Millers Point Spring Picnic 14 Sept 2014

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The story by MARGARET BISHOP

The cameras were rolling early in the morning as the committee and band of local volunteers set up the pavilions on the Village Green in Argyle Place, Millers Point. Several documentary filmmakers are capturing the Millers Point Story.

A feeling of elation and expectation permeated the air.  We could not believe our luck as the sun was shining after weeks of rain and we looked blessed for a whole day of perfect weather.

Our aim for the day was to celebrate the vibrant community of Millers Point and help visitors see why we are fighting to save the residents who rightfully belong here.  How could you move 87-year-old Myra who lives in Sirius with the best view of the harbour that she cannot see as she is almost sightless?  Myra made eight dozen scones for the picnic and made her way down pushing her walker to deliver them to the Community Centre which looks out on the Village Green on Argyle Place.  Myra is bright, dignified and very determined not to move out of the area.  She is living in a building that was purpose-built for housing in far more enlightened times. It was designed by Tao Gofers.

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What frustrates Myra who depends upon marked crossings to cross the road are the constant road works and bridge cleaning signs that divert pedestrians as she walks down the road and the inability of the people on patrol to understand that they have blocked her path.

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Another local character is Ron Jennings who is known as the unofficial mayor of The Rocks.  Ron came up with some amazing prizes which were donated by local businesses for a grand raffle on picnic day.  Ron now 84 has lived in the area since the 1980s.  He first resided in the Sailors Home (now Sailors Thai) in George Street, The Rocks and then moved to Sirius.  Ron is well known locally as he is not one to stay indoors and is often seen walking the streets of Millers Point with his cap pulled down over his face.  Residents like Ron and Myra make good use of the local Community Centre where hot lunches are provided and they can catch up on neighbourhood news.  The local doctor also operates out of the Community Centre.

Sir Ron + Princess Paddi

Another neighbour Geraldine raised her family in Lower Fort Street, Dawes Point.  There is a style to Geraldine that makes people admire her, but we dare not ask her age. I don’t think she would disclose it anyway. Geraldine does not want to leave the area and is politely firm about her wishes.  New people (blow-ins) refer to Geraldine as the well-dressed lady with short dark hair who catches the community bus to take her shopping in Broadway.  Support services by providers who are known to local elderly citizens are important in keeping them independent and well. Geraldine is an active member of St Brigid’s congregation. This Kent Street church is around the corner from the Community Centre.  St Brigid’s provided lunches and afternoon teas throughout the day of the Millers Point Community Picnic.

The Millers Point Community Picnic day was filled with people enjoying music, dancing, mural making, stalls selling books, secondhand clothes and household items etc. In the grand tradition of gathering support for the cause there were important issues to be discussed at Quentin Dempster’s Q&A Session in the Abraham Mott Hall. Petitions to be signed, and “No Surrender” tee-shirts and badges to be purchased.  The community was able to experience the support of those who came to sign petitions, register their support on Facebook, and on this site.  Everyone is welcome on these sites to support the Millers Point Community.
Communities are made far richer by the diversity of its people.  Millers Point is made up a community with strong ties to its maritime past, and families tracing their attachment to this place that goes back generations.  Many are elderly and need our support. The blow-ins, the newer residents like us, do not want to live in a heritage toy-town devoid of our neighbours who hold the current social history of this very special place.
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