Columns

The lingering infection of terra niullius


By JIM POULTER

EVERYBODY is familiar with the term “terra nullius”.

Australia was purportedly owned by no-one and the British used the term to justify colonisation.

Nowadays, almost everyone rejects the validity of this notion, but very few of us really understand its full implications.

We remain essentially unaware of how terra nullius still insidiously and unconsciously influences our thinking.

Aboriginal people hate the term terra nullius with a passion, and rightly so, because it strongly implies that Aboriginal people had a vacuous culture and achieved nothing.

After all, they were just a primitive bunch of people wandering around bumping into trees.

They did not use the land, had not even invented the wheel, and their only technological achievement was a bent stick that came back when you threw it.

Aboriginal people did of course cultivate the land, but not in the intensive, exploitative and unsustainable way that most other world cultures did.

All Aboriginal knowledge was integrated through the totem system to ultimately serve ecological purposes.

So whether it was knowledge related to science, art or religion, it was all focussed on ecological outcomes.

Even the nursery rhymes sung to little children had an ecological message.

Think of all the descriptors usually applied to traditional Aboriginal society.

Words like simple, primitive, pagan, uncivilized, nomadic, stone-age, hunter-gatherers.

These are all pejorative terms that put western civilisation at the highest level and Aboriginal society at the lowest level.

Never mind that western society has over the last 3000 years had a history of internecine war, conquest, rolling plagues, overpopulation, social inequality, gross disparities of wealth and poverty, plus religious and political persecution.

Aboriginal society had none of this, but ironically the sustained warfare of European and Asian history created the spur for technological achievement.

This technological advancement is then taken as a sign of a “higher” civilization.

Darwin put forward the idea of natural selection and this was immediately seen as a justification for western conquest and colonisation of others.

It was simply “survival of the fittest” in action. Many world cultures are so inured by their histories of warfare, that it is regarded as part of human nature. Many people therefore flatly refuse to believe there were never any wars of conquest or invasion in Aboriginal Australia.

The proof that there were no wars of conquest is simple.

Show me one myth, story, legend, dance or song from anywhere in Australia that depicts either the victories of a warrior king, the subjugation and enslavement of others, or an uprising against a despotic ruler. It just never happened.

The real problem is that spurious notions like this have seeped into our consciousness and we do not know how to challenge these received wisdoms.

This is the foundation of institutional racism, the process by which prejudicial ideas are ingrained into present day social perceptions.

However, this should not be interpreted as meaning that Australians are racist.

Australians are overwhelmingly fair minded people who meet and greet people as equals.

This is the cornerstone of our national culture. But what we fail to understand is how the prejudices of our forefathers continue to unwittingly shape our thinking.

The idea of terra nullius is in fact behind our inability to recognise a road or highway we are travelling on as an ancient songline.

It is behind our inability to recognise a river rapids area, like at Warrandyte township, as an original site for fish traps or a mussel farm.

It is also the reason why many historians make blatant errors when they try to interpret Aboriginal behaviours.

Their assumptions are often unconsciously based on ideas of European superiority.

Before giving a classic example of this fallacious thinking I will cite two facts.

First, Aboriginal people had ingrained cultural habits of listening and sound replication that made them gifted linguists. All Aboriginal children were brought up multilingual.

Second, Aboriginal people travelled extensively and safely through other tribal areas as long as they stuck to the designated songline and observed proper protocol.

However, when Aboriginal people tried to communicate these protocols to early colonists, it was wrongly assumed that Aboriginal people were frightened to leave their own country.

In 2008, AFL historian Gillian Hibbins, dismissed the possibility of any connection between Marngrook and Australian Football with the comment, “Aborigines….lived within quite clearly defined tribal areas, speaking a language different from those of other tribal areas.

“Aboriginal tribal strangers were regarded with suspicion and did not trespass without being killed.”

This comment clearly painted Aboriginal people as a simple, primitive, xenophobic and violent bunch.

Its roots were clearly embedded in the notion of terra nullius.

The comment is a glowing example of institutional racism by a historian who claims for herself the highest standards of academic scholarship.

Unfortunately, it is just one of many examples of the lingering infection of terra nullius.

It’s a jungle in the garden

Caught in the act

IT WAS JUST on dusk.

The male blue banded bees were erratically flying near the stems where they usually roost.

They should have begun to settle by now.

Only one or two had settled near the end of a stem that seemed to have an unusual bit of bright green foliage further down the stem.

This foliage was swaying and it was not from the wind.

I realised I was seeing an adult false garden mantis, usually enchanting to me, but this one was preying on one of my male blue banded bees.

Was I ever torn!

Should I take photos and let nature take its course, or save my special bees?

Perhaps as a compromise I took a quick photo then gently grasped the mantis and removed it from the area to discourage it from becoming a serial bee killer.

I felt a bit guilty that I caused it to drop the bee in its grasp which was already dead.

I guess a mantis has to eat too.

Philosophically, I might think that near the end of the season for blue banded bees most of the females may already have mated.

So perhaps one could say that the males had served their life purpose and that feeding a mantis could be their last remaining service.

Just two days ago I was marvelling at the lovely sight of the roosting blue banded bees.

I photographed them quickly before the sun touched them with a magic wake up call.

They were like a string of precious beads to me.

I had seen scattered ones earlier in the season but on this day I counted 17.

Each used its yellow jaws to clasp an arching dried stem where it would spend the night.

Their wings and hair on their bodies appeared undamaged so I assumed they had recently emerged from their nests.

Near the same spot last season, I first watched males jostling for the best roosting position in my garden.

That year I never counted more than nine.

I believe the population is growing as my pollinator garden develops.

Females must be nesting nearby but so far I have searched for their nesting burrows in vain.

If anyone in the greater Warrandyte region has discovered the female blue banded bees’ nests on their patch, please tell me.

My first leaf-cutting bee

Before I leave the topic of native bees I want to announce I have at least one leaf-cutting bee species in my garden.

This one is almost as large and its buzz is nearly as loud as the blue banded bees.

It is unlikely to use my bee posts where, closely related, the resin bees are quite at home.

I now search the broad-leaf plants in my garden for the perfect circle these bees cut out to line the cells of their nests.

Of course this may be occurring in my neighbours’ gardens.

Rose bushes, not found in my garden are a favourite.

However, they must have used indigenous plants in the past.

So far, my photos of them aren’t good enough for the Diary.

Finding the nests and getting better photos are my next challenge.

Caught in the act number two

“What is this very colourful bug on my eucalyptus tree?”

I’m often asked this time of year.

Hearing, “It is yellow-orange with blue diamonds on its back”, I suspect a juvenile of the aptly named eucalyptus tip wilter bug, amorbus species, as seen in my photo.

The adult in the next photo is larger with impressive looking hind legs but a rather drab brown by comparison.

Many are in my garden but little harm has been done.

Yellow-spotted epicoma moth

These notodontid moth caterpillars are very hairy and may be processionary as they move from one place to another.

Their hairs can cause a painful allergic reaction in people.

The larvae feed on the foliage of casuarina, eucalyptus, leptospermum and melaleuca species.

They are dark grey and hairy, but the head capsule is white with red sides bordered with black.

Pupation takes place in a sparse elliptical cocoon amongst the leaves or leaf litter of the food plant.

Some of the irritating hairs are attached to the pupal case.

The adults are frequently seen in summer to early autumn around Melbourne.

The month ahead

Until we have good rain, remember to leave drinking water at ground level for a range of small animals as well as keeping the birdbaths clean and full.

Honey bees may also visit but native bees get the liquid they need from nectar.

March is still a good month to watch for interesting insects including butterflies.

Let us know what you observe in your area.

Son-of-Kev: The legend lives on


By KATRINA BENNETT

Nothing says Aussie summer more than a beer and a barbie on the deck, surrounded by gum trees and your mates.

If you’re lucky enough to live in our fair suburb bisected by the Yarra, then you can probably add a few snakes, a half-dozen cashed up hippies and a couple of kookaburras.

Yes, let’s discuss dacelo novaeguineae.

Our chortlelicious feathered friend. The laughing kookaburra, known also as the kingfisher.

