5000 Poppies project a blooming success

What started as a small project between two women has flourished into a nation-wide community.

5000 Poppies was founded by sisters-in-law, Lyn Berry and Margaret Knight, who wanted to crochet 120 poppies to display at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne Australia to honour their fathers who fought in World War II.

Their loving tribute to their fathers attracted the attention of others which planted the idea of starting 5000 Poppies.

5000 Poppies first launched in 2013 with an instalment of 5000 poppies on display and has since created a community of over 50,000 contributors both nationally and internationally.

Since the launch, the project has been invited to create instalments all over Australia and it has even taken them overseas.

“Our original instalment in 2015 was at the Melbourne International Garden and Flower Show, we did a very small installation with 5000 poppies,”

“In 2016, we were invited to go across to the Chelsea Flower Show in London. We had a wonderful time we did a 200-square metre installation with just over 300,000 poppies there,”

“In July 2016 we went across to Fromelles in France for the Centenary of the Battle in Fromelles, so they’re the major installations but we’ve had many more,” said Ms Berry.

5000 Poppies Chelsea 2016 Photographer Claire Takacs
5000 Poppies installation at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London, 2016. Photo: Claire Takacs

The 5000 Poppies project is currently working on an installation for the Canberra War Memorial to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I.

“We are doing a major installation at the Australia War Memorial, we’re planting 62,000 poppies in honour of all of those souls who died in World War I on our behalf,”

“They’ll be in the ground, planted in and around the Flanders Memorial Garden,” she said.

Ms Berry says they are very close to collecting 62,000 poppies with deliveries arriving at Poppy Headquarters in Melbourne from all over the world.

“It’s a national project here, we’ve had poppies from all over Australia. Queensland has been a massive contributor.

“We’ve had poppies recently from China and Croatia, so we get poppies from everywhere. It’s really interesting having people from all over the world participating in this project, it’s just been a really gorgeous labour of love” she said.

Local ladies support project

A group of ladies in Wowan and Dululu is also taking part in the project, meeting every Monday at the local Multi-Purpose Centre to crochet poppies.

Catherine Brown is the Co-Ordinator at the Wowan and Dululu Multi-Purpose Centre and organised for the ladies to take part in the project after being informed about it by a fellow staff member.

“One of our staff members here happened to come across the project on social media and thought it would be a great activity for us to do following on from a craft session we did last year with the One Million Stars to end domestic violence,” she said.

The four ladies have been busy crocheting since October last year in an effort contribute to the project.

photo - poppies
Wowan and Dululu ladies busy crocheting poppies. Photo: Donna Reynolds

They have made approximately 200 poppies to go towards the final installation and hope to have Liberal National Member for Flynn, Ken O’Dowd personally deliver them to the Australian War Memorial on their behalf.

Catherine says that the project is more than just craft activity for the ladies, it provides them with the opportunity to come together as a community and contribute to a project that is significant to them.

“They enjoy coming together as a group and working on the project in that social time. But I think the fact that the project has meaning is quite important to them,” she said.

The Remembrance Day installment will be running from October 5 to November 12.


‘My Steve’ by Terri Irwin

It’s been over a decade since the passing of one of Australia’s greatest wildlife heroes. Not only did he take a family passion and build upon it, he also built upon the lives of people worldwide; educating them and showing them just how great wildlife is. Steve Irwin had a passion like no other; a passion that he shared with his wife, Terri and has been carried down to his children, Bindi and Robert.

The other day I stumbled across ‘My Steve’, the book that Terri wrote and published a year after Steve’s death. When I first bought the book I was a little too young to comprehend what I was reading and never got around to finishing it. However, in the midst of a clean out I rediscovered the book and felt the urge to read it. At first I was sad to start the book because I knew that at some point in time Steve’s death would be brought up, but I wanted to know about Steve’s life and what he achieved before his unfortunate accident through the eyes of someone who spent just about every waking minute of the day with him.

Like his children, I was young when Steve passed away. I have fond memories of watching his documentaries with my siblings, being so drawn into the way he displayed and talked about the animals he was showcasing to the world on the screen in front of us.  Just as Terri mentions in the book, Steve was great in front of the camera and as a viewer at times it felt like Steve’s gaze was looking straight through the lens; it was like you were right there with him.

This book isn’t just about all the good times though. Terri also opened up about their struggles financially and the issues they had with media. Starting off as a small reptile park on the Sunshine Coast they used their passion for saving wildlife and a handful money to gradually expand their business acre by acre. To learn that a majority of it was completed by Steve himself makes the zoo all the more special. He put absolutely everything into it and as a result it is thriving in its purpose to bring people closer to wildlife and educate them. It was lovely to read about their promise that everything they earned through their documentaries and profits from the zoo would go straight back into their business and their conservation projects. A strategy that they still live by today; they take nothing for themselves, a quality that I’ve always admired about the Irwin family.

I was disappointed to discover that on more than one occasion, they had been attacked by the media about their profession. It just goes to show that no matter who you are or what good you do in the world, there will always be someone out there to try and tear you down; a whole army of paparazzi in their situation. It comes as one of the disadvantages of living in the lime light. From ‘breaching’ wildlife laws in Antarctica to being accused of being an ‘irresponsible parent’, the media had no problem in lashing out at Steve and Terri and forgetting about all of the good they were doing for wildlife conservation.

I’m so happy that I stumbled across ‘My Steve’; it was a terrific read and even now, a decade later I feel more connected to who Steve was as a person, and have better insight into just how passionate he was about wildlife conservation. It was also good to notice how far Terri, Bindi, Robert and Australia Zoo has come since Steve’s passing. They regularly pay tribute to their loving husband and father and have done a tremendous job at continuing Steve’s legacy to protect and conserve wildlife around the world, just as Terri promised.