Monthly Archives: July 2015

Warrandyte residents petition Manningham council to oppose petrol station at VCAT


WARRANDYTE residents turned out in force to petition Manningham City Council in opposition to the construction of the proposed petrol station near the roundabout in Yarra Street.

The submitters meeting at council offices was attended by the three Mullum Mullum ward councillors, mayor Cr Paul McLeish, Cr Meg Downie and Cr Sophie Galbally, and Cr Dot Haynes.

Dick Davies presented on behalf of the WCA, and Grant Waldram and Maurice Burley on behalf of the Warrandyte Character Protection Group. Several residents also presented a case against what they believe to be “inappropriate development”.

davies

WCA president Mr Davies

Residents made a case suggesting the development would be a first in what is supposed to be a Neighbourhood Residential Zone, that it would completely marr the ‘Gateway to Warrandyte’ aspect at the roundabout, that it could not be considered part of the West End complex, that disturbance as a result of all night access would be a problem, that bushfire and water contamination risks were exacerbated and many other concerns. WCA called on council to strongly oppose the appeal to VCAT with legal counsel and expert witnesses.

The developer declined to attend the submitters meeting and has appealed directly to VCAT.

The VCAT hearing is on October 19 and will last five days. At the request of the WCA, VCAT has ordered the proponent to produce new plans by August 14 allowing all parties two months to review the new plans before the hearing.

The WCA submission reads:

WCA Submission to the MCC submitters hearing

Officers report on 1,3,5 yarra street (pl13/023819)

The Warrandyte Community Association has a mandate from its membership to:

  • Promote all aspects of community life in Warrandyte
  • Defend the character and heritage of the Township, and
  • Protect the environment and encourage restoration and regeneration of native flora and fauna.

Our feedback over the years is that any new development should preserve this character and feel of Warrandyte.

Consequently, WCA has adopted the view that any large development, such as a fuel outlet, must blend in with the heritage character and environmental aspects of the Township. It is our view that the current proposal for a petrol station at 1,3,5 Yarra Street does not meet these criteria. While some might want a service station in Warrandyte, it is impossible to drive more than 10 minutes without finding one – some of which operate 7 x 24.

The WCA is one of 68 local objectors to this proposal. We oppose the current plan on the grounds of Traffic management, Visual amenity, Heritage streetscape, Loss of roadside vegetation and Environmental concerns.

Specifically these are:

  • As detailed in the Council Officers’ report, the proposal is inconsistent with Council’s planning scheme and neighbourhood character provisions. The scale and intensity of the proposal is an overdevelopment of the site from many perspectives.
  • By any reasonable judgement, the proposal fails to satisfy Clause 52.15 of the planning scheme, which states that: “The amenity of the locality must not be adversely affected by activity on site, the appearance of any building, works, or materials, emissions from the premises or in any other way.” There is no way that the proposal can come close to meeting this criterion.
  • Neighbourhood Residential Zone is the most restrictive of the Government’s three residential zones. There are no service stations in other NRZ. This would be the first , making a mockery of the purpose of the NRZ, which is —“to manage and ensure that development respects identified neighbourhood character, heritage, environmental or landscape characteristics”.
  • The Design and Development Overlay 3 (DDO3) adds another layer to the NRZ. The proposal appears to be in direct contravention of the objectives of the overlay.

(which seeks to ensure that:

  1. development responds to the area’s environmental characteristics;
  2. development recognises the existing infrastructure capacities and does not generate demand for extensive upgrades of infrastructure, including the standard of roads and drainage;
  3. development responds to the area’s environmental characteristics, including topography, soils and vegetation;
  4. development is sympathetic to the existing built form and style and retains the predominance of single detached housing and discourages other forms of works.)
  • No other businesses operate 24 x 7 in Warrandyte. The lights, traffic noise and disturbance would be unreasonable in a residential zone. The presence of a 7 x 24 convenience store (that could easily morph into a fast food outlet) would significantly change the character and ‘Country Town’ feel.
  • Furthermore, there is the potential for contamination in the flood zone.
  • Also there will be additional traffic impacts on an area already suffering significant congestion.
  • Removal of six large mature yellow box gumtrees contradicts the objectives and guidelines in the planning scheme for this area.

