Monthly Archives: August 2017

Nature: our wonderful wildlife


WARRANDYTE ABOUNDS with opportunities to enjoy natural landscapes and wild animals, birds and reptiles up close.

Although sometimes people would prefer the reptiles to be a little more at arms length!

The natural beauty of our lovely town and its environment is probably the reason a lot of people move to and live here, happily, for a very long time.

It seems fairly obvious, but certainly researchers are in agreement that being connected to and exposed to natural environments has a very positive effect on our mental and physical health, for a whole variety of reasons.

In fact, the research has shown that even just looking at pictures of nature on a regular basis can reduce stress and improve quality of life.

Enter the Warrandyte Nature Facebook page

People love being in and capturing their special experiences of nature, and then sharing those experiences with others.

The Warrandyte Nature page is a vehicle for that purpose.

It’s also a great way to find out about parts of Warrandyte you might never have know existed! Get on it.

The Diary has limited space in the print edition, so for the web find attached a bumper gallery of the images we received for this month’s Nature column.

If you like the selection of photos and would like to see more, please visit the Warrandyte Nature Groups Facebook page by clicking here.

 

Marsupials

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Birds

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Landscapes & the micro world

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Bullants blast Jets in Grand Final victory


In the U13/3 Netball competition, the Serpell Jets were the clear favourites, coming into the finals with a win/lose record of 10–1, compared to the Warrandyte Bullants 6–5.

However, the Bullants had been the victors in the Jets one and only loss of the season, giving the underdogs some needed confidence in the final.

The Jets started the game like the favourites with a 3–1 first quarter, which was repeated in the second quarter only because the Bullants snuck a goal on the half time siren.

It was looking bleak for Warrandyte Bullants at half time but by three quarter time they had the premiership within reach.

Aggressive defence by Scarlett Preston, a lot of hard work through the centre and around goal and accurate shooting from Amber Gedge saw the Bullants mount a solid third quarter comeback, entering the final quarter trailing 10–8.

Both teams fought with everything they had in the final quarter, setting the large crowd on edge.

The Bullants drew level with 90 seconds to go after a see-sawing nine minutes and with both teams playing so well, it was impossible to tell who would win.

The Bullants hit the front with 30 seconds left in the game but the Jets still had a chance to level the scores as they took the ball to the centre restart.

When the Bullants forced the turn over with only seconds left, their last goal proved to be the winner.

As the siren sounded, there were cheers and tears for both sides with the Warrandyte Bullants winning 14–13.

The winning team (Photo: SCOTT PODMORE)

Teapots of every shape, size and function


THE STONEHOUSE Gallery has taken up the mantel of hosting this year’s Melbourne Teapot Exhibition.

Studio@Flinders started the annual event back in 2004, but when the gallery closed in 2016, the Stonehouse Gallery was delighted to be given the opportunity to extend the life of this annual event.

38 artists have contributed a combined total of 66 teapots (21 functional and 45 non-functional pieces).

The exhibition features a number of prizes, of which a teapot from both functional and non-functional categories will be selected: excellence in design; highly commended; encouragement; people’s choice.

Teapots have travelled from all over Australia to be in this year’s exhibition with the furthest all the way from Budderim, Queensland.

Closer to home, entrants include students from Marge Beecham’s pottery group who work out of the old fire station behind the Mechanics’ Institute.

But it is not only potters who have been hard at work in the build-up to this exhibition.

As well as a large advertising poster supplied by Gardiner McGuiness, the gallery has also received sponsorship from Quinton’s Supa IGA Supermarket, Warrandyte Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank and Rob Dolan wines.

The gallery also wished to acknowledge Clayworks, GE and GE Kilns, Northcote pottery and Walker Ceramics for their donations towards prizes.

Additionally, local businesses took part in the “Warrandyte Teapot Photo” social media campaign where they posted photos of their business using teapots in unique ways.

Stonehouse artist and exhibition curator Marymae Trench has extended an invitation to all locals to come and see the wonderful teapots on display.

