News

Vandals fail to break Warrandyte’s spirit

THE WARRANDTYE community awoke to the sad news that the RSL memorial had been vandalised overnight.
The graffiti displayed the symbol for anarchy and the words “War is Murder”.
While vandalism is always a hurtful act, the defacing of the RSL’s war memorial on the eve of Anzac Day was felt particularly strong within the community.
The council were quick to act and soda-blasted the offending marks.
However, this process also strips the gold trim out of the words on the memorial.
Stephen Papal from Advanced Stone, a company that specialises in the making bespoke headstones and memorials, contacted the RSL directly to volunteer his company’s services and restore the memorial back to its former glory.
“I know what it’s like for RSLs and clubs to try and find the money to cover up something that’s been vandalised.
“I rang them because I knew they’d soda-blast it, the process should be to sand it and touch up where the graffiti has been.
“This will look magnificent tomorrow”, said Mr Papal.

Stephen and Ben Papal from Advanced Stone volunteering their services

Local Member of Parliament, Ryan Smith also visited the memorial to see the damage for himself and personally thank the men who had come out to undo the damage.
In an interview with the Warrandyte Diary, Mr Smith expressed his appal on last night’s criminal act.
“It’s just completely appalling that this has happened in Warrandyte, the vandals that did this — the very freedom that they are making a statement against were fought for by the people remembered at this memorial… that this has happened in Warrandyte is just disgraceful.”
Mr Henk Van Der Helm, President of the Warrandyte RSL stated: “We are pretty disgusted with this act but we’ve been able to clear it off”.
The Warrandyte RSL have decided to pay for security around the War Memorial tonight over concerns that the publicity that has been generated may encourage the “ratbags” to return.
Mr Van Der Helm is confident that the Anzac day ceremony will go ahead, as planned, tomorrow morning.
Victoria Police have issued a public appeal for information relating to the vandalism of the memorial, acting Sergeant Nick Bailey stated: “It’s sad to see this attempt to diminish the spirit of the ANZACs with this disrespectful act.”
If you have any information regarding last nights graffiti, please contact Crimestoppers on:
1800 333 000
Despite the attempts to deface the Warrandyte memorial, the RSL’s Anzac Day service will go ahead tomorrow morning, as planned.
The march will start from Whipstick Gully at 10:30am with a service to follow from 11am.

Whimsical wares in Warrandyte

Suzanne Reid’s favourite appliance isn’t her microwave or television – it’s her sander and these days it’s been working overtime bringing life back to old furniture.

As a lover of all things ‘whimsical’, Suzanne enjoys nothing more than finding discarded treasure and giving it a new life with some TLC, sanding or Danish oil.

She has a natural talent for looking at what some might call rubbish and see it in a new light with a varnish, a polish or lick of paint and turn it into beautiful, useable piece for the everyday home.

Originally Suzanne started putting her creations on eBay as a hobby but found her pieces were selling quickly and were in high demand.

When a shop in Warrandyte became available she knew this was her opportunity to expand her designs and wares and share with the community.

Her son Campbell also has a keen eye for finding those distinctive items as well as helping out in the store after school or on weekends.

With four uncles, three of which live on farms, she has a fabulous source of stock from clearing sales and estate auctions — plus her close family are on board, finding the odd gem at a garage sale or op shop and passing it on for refurbishment.

Suzanne occasionally buys items from the Rotary Op Shop, spends some time sprucing it up and when it sells, she donates 10% back to the Op Shop.

Whimsical Treasures has been cleverly set out with a theme of each room in a home such as a dining room, kids space, lounge and more.

This adds to the intimate ambience that is inviting and intriguing with little items sprinkled throughout each theme.

Look out for the cute little knitted bears, rabbits and pigs handmade just for the store.

Suzanne can accept items from the public that they’d like her to spruce up such as a sideboard or table – as long as they can fit in her front door.

She is also happy to accept donations that support her unique vintage/retro /repurpose style.

You can find Whimsical Treasures at the rear of 250 Yarra Street, Warrandyte

Further information: 0418 825 653 or email suzanne@whimsicaltreasures.com.au

Facebook is coming soon.

Warrandyte’s word wizards

THE Grand Read may not have been going for as long, but this literary event has long been the cherry on top of the fabulous cake that is the Warrandyte Festival.

Grand Read regular Jock Macneish gave a warm introduction, setting the tone for an intimate evening in the packed-out function room of the Grand Hotel.

This year’s featured writer was Arnold Zable.

He is an advocate for human rights and a lot of his work focuses on the experience of immigrants.

He has many literary accolades to his name, including: People’s Choice Award: Tasmanian Pacific Fiction Prize for his novel Cafe Scheherazade (2003), nomination for The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for Sea of Many Returns (2010), and Life membership to Writers Victoria (2015).

Arnold Zable writes about refugees and the plight of the human condition, he describes his writing as a “beacon of hope for those displaced, disconnected, and disorientated”.

He described his writing as “painting with words” and before every passage read he would ask the audience of close to 100 if we could “see it”.

Zable chose to read from his latest book The Fighter: A True Story.

He writes about the life of Henry Nissen, an immigrant from Germany who settled in the working class suburbs of Melbourne and represented Australia as a flyweight boxer in the 1960s and 1970s.