We note that the applicant has decided to bypass appropriate Council procedures with a direct appeal to VCAT, with changes that may appeal to the referral authorities, rather than amend the application to address the issues raised by Council Officers. At the request of the WCA, VCAT has ordered the proponent to produce new plans by August 14th allowing two months to review the new plans before the hearing.

We support the Manningham Council Officers Report (PL 13/023819) which proposes that Council oppose the application to VCAT. We urge Council to vigorously oppose this application and dedicate significant resources to fight it, including, but not limited to:

  • An experienced planning lawyer with a track record of defeating inappropriate developments at VCAT, and
  • Expert witnesses as recommended by the planning solicitor.

If this proposal were to be built, the character of Warrandyte, a resource not just for the residents but all of Melbourne, would be significantly and detrimentally affected.

We thank you for your time in consideration of this matter.

Dick Davies, President, Warrandyte Community Association Inc.

 

VIDEO: Striking a chord


The Diary embarked upon a musical mission to get a taste of what Warrandyte and surrounds has to offer.  We had a chat to local bands The Scrimshaw Four, Sunborne, The Teskey Brothers and Selling Time to gauge their thoughts on the music scene in the eastern suburbs, as well as their own musical endeavours. Check it out below!

Bridge too far?


SHOULD we be careful what we wish for? The Manningham Leader carried a story last month under the heading One Bridge Not Enough saying hundreds of “squeaky wheels” were “demanding VicRoads build a second crossing of the Yarra River in Warrandyte”.

The impetus behind this demand is a petition launched by local resident, Jan Freeman, which is receiving much attention on social media. Long traffic queues at peak times and concern about outcomes in the event of a major bushfire have fuelled support for the petition.

Historically, the problem has arisen because Warrandyte has one of only three bridges that span the Yarra River in the north east of Melbourne. The others are Fitzsimons Lane at Templestowe (also very busy at peak times) and Vasey Houghton Bridge at Yarra Glen. With population growth and greater vehicle numbers, traffic through the township has increased over the years leading to the long queues at peak times.

This severely impacts Warrandyte residents, particularly those who live north of the river, in both the morning and afternoon peak periods and there is naturally a desire to see improvements. But more bridges mean more roads, a wider bridge means widened roads and, no matter what, better traffic conditions leads to more, not less, traffic as improved travel times attract more drivers from other congested routes.

There is anecdotal evidence that the failure so far to link the Metropolitan Ring Road to the Eastern Freeway and Eastlink has led to traffic finding alternative routes and river crossings through the north-eastern suburbs. Despite calls to complete the so-called “missing link”, through the Banyule Flats and Yarra River area which would entail another river bridge, no action appears forthcoming.

That is despite calls as recently as April this year when the RACV identified the “missing link’’ as its No.1 priority and called on the state government to fund it. However, the Banyule plan is actively opposed by local groups seeking to protect their area’s environmental values.

There is no doubt that Warrandyte’s topography, environmental sensitivity and history also presents many challenges for road and traffic planners seeking to improve traffic flow and the river crossing. The question must be asked, how much is the Warrandyte community prepared to compromise to achieve a better traffic outcome at peak periods?

Many solutions have been suggested in the past, ranging from a proposed Yarra Street widening and realignment in the 1980s (vehemently opposed by the com- munity) to a bridge from Bradleys Lane to Everard Drive more recently (discounted by authorities). Dick Davies, president of the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA), said recently that up until now everybody had a solution to Warrandyte’s traffic problems but nobody had data, so a VicRoads traffic report on the bridge road network, due in August, will be most welcome and should assist in identifying problems and solutions.

