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Alpacas do the bus stop

It was Warrandyte’s version of the Great Escape recently when four pet alpacas named Boris, Mr Snuffy, Kath and Kim pulled the wool over their owners eyes and ventured beyond the boundaries of their property in Research-Warrandyte Road.

But it was their appearance at the local bus stop where it really gets interesting. They’d clearly spat it and were well and truly on the move!

The Diary’s very own IT man Bora Seker was driving past and couldn’t believe his eyes, so he snapped a quick photo on his mobile and sent it into to yours truly before rounding up the naughty escapees and calling for help.

A week or so later and a Diary Facebook photo post about the incident has clocked up more than 660 likes, 75 shares and reached more than 20,000 people in an astonishing social media viral reaction.

The culprit? Owner Monique Jaksic, who was a little sheepish when quizzed by us.

“Yep, it was my fault, I left the gate open,” Monique said with a giggle.

“After a while I thought I’d better check on the alpacas and I started calling them. I couldn’t see them, so I went into panic mode and went into the forest, ringing all the neighbours – it was four hours later and I finally found out they were up the top.”

Originally the Jaksics went down the goat route to keep the grass down on their property, but “they were a real pain”.

“They used to get into the neighbours’ property, into the roses and that sort of stuff,” Monique says.

“In the end we got onto the alpacas and bought these guys from Kangaroo Ground. They’re so beautiful, they just nibble at the grass and don’t rip it like goats do, and they don’t run through the fences, they’re great with the kids and, of course, they’re great lawn mowers.”

Let’s be honest. Hands up who wouldn’t want a pet alpaca? Even Diesel the family pet dog is best mates with them at Jaksic central.

“They have their own individual personalities,” Monique said with a smile. “The baby, Kim, she will stare you down. She’s quite feisty. Being the males, Boris and Mr Snuffy (named after Sesame Street’s Mr Snufeupagus) fight over the girls all the time. They have these really funny neck fights – they can be quite noisy and annoyed at each other.

“But they’re pretty good. We love them all, of course, especially now they’re famous.”

VIDEO: Travel agency or online?

Bricks and mortar travel agency or online? Warrandyte Travel & Cruise expert Carolyn Allen explains why the traditional travel agent is best.

Bricks and mortar travel agent versus online. What is your take on that? – Scott, Warrandyte.

I liken this discussion to comparing eating at McDonald’s against a la carte dining at a fine dining restaurant.

At McDonald’s you are offered a simple menu whereas at a fine dining establishment you have a choice of interesting taste combinations that you may not have ever thought of yourself.

If your needs are simple and you are happy to take what’s offered by a robotic search engine then there is nothing wrong with online booking. However, if you are looking for more than just point to point travel and one hotel then you will benefit from working with an expert on the other side of the desk in a bricks and mor- tar travel agency.

For example: we recently had a client wanted to go to Malaysia, Mainland China and Hong Kong. The online booking sites, as was our system quoted a fare in the vicinity of $8000. Our human expertise was able to apply some creativity, rework the fare and reduce it by half.

Q: What else do you consider to be the makings of a great travel booking experience?

A: A great travel experience starts the minute you walk in the door and are greeted by a consultant who genuinely cares about travel needs. It is vital your travel professional gets to know you, knows your likes and dislikes and works as your best advocate to provide great holiday arrangements – tailored to suit your requirements, taste and budget.

Invariably your consultant has travelled to the destination. They have great travel tips, can recommend restaurants and of course the best places to stay.

I recently travelled to Rajasthan in India – one of my favourite parts in the world. The back alley tours in the cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur provide a wonderful insight into the vibrant life that is India – for me these little gems are a must but rarely promoted!

A reputable travel company takes pride in providing their clients with all options enabling them to make informed choices. Your booking experience should be almost as enjoyable as the journey itself.

Our travel expert Carolyn is the manager of Warrandyte Travel and Cruise. Email her at carolyn@warrandytetravel.com.au

 

 

VIDEO: Soul kitchen

WARRANDYTE not-for-profit café Now and Not Yet are known for providing great coffee, service and atmosphere for their local community to enjoy. But now its branching out with compassion by supporting Victoria’s refugee community.

