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Grassroots sport focus of new Nillumbik budget

At the end of June, Nillumbik will adopt their 2018/19 annual budget.

Submissions from Nillumbik residents were being accepted during the month of May.

If the draft budget is adopted, this is how it will affect the Shire’s 64,000+ residents over the next 12 months.

Rates are always at the forefront of residents’ minds and there is a proposed rate increase of 1.95 per cent.

Nillumbik’s municipal rates charge, which was previously a separate and fixed charge of $95.84 per property has been “abolished” and subsequently absorbed into the general rates charge.

The ban by China on foreign waste which has impacted many municipalities will not impact the 2018/19 budget.

There is a $0 increase in waste management charges for Nillumbik households, which is in contrast to neighbouring municipalities which have seen an increase on their waste charges of around 20%.

Both Manningham and Yarra Ranges councils have attributed this increase to the impact of not being able to on-sell recyclable waste to China.

This is good news for Nillumbik ratepayers who are already paying higher rates for their kerbside waste collection, but it is also worth noting that Nillumbik’s ability to keep waste collection rates at 2017/18 levels could be attributed to the Shire’s generous recycling policy, which allows residents to recycle plastic bags and other soft plastics such as bubble wrap and plastic wrapping from food and appliances.

At present, residents of Manningham are required to place these materials in their general waste bin.

The “Green Wedge Shire” has sport and infrastructure as key projects on their agenda for the next financial year.

$32.246M has been set aside in the 2018/19 budget for these projects, key projects within this budget include:

• Diamond Creek Netball Club Pavilion
• Eltham Central Park oval pavilion upgrade
• Research Park Sports Pavilion
• Hurstbridge Line Overpass

Some money has also been set aside in the Council coffers for the Diamond Creek Trail extension — a project which will connect the cycle trail network all the way to Hurstbridge.

These projects cannot proceed without additional income from State Government.

In April 2018, Nillumbik Council announced they had successfully lobbied the Victorian Government and secured an additional $400,000 through the Growing Suburbs Fund, which is on top of a previous grant of $800,000 from State Government.

In April, Mayor Peter Clarke said, “Nillumbik Council will now have access to this important funding stream, along with an additional $400,000 to improve facilities for the Eltham Football and Cricket Clubs.”

The granting of funds from State Government came at the eleventh hour for Council when it was considering selling 17 parcels of Council land (including a number of reserves) which was strongly protested by Nillumbik residents.

As reported in the April Diary, Cr Clarke had indicated that additional funding was required for the development of leisure and infrastructure in Nillumbik and lobbying state and federal government to help foot the bill is preferred to selling off large amounts of land.

“As a result of our lobbying efforts we are now starting to crack open funding opportunities that may result in us being able to preserve these community assets, while at the same time delivering on new and upgraded community facilities.

“Our success in securing these funding opportunities has relieved pressure on Council to have to sell all 17 sites,” he said.

Projects such as developing sports pavilions and extending the Diamond Creek Trail will still require more funding than Council has put aside.

The 2018/19 budget reports that council may have to look at land sales as a way to generate funding for future Capital Works.

48 submissions were made to Council concerning the 2018/19 budget.

Many of the submissions declared support for the $1.5M Council earmarked for land acquisition for the Diamond Creek Trail extension,

There were also many voicing anger at Council for a lack of information about funding for Yarrambat Golf Course.

The Nillumbik Council Officer responded to all submissions concerning Yarrambat Golf Course with this statement:

“Council can confirm capital works will be undertaken during the 2018-19 financial year to the Golf Course.
In addition to the works and part of the maintenance program Council will be planting 500 trees around the facility.
Council continues to review the entire capital works program on an annual basis, this process includes (but is not limited to) assessment of renewal gap requirements, compliance with statutory obligations and consideration of future needs.
Specifically, with regard to the Yarrambat Golf Course ongoing review of the facility is continuing and should urgent works arise during the year they will be considered by Council.”

In terms of major projects, with Council’s focus on developing sporting grounds and infrastructure in the more urban areas of the Shire, there is not much in it for residents in more rural areas such as North Warrandyte, Bend of Islands or Christmas Hills.

In light of the $307M political football kicked by State Government Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, which promised the Coalition would fund the duplication of the railway line between Greensborough and Eltham, Nillumbik’s $1.7M Hurstbridge Line Overpass could indicate further disruption to Warrandyte residents and Bridge users, similar to what was seen in March and April of this year during the Clifton Hill–Greensborough upgrade.

McMansion fears in Christmas Hills

MELBOURNE Water has announced it plans to sell-off 1000 hectares of land in Christmas Hills following a decision not to proceed with the Watson’s Creek Storage Reservoir.

Melbourne Water has engaged consultants, Spiire Australia to prepare a study for the land previously identified for the reservoir.

The project team called for submissions late last year and has now embarked on a period of community consultation.

During a series of information sessions held last month, Associate Planner at Spiire, Erica Fox, told attendees a decision had been made by Melbourne Water that the reservoir was no longer practical to build, therefore legislation dictated that the land must be divested from the authority’s land holdings.

The project team were frank in their advice to the meeting that some form of change is inevitable.

“There will be change in the study area, because you are going from publicly owned land that has essentially been locked up for 40 years to land that is privately owned,” Ms Fox told residents.

“To sell that land we need to ensure that it is in the appropriate zone which means it can no longer be in a Public Use Zone, something that only applies to public land and it needs to be put into what we call an underlying zone,” she said.

The divestment also frees up the privately held land that was under a Public Acquisition Overlay.

At the meeting, a number of options were presented to the community to gather feedback on the most appropriate zone to be applied to the area, and how to restructure the existing 112 lots that are currently owned by Melbourne Water.

Residents were told that 280Ha will be transferred to the Warrandyte Kinglake Nature Conservation Reserve, however the remaining 720Ha will be sold off on the open market.

“The land use study provides direction on appropriate planning controls and subdivision patterns, reflect the area’s constraints and opportunities; they will be implemented by a planning scheme amendment,” said Ms Fox.

