By CHERIE MOSELEN
“Purple regalia and
monarchs’ proud faces,
Music and magic and billycart races,
Children’s cute costumes
all tied up with string,
These are a few
of our festival things…”
Warrandyte’s annual festival kicked off last month with popular evening events, Warrandyte Film Feast and Warrandyte Donvale Rotary Art Show.
The festival celebrated the town’s hallmark qualities over the weekend of March 22–24 via the theme “Stars of Warrandyte”.
Saturday’s trademark Grand Parade was filled with firefighters, councillors in classic cars, floats adorned
with superstars, theatre nuts blowing bubbles, community bank benefactors holding big cheques and
A star-studded cast came out with props and colourful costumes.
Sporting clubs, IGA apples, Ringwood RSL rat-a-tat-tatters, ultimate martial artists in full spin, Neighbourhood House knits, an old Dodge, a young Billycarter, Arty Farty umbrellas, the honourable Ryan Smith all fired up about Fireball…
Variety Bash “Benzey” — now there’s a star! Sixteen Variety Bashes throughout Australia, raising money for children’s charity.
Giant ducks, mountain bikes, Dylan’s trike (made at school from recycled materials), CFA pumpers, scouts getting about — and all this to the shout of Town Crier Ian Craig.
Commentators kept it entertaining, even trotting out a joke or two: “These ducks look like they have their eyes covered, but actually… they’re Peking ducks!”
Rain made a half-hearted attempt to dampen enthusiasm but never really had a chance.
You see, for locals, nothing speaks to community pride more than Warrandyte Festival.
This year, the town clocked up 43 straight festival runs, thanks to a committed band of volunteers who continue to come up with ideas and the gusto to see them through.
A week earlier, organisers were told by Manningham Council that due to safe food-handling regulations, the Kid’s Market would not be able to sell baked goods — staples for these stalls, really, but rules are rules.
Families were notified and organisers feared the worst: dozens of disappointed children and parents, doing their buns and pulling out.
But, that is not the Warrandyte way.
A prize-winning number of stalls were registered — 70, in fact.
One young stallholder said it best: “We just ate all our cakes and made pet rocks instead!”
Kids’ Market organiser Grace Johnstone told the Diary that many interesting ideas were presented on the day, but it was “Warrandyte’s spirit of cooperation that was truly on show”.
Taking the cake, for mine, was a repurposed duck-race duck —complete with potted plant — “Hugh Quackman”.
Sunday’s Billycart Derby action drew a few choice words from parade monarch and motorcycle racing champ Cameron Donald, who helped out on the mike.
Cam’s commentary skills were tested — a minor stack, a false start and several finishes that looked too close to call — but he came through unscathed. Phew!
Meanwhile, on the Main Stage, the smooth countrified vocals of local performer Jo Pearson and the Pearl River Ramblers set up a further flow of excellence from Sydney’s alternative Country combo The April Family, dirtgirl and Mother Earth.
Fabulous Tom Petty/Fleetwood Mac and feisty Janis Joplin tributes followed on.
A day earlier, Riverbank Stage audiences had kept pace with drumming sensation African Star, before local bands Velvet Lounge and Riffmasters chilled things down to create a relaxed vibe.
In a new move, festival organisers brought Friday night’s three-hour Battle of the Bands (BOB) to the Main Stage on Saturday.
Applause for first-time festival volunteer Opal Gough.
It was a huge hit, giving young acts the opportunity to play primetime on a stage that has seen local bands like The Teskey Brothers and The Scrims go on to achieve success further afield.
Among others, bass player for The Teskeys, Brendon Love, stepped up as a Battle judge, offering the young players valuable feedback and advice.
Also helpful was Ben Dennis, (ex BOB organiser and manager of award-winning Australian electronic music duo Peking Duk) who generously produced 12 tickets to an upcoming Peking Duk concert as an event prize.
Ethical Decimal, a four-piece all-girl band from Castlemaine Secondary College, won the competition overall.
Gozleme, crepes, salted caramel ice cream, those little pancakes that everyone loves, a giant spring roll — I couldn’t decide among some fab food choices this year, so tried them all — in one afternoon.
