News

Thousands turn out to defend Green Wedge

OVER THREE thousand people took to the streets of Eltham in a recent rally to protest the plans for Nillumbik Council to sell 17 parcels of public land.

The Council claims a lack of funding from State government for their plans to extend the Diamond Valley Trail and upgrade other sporting facilities as the reason why they have turned to the sell-off to get their infrastructure projects delivered.

But the community aren’t buying it.

Rally organiser Nerida Kirov from Save Community Spaces told the Diary that this flies in the face of the platform that Mayor Peter Clarke was elected on.

“This Council was elected on a platform of fiscal responsibility, they chose not to raise rates last year, despite the fact they knew costs would continue to increase”.

She says now Council are crying poor.

“The truth is that the rate of council debt is not high compared to other councils,” Ms Kirov said.

In an open letter to Council, State Member for Eltham Vicky Ward said that government have given Nillumbik Council $22 million dollars in the last few years for public infrastructure projects.

Ms Ward refutes claims that the government has not provided funding for the proposed works.

“The Andrews Labor Government has provided $1.2m for Stage 1 of the trail, an underpass for the rail line at Diamond Creek.

“This is in addition to $2.8 million for the Diamond Creek netball courts, $2.5m for the Diamond Valley Sports and Fitness Centre, $800,000 for Eltham Central Clubrooms and $416,650 for Marngrook Oval.”

Ms Ward called on Council to seek alternative sources of funding, such as from the Federal Government, rather than sell off the urban reserves.

The protesters are at a loss to understand the Council’s urgency to complete these projects.

“We don’t understand the rush to get this all done at once,” said Ms Kirov.

“The land that they want to sell is designated public land in the most built up part of the Shire, land that developers were required to set aside for public use.

“We are not against the walking trail at some stage, but not at the expense of public space,” Ms Kirov told the Diary.

Scholarship gives students a kick start

WARRANDYTE COMMUNITY Bank Branch scholarships for 2018 have been awarded to Eilish Kelly and Annie Marsh-Pearson, helping to supplement their study costs of higher education.

They join Alex Ward who is commencing her second year of scholarship funding whilst attending university in Ballarat.

The Warrandyte Community Bank Scholarship is part of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Scholarship program, which across the network has invested more than $6.5 million into helping 568 Australian students realise their higher education dreams.

Scholarships are awarded to first-time tertiary students whose circumstances might mean that a TAFE course or university degree is otherwise out of their reach, with funding being delivered over the first two years of tertiary study and first year of TAFE.

This is the seventh year Warrandyte Community Bank Branch has offered scholarships, and the first time applications were open to students attending TAFE, validating the Bank’s Board of Director’s commitment to supporting local youth in furthering their education.

“Our branch is proud of these young people looking to further their education by attending TAFE and university,” Aaron Farr, chairman of Warrandyte Community Bank Branch said.

“The calibre of applicants we had for this year’s scholarship highlighted that our young people are an absolute asset to our local community.

“We are pleased that our investment in Annie, Eilish and Alex’s further education will help them focus on their studies and help lay a solid foundation for success,” Aaron added.

Recently the chairman along with branch manager, Cheryl Meikle had the pleasure of meeting these three wonderful young locals when the bank announced its 2018 scholarship recipients.

Following the new protocol this year which has opened up opportunities for students attending TAFE, Eilish is the first recipient of a TAFE scholarship.

She is attending Holmesglen Institute and is studying an Advanced Diploma of Justice, a two year full time course.

She is hoping to end up in the police force or have a career within the justice field.

Annie has overcome major health issues which have had a significant impact on her secondary school years.

She is about to embark on her tertiary education after accepting a place in a Bachelor of Nutrition Science Course at Deakin University.

“I am grateful to Warrandyte Community Bank Branch for helping me to attend university and to follow my passion for paediatric dietetics,” Annie said.

Alex is in her second year at Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Ballarat.

She is continuing with a double degree in Nursing and Paramedicine.

The first year of scholarship funding enabled Alex to enjoy a smooth transition into university life.

It has helped her to meet the costs of living and studying whilst living out of home.

“Moving away from home was a big change for me.

“The scholarship ensured I was able to settle into university life without the added pressure of financial stress.

“I am truly grateful for this opportunity, as are my parents,” she said.

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) or a one off payment of $5,000 for TAFE.

To be eligible, applicants must meet various criteria including residing in the local area, be academically motivated, involved in the community and be able to detail financial or social challenges which hinder their ability to undertake further study.

Bridgeworks finally commence

THE LONG-AWAITED works to upgrade Warrandyte Bridge finally commenced on January 15.

Major traffic disruption is expected over two full weekends in March when the Warrandyte Bridge will be completely closed to traffic on the Saturday and Sunday.