I’ve lived on the banks of the Yarra for a few years now and not once have I seen these jokers of the bush fish a king out the river.

Although, if recent photos are accurate, our king in all but name, Prince Phillip, looks like he’s just been fished out of somewhere.

But my personal favourite name for these fiendish feathered rapscallions is the laughing jackass.

The name conjures up images of toothless locals from the dirt farm, Idaho or a schoolie returning from the Gold Coast.

Now, don’t go thinking of me as some sort of amateur ornithologist.

Of course, not to be confused with an orthodontist, although, like the damn kookaburras, they also laugh when they see me coming.

Think of me more as an overcooked snag that the local kookaburra population has their beady eyes on. They’ve always had their eyes on me.

Just three years ago, I credited Kev, the tame patriarch of my property’s bird population for saving my life.

Yes, you read correct.

Saved.

My.

Life.

Kev had seen a few summers I reckon.

He was a bit scrawny and missing a few feathers but my little friend faithfully followed me around whenever I cut the grass.

One day, when I was nearing the end of pushing my lawn mower around for six kilometres in 40 degrees, Kev wacked me clean in the ear with his beak and growled as he swooped past.

Startled, I looked down and froze with my foot approximately two centimetres above a coiled tiger snake.

Needless to say Kev didn’t have to follow me anymore, he got to sit on the handle of the lawnmower and casually flutter down to the ground whenever he spied a tasty morsel in the grass.

But like all living legends his time eventually came and he became a legend. Fast forward three years and the son of Kev is now a grown up.

With his cocky strut and punk hairdo, he heads up the local avian chapter now.

Like all younger generations he wants to do things differently.

Mums and dads are soooo lame.

The minutest click from the BBQ starter button sends a ripple through the trees as Son-of-Kev and his mates desert the skate park, leaving their West End fish and chips for the pigeons.

By the time we attempt to sit down and eat, we are surrounded on all sides.

One by one my brave family slink away with their dinner plate to the sanctuary of indoors, heads tucked in their t-shirts.

Until it’s just me, three chicken wings and a Greek salad left to defend the family name.

Before I know, I’m one chicken wing and an olive down.

That’s OK, Son-of-Kev’s reaction to the olive is not dissimilar to mine.

My mirth over watching him trying to spit the wretched thing out is short lived as one of his cronies’ swoops from the pool fence and I’m left nursing some fetta and the final chicken wing.

Time slows down as we eye each other off. My world recedes to just Son-of-Kev, myself, and a water sprayer.

Like an old time gunslinger, I’m onto that trigger and spraying my nemesis fair in the feathers.

Turns out birds aren’t like cats; they don’t recoil from the spray, no, not Son-of-Kev.

Son-of-Kev lifts his wings, pirouettes to get full coverage, angles his head and winks at me.

Stymied, I’m hungry and I’m losing my sense of humour. It’s become woman vs wild. What would Mrs Bear Grylls do?

Option one: Backflip out of a plane.

Pointless, Son-of- Kev flies for a living and would probably show me up by doing a 720 cork.

Option two: Drink your own urine.

Seems extreme, I still have my water sprayer.

Option three: Defend yourself.

My eyes slide across the deck to where we keep our sports equipment.

Nodding my head, I glide out of my chair.

Turns out some Kookaburras are made of willow.

And nothing says Aussie summer more than cricket.

 

   Photo: Thomas Hudec

 

 

 

We wish you a Merry Excess-mas


‘TIS THE SEASON to be Jolly… But how often do we really feel that way during the festive season?

I would feel more jolly if the whole thing was a little less excessive!

Most jollies are felt when getting excessively merry at a social gathering, or that special feeling of unbuttoning your pants after over-indulging on a ridiculous amount of food at the Christmas table.

These states would better be described as drunk and bloated, but for some reason, “jolly” seems to make these behaviours acceptable at this time of year.

I propose we rename the day to what it has actually become… Excess-mas.

Let’s be honest, the number of people who celebrate this day based on the birth of Christ is declining.

What has the day become about instead?

Well, excessive consumption basically.

If you’re a kid, it’s about Father Christmas, and what presents you’ll get from whom.

If you’re not a kid (or you’ve been naughty), then it’s about the gifts you must get for others, the maximum volume of food and drink you can possibly buy, prepare and consume, and how you should participate in all the other traditional rituals… the symbols of which have mostly become quite materialistic.

Take for example the act of buying a Christmas tree.

There is a tradition of cutting a baby pine tree down, thus killing it, so we can put it inside for a couple of weeks during December.

Some buy a plastic one to avoid the mess or allergies, and hopefully reuse it year-on-year.

And then we decorate it, usually with disposable plastic ticky-tack bling, which we often want to replace the following year.

Decorating the house is something that can quite a joy, but so many people seem to go right over the top, running excessive strings of lights and/or inflatable Santa’s and so on.

For those hosting their family on the big day, so much fuss goes into the house being just so; the table must be a work of art fit for Mr and Mrs Claus themselves to sit at, there cannot be a blade of grass out of place, and the massive amounts of food being prepared has to be exactly perfect.

So much stress.. excessive.

Then there is the buying of gifts, which seems to be something often done through obligation, rather than love.

I remember when the art of gift-giving was valued, and people took time to think about what their friends and family members might enjoy or be able to use.

It’s now the trend to “just get them a voucher, so they can choose”, thus avoiding having to make a decision, or risk making the wrong one.

Kris Kringle must surely have been conceived by either a Communist or an accountant, overwhelmed by the excessive number of gifts they felt obliged to buy.

This logically constructed system efficiently simplifies the task of gift giving, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of sharing love and respecting personal connections.

I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas!

I have a few ideas to help us be a little lighter on the planet this festive season, and to get back in touch with the festive spirit.

I’m certainly not aiming to take the fun away, rather lets contemplate what might happen if we started doing things a little bit differently.

How about if we all used living Christmas trees in pots (preferably natives), and planted them after we’re done.

Result = Carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitat creation

Consider if we gifted only second-hand or hand-created items, or at least had a “no plastic packaging” rule amongst the family.

Result = Recycling, creativity, cost-savings, reduced plastic waste

Imagine we took the time to create personalised cards (perhaps with our own art or a meaningful photo) with some thoughtfully chosen words, to empower all of our loved ones for the coming year.

Result = Sharing love and gratitude, creative self-expression

For the person that has it all, or really is “impossible to buy for” could we buy something for a less privileged person on the other side of the world instead?

I’m imagining gifting my mother with a card, showing that her gift is going to provide an education to a girl in Africa, or similar.

Result = the joy of changing someone’s life is long-lasting, deeply fulfilling, and humbling

How about creating beautiful unique looking gifts, wrapped in recycled paper or newspaper, with glamorous and/or functional ribbon / rope / dried flowers etc to decorate them.

Result = all the fun of unwrapping, with less waste

Could you get by with less dead animals on your table?

Perhaps one type of meat is enough.

Result = Cost saving, better digestion, less animal suffering

Much of what is special about Christmas is tied to traditions.

It’s important to respect and honour traditions that bring us together, and it’s also healthy to move on from bad habits which no longer serve us.

We don’t want to end up looking like the bulging hairy man in red, carrying around a heavy bag of “stuff”!

So Come All ye Faithful, lets enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas in moderation, and bring Joy to the World, with a Silent Night or two Away in a Manger, to keep calm and preserve peace on Earth.

The way of the Ninja


After growing up on video games like Tehchu and Shinobi, I recently discovered that I could actually practice Ninjutsu and become a Ninja master myself — well who could resist that opportunity.

Jokes aside, Ninjutsu is a serious discipline which teaches its students self-defence from both physical attacks and weapons, when there is one opponent or many, as well as stealth, camouflage and bush craft skills like shelter building and first aid.

The classes are held weekly and go through training cycles of punches, kicks, stealth and weapons — the week I joined the class was weapons, so after a lengthy — but necessary — warm-up we each collected a rubber knife and set about learning how to defend ourselves against an attacker with a knife.

The small group was fun to train with and I am glad the knives were rubber as this reporter is feeling particularly sliced and diced after going through the process of learning five knife attack techniques and the ways in which these are blocked. Now, hold off on your letters to the editor accusing us of encouraging people to start knife fights, the emphasis in the class is very much on the way to defend yourself and to use your opponents weight and momentum against them, to “stop the force” or “follow the force” as our instructor said.