In addition, $140,000 has been budgeted to investigate ways to improve the bridge’s traffic capacity during an emergency, including widening and strengthening the bridge. An emergency situation is the greatest impetus for change. The current bridge has served our community well for nearly 60 years. No doubt the community will wish to be involved in any plans for change in order to protect the amenity and historical connections particularly if change leads to modifications to Yarra Street or the historic streetscape.

To return to the original question do we need to be careful what we wish for?

While much attention has been focused on the bridge do we want to see it vastly altered, especially if it leads to major road changes as a result?

While much attention has been focused on the traffic line in Yarra Street at peak periods which so infuriates motorists, what changes can we hope for given this type of congestion happens at most major river crossings (even those on major arterial roads such as Fitzsimons Lane or Banksia Street)?

Can we accept that traffic congestion has the effect of deterring some traffic and that increasing capacity will attract more, not less, traffic as has been experienced elsewhere? Should we be more focused on the broader area solutions such as the Northern Arterial extension from Reynolds Road to the Maroondah Highway?

One thing is for sure – the debate, petitions and lobbying will persist as long as the line of traffic continues to snake along the township’s roads.

 

Bloods fall in thriller


WARRANDYTE suffered an upset one-point loss to Kilsyth at Pinks Reserve on the weekend, in one of the most captivating games of the Eastern Football League Division 4 season.

Despite holding a slender lead into the final change, Kilsyth surged late in a frantic last quarter to topple the Bloods, who
were without key player Arthur Lamaris. Warrandyte was the victim of a couple of questionable umpiring decisions late in the final term, which shifted momentum and allowed Kilsyth to see the game out.

The loss means Warrandyte holds top position on the ladder over Forest Hill only by percentage, with both sides recording 10 wins and two losses so far this season.

Both sides started slowly out of the blocks in icy conditions and shots on goal were at a premium. A lack of talk in the middle between Warrandyte players was evident, as poor communication resulted in turnovers and errors as the Bloods tried to break the lines.

Poor kicking for goal cost the Bloods dearly in the opening term, registering four behinds after kicking their opener.

Warrandyte was playing the game in their half of the ground, but star Kilsyth forward Jay Sherlock kicked true after a strong constested mark to give the home team a three-point lead going into the first change.

The second term began much in the same vein as the first. Luke Dunn managed to boot an early goal to give the Bloods the lead back, but again Kilsyth respond- ed.

A lack of presence at ground level in the forward line for Warrandyte meant Kilsyth was able to mop up when the ball hit the deck and rebound effectively before the Bloods could set up.

Another classy Sherlock goal at the end of the term gave Kilsyth a nine-point lead at half-time.

Often known as the premiership quarter, Warrandyte showed
an increased level of desire at the beginning of the third term. Chad Gauci, who had the ball on a string throughout the first half, kicked a terrific goal to start the Bloods surge.

Suddenly, Warrandyte’s tall for- ward line was firing on all cylinders and three quick goals to Lee Evans had the Bloods fans in full voice approaching the final term.

The six-goal period saw Warrandyte start the fourth quarter with a 17-point lead. What followed was a terrific display in running end-to-end football, with both sides using the corridor at breakneck speed. Kilsyth kicked the opening major to cut the lead down to 10, but Luke Dunn replied just seconds later for Warrandyte.

However, Kilsyth’s big names stood up when it counted. Sherlock and Ben Mullett began to win the footy in dangerous areas and Mullett put through a big goal to give Kilsyth a seven-point lead just minutes from time.

Warrandyte scrambled one through late to bring the deficit to just one point, but the siren sounded to deny the Bloods victory. The final score: 13.5.83 to 12.10 82.

The defeat ends a run of three consecutive victories for the Bloods, including a 120-point crushing of Surrey Park and wins over Ferntree Gully and Glen Waverley. Ashley Froud was particularly dominant, booting 19 majors in the three games to cement his place on top of the goalkicking table.

