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Mark Knight: Foolish beachgoers prove that breaking the rules in a pandemic is no laughing matter

Mark Knight, April 2, 2020 5:38PM Herald Sun

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Part of Mark Knight’s Luna Park cartoon. media_cameraPart of Mark Knight’s Luna Park cartoon.


Reading level: green

Use social distancing or just stay home ….. that was the message from the Federal Government to us all to help reduce the number of coronavirus* infections around Australia.

So what happened when we had a sunny weekend?

A whole lot of people went to the beach, breaking the social distancing rules and sitting in groups in the sun.

“D’oh!” — you can hear Homer Simpson* say to himself.

People to Close on Beach media_cameraPeople ignoring the social distancing rules at St Kilda beach in Melbourne. Picture: Wayne Taylor

Scenes of crowded Melbourne city beaches at St Kilda and Brighton last weekend were a carbon copy* of what occurred at Bondi Beach in Sydney the week before.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews were outraged* at the total disregard* for the all public safety rules put in place.

So the beaches were closed that afternoon, just like when toys are taken from a naughty child.

People to Close on Beach media_cameraa sign enforcing the closure of St Kilda beach. Picture: Wayne Taylor

I thought I should draw a cartoon on the topic.

I love drawing people on beaches, too. When I’m on a seaside vacation I often take my sketchbook with me and spend time relaxing there drawing all the different shapes and sizes of people around me. They are great models because they just lie there, lovingly captured by my pen! And if they aren’t laying down they are taking selfies and striking poses or sucking their tummies in! It’s hilarious, but a great lesson in human anatomy*!

So, I had my topic but what would the idea be? The message in the cartoon would have to be something about how careless these people had been in the face of this pandemic*.

St Kilda beach in Melbourne is well known to me and one of its great landmarks is Luna Park with its huge beaming* face and large mouth that visitors enter through.

I had a thought last week that putting a huge medical mask over the Luna Park mouth would help promote good hygiene* to prevent the virus. I drew sketches in my imagination of what it would look like and decided that I would use that idea in a cartoon when the time was right. That time came when everyone rocked up to the beach against medical advice.

Mark Knight’s Luna Park cartoon. Right-click and open in new tab for full-size image.

media_cameramark knight toon for sunday herald sun march 29

So I drew the entrance to Luna Park with a medical mask covering the laughing face.

It is a strong image and instantly conveys* the message that we are in a medical crisis.

With a bit of artistic licence I had the mask-clad* Luna Park face staring disapprovingly at a crowd of people on the beach.

There was a nice contrast* between the two — one obeying safe health practices by wearing a mask and the others openly disobeying the advice to social distance and not spread infections.

The new coronavirus: key terms explained

However, I thought I needed a caption to strengthen the idea.

What would the Luna Park face say to these people? A great Aussie expression and a good way to get people’s attention is the phrase “OI, YOU!” People tend to look up when it’s shouted in one’s direction. Maybe that?

Then I thought it would be funny — and perhaps appropriate in theses crazy times — that Luna himself should be referring to this lot of desperate sun seekers as “lunatics*”.

So the speech bubble coming from Luna Park’s masked mouth is a simple “OI, YOU LUNATICS!

I’m sure the Prime Minister and the Victorian Premier thought the same thing!


  • coronavirus: a virus that causes illness in humans
  • Homer Simpson: a cartoon character
  • carbon copy: exact copy
  • outraged: angry
  • disregard: not obeying something
  • anatomy: the study of the human body
  • pandemic: a disease that spreads fast around the world
  • beaming: grinning
  • hygiene: things you do to maintain good health
  • conveys: communicates
  • mask-clad: mask wearing
  • contrast: difference
  • lunatics: fools


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  1. Name the 3 beaches mentioned in the story.
  2. Why was the PM outraged?
  3. Mark Knight says watching beachgoers is a great lesson in what?
  4. Which Melbourne suburb is Luna Park in?
  5. What conveys the message we are in a medical crisis?

To come

1. New punchline
Cartoonist Mark Knight has used a play on words in his punchline from the Luna Park face to express how foolish the sunseekers on the beach have been.

Read Mark’s explanation of what the cartoon means again and write two, three or four short sentences, just to make sure you understand what the cartoon is saying.

Using your sentences to help you, write a new punchline for the cartoon that will keep Mark’s meaning the same and still make the purpose of the cartoon clear for children or people who haven’t been reading the news this week.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about.
Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

  • What is my subject?
  • What do I want to say about this issue?
  • How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

A proper noun is a noun that names a particular person, place or thing. It always has a capital letter.

  • How many proper nouns can you find within this article? Find them all and sort them into the category of name, place, time (date/month).
  • Can you find any proper nouns included in your writing?
  • What are they?
  • Can you sort them into their categories?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What message would you give people who ignore social distancing rules?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

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