Residents of Christmas Hills have voiced their concerns, firstly about the consultation process, but also that the sell-off will impact the character of the small rural community.

Spokesperson for the Christmas Hills Community Group, Veronica Holland, told the Diary what Melbourne Water were offering was either a “bad choice or a worse choice”.

“There has been no attempt to look at what Christmas Hills is and what it can offer the future planning of Melbourne.

“Melbourne Water has seen it as an opportunity to carve it up into smaller blocks and make money out of it.

“So we don’t agree with what they are doing, but these sessions have been designed not to include any discussion about anything other than Melbourne Water’s preferred option,” she said.

Media Manager for Melbourne Water, David Walsh told the Diary the way that it is planned to be broken up will potentially end up with between 18 and 30 new dwellings.

“It is a big area, but with the constraints, there will not be a massive amount of development taking place,” he said.

Local resident Sandy Jeffs disagrees, for the community of only 300 people another 20–30 houses is around a 20 per cent increase in the number of people living in the area.

“It is a big influx of people,” said Ms Jeffs, “people will build McMansions and try and cut the trees down and bring their horses and have their hobby farms.

“The whole character of Christmas Hills could change — it is a mix of rural and bushland, people nestled away in behind — you don’t see all the houses, and for us it is going to be a change of character,” she said.

A statement issued by Nillumbik Council to the Diary noted that any zoning decisions will be made by the State Government, it would not be a Council decision.

However, should permission to rezone be given, then further permission for any future housing would still need to be sought from Nillumbik Shire Council.

“We will continue to advocate for sensible planning outcomes consistent with land use in the area, with Council having a management role over the Rob Roy facility which should remain as Crown land,” the statement said.

“We are currently considering the various draft options by Melbourne Water as well as views of our community that have been expressed throughout the process to date.

“We will make our views known to the water authority and the community after thorough consideration,” it continued.

Last year the State Government brought in changes to the bushfire regulations which Ms Fox said have changed the requirements for land that is to be rezoned or subdivided.

“It needs to meet more stringent requirements for bushfire protection, previously we could meet BAL19 … because of the change to the legislation in late November, we now have to meet BAL12.5 which means a much larger area of defendable space is required.

“The result of this is that we have gone back and re-looked at the bushfire constraints for this area to work out the areas that no longer meet those requirements.

“So it has resulted in additional lots that won’t be able to be developed from a bushfire perspective,” said Ms Fox.

She told the meeting that many of these undevelopable lots will be marketed as “undevelopable lots” which could be suitable as offset properties, where the land will be set aside to offset land clearing in other areas.

The meeting included a round table discussion where residents could discuss the plans at a block-by-block level, establishing a preference for different zoning in each precinct, and how the various lots should be consolidated to allow the best outcomes both for the existing community and for the future development of the area in line with Green Wedge provisions.

Many options were a choice between RCZ3 or RCZ4 — either 8Ha or
40Ha blocks.

Veronica Holland believes this consultation and the subsequent internet survey treats the residents of Christmas Hills “like sheep”.

“There is no opportunity for deviating from agreement with Melbourne Water’s preferred option; no chance to object to rezoning of land to RCZ3 and the subsequent development of a small hobby farm, no chance to look at Christmas Hills as a whole,” Ms Holland said.

“At no point in the process has the vision or opportunity been looked at.

“Melbourne Water has manipulated the consultation process and almost cherry picked the planning scheme to support what they want to do, which is to maximise their financial gain.”

David Walsh says that Melbourne Water has to fit in with the Nillumbik planning scheme, “we cannot do something different through here because it was our land, it all has to comply with the planning scheme,” he said.

“People love what they have got at the moment, and what we are trying to do is make sure anything we do stays in line with the current feel of the area.”

Veronica Holland said it has been the long drawn-out decision on the dam that has forged the character of Christmas Hills in the first place.

“Ironically it is because Melbourne Water put on the Public Acquisition Overlay meant that it escaped the eagle-eye of speculative developers and people who wanted to build their McMansions… introducing hobby farms will bring people with urban expectations into the area… they will destroy the landscape and, because many of those blocks have nice views, you can see that they will attract people who want to build their McMansion to take advantage of the nice views and don’t realise that the view out destroys the view in,” she said.

“For so long it was up in the air and they hadn’t made a decision, said Sandy Jeffs, “so for us, we have been there 40 years, it has been 40 years of bliss because they hadn’t made a decision.

“It is Christmas every day here in Christmas Hills, we worry that as the roads are upgraded there are more houses more traffic more people it just brings in another level of complexity that we don’t want”.

Not all residents are pessimistic about the future of Christmas Hills, Narelle Campbell, from community group Rural Link told the Diary that she believed it would be “much better than another dam, which is what the land was bought for”.

She said the Melbourne Water proposal “appears to be balanced and reasonable and makes a genuine effort to consider the social, economic and environmental challenges”.

“We are pleased that a mix of landholding sizes and types is recommended, that rural residential lots are planned to be of suitable size for development, that the State Park allocation is progressing, and public spaces like Rob Roy, the Community Hall and tennis court are left in situ for the community.

“We will continue to work with Melbourne Water to promote the sustainability of the rural Nillumbik Green Wedge.”

Veronica Holland hopes a compromise can be reached.

“I am trusting in the Green Wedge Provisions, the planning provisions … I think it is possible that Melbourne Water can get quite a few very saleable lots without destroying the integrity of Christmas Hills as it is now.

“We want to preserve the integrity of the area — we want to preserve the idea of the scattered settlement and we don’t want to ruin the landscape value of the area, but we do want people to see it is such an asset in terms of its biodiversity and its high environmental values.”

There will be a long process before the final decisions have been made, as Erica Fox explained:

“Because Melbourne Water is a government authority, any land it seeks to sell needs to go through the Government Land Planning Service and that land service acts as an independent planning panel to assess and review the proposed Planning Scheme Amendment and the master plan we are proposing.

“It will then provide its own period of public consultation.”

