(Image: Tom Red/Private Media)

After a tortuous 365 days, the year will take its last breath in 10 days.

At the request of the nation, no service will be held and it is asked that no tears be shed. In lieu, faith should be placed in a future where we nurture the opportunities and tackle the challenges posed by our dead friend.

2021 was born with similar hope, but that was soon dampened by a pandemic that continued to twist and turn our lives on their heads.

In New South Wales, we said goodbye to Gladys and hello to Dominic. In Western Australia, we said an even louder hello to Mark McGowan who used that extra voter support — and the threat of COVID-19 — to start building a wall at the border.

Across in Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk did that too, and despite new words of our national anthem being written in January — “for we are one and free” — politics and the states quickly took over.

In Victoria it wasn’t only COVID that taught Daniel Andrews about the fragility of life — slipping on wet stairs proved equally as perilous.

But it was thousands of others — trapped outside their home states, around the country and across the globe — that bore the brunt of 2021, split from families, unable to nurse newborns or farewell parents on the other side of a political line. It broke as many hearts as budgets.

Few international visitors were welcomed back, an early exception being 142,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in February. 

Outside Australia, Joe Biden took office in the United States, and Donald Trump headed for Florida. But musical chairs in Canberra played on loop. Karen Andrews replaced Peter Dutton in Home Affairs and he moved to Defence. Michaelia Cash replaced Christian Porter as attorney-general and industrial relations minister before the former apparently decided to leave the wake early. Barnaby Joyce defeated Michael McCormack and regained the deputy PM gig.

In sport, 2021 sent Tim Paine off the field and welcomed Pat Cummins to the captain’s crease. Townsville hosted a historic State of Origin match, made even more historic by the 50-6 scoreline in NSW’s favour. A few weeks later, it was 26-0 to NSW, and despite the normal favourites taking out the third match, NSW takes the trophy into 2022.
The mighty Melbourne Demons took out the 2021 AFL grand final, and the Penrith Panthers defeated the Rabbitohs to take home glory in the NRL. Verry Elleegant won a subdued Melbourne Cup, where the horses on the course almost outnumbered the spectators in the stands.

But Queensland — Brisbane specifically — won on the international field, given hosting rights for the 2032 Olympics, and that gorgeous, earthy role model and tennis star Ash Barty won her first Wimbledon ladies’ singles title, 41 years after Evonne Goolagong did the same.

Indeed, 2021 was an all-star female line-up: inspired by Brittany Higgins, Grace Tame and Chanel Contos, tens of thousands of Australians joined justice rallies across the country to end gender-based violence and workplace harassment. 2022 will show whether those in power bothered to listen.

We won’t get the chance to do that again with Michael Gudinski, who gave us his last tune in March, not long before Carla Zampatti joined the big fashion show in the sky in April. They look down on us today, with a host of others, notably rugby league legend Tommy Raudonikis, political figure Andrew Peacock, and Australian showbiz personality Bert Newton.

House prices defied the gloom of a pandemic and rose as fast as the queues to visit a psychologist. Domestic abuse also increased in a way that leaves an ongoing stain on 2021.

2021 saw new players too. Dr Jeannette Young in Queensland. We said goodbye to the JobKeeper wage subsidy. And learnt new medical terms, like thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. 

Facebook flexed its muscle taking on Australian news websites sharing content on its social media platform, we annoyed the French over submarines, and saw rifts develop — not along class lines but between the jabbed and the unjabbed.

A big expected report into aged care lobbed early in 2021 and should have made us all cry. But, like 2021, we all moved on fairly quickly, and as we lay this year to rest too many of our parents and grandparents remain shut away in rooms without visitors.

The national joy in finding four-year-old Cleo Smith remains, but it’s been pushed to the background as we end the year heartbroken for the families of six Tasmanian primary schoolchildren who won’t be opening presents around a Christmas tree.

Damn you, 2021. Gone, and forgotten. You don’t deserve a service.