Monthly Archives: June 2019

Venom seek to bite back

Men and Youth Women sides set themselves for finals

WARRANDYTE’S Division One Men and Youth League Women look poised for Big V finals as the season passes the halfway mark.

Division One Men

Heading into the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend, the Mens team are currently 2nd on the ladder with 11 wins.

The men’s side are perched comfortably with the standout being import Jacob Thom, who has well and truly settled in to life at the organisation.

He’s averaging 20 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists over 15 games, including an impressive dunk against Collingwood that featured in the Big V highlights reel.

Brenton Charles continues to provide good support for the side, currently placed second in the division for average assists and total assists with 77 so far this season.

Bryan Moore and Andrew Kelly have also been solid scoring options for the Venom.

Although they broke their four-game win streak against Western Port Steelers in Round 11, the team will be hard to stop in the backend of the season.

Youth League One Women

The Youth League Women have hit a similar vein of form at the midway point of the season, sitting two games clear in 4th position — despite losing their last two matches — thanks to a five-game win streak to start the season.

Venom’s Ellie Caruana (Round 5) and Claudie Kuen (Round 7) also received Blue Carpet nominations — which is a round-by-round list of the 12 best men and women players in the entire Big V League.

They seem to have a penchant for the close encounters, which includes a two-point victory over Keilor in Round 8 and a hard defensive effort against Eltham leading them to a one-point victory against their crosstown rivals in Round 9.

A 41-point rout of Corio Bay in Round 7 stands as their most comprehensive performance, with Kuens 30 points rounding out a dominant display.

Division One Women

The Women’s side have started to get their campaign rolling, despite sitting second from the bottom of the ladder, the team have been playing well.

Skipper Meg Dargan continues to set the pace for her side, averaging 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists with her best returns coming against Camberwell and Bellarine.

In Round 7, a 20-point final quarter against third-placed Bellarine gave the Venom their first win of the season, an important scalp to get their season underway and instil some confidence in a talented side.

Dargan again proved to be the difference with an impressive season-high 23 points.

In a strange turn of events, the away fixture against Mildura was called off at half-time due to a significant water leak making the court unsafe for play, turning the match into a veritable “wet weather game.”

Youth League One Men

The Youth League Men also sit last in their division despite getting off to good starts against finals bound Bendigo and the undefeated Ballarat in the last month.

Sebastian Goldby led the side with 17 points and 10 rebounds against Hume in Round 8, prevailing by three points for their second win of the season.

The sides only other triumph was a thrilling one-point win against Werribee in Round 3 with Goldby, Harrison Ayton and Mitchell Kerr- Read all throwing in solid scoring contributions.

Despite a 2–13 record, the Venom have shown promising signs in numerous close games and will look to square the ledger as the season

The season of insects, moths and fungi

PERHAPS MY favourite cyclic event of the naturalist calendar was the mass emergence of the rain moths.

It was usually an April phenomenon after the late summer storms had swept across the city and began to break the drought of summer.

Mists returned to the river valley and the steadier rainfall of March and April would refresh the earth and kick start the ecological processes that had laid dormant over Summer.

It was then that the rain moths would appear at an outside light that had been left on.

Hundreds of them, in a display of dazzling diversity.

There were heliotrope moths, twin emeralds, Clara’s satin moths, geometrids, white satin moths, granny’s cloak moths and many, many species, big and small that I could not put a name to.

The mass emergence of the rain moths provided a guaranteed food supply, a rich source of protein for the local birds essential for their late winter breeding cycle.

This critical food resource would give them an advantage over the spring/ summer migrating birds coming to the Yarra Valley.

Sometimes there would be the huge wattle goat moths that were as big as small birds.

Moths, whose caterpillars would chew their way through black wattle trees before entering the ground to emerge when the rains softened the earth enough for them to dig their way out.

Sometimes there would be great numbers of Bogong moths that would be blown off course on their trek to the mountains of the Great Divide where they historically were gathered and eaten by the local First Nations Peoples.

