Meet our Von Trapps

WARRANDYTE youngsters Bronte and Kayla Muir are doing their hometown proud after being cast in the Melbourne revival production of The Sound of Music.

Bronte (13) and Kayla (8) beat out over 1000 other Australian child performers in their auditions to snag the roles of Louisa and Marta Von Trapp, two of the most coveted roles in the musical.

But the Muir girls are collected and composed when talking about the audition process, making it sound like a walk in the park.

“There were 1000 kids and they teach you songs and you sing the songs. And then you either get a call back or get kicked out. So then we learned some dancing and then there were more call backs, and more call backs and more singing…but it was really fun,” Bronte told the Diary.

“I was excited. They make it a really fun environment. They prep you up and they play games with you before you go into the room. They make it really fun and relaxed.”

At 13, Bronte is already a seasoned performer having being cast in the musical Annie! at the Regent Theatre in 2012. She says that after a while you “start to miss being up on stage”.

“Annie went for about four months, and after Annie finished it was really sad because we had made a family. My cast still catches up, which is really nice. But you miss being back on the stage and all that.”

The sisters are looking forward to performing at the Regent Theatre together, which they think is a “really cool” venue and will be a part of rotating child cast during the shows run, as to not miss out on their schooling opportunities.

As for their characters, Bronte and Kayla are excited to be playing Von Trapp sisters and getting to explore each characters individual personality on stage.

“Marta loves pink like me, and she’s really nice,” Kayla says, while Bronte is excited to explore Louisa’s “cheeky” side.

“Louisa is really cheeky. In the movie, she’s the one who puts all the toads in Maria’s bed. She’s the jokester and she likes to play tricks on people.

“And my favourite song is The Lonely Goatherd, it’s the one where they’re yodelling. It’s really fun to sing.”

The sisters are ambitious and have long and interesting careers in the performing arts ahead of them. They’re gaining experience and skill in a highly competitive industry that will certainly pay off in the years to come.

But at the moment, what’s most important to the girls in the friendships they’re making and the fun experiences they’re sharing.

“I think it’s going to be really cool, because we’re playing a big family with lots of brothers and sisters … so it’s going to be really fun having other brothers and sisters and dancing with them on stage.”

The Sound of Music is playing at the Regent Theatre from May 13. Tickets are now available from

Social Injustice

Facebook is fabulous but it’s flawed. That’s the general consensus. One thing is certain, it touches the lives of most of the Warrandyte community for better or worse. In a special series, this is the first part of a conversation ‘we needed to have’ as editor Scott Podmore gets the ball rolling. We invite readers to write in with your views in a bid to make our own social media community a happier and less damaging space.

SOCIAL media (noun): websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. That’s a simple definition with a complicated reality. One I can’t fit onto this single page when it comes to how awed it can be and the distress it can cause.

Social media can be fantastic. We can stay connected with old friends, romances are sparked for the lonely, humane causes can achieve peaceful or inspiring outcomes. We can express ourselves. A great example of the positive power of social media is when Facebook and Twitter became invaluable tools for millions of people caught up in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake five years ago and lives were saved. We’ve even had our own terrific examples of community pages helping those in need, tracking down a lost pet, as a communication tool when bush res strike, or to even have a laugh at a family of alpacas trying to catch a bus!

But the sad truth? An evil lurks within, and don’t we know it.

We’ve all had moments on Face- book when emotions get the better of us. Over the coming months I’ll speak to experts (real ones) in social media about shining a light on the darkness. It’s designed to catch your attention in the hope we can all find a way to achieve a goal together: and that is to be a little kinder on Face- book. It’s about creating an awareness around a very important topic that’s affecting us in different ways.

We need to start in our own back- yard here in Warrandyte in taking responsibility for our children, families, neighbours, schools and businesses with regards to what we post. There must be an ethical teaching behind it all, so let’s tap into some

substance when it comes to being responsible for our comments and behaviour and what we’re teaching our kids in what’s appropriate and what isn’t.

Most of you reading this right now know exactly what’s triggered this. It’s the elephant in the cyber room, or rather, elephants. We’ve seen it on our own community social pages, including the Diary’s. Without digging up too much detail, one example is the disgraceful personal attacks on conscientious people trying to create a constructive page to “ x the bottleneck” at the Warrandyte Bridge. Yes, the line was blurred in a few certain areas on freedom of speech or what some may call healthy cyber debate, but the bare facts of disgusting, threatening behaviour are there for everyone to digest and feel sick about; if you have a conscience, that is. It wasn’t designed to be the mouthpiece of the community or offend anyone, but rather a platform to have a discussion with the aim of achieving a positive result for one and all.