She told the meeting the planning service will have a six-week submission period followed by a series of panel hearings that are anticipated to occur later this year.

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Val Polley honoured

CONGRATULATIONS to Val Polley, doyen of the Warrandyte community, who has been named in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Awarded an Honorary OAM for her “services to the Warrandyte Community”, which recognises her tireless work over a period of almost 50 years.

“I have to say it came as a complete surprise and I’m touched that others have thought me worthy of it,” Val told the Diary.

President of the Warrandyte Community Association, Dick Davies, told the Diary: “While many, many personalities and identities contribute greatly to the Warrandyte Community, it is hard to match Val’s long-term dedication as a planner, environmentalist, historical society stalwart, former Councillor and Mayor, and one of the founders of the WCA.

“Two major themes underpin her commitment: concern for residents and concern for the environment,” he said.

Val said her participation in community affairs started early when she was drawn in by local activist Joy Henke back in the late 1960s.

“It started with environmental issues and with groups such as the Warrandyte Environment League and Friends of Warrandyte State Park,” she said.

Since then she has long been actively involved in all local conservation activities: as a founding member of the Warrandyte Environment League (1970–75); as a committee member of the Yarra Valley Conservation League (1972–78); and since 1982 until today she is celebrated as a founding member of the Friends of the Warrandyte State Park (FOWSP).

In the wider community she has been equally active: 1972–78 council member of the Warrandyte Primary School and Anderson’s Creek Primary School; 1978–87 Council member of Warrandyte High School, as president from 1985–87 she was responsible for planning and oversight of the new buildings.

From 1976–78 she was a founding member and president of Doncaster and Templestowe Spinners and Weavers Group.

In the late 90s she was an OXFAM community support group member, as well as director/secretary of the Warrandyte Community Centre Supporters Group Inc., which managed the property on behalf of the Council.

Since 2001 she has been a member of the Warrandyte Community Association, where she was a Committee member from 2004–7 and president in 2006.

She also found time in 2003–4 to be a founding director of the Warrandyte Community Bank.

Val campaigned for many years, for the “Creekside” retirement complex.

In the past, because of the local terrain, elderly residents had been obliged to leave their homes and friends in the local community for more manageable properties elsewhere.

The project was first mooted in 1987, and she made it a central theme of her successful campaign to be a Doncaster and Templestowe Councillor.

“The fact that it took another 20 years before realisation is testament to Val’s early commitment and resolution to further community benefits,” said Dick.

Val continues to work for the cooperative to search for appropriate land for further residences.

Val has long been involved with Local Council activities.

From 1977–79 she was a member of the Doncaster and Templestowe Arts Advisory Committee, and from 1988–89 a member of the Warrandyte Township Improvement Study Committee.

Val was elected as a councillor to the City of Doncaster and Templestowe Council, serving from 1989–94, and as Mayor from 1991–92.

As a councillor with residential and environmental interests at heart, she supported strategic planning for heritage properties and open space, roadsides, and residential and commercial centres complemented by rate reductions.

She opposed dual occupancy, which would have increased housing density in a major bushfire prone area.

Val chaired a study on the heritage of the Old Warrandyte Post Office building; which was eventually restored and now houses the Warrandyte Historical Society.

She was involved in long-term planning for the Warrandyte Township and served on the Middle Yarra Advisory Committee, helping to save Green Wedge land in Park Orchards and Warrandyte, now enjoyed as part of the ‘lungs’ of the eastern suburbs.

Val also served on a Plant Pest Advisory Committee to safeguard the local environment and State Park from invasive weeds.

Val is currently Secretary of the Warrandyte Historical Society and has been an archivist and occasional committee member since 2005.

She has been instrumental over the past five years in the strategic direction, planning and procedures of the Society.

“She liaises with numerous external bodies and people, develops outstanding exhibitions, keeps history alive with articles in the Warrandyte Diary — she is truly a driving force behind the Society,” said Dick.

Val recently celebrated the Warrandyte Community as author of Wonderful Warrandyte – A History.

From 1987–88, Val was chief-of-staff of the Warrandyte Diary, and she continues to be an occasional feature writer celebrating local life, history and local identities.

Given that during this period Val had full time senior management employment and a family to bring up, it is difficult to appreciate how she found the time to contribute so much.

“She continues to do so, effectively and with such good grace and general approbation, that she is a role model for effective liaison between Government and our local community,” said Dick.

Val says she feels “privileged to live in Warrandyte… and to be part of such an inclusive, vibrant community.

“My involvement across various issues and organisations in the township has always led to friendships, new skills and a sense of satisfaction in putting something back.

“Looking back, it’s been such a rewarding journey with great people and good outcomes along the way.

“How lucky are we in Warrandyte?,” she said.

“Without such people, with the personality and skills to make things happen, well-meaning local initiatives are ineffective,” said Dick.

Val was granted an “honorary” award because she is not an Australian citizen.

Your Park needs you


MANNINGHAM Council are currently seeking submissions from the public regarding their draft masterplan for Lions Park.

Council are planning for what is to come once the bridgeworks are complete and the former tennis courts-cum -bridgeworks work site is no longer required.

In March this year, Manningham Council asked the public for their ideas regarding the future of the site and are now asking for further input from the community based on their interpretation of the feedback they received.

If adopted, the draft plan (pictured below) would open up the area next to the bridge – formerly the site of the Lions’ Tennis Courts – and connect it to the car park on the other side of the bridge.

The plan would improve pedestrian access between the road and the river and allow people to cross under the bridge without having to go all the way down to the river trail.

There is also a plan for additional picnic tables and barbecues, which would make this area of the river more attractive to day trippers and family picnics.

The plan is to start commencing development of this new park space mid-2019, after the Bridge is completed, however the public consultation phase ends next week.

This park is for current and future visitors and residents and we have been given an opportunity to, at least, voice our opinion of how we want to see this area of the river utilised.

To have a detailed look at the draft masterplan and to have your voice heard, please visit the Manningham YourSay website before  5pm on Monday June 18.