There may also be another full weekend closure in July.

Although VicRoads has not yet decided which two weekends in March are designated for the closures, they have confirmed that the bridge will remain open for the Festival weekend of March 17–18.

Whisper around the traps is that they may avoid the Labour Day long weekend of March 10–12, which leaves the possibility of March 3–4 and March 24–25, although the actual dates will be confirmed in February.

Residents planning trips during March weekends may need to reschedule their activities or plan for extra time as crossing the river during those two weekends will involve a 25km long diversion through Templestowe, Eltham and Research.

VicRoads has also confirmed that these bridge closures will be postponed if the Fire Danger Rating for Central District reaches Severe or above, or on days of Total Fire Ban.

CFA captains Trent Burris of North Warrandyte and Adrian Mullens of Warrandyte have advised the Diary that the emergency services have been fully consulted and they are both happy with the arrangements.

In the event of fire callouts during these closures, supporting brigades will be called from the same side of the river as the incident.

Now that it has officially started, the works which subcontractors VEC Civil Engineering Pty. Ltd. will be undertaking involve:

• Increasing the number of traffic lanes on the bridge from two to three, with two lanes southbound.

• New footpaths, including a shared user path for cyclists and pedestrians on the west side of the bridge.

• A wider intersection on the north side with traffic lights at the intersection of Research-Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road.

• A new left-turn slip lane on Yarra Street eastbound for traffic turning left onto the bridge.

The worksite is at the Lions’ tennis courts on the southwest side of the bridge, and already some of the fencing has been demolished and contractors’ sheds and amenities installed.

Lions Club of Warrandyte president Jenni Dean told the Diary, “The tennis courts have not been well used recently and are a burden to maintain and run.

“We have been in discussions with Manningham Council and VicRoads and have agreed that the courts can be used as the worksite for the duration of the works, after which they will be turned into an outdoor fitness and recreation area.”

A spokesperson for Manningham Council’s Landscape and Leisure department, told the Diary that once the works were completed it was intended to completely demolish the worksite, tennis courts and fencing and turn the area into beautiful landscaped public open space with unrestricted access from the car park down to the Yarra.

Works undertaken on the weekend of January 20–21 saw the bridge taken down to one lane and an overnight power outage, works included:

• Removing light poles.

• Removing three trees on the south side.

• Removing sections of the road surface in preparation for a new surface

• Installing barriers and temporary yellow lane markings on the bridge, with restricted lane widths.

• Removing the pedestrian traffic island on the north side of the roundabout – much later a zebra crossing will be installed.

• Renewing the 22kV bundled electrical cable which spans the Yarra to the west of the bridge and relocating poles so as to be out of the way of the upcoming works.

Over the next few weeks, works will include installing scaffolding around the bridge and the temporary removal of the Queen of the Shire.

Until the work nears completion, there will be no access for pedestrians on the north side of Yarra Street to cross Kangaroo Ground road at the bridge roundabout.

Pedestrians will need to cross to the south side at the roundabout, walk past the bus stop, and cross back again on the other side, or use the river path under the bridge.

Canoeing at the festival… and more!

WARRANDYTE Festival organisers are pleased to announce that canoeing is back!

One of the keys in keeping a long-term community event like the festival in the ‘much loved’ category is to balance the mix of entertainment.

Canoeing on the Yarra was once a popular festival activity that began as early as 1979.

It delighted festival goers for many years, but was phased out of the programme due to insurance difficulties.

This year, Canoeing Victoria’s PaddleHub will provide easy to paddle, sit-on-top kayaks and qualified coaches and instructors over the weekend.

Offering supervised family fun on the water for all ages, PaddleHub will run hourly from 10:30am–3pm on both Saturday and Sunday. (Charges apply.)

Roving Entertainment

New this year at the festival, Manningham Council presents Polyglot Theatre’s Ants.

Polyglot Theatre is Australia’s leading creator of interactive and participatory theatre for children and families.

Ants is an interactive roving performance which has giant Ants bringing children together in a gentle and unusual landscaping project.

The creatures are half ant/half human, patrolling nooks and crannies in search of food, collecting objects and making friends.

You can see the Ants throughout the day near the Manningham Council tent, help them with their crumbs and make your own Ant antennae!

Film Feast

Warrandyte Festival and Striking Productions have combined to present another riverside staging of short films.

Live music and food will be available at Warrandyte Film Feast from 6pm on Friday March 16 at the Lounge on the Lower Riverbank.

Screening starts at 8pm. Opening film Children of Ignorance — written, produced and directed by volunteer Film Feast co-organiser Rosalie Ridler of Striking Productions — tells the story of an end of year work party.