There are plenty of others that most of us know of. Local food outlets have been tainted by immature or irresponsible comments (just ask Grand Hotel Warrandyte manager Peter Appleby how funny the breadgate issue was and you’ll be met with a furrowed brow), and another young girl (who won’t be named) was so traumatised by attacks on a community page she became so depressed she refuses to be seen in public. At 14, she’s undergoing counselling and she’s not in a good way. Read that again. She is 14 years old. It’s not about whether she should be able to handle the comments, either, it’s all about how it makes her feel and the fact is she’s not in a very unhealthy and sad mental and emotional state.

This isn’t about who’s right or wrong and social media will never be a perfect science. But it’s about creating a positive ripple effect in moving towards a healthier state of social media behaviour in our own community.

Facebook, in particular, has clearly become a breeding ground for hatred, where emotions can explode and serious flaws in human behaviour unravel. It’s become a platform that can cause incomprehensible emotional anguish and distress. Comments in the heat of the moment so hurtful friendships are ruined forever. Businesses damaged because of one little bad moment. Marriages breakdown. Even worse … paedophiles using it as a tool to groom. A child even lmed the act of committing suicide and posted it on social media to send a message to those who mentally tortured him. It doesn’t get any more serious than that, just in case you thought for a second this may be an insigni cant topic. What if that happened to your friend? Or your child?

Every action of yours contributes, for better or worse.

Social media is in its infancy, constantly evolving and while there are some incredibly clever, effective and socially responsible workshops, causes, books and policies being borne, ultimately we’re the ones who need to take responsibility and tone it down. So take a deep breath, Warrandyte. Cyber-bullying and a downright nasty spate of personal attacks are happening right here in our own backyard. It’s up to us to fix it and that starts by thinking before you post and simply showing a little bit of respect for our fellow man.

Let’s share some thoughts from our community page or group leaders who have seen it all so far.

Bambi Gordon, of the Warrandyte Business and Community Group, says “people should behave on Facebook as they would if they were in a ‘real world’ situation”.

“You wouldn’t, in a real life situation, listen into a conversation and when you hear something that you don’t agree with just jump in and tell the person ‘You’re an idiot’ – and yet it happens on Facebook. Social Media is a tool for people to communicate – and that needs to be done with respect. We won’t all agree with each other. Just look at some of the infrastructure and development issues around the greater Warrandyte community and the wide variety of passionately held views for and against.”

Warrandyte Second Hand Page creator Debi Slinger says there’s a serious responsibility that comes with running a social media page or group.

“With close to 4000 members and running for three years, the WSHP has never tolerated rude, disrespectful or bullying behavior,” she says. “We regard our members as part of our community, our family. When you buy and sell, you have to remember that you’ll probably see these people at the IGA, your son’s footy match, your daughter’s netball game or at a local social function.

Yet Debi admits the page has encountered the “ugliness”.

“Worst examples include people telling us to f— off because we don’t know what we’re doing, saying ‘I know where you live!’ to which I replied, ‘That’s great, come over and we can have a cuppa together’. I try to diffuse things with sarcasm, humour or use my law background to legal speak them into understanding what they’ve done.

“Being nice to someone should be the default position for people – if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online. Freedom of speech is one thing – online trolling is another.”

The ripple effect of Facebook negativity can quickly take hold of a person’s frame of mind, even when they are perfectly jovial without a harmful bone in their body like my friend Josh Langley, author of Turning Inside Out. He told me how he chose to go 30 days without Facebook because of how much it was affecting him.

“It was another stupid post on Facebook that tipped me over the edge,” he says. “I can’t actually remember exactly what it was, it could have been another ignorant racist ‘F- — off we’re full’ kind of comment from one of my FB Friends or it could have been some joke that had been doing the rounds for the past two years and someone had only just discovered and thought it was really funny or it could have been one of those thoroughly annoying bait click articles designed to get millions of likes with headlines such as ‘watch this baby do something incredible with a hammer drill, brought tears to my eyes, best thing you’ll see all year!’

“I could literally feel the anger and annoyance rising up from my feet and my whole body started to tremble with fury,” Josh points out.

“I had a love-hate relationship with social media and Facebook, especially. It pushed all my buttons and I would find myself getting angry at the stupidest things and I’d have to pull myself back from the brink of pounding the computer to death and say ‘hold on, this isn’t real’ and sit back and take a chill pill.