In 2015, Now and Not Yet employed two young refugee men from Sri Lanka, Nigethan and Selvam, recently released from Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, a detention centre in Broadmeadows.

One of these men is Nigethan, a skilled chef from Sri Lanka, currently living in Warrandyte and working in Now and Not Yet’s kitchen.

“I spent the last six years in a detention centre, and was released four months ago,” Nigethan told the Diary.

“Now, I am very lucky to be here and to have a job in this restaurant. I am very happy and very thankful for the opportunity.”

Derek Bradshaw, founder and general manager of Now and Not Yet, knew there was something he could do to help asylum seekers find their feet in Australia.

“We got really passionate about the refugee issue and the way 
our government is treating these beautiful and amazing people. We thought why don’t we start utilising our amazing little café to be able to help with training and employment opportunities,” Derek told the Diary.

“Part of our goal is to help people get some longevity and housing. A lot of them can’t get
 a job because they don’t have
 a fixed address, and they can’t 
get a fixed address because they haven’t got a job. These people too, they’ve got amazing skills but they don’t have the opportunity to use them or the chance to get some training under their belt. And long term employment helps them to be able to feel good about themselves and feel like they’re actually contributing to Australian society.”

Nigethan’s contribution to the Warrandyte community has been stellar. An incredible chef with
a heart of gold, Nige has been cooking up delicious food for locals and visitors for the past few months, bringing his own unique touch to each and every dish.

“My favourite dish to cook is the coconut butter chicken. It’s not too spicy. In my country, we cook with lots of spice, but here I cook so that anyone can have it, even children,” he says.

“I’m just working in the kitchen at the moment, so that I can get experience. But then I want to learn to do coffee.”

Now and Not Yet has provided support, housing, employment and friendly guidance to help Nigethan and Selvam find their feet outside the detention centre walls. But the Warrandyte community has also been a force to be reckoned with, donating food, money, bedding and household items to give these men a head start.

“One of the things I love about the Warrandyte community is that they’re really passionate about the things we’re passionate about. They’ve given us everything you can possibly think of. Even one lady who’d done her research
on Sri Lankan food went out and bought us all these Sri Lankan spices and a picnic basket so that they could make food and go down to the river to enjoy beautiful Warrandyte,” Derek says.

Nigethan is especially thankful for Derek and his family, who have taken him in and provided him with a positive start in his life outside of detention. The wider Warrandyte community has also ensured that Nigethan feels welcome everywhere he goes.

“I like going to the river. I also like the coffee and the nice people – it’s nice to see new faces all the time. When I was in the detention centre, it was the same people all the time. But now I really enjoy every day. I really love this place,” he says.

Derek hopes Nigethan and Selvam are the first of many to benefit from Now and Not Yet’s program, helping them not only with housing and employment but also with developing their interview and CV skills and improving their English.

“The long-term goal is to continue the program and get people on the road. But we’ve made a commitment to this and they’re part of the family now, so we will continue to support them, encourage them and make sure they’ve got stability moving forward,” Derek says.

The café manager couldn’t be more proud of the way the Warrandyte community has rallied their support for Nigethan and Selvam, and hopes we can all lend a hand in making a difference for refugees and asylum seekers not only in our community, but in all of Australia.

“It’s not an asylum seeker issue that we’re talking about – we’re talking about real people. People who love and are passionate. I hate the way that it’s become this political issue and it’s completely dehumanised.”

“There is joy that comes from engaging with somebody and stopping the dehumanising of it. It’s great. It’s a really good thing for Warrandyte to be part of. Making a difference and standing up to our government and saying ‘this is not the way that we want to treat people’.”

“They bring a lot to our community so it’s a privilege to be a part of it.”

Health & Wellness Warrandyte

The health and wellness industry is thriving in Warrandyte as a diverse offering of both conventional and complementary services is available to all residents.
There is no doubting the necessity of a more traditional medical route and all of science’s benefits on the health front, but a universal shift in approach and thinking allows all of us so much more choice today.