Large turnout at 103rd Anzac Day


Photo: STEPHEN REYNOLDS

DESPITE THE dwindling ranks of veterans, numbers continue to swell to commemorate Anzac Day.

On April 25 around a dozen former serving soldiers, sailors and airmen gathered at Whipstick Gully for the annual march to the Warrandyte RSL.

They were joined in their journey by an over 100-strong contingent of family, friends and community members. Representatives of all levels of government joined the march, led by a WWII Indian motorcycle together with lone piper, Casey McSwain.

Police, CFA, the Warrandyte Football Club as well as Scouts and Girl Guides showed their respect for servicemen and women by joining the march along Yarra Street, an effort that was appreciated by WWII veteran Don Haggarty.

“It is so good to see the young people here,” he told the Diary.

His son, Chris Haggarty, a volunteer at South Warrandyte CFA agreed, noting that it is important for the young people to “help keep the tradition alive”.

State Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said that he commends the RSL for allowing “the evolution of the march to include family members who are here to support the veterans”.

The children who participated in the parade had been learning the history of Anzac Day and the Gallipoli campaign in the lead-up to the commemoration.

“We are here to remember the Anzacs from Gallipoli,” one young Guide said, proudly displaying her knowledge that Anzac stood for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

As the marchers stepped off they were encouraged along the route by an estimated 200 people lining Yarra Street, and met by a further 800 people to participate in the commemorative service.

The Catafalque Guard was provided by Melbourne University Regiment and as they took their positions around the cenotaph, RSL president David Ryan commenced the service. Mr Ryan noted that it was the 103rd anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli “where hundreds died and thousands were injured”.

The gathering also commemorated 100 years since the second battle of Villers-Bretonneux on the Western Front “where Australian and British troops drove the Germans out of the town in a daring night attack at a cost of 1500 casualties”.

The Bellbird singers provided musical leadership for the hymns and anthems sung during the service, and Barry Carozzi performed the stirring Eric Bogle ballad, In Flanders Field. A very moving address was read by John Byrne.

Mr Byrne concluded his address with the poem A Soldier Died Today.

David Ryan said he was delighted to see the large crowd turn out to commemorate “the sacrifice that men, women and families at home and abroad have endured from pre WWI to today with the War on Terror, United Nations and humanitarian conflicts”.

Mr Ryan told the Diary, he was delighted with the growing turnout, “I am just relieved that we didn’t have the problems with vandalism we had last year”.

Page 18-19 of the May Warrandyte Diary has a full colour photo spread of the day and a transcription of Mr Bryne’s speech

Drains, paths and bins at centre of budget


FOOTPATHS and drainage were at the top of Manningham Council’s agenda when they unanimously adopted, in principle, the 2018/19 budget at the April 24 council meeting.

The draft budget includes an additional $1.5M to footpaths and $1.5M to drainage in their respective department budgets next financial year as part of an ongoing maintenance and improvement scheme.

This additional $3M is also part of Council’s four-year $10.5M plan to improve footpaths and drainage across the municipality. Highlights for Warrandyte are:

• Funds for finishing Warrandyte’s second “missing link”, connecting Warrandyte to the Main Yarra Trail with a new shared path.

• The final design of the Melbourne Hill Road drainage upgrade is earmarked for completion by September 30 this year.

On the other side of the ledger, there will be a rate increase of up to 2.25%.

China’s ban on foreign waste import, which has left many local governments across Australia floundering, means Manningham now has to pay $720,000p/a for waste and recycling to be removed whereas previously the council was given a $720,000 rebate for kerbside waste disposal. In real terms, waste and recycling charges are increasing 20%, or by an additional $42.30per household for standard waste collection.

In the council meeting, Councillor Paul McLeish highlighted that although a situation outside of council’s control has resulted in an increase in waste charges, the charges residents of Manningham will incur are still cheaper than they were six years ago and is the equivalent of half a cup of coffee per week ($2.50).

Although the budget is required to be adopted, in principle, under Local Government Act 1989, the budget is currently on public display and members of the public are invited to submit their views about the proposed budget via the Manningham YourSay website or in writing to council.

Written submissions will also have the opportunity to be presented verbally at a public meeting on May 31.

All submissions — whether presented just in writing or verbally as well — need to be submitted by 5pm on Thursday May 24.

Council will meet on June 24 to have the final say on the 2018/19 budget.

Bridgeworks in full swing


AFTER A two-month delay from the original scheduled weekend closure, the Warrandyte Bridge was fully closed over the weekend of May 5–6 and works have now resumed in earnest on the main bridge structure.

Single lane working occurred on April 18 for the AusNet works to replace the power pole at the bridge, and then again on May 2 for the VicRoads bridgeworks.

Although conducted outside the peak period, these single-lane working days caused significant traffic congestion in all four directions, the worst being on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road. Traffic delays ranged from 15 minutes to 40 minutes, with the average wait time being around 22 minutes.

VicRoads told the Diary that all future single lane closures will be done at night to minimise the impact on the community.

The installation of the protruding cantilever beams was completed during the period of single-lane working on May 2, and the big job of completing installation of the three huge lateral beams was performed very efficiently during the weekend of May 5–6.

In fact, the job was done so quickly that the bridge was reopened to traffic late on May 6.

The result of this work is that there is now a long lateral beam running for the entire length of the bridge about three metres out from original structure on the downstream side.

The job over the next few weeks will be for massive concrete pours to fill in the gap, following which we will have a much wider bridge surface. The existing railings on the downstream side can then be demolished and a new barrier erected to separate the new northbound lane from the new shared walkway.

At the same time, work is continuing on the north side to erect new traffic barriers, and on the upstream side in preparation for a slight overhang to accommodate the new pedestrian pathway on that side.

Although the May Information Update Bulletin has removed reference to the expected completion date, engineers advise they are still hopeful that the work can be completed by September/October.

Further full weekend closures are expected in the next couple of months, but at this stage the dates for these have not been set.

Rat-runners prompt temporary road closure

By DAVID HOGG

NILLUMBIK Council advises that following consultation with residents it has resolved to implement a temporary road closure on Dingley Dell Road near the intersection with Blooms Road while the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade works are in progress.