“We are hoping that the Teapot Exhibition will bring many new people to Warrandyte, and that all local businesses (including the Stonehouse Gallery) will benefit from their visits.

“We always appreciate the support from Warrandyte residents.

“Come and visit us at the Stonehouse Gallery, 103 Yarra Street Warrandyte,” she said.

The exhibition runs until August 15.

Photo: Bill McAuley

Bridge advisory panel walks a rocky road


An Urban Design Advisory Panel (UDAP) has been formed to represent the Warrandyte community with regards to the aesthetic elements of the works planned for the Warrandyte Bridge.

VicRoads Acting Director of Operations Metro North West, Fatima Mohamed, told the Diary that any design changes will be guided by the outcome of the Panel meetings.

“In addition to extensive community consultation already undertaken, an Urban Design Advisory Panel has been established to provide an opportunity for the wider Warrandyte community to provide feedback on bridge design, such as to the look and feel of the upgraded bridge and retaining wall and footpath finishes,” she said.

VicRoads has provided terms of reference which outline the topics the UDAP will be consulted on, including:

• Outer bridge railing (design, colour, finish).

• Bridge abutment treatment and finish.

• Footpath surface colour and treatment.

• Pedestrian movement — including possible under bridge crossing (with connections to the river trail).

• Retaining wall treatments surface and finish.

• Retaining wall pedestrian railings.

• Bollards to approaches.

• Landscape integration including replacement of the large Eucalypts which frame the southern bridge approach.

• Rock beaching to drainage outlets and batters (local rock preferred).

Panel members will be asked to provide advice and make decisions on the above topics on behalf of the wider Warrandyte community.

At the bottom of this article is an image gallery with excerpts from the presentation given by VicRoads in the first meeting.

The presentation gives details on bridge specs and the types of materials being proposed by VicRoads.

The panel is made up of a cross section of the Warrandyte community who will bring divergent views to the panel:

David Carty, John Chapman, Theresa Dawson, Geoff Flicking, Kyle Gillan, Bambi Gordon, Leigh Hearn, Jennie Hill, Jeremy Loftus-Hills and Sasha Reid.

The meetings are chaired by an independent facilitator responsible for guiding discussions to reach decisions for two to three topics at the end of each meeting.

FIRST MEETING: DOWN TO BUSINESS

A report of the initial meeting was provided to the Diary by panel member Bambi Gordon.

The meeting began with an overview of the first task for the Panel, which was to agree upon the objectives for the bridge works — and in fact the Panel itself.

It was agreed that members would evaluate all options in the area of landscaping, environmental management, bridge finishes and so on against the stated objective to achieve “a functional bridge which is sympathetic to and reflects the environments and the character of the town in the design and finish”.

Some changes had already been made (prior to the UDAP meeting) based on earlier objections received.

The primary change to the plan was the addition of a shared footpath on the eastern side of the bridge.

This then had a flow-on effect of requiring a pedestrian crossing on the northern side of the bridge to allow for people to access both footpaths from the north.

The panel were against a pedestrian crossing on the northern end of the bridge due to the potential delay of traffic during peak hours.

However, the panel was also concerned about having the pedestrian crossing on the southern end and it was generally agreed that this crossing needs to be under the bridge — whether that requires some steps down to ground level and back up to Yarra Street, or a slung pedestrian pathway under the bridge.

Both options for a pedestrian crossing at the southern end will entail the potential removal of one or two trees — a further concern for some members as was the retention of the prunus trees that could be impacted by the addition of a left hand turn slip lane on Yarra Street.

The panel ended the meeting with a number of questions for VicRoads and the bridge architect to consider.

In general, the panel were respectful of each other and though no decisions were made on the night it is the Panel’s aim to come to those decisions over the further three scheduled meetings.

Following the first meeting Kyle Gillan, who represents the WCA, told the Diary he was concerned with a comment from VicRoads engineer William Nottle.

