MORE than 90 years ago, the great-grandparents of travelling showman Robert Phillips made their way from London to perform at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The Great Depression meant they got stuck in Australia.
Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has grounded Mr Phillips and about 3000 other families like his, with no prospect of generating an income.
"STAY at home," governments advise Australians as they seek to limit the spread of coronavirus.
But what about those for whom home is wherever their work next takes them?
Showmen's Guild of Victoria vice-president Robert Phillips and his family have been fortunate enough to be able to stay with relatives, about half an hour out of Bendigo.
But he said many of the 3000 Australian families of travelling showmen were still wherever they had their last event or festival, before the whole industry shut down.
"We haven't worked since March 13," Mr Phillips said.
They have no prospect of returning to work while the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus remains.
"The whole industry is devastated," Mr Phillips said.
And he said it would be some time before it recovered, even once it was safe to get back to work.
Family members, who were also in the industry, had been forced to sack staff.
Mr Phillips was cleaning up vehicles and equipment, in the hope of making a buck or two from scrap metal.
Insurance and vehicle registrations still needed to be paid. Maintenance still had to be done, or the vehicles and rides would further deteriorate in the central Victorian paddock where they were being stored.
Once the industry got the all-clear to resume operating, inspectors would have to called in to ensure the equipment was safe.
"And it costs money, which we won't have because we haven't worked for so long," Mr Phillips said.
"We feel like we're a forgotten industry."
The families he said were often first to be called upon to help raise support when a community was suffering from a disaster event were also among the first to lose their source of income as COVID-19 started to spread in Australia.
Mr Phillips said he had expressed interest in the federal government's Job Keeper package, and had been asking around for other work he might be able to do to keep some money flowing in.
"It's all I've ever done," he said of life as a travelling showman.
He is one of generations of performers - descendants of a contortionist and a stilt walker who fell in love and ended up stuck in Australia after travelling there from London to work the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
"We've been show people our whole lives," Mr Phillips said.
One of the things that was hurting him most as Easter approached was seeing his rides and food stalls packed away, knowing they wouldn't be coming out to bring families joy at this year.
The 57-year-old said he'd never missed the Bendigo Easter Festival, which has this year been postponed because of the coronavirus.
"It's not just an event, it's a highlight on our social calendar," Mr Phillips said.
He said one of his family members was always there with a ride or a dagwood dog stand or selling fairy floss on a stick.
"To miss the smiles on the kids' faces - we make memories for people. It's heartbreaking for us," Mr Phillips said.
"All these rides just sitting there. We drag them around from week to week and make people happy... We earn a living in the process. It's a wonderful job."
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.