A good thing St John’s Mobile CPR Learning Lab was on standby.
A lifesaving initiative to build resilience by training more people in CPR, 12-year-old visitor from Shepparton Tom Di Petta did the training:
“It was fun and the instructions were clear, I learned CPR in 10 minutes.”
Tom looked very keen to practice his newfound techniques, (at the time we spoke I was slowly sagging under the weight of Polish dumplings and lychee infused beer!)
Later, lighting genius Hugh McSpedden boosted the night sky and transformed trees around the Main Stage with creative images.
But, stars eventually fade from view.
And just like that, another Warrandyte Festival slipped by like a wet child on a giant water slide…
If you lost your mind over Hugh’s light show, the Information Caravan has it and some other things as well! Watches, hats, mats and multiple pieces of Tupperware with the name Carla Thompson on them: contact Carolyn on 0411 789 922 with lost property enquiries.
Main Stage music medley
By IAN CRAIG
WHILE THE day started with the weather raining on our parade it ended with a twilight battle of the bands in Stiggants Reserve in what could only be described as a very pleasant and balmy evening.
Sitting in my favourite camping chair enjoying a pint of Kellybrook Ale, this sure was a good idea to hijack my wife Jo’s Warrandyte Diary assignment.
“You just keep working on your other writing assignments I will do this one for you,” says I, ha-ha, all part of my cunning plan.
With Greg Champion MC’ing the night and surrounded by three to four hundred fellow festivillians it was a pleasant night indeed.
As Greg Champion said to me when I asked him about the night, “The Battle of the Bands has brought more people in then our band … be young or die”.
Don’t take it personally Greg.
The competition started in the 80s with the back of a tray truck for the stage in the middle of the footy oval.
After a number of moves it has finally made it to the main stage and judging by the crowd it is there to stay.
The idea behind Battle of the Bands is that young aspiring musicians get a chance to demonstrate their creative “musicality” (I don’t know what that means but the judges told me that’s one of things they were looking for) in front of a good audience and the judges score them on the things that musically talented people look for in an up and coming band.
The judges are no slouches in this field with Fiona Steel (half of the indie folk duo GraceJean and session artist), Brendan Love (from Warrandyte’s own The Teskey Brothers), Joseph Dwyer (Moring After Girls), Fossa (Melbourne based Hip Hop Producer) and Kain Hardie (musician and music journalist).
Fiona told me she was, “looking for overall musicality, interaction with each other, interaction with crowd”.
I asked if it brought back memories for her.
“Yeah it does actually … I did a few of them when I was younger … it’s interesting being on the other side.”
Of course the audience got in on the act with the people’s award voted through the event page on Facebook.
Nice touch although there was a lot of voting happening before some of the acts even hit the stage, go friends.
Acts included Reborn Rebellion, Dead Pig, C-K-H, In The Works, Bleached and Blessed, Ethical Decimal, Suzi and Space Goats.
The winner of first prize (a full day of recording at Jet Studios) was Ethical Decimal, a young all female band from Castlemaine Secondary College.
Runners up were a young solo act, Suzi Yaghmoor from Mornington Peninsula and Dead Pig from Park Orchards.
First timer organiser Opal Gough, joined the Warrandyte Festival Committee in November last year.
“I think the kids were great,” said Opal, “they’ve pulled in an amazing crowd … that was really good support for them.”
Well done to Opal, her assistants and the committee for a great night, we thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment and the beautiful evening.
Blast into Warrandyte’s past
By JAMES POYNER
THE WEATHER was glorious for the Hanson’s annual Sunday afternoon Gold Mine Tour and a group of around 50 people made their way up to the top of Webb Street for this Festival highlight.
Entry to the tour is free, with a small donation requested to raise money for Oxfam’s Walk Against Want, which raises money to assist women in developing countries who have to walk tens of kilometres each day to fetch fresh water.
The tours have been running since 1978 and up until recently were run by John Hanson himself.
But 42 years is a long time to run Gold Mine tours and these days, John has passed the baton on to his children; Peter, Jenny and Christine.
