After nearly three decades in the ice-cream van business Ken Murray, of Ken's Cones, thinks his service is more essential than ever.
This weekend he is visiting streets around Bulli while playing the traditional Greensleeves so everyone knows he his coming.
Around eight years ago Mr Murray stopped driving around neighbourhoods because too many children were in doors on their devices.
Instead he concentrated on attending events such as weddings, festivals, fetes, sports days, markets and birthday parties.
But in late December things changed and everything old became new again.
Now he is offering the traditional ice-cream vending service again from his van and putting smiles on the faces of many adults and children.
Particularly during the last week as more families stay at home amid calls for social isolation to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Mr Murray knows how to lift spirits at such a time. He has been doing just that since Christmas on the fire ravaged South Coast.
In late December he headed to Ulladulla to see if he could bring some cheer by visiting communities surrounded by bushfires.
The overwhelming response from locals saw him continue to deliver ice-creams in the area until early March. And keep giving people a reason to smile.
On rare trips home he helped raise money at events such as the Give Back Day at Stuart Park, Wollongong.
"We were such a hit at Ulladulla. We were out until 9pm and people were coming out in their pyjamas," Mr Murray said.
"They didn't want us to stop. When we were forced at one stage to leave, a lot of the locals said we should stay because we were providing an essential service delivering joy, cheer and happiness to everyone"
"When we had to come back to Thirroul I put the van on the front lawn and donated 40 per cent of all sales to the disaster relief appeal. In eight days we raised $1000 and then went back down the coast".
Now Mr Murray is back home where he and his wife Janelle Murray operate two Ken's Cones ice-cream vans in Wollongong's northern suburbs.
The big difference to what they experienced in Ulladulla during the bushfire crisis is that with no power or access to ATMs on the South Coast meant people used cash. Now with the coronavirus the Murrays are finding everyone is using payWave.
The way they do business means there is no physical contact. In the van they wear gloves and place each cone in a holder on the counter. They then stand back rather then handing the ice-cream directly to customers. They are very conscious about good hygiene.
With smiles on so many faces as people come out of their homes to greet them the Murrays feel like they are offering an essential service during a time of physical isolation for many.
Mr Murray has been an ice-cream vendor for 27 years and said he is blown away by the response and feedback now in Wollongong and on the South Coast in January and February.
"They want us to keep coming around," he said.
"Some customers get up and do a dance and wave. I think I make people feel good. I have always been a happy chappy".
Mr Murray has been talking to many people during the last week.
Most have been telling him they are still okay but just not sure what is going to happen next.
Many have expressed disappointment that they might not get to see him again if the state goes into lock down.
"I tell them I am going to keep going until they tell me not to. Because I still feel I am an essential service," he said.
The reason Mr Murray loves his job is because everyone calls him by his first name and are so happy to see him.
One seven-year-old even girl recently made him an ice-cream van out of lego and presented it to him when he was in her street.
If NSW does go into lockdown Mr Murray hopes he will be allowed to continue his service just as pizza and other food deliveries are allowed to be made.
He wants to keep lifting people's spirits with his traditional ice-cream service in suburbs such as Bulli, Woonona, Corrimal and Thirroul.
And will keep using social media to let people know what suburbs and streets he is visiting.
"Whether you are serving an ice-cream to a seven year old or 70 year old their face beams with happiness," he said.
"It is infectious when you see the kids. Even before they get their ice-cream you can just see the joy on their face while they are seeing it be made".
Since he has returned to the streets after an eight year break Mr Murray said so many adults have come up to him to say how hearing the van coming and the excitement it creates, takes them back to their own childhood.
"It is a joyful job," he said.
Mr Murray has been asked if he would consider delivering milk, bread, eggs and toilet rolls in the van. He said room was an issue. But won't be surprised if the milko and fruit deliveries make a comeback just like the ice-cream van.
Mr Murray said there was something special about hearing the Greensleeves music and seeing the van coming along the street.
"We all have ice-cream in the freezer. But it is not the same as experiencing it this way," he said.
Ken's Cones is starting in Brickworks Estate, Bulli at 4.30 and heads towards Edgewood Estate. Then stay in the Bulli are over the weekend.
The Murrays post regular updates on the Ken's Cones Facebook page.
Taking Care of Business campaign highlights Illawarra workers fighting back amid the coronavirus crisis
The Illawarra Mercury has launched its Taking Care of Business campaign.
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