Residents have been vocal in their disgust of “rat-runners” speeding down the narrow dirt road to avoid the traffic build-up on Research-Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Roads.

The temporary road closure will be in the form of a gate and is scheduled for installation mid-May.

The gate will be removed and the road reopened once the bridgeworks have been completed.

Complimentary signage to reinforce the road closure will also be installed on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte, Research-Warrandyte and Blooms Roads.

Signage is also proposed at the southern leg of Dingley Dell Road to advise of the road closure ahead to enable vehicles to turn at Dingley Close.

Nillumbik Council recognises that the road closure is likely to result in an inconvenience to the broader community; however, it considers this intervention critical to manage the unprecedented ‘cut-through’ traffic use of this local road.

Community investment: Bank celebrates 15 years of “giving back”

WARRANDYTE Community Bank Branch has celebrated its 15-year anniversary at a special event held on Friday March 23.

Over 140 shareholders, community group representatives, directors, staff members and dignitaries gathered in The Grand Hotel’s Riverview Room to acknowledge the ongoing community service of the bank, which since its inception in 2003, has donated $2.8 million in community grants and sponsorships.

Community liaison officer Dee Dickson, who organised the celebration, said the event was so meaningful because it was not just about giving money, but about building a sense of community.

“The number of people that came to me and said we value your partnership and the relationships that the bank creates and fosters, that was really lovely to hear,” she said.

Branch chairman Aaron Farr said in his speech, that ordinary customers helped provide valuable community resources and facilities just by banking with the local branch.

“We are giving money back, and that’s our way of contributing but, we couldn’t do that without our customers,” he said.

“Thank-you to everyone in this room, because you are the reason we can do that.”

According to the bank’s 2017/18 financial reports, the branch returned over $400,000 in charitable donations to local schools, sporting clubs, emergency services and community groups in that financial year alone, which was nearly 80 per cent of its operating profit.

Mr Farr said in his speech, that the bank aims to grow that effort in the years to come.

“How nice would it be in another 15 years to be giving back $1 million a year,” he said.

“Just think of what we could actually achieve.”

Guests heard about the positive impact the bank’s various donations and contributions have had upon the local community, including a $30,000 grant awarded to the Burch Memorial Preschool, which allowed for much needed renovations and provided a second educational space for the preschool’s limited three-year-old program.

Burch Memorial Preschool President Sharmini Philp said in her speech, that the funding helped create a crucial support network for young families that was previously missing in Wonga Park.

“We don’t really have the words to describe the impact the Warrandyte Community Bank grant has had in our community,” she said.

“I still get goosebumps when I think about it.”

Ms Philp also said the preschool community did not just value the funding, but also the support, encouragement and guidance they received from the bank.

“They were actively involved and shared the journey with us,” she said.

“We really had no idea about the process at the time and the guidance from the Warrandyte Community Bank staff was amazing.”

Ms Dickson said the project was among those she was most passionate about, because the funding did not just provide infrastructure, but gave the preschool a space where young families could come together and meet.

“It ticks every box and exemplifies everything we hold dear to us,”
she said.

“Those sorts of projects really bring people in the community together.”

The branch also offers a scholarship program for first-time tertiary students whose circumstances might make a university degree otherwise unattainable, with funding of $10,000 delivered over the first two years of study.

Alex Ward, a nursing and paramedicine student at the Australian Catholic University in Ballarat, is currently in her second year of scholarship funding.

Alex, who has had to move to Ballarat, said the scholarship helped her pay for expenses such as, food, rent, petrol, textbooks and placement uniforms.

“If it was not for the scholarship, I would never have been able to study this degree,” she said.

“It’s the entire reason I can study in Ballarat.”

The branch, which is a franchise of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank group, was created thanks to funding from locals, following the closure of the last of the big banks in Warrandyte.

John Provan, a founding director and shareholder, said in his speech that a volunteer steering committee of local business owners and club representatives made an enormous contribution in establishing the branch.

“We attended the local markets and the festival, selling shares to raise the necessary $600,000 plus, from approximately 360 shareholders, to commence the branch,” he said.

“It’s been a long haul and we didn’t dream we’d get to this stage.”

After the formalities, guests were able to socialise, relax, have a drink and enjoy the live music by Nick Charles and Mick Pealing.

Frock up for 2018 Mayoral Fireball

THIS YEAR, the Mayor of Manningham City Council, Andrew Conlon, has selected Fireball as the chosen charity of his annual Mayoral Ball.

Cr Conlon told the Diary one of the reasons he became a councillor was because his home almost burnt down in the Warrandyte fires in 2014.

“The CFA do a fantastic job and it’s important they have the resources to keep protecting our community.”

The Fireball committee is working with council, to deliver the 2018 Mayoral Fireball event, which will be on Saturday October 27, 7pm at the Manningham Function Centre, Doncaster.

“This year, the Mayoral Fireball will raise funds for the CFA.

“Fundraising plays a critical role in purchasing equipment for our local CFA brigades,” said Cr Conlon.

The local CFA brigades are part of the CFA network covering all of Victoria.

They respond to emergency events, including fires, road crashes, rescue operations, and also provide support in neighbouring brigade areas.

CFA brigades also respond alongside the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) as well as other emergency service organisations.

The brigades from Warrandyte, South Warrandyte, North Warrandyte and Wonga Park have come together and decided that the event will fundraise for a Forward Control Vehicle (FCV) — a four-wheel drive off road vehicle of an appropriate size to operate in the bush.

This is the command and control vehicle, it also operates the perimeter checks and transports strike teams.

It is replacing a 13-year-old vehicle housed at South Warrandyte station and is a volunteer only vehicle.

This ensures that if the staffed vehicles are out fighting fires across the state that our area has a dedicated FCV to manage and strategize local bushfire response.

The optimal setup for this appliance is a 200 Series LandCruiser wagon or twin cab, to carry five people, with V8 twin turbo diesel, snorkel air intake, multi terrain anti-lock braking system, portable UHF CB Radio along with CFA radios, lights, siren and livery.