With six games left of the regular season, the Bloods are in prime position to secure a top two position heading into finals and with key players Luke Dunn and Lee Evans returning to fitness and key onballer Lamaris to come back, the side will only get stronger.

The Reserves have also continued their good form, defeating Kilsyth in a scrappy affair. Dominant 100-plus point victories against Surrey Park and Glen Waverley book-ended a convincing victory over Ferntree Gully.

Gareth Hitchman’s goalkicking has been spectacular in recent weeks, backing up an 11-goal performance against Surrey Park with eight majors against Ferntree Gully.

Hitchman now has 60 goals for the year in just 11 games and a couple more large hauls could bring the century within reach.

Sitting second on the ladder with 11 wins behind the unbeaten Forest Hill, the Reserves will aim to chase down the division leaders throughout the back half of the season.

The Under 19s have moved into third place on the ladder after
a routine win against Kilsyth, restricting their opposition to just one goal. A close loss to Surrey Park and a defeat at the hands of Ferntree Gully saw the U19s slipping slightly, but a big win over Forest Hill steadied the ship ahead of the Kilsyth fixture.

The Bloods face off against Forest Hill away this week, in a big clash which could decide who tops the EFL ladder come the end of the season.

Burglary at Ruby Tuesday


THIEVES smashed their way into Ruby Tuesday and have stolen items and caused damage estimated at $10,000 after what is being described as a brazen early morning attack on Saturday.

At 6.45am it is believed three men wearing headlamps and driving a medium sized hatchback dark in colour, similar to a Mazda 3 shape car, used some sort of hammer or sledgehammer to break into the popular jewellery store on Melbourne Hill Rd.

A security camera in the top left hand corner on the exterior of the premises captured the incident on film and a passerby witnessed the men breaking in through the front door. At the time the Diary went to print no arrests had been made and the security camera footage hadn’t been viewed.

Cabinets were left shattered
and some jewellery remained, including gold items. Fortunately thieves didn’t rob the safe, nor did they enter the workshop
area, according to Ruby Tuesday owners Terry Rafferty and Anita Sigmund who believe the robbery must have been “a smash-and- grab” incident. “They haven’t taken the most expensive things, it seems, and they were obviously in a hurry.”

Crime investigation squad members from Box Hill were at the scene on Saturday morning taking fingerprints and looking for other clues.

A post about the robbery on
the Diary Facebook page reached almost 10,000 people in social media and drew about 50 comments from locals who were appalled by the robbery to one of our favourite business houses.

Servo to VCAT


WARRANDYTE residents are furious the final decision regarding the development of a 24-hour service station at 1-5 Yarra Street has been taken to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

A $1.5 million proposal was submit- ted by the applicant in April last year from site owner Platinum King Management Pty Ltd to develop a 250m/sq petrol station and convenience store accommodating six fuel pumps and 13 car parking spaces. Despite attracting a reported 69 objections, the proposal was neither accepted nor rejected by Manningham City Council.

The Diary understands the applicant has taken the matter directly to VCAT and is appealing for the proposal to be approved.

Manningham City Council informed the Diary just before going to print that a full council report would be available on July 16 and the matter would be addressed at a council meeting on July 28 outlining council’s position of not supporting the application.

In strong dialogue on social media pages in the past 12 months – and in particular last week on the Warrandyte Business & Community Network page – there have been mixed views for and against the service station being built at the site. Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) member Doug Seymour said it was surprising the community was not made aware of the decisions from Manningham council since objections were lodged 14 months ago.

“This is a complex issue and it is possible that council has not made a determination and therefore the applicant has lodged this application for review and decision. It would be helpful to all parties to know where council now stands on this issue,” Mr Seymour says.

Manningham council CEO Joe Carbone said objectors would be advised of council’s position on the application shortly. That position will then be advocated for at VCAT.

Only last week objectors to the proposal opened a letter in their mail to find that their objections to Manningham council had not been successful and the decision was to be finalised by VCAT at a hearing on October 29.