However, I haven’t experienced the rain moth emergence now since 2010, the year the Millennium drought broke.

Before that I recorded it in 1997, the year the Millennium Drought begun.

Twice in over 22 years instead of something that was an every-year event.

The drop in rainfall across the Yarra Valley has curtailed these critical ecological events.

It is not just moth numbers that are reduced, it is across the whole spectrum of insects.

The fall in insect presence gets mentioned in Field Naturalist Club newsletters.

People notice their car windows don’t get covered in insects on long summer drives.

Entomologists worry about it.

The fall in average rainfall that we are experiencing is also affecting the prevalence of fungi which — like the rain moths — would generally begin showing on mass around April in the old rainfall patterns.

Fungi are important to all life on many levels.

The majority of plants require a mycorrhizal relationship with fungi by which the fungi facilitate plant growth by breaking down nutrients in the soil and making them available to plants.

They influence the well-being of human populations on a large scale because they are part of the nutrient cycle in ecosystems.

They naturally produce antibiotics to kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria, limiting their competition in the natural environment.

Important antibiotics for human use can also be isolated from fungi.

When we talk of biodiversity, the numbers of species are dominated by insects and fungi.

Of all the known species in the world, vertebrates have 2 per cent of the species, plants 11 per cent, insects and invertebrates 43 per cent and fungi 44 per cent of the total species.

Species diversity is one of the greatest stabilizing influences on our planet.

A diverse ecosystem is a stable ecosystem.

The protection of biodiversity is one of the three core objectives of the Australian National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Future.

Conserving biodiversity is vital for maintaining our quality of life and our standard of living in the long term.

“So important are insects and other land-dwelling arthropods that if all were to disappear, humanity would not last more than a few months.

Most of the amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals would crash to extinction about the same time.

Next would go the bulk of flowering plants and with them the physical structure of most forests and other terrestrial habitats of the world. The land surface would literally rot.”

—Wilson-The Diversity of Life

National recycling problems deepen

AT A TIME when problems with weekly recycling collections have escalated beyond local council level to State and Federal Government, the Diary is still unable to find out exactly where the material we put in to our recycling bins ends up.

For this writer, and I suspect many of our readers, despite Councils’ best efforts to educate us, it has always been a problem understanding exactly what we can and what we can’t put in our recycling bin.

Different councils have different rules, some packaging carries a numbered recycling logo yet Councils say that some of these cannot be recycled, stuff that is obviously plastic such as coat hangers are not to be recycled, glass bottles are OK but drinking glasses and window glass are not.

We are told to put “soft plastics” into another plastic bag (Nillumbik only) but their recycling company tells us that nothing is to be inside plastic bags, and is that black tray that your BBQ meat came on made out of recyclable plastic or polystyrene?

It all gets much too difficult and I was slightly in sympathy with a non-politically-correct neighbour who told me, “I’ve never understood it; I just put everything into the green bin because it gets collected weekly and I don’t have to bother sorting it”.

But now even when we do get it right, we have to ask whether it actually gets converted into something useful or gets stockpiled or sent to landfill or, at worst case, left in a disused warehouse until it catches fire!

One of the problems is that the so-called recycling companies do precious little recycling themselves.

Their function is to collect the refuse from the local council, sort it, and then “make it available” to other companies, some of whom may be subsidiaries who do recycle the material, or they may export the material for processing overseas.

Local councils are very helpful in providing information; recycling companies are not.

Nillumbik

Nillumbik residents are some of Victoria’s best recyclers, consistently achieving at least 65 per cent diversion from landfill, compared to the State average of 46 per cent.

Nillumbik is one of five councils in a collaborative contract with recycling processor SKM Recycling, administered by the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group on behalf of the councils.

This contract requires SKM to manage kerbside recycling in an environmentally responsible way.

Nillumbik delivers approximately 7,000 tonnes of kerbside recycling to SKM annually.

Of all the material collected in the Yellow Bin, the big hitters are glass, at 27.96 per cent, paper at 23.41 per cent and cardboard at 17.66 per cent.

