News

Great wall of Warrandyte

IN the April edition of the Diary, we outlined the intentions and goals of the Warrandyte Community Association’s recent project, the Writer’s Wall. Its stall over the festival week- end received an overwhelming re- sponse as people of all ages and areas expressed their hopes and visions for the future of our town.

Festival-goers were encouraged to complete the thought-provoking sentence: “I want Warrandyte to be…”

WCA president Dick Davies ex- pressed the association’s gratitude for the amount of quality feedback received.

“We were blown away by the re- sponse (over 500 comments on the actual wall, many more on its virtual counterpart via social media), not only the aspirations that were left on the wall but the discussions that they generated,” Dick said.

The voices of Warrandytians and other local residents have been heard as contributions have been compiled and categorised into com- mon themes by WCA project manag- er Kim Humphris.

“A major theme was to preserve the unique quality of Warrandyte: its environmental, heritage, cultural and sporting aspects,” Dick said.

This desire for Warrandyte to remain unchanged shows the level of appreciation and respect for our town as it is. A number of other positive adjectives were also thrown around as locals hope for Warrandyte to remain a wonderful, friendly, creative, happy and healthy place to live and visit.

Conversely, many seized the opportunity presented by the Writer’s Wall to draw attention to areas needing addressing within Warrandyte. Issues concerning infrastructure, the envi- ronment, pets and animals, subdivisions, communications and politics were among those most discussed.

Traffic management was one of the most frequently raised points on the Writer’s Wall. Locals unanimously agreed that something must be done to improve the worsening bridge congestion.

Suggestions to resolve this issue include building another/widening the bridge, joining the ring road to Eastlink, discouraging non-local traffic and improving public trans- port services. Although it is difficult to determine the viability of these suggestions, the abundance of like-minded responses makes it clear that the issue must be addressed in one way or another.

Another proposal for infrastructural development was to install more bike tracks/lanes and footpaths for pedestrians. Not only would this improve safety for all commuters, but also help to promote active and healthy lifestyles.

Many Warrandytians also expressed their hopes for a fire-safe future. Although Warrandyte will always be a vulnerable bushfire area, contributors suggested practical ways to minimise the risk. These included maintaining bushscape to reduce fuel, more accessible escape routes and increased fire awareness.

This vision is on the road to be- coming a reality largely due to the WCA’s pre-existing Be Ready Warrandyte campaign. While the aforementioned traffic congestion over the bridge still poses as a problem in a bushfire situation, Warrandyte has come a long way in recent years in terms of bushfire awareness and preparedness.

Let’s hope our progress as a community continues in the right direction.

A lot of negativity towards roaming household cats was also received on the Writer’s Wall, reinforcing the rele- vance of the WCA’s proposed 24-hour cat curfew. Evidently, the project not only gave voice to new visions for Warrandyte but also reaffirmed the validity of issues currently under discussion.

Cats were not the only household pets, however, to receive a bit of flack. Conflicting opinions arose regarding dogs in public situations, such as whether or not they should be kept on a leash in populated areas. This is likely to be a contro- versial subject, but still one entitled to consideration.

Other popular suggestions included improving Warrandyte’s mobile and internet connectivity, prohibiting the subdivision of property and to be more respectful of our native environment and wildlife.

The contributions gathered from the Writer’s Wall are to be presented to the wider WCA for continued conversation. Informed by the priorities of our community, the WCA will put words into action to ensure a brighter future for Warrandyte.

The common themes and issues raised will also be focus points in WCA’s regular discussions with local councils.

Dick is positive about the potential of this inclusive project to determine a unified vision for our town.

“We’re really excited at the opportunity this gives us to develop a collective vision for Warrandyte that we can share, support and implement, in partnership with all those who help to make this a very special place.”

Do we have drug problems?

A LARGE drug bust in Warrandyte and conviction of a local man late last year has shone a spotlight on whether there is a local drug problem, a hot topic of debate among residents recently.

Richard James Pollard, 32, of Warrandyte, was found guilty of commercial trafficking and sentenced in the County Court to 11 years jail with a non-parole period of seven years, four months in October last year.

The court heard Pollard trafficked a range of illegal drugs via the website Silk Road and distributed them by express post, including MDMA, ice, cocaine, ketamine and other assorted substances in what Judge Paul Lacava described as a “sophisticated drug-trafficking business”.

