Monthly Archives: December 2016

Kayakers safe after river search

Police search and rescue were called out last night when, just on dusk, a concerned citizen reported an empty kayak floating down the Yarra.

Following a flyover from the police helicopter and the investigation of some cars left at the Jumping Creek carpark after dark, Police are confident that everyone on the river yesterday have been accounted for.

Sergeant Stuart Henderson of Warrandyte Police said that the owners of the kayak have been found safe and well, however they had hit a rock and tipped out of their boat and were unable to secure the craft as it floated downstream.

This is the second time in as many months when kayakers have run into trouble in the waters of Warrandyte.

The river is central to the Warrandyte community both residents and tourists and throughout the year people can be seen enjoying themselves in and around the river.

Victoria has experienced a particularly wet Spring and early Summer, the Bureau of Meteorology reporting this September as the second wettest September on record with rainfall at 94% above average across the state, a lot of the rivers in Victoria had flood warnings issued and this pattern is continuing into the new year.

To save anxiety, Police have reminded river goers that they should always let people know where they are and when they are expected back.

“We get this every year where people underestimate the time it takes to get downstream or get into trouble, if you let someone on the shore know what you are up to then everyone can get home safely” said Sgt Henderson.

The key to remaining safe when out on the water is knowledge, preparation and communication.

After consulting with outdoor education instructor and experienced kayaker, Jean Dind, The Diary has compiled a list of general tips and advice to help people play safely when on the river.

EQUIPMENT

Most sporting activities require specialist equipment, when one starts participating in adventure sports then the necessity for this equipment is paramount as it often directly related to one’s safety.

  • Transport Safety Victoria stress that A Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is mandatory and if you are going to be going down any rapids then a helmet designed for white water is also advisable.
  • There are a range of different types of canoe and kayak on the market all at different prices and made for different numbers of people or water types.

If you are thinking of buying one for yourself, make sure it is appropriate for the type of water you will be mostly paddling in.

KNOWLEDGE

Knowledge has both practical and theoretical importance here.

For the practical side, this translates into the skills required to effectively operate your kayak as well as the skills required to play safely on the water. To obtain these skills there are a number of options available:

  • Lessons

Whitehorse canoe club  is a local organisation that offer lessons with membership, an organisation like Canoe Victoria also offer courses.

  • River Rescue

Canoe Vic and Swift Water Training Group offer a range or course in river safety and rescue techniques. A casual kayaker wouldn’t necessarily do one of these courses so that they can rescue someone if they see them in trouble but more so give them the skills and knowledge to know what to do if they themselves or one of their kayaking party get into trouble.

KNOWLEDGE OF THE RIVER

Regardless of one’s level of skill, knowledge of the conditions and hazards one is likely to encounter when navigating a section of river is very important.

There is a system that grades rivers and rapids on their difficulty.

This system goes from Easy which means very light condition with very few hazards to Extreme which may mean going down a waterfall.

There are a number of websites that produce maps of rivers with instructions on popular kayaking runs and information about the class of water or rapid one is likely to encounter and even information about how to ‘walk out’ if you get into trouble, these sites are:

Enjoying the river ultimately comes down to one’s ability to be comfortable in and around the water and to be mindful of hazards such as fallen trees and submerged rocks.

It is recommended that whitewater kayakers/canoeists/paddlers are comfortable swimming in moving water and familiar with defensive swimming techniques including the whitewater safety position.

Christmas spirit flows in Warrandyte

Christmas good cheer was flowing as staff and volunteers at Warrandyte business, Now and Not Yet, opened its doors on Christmas day, so that no one had to spend Christmas alone.

 Café owner Derek Bradshaw was overwhelmed with offers of assistance from near and far as he provided free meals and company people who would otherwise have had a meagre meal alone.

“We shut it off at thirty as we had so many people volunteering… we had 100 customers last year, they seem to come in busloads as they come in from Ringwood,” he said.

“We had many locals who had lost family and didn’t have family to go to – one guy said to me this was great, I would have got a meal out of the freezer and sat by myself, so it’s good to come and have some people to be with,” said Mr Bradshaw .

From cooking, to waiting on tables or just lending a friendly ear, volunteers were enthusiastic in their duties.

One volunteer, Sammy, came all the way from Dandenong to help out and was just as eager to work behind the scenes as well as simply to be there for people in need.

“I want to come along and see amazing people with smiling faces and genuinely happy people – but I am happy to lend my hand in any way I can,” he said.

“We’ve had a great Christmas, but it’s not great for everybody, if we can make it a bit better, that’s great,” said another volunteer.

There were many locals who have been supported by Now and Not Yet in the past who were keen to give back to the café.

Local artist Andrea Glueck has used the café’s art space to work.

“It is such an amazing place I wanted to help Derek out, as he is so generous,” she said.

Support came from across Warrandyte, as The Rotary Club and local traders chipped in with donations.