In his introductory comments to the panel Mr Nottle noted the project intends to double the amount of traffic through Warrandyte in the morning peak.

“When [Mr Nottle was] pressed on the projected number of additional cars in Warrandyte he answered he could only comment on queue lengths and not increased traffic volumes.

“The impact on the amenity and character of the town is of utmost importance to the WCA.

“That is why the panel is helping to mitigate the broader effects of the project by ensuring we get the very best design for Warrandyte,” said Mr Gillan

SECOND MEETING: PROCEEDINGS TURN SOUR

The panel members returned to their respective groups to report on the proceedings, which initiated some heated discussion online.

Ms Gordon reported to the Diary the Facebook vitriol spilled into the second meeting, so proceedings did not run so smoothly:

The second meeting of the UDAP was in stark contrast to the first. 

Prior to the meeting commencing, one of the members demanded 15 minutes to read a prepared statement to complain about a post made on Facebook a few days earlier by another member.  

A representative from the Historical Society also addressed this same post.  

At issue for both members was that a post on the Fix the Warrandyte Bridge Facebook Group referred to them as members of the WCA – which they are not.  

The post also commented that they had been against the bridge widening. 

Again they stressed that they are not against the bridge widening.
With regard to the social media post the administrator of that group has since apologised for her assumption. 

It should also be noted, at no time did the post name any members of the UDAP.
These and many of the UDAP members still have objections to various aspects of the plan and it is unclear how they will proceed if these objections are not addressed satisfactorily.
Once the meeting commenced it very quickly went off the tracks with members wanting to make presentations and give submissions, which is outside the remit of UDAP.
The various issues discussed at this second meeting, within the nine issues that UDAP is instructed to make recommendations upon were:  landscape integration, pedestrian movement, pathway surfaces, beaching under bridge, retaining walls and new sections of bridge abutment.
Regarding “landscape integration” and “surfaces” UDAP made recommendations, but in the most part the recommendations were for further investigation.

For all the other issues UDAP has asked for further investigation.
The meeting was very heated, with raised voices and direct criticism of the VicRoads representatives.

At one point a member left (and was encouraged to re-join by one of the VicRoads Stakeholder Engagement staff).
A few of the members have since said they hold little hope in UDAP being able to agree upon recommendations for the nine design issues, that the level of vitriol and disrespect makes the process very uncomfortable.

These members also suspect there are some people who will continue to disagree simply to indefinitely delay the project.

They are also concerned that one member of UDAP has already stated quite firmly that if the changes they want are not made the bridge widening will not proceed, while another has said they will “sit here for six months” if their changes are not made.

Meanwhile, VicRoads has told the Diary the contractor has begun work in preparation to commence construction.

“We have appointed a contractor which has begun off-site works which are not tied to the planning process and we intend to commence on-site activities in the coming months,” Ms Mohamed said.

This is despite The Diary being led to believe that one member of UDAP is considering taking the matter to VCAT, which could delay the commencement of works until at least next year.

As we go to print, three members of the advisory panel are considering whether to continue with their role.

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Local producers taste success at Food Awards


LOCAL producers have impressed at the 2017 Australian Food Awards, bringing home a total of six prizes from the prestigious competition.

Competition debutants PoppySmack were awarded two Bronze medals for their Vietnamese Dipping Sauce and Siam Chilli Sambal, while North Warrandyte’s Blue Pear Pantry took home a Silver medal for their Gourmet Sausage Rolls.

Ringwood-based Asterisk Kitchen continued their fine form from last year’s competition, winning both the Gold and Best in Class medals for their Fennel and Thyme Lavosh Crackers, as well as a Bronze medal for their Activated Coconut Charcoal Lavosh Crackers.

Conducted by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, the Australian Food Awards are the country’s leading national food awards program.

The Awards recognise Australian products and produce across eight categories in which the judges focus on the sensory and technical aspects of the product and its appearance.

The gold, silver and bronze medallists are awarded with a national brand seal of quality and the opportunity to be showcased at international and local trade shows.