“While I never attacked anyone or posted nasty comments, my mind was full of not so nice thoughts about how stupid most of the content was and that people didn’t have a life. I soon realised I was the one who didn’t have a life and I needed to do something about it otherwise I was going to be bitter and twisted just because of another cat meme.”

Social media is here to stay, but in its current state is not healthy. We need to clean it up and that starts with each individual being mindful of their own social media etiquette. It’s time to lead the way.

I welcome letters to the editor for a mature discussion about how we can make it better. It’s time to throw the negative crap in the toilet and ush it and focus on positive, constructive ways we can all alter our behaviour and set some smart, effective policies in place. While I haven’t been able to include all the feedback I’ve already received, I appreciate it and thank those wholeheartedly for their contributions via email and Facebook so far.


We talk to Kirra Pendergast of Safe On Social, a team of collaborating consultants with specific industry expertise and a focus on Social Media Security, Privacy and Risk Management solutions and training services.

Antony wins Cliffy

AT the end of last year the Diary launched a short story competition in honour of the paper’s founding father, Cliff Green.

Stories had to be 1000 words or less and about 30 entries were received, several of them fabulous tales by school-age writers.

Judges narrowed the field to three finalists who were recently announced at Warrandyte’s Grand Read: Robin Fitzherbert, Laura Wellington and Antony Pollock.

Before the big reveal, the Diary disclosed the winner of the competition’s encouragement award: 8-year old Keira Edmonds, for her story The Show.

(Keira will receive a $40 book voucher, plus free entry to an up- coming Eltham Bookshop writer’s event featuring Melbourne-based author of more than 90 books for kids and teens, George Ivanoff.)

The Diary is pleased to inform readers that the winner of the 2015/2016 Cliff Green Short Story Competition was Antony Pollock. He received a $200 book voucher and was also given the opportunity to read his entry The Hermit, about an old man who finds himself in a moral dilemma following his battle with a giant fish.

The Diary learned Antony had written the core of the story, which was somewhat poetic in style and rhythm, when he was 12.

“I’ve been at work on something with words my entire life,” said The Cliffy winner. “I initially trained and worked as a journalist on the Daily Mercury in Queensland, so got good experience there in writing stories.”

Adding, he’d had a “romantic view” of being a full time author for many years:

cliffy award“You know, the room above the bread shop in the old quarter, drinking coffee at an ancient sidewalk cafe while I produce the great novel,” said Antony. “But doing a PhD thesis in Classics at ANU shattered that myth for me. It took me seven years to do and was the hardest thing I have ever written. I now know writing full time is really hard and discipline is required.”

Antony said he is trying to use his thesis experience to produce fiction in a substantial way, but confessed he was still feeling his way as a writer.

“Writing is like a physical muscle: I am learning to write and am not very fit, so shorter stories are good for my level of endurance. Having said that, the story I am currently working on is five chapters and counting.”

The successful entrant described his win as “surprising”.

“It is the first writing competition I have ever entered, let alone won. Warrandyte is such a creative place, so to win here is something I think,” he said. “I was very humbled and honoured, to be honest.”

A relative newcomer to Warrandyte, Antony (who works in a Commonwealth department in Melbourne) said he moved here almost 12 months ago from Canberra with wife Jacinta and their two-year-old son.

“So we are Warrandytians now and I just love the alternative feel to the place, the small village like atmosphere, the friendly neighbours … the even friendlier possums!”

And we just love that Warrandyte has another would-be author in its mix of talented writers. See his award-winning short story below …

THE HERMIT by Antony Pollock

In the forest lived a hermit. He had lived in the forest for as long as he could remember and there was never a time when he did not seem part of the meadows and streams. He was an old man with skin as wrinkled as a prune and hair as white as the clouds which drifted across the sky. But his eyes remained young and were as blue as the sparkling sea. He wore a long robe which was as old as he was and he leaned on an old crooked staff when he was tired.

He lived in a small wooden hut beside a gurgling stream and drew his water from an old well nearby. But sometimes the water in the well froze over during winter and the old man knew then that times were indeed hard. He fed the deer and other forest creatures which left the woods to drink in the long summer twilights. In winter the deer gathered close to his hut looking for food and he fed them too. But some days, food was scarce and then both deer and the old man went hungry.

