The cancellation of their marquee music festival and the absence of tourists during the pandemic has been a challenge for Lorne, but a surprise delivery of 10,000 daffodils has lifted spirits in the Victorian coastal town.
Fifty volunteers took to the streets to donate bunches of flowers to residents in about 800 homes and businesses on Monday.
About a month ago, Lorne resident Naomi Daly said she picked about 100 daffodils and secretly dropped them off to friends’ homes.
“It really seemed to brighten people’s day quite a lot,” she said.
So Ms Daly decided to go one better, recruiting a team of volunteers to cover all the homes and businesses in Lorne that were occupied.
“That’s what you can do in a small town like this,” she said.
“It’s got a boundary and everyone kind of knows everyone. I just put the word out there quietly to friends, family and neighbours and said ‘what do you think?'”
“We mapped up Lorne and carved it up into 26 little patches and sent people off with buckets of flowers and they went out and dropped them around.”
The gesture did not go unnoticed.
Dozens of people posted pictures of their flowers on social media along with messages thanking the volunteer group.
“What a beautiful start to spring in a beautiful, beautiful community,” wrote another.
Flowers normally enjoyed by ‘cows and sheep’
So, where did 10,000 daffodils come from?
That largely remains a secret, with Ms Daly telling the ABC her group received permission to pick flowers from the owner of a large private property in the area.
The owner wanted to remain anonymous, she said.
“It’s a hidden gem in the Otways,” Ms Daly said of the property.
Some of the other flowers came from a property that is usually used as a campsite during Falls Festival.
The cancellation of the New Year’s Eve festival was a major blow to the town, and had added significance for Ms Daly, given the event was founded by her family.
“Lorne is very dependent on tourism and we’re very impacted, even though there’s no coronavirus cases here,” she said.
“We’ve got a lot of businesses that are closed, and a lot running at a fraction of their capacity. There’s a lot of people who don’t have work.”
While tourist numbers down along the Great Ocean Road, a small glimmer of hope has come in the form of Melburnians who have come for a sea change to escape stricter lockdowns in the city.
“One thing that’s very topical is sustainability of our town.
“We are regional, we’re a bit remote and we have such a small and ageing population.”
Ms Daly said she hoped some would decide to stay permanently when lockdown restrictions ease.
“We’re always talking about how we get families moving to Lorne to keep this going,” she said.