After learning the techniques and sparring in pairs, we got the opportunity to put our skills into practice in a free-for-all sparing session where you had to watch not only the person in front of you, but those around you as well.

I have tried both Karate and Jujitsu as a child and it has been a long time since I tried a martial-arts class but this was lots of fun.

The focus is on using your opponent’s strengths to your advantage, which teaches the philosophy of avoiding fights, not starting them, they even teach techniques to deal with bullying in everyday life.

If you are involved in any of the Warrandyte Primary School after hours programs you may (or may not) have seen these black clad silent warriors practicing in the Bampi. Either way, if you are looking for a martial-art with a difference, this may just be the one to try.

Now, with a subtle act of distraction [throws smoke bomb], I’m off to my next active assignment.

If you would like to train to be a Ninja too, visit: khninja.com.au

Planning a trip to the USA?


No matter the season, an American sojourn is always a fabulous idea.

From coast to coast, a litany of adventure awaits, here are a few handy hints on what to expect.

First up, get your flight documents in order America’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows effortless passage through US customs but to be eligible for the VWP, you’ll need to apply prior to jetting off.

Pack the plastic fantastic

Unless you’re off the grid in the backend of the Appalachians, and probably even then, chances are card will be the preferred payment method.

Prepaid multi-currency travel money cards are also an excellent option.

The early bird gets the flight

Security can be fairly, shall we say, “thorough” at American airports, so get there early to avoid stress.

As a general rule most hubs suggest at least three hours for international flights, and two for domestic.

Wear your best socks, as you’ll need to remove your shoes, it’s still a thing there.

Don’t mess with airport security

There’s little room for dodgy humour at the American security gate, this is not the place for amateur hour.

American Customs officials are particularly fastidious and sensitive to things said, so leave any travel-related quips at home.

When it comes to eating, loosen your belt

In the land of turducken, the Luther Burger, the Quadruple Bypass burger, the Fat Darrel, the Redonkadonk, and various other sandwiches that will do their darndest to tickle your tastebuds, it’s likely that your USA adventure will add a few centimetres to your waistline.

Serving sizes can surprise; so if you’re not super hungry, order an “appetizer”; the US version of an entrée.

Observe the local customs

Just sayin’, Americans — like any nationality — have their own etiquette and unwritten rules.

The short list: doggie bags are permissible; don’t jaywalk; and make sure to tip — seriously, don’t forget that last one. The “official” line says tipping is voluntary, but with low minimum and base wages — particularly in the service industry — millions of American workers rely on tips for their livelihood.

Not good at maths? a calculator is a diner’s best friend especially when it comes to calculating taxes at the end of the meal — with that in mind, stock up on a fat wad of one dollar bills.

Make sure you’re insured

If you do yourself damage en-route, you could be up for some hefty medical bills.

Best sort out your fully comprehensive travel insurance prior to flying.

Embrace and enjoy!

Our travel expert, Carolyn Allen is Manager of Warrandyte Travel and Cruise. Contact her on Carolyn@warrandytetravel.com.au

August has always been a season of its own

AUGUST — it’s when many of us head north and if we can’t do it, we dream about it.

We’ve had enough of the chills and ills of winter and the cold weather seems to have taken over our lives.

It’s in all our conversations and seems all consuming.

Recently, I heard someone mention that August was a season of its own and it struck a chord.

August is often a difficult month for me, and for many of those in my inner circle.

Sickness seems to just hang around and motivation flies out the window at its earliest convenience.

I was an immediate convert to this idea of a new season, so I did a little investigating.

Seems it’s not a new thing after all.

Allow me to explain.

Across Australia there are many Indigenous calendars.

Most have six or seven seasons, including that of the Kulin nation – the five Aboriginal language groups that make up what we know as Greater Melbourne and Central Victoria, including the Wurundjeri People.

According to Museums Victoria:

“The Kulin have a detailed local understanding of the seasons and the environment.

Each season is marked by the movement of the stars in the night sky and changes in the weather, coinciding with the life cycles of plants and animals.”

Their calendar has seven seasons and, not surprising, August is a season of its own:

It’s called Guling Orchid Season, and it is marked by orchids flowering, the silver wattle bursting into colour and male koalas bellowing at night.

Poorneet Tadpole Season, (September and October) is when temperatures rise, rain continues and the pied currawongs call loudly.

The days and nights are of equal length.

Buath Gurru Grass Flowering Season, (November) is warm and it often rains.  (A good thing to remember as we start planning picnics.)

Kangaroo-Apple Season, (December) is marked by its changeable, thundery weather, longer days and shorter nights.

Biderap Dry Season, (January and February) has high temperatures and low rainfall.

Iuk (Eel) Season, (March) is when the hot winds stop and the temperatures cool, while the manna gums flower and the days and nights are again equal in length.

Waring Wombat Season, (April-July) has cool, rainy days and misty mornings, with our highest rainfall and lowest temperatures.

Seven seasons seem to make a lot of sense.

In my research, I stumbled across some notes from a workshop that was held in Warrandyte, in March 1994.

The workshop was initiated by Alan Reid, now a renowned naturalist and environmental writer.

He was interested in including Aboriginal knowledge of seasonal change together with local knowledge from regions of Australia, and had suggested the workshop to pool observations within the region to look for seasonal patterns.

This seemed to be the catalyst for ongoing work by other naturalists into the seasonal calendars of the Melbourne area.

Monitoring was undertaken by many birdwatchers, plant surveyors and others with an interest in documenting changes in local flora and fauna, and, later that year, an interim local calendar of six seasons for the middle Yarra region was launched.

Some years later, more observations were added, and the calendar was adjusted.

In brief, it seems they have done away with autumn for this six-season calendar, but here are some key points from their findings:

  • high summer, from early December to early February, when beetles and xenica butterflies appear and young fish come up from the estuaries
  • late summer, from early February to early April, when the Yarra River becomes muddier, young platypuses emerge and eels move downstream
  • early winter, from early April to early June, when morning mists are in the valleys, migrating birds arrive from Tasmania and casuarinas flower
  • deep winter, from early June to late July, when the weather becomes colder, heavy rains fall, orchid rosettes appear and silver wattles flower
  • early spring, from late July to late September, when more wattles begin blooming, many species of birds begin nesting and joeys emerge from the pouch
  • true spring, from late September to early December, when seed-eating birds, such as finches and parrots, begin nesting, platypuses lay eggs, the Yarra rises and tadpoles are in the ponds

Personally, I don’t want to do without the word autumn as it conjures up so much colour and meaning, but having a local calendar that incorporates indigenous knowledge seems to fill in the gaps and paint a more complete picture of the world immediately around us.

So, with a greater understanding from those that lived dependent on the rhythm of the seasons combined with the findings from the workshop in Warrandyte, perhaps we can all approach this next season a little wiser, be a little more prepared, and just maybe next winter won’t seem so long if we acknowledge Guling.

References:

museumsvictoria.com.au/forest/climate/kulin.html

emelbourne.net.au/biogs/EM01345b.htm

Calendar source: Museum Victoria

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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Voting for change with our hip pocket


PURCHASING TRENDS change what’s available on the shelves of supermarkets and we all cast our votes every time we buy something.

Where demand lies, supply follows

If our spending can shape the market, then we consumers can change the world.

Sometimes becoming more eco conscious is simple, as certain actions align with some of our other social values or preferences.

But sometimes they don’t, very few people will give up everything they love for the planet, but most of us do want to do something — that’s a great place to start.

Last month I explored the consumption of animal products, and the heavy environmental impacts of that industry.

I understand that reducing meat consumption seems unfathomable to some, so this month let’s look at some of the simpler things we can do to be kinder to the earth and benefit the future of humanity.

Where does your food come from?

Many of us already like to source fresh produce that is grown locally, as we prefer to support our local businesses, and the Australian economy.

Home vegie gardens, local farmers’ markets and food co-ops are thriving, with more and more people also wanting to avoid foods sprayed with herbicides and pesticides.

