Our aim of the day was to celebrate the vibrant community of Millers Point and help our visitors to 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 blind? 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. Its architect was Tao Gofers.
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.
Another amazing local character is Ron Jennings, who has been called the unofficial Mayor of Millers Point. Ron sought donations from local businesses, who gave some amazing prizes for a grand raffle for the 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 they can have a hot meal for lunch and catch up on local news. The local doctor also operates out of the same building.
Another neighbour is Geraldine who raised her family in Lower Fort Street, Dawes Point. There is a style about 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”) always refer to Geraldine as the well-dressed lady with short dark hair who catches the community bus to go shopping in Broadway. Support services by providers who are known to our local elderly citizens are important in keeping them independent and well. Geraldine is a member of the congregation of St Brigid’s Church, which is in Kent Street around the corner from the Community Centre. St Brigid’s provided lunches and afternoon teas throughout the day for the Millers Point Picnic.
The day was filled with people enjoying the music, dancing, mural-making, stalls selling books, second-hand clothes and household items. 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” t-shirts and badges to be purchased. The community was able to experience the support of those who came to sign petitions and register their support on Facebook, on www.millerspointcommunity.com.au.
Communities are made of people. Millers Point is a community that has strong historical ties to the area, plus the “blow-ins”, the newer residents who do not want to live in a heritage toy-town devoid of neighbours who hold the social history of the area.