An FCV would be used in a range of incident management roles including; incident control in a level one fire or incident, Sector Commander, Strike Team Leader, Ground Observer or Staging Area activities for level two or three incidents.

$85K is the target to purchase this vehicle.

Head of the Fireball committee, Julie Quinton, told the Diary that it was everyone’s responsibility to ensure both our own safety and that of the fire fighters who volunteer to protect us.

“We chose to live in these beautiful bushy areas, the very least we can do, as a community, is to ensure our CFA volunteers have the most up-to-date equipment to help keep them safe”, she said.

Mayor Conlon told the Diary that he would urge everyone to get behind the Mayoral Fireball.

“If you can’t attend the event, you can take part in our online auction.

“Sponsorship opportunities are also available for any businesses who want to get involved,” he said.

Cr Conlon said that he hopes the Mayoral Fireball is able to raise both funds and awareness in the community.

“It’s important that everyone has a plan and knows how to respond in an emergency,” said Cr Conlon.

Warrandyte’s bridgeworks and traffic nightmare

Mystery surrounds ongoing delays

EAGLE-EYED READERS will have noticed that not a lot has been happening with the bridge upgrade works over the last few weeks.

Certainly contractors are working on the north side drilling holes for the road barriers, however, nothing seems to have progressed on the bridge structure itself.

The scaffolding and access platforms are all in place on both sides, but there is no sign of any construction of cantilevers or beams.

The closure of the bridge over a full weekend was originally scheduled for March 3–4 but was postponed due to the market and the fun run being on that date.

The following weekend of March 10–12 was not suitable as it was the Labour Day long weekend, and the next weekend of 17–18 was the Warrandyte Festival.

The works were then re-scheduled for March 23–25 but were cancelled at extremely short notice, at 3pm on Friday March 23, because, according to VicRoads, “our contractor, VEC Civil Engineering, has requested more time to prepare to install the beams”.

This last minute cancellation caused disruption to residents and businesses who had put alternative arrangements in place, including cancelling newspaper and grocery deliveries to North Warrandyte and Warrandyte Theatre Company forgoing their matinee performance — it is still unclear why the decision to cancel  the full bridge closure occurred hours before it was meant to start.

Since then, not much has happened, and a complete veil of secrecy has descended on the project.

We visited the site and asked a number of VEC workers what was happening.

We were told, “we’re not allowed to say anything; you’ll have to talk to VicRoads”.

So we asked VicRoads:

• When will the postponed full weekend bridge closure be re-scheduled?

• Have you any dates for later full closures?

• What caused the delay to the originally planned closure?

• When will the whole works be completed?

• What is the schedule for further power outages when your electrical subcontractors need to do further work?

• Do you have any indication of when the traffic lights will be going in on the north side?

Vince Punaro, Regional Director Metro North West, VicRoads told the Diary “At this stage, we have not confirmed any further dates for full closures of the bridge.

“Any lane closures on the bridge will be shared well in advance with the local community and scheduled to minimise inconvenience.”

Cameron Tait, Media Advisor Public Engagement, VicRoads, offered some further information:

“The installation of traffic lights at the Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road and Research-Warrandyte Road intersection is expected to get underway in July.

“All works on the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade are scheduled to be completed by late 2018.”

The April Information Update Bulletin does not tell us much more than the March bulletin, other than that they will shortly be building a new retaining wall on the north side of the bridge, but it does indicate that the first full weekend closure is likely to be rescheduled for “late April/early May”.

VicRoads Strategic Engagement Advisor, Jacqueline Novoselac, insists that there are no problems, work
is continuing on the bridge and
that the project is not running
behind schedule.

However, the lack of activity on the bridge structure, ongoing postponements of the full closure, and the subtle change of the date for completion, previously September but now “late 2018” would suggest otherwise.

Any further delays might well drive this project into the next bushfire season.

Obviously something is amiss to have caused a two-month slippage of the closure for installation of cantilevers and beams, and we are not being told the reason.

In view of the significant traffic disruption and as public funds are being spent on this project, the public has a right to be kept better informed of progress and reasons for any delays.

The Diary will keep readers informed on any proposed road closures, as and when information comes to hand, either via this publication, the Diary website or social media channels.

Warrandyte road rage

SEVERE SPEED humps to the north of the bridge — an attempt to calm traffic and make a temporary pedestrian crossing safer — are potentially exacerbating traffic congestion as vehicles are forced to slow to a crawl to clear the traffic calming measures installed in early March.

In the busy hours, school and work commuters — on both sides of the bridge — can be delayed by anything up to 30 minutes.

In the morning, queues north of the river stretch back as far as Albert Road on Research-Warrandyte Road and Floods Road on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road.

While the evening queues south of the river stretch back as far as the roundabout at Harris Gully Road and to the five-ways Croydon Road junction on Ringwood-Warrandyte Road.

VicRoads vehemently denies that any lengthening of queues is due to the speed humps, and blame any increased queues on the disruption to the Hurstbridge line train service which they say is causing more traffic in the area.

Queues have slackened off considerably in the last fortnight due to the school holidays, but congestion is expected to return to previous levels as of this week.

Additional congestion may also occur on April 18 when the power pole at the RSL is due to be replaced.

The increased queues are causing major headaches for residents on the unsealed roads in North Warrandyte, with many “rat run” drivers ignoring the “No Turn” signs at each end of Blooms Road in an attempt to find a short cut.

Eltham Police have been kept busy booking motorists who ignore these signs but are too busy to attend on a daily basis.

Dingley Dell Road has probably copped the worst of the rat run traffic with motorists from both directions attempting to use this narrow winding street as a shortcut.

But with the morning queues extending further up Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road, a number of motorists are now turning into Floods Road and cutting through Boyd Street and Hawkes Road.

Michelle Parker from Hawkes Road is now on first name terms with the tow-truck drivers as two cars have already fallen into the ditch near her house, and she dreads the day there may be a head-on collision on the blind corner.