Pollard’s assets, including tens of millions of dollars in the electronic currency of bitcoins, were also seized by police. Pending appeals, it is believed these will be sold and monies raised will be directed to the state’s consolidated fund, which is used for recouping costs and issuing compensation to victims of crime by the Department of Justice.

According to Sergeant Henderson of Warrandyte Police “drugs are a problem everywhere, but we don’t see a large aspect of drug-taking and drug-dealing here”.

Sgt Henderson, who has also worked in inner-city areas, told the Diary that problems associated with alcohol and teenage binge drinking constituted a bigger local issue, and while illicit drugs are readily available throughout Melbourne, Warrandyte is relatively drug-free and “does not have a deeply-rooted drug issue”.

Sergeant Henderson attributes Warrandyte’s active sports club culture as being responsible for the town’s ability to remain largely unaffected by the ice epidemic faced by other Melbourne suburbs.

His advice for parents is: “Avoid the big divide – keep open lines of communication, without judgement, with your kids.” At the same time, he said it was not advisable to be friends with your teenage children, “You need to remain vigilant and aware of symptoms of drug-use as well as the company kids keep.”

What are your thoughts? Does Warrandyte have a drug problem? Join in the poll online at www.warrandytediary.com.au

Fire strikes our local

A SMALL fire at the Grand Hotel resulted in the evacuation of patrons and structural damage before being brought under control by the CFA.

Flames were localised to a section of the balcony bar, which was hosting a function at the time. According to manager Peter Appleby the origin of the fire hasn’t yet been determined.

Although the lives of patrons were not threatened, a level of panic was reached when flames and smoke became visible.

After the duty manager was informed of the smoke, the Warrandyte CFA swiftly arrived on the scene and were backed up by units from South and North Warrandyte.

Evacuation of the function was a well coordinated by the authorities in front of a curious crowd of locals who gathered to witness proceedings.

Staff member on the scene Nick Schlueter described the day as a “rapid change of events”.

“Despite a fire breaking loose and the whole venue evacuated, I was confident we would still continue to serve customers, which we did,” Schlueter said.

Damage to the premise was limited by an excellent effort by the CFA.

“Minor repairs are required to the balcony section and the carpet needs to be replaced in the public bar due to water damage,” Appleby said.

Valiant efforts by the chefs and staff had the pub looking presentable enough to open the bistro, which was undamaged, for dinner at 7pm on the night of the disaster.

The public bar re-opened on Monday and all resumed as normal Wednesday afternoon.

Staff, patrons and owners are all relieved that the danger was so swiftly controlled and are well aware things could have been much worse, especially Appleby.

“We are extremely grateful that all of our wonderful staff and customers are safe, and that this beautiful 120-year-old building, is still standing to continue to serve the community proudly.”

 

 

 

Festival of favourites

THE much-anticipated Warrandyte Festival has come and gone for another year. The sun shone, the arts were embraced and our royal monarchs Cherry and Joff Manders rode a pair of curious camels down Yarra Street. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Warrandytians gathered in their thousands to enjoy the weekend that trumps most out east. The atmosphere was buzzing and it was smiles all round as the spirit of the festival took hold.

The festivities began with Battle of the Bands on the Friday evening. All bands were talented – their stage presence was electric and the extent to which they banged their heads was admirable. AMIKO were lucky enough to take out the title this year, scoring a two-day recording contract in a professional studio.

The iconic parade down Yarra Street was a treat for everyone as always. Special guests including Cr Paul McLeish, the mayor of Manningham, and Cr Ken King, representing the mayor of Nillumbik, enjoyed prime viewing from the community centre balcony. Warrandyte’s veteran MP, Ryan Smith, was there to catch all the action too.

Our King and Queen were dressed to impress in their regal attire, yet still somehow managing to climb atop their chosen camels. Fortunately, their royal steeds were not spooked by the fire trucks or bagpipes and our monarchs rode forth safely … despite our Queen’s “Kingsley” looking a little frazzled in the early stages.

Of course, all of Warrandyte’s favourite community groups and services, sporting clubs and schools also took part in the parade with gusto. Well-known businesses Warrandyte Community Bank and Quinton’s IGA were in full festival spirit, as well as the Warrandyte Theatre Group standing out in their vibrant costumes.