A side benefit of locally grown produce is that the reduction of transport required to deliver produce (known as “food miles”) also reduces carbon emissions.

Energy use relating to refrigeration of fresh fruit and veg is also reduced or eliminated by buying from local farmers — eating what is “in season” within our regional climate is a great way to keep it local.

Food wastage is a major source of methane emissions from landfill sites; composting food scraps can be a great way to nourish your vegie garden, while reducing these emissions.

Importantly, compost needs to be turned every week, to allow oxygen in; If not, methane-producing microbes become active in anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions, just as they do in landfill.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

After years of this mantra, most of us are pretty good at recycling our rubbish, the biggest issue is often working out what should and what shouldn’t go into the recycling bins (look this up on the local council website).

But we are still not so great at reducing consumption, or reusing things

Apart from excess packaging, we don’t often consider wasted resources when we purchase.

How often are we really going to use that thing? If not very often, we could consider hiring or borrowing one locally instead.

Perhaps we can buy a second-hand one, then pass it on afterwards.

Unlike some other parts of the world, Australia has not fully jumped on board with the sharing ideology of “collective consumption” yet, despite Time Magazine calling it one of the 10 ideas that will change the world.

This concept will reach the Uberesque critical mass at some point soon and we will see a great leap forward, with an online platform for local sharing economies within the next few years.

Let’s be honest, there are times when we — women at least — just feel like a bit of retail therapy, we can avoid the “fast-fashion” industry, and seek out a unique piece (or bag full) of pre-loved clothing at the Op Shop, or on the Warrandyte Secondhand Page.

When we recycle clothing, we reduce the energy and water consumption, pollution and land-clearing impact of the textiles industry.

Rather than encouraging wage exploitation of people in developing countries, which is usually the method of producing “cheap” clothes and appliances for mass consumption, we can instead give that money to charities through op-shopping.

You are not just a number

Western capitalist society is not designed to encourage this sort of consumer.

The ideal citizen seems to be one who spends all their hard-earned cash in our retail economy, constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Life becomes an endless pursuit of happiness, chasing your tail hoping the next purchase will give you that satisfaction you are longing for.

But material things very rarely bring lasting fulfilment; how quickly the “new car” or “new phone” feeling wears off these days!

We have seen powerful ethical swings effect real market change, for example through the mass boycotting of cage eggs.

Conscientious consumers are now prepared to spend more for better treatment of animals; many people choose recycled or sustainably sourced paper to avoid the destruction of our native forests, or elect to support renewable energy ahead of coal power.

More and more of us are taking responsibility for the future — and the more numbers creating demand for a higher standard, the more the market will supply that standard.

Where to start?

We mere-mortals do struggle to adjust our behaviours, like remembering to take our green bags into the supermarket.

How about practicing other things that can prompt us to reduce waste, like getting a quality refillable pen, a nice drink bottle, and some rechargeable AA or AAA batteries?

Check out how good you feel and for how long after spending $100 at the op shop.

Grow some organic vegies at home, picking as you need avoids waste and gardening is good for our health by reducing stress levels.

Consider borrowing that random tool rather than buying one next time — I’ve just joined Peerby, and hope that you locals hit me up for a lend of any of the excessive “stuff” I have.

I find that purchasing consciously and congruently with the future I want, brings me a greater sense of fulfilment than anything I might purchase for a short-term gain.

For more information on how to lighten your carbon footprint, get on board the Victorian Governments new “Take 2” program.

Timely tax tips – getting ready for June 30

JUNE IS THE month when our minds turn to tax and the obligation to lodge our tax returns, which brings to mind Kerry Packer’s memorable claim, “I pay what is due and not a penny more.”

The purpose of this column is to assist you in adopting the same philosophy which you are perfectly entitled to do, providing you understand the important difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance.

Tax evasion is acting contrary to the law and incurs severe penalties, whereas tax avoidance involves working within the law to avoid paying more tax than you need to.

So what do you need to understand in order to implement Kerry Packer’s advice?

Claim all deductible expenses

Make sure you claim all expenditure incurred in the tax year that is tax deductible.

This will require you to keep either paper (invoices, receipts etc.) or electronic records that contain date of expenditure, description and amount.

Bank statements and credit card statements may suffice if they contain sufficient identifying information.

Alternatively download the ATO myDeductions App and use it to record your deduction records on to your mobile or tablet.

This App is suitable for use by individuals and sole traders.

Work related expenses totalling less than $300 do not require supporting documentation but you will be expected to have a reasonable basis for arriving at the amount you are claiming.

This may apply for example when claiming laundry of uniforms or protective work clothing.

Claiming all expenditures such as donations, work related expenses, business and investment related deductions etc. can be quite complicated, so give consideration to using the services of a registered tax agent whose fees and your travel time to visit are deductible.

Your tax agent will also be able to advise you on the appropriate records you will need to claim the deductible component of motor vehicle, phone, computer, home office expenses, laundering of uniforms and protective clothing, self-education expenses and depreciable assets etc.

Use timing to increase deductions

We have probably all heard the saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. This equally applies to tax by bringing forward deductions into the current year and reducing your tax liability for the current year rather than waiting a further 12 months or more before you claim the tax saving from the deduction.

Deductible expenses such as insurance premiums should be timed to fall due in June rather than any other month of the year.

The same goes for depreciable assets that are deductible such as computers, rental property depreciable contents, and particularly tools, plant and equipment and motor vehicles used in a business.

If you donate to charities, school building funds etc. give a thought to making these donations in June rather than earlier in the year, reducing the time period between the cash outlay and the receipt of the tax deduction benefit.

Delaying receipt of
assessable income

Timing benefits can also be accessed by delaying the receipt of income until July rather than having it paid to you in June.

This strategy could be applied to timing the sale of investments that are likely to trigger a capital gain where there are no offsetting capital losses available.

Wage and salary earners entitled to a year-end bonus may be able negotiate payment in the first pay period in July rather than the last pay period in June.

Sole traders selling on credit could consider delaying invoicing for work done in June until early July.

Tax saving and impact on
cash flow

The income and deductions strategies explained above whilst reducing your taxable income will have a significant impact on your cash flow if you are entitled to
a refund and lodge your tax
return early.

Example: A sole trader on an otherwise taxable income of $60,000 brought forward the purchase of an item of plant costing $15,000 from July to June which is fully tax deductible being under the $20,000 cap for a small business.

She also delayed billing customers for work done in June until July 1 amounting to $6,000 thereby reducing her taxable income by $21,000 to $39,000.

With tax levied at $0.34 per dollar in the range from $37,000 – $87,000 her tax saving and increased cash flow would amount to $7,560 including a low income tax offset of $415.

Tax-free gift of up to $500

Your homework is to Google “Super Co-Contribution” to discover whether you are eligible to receive your free gift.

Disclaimer:

The content of this article is not intended to be used as professional advice and should not be used as such. If you have any questions you should consult a registered
tax agent.

Brian Spurrell – FCPA CTA, Director

Personalised Taxation & Accounting Services Pty Ltd. 0412 011 946

Gardening as an art form


A rusty bucket of daffodils, a vintage copper insert filled with water and waterlilies, or an old turquoise bowling ball nestled amongst the arctosis.

Garden art can cost you anything from the petrol it takes to drive around checking out garage sales to thousands of dollars spent at a gallery or nursery.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is a common quote but nothing is more true than what people see as “art” in the Warrandyte Garden.

Rust lends itself perfectly to the Australian bush backdrop that our properties are surrounded by.

Gums, bursarias, wattles, native grasses and shrubs all huddling around an old piece of metal, the natural tones of the setting sun on gum leaves compliment the brown, orange and black tones of the rusted metal making it a natural addition to the garden.

Looking at the garden art entries at the Melbourne Garden Show this year gives you some ideas of how we can adorn our gardens.

From mosaics, to carved limestone blocks, the barbed wire balls, to plastic chairs painted with zebra stripes burrowing into the ground.

Swimming pools, fish and frog ponds show reflections of the trees above and the autumn leaves floating on the surface add tranquillity to the scene (except for the pool boy/girl who swears at the inconvenience of having to scoop them out).