Whereas soft plastics come in at 1.48 per cent and Tetra Pak (or liquid paperboard) at a low 0.45 per cent.

It is expected that SKM will sort, bale and sell this material through local and overseas markets for processing into new products.

According to SKM’s website, more than 60 per cent of materials remain in Australia for use in local industries.

In regards to whether any materials are being stockpiled, Council has not been notified of any non-conformance since SKM’s Laverton North and Coolaroo sites re-opened in March.

Residents can find out what to recycle or how to dispose of something correctly on Nillumbik Council’s website.

SKM Recycling has not responded to the Diary’s emails or phone calls.

In the recently adopted 2019/20 budget, ratepayers will see an increase of around 3.5 per cent in charges for waste and recycling collection, bringing the standard waste charge to $263.40.

Manningham

Manningham have a similar arrangement to Nillumbik, but their contract is with Visy Recycling.

Visy would appear to have associated companies who produce PET plastic food containers and it would seem that their clients can select the inclusion of varying amounts of recycled content.

But as with all the “recycling” companies their website concentrates a great deal on “collecting” and “sorting” the waste and “recovering” the material but has very little to say on how it is reprocessed and what is actually produced from the material and where.

Our calls to Visy to find out about all of this fell on deaf ears, but Manningham Council were helpful in providing the Diary with the contact details of their person there.

However, despite numerous emails and phone calls, no-one at Visy has responded to us or returned our calls.

In the draft 2019/20 budget adopted in principle by Council in April with a final decision occurring at the June 25 Ordinary Council Meeting, Manningham ratepayers will see a domestic waste service charge increase of 2.25 per cent.

State Government

In February 2018, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio chipped in $13 million to help the Councils manage their recyclable rubbish, after China had refused to accept further plastic waste.

This was a stop-gap measure in the 2018/19 Budget.

In late May of this year, Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings announced that Infrastructure Victoria should look at what is needed to develop waste-to-energy projects and resource recovery from organic waste.

It comes at the same time as Malaysia announced that it would be returning plastic waste to Australia and after the earlier discovery of a dozen illegal waste sites in Melbourne’s north as well as toxic factory fires involving waste stockpiles at Campbellfield, West Footscray and Coolaroo.

Federal Government

The Australian Government has announced the appointment of an Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environment Management.

The new Assistant Minister, Trevor Evans, was appointed on May 26 as part of Scott Morrison’s new cabinet.

Evans said he is humbled to have been sworn in as the Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management and was looking forward to the challenges ahead and working as a strong advocate for protecting Australia’s environment.

No more time to waste

With the recycling industry now in a deepening crisis, it is time for government — at all levels – to come up with a plan, and hopefully some sort of standardisation across councils and packaging, so that we all know what can go into any yellow bin in Australia and have confidence that it will be properly recycled.

It is clear from the 2019/20 Budget that a solution to the recycling crisis has not been found.

Maybe it is time for the community to handle this problem on a local level.

Dealing with deer

MANY READERS will be aware of the increasing number of incidents in and around Warrandyte involving deer.

There are regular posts on the Warrandyte Businesses and Community Facebook page about deer sightings, and regular walkers in Warrandyte State Park are likely to have spotted a deer or two around Fourth Hill and The Pound.

There is an increasing number of posts regarding incidents involving deer on roads too.

The Andersons Creek Landcare Group is on the front line when it comes to the battle against the damage inflicted by the deer population.

Andersons Creek Landcare Group Secretary, Jill Dixon, spoke to the Diary about the deer problem at Andersons Creek Reserve.

“Deer are now quite a serious problem, doing more damage than foxes, rabbits and feral cats.

“They are so large, they breed quickly and can reach up high, with a taste for most bushes and trees and stripping the bark off trees,” she said.

In November 2018, the Diary published a story about environmental groups’ dissatisfaction with the State’s Draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy (DVDMS), their dissatisfaction supported by concurrent submissions by Manningham, Nillumbik and Yarra Ranges Councils to the DVDMS in July/August of that year to make it easier for councils to control the deer populations in peri-urban municipalities.