The letter, sent by the solicitor representing the applicant, stated July 10 (this Friday) would be the “closing date for objectors and referral authorities to lodge a statement of grounds with VCAT”.

Discussion on social media has been divided since the information was released. However, there are many concerns if the development goes ahead, including the environmental impact, compromising the character of Warrandyte, disturbance to residents, and safety concerns in the event of bushfires.

The development would require the removal of vegetation and six yellow box trees, as outlined in the initial proposal.

North Warrandyte resident Annie Watkins believes it is vital the environment in Warrandyte be protected at any cost.

“When you have a substantial and unique environment like Warrandyte, you have got to do what you can to preserve it,” she says. Ms Watkins is also concerned that, if approved, the proposal will set a potentially dangerous precedent.

“If we allow the service station, what else will be allowed to go up in Warrandyte?”

“We need to be a little more responsible as a society to recognise what’s valuable. We want to keep true to the essence of Warrandyte,” Ms Watkins says.

Other objectors believe a petrol station next to Andersons Creek is illogical particularly when the creek is prone to flooding which would allow pollutants and litter to enter the creek.

With the proposed development being next door to the Warrandyte Reserve Pavilion, others are concerned people’s safety will be com- promised in a bushfire emergency. According to the CFA, the reserve is the place of last resort for Warrandyte residents in the event of all other bushfire plans failing.

The disturbance caused by the construction of the petrol station is also a major concern. The WCA lodged an amended objection reit- erating the reasons why they object to the proposal, including the dif- ficulty at access and exit points at the Heidelberg Road / Harris Gully Road roundabout and the vague details relating to signage, lighting and hours of operation.

The impact on the character of Warrandyte is creating a lot of controversy. Resident Tricia Barrett believes the design of the building, along with the large bright advertising and signage, lighting and unnatural noise would affect all residents, especially those within close proximity to the site and visitors to Warrandyte.

“It is not within the character of Warrandyte and we don’t need it or want it.”

Nonetheless, not everyone is opposed to the petrol station. On social media some residents believe there is sufficient demand for it to be built, and consider the Yarra Street site to be a perfect location and a welcome alternative to the Warrandyte South petrol station.

Resident Elaine Raphael says while a 24-hour “monstrosity” is unnecessary, a petrol station in keeping with Warrandyte’s surroundings would be ideal.

Other concerned parties are asking the protestors to consider non-residents. Sheya Atherton points out that many commuters pass through Warrandyte for many reasons and having a petrol station in that spot would be convenient.

“Each community is made up of its locals and those that come into the suburb and there is as much of a positive and negative component to that,” Ms Atherton says.

In her objection to council, Ms Barrett expressed her belief that a petrol station at the proposed site is simply unnecessary.

“We (residents) are happy with nearest petrol availability in Warrandyte South, Fitzsimons Lane roundabout, and Reynolds Road – these facilities service Warrandyte residents adequately already.”

The Diary has been told that while a lot of the concern is stemming from the location and the imposing nature of the proposed petrol station, the prospect of a fast food or retail association being attached to the site is equally disconcerting with fears that would impact on local food and beverage businesses.

VCAT will hold a practice hearing on July 17 before the official hearing on October 29. The objectors are working together with the WCA before lodging their objections at the practice hearing.

 

Best in business


JULIE Quinton has some sound advice for business owners:

“You have got to be involved in your community in every aspect. You have got to be part of it, you have to get to know people and know what your customers want.”

Julie is the progressive owner of Quinton’s IGA in Warrandyte – and also the inaugural winner of the Manningham Business Excellence Awards, which return for a third time this year.

After losing her husband in August of 2007, Julie’s life changed in many ways. Brian Quinton bought the supermarket in 2000 and ran the business successfully for seven years.

Although Julie admits she was never inclined to run her own business, she felt compelled to continue her husband’s legacy.

“It’s been a real learning curve,” Julie says. “I had no aspirations before he passed away – now I do.”

