Photo: Tijn Meulendijks didn’t get a single order for a wreath for this Anzac Day. (ABC Far North: Sharnie Kim) The lead-up to Anzac Day is usually a busy time for Cairns florist Tijn Meulendijks, who makes dozens of Anzac Day wreaths for the local council, RSL and schools. Anzac Day will look very different under COVID-19 restrictions, particularly for volunteers and business owners

Veteran Bill Maconachie says he will hand out rosemary sprigs from his Cairns driveway this year

Cairns florist Tijn Meulendijks says trade is very slow, but he’s doing enough business to stay afloat

But things are very different now.

“Zero — not a single wreath to make this year,” he said.

“All our clients who’ve been ordering for years with us have of course cancelled their Anzac wreaths. “So it’s a bit quiet, because it is a big day for the florists too.” Tijn Meulendijks has made many of the wreaths laid at Anzac Day services in Cairns over the years. Rosemary sprigs not required

The commemorative rosemary patch at the Cairns RSL is also surplus to requirements this year — no sprigs are needed to adorn collars and breast pockets at Anzac Day events.

The symbolic plant, which grows wild on the Gallipoli peninsula, is usually handed out at services by RSLs and Legacy groups across the nation. RAAF veteran and RSL volunteer, Bill Maconachie, has been tending the garden for years.

“It became my little job in life to keep it going,” he said.

“I used to carry water, nine litres at a time … from the back carpark seven times or even more, depending the state of the plants, to water them, fertilise them, pull out the weeds, pick up the [cigarette] butts and do all sorts of things like that.

“It does not like our North Queensland summer and wet season, it’s very hard to get it through the wet season. “Once we hit our winter, the plant thrives, it flourishes.” Bill Maconachie had tended to the Cairns RSL’s commemorative rosemary plants for years. No contact driveway delivery

Mr Maconachie eventually hauled the planter boxes off the side of the footpath and onto the balcony of the Cairns RSL Club, where they could overlook the Coral Sea and the city’s cenotaph, just as wild rosemary had overlooked Anzac Cove. From the killing fields of Gallipoli and France to the guerrilla skirmishes of Uruzgan province in Afghanistan, the experiences of diggers from five different wars reveal common themes of horror, comradery and heroism. “The legend goes, a wounded digger supposedly brought back a seedling he’d obtained from the dugout of the ravines on the Gallipoli Peninsula,” Mr Maconachie said.

“He allegedly brought it back on the ship … and he took it to an army hospital in Adelaide. “They planted it there and they used to take cuttings of it and wear it on their collar on Anzac Day and Armistice Day.” He said he was happy to dole out rosemary growing at his home when he commemorated Anzac […]