Monthly Archives: July 2016

It’s a purrrfect storm

Myth or monster? Community speaks up about big cat.

Following the Diary’s big reveal on the return of Warrandyte’s resident “Big Cat” sightings, social media has been awash with opinion and more sightings of the alleged resident beast.

The Diary Facebook page unveiled both video teaser and published article relating to the Big Cat and the response has been overwhelming, with avid Diary followers noticing a divide in public opinion.

A handful jokingly suggested Warrandytians claiming to have seen the cat had gone without their medicine (which is yet to be verified) or that flying spaceships were colluding with the whiskered one in some capacity.

On the other hand, multiple residents backed up claims the cat did indeed exist. After last month’s eye witness testimony provided by Ross Henderson and Kassie Jones, Warrandytians have stepped up to share their experiences about Big Cat sightings, and one “encounter“ stands out above the rest.

Judith Irving recalled an incident of five or six years prior which may well shed some light on the origins of Warrandyte’s enormous cat.

“Many years ago now my neighbour had a friend who came over with this cat and asked me to look after it,” Judith said. “She admitted it was virtually wild and the owners who fed it had it microchipped. I put it in my room it was quite large at this stage. It was so crazy and in the morning I couldn’t find it. I’d left the window open and it had leapt up about four feet off a shelf, out the window and flown through the flywire.”

If this cat did happen to have some kind of connection with the elusive wild beast lurking in our woods today, Judith pointed out the microchip would still be present and would be able to prove if the two animals were one and the same.

“I rang up the microchip people and got my name on their files, but I never heard any more and no one seemed to see it,” she said. “It was wild enough to look after itself. I was hoping someone would see it and let me know, but I’ve heard nothing. If anyone could ever manage to catch it and see if it’s microchipped, it could be the same cat as the one people are talking about today.

“It’s had plenty of time to get big as wild cats do.”

The odds that the two creatures are the same may be slim, but it is certainly not out of the question. If Judith’s “wild cat” is indeed our resident mystery creature, we may have proof that the cat has been roaming in our midst for at least five years.

Any locals with any information about the big cat are urged to contact us at info@warrandytediary.com.au

Volunteers See Red

IN a stoush that has claimed the heads of the emergency services minister, and both the CFA’s chief executive officer and chief fire officer, and dampened Labor’s Victorian swing in the federal election and possibly costing them government, the very public dispute over fire fighters pay and conditions has been well and truly felt in Warrandyte.

About 50 volunteer fire fighters from the area met at Warrandyte fire station on the morning of the election before setting off in convoy as a “show of strength” to pro- test over the lack of consultation with volunteer fire fighters.

Ken Reed, group officer of the CFA’s Maroondah group of brigades, which includes Warrandyte, Wonga Park, Yarra Glen, Lilydale and Coldstream, said despite the politics, they also want to demonstrate they are still there to support the community.

“Our main aim is to make people aware we are still here for the community, but the way we have been getting screwed is very unfair and the worst part about it is the volunteers have had no say in the EBA at all, and that’s what we are disappointed about,” he said.

Head of the United Firefighters Union (UFU), Peter Marshall, addressed volunteers in an open letter.

“Fire fighters need to fight fires, not each other,” he wrote.

Volunteers involved in the convoy did not want the protest to be a sign of disrespect for the career fire fighters they work with, but saw it as sending a message to the State Labor government.
“We have to send a message to Labor that certain things are sacrosanct and CFA is one of them,” said one volunteer from Cold- stream.

“I’ve got no problem with the paid staff, all we want to do is fight fires,” said another.

The timing of the dispute, which has lasted over 1000 days, is seen as unfortunate by outgoing South Warrandyte captain Greg Kennedy.

In a recent interview with the Diary, Mr Kennedy said politics would not affect the operation of the station.

“The guys who work there are going to be paid in accordance with their EBA, they will do their duties in accordance with their EBA, which will be exactly the same way they do their duties at the other 31 CFA career staff stations,” he said.

“Poor old South Warrandyte just happens to be the poor buggers that are trying to open a fire station when all this is going on.”

Jamie Hansen, new officer-in-charge at South Warrandyte, did not want to comment on the dispute while the EBA was still being negotiated.

“What I can assure the community is that the volunteers and career staff at South Warrandyte Fire Brigade will maintain their commitment to providing the highest level of emergency response and there will certainly be no reduction of service from any of the surrounding brigades as a result of this ongoing dispute,” he said.

Current captains of Warrandyte and North Warrandyte also declined to comment on the dispute, but former North Warrandyte captain, Rohan Thornton, says the issue is not about fire fighters’ pay.

“I think most volunteers, and I have never found an exception, believe that all our emergency service workers, police, ambos, nurses are underpaid and deserve everything they get – this is not about the conditions and the pay,” he said.

He believes there will be positive benefits from the EBA for all fire fighters, including the contentious clause to have seven fire fighters dispatched before starting to fight a fire.

“I don’t see that and never did see that as an issue, I just see it as a union providing a safe workplace for their members which is fine – yes please,” said Mr Thornton.

Both staff and volunteer alike have made claims about lies and misinformation, and Mr Thornton can see why that is confusing the public.

“There is truth and lies on both sides and that’s what’s confusing everyone, certainly the community who I’ve had feedback from, they are worried they are concerned and they don’t understand it: it is hard to understand,” Mr Thornton said.

He says for those not in the CFA many aspects of the organisation are confusing, least of which is why people volunteer, and Mr Thornton is concerned the EBA dispute will hurt the volunteer spirit in the organisation.

“It is hard to understand the culture, what makes people, you know, get out of bed at four o’clock in the morning and hold someone’s hand until the ambulance arrives, it takes a special person to have that commitment and it’s just getting harder and harder to maintain that commitment,” he said.

Gerard’s Giant Steps

Warrandyte’s Gerard Stevenson, pictured with wife Sue, may be paralysed from the neck down after a horrific fall at home almost two years ago, yet he powers on with what is a new way of life but with the same old love from family and friends. With that kind of support and finding inspiration in a famous Sir Isaac Newton quote, Gerard enters the blogosphere with his new blog ‘Stand on the Shoulders of Giants’ – www.standontheshouldersofgiants.com.au. Picture: REFLECT PHOTOGRAPHY (www.reflectphotography.com.au)

WARRANDYTE’S Gerard Stevenson suffered a fall at home in August 2014, leaving him paralysed from the neck down, but he has been nothing short of inspirational in readjusting to a new way of life. That includes starting a new blog about his experiences called Stand on the Shoulders of Giants, inspired by a quote from Sir Isaac Newton.

In a recent exam the question read, Who was Sir Isaac Newton? One young student answered: “He was the man who invented gravity!”

Well, he didn’t invent or discover gravity but he did revolutionise scientific thought with his theory of universal gravitation, the sticky stuff holding together the universe.

Sir Isaac was an outstanding scientist and mathematician. He literally changed the way we think about the world. He revolutionised our ideas about light. He invented the world’s first reflecting telescope. He invented calculus, making it possible to measure curved areas and determine the rate at which things change.

With his insights, world knowledge took a giant step forward. When he was pressed to explain how he could make so many important discoveries and inventions, he said: “If I have been able to see further than others it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

Gerard has taken his lead for his blog from that quote. He weaves into his blog inspirational stories from the lives of greats as diverse as Columbus, early Australian sheep breeder John MacArthur and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick among others.

He describes the medical procedures he has had since his injury in easy to understand language. He keeps a keen eye on the latest developments in spinal research and brainwave technology.

Warrandytians are urged to be a part of Gerard’s journey by reading his blog at standontheshouldersof giants.com.au