One day, the old man travelled high into the hills. A cold wind whipped through the trees and snatched at the old man as he gathered his cloak around him. Winter was coming and a chill ran through him. He walked for a day and a half, further than he had ever walked before. He spent the night wrapped in his cloak in the leaf litter beside a small fire and set off again in the misty dawn, leaning heavily on his old staff.

Presently he came to a small pond pooled like a glistening jewel in the hills. He had walked for a long time and was tired, so decided to camp by the pond. As he knelt to wash his face the old man saw a huge fish lying motionless just below the surface in the centre of the pond. It was an old fish with many marks and scars on its faded body and fins notched and torn. But his gills still pulsated powerfully and his flank rippled with muscle. Because he had travelled far and because he was hungry the old man decided to catch the fish.

So he drew from his pouch a line and his finest lure and cast it upon the water. There was a wet plop as it landed and the old man jiggled and teased it along the surface. No fish ever known to him could resist that. But resist it the old fish did and try as he might, the old man could not catch him. He tried every trick he knew. He cast the line long and drew in fast. He cast the line short and drew in slowly. He weighted the lure and let it sink before pulling it back to shore. He changed his lure then changed it back again. He fished and fished until the shadows lengthened and the late afternoon chill passed through his thin clothing and entered the marrow of his bones. He fished until he was spent and in his frustration and hunger waded into the water to shout at the fish. But nothing worked.

Soon the old man stood exhausted and empty by the pond, his lure and twine hanging limply from his hand. Twilight was fast approaching and the old man, dejected and defeated, looked at the fish. It was then that he noticed something he had not noticed before. The eyes of the fish were milky and stared into nothing and suddenly, like a flash of summer lightning, the old man knew. “He’s blind! He’s blind!” he shouted at the trees. And so it was with shadows lengthening and evening drawing close that the old man discovered the secret of the fish. In its old age it had gone blind. He could not see the fine lure case before him let alone see to bite it.

In the end, it was simple. The old man replaced his lure with a fat grub he dug from the soil and let it sink slowly in front of the old fish. The fish smelt the grub, bit and was caught. In his agony he thrashed on the end of the line. He dived to the bottom of the pond and leapt high into the air trying to dislodge the awful hook. But try as he might he could not release himself and soon lay gasping on the ground, his long life finally ebbing away in the twilight.

At first the old man whooped with savage joy. But then as he watched the old fish dying on the ground, his flanks heaving and quivering, he was overcome by deep sadness. For years this creature had lived peacefully in the pond growing blind in his old age. He had seen many winters and each passing of the season wrote another chapter on his body full of scars and crevices. And he was killing him.

Suddenly the old man could not stand it and he reached down and twisted free the hook from the great head. He lifted the fish and plunged it into the pond, moving him gently through the water. At first nothing happened and the man was afraid he had killed him. Then a fin twitched, then another. As evening fell the fish slowly revived and as he watched him swim away the old man felt a deep release and sighed with pleasure.

That night he slept peacefully wrapped in his cloak under a thousand twinkling stars. In the moonlight in the centre of the pond the old fish hung motionless in the water as he had for countless nights before. In the morning the old man made his way back up the trail and by the time the sunlight hit the surface of the shining pond, he was far away. Not once did he look back.

Bridge of confusion


THE announcement of changes to the Warrandyte Bridge reported in last month’s Diary has polarised the Warrandyte community.

While some residents are applauding VicRoads’ plan, there are many who are unhappy with the lack of community consultation.

President of the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) Dick Davies said there had been a huge backlash over a lack of community engagement.

“It doesn’t really matter whether people were in favour of it or against it or want Warrandyte to remain the same. I think they have managed to antagonise most people because there wasn’t any community consultation,” said Mr Davies.

One plan that was mooted in the community forum last November, but is now seemingly discarded by VicRoads, was for another bridge for use during emergencies from Reynolds Road to Blackburn Road.

Jan Freemen, who has set up a petition to gather support for the second bridge concept, is angry authorities have made their mind up without asking the community.

“The state government seems hellbent on a solution in Warrandyte which many do not agree with,” she said.

State Minister for Roads, Luke Donnellan, and Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Shaun Leane, have highlighted the re evacuation benefits with both citing modelling which will see evacuation times reduced.

“This plan will potentially reduce emergency evacuation times for drivers travelling south over the bridge by up to 90 minutes,” said Mr Leane.

Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith said while he has had some very positive feedback about the plan, it was disappointing that community consultation did not eventuate.

“I still think there is an opportunity to put a public meeting in place so people can retrospectively talk about what they would like to see as enhancements to the proposal,” he said.