The rusted barb wire fences bordering properties give us a sense of days gone by but rolled into balls become “art” with a $100 plus price tag.

Rusty fire pits are all the rage and now is the perfect time to invest in one.

A fire and a glass of wine in the garden in the evening is one of life simple joys.

Cane baskets, gum boots, kettles, fire grates, buckets, baking tins, all become receptacles for bulbs and succulents.

Allowing art to spill down stairs, to be clustered under trees in a huddled group waiting out the winter when they will then burst forth into floral tributes.

Water features add the element of movement and noise to a garden or courtyard echoing the sounds of the Yarra river, a drawcard for birds, bees, insects and frogs to your garden.

Vintage gates that lead to nowhere nestled at the bottom of the garden and used as trellis in vegetables gardens, long sticks tied together to form tee pees for climbing beans and peas, tomato frames in jaunty colours in clusters, old screen doors with the wire stripped out leaning against walls — all are the perfect frameworks to hide an eyesore in the garden, to create the illusion of depth or make the garden feel bigger and more interesting, to divide the garden into rooms or to add height to the newly planted garden.

So remember to find original pieces, try not to buy the commonplace “art” but think outside the box and see what you come up with.

Garden benches, garden chairs, hammocks or a simple swing invite visitors to sit a while in the garden, to contemplate the plants, smells and sounds, to be a child again.

Now is the time to look out for environmental weeds.

These include agapanthus, asparagus fern, bluebell creeper, cape broom (Genista), Cootamundra wattle, cotoneaster, English ivy, holly, weeping willow, Japanese honeysuckle, pampas grass, and Spanish heath to name a few.

They spread too easily by seed and cause destruction in bushland and forested areas by smothering native plants.

Autumn and winter is a time to flick through gardening books and think of other alternatives for these plants in the garden.

Plant evergreen trees in May. the soil is warm and with the autumn rains we have been having the soil is moist and easy to turn over.

Evergreen trees can be planted now acacias species, eucalypts, jacaranda, malaleuca, peppercorns, camellias, michelias.

Remember a hole dug to plant a tree should be at least twice the size of the root ball.

Don’t be stingy when digging a hole, never try to jam the trees roots in a hole that is too small especially when you have purchased bare rooted trees.

Remove the plant from the pot and gently tease out the roots, place a hand full of slow release fertiliser in the hole a, place the tree in the hole and replace the soil making sure the soil is good quality.

With feet or hands firm down the soil around the plant and water deeply. Make sure you mulch to help conserve moisture in the soil.

To avoid “collar rot” make sure the mulch is not resting up against the trunk of the tree.

If you are planting kangaroo paws remember they like to be planted in a mound slightly above the ground to ensure perfect drainage.

If you want to be happy for a lifetime — be a gardener.

Ponderance


The first Saturday of the month is always marked on the calendar: **MARKET**

I don’t want to miss it, but often do and I’ve been known to harbour that disappointment for several hours upon realising the day or time has passed.

All other plans for the day are made around this all-important trip to the market.

I phoned a couple of friends, set up the rendezvous point and we met, with kids in tow, to wander along the river.

I’m sure most readers have enjoyed the market walk so I will not go into details of stalls and stallholders, sights and sounds.

You know it well. But this particular market trip stands out amongst others.

We set off with the idea that the children, four of them, aged between six and nine, would be happy souls, wandering under gum trees with money in pockets and the promise of frozen yoghurt to spur them on if they grew weary.

We had visions of children skipping through the dust under a canopy of gum trees, happy to be beyond walls.

It didn’t take long before this vision of ‘free range’ had turned into the dusty reality of hot and grumpy children, and the coffee van seemed to be an ever moving mirage, just out of reach.

Our dreams of being earth mothers wandering by the river were fading with each utterance from the mouths of our babes.

We didn’t walk the full stretch of the market last month, although we did make it to coffee, run into friends and join the queue at the frozen yoghurt van.

As we headed to our cars we laughed at ourselves, we are just not the earth mother type.

 Blessed are we who can laugh at ourselves for we shall never cease to be amused – Proverb 

In the weeks since this market trip I have been pondering the idea of “the absence of annoyance”, a phrase often linked to the Danish concept of ‘Hygge’, pronounced ‘hue-gah’, that is described as the philosophy of enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

The “absence of annoyance” is a place in which we can reside between ease and effort. Where gritted teeth are replaced by a calm breath — an eternal yoga session.

Grace seems to be the key to this place of residence, grace in movement, in thought and in response.

Effort is required, but, as in all things worthwhile, the more I practice this mindset, the easier it is becoming.

I observed our household one afternoon, I sat back deliberately and listened to everyone interacting; I heard in them what I hear so often in myself — annoyance.

I listed the things that annoy each of us all regularly: the dog that is underfoot as we work in the kitchen, is also the dog that greets us when we walk in the door and sleeps at the feet of the one that is burning the midnight oil; the child that causes me to grit my teeth is also the one that hangs on for a longer cuddle at the end of the day; the dishes left on the dining table are evidence that someone has stopped awhile and been at home rather than rushing out the door.

We don’t want to take away the things that are annoying us, for life would be lonely, that I am certain of, instead I choose the absence of annoyance.

Next, I decided to tackle rush.

The idea is not new, I know, but it’s new to me.

Deciding not to rush to the next task but instead to stay focussed on what is at hand, is, I can honestly report, keeping my heart rate down a little.

This insight came after spending time with my 23-year-old daughter recently.

We had gone supermarket shopping together and I heard myself say in so many different ways, hurry up; I used “come on”, “let’s go”, “you go get this, I will get that”, “let’s get this over and done with,” and other phrases that maybe you have used too.

We rushed, we sighed impatiently at the queue at the checkout, (how dare everyone else be shopping at the same time we are), we loaded and unloaded, then moved on to the next thing in our day.

Later, I reflected on the shopping trip and realised that it was more about spending a few hours with her than getting the job done.

We don’t shop together very often, actually we don’t do a lot together these days.

I was thinking over how that time could have been different had I switched off ‘rush’, all that was needed was a little tweak.

So next market day my friends and I will meet up again to grab a coffee and wander – with kids in tow – I’ll let you know how it goes.

Songlines in Warrandyte


When British settlement in Australia began in 1788 the colonists were essentially blind to Aboriginal technology. The manicured environment they saw had been carefully shaped by constant burning off and it looked for all the world like an English gentlman’s estate. However, it was nevertheless thought of as the “natural” state of affairs. These misapprehensions permeate our history books and continue to influence our thinking right up to the present day. So in this sense we have been brought up to be virtually blind to many aspects of our Aboriginal heritage.

It is exactly the same situation with Aboriginal trade and travel routes, which are known as Songlines. The reason they are called Songlines is because the landmarks, ecological features and creation stories along each route were coded into a song. Aboriginal people had to learn hundreds of these songs that had verses patching into each other, thus enabling them to diverge at any given point onto a different trail and a different song.

These Songlines criss-crossed the whole of Australia with the important travel routes covering many hundreds of kilometres. These major Songlines were even coded celestially, so that the various landmarks were represented in the constellations. For instance, one such celestially coded Songline goes from Alice Springs to Byron Bay.

Now just pause and think about this for a minute. Why would people from Alice Springs want to travel to Byron Bay and vice versa? The answer is both simple and stunning.

People from the central desert wanted to go to the far east coast to witness the local people working in co- operation with dolphins to catch fish. Every dolphin was known by name and responded to their name in working as a team to drive shoals of fish to the shore. Aboriginal people would net the fish and then share the fish evenly with the dolphins. On the other side of the ledger people from the far east coast of Australia wanted to travel to the central desert to see the majestic Uluru for themselves.

When settlers first arrived in Melbourne in 1835 they simply got on their horses and in their carts and started spreading out into the hinterland. They of course followed the ridge lines, valley lines and easy contours that seemed to be remarkably free of trees and offered convenient travel routes. These Songlines then became established cart tracks and were progressively gravelled then bitumenised.