The presentation dinner will take place on September 7 in the MasterChef kitchen and it promises to be an appetising night, with award-winning products usually featured at the ceremony’s dinner.

“It will be a fun night – lots of people from the industry, big or small; good food — usually made by a very well known chef,” said Younis Khazour of Asterisk Kitchen.

Deb Graham from Blue Pear Pantry is looking forward to the presentation night, yet still can’t quite believe that she has won an award in just her first entry into the competition.

“It’s very surreal,” she said. “I’m still expecting a phone call to tell me that there has been a mix up.”

Ms Graham believes the secret to Blue Pear Pantry’s success is largely due to high quality ingredients.

“My local suppliers give me fresh produce,” she said.

This prestigious award is sure to give business a boost, with the silver stamp not going unnoticed by potential buyers.

“People’s eyes look at them differently than they have in the past,” she said.

For Hanh Truong of PoppySmack, it is not just about producing great food; it is also about sharing the Vietnamese culture throughout the community.

“I just feel like there are a lot of stories that we can share when we’re at the market,” Ms Truong said.

“It’s always come down to where we’ve come from and what we can bring to all our customers.

“We’d like Vietnamese food to be a common household food — that’s what our objective is.”

The talents of these local producers affect the lives of people in ways much deeper than just their taste buds.

Ms Truong, along with her sister and business partner Tran also use their skills with sauce to raise money for the Welcome To Eltham group – an organisation which strives to make refugees feel safe in the local community.

“We create enough money in the business that we can donate it out and help others,” she said.

“That’s kind of our goal as well.”

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North East Link corridor plans released


OFFICIAL PLANS for the four routes under consideration for the North East Link have been released by the North East Link Authority (NELA).

The four possible corridors were determined through geo-technical investigations, traffic modelling, environment studies and discussions with community groups, businesses and local residents.

Premier Andrews made the announcement and said local roads in the north-east have become default freeways.

“North East Link will fix that — carrying 100,000 vehicles a day and creating 5,000 jobs,” he said.

However, Member for Warrandyte and Shadow Minister for Roads and Infrastructure, Ryan Smith told the Diary: “building the North East Link without a plan to build the East West Link will simply channel 100,000 vehicles a day onto an already gridlocked Eastern Freeway”.

Routing options

Of the four routes under consideration, two are set to run to the west of Warrandyte.

The proposed Corridor B would cross the Yarra at Fitzsimons Lane and follow the current powerline reserve with an interchange at the Tindals Road and Reynolds Road intersection and join EastLink at the Ringwood end of the Mullum Mullum Tunnel.

Proposed Corridor C would cross under the Yarra near Crystal Brook Caravan Park and follow the powerlines to the same interchange at Tindals Road.

Both of these options would also incorporate upgrades to Reynolds and Springvale Roads.

Further West, Corridor A is proposed to travel 11 kilometres directly south from Greensborough through the Banyule Flats to connect with the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen Road; this route would include an upgrade of the Eastern Freeway to accommodate the increased traffic volume.

Corridor D is a sweeping 40-kilometre route which travels through Kangaroo Ground, Bend of Islands, Christmas Hills, Lilydale, Mooroolbark and Bayswater, with connection to Eastlink near the Burwood Highway.

Extensive tunnels are planned to protect the environment and cultural assets: Corridor A will be 50% tunnel, Corridor B is planned to comprise a minimum 70% of tunnels over its 24-kilometre length, while Corridor C will have 55% of its 26-kilometre route underground and around 40% of Corridor D will be tunnelled.

Ryan Smith said that having these four corridor options on the table “with a significant lack of detail, Daniel Andrews has created an extreme level of anxiety amongst residents who will potentially have their homes acquired”.

NELA Communication and Stakeholder Engagement officer, Kim Jordan, who presented the plans to local community groups said that NELA have discussed using the powerline reserves with AusNet and they said that to place the high voltage lines underground would not be feasible with the existing reserve.