The 2015 theme Smart Arts became increasingly apparent as many little artists from Warrandyte Primary and Anderson’s Creek emerged. Equipped with their berets, palettes or own artistic creations, these kids were clearly ready for the big weekend ahead.

It’s hard not to appreciate the cuteness of the local tots of Warrandyte’s kindergartens and preschools. Crowded into the back of their trucks turned floats, nothing was going to stop them from waving enthusiastically to their families.

Warrandyte Neighbourhood House also embraced this year’s theme through the acknowledgment and celebration of Deborah Halpern’s newly installed sculpture. Calling themselves the Community Queen’s of Shire, the ladies walked forward with much grace and style.

Once again, Peter Norman drove his blue 1954 Fordson Major. Peter and his tractor represent the Diary year after year and always do us proud.

As the parade concluded, it was time for everyone to head down to Stiggants Reserve to engage in more festival fun. The trickiest part was trying to figure out where to go and what to do first!

Given the theme, art was certainly abundant within the festival grounds. The unmissable ‘Fat Ladies’ and their companions the ‘Skinny Men’ were back once more, continuing to draw many admirers.

For curious young minds, ‘Smart Arts Central’ was undoubtedly the place to be. The workshop space was transformed from a circus show to a ukulele studio, to a drama theatre and more. The amount of audience participation and level of enthusiasm within the crowd was infectious.

There was no shortage of artsy activities and events within the reserve. Many stalls presented opportunities for the kids to make or engage with something creative, such as paint a communal blank canvas while waiting for your turn to ride a camel, or colour a plaster model to keep as a souvenir.

Keen young readers’ needs were met as a beautiful tree adjacent the main stage had picture books and colourful pom poms hanging from the branches. It looked majestic and the novelty of it made it very inviting. Somehow, reading a book hanging from a tree becomes so much more satisfying than reading one ordinarily.

Other community stalls also embraced the festival’s smart arts theme. The Warrandyte Uniting Church offered simple but effective plate decorating fun, while the Yarra Warra Kinder gave the option to do some cool bush-style threading.

A unique jewellery store ‘Name on a grain’ also sparked interest and suited the festival theme. With precision, the stall managers would write a name or word on a tiny grain of rice and encapsulate it within a small transparent pendant. The dainty result made for a wonderful gift.

For that matter, gift opportunities were everywhere: from soaps that look good enough to eat to home made terrariums and potted cacti.

While the kids were easily entertained, adults at the festival were also well catered for with food, drink and entertainment. It also offers a chance to catch up with fellow Warrandytians and others.

Festival-goers were once again spoilt for choice when it came to food. The event embraced multiculturalism as reflected in the available food options. Take your pick from Polish dumplings, Italian-style woodfire pizza, French crepes, Dutch poffertjes, authentic Indian curry, or maybe the classic Slovenian kransky in bread from the Warrandyte RSL.

Twistos, Korean-style twisted potatoes (those intriguing fried twists on a stick), were another popular option, and one of those novelties you almost feel obliged to eat in the spirit of the festival – similar in that way to the CFA’s famous hot jam donuts!

Once you made your all-important food choice, the time came to pick a stage and performer to listen and/or boogie to. The music scene was outstanding this year with a lot of talent across both stages and days.

The riverbank stage featured a diverse range of performers, from the lovable one-man-band Uptown Brown to cool indie rock band Pinball Machine. Great sound and enthusiasm all round.

The main stage of course gave all the local schools a chance to shine, but it was later in the evening when the party really started.

Melbourne-based band Jakubi got everyone up and dancing with their unique mix of hip-hop, reggae, soul and synthesised rhythms. Their energy was contagious and created a positive vibe.

After their performance, the band posted on their Facebook page (which has close to 20,000 likes) that there was ‘somethin’ crazy in the air last night [at the] Warrandyte Festival.’ Along with a video of Stiggants Reserve going wild, the guys also wrote: ‘Thank you so much to everyone that came out and destroyed that poor grass with us. So much love!!!’ Cue all the young girls’ hearts to skip a beat!

A new acoustic tent also found its place at the festival this year. The performers Dan, Tom and Ruby sung stripped back covers of songs as well as original material. Their music was a delight.

Warrandyte High School’s dog show and pet parade was a hit as always with no shortage of cute pups under the big red top. Much to the amusement of the audience, many pets got distracted when attempting to perform their best trick. But Claire Bloom was always sure to console owners and pets with an encouraging “good try”.

