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The images that defined 2021, by ACM photographers

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the metaphorical water after a challenging 2020, along came 2021.

It's been another 12 months full of COVID, controversies and crises as we all know. But along they way there have been beacons of light, too.

As always the staples were there - natural disasters, political intrigue as well as public triumphs and disasters. But this year everything was experienced with a COVID-19 undercurrent.

Here's to the newsmakers and shakers, and also the ACM photographers who captured the events that have defined our 2021.

Scroll right down for even more images.

Brittany Higgins. Photo: Karleen Minney, The Canberra Times

Brittany Higgins. Photo: Karleen Minney, The Canberra Times

Former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins, who has alleged she was raped by a colleague inside Parliament House in 2019, made an impromptu speech at the Canberra chapter of the national March 4 Justice protests on March 15, 2021. Ms Higgins' accounts of what happened to her and how the alleged crime was handled sparked fierce national debate about a dangerous male political and parliamentary culture. Picture: Karleen Minney, The Canberra Times.

Hillcrest Public School. Photo: Simon Sturzaker, The Advocate

Hillcrest Public School. Photo: Simon Sturzaker, The Advocate

Two police officers console each other on the grounds of Hillcrest Primary School in Devonport, Tasmania where six children lost their lives after a jumping castle became airborne at end-of-year celebrations on December 16, 2021. Picture: Simon Sturzaker, The Advocate.

Eli Sorrenson with his mum Charmaine and sister Emma. Photo: Marina Neil, Newcastle Herald

Eli Sorrenson with his mum Charmaine and sister Emma. Photo: Marina Neil, Newcastle Herald

Newcastle, NSW residents Charmaine Sorrenson, 33, and her kids Emma, 7, and Eli, 5, along with their cat, Oompa, spent Christmas Day in isolation like thousands of other Australians who tested positive for COVID-19 over the 2021 festive season. Picture: Marina Neil, Newcastle Herald.

Chrissy Pignataro, pictured underwater in May 2021, suffers from a severe type of migraine which affects less than five per cent of migraine sufferers. Cold water therapy has helped her get her life back. Picture: Sylvia Liber, Illawarra Mercury

It was one of the most enduring images of not just 2021 but also the previous 12 months - testers covered in personal protection equipment at your car window. COVID-19 testing stations galore were established across the country, this one is at the Bendigo Showgrounds in Victoria in September 2021. Picture Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser.

Sheep mustering. Photo: John Hanscombe, The Canberra Times

Sheep mustering. Photo: John Hanscombe, The Canberra Times

Sheep being mustered at Kallara Station near Tilpa on the Darling River. Stunning drone images of the Darling River were captured as part of ACM's Forgotten River multimedia series drawing attention to the plight of a this key water source for irrigators, water traders and floodplain harvesters - and the Indigenous Barkindji people. Picture: John Hanscombe, Canberra Times.

Grace Tame. Photo: Karleen Minney

Grace Tame. Photo: Karleen Minney

2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame, an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, makes an address at the National Press Club in Canberra on March 3, 2021. Picture: Karleen Minney, The Canberra Times.

Archie Roach. Picture: Morgan Hancock, Warrnambool Standard

Archie Roach. Picture: Morgan Hancock, Warrnambool Standard

Iconic Indigenous singer-songwriter Archie Roach, who is an ARIA Hall of Fame inductee, was named Moyne Shire NAIDOC ambassador in July, 2021. He is pictured here with his award. Picture: Morgan Hancock, Warrnambool Standard.

Christian Porter. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos, The Canberra Times

Christian Porter. Photo: Dion Georgopoulos, The Canberra Times

Liberal MP Christian Porter, pictured during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday, June 21, 2021. He announced in December he would quit politics after the next federal election following a scandal-ridden year in which he identified himself as the then-minister reported by the ABC as being accused of raping a woman in 1988. He strenuously denies the allegations. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos, The Canberra Times.