“That leaves us putting the road underground and leaving the powerlines where they are,” Ms Jordon said.

She said the project “will be completed with a set of guiding principles”:

• Minimise impacts in communities.

• Minimise impacts on environment and cultural assets.

• Minimise impacts during construction.

• Optimise efficient use of resources.

Residents are invited to attend local information sessions during August or can provide their feedback online.

There will be an information session on August 19 at Warrandyte Primary school where residents can give feedback to NELA about the proposed routes.

The Diary will supply publish the NELA technical report on this website when it is made available, in the mean time, more details on the corridor options can be found here.

The Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) says that it is actively preparing for the short feedback period.

Convenor for the WCA’s North East Link subcommittee, Carli Lange-Boutle, says “the WCA is collaborating with other associations along the Greensborough-Eltham-Park Orchards-Donvale-Ringwood Route corridor to identify the potential benefits and impacts of the options.

“This consortium of local associations forms a study group, calling itself the North East Link Forum (NELF), which facilitates an understanding of priority concerns of each district, while also being a means to share information and ideas.”

Ms Lange-Boutle advises that each association continues to work to their individual objectives and priorities.

“The WCA’s priority is to help defend our village character, our natural Yarra River valley bush setting and the surrounding Green Wedge buffers”, she continued.

“The Park Orchards and Donvale communities are worried about potential impact on the Mullum Mullum Creek corridor and about traffic issues.

“The WCA has respectfully identified concerns regarding increased traffic pressure on Yarra Street from a possible ramp system at the intersection of Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road as a key issue.”

Ms Lange-Boutle said “We are devoting considerable effort into encouraging Manningham Council and residents that now is the time to get involved.

“Now is when we all need to communicate our core issues to NELA in response to the route option discussion paper.”

Ms Lange-Boutle said the WCA hoped “Warrandyte residents would take an active interest in this issue”.

These sessions continue the community consultation which commenced last month.

NELA received 7000 responses to their online survey and found the community’s three main issues were: protection of the environment, public transport and urban design.

Last month, residents of Nillumbik were given the opportunity to attend a series of pop-up meetings held by NELA, which were initiated by Nillumbik Council Officers and councillors Karen Egan and Jane Ashton.

Residents asked many questions of the NELA community engagement team with many of the question raised during the first pop-up meeting in Eltham concerned primarily with the routes plan to run through Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground.

Narelle Campbell has attended several of the pop-up meetings as a concerned resident of the Green Wedge.

She told the Diary that NELA appeared receptive and welcoming of discussions.

“The NELA and Nillumbik Council pop-up sessions give us the opportunity to talk to NELA with our issues face to face,” she said.

Ms Campbell said that Nillumbik residents have been “turning up to these sessions to make sure NELA acknowledges and can articulate all of the reasons why a rural Nillumbik Green Wedge option is a bad idea in its own right and achieves a poor project outcome when compared to other North East Link options”.

Ms Campbell gave the Diary her impression of the reality faced by the North East Link Authority.

“The reality is that all North East Link Project options impact on people, homes, the environment, and create engineering challenges — there is no ‘easy’ build option, completing the Link now is about identifying the ‘least worst’ project option to achieve project benefits,” she said.

As reported in the May edition of the Diary, The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) have been advocating for a wholly aboveground option.

“Tunnels are expensive to build, prolong construction timelines, and cannot accommodate dangerous goods vehicles, which forces them onto other roads, impacting community amenity,” VTA CEO Peter Anderson said earlier this year.

However, Ms Jordon said the VTA’s preferred route through Chirnside Park would require some tunnelling, and that only around 1% of trucks carry dangerous goods.

Ryan Smith said the proposed North East link routes are an unprecedented attack on the Green Wedge.

“Daniel Andrews seems not to know or care about the impact this project will have on the local environment, Mr Smith said.

A final decision on the final route will be announced by the end of the year, with the Premier saying contracts would be signed in 2019 and construction commencing in 2020.

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