So while Melbourne itself was established on a surveyed one mile square grid of north-south and east-west roads, all the meandering roads out of Melbourne were originally Aboriginal Songlines. If you take an aerial view in your mind’s eye, you can see all the main roads radiating out of Melbourne: Geelong Road, Ballarat Road, Calder Highway, Sydney Road, Plenty Road, Heidelberg Road, Maroondah Highway,

Dandenong Road and Nepean Highway. They were all originally Songlines, but are not recognised as such, and our kids at school are not taught this part of our heritage.

It is in fact quite easy to identify Songlines and being on the Yarra, Warrandyte has an abundance of them. You can for instance be certain that any shallow rapids area on the Yarra was the point at which a Songline crossed the river. The street where the Police Station is situated is one such place where the Songline taking you to Research crossed the river to follow the Research-Warrandyte Road. Barely a couple of hundred metres further up where the bridge stands, is where the Songline to Kangaroo Ground starts. Take a trip along the Kangaroo Ground Road and see how it follows the ridge line and gives you 360 degree views. It is of course also a Songline.

Another good example is Tindals Road. Take your kids along it and enjoy the panoramic vistas to the east and west. Tell them, “Hey kids, this is an Aboriginal Songline, You know this because you can see for miles.” Originally the Tindals Road Songline branched off from Doncaster Road to follow Old Warrandyte Road. It then went past the Donvale Christian College, followed the ridge line and dropped down into Pound Bend. However, it is now bisected by Warrandyte Road where a cutting has been put in.

Much of Warrandyte Road itself was also a Songline. The route followed the ridge line as it does today past Warrandyte High School, but the original Songline then followed Melbourne Hill Road. With a little bit of thought it is relatively easy to identify the original route of these Songlines by seeing where cuttings and diversions have been put in.

So if you have any information that could help to map these local Songlines and restore knowledge of this part of our heritage, please let me know.

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.

Wine and dine at Dolans

Say hello to our epicurean super hub

Two years after being awarded Best New Winery in Australia by James Halliday, Rob Dolan has opened his schmick new cellar door in Warrandyte South. Set on 100 acres of rolling farm- land and vineyard, and just 30 minutes from Melbourne CBD, Rob has “location, location” sorted.

The space is open seven days per week (10am-5pm) offering complementary wine tastings of 15 wines (we recommend the Black Label Four + One – a Mediterranean style blend of Grenache, Sangiovese, Barbera, Tempranillo and Shiraz sold exclusively at the cellar door).

The stunning tout was designed by Dale White and Bek Gallagher (The Public Brewery, The Cellar Door by The Public Brewery, Bekendales and The Farm Yarra Valley) and makes a statement with restored original features, reclaimed timbers and a huge wrap around recycled timber deck. Wine is available to purchase and take home or enjoy on site with picnic blankets and games such as Finska or Bocce provided free for guests.

The winery is also home to the Stone and Crow Cheese Company’s “Crow’s Nest”. Founder and cheesemaker Jack Holman may be better known for his role as head cheesemaker at Yarra Valley Dairy for the past 12 years, making him an integral part of our region’s food and wine heritage (some like to refer to him as “Cheesus”).

Ever the innovator, Jack sees Stone and Crow as a vehicle to move the Australian cheese scene forward by creating his own styles without boundaries, and this is his opportunity to be truly experimen- tal. The core range of cheeses are readily available in the cellar door to take home or enjoy as part of a platter on site. Our personal favourite would have to be the Galactic – a 1-2 week old cow’s milk cheese – think soft and delicate with bread flavours and some acidity – perfect with the True Colours Field Blend.

To complete the offering Rob has commissioned the chefs at neighbouring dining and events venue The Farm Yarra Valley to source and make in-house a selection of crackers specifically to suit Jack’s cheeses. Chef Ben Van Tiggelen has worked for the likes of Jacques Reymond, Dan Wilson and Neil Perry so knows a thing or two about sourcing the best produce.

It also doesn’t hurt to have kitchen gardens on-site that are lovingly tended to by Fabian Capomolla (aka the Hungry Gardener). Fabian also co-founded The Little Veggie Patch, the company behind the famous Pop up Patch at Melbourne’s Federation Square.

And if for some reason you still find yourself wanting more why not try something from Rob’s accompaniments range – perhaps the Cucumber Pickle or the Pinot Noir Jelly? All of his accompaniments are made exclusively for the cellar door by Caroline Grey from A Bit of Jam and Pickle.

Rob Dolan Wines Cellar Door, 21-23 Delaneys Rd, Warrandyte South. Open 7 days 10am-5pm.

Council elections arrive


Elections are underway. Look closely at the candidates…and their promises, writes Val Polley

We’re having elections again – this time it’s local government elections this month.

We don’t have to turn out and queue this time, however. It’s a postal ballot in both Nillumbik
 and Manningham but if we intend to treat it seriously there’s some work to do. Local government is the closest level of government to where we actually live. It deserves some of our time to give some attention to the candidates and their promises.

North Warrandyte sits in the Sugarloaf Ward of Nillumbik Shire Council. This is a single councillor ward and there are 14 nominations to ll the seat left vacant by Ken King who has retired. Warrandyte is included in the Mullum Mullum Ward of Manningham City Council. It sees the three sitting councillors renominating as well as a further 10 nominations for the three seats. With the move to postal ballots the only guaranteed information voters can access comes via the candidates’ own 200 or so word CV.

These can be found on the Victorian Electoral Commission website. They should also be included in the posted out papers.

If you care about the issues in Warrandyte then it pays to read through the candidates’ CVs and what they have to say on our two page spread showcasing them on pages 14-15 of the Warrandyte Diary, October 2016 edition.

There are very few public meetings, door knocks and personal interaction. Very few of us will meet our candidates before we fill out our ballot papers. It comes down to their words to capture your interest and encourage you to vote for them.

When looking for your ideal candidates there are a few things to keep in mind. Have they submitted a CV?

If so, look at what they write. Are they truly involved in the community through sport, schools, organisations or other interests or just paying lip service to community involvement? This can be a major indicator of their real interest in being a councillor. If they haven’t provided a CV then are they really serious about their chances of election?

Are they standing on just one particular issue? The work of a councillor is all encompassing and councillors have to be involved across the range of subjects that will come before them.

Do you want them to be independent or can they represent a political party?

The Greens candidates have clearly stated their allegiance. Other candidates’ possible party allegiances appear more opaque.

Are they setting preferences in their CV to benefit one particular group looking for specific outcomes? Recent Electoral Act changes were designed to eliminate the practice of dummy candidates, it remains to be seen if this will be the case.

Would you like them to live locally?

Both wards are very large and a truly local representative can often be a major asset. Incumbents enjoy a privileged position. Their names are usually more recognisable particularly if they have played a major role in the local community.

That said, do you want to re-elect a sitting councillor? Is their record good enough, how long have they served and have you been pleased with their efforts on your behalf?

Being a councillor is an arduous four year long round of meetings, decisions, negotiations and con- stituent involvement across the whole of the City or Shire. It is not for the faint hearted and indeed it is very encouraging for local democracy that so many of our fellow residents are prepared to put up their hand for the privilege of serving their community.

If we want the best possible out- come for these elections and the next four years then we must take the time and make a balanced and considered decision on how to mark that important ballot paper. If not we will have no-one to blame but ourselves if we don’t like the result.

Gold adventures

What to do when the school holidays arrive and winter has the whole family shivering in its collective boots?

You head north, hit the east coast and soak up the sun in between theme parks, that’s what. But it’s not for the faint-hearted.

A Gold Coast adventure with theme parks on the agenda in a Griswald-style escape may be an oldie, but it’s certainly a goodie and the perfect way to elude the Victorian winter chill for a week or so. With five kids – aged 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 – stacked into a people mover, the good news is cabin fever only lasts in small doses, especially if you prepare, book and deliver properly, so the “are we there yets” are few and far between. This is how we did it…

First on the list is book flights and accommodation early. For a party of seven you’re crazy if you don’t, and one of the first things you should do is be registered for updates from low cost carriers Tiger, Jetstar and Virgin. Tiger was the winner for us as we got in early and managed to snag seven return airfares for under $1200. Next on the list was self-contained accommodation and the ultimate scenario was to have a venue right smack bang near all the action – in Helensvale – so a three bedroom cabin was locked and loaded at Gold Coast Holiday Park, but more about that later. For more visit Tiger Airways, Jetstar and Virgin websites to sign up to newsletters.