Simultaneously, the tension was building over at the annual billy cart derby. This year saw various well-designed vehicles, including a new type of cart, the reverse three-wheeler. As competitors were narrowed down, the onlooking crowd continued their enthusiastic support – in particular, the always-loud ‘CherryBomb’ cheer squad, who made sure everyone knew who they were rooting for.

While there were a few close calls, everything ran smoothly and there were no major collisions. St John’s Ambulance Service, in conjunction with the trusty mulch pile, stood by regardless to ensure the safety of all drivers.

If you have an interest in our town’s past, hopefully you were able to make it to John Hanson’s historical gold mine tour. John’s vast knowledge about our town’s founding gold miners was fascinating as always, and after a number years the tour remains popular among Warrandytians and visitors alike.

When it comes to wacky Warrandyte traditions, the iconic annual duck race is right up there. The tension was building on the riverbank as onlookers counted down from 10 to the release of the decorated ducks. Three, two, one… and the race was on! Tension subsides as the ducks float slowly downstream. Duck owners follow their progression from the riverbank, hoping their ducks took out the title.

Other market and community service stalls also made their annual appearance.

The CFA had a strong presence as usual, offering food, drink and information about the continued need for fire safety coming into the winter months. Many took the challenge of squirting the fire hose in an attempt to hit the target, or hugging it out with the life-size smoke detector.

Furthermore, what would the Warrandyte Festival be without the Eltham Steam and Stationary Engine Preservation Society? Or Woodcraft Manningham? Or the Scouts’ Giant Waterslide? These are the golden treasures that you look forward to seeing each year. Their presence evokes feeling of nostalgia for many.

As the festival drew to a close, we returned home tired and foot-sore but with fond memories of the weekend that was.

It is important to acknowledge all the hard work and preparation that went towards bringing the festival to life. A big thankyou and well done to the wonderful festival committee, the emergency service teams and everyone else who graciously volunteered their time. Once again, they coordinated another fantastic event. Your efforts do not go unnoticed!

Until next year…

Bank boost for youth

SIX Warrandyte students have been able to kick-start their further education with a scholarship from Warrandyte Community Bank.

Maddy Edsell, Josh White and Zac Ratcliffe have been announced as this year’s scholarship recipients and will join Mitch Dawson, Nik Henkes and Josh McMullen in their second year of financial support.

Passionate about the program, now in its fourth consecutive year, outgoing chairman Sarah Wrigley conducted the evaluation of the scholarship applications.

“We had a fantastic response to the call for applications again this year, our biggest year so far,” Sarah said.

“We had a number of very worthy applicants, and it was a hard decision.”

The Warrandyte Community Bank is proud to support students in their tertiary study. It is part of the branch’s commitment to building a stronger Warrandyte community and another way in which the bank is supporting local youth.

With $5000 to pay for study related expenses such as course fees, equipment, book and travel expenses the scholarship can help ease some of the financial burden.

“It’s a big step moving from school to university and is made much bigger if students have financial issues and other stresses,” Sarah said.

Other stresses have played a significant role in the lives of two of our young 2015 recipients with the loss of a parent. Josh’s mum lost her battle with cancer late last year.

He expressed his gratitude in telling the Diary: “Mum always dreamed of me going to university and chasing my dream job. With the Warrandyte Community Bank scholarship it will make this dream less stressful and more achievable.”

“$5000 will allow me to buy books, and commute to university without the stress of financial burden,” he added.

Josh, Zac and Maddy have all expressed sincere gratitude for the financial support awarded to them by the Warrandyte Community Bank.

Josh and Zac have commenced separate courses in Exercise and Sports Science and Maddy has started her four year degree in Occupational Therapy at Latrobe University.

Maddy sees her scholarship as an honour and a great relief, noting the connection between the bank and our community. She said, “Thanks to the Warrandyte community for supporting our Warrandyte Community Bank”.

In summing up, Sarah said: “I know the board is very proud of its ability to fund these three new scholarships and help Josh, Maddy and Zac in their academic endeavours.”

The annual Warrandyte Community Bank scholarship helps first-year university students on their path to tertiary education with a $10,000 bursary over two years ($5,000 each year). To be eligible, applicants must meet various criterion including residing in the local area, be academically motivated, actively involved in the community and be able to detail financial or social challenges which hinder their ability to undertake further study.