Since the announcement several Facebook groups have been the scene of heated discussion, some in support of the plan and others vehemently opposed to the changes to the bridge.

There is major confusion over whether the changes are being implemented to ease the notorious morning traffic congestion or as a public safety measure in the event of bushfire.

Spokesperson for the Facebook group Save Our Bridge, Sasha Reid, told the Diary the changes were being promoted as a public safety initiative, which is contradictory to the CFA’s leave early message.

“It’s being presented as a solution to doomsday catastrophic fire scenarios and if there are days when that is possible, such as Black Saturday, then perhaps people shouldn’t be here,” Ms Reid said.

Local fire brigades are also skeptical of the value of the changes in a bushfire scenario, Captain of North Warrandyte CFA, Mick Keating, high- lighted the fact there is more to an evacuation plan than getting over the bridge.

“It doesn’t matter what they do at the bridge, the problem is with the roads on the other side of the river, the feeder roads are only single roads, you can’t get lots of cars out of the area because the roads just don’t handle it – build a freeway along Yarra Street and you’ll be able to get all the cars out – but Yarra Street isn’t going to take all the cars out of the area very quickly either, so again you go back to getting out early,” Mr Keating said.

Warrandyte CFA captain Adrian Mullens agrees the supporting roads won’t allow a faster egress.

“If you had road infrastructure either side of the bridge that would be capable of coping with the traffic, but you haven’t got it,” Mr Mullens.

Hope that the changes will ease the morning peak hour are also meeting scepticism; spokesperson of the Fix the Bottleneck Facebook group, Jennie Hill, sees it as only a partial solution, but needed for the immediate needs of North Warrandyte residents.

“For the people sitting in kilometres of traffic every morning trying to get their kids to school, I see the bridge widening and lights as a short term fix, and now we have to start working towards the long-term fix,” she said. And the long-term fix in many people’s eyes is the completion of the M80, however most concede even an optimistic timeframe for the Ring Road solution is at least a decade. WCA’s Dick Davies is hopeful VicRoads will return for more consultation and has offered to facilitate a community forum.
“Given that they are going to do something, what’s the best thing? You need to listen to the people who actually use the road, and of course everybody has got different views depending on where people live and what time they use the road, whether they are taking kids to school or going to work or what ever you know and if you listen to people you will find out what their views are,” Mr Davies said.

“It’s no good saying ‘it’s better to have the Ring Road’ – well it is better to have the Ring Road, but it’s not going to happen, not in the near future, so really we have got to try and work on the best design.”

Phase 1 of construction is due to begin in August with traffic lights being installed and a widening of the intersection of Kangaroo Ground and Research roads.

New model Green machine


WHEN we heard there’d been a new signing, and the name Shelby Green had been dropped, we wondered which women’s soccer team had ensnared the up and coming North Warrandyte local and granddaughter of Diary founder Cliff Green.

Further digging revealed the athletic youngster was the centre of a very different signing. Australian fashion icon Chadwicks Models, with over 30 years in the industry, believe Shelby’s striking features and hard-working attitude just might make her the next big thing in an arena, keen to portray a fresh, healthy image for young Australian women.

“Shelby joins a select group managed and promoted by the highly respected company,” Chadwicks booker Nathan Rossenrode told the Diary.

“As agents we are always on the lookout for talent who possess an individuality that will stand them apart from their modeling peers. When I first saw Shelby I was struck by her uniqueness, she possesses a different kind of beauty from many girls we represent.

“Apart from her physical attributes Shelby is also a very articulate and intelligent young woman. As models, it’s important to have a confidence. Beauty can only take attitude and personality that takes you to that next level. Shelby is still very young, but is confident and has a maturity beyond her years.”

Shelby’s soccer is also on the up and up. After a season with the Victorian state team at the National Training Centre and a successful nationals competition at Coffs Harbour, the fast running full back is now a proud member of the Bulleen Lions Women’s National Premier League side for the 2016 season.

Balancing school, soccer and a potential modelling career will provide quite a challenge, but the focused 15-year-old told the Diary: “I’ll just have to prioritise everything, be organised and get things done, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to see where this (modelling) might lead me.”

And when asked how she might find standing in a bathing suit in a cold day? “No problem, try smashing into grown women, on a six degree day in the middle of a wind-swept soccer pitch.”

The Diary will be keeping an eye out for Shelby, whether she be shooting goals or featuring in fashion shoots. There’s no limit to what this third generation Warrandytian can achieve.