Gardiner McGuinness put on a sausage sizzle that raised $700, which they turned into IGA vouchers, Pines Learning donated 38 handbags filled with women’s essentials collected from the local community, and all of the food for the day was donated by the café’s suppliers.

The diners were very grateful of the opportunity to feel connected to the community, as one woman told of her isolation that comes with separation from your loved ones.

“It’s nice to socialise with other people on a special day rather than sitting at home by yourself,” she said.

Mr Bradshaw said that with all the doom and gloom in the world, people are interested in what the true spirit of Christmas is about.

“It’s Warrandyte really isn’t it, it’s why I love Warrandyte, it’s such a good community,” he said.

For more on this and other Christmas adventures, see the February edition of the Warrandyte Diary.

Benschy’s last ride

One of Warrandyte’s favourite sons was honoured with a fabulous motorcycle funeral procession that roared through the township on Tuesday 13th of December.

Mark ‘Benschy” Bensch’s coffin was aboard a motorcycle hearse as it led a cortège of over forty motorcycles through the village after a touching memorial service at the local footy club.

The footy club wasn’t big enough to hold the crowd of over 600 people and the crowd spilled out on both sides of the clubrooms. Locals mixed with Mark’s biker mates as his family and friends paid tribute to a life well lived.

Mark was killed as he rode his beloved motorcycle from Springvale Road onto the Eastern Freeway last week. He died at the scene. It was stated that Mark died doing the thing that he loved and no one at the service disagreed with that observation.

Mark was the third son of Howard and Joyce Bensch. His brother Gary has already passed on and a touching tribute by Mark’s only surviving brother Ian was read to the attendees.

Mark’s four daughters Jessica, Carly, Sarah and Hannah all spoke proudly of their father and he would have been proud of them too.

Mark’s motorcycle club mate Neil Carter kept the crowd in stitches as he recounted some of Mark’s cheeky adventures. The service music was a soundtrack from the times as some of Mark’s favourite tracks were played, featuring Led Zeppelin, Crosby Stills and Nash and The Doors.

Mark played football and basketball for Warrandyte and was a member of the infamous Bay 13 group of football barrackers. He met his wife Sharon when she worked at The Golden Gate Milk Bar. They were married in 1982 and raised their brood of four girls at their family home in Brackenbury Street. Mark was always a loving and supportive father and Sharon considered him to be her ‘rock.’

People were saddened that Mark was taken early but there was laughter and friendship in the air as people gathered to honor Mark for drinks and food at the R.S.L. Clubrooms.

And Mark’s last ride through the township, well, that was nothing short of spectacular. Benschy would have loved it!

Black Cat Track attack book published

By MICHAEL DI PETTA

THE 2013 attack on the Black Cat track in the Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea shocked and saddened people worldwide, but the event held also held a particular significance in Warrandyte.

Three porters and 10 trekkers were killed, while other trekkers were wounded. Peter Stevens and Rod Clarke, both Warrandyte residents, were unfortunate enough to be present and have a first-hand experience of the attack.

Despite the obvious negatives of being involved with such a traumatic event, the trekkers did take away positives, most notably a strong bond and connection with the porters that may otherwise not have occurred. The story of this connection, the event and its aftermath have now been published into a book Attack on the Black Cat Track, written by Max Carmichael, which ought to attract large interest from the Warrandyte community.

“All us trekkers wanted to record the incident, we actually commissioned the author. Five of us were military and Max is ex military himself, one of us trekkers met him and asked if he’d be interested,” Stevens said.

“Its probably been being written for about two years. That’s not because Max is slow, it’s because you’re dealing with a lot of different trekkers that have input. One of the things that Max relied on quite heavily is that we were actually the subject of episode on Australian Story on the ABC. The interesting thing I found, I learnt a lot about what happened by reading the book. You think you’re a central participant, you think you’d know a lot, but I learnt a lot about what other people thought.”

The details of the attack are widely known already by members of the community, but the thoughts, reactions and subsequent actions of trekkers, including Stevens, remain unknown to many. The purpose of the book is to allow this side of the story to be told and for Stevens, the emotion between the trekkers and porters is what he feels most vividly.

“I think the main thing for all of us trekkers was the fact that we felt for the porters. There were two killed immediately, one died later of wounds. There was also another six who were pretty badly cut up. Obviously there were families of people who died and in Papua New Guinea there is no social welfare so we were pretty concerned, and set up a porters trust fund. The most important thing for me was the help that we provided to next of kin and people who were injured,” Stevens said.

The Black Cat Porters trust has made a major difference in the lives of the porters and their families, assisting them with the injuries that don’t allow them to resume their work.

“The trust actually funded one of the guys, Andrew Natau to come out here for surgery. He had surgery at Cabrini hospital, he was here for about six months at the trusts’ expense, and we found a place for him to stay,” Stevens told the Diary.

“He really was basically crippled and this surgery allowed him to walk properly again. It did allow him to get some of his life back. The key for me as I actually say in the book, those guys wouldn’t have been there if not for us tourists, they were working to support us.”

