This will be the last issue for 2021 but we will publish stories of high importance to the community as they arise. We plan to resume regular weekly updates on February 4, 2021.

We wish all of our readers a happy, safe and joyful festive season and a healthy and productive New Year!