There will be no Australia Day gathering and gnome convention at Glenbrook Park this year due to coronavirus restrictions, but Blue Mountains residents are being encouraged to visit a swimming pool instead.
The pandemic has forced the organisers, the Lower Blue Mountains Rotary Club, to make the call just before Christmas to cancel the event this year.
"As a club, we looked at other options but the impact of the COVID pandemic - and ongoing Blue Mountains City Council construction work in the park - made it near impossible to come up with something that would be safe and cater for families," said club president Michele Ellery.
She apologised for the cancellation, but assured Blue Mountains residents they would return to Glenbrook Park bigger and better next year - COVID-willing.
Club member John Wakefield said the event wasn't one of Rotary's big fundraisers, so the cancellation wouldn't make a big difference to their bottom line. "It's the Rotary clubs' gift to the community," he said. Their monthly markets at Glenbrook have continued, the next one planned for Saturday, February 6 at Glenbrook Infants School.
But Rotary volunteers won't be resting on their laurels on Australia Day.
The council is offering free entry to swimming pools across the Mountains and Rotary clubs will offer free sausage sizzles from 10am until 2pm at - or as long as the food supplies last.
This year the council's Australia Day awards and citizenship event at the Blue Mountains Theatre and Hub is by invite-only due to coronavirus restrictions.
"Each year in January our community celebrates the achievement and contribution of notable local residents by profiling leading citizens who are role models for us all. They inspire us through their achievements and challenge us to make our own contribution to creating a better Blue Mountains and a better Australia," said council CEO Rosemary Dillon.
"We will also be welcoming over 50 new Australian citizens who call the Blue Mountains home."
The National Australia Day Council says the day is about acknowledging and celebrating the contribution that every Australian makes to our contemporary and dynamic nation. From Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - who have been here for more than 65,000 years - to those who have lived here for generations, to those who have come from all corners of the globe to call Australia home.