The Warrandyte connection aside, local residents will take interest in the book because of the similar nature of the Warrandyte and porter community, according to Stevens.

“I think for me, whatever actions we take, we still have responsibilities. Even though obviously the porters and their people weren’t part of our community, they have their own and their community isn’t wealthy enough to provide for them in dire circumstances. Warrandytes a tight community, these people also live in tight communities. The difference is we can absorb disaster a lot better, whereas they can’t.”

Attack On The Black Cat Track is available for purchase at book stores, containing interviews from trekkers, pictures and other platforms that detail the incident.

The book retails at $30. The author has offered Warrandyte Diary readers a copy at a discount price of only $15 by emailing peterstevens_5@bigpond.com.

 

Fond farewell to our Kibbled King

I have just been helping Herself make this year’s Christmas cake. The Christmas puddings were made a few weeks ago and at the moment, they are sitting in the fridge waiting for the flavours to meld and develop. Actually, there are two different puddings in the fridge as we now have family members who are gluten intolerant and others who are vegan and run screaming from the room if confronted by any ingredient that, at some time in its life, has had a face. The result is that for any extended family meal, before a dish can be made, all ingredients must be scrupulously scrutinised for evidence of gluten and uttering eyelashes.

When Christmas Day dawns and we are all around the table and the puddings come steaming to the table, Herself, saint that she is, will assuage the questioning glances by indicating which of all the offerings on the table pass muster. I don’t remember Mum having to worry about such things. The food was served and if you didn’t like it, wouldn’t eat it or were philosophically opposed to currants or orange peel, then you would be assured that there was always the dog waiting for your leftovers. My fading memory suggests that the dog usually went hungry.

But back to the cake – let them eat it! I am eternally amazed at how recipes come into being. Surely there wasn’t some tireless cook who was chained to a kitchen bench, endlessly experimenting with the proportions and types of ingredients. And I cite the Christmas cake as an example.

My bench chaining was brief but in that time, I was instructed to weigh several tonnes of currants, sultanas, cranberries, raisins and candied peel. To these was added a sack of our, several kilos of brown sugar, slabs of butter, a lorry load of slivered almonds, a farm load of eggs, most of the remaining spices from Batavia, salt and all the orange juice and zest from Sunraysia. All this was poured into a cement mixer and moistened with the odd keg of Muscat, Port and Brandy. All this is now regularly churned and left to ‘prove’, ‘cure’ or do whatever a mixture like this does over night.

How on earth was this recipe concocted? Perhaps a castle was besieged and there was nothing better to do to while away the months than experiment with whatever was left in the cellar pantry. How many failed, trial Christmas cakes were fed to the chained prisoners and how much reheated and tipped over the ramparts onto the vegans below?

Eventually, perhaps over generations of trial and error, we arrived at a recipe that works. Over that time the excesses have been eliminated and what remains is a balanced, fail proof recipe. It seems that we only advance through trial and error.

I suppose the same is still going on. In the never ending quest for novelty or to gain a hat for a restaurant, chefs seem determined ‘to go where no man has gone before’. Occasionally, I glance through one of Herself’s food mags and I’m gobsmacked at some of the offerings. Why, in the name of baked beans on toast do they have to try and convince us that turnip and lime macarons are worth trying? Yes, I know I’m a boring old fart but I’d like to think that I’m a BOF with some taste and discretion.

I know that on Christmas Day, I will devour the turkey and ham, gobble up the roasted potatoes and whatever vegetables are deemed suitable. I will have a few servings of pudding, complete with delicious animal by products. Both before and after CD I will enjoy the slabs of Christmas cake, subtly complemented by shortbread and chocolate-dipped, candied orange peel. All without a politically correct thought! You see, it’s time to pass over that task to others as this is my last ‘Kibbled’ column.

It’s sobering to reflect on the fact that some of you out there were not born when I started writing ‘Kibbled”, 34 years ago. Of course, I was just a youngster at the time. We had built a house in North Warrandyte, our two kids were going to WPS, I was involved in the Warrandyte Drama Group, Herself was at the Eltham Living and Learning Centre and we were ‘happy locals’.

In my years with The Diary, under the professional editorship of Cliff Green and more recently, Scott Podmore, I have been privileged to be able to share my life with you; my joys, my gripes and reflections on life. Throughout those 34 years, Jock’s fabulous cartoons have improved whatever I have written.

I have kept copies of all my articles and one day, I will sit or lie down and read the lot to discover what sort of man I have been. Whatever I discover, I know that without Herself I would have been a lesser one.

That said, all I have to do now, is press my … last … full…stop.

ROGER KIBELL

Ah Roger, it’s a sad, sad day saying farewell to one of our greats! On behalf of the Diary I offer a heartfelt thank you for all your wonderful columns, engaging and entertaining turns of phrase. We also thank the lovely Herself for being the subject of so many great yarns. You will always be a part of the Diary. – Scott P, editor.