But before we headed off on our tour with Jenny and Christine, John gave the group potted history of gold mining in Warrandyte and the popularity of the tour.
“Typical gold country has three different types of eucalypt, red box, long leaf box and red stringy bark and often if they saw those sorts of trees [the miners] would think there is gold in the area,” he said.
“In some years, I had 200 people turn up, I borrowed a loud-hailer and off we went, but with 200 people, it was pretty slow.
“One year I decided to split it into two groups, 1pm and 3pm — 1pm 35 turned up, 3pm 150 turned up so I went back to just one time,” he said.
A short, bushy walk through the Hanson’s property and we reconvene at the top of Tunnel Street where Jenny begins the official tour.
Jenny explains there are two types of gold found in Warrandyte, alluvial gold and gold found in quartz seams.
Alluvial gold was panned in the creeks and the Yarra and our tour would involve a walk down the hill to Andersons Creek to visit the cairn where gold was first found in Warrandyte.
But before that, Jenny took us to Forth Hill Gold Mine where the group could get a feel for what it was like to be in one of these mines, even if nowadays, people can only walk 10 metres inside the old mine.
Jenny’s knowledge of the mine is impressive and it is enthralling to watch her map out the layout of the mine in the dirt.
A lot of this knowledge extends from previous decades, before the mine was closed to the public when she was able to explore the network of mines around Warrandyte.
With public safety paramount, access to the mines is prohibited and we have to use our imagination as Jenny imparts history and personal experience.
The second, and last, stop on our tour is to the Gold Memorial cairn, on Gold Memorial Road.
“This is the spot where they first found gold in Victoria, in 1851”.
An exciting statement and given the regions history with gold mining, really helps place Warrandyte in Australian history.
“Louis Michel came here with a party of four who were panning in this creek and found a few specks of gold…that then started the gold rush in Warrandyte.
“They had sections of the creek, it was tent city for about five kilometres, between here and what is now Ringwood.
To add an extra pinch of excitement to the tour, descendants of Louis Michel, his great-great-great-grand-daughter and her children were on the tour.
Living in Eltham, it is fascinating to see that Warrandyte’s gold history still maintains a local connection.
With the tour torch successfully handed to his children, it looks like the Gold Mine Tour will be around for the next 42 years, we only scratched the surface of Warrandyte’s mining history but with the knowledgeable Hanson’s at the helm, I look forward to learning more about the history of Warrandyte’s gold mines in years to come.
A tail-wagging success
By CLAIRE BLOOM
THE PET SHOW is a long standing fixture of the Warrandyte Festival.
I can’t recall exactly when it started, but I suspect I have MC’d this event for more than 30 years.
And a wonderful and heart warming number of decades it has been.
This year, we again had sponsorship from the Warrandyte Veterinary Clinic who provided some wonderful hampers for the prestigious Best in Show Award.
This year’s big winner being a gorgeous spoodle puppy named Monty.
Other prizes included the Most Unusual Pet, going to a pigeon pair of ferrets (oops maybe don’t mention the pigeons.)
The usual categories such as Dog Most Like its Owner (loved the couple of Wonder Women.) and Shaggiest and Waggiest dogs were lots of fun.
The Loudest Dog in Warrandyte was ear piercing and won by a most vocal fox terrier.
This little rascal’s name is suppressed in case the Dog Ranger gets any ideas.
Well, not really, but it was certainly a noisy little dog.
Of course, Best Trained Dog always excites our imagination, Big Boy Bosley seems to have a new trick each year, and was happy to play dead when his Mum shot him (with her index finger, of course).
Molly, another spoodle, was most attentive as her trainer placed a treat on both front paws, and waited for the command to eat.
I thought I might try this with my black lab, but it’s never going to happen.
Overall, lots of bragging rights as most dogs (and the ferrets) managed to excel at something, including Dog with the Most Appealing Eyes or Best Groomed Dog in Warrandyte.
A big thanks to Judges, WHS Principal Dr Stephen Parkin and Warrandyte Vet nurse, Kimberley and their assistants Mrs Suzanne Martin and Bree.