Book a people mover at DriveNow for the best deal. Yep, you can’t go past this website which is akin to Wotif in the world of car hire, and we bagged a big Hyundai Imax, an eight-seater, plenty of room for suitcases, aircon and auto for less than a grand for 10 days! The process is simple in that you search for people movers in desired location and eight or 10 options pop up with the best deals. We had wheels and there was a party going on in the cabin above them! A great website that’s easy to navigate, book quickly and be all sorted for transport while away. More drivenow.com.au

Gold Coast Holiday Park, a big kick-arse cabin with the works. You can either shell out and get a fancy hotel on the Goldie or you can lower your sights and get a home away from home in a more down to earth location like a modern caravan park – which are like mini resorts these days. GCHP is not just any holiday park, but a Big 4 holiday park and anyone who has stayed at one knows exactly what I mean: they’re the upper echelon for raising the bar in facilities and standards. Aside from a superb spacious cabin, with kitchenette, bunk beds, great lounge area and widescreen TV was the fact Gold Coast Holiday Park is an entertainment hub in its own right with an amazing pool and waterslide adjoining Nibbles Cafe, an upmarket camp kitchen, bike track, tennis court, outdoor cinema and loads more. But the piece de resistance? It’s literally five minutes by car to Movieworld or 10-15 minutes to Dreamworld! All the kids admitted a holiday spent entirely at this great park would be worth the trip to the Gold Coast alone. More goldcoast holidaypark.com.au

Brace yourself for the rides of your life. The instructions were clear from the kids: leave your fear of heights back in Victoria and strap yourself in. The best thing about staying at Gold Coast Holiday Park is they can offer the best multiple park ticket deals going – a must if you want to save some serious dollars. So with our stomachs flipped upside down, sideways and round and round multiple times over the next few days what were the highlights? The kids voted Dreamworld and Movieworld and their accompanying water parks as the best for all the action. Here are some rides that rattled our bones and insides: The Giant Drop, Wipeout, Shockwave, Superman ride, Scooby Doo Spooky rollercoaster, Arkham Asylum, the Batwing, and the Tower of Terror. Speaking of which, see inset for how we grown-ups were processing the Superman ride while our two blonde teenagers in front of us were already looking for something more dangerous! Of course, there’s plenty more features to explore and absorb, including a tiger cub being walked around the grounds at Dreamworld which is a cute surprise. More movieworld.com.au and dream world.com.au

The NightQuarter night markets in Helensvale are unmissable. When you’re not kicking back in the great facilities at Gold Coast Holiday Park or going nuts in the theme parks, this market experience is an absolute treat for both grown-ups and the kids. A hive of activity, there are more than 120 food trucks/stalls, micro-restaurants, bars, craftspeo- ple, musicians and other quirky points of interest in a real carnival atmosphere. Otherwise known as “shipping container city”, the concept is catching on all over Australia. The food is everything from tapas, oysters, BBQ ribs and Asian choices to cronuts, chocolate fountains, amazing icecreams and more. More nightquarter.com.au

Warrandyte in the 1950s

Growing up in Warrandyte in the 1950s was pretty special. We had the river and the bush and a strong feeling of belonging. Call it plenty of community spirit if you like.

We McAuleys were a mongrel breed, part Irish, part German and with a bit of English and Scottish thrown in. Back then Warrandyte was still a country town but quickly developing into a suburb. My family had lived here for generations, my grandmother Eva Belzer came from German stock and attended the local stone-built state primary school that was built by my great-great grandfather William Masterton back in the 1800s. She married Sam McAuley, whose father James was born in County Tyrone, Ireland.

My grandparents set up their orchard and stable on a tract of land next to the school, raised their own livestock, baked bread and grew vegetables for their dinner table.

There was no electricity for cooking, heating or light. It was a time when people made their own music at special events such as births, weddings and wakes. My grand- father played the concertina and people danced and sang in the old homestead in the light of flickering hurricane lamps and candles. They had six children Evelyn, Gertrude, Jack, Bill, Lillian and my father Ralph, the youngest.

The family suffered many setbacks over the years, losing their home in the devastating Black Friday firestorm of 1939. Three years later, during WWII, my uncle Bill was shot dead as he led his troops across a beach in what was then New Guinea. I was proudly named William in memory of my Uncle Bill when I was born six years after the end of the war.

My father came home from WWII after serving in the Middle East and New Guinea. He met and married my mother Patricia and built our family home from fieldstone gathered in nearby hills and transported back to his building site on a horse-drawn dray.

In due course, my sister Sue and I were born and we grew up running gloriously free in the small town, through which the Yarra River meandered.

The river was the focal point of our lives. We kids met by the river, swam together in the river and with a trembling heart, when I was still as innocent as an angel, I had my first kiss by the river.

Our village consisted of a series of shops and included the Mechanics Institute Hall, the Post Office and a pub.

Across from the pub was Jack Moore’s general store. The atmospheric old shop was full of sacks of grain, hardware items and tools, glass jars filled with nuts and lollies and rows of biscuit tins. Buying a brown paper bag full of broken biscuits was a heavenly treat for us kids. Scotch fingers, Iced Vovos and Milk Arrowroots were my favourites.

The store was crammed with little treasures hiding in the shadows on the dusty wooden floor, a great place for a child to explore. Unfortunately, the old shop, a remnant from another age, burned to the ground when I was still a child; it was never rebuilt and the site has been used as a car park for the Grand Hotel ever since.

Jack Moore’s sister Aggy ran the milk bar next to the Mechanics Institute Hall, right where the community centre is today. In the late 1950s, matinees were shown at the hall every Saturday and the town’s young film-goers would gather in her shop at interval to drink the ‘spiders’ she made and to buy more Jaffas to roll down the aisles during the Hopalong Cassidy or Tom Mix feature.

Lime ‘Spiders’ were Aggy’s specialty and consisted of a scoop of ice cream stirred into a big sundae glass of lime cordial and lemonade. The delicious creamy concoction fizzed and oozed over the rim of the glass, the bubbles tickling your nose as you tried to drink it before there was too much spillage.

In June, winter rain turned the river into a muddy torrent that coursed through the valley. Rising above the yellow-brown river, the rain-misted hills were mostly capped with grey leaden skies. Winter months were cold, wet and depressing, the dullness broken only by local football matches, which were the absolute highlight.

In summer, the ever-dwindling river ran through tinder dry gum trees that shimmered in the oppressive heat. Wattle trees were laden with bright yellow blossom and the sharp scent of eucalyptus hung in the hot January air. The crack of ball on bat could be heard as the local cricket team crafted their way through another innings.

Sometimes during stinking heatwaves my father would wake me at first light and we’d drive down to the river in his 1951 Bedford truck for a swim before school. Steam rose from the cold muddy river as we waded in together to cool off. I’d cling to my father’s broad shoulders as we swam clear across the current to the tall rocky cliffs on the other side. I felt safe in the water with him.

The other local lads and I climbed cliffs and trees and dived into shallow water from heights of up to 20 metres. We were fearless and I suspect slightly mad, as we risked life and limb every day with our daredevil stunts. We congregated at a swimming hole called ‘The Log’, where a rope hung from a tall gum tree on the other side of the river. Time after time we’d swing out over the water and let go of the rope, flying like acrobats through the air as we somersaulted down into the owing brown water.

Our bread was baked in a wood fired oven in the village and delivered daily to each house, sometimes still warm. And milk was delivered each day by a local character, “Tiger” Flowers. He always wore a sleeveless Richmond Football Club guernsey.

He was our unofficial town crier: all our breaking news came from Tiger as he called out during his milk deliveries, “Mrs Chapman has had a baby boy”, or “The bush fire is coming from the north”. Though I knew Tiger all of his life, I never knew his Christian, or given, name; I always called him Tiger.

The iceman came once a week, a huge block of ice carried on a shoulder protected by a potato sack. Once in our kitchen he’d hoist up the heavy block and unceremoniously plonk it in our icebox. It was the time before electric refrigerators were common in 1950s homes.