But the DVDMS is woefully inadequate and local Landcare groups are asking residents to write to State Government to convey this concern.

“You can help by writing to Victorian State Ministers on the inadequate strategies currently in the planning process which we believe are too few and too slow,” said Ms Dixon.

Public submissions and responses to the DVDMS were due to be released in February this year.

The Diary wrote to Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to ask them for an update on the DVDMS.

“A Deer Management Strategy is currently being developed to set out a coordinated and strategic approach to deer management across the state.

“Feedback received during public consultation is currently being reviewed to inform the development of the final strategy.

“The final strategy will be released later this year,” said a spokesperson for DELWP.

The Diary also spoke with North Ringwood resident Brian Dungey, a licensed hunter.

Mr Dungey believes the deer are not as large a threat to the local environment as others have stated.

“Yes, deer do some damage to the environment… but compared to people and stock they do very little.

“People as a whole need to care more for their environment before we start blaming animal species — we are the more destructive species.

“I would pose the observation that kangaroos do more damage due to their over-population here in Warrandyte,” he said.

Mr Dungey also believes the DVDMS has missed the mark, but for very different reasons.

“While it acknowledges deer are both a material and monetary resource it doesn’t do enough to help landowners and the State to benefit more from the money that could be derived from foreign hunters and from balloted hunts.

“The document does acknowledge that deer are too many and too wary to remove from everywhere, hunters also acknowledge this and the Government should make further use of these people, and not just one group of hunters.

“The use of scent-trailing hounds is generally acknowledged as the most effective form of deer management yet the document doesn’t make use of this tool.

Mr Dungey also commented the deer management strategy does not do enough to discourage illegal hunting practices, and that practices such as arial hunting and poisoning not only cause the animal to suffer, but can also cause more problems down the line, like attracting feral dogs.

“Hunters dislike the waste, expense and cruelty created by aerial shooting.

“Recreational hunters are more than happy to remove all the meat from the deer they take.

“Aerial shooting creates food for feral dogs, which then breed up, and then kill native wildlife.

“What the document needs to do is change the law so venison gathered by legal hunters can be commercially processed and donated to charities for human consumption which happens in many countries,” said Mr Dungey.

Currently, whether you are of the opinion that deer are either a game species that should be protected, or a pest species which needs to be eradicated, this introduced species is still currently protected under the Wildlife Act.

Mr Dungey has some advice for residents who would like to deter deer from their property.

“Deer are creatures of habit, once land owners have established where the deer are accessing their properties, they can set up scarecrows and use solar powered flashing lights to act as a deterrent.

“The more you move around your property the less deer are likely to visit, as they like to be left alone.

“Remember deer only want three things, to eat, to drink and to sleep, you need to deny them what they want.”

Mr Dungey notes these animals have been in country for more than 100 years and have adapted to the environment.

“Perhaps we, as people, need to consider living with these wonderful creatures — they have adapted to living with us — are we so arrogant as a species that we expect other sentient creatures to conform to us?”

If an invasive deer population, or any wildlife is causing significant damage to your property, and your only option so to have them destroyed, then there are a series of permits you are required to possess before you can hire a local hunter.

This starts with an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) permit which is issued by DELWP.

A recent discussion on 3AW, and subsequently the Rural Link Facebook group, regarding the explosion in number of eastern grey kangaroo across Nillumbik, attributed to a migration of the kangaroo population from the Northern Growth Corridor.

Urban development is displacing the kangaroos in the urban growth corridor and forcing them to move onto properties in the Green Wedge.

Property owners are reporting an exponential rise in the number of kangaroos causing property damage and becoming a traffic hazard, this may add some weight to Mr Dungey’s controversial statement regarding living with deer.

Extending this to encompass all wildlife, maybe the discussion should look to how Green Wedge communities can co-habit with both indigenous and introduced wildlife as urban expansion around Melbourne continues.

 

Photos: Shirley Bendle