She adds, “You should see the chaos on Monday mornings when the rat run drivers meet the garbage truck!”

Suzanne Reid from Dingley Dell Road tells a similar story.

She and other residents are already upset that the signs preventing turns into Blooms Road make it virtually impossible for her to legally get back to her house before 9:30am after dropping children at school in Research.

She would like a “Residents Excepted” sign to be added to the no turn signs.

Ms Reid goes on to say, “when I finally get back to my home on a Monday morning I can find three cars in my driveway because they have had to pull in to let the garbage truck pass.

“And this is a single-track, unsealed road with ditches at the side and with children and dogs walking on the roadway.

“We have to pay to have this road graded now four times a year”.

Because of these problems Mathew Deayton, Manager, Infrastructure at Nillumbik Council has written to residents of Dingley Dell Road seeking their views on a proposal that the street be closed off completely to through traffic.

The plan involves installing a permanent obstruction at the top of Dingley Dell Road.

This would prevent all traffic — including Dingley Dell residents — from turning into Dingley Dell Road from Blooms Road.

Provision would be made for emergency service vehicles and waste collection vehicles.

The opinion of residents is being sought before any decision is made.

Ms Reid tells us that the idea is well-intentioned but as proposed is completely impractical.

As a number of the homes in the street have no provision for cars to turn around on the property, and angled driveways prevent a U-turn on entry and exit, this idea would require cars to reverse a long way down the difficult hill before they would be able to turn.

Affected residents have until April 20 to fill in a questionnaire or make a submission to council.

C117: Amendment to planning scheme open for submission


MANNINGHAM COUNCIL are currently requesting feedback regarding amendments to the Council’s planning scheme, the amendment is more commonly known as C117.

The amendment to the planning scheme is focused on land in the Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ) which is located predominantly in the Green Wedge.

The RCZ comprises of the undeveloped/rural areas around Warrandyte, South Warrandyte and Wonga Park and extends south to the borders of Donvale and Park Orchards.

Its northern border follows the Yarra River.

Given recent development projects within the Green Wedge have been fought by community groups on both sides of the river and that two of these projects; 2 Pigeon Bank Road and Brumbys Road Development have been “lost” by the developer at VCAT, some would say there is an unwanted culture of development growing within the Green Wedge and any amendments to planning schemes to aid planning applications is bad.

Doug Seymour of the Warrandyte Community Association has already indicated to the Diary that the group are putting together a submission against the proposed amendment.

Jill Colson, Executive manager, People and Governance, spoke to the Diary to clarify what C117 is and how it will impact the RCZ.

“As a Council, our role is to balance competing interests between land use for rural residential living against economic opportunities and employment.

“Known as Amendment C117, these proposed changes include providing an overarching guide on appropriate types of land use and development for the area.

“It also looks at changing an existing local policy relating to outbuildings (such as sheds) and built-form (such as size, scale and location) as well as providing more guidance for non-residential land use in the Rural Conservation Zone.

“At the same time Council is considering a new set of criteria to guide its assessment for changes to the Planning Scheme.

“This would allow consideration of currently prohibited uses where they might be consistent with overall objectives for the area.

“Examples of currently prohibited uses include cellar doors, boutique breweries, farm gates and produce stores, as well as event and function centres,” she said.

Submissions for C117 close on Monday April 16.

The amendment can be viewed online on the Manningham YourSay website, at Manningham City Council or at Warrandyte Library.

If you would like to have your voice heard regarding this amendment, you have until Monday to do so.

The Diary will continue to monitor Amendment C117’s progress and will have an update in coming editions.

 

Planned burns scheduled for March 29 – POSTPONED

UPDATE (28/3 15:24): Planned burns have been postponed due to too much moisture in the soil.

Burns may go ahead on April 3 instead.

 

Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) has scheduled two planned burns near North Warrandyte and Eltham tomorrow, March 29.

There will be a 5.5 hectare burn near Laughing Waters Road and a 15.5 hectare burn near Overbank Road.

FFMVic Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Dan White said: “These burns are an important part of our planned burn program and will reduce fuel loads in the area.

“Smoke may be visible in Eltham, North Warrandyte, Templestowe and Warrandyte.

“We aim to reduce the impact of smoke on communities from planned burning and continue to invest in new technologies and systems to help us better understand the dispersion of smoke.”

Clearning, slashing and planned burns are an important part of managing fuel and reducing the risk of bushfire to communities in bushfire zones.

But, as Mr White explains, weather is an important factor when authorities are preparing for a planned burn.

“We work closely with the Bureau of Meteorology to assess weather conditions – such as humidity, temperature and wind speed — and will only carry out burns when conditions are suitable.

“Until the recent rainfall it had been too dry to conduct these burns,” he said.

If the weather conditions remain favourable, the planned burns will commence around 10am Thursday morning, but if the conditions change the planned burns could be postponed or cancelled.

The Diary will stay across this and provide an update if anything changes.

Warrandyte Bridge closure POSTPONED

URGENT UPDATE

The Diary has just been informed that the schedule weekend closure of the Warrandyte Bridge IS NOT going ahead.

In an email sent to the VicRoads project team and the emergency services, VEC, the engineering team have requested more time to prepare the beams which they were going to installed this weekend:

Hi all

The planned closure of the Warrandyte Bridge this weekend has been postponed.The works and closure of Warrandyte Bridge to install beams will not go ahead as originally planned from 10pm Friday 23rd March – 5am Monday 26th March. We will advise of the rescheduled date for the closure asap.

VEC Civil Engineering, the contractor, has requested more time to prepare to install the beams which VicRoads has granted.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

The Diary has spoken to VicRoads media who cannot, at this time, confirm if any work is going ahead this weekend.

VicRoads are yet to set a new date for the full bridge closure, but the Diary will keep you informed on any further developments.

Saturday’s Festival program cancelled


Due to the SEVERE Fire Danger rating and a Total Fire Ban in place, the SATURDAY program for the Warrandyte Festival has been cancelled.

The Warrandyte Festival Committee have released the following statement.