There’s a lot going on: eating, drunken therapy, gossip and speculation over ‘Dave’s new mail order bride’ – not to mention a catastrophic event.

Starring a talented cast and crew, the story tackles racial profiling, sexism and prejudice in society.

Also included in this year’s eclectic mix, are two shorts written and directed by local filmmaker Ryan de Rooy.

Simon is a tragic story about a young, socially isolated boy who ventures to his local pub to have a drink with his best and only friend, Chris, but as the night dwindles, conflict arises, changing their lives forever.

In music video Dragon Blood, a bride, believing the spark in her relationship has perished, leaves a clue for her husband in the form of a cocktail umbrella, with hopes he will follow its path and reignite the spark.

Written and directed with his distinct brand of black humour, award-winning filmmaker Matt Miram’s Deep Sea Fishing demonstrates how, in the dating world, some people are just using the wrong bait!

People’s Choice prizes (sponsored by Palace Cinemas and local Internet experts Australia Online) will be awarded on the night.

Please note: none of the films to be exhibited have been classified in accordance with the Australian Classification Board. Content is varied, uncensored and may offend some viewers.

Generally, the films shown earlier in the first part of the event have family friendly content and are less likely to cause offence.

Tickets cost $15 and go on sale from February 1 until sold out. Contact www.trybooking.com/TPDU or visit TryBooking and search for ‘Warrandyte Festival’.

Art Show

Always popular, the 34th Warrandyte/Donvale Rotary Art Show hosts its gala champagne opening on Friday evening.

Festivities take place at the Warrandyte Community Church on Friday March 16 from 7pm–10pm.

A ticket costs $20 and includes supper and refreshments The Art Show Gala launches a weekend-long exhibition of artwork by local and interstate artists.

Weekend viewing of the Art Show extends from 9am–8:30pm Saturday and 10am–4pm on Sunday.

Grand Parade

Warrandyte Festival will be held over the weekend March 16–18.

The theme for 2018 is “Streets of our Town”.

Capturing everyone’s imagination on Saturday is the Grand Parade, with its costumed ensemble of schools, kindergartens, community and sporting groups gathered on Yarra Street to start the colourful walk to Stiggants Reserve.

On Saturday March 17 2018, Ringwood-Warrandyte Road/Yarra Street, (between Falconer Road and Harris Gully Road roundabout) will be closed to traffic from 10:30am until 12pm.

The parade kicks off at 11am. As usual, craft and produce market stalls will offer home grown, home sewn and home made goods.

Program

A full festival program and rundown of events will feature in the March edition of the Diary.

For general information, go to www.warrandytefestival.org

Scouts waterslide, kids’ market, the Grand Read. Battle of the Bands, billycarts… and canoeing!

Two stages.

Great music.

Be sure you get along to the festival that has it all.

Celebrating unbounded love

WARRANDYTE-BASED Marriage Celebrant, Lisa Hunt-Wotton was instrumental in helping Simone Gemmell and Rebecca Lauder become one of the first same-sex couples to legally marry in Australia.

Simone, who attended Warrandyte High School, and Rebecca had been engaged for three years and were six months into planning their commitment ceremony when the same-sex plebiscite was held.

The couple told the Diary how delighted they were when the same-sex marriage bill was finally passed. “This, to us, felt surreal.

“We didn’t think, with all the controversy, that Australia would actually come to the game and when they did it was a feeling like no other.

“We sat on the couch together, drink in hand and just took in what had just happened.”

Rebecca went on to discuss how, prior to the same-sex marriage bill, she experienced frustration in their inability to legally proclaim their commitment to each other.

“It was a constant reminder that we were different… it felt like our wedding, which was important to us, wasn’t as important to others because of the law.”

With the bill set to become law on January 9, Simone, Rebecca and Lisa had a new challenge to encounter, the date they had set for their original commitment ceremony was three days before the law would be passed.

Lisa was determined to make sure the couple could do it right, do it once and do it on the day they had planned to, so the celebrant immediately began studying the law to see if there was any way the women could legally marry before the bill officially came into effect.

“I called the girls and said that there were five reasons why the government would grant a change of date and that I thought they qualified for one of them,” says Lisa.

The couple made multiple trips to Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria and were given a decision on December 21, that they would be legally allowed to marry on January 6.

“It was truly a day we will never forget, a moment of sheer excitement,” the couple told the Diary.

Simone and Rebecca were married by Lisa, in front of all their friends and family, in Panton Hill.

“That day will always be the happiest day of my life, seeing her smile and signing those papers was our special moment for us to always have,” says Simone.

Rebecca added, “I’m the happiest I have ever been and words will never express what the YES vote has done for me, my partner, family, friends and children in the future.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart”.

Photo: Sigrid Petersen Photography