After taking out first place in two categories at the 2013 Manningham Business Excellence Awards, including Manningham Business of the Year and Manningham Contribution to Community Business of the Year, Julie and her staff felt a great sense of pride and affirmation.

“When we won, that was the greatest reward and it felt like we were on the right track. It was a wonderful moment,” she recalls.

This year marks the third Manningham Business Excellence Awards, a joint initiative of the four Rotary clubs in Manningham; Doncaster East, Templestowe Village and Warrandyte Community Bank branches; Manningham Business and the Manningham Business Network.

The awards provide a platform for business owners to not only celebrate their success but to undertake a more detailed analysis of their business strengths and identify potential areas for improvement.

Event manager for the awards Liz Small says they are a great way for businesses to review their activity and an opportunity for businesses to look at their operations in a much deeper, analytical sense.

Tony Welsh, owner of H2Pro Plumbing and winner of the 2014 Manningham Business of the Year and Manningham Professional Services Business of the Year awards, believes the MBEA have helped his business move forward and plan more efficiently for the future.

“The Manningham Business Excellence Awards give you a chance to look at your business and its structure from the outside in and realise what you do have in place and what you need to put in place,” Tony told the Diary.

Recognising business achievements is important to Tony and although he regrets often being too busy to acknowledge his business’s success, the MBEA gave him the chance to do just that. Receiving recognition from others in the business industry, such as business coaches and marketing professionals on the awards judging panel, was especially gratifying, he explains.

Tony concedes running a business can sometimes be a “lonely road” because it can be difficult for owners to judge exactly how well everything is progressing. However, winning the awards pushed those feelings of uncertainty aside.

“It felt like the hard work had paid off and it was recognition that the business is moving forward,” Tony says.

Liz Small, of the MBEA, says while the awards provide an ideal opportunity for local businesses to showcase themselves and their achievements, one of the key criteria for nominees is the contribution they have made to the community.

“The key reason why they (the awards) were arranged was to recognise the businesses that give back to the community… that’s the big driving force behind the whole thing,” Liz says.

Quinton’s IGA aligns with that philosophy.

Julie says an important part of running her business is conducting forums with customers to determine what they like or dislike and what they want from the business.

“You need to work in your business and not just on it. Business owners cannot just do only what they want all the time,” she says.

The MBEA celebrate the point of difference offered by businesses and how that allows them to stand out from competitors. Both Julie and Tony share the philosophy that the quality of what they offer is foremost.

“I don’t think you could compare our produce to the larger supermarket chains. Our quality is superior and exceptional,” Julie says.

Tony says competitive pricing is something he considers, but he measures his business more on the quality of service provided and how the customers respond to that service.

“We always try to go beyond the call of duty and over deliver. We aim to give that ‘wow’ factor.”

Naturally, two successful business owners such as Julie Quinton and Tony Welsh know that running a business is not possible without commitment, energy and, most of all, passion.

“You can’t go into business half-heartedly. You have got to have a passion for what you do and always aim to be one of the best in your profession,” Tony says.

Julie’s passion stems from a significant personal experience and adds another dimension to her perspective on running her business.

“I’m not driven by money, it’s not my passion. My passion is Brian’s legacy. I focus on my staff and what we provide to our community and I truly believe that has been the secret to our success,” she says.

Julie and Tony believe the future for businesses in Warrandyte is bright, especially given the community’s willingness to support local business. “I think as long as you try and run your business to the best of your ability and do so with integrity, you’ll definitely succeed,” Julie says.

Businesses operating within Manningham or servicing suburbs within the municipality are encouraged to nominate themselves for the 2015 Manningham Business Excellence Awards. The awards breakfast launch will be held on Tuesday July 28 at the Manningham Function Centre. There will be an opportunity to hear from past award winners and how the Manningham Business Excellence Awards have benefitted their business.