It is with regret that the Warrandyte Festival Committee has decided, in accordance with our Cancellation Policy, to cancel all festival activities and performances for Saturday 17th March.

This decision was made in consultation with the CFA, Victoria Police, the SES and Manningham Council.

Prior to this decision, the Victorian Education Department had already issued a directive prohibiting local government schools from participating on the Saturday.

Our decision is not taken lightly, but community safety is our priority.

All Friday evening and Sunday activities and performances will proceed as per the published programme.

Thank you for your understanding, and please stay safe.

The Warrandyte Diary is across all Warrandyte Festival updates and will post here and on our Facebook page if there are any further changes to this plan.

Information on the current and Fire Danger ratings and when and where Total Fire Bans are in place can be found here.

More power problems plague Warrandyte

ELECTRICITY consumers in Warrandyte and North Warrandyte have experienced a number of planned and unplanned power outages in the last three months with further planned outages still to come.

Urgent work on critical pole

A spokesman from AusNet Services spokesman Hugo Armstrong has advised the Diary that a wooden power pole in the RSL grounds to the southwest of the bridge roundabout is riddled with termites and has to be replaced as a matter of urgency.

This pole carries 22kV High Voltage (HV) 3-wire cables east and west along Yarra Street and also joins the newly-installed bundled HV electrical cable which spans the river and carries power up Kangaroo Ground Road and to adjoining residential properties.

The work has been scheduled during the day on Tuesday March 20 and a power outage will affect the approximately 500 residents and businesses who were also without power on January 19 and 20 for the bridge works.

This work will be done by AusNet subcontractors.

AusNet advise that they will do their best to keep power on for the businesses in Yarra Street served by this cable, either by means of generators or by reconfiguration.

This job will be particularly tricky as the pole is in a difficult place for access, and while it is intended to keep Yarra Street open there will be complex traffic management issues and traffic delays are expected on March 20.

Further work in relation to bridge widening

To complicate matters further, as a completely separate issue the bridge contractors need further work to be done on the HV cable crossing the river and associated poles.

As a result, the same consumers will have two further daytime planned outages.

That work will be done by licensed electrical subcontractors to VicRoads.

AusNet are insisting that this latter work not be done in March but be spaced out to give long-suffering consumers some breathing space.

All affected customers will be notified in advance of these planned outages.

AusNet have asked the Diary to convey their sincere apologies to the affected customers and emphasise that they are well aware of the inconvenience caused and are doing their very best to minimise disruptions.

Later work

We announced in the May 2017 issue that the Victorian Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program was completed and this had replaced 3-wire HV powerlines in North Warrandyte areas with bundled cable to reduce bushfire risks.

However, this work did not extend to replacing existing old bundled cable such as that spanning the river.

The works on January 19 and 20 replaced the old bundled cable across the river for about 5 poles up to Castle Road, but we believe that the old cable continues on past that point.

We have come across a statement from AusNet regarding the North Warrandyte power supply: “AusNet Services will replace the remaining sections of HV aerial bundled cable along this line in the coming months.

“No dates have been set as yet, but we will advise affected residents well in advance.”

Recent outages

AusNet Services released a bulletin dated January 18 entitled “Update on North Warrandyte Power Supply” which was sent by text message to all those North Warrandyte residents who had experienced recent power outages and who had a mobile phone number notified to their electricity retailer.

The bulletin lists the causes of unplanned power problems in the previous six weeks including:

  • On December 9, a tree brought down overhead powerlines, which caused an extended fault and required tree clearers, traffic control and construction crews to rectify.
  • On January 6, a 40 degree, extreme fire danger day, there was a burnt out HV overhead cable fault near the bridge, which caused a ‘flashover’ along the overhead wire.
  • On January 11, a possum came into contact with an HV switch on Bradleys Lane, causing an outage, and as a result, the switch configuration has now been modified to prevent further possum incidents.

Additionally, on January 19 and 20 an overnight scheduled outage enabled replacement and rerouting of the HV cable across the river.

The bulletin concludes: “We are optimistic that both the reliability and safety of this part of the community have been enhanced, and you will experience better reliability in the future.”

On March 7, another possum incident caused further unplanned outages.

Mr Armstrong told the Diary “Following the possum incident on January 11 we had hoped that the modifications to the switchgear would prevent further similar incidents.

“Unfortunately, the possums had other ideas and we are now researching further solutions in attempt to minimise possum problems”.

One resident in Aton Street claims to have had a power outage every day between January 4 and 19 and has made a formal complaint to the Ombudsman.

Unplanned outages and compensation

One of the benefits of the Victorian Government’s Powerline Bushfire Safety Program completed last year was touted as being that it would improve reliability, a claim which residents are continuing to doubt.

Community frustration is growing at the continuing number of unplanned “recloser trips” being experienced almost on a weekly basis.

The recloser trip is a safety mechanism that cuts power to a localised area when there is an overload or abnormality (such as caused by possum activity) and then attempts to restore power a few seconds later.

This generally causes desktop computers and modems to reboot and causes clocks on microwaves or ovens to flash until reset.

AusNet Services are obliged to comply with a complex list of Guaranteed Service Levels (GSL) which provide for compensation if unplanned outages exceed certain targets in any calendar year.

There is no inclusion of planned outages in the GSL targets, that is those interruptions which have been notified to the consumer in advance, nor any provision for compensation for same, although sometimes ex-gratia payments are made.

The compensation starts at $30 if there are more than 24 momentary interruptions in a year, and $40 for more than 36 momentary interruptions.

Unfortunately, AusNet Services do not provide online access to the service interruption records for any property, and although details can be requested it takes a few days for a response.

The compliance with GSL targets for each residence is evaluated in February each year, and compensation payments where due are advised to the customer’s retailer in March and a credit allowed on the next bill.

However, the point at which the compensation starts is set so high that payments are — relatively speaking — rarely made, and the compensation of $30 or $40 feels like a drop in the ocean when compared with the $400+ fee per year that consumers are being charged for “service to property” before they have even started to consume any electricity.

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