The “dunny man” came once a week, too, to collect the pan from our outdoor toilet, with a grunt he’d lift the frighteningly full pan up and on to his head and carry it down to the dunny truck. It was an endless joke with us kids: what would happen if the bottom of the pan gave way as he balanced it on his head? Shit and disaster! That’s what!

Our old-fashioned telephone was attached to the wall. To make a call you held the earpiece at the end of a cord to your ear while winding a handle to ring the local exchange. Mrs Fitch, the operator, worked her magic from the post office, now the Historical Society Museum. Speaking into the mouthpiece on the wall, you’d tell Mrs Fitch the number you required and she’d connect you via telephone lines tangled like spaghetti on her switchboard.

Our mail was delivered by horse- back each day by old Bill McCulloch. Wearing a pith helmet, he’d ride his horse Silver right past our letterbox, up the drive and deliver the mail by hand saying, “Good morning, Mrs McAuley.” When we heard the clip clop of Silver’s hooves we’d scurry outside to pat the friendly old horse.

NEXT MONTH: The coming of television and the Melbourne Olympics.

Pricking up the pieces

ASK Karina Templeton about the way people approach health and wellness these days and she believes we’re seeing some balance in integrating a more clinical Western approach with traditional Eastern methods that are steeped in history.

With a double degree in Health Science and Chinese Medicine, she’s a practitioner who certainly appreciates and respects conventional practices but who has a real passion for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine principles and associated treatments.

“I’ve studied in a very clinical based environment and I guess I’m now going back to more traditional ways,” she told the Diary. “There’s definitely a way to integrate both in using Western and Chinese Medicine.

“The principles of Chinese Medicine, like eating through the seasons and that kind of thing, have always been there, but we just somehow lost it when there was such a shift to Western medicine. Then, of course, processed foods and busy lifestyles causing stress came into it and I think now people are realising those things are not good for them.”

She believes we’re becoming a lot more conscientious and informed, there’s greater awareness – especially with the internet coming into play on the research front: “I went to a conference recently and they pointed out the importance of knowing what we’re prescribing because it’s so easy for people to simply jump on Google and tell you what’s happening. We certainly have to be on top of it.”

Karina moved to Warrandyte this time last year and is setting about establishing her Chinese Medicine practice from home in Lorraine Avenue to be able to enjoy our village lifestyle and environment while raising a family with husband. Karina uses Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine as part of her “compassionate, supportive treatments” and incorporates modalities such as Cupping, Electro Stimulation, Moxibustion and Chinese Diet and Exercise Therapy.

She studied myotherapy at RMIT in her early 20s, but says she knew it just wasn’t quite for her as the process was taxing on her body as well as the patients’, and she found it was very much about the same musculoskeletal conditions, “of which it works really well for, but it just wasn’t all I wanted to do”.

“So while doing that I had to do some clinical placements where I worked with a whole variety of practitioners and I did it with a Chinese Medical practitioner and was blown away,” Karina says. “It was so gentle, I watched what he did, and took detailed notes of what I was doing. Putting these needles in, which are just so quick and fine, and being able to leave the room and allow a person to rest themselves while not being physically draining on me was something that appealed.

“And the scope of people and conditions he was seeing in that day was just incredible so I was really drawn to the variety, and I could see the changes that were happening.” So what’s the lowdown on Acupuncture and how it works? “There are acupuncture points all along the meridians, there are 12 main ones that run through the body and par- ticular organs, such as the spleen meridian, the kidney meridian, the bladder meridian and so on,” Karina explains. “So they’re not working exactly on those organs, as we say in Western medicine, because it’s a totally different theory, but they’re passing through and that’s why they’re named after them. There are thousands of points we can choose from. Essentially, by using those points we’re inserting messages into the body and how we want it to function. We can use one point on its own or we can couple them by using certain points together where they can have a different effect altogether.”

As for the conditions she treats, they’re wide and varied. “Common ones I’ve seen here in Warrandyte include musculoskeletal, from the majority of men that are coming, but all different types of things. I’m doing a lot of birth work, digestion and insomnia issues, dizziness and, of course, stress is a big thing,” Karina says.

Among a long list, other treatable conditions include: low energy, respiratory infections, hay fever, migraines, stress, digestive issues, constipation, loose stools, pain, IBS, insomnia, vertigo, musculoskeletal conditions, women’s health – menstrual health, natural fertility, assisted repro- ductive support, pregnancy and positive birthing support, pregnancy associated conditions including morning sickness, heartburn, fatigue, pains and turning breech babies.

“I’ve seen some people trying Western medicine to get well with their condition but for whatever reason it’s just not getting them over the line, and they come with an open mind and try the Chinese Medicine approach, it’s worked, so of course they tell their friends about it,” Karina says. “I’m certainly seeing a shift in that regard. I think it definitely picks up where Western medicine can’t come in, for example, I focus a bit on pregnancy and there’s so much medication you can’t take – Acupuncture is something you can have safely throughout your entire pregnancy.

“I’ll treat anyone and everyone, but I’ve done a lot of women’s health,” Karina admits. “Women’s health is the main thing and that’s mainly because I got into a women’s health clinic and was mentored really well through that. Otherwise here I’m seeing people with all sorts of conditions and I’m enjoying the variety.

Karina is registered with AHPRA & AACMA. She is covered by all major health funds and her patients are eligible for private insurance rebates and consultations. Consultations are $70 (after an initial $90 consultation) and are available by appointment on 0415 443 148, ktch- inesemedicine@gmail.com or visitktchinesemedicine.

Light therapy tackles Lyme

Less than six months ago, the Diary published an article on a cluster of Lyme disease patients in Warrandyte. Sufferers were at wits end, frustrated at the lack of support and indifference shown by the government, which still refuses to acknowledge the debilitating dis- ease even exists in Australia.

Andrew Barrett, Warrandyte’s colour and light healing expert, has been treating a Melbourne woman who is also afflicted with the disease. Using a machine called the PhotonWave, the style of therapy has had positive effects on patients suffering from Lyme disease as well as other ailments.

Colour light therapy uses coloured light on the body to create balance and flow, which helps the body heal itself. I was lucky enough to experience a session with Andrew as we spoke about the ancient style of healing. He explained how he had just returned from the International Light Association conference in Vienna where he had learned about using light therapy for heavy metal toxicity and immune mobilisation.

Andrew specialises in Syntronics, the process of shining selected light frequencies through the eyes, impacting key systems of the body. The light therapy session was incredibly relaxing and Andrew explained the colours and lights can be used to treat a whole range of ailments, not just physical pain, but also emotional pain and mental struggles from which people are looking for relief. The coloured light can also help with getting better rest or alternatively offer relief for those with low energy levels.

Set at the back of The Purple Dragon y in Warrandyte, the location was perfect with the scents of soaps and body oils yet another treat for the senses.

Andrew brought out two interesting looking instruments, the rst being the previously mentioned PhotonWave Rainbow Light Simulator, a new invention that has shown proven success in cases of chronic pain, ADHD, depression, heavy metal toxicity, dyslexia, skin conditions, eye diseases and allergies. This is the tool Andrew uses in his treatment of Lyme disease.

A difficult disease to treat with ongoing and chronic symptoms, the sufferer had tried many treatments to no avail until light therapy was suggested. Using the Klinghardt Protocol, a method of eliminating toxicity, Lyme disease sufferers are advised to attend 12 sessions over time to see results.

The second tool looked like a torch, with varying coloured disks that could be attached, before holding the different coloured lights over different zones of the body. I felt very relaxed after the session, a heavy but contented feeling, which I described to him as like floating on a dense flowerbed. It was hard to imagine anyone having trouble sleeping after a session like that.

As Andrew explained, the light therapy, while gentle and non-invasive, is designed to balance the physical, emotional and mental aspects of your wellbeing. Just some of the other issues Andrew can treat include migraines, depression, MS, chronic fatigue and skin dis- orders, while the therapy supports the functioning of bodily processes of the immune system, the lymphatic system and the endocrine system.

Many of his clients have tried everything else and have found the colour light therapy to be the only thing to have worked in their recovery and healing.

Andrew is offering a special of $75 for the first consultation and $60 thereafter and urges those living with Lyme disease to get in touch.