William Tyrrell search. Photo: Peter Lorimer, Newcastle Herald

William Tyrrell search. Photo: Peter Lorimer, Newcastle Herald

A renewed search for William Tyrrell on November 20, 2021 at Kendall south of Port Macquarie in NSW, just 1km away from where the three-year-old was last seen on September 12, 2014. This was part of a four-week operation involving 30 police officers. Picture: Peter Lorimer, Newcastle Herald.

Kevin Mason. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong, The Canberra Times

Kevin Mason. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong, The Canberra Times

Yuin elder Kevin Mason, 75, pictured near Narooma in November 2021, has been fishing the waters of the NSW south coast his whole life. His story is at the centre of a long-running dispute over Aboriginal people's right to hunt and gather in their waters. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong, The Canberra Times.

Waiting. Photo: Brodie Weeding, The Advocate.

Waiting. Photo: Brodie Weeding, The Advocate.

A young girl waits on the shore at Wynyard in north west Tasmania for word of her missing uncle, one of three young people who disappeared at sea in October 2021. His body washed ashore hours later. Picture: Brodie Weeding, The Advocate.

COVID-19 testing queues. Photo: Peter Hardin

COVID-19 testing queues. Photo: Peter Hardin

2021 ended at a crawl with huge queues and hours-long waiting times to get tested for COVID-19. Pictured is the queue at Marius Street Sporting Fields testing clinic in Tamworth, NSW. Picture Peter Hardin, The Northern Daily Leader.

Vicki Jans. Picture: Morgan Hancock, Warrnambool Standard

Vicki Jans. Picture: Morgan Hancock, Warrnambool Standard

Vicki Jans is pictured in November, 2021 selling her collection of 7000 ornamental cows. She and her husband are dairy farmers and are selling the cows before they retire to travel around Australia in a caravan. Picture: Morgan Hancock, Warrnambool Standard.

Saved. Photo Scott Calvin, Manning River Times

Saved. Photo Scott Calvin, Manning River Times

A person is rescued from Manning River flooding at Taree in March 2021 during an extreme rainfall event on Australia's east coast which caused record-breaking floods and widespread damage. Photo Scott Calvin, Manning River Times

Scott Morrison. Photo: Lucy Kinbacher, Queensland Country Life

Scott Morrison. Photo: Lucy Kinbacher, Queensland Country Life

Longreach's John Hawkes and Ollie the Brahman bullock say hello to Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Beef Australia 2021 in Rockhampton in May - a brief reprieve from federal politics dominated by the pandemic and the Coalition's poor standing with women. Picture: Lucy Kinbacher, Queensland Country Life.

Geoffrey Barker. Photo: Gareth Gardner, The Northern Daily Leader

Geoffrey Barker. Photo: Gareth Gardner, The Northern Daily Leader

The mouse plague that devastated farms across central-western NSW in 2021 destroyed Gunnedah farmer Geoffrey Barker's sunflower crop. Picture: Gareth Gardner, The Northern Daily Leader.

Anzac Day. Photo: Marina Neil, Newcastle Herald

Anzac Day. Photo: Marina Neil, Newcastle Herald

A scaled-back and more intimate Anzac Day dawn service was held on April 25, 2021 under COVID-19 restrictions at Fort Scratchley in Newcastle, NSW, ending with a four-gun salute to the fallen. Picture: Marina Neil, Newcastle Herald.

Barnaby Joyce. Photo: Gareth Gardner, The Northern Daily Leader

Barnaby Joyce. Photo: Gareth Gardner, The Northern Daily Leader

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce in his electorate in Tamworth, NSW after becoming deputy prime minister for the third time in June 2021. Picture: Gareth Gardner, The Northern Daily Leader.

We Will Rock You musical. Photo: Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser.

We Will Rock You musical. Photo: Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser.

The Bendigo Theatre Company leapt on a brief reprieve from coronavirus lockdown in July 2021 to put on three shows of We Will Rock You which was delayed in 2020 due to the pandemic. Australia's arts and entertainment industry has been hard hit by COVID-19. Picture: Darren Howe, Bendigo Advertiser.