For more information visit www.manninghambea.com.au

Bec hits the wall


From the hills of Warrandyte to the Great Wall of China, local fitness femme BEC ROSTRON completed a marathon from great heights recently and is this month’s guest travel writer. A proud Warrandytian for the past 12 years with her husband Marty and three children, Hudson (13), Archer (11) and Rose (9), Bec has also played a big part in our local community, including transforming many local women’s lives with
her fitness business called Femmex. That provided the building blocks to launch her into becoming our latest Marathon Woman.

RUNNING a small women’s fitness business for the past four years, I’ve really enjoyed specialising in high intensity workouts that are certainly not for the faint-hearted. I love motivating all those local dedicated girls who come to my classes and see them achieve their fitness and weight loss goals.

I work my butt off in the classes, too, so that girls are constantly pushed to another level. Through these classes my fitness has increased and so too did the length of my runs. I started my love of running about 10 years ago, but definitely was not doing big runs for the first few years. I have now done one marathon, three half marathons, three Puffing Billy runs and countless other fun runs in and around Melbourne.

I first decided to do a marathon in my 40th year as kind of a tick on my bucket list. I have had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 23 and was told I’d be in a wheel chair by the time I turned 40. So when, after limitless visits to hospitals, doctors, nutritionists, acupuncturists and so on, I found just a change in my eating habits sent my arthritis into remission (where it has now been for about eight years) and I decided to take my running a bit more seriously.

With 5164 steps and endless hills to be climbed, the Great Wall of China Marathon has been billed as one of the toughest running events in the world: which is why I eventually chose this one.

I was lucky enough to have talked a friend from Queensland into conquering this marathon with me. Chantal grew up in Park Orchards and attended Aquinas with me so I have known her for many years.

We arrived in China and had a day of sightseeing around Beijing before heading to the Tianjin Province, Jixian, to settle in before checking out the hardest wall portion of the run. The photos just don’t let you know exactly how steep the steps actually are, but the views are out of this world. I wasn’t expecting it to be as breathtaking as it was. The 3.5km section we completed felt really hard and woke up with sore calves the next day: we questioned whether we were ready for such a feat. What had we got ourselves into? Already sore with only steps and no kilometres!

We had a day to rest before waking up at 5am on Saturday May 16 and were shuttled on a bus to the Yin & Yang Square where the run would commence. It was a crazy atmosphere in the square as 2500 runners were all milling about waiting for their turn. We had a very funny 1980s aerobics-inspired warm-up for a few minutes and then it was time to line up at the start.

It was going to be 30 degrees and sunny so the morning chill didn’t last very long once the race began.

I started out strong and thank goodness for all the hours spent training on the hills of Warrandyte as there were a lot more hills than I was expecting. I felt strong climbing the wall and headed out to complete 26km around the villages for what I thought was the flat part of the run (I was wrong!).

Despite the continuous hills, this was also one of the best parts for me as the streets were lined with children wanting high fives and shouting words of encouragement. It definitely kept me in great spirits for the rest of the run. Despite accidentally taking a 5km detour (serious blonde moment and bad signage), I absolutely loved every part of it.

Climbing back up the wall for a second time was devastatingly hard after completing 36km, but I powered through it still on the adrenalin rush I began the race with – that and about five energy gels to help me along my way.

There were plenty of people struggling to get through this last part of the run and the steps were lined with exhausted and seriously depleted runners. To give you an idea of just how steep and hard this section was, ever kilometre on this part of the wall took about 18 minutes to complete.

Running back into the square and over the finish line was out of this world, I can’t describe how ecstatic I was. I couldn’t believe during and after such a hard marathon I was still feeling energetic and extremely elated.

Even after all the steps, heat, hills and accidental detours, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

I finished in 5:07hrs and with that time managed to come second in my age group (40-44) and was the 17th woman across the line.

Despite all the challenges it was one of the most scenic, beautiful and rewarding runs I have ever done. It was one of the best moments of my life.

Beijing also was a great place for a celebration, that’s for sure!

Simply China: From $2,179 – 9 Days, fully inclusive from Melbourne. For more details contact the team at Warrandyte Travel And Cruise.