Don’t miss the Health & Wellness Warrandyte special four page guide in our physical edition of the December Warrandyte Diary. The guide showcases just some of the wonderful options available whether it be homeopathy, massage, reiki, energy healing, reflexology, NLP life coaching, integrative pathology, yoga, osteopathy, dental care, hearing health, personal fitness training, neurostructural integration technique (a form of Bowen Therapy), psychotherapy, meditation, crystals, and creative dance.

That’s just scratching the surface.

“It’s not so much ‘alternative’, which is the term that’s been traditionally used for a long time now – which is more of a separation when it comes to describing it – but it’s now complementary in an integrative way with orthodox and natural working together,” says Jane Offer, owner of The Purple Dragonfly in Yarra Street.

A relative newcomer to Warrandyte with her now well known “complementary services” hub, Jane’s business also offers workshops and all sorts of interesting modalities to suit your needs and interests.

She says the “shift” in the way people approach their health and wellness has  infiltrated around the world for some time now.
“Many people need a medical route, of course, but they can also help their own body to deal with that and heal quicker,” she says.
“In America we worked with a hospital where there was a whole wing that was working with acupuncture, massage and qigong, and those sort of things, so there was a big opening and the integrative side of it has become very much more well known and really wanted by people.”

Jane points out Warrandyte has a wealth of resources and every person is unique, so it’s about finding the right fit.

“Warrandyte is fabulous, it’s a place where people are very much aware and more open than some areas I’ve been to, and it’s really heartening to see that,” she says. “For complementary therapies it’s about finding what resonates with you and the person who resonates with you and who understands your uniqueness. There are people in the Warrandyte area who are skilled in doing that.”
So step inside and find your perfect match…

Pantry full of joy

THERE’S nothing quite like the bond between mother and daughter. But for Warrandyte duo Helen and Kirsten it’s more than just family: it’s business.

The mother and daughter are the proud owners of The Joyfull Pantry, a gift hamper company that specialises in gourmet goodies and wine.

More than just a business or profit plan, The Joyfull Pantry is a flexible lifestyle choice for Helen and Kirsten; one that allows them to work closely together from their homes in Warrandyte and nurture that special bond.

“My mum is my best friend. We’d had a few different business ideas, but we both love cooking and we both love food, so [The Joyfull Pantry] seemed like a natural progression, a good idea,” daughter Kirsten says.

“We started the business after we had been making hampers for our friends and family at Christmas time each year. So we didn’t buy people gifts, we started cooking for them instead.”

What sets The Joyfull Pantry apart from other foodie institutions is its guarantee of wholesome and honest products, all sourced locally and made with organic ingredients.

“Our vision is to make everything that we possibly can, except for the wine and olive oil which we source from local producers. We try to keep our ingredients
as healthy as we can, all free
from pesticides and herbicides,
so it’s wholesome. We know the growers, so we know exactly what orchards our products are coming from and exactly what kind
of fruit is going into our jam,” Kirsten says.

“So we support local farmers and producers, and we’re reducing our carbon footprint at the same time.”

The Joyfull Pantry seems to be a little local business that can, with support and orders coming not only from Warrandyte, but from all across Australia.

“We’re always inventing new products to put into the hampers. We spend a lot of time taste testing and going around to farmer’s markets and finding all the products and ingredients, and then coming up with all the recipes, which we have so much fun doing.”

It’s something a little different for Christmas, but the hampers can also be purchased for other special occasions (baby showers, mothers day) and also as gifts for clients or co-workers. And while they’ve got their sights set on conquering the national market for gift hampers, Warrandyte is a place they’re proud to call home.

“We’ve got some great support from the Warrandyte Cellars, where we get a lot of our wine from,” Kirsten says.

“We’re also going to be doing some taste testing at the Warrandyte Market so that potential new customers can try our products before they buy them,” Kirsten says.

You can find more information and make purchases at thejoyfullpantry.com.au