Zable’s words recreate the harsh world that Nissen grew up in, but he spun his prose poetically and the audience hung on every word.

The Fighter: A True Story has been shortlisted for the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction.

The Grand Read frequently favours poetry over prose, as the shorter form fits well with the evening’s format.

Following Arnold Zable’s poetically woven words were a series of enjoyable poems from a variety of artists.

John Jenkins read extracts from his poem The Wine Harvest, a poem that reflects on a time, in 1999, when he worked as a labourer on the wineries of the Yarra Valley.

His poem displayed some wonderful allegoric qualities as he recounted the hard life of a labourer through wine tasting terminology.

Karen Throssell, who has published a number of poetry books including Chain of Hearts, and The Old Kings and Other Poems, and who currently teaches Creative Writing classes in Diamond Creek, took the evening along a path of politics with a whimsical poem exploring her observations of Donald Trump’s youngest child during Trump’s victory party following the 2016 US presidential election.

Andrew Kennon reflected on his experiences in the High Country.

Sandy Jeffs, originally from Ballarat, is a poet who writes about her experiences living with schizophrenia.

She is an advocate for living with mental illness and author of the best-selling book Poems from the Madhouse.

For the Grand Read, Jeffs read a couple of poems: Cold Chemical Comfort illustrated the numbing effects of modern day drugs, while her poem about celebrity and the fascination with it that popular culture demands, was sobering but refreshingly chemical.

Kevin Bonnett, author of De-icing the wings, read from his poem Lake Louise as well as a series of responses to photographs.

Laurie Webb is a bush poet who spends a lot of time working with local communities in Africa.

He read from his latest poem Gratitude Journal which is based on his experience with PTSD after being involved in a car crash in the Congo.

The evening also featured a reading from Warrandyte’s own Jock Macneish, whom recounted a trip he made some years ago to Scotland, where he went on a journey to find George Orwell’s lost motorcycle.

You can read his story in the travel section of this month’s Diary.

The evening was a wonderful finish to the festival and the poetry and prose on show was stimulating and inspiring.

If you have never been to the Grand Read before, then make sure you come along next year, I certainly cannot wait to see who they will have on show in 2018.

Spot the platypus

Autumn is a great time to set up a blanket by the Yarra at dawn or dusk with a thermos of tea and gaze out at the water and now we have found the best excuse ever to do just that — Melbourne Water is calling on citizen scientists to help spot the elusive platypus.

With the sustained drought over the first ten years of this century, platypus were struggling, however researchers are hopeful that the monotreme’s population is on the rise again.

Jean-Michel Benier from Melbourne Water told the Diary that the Yarra tends to be a refuge to platypus in times of environmental stress — such as drought, flood or bushfire.

“When conditions are good we see more platypus in tributaries, such as the Diamond Creek, Mullum Mullum, and even one recently sighted in Darebin Creek for the first time in 10 years,” he said.

Research partner and wildlife ecologist Josh Griffiths from Cesar Australia said that the Yarra is immensely important for platypus populations.

“Mullum Mullum creek is actually one of the creeks that didn’t show a decline during the drought, even though it is quite a small creek because it is still connected to the Yarra and there is a relatively healthy population in the Yarra — we think the animals keep coming in and out.

“That deeper water of the Yarra provided a bit of a buffer against the drought, so when a lot of these creeks dried up the animals moved into the Yarra and as the water comes back, they move back into those little creeks — so you know the Yarra river is incredibly important for these animals”, said Mr Griggiths.

The research team are pleased that platypus numbers — since the end of the drought — are beginning to increase due to increased water availability and the continuing work of cleaning up the environment.

“There is more water around which means better conditions generally and there has also been a number of habitat improvement works happening, Melbourne Water, and other community groups, do things like weed removal and revegetation, remove litter out of creeks, stabilise banks — create better habitat for them to live in,” said Mr Griffiths.

Melbourne Water have partnered with Cesar to study the health of platypus populations and they need your help.

They have released a website and a smartphone app to collect data on wild populations in the Yarra River and across the rest of the country.

“We would love for people to contribute their observations of platypus to our PlatypusSPOT program,” said Mr Bernier.

The PlatypusSPOT website and smartphone app allows users to upload photos and descriptions of platypus seen in the wild.

“These observations help us to monitor the location and abundance of platypus across Melbourne,” he said.

 How to spot a platypus.

Josh Griffiths says spotting platypus in the river can be very difficult.

“Even for myself, who has seen hundreds of them, they can be difficult to see, because they live in the water and they have a very low profile in the water — they don’t stick up like a duck,” he said.

Platypus are most often active at night, so platypus are best spotted at dawn and dusk.

“Look out for some ripples in the water to suggest there is something there, then there is the fur and the low profile to distinguish it from a duck — the thing they get confused with quite a bit is our native water rat (rakali) and they can look very similar in the water — so look for the distinctive bill of the platypus or the nice rounded tail, Mr Griffith said.

Jean-Michel Benier suggests the main ingredients for spotting platypus: “Patience and luck!”.

“It is best to sit in one place for about 20 minutes and observe any bubbles and ripples on the surface of the water — Platypus will generally dive for around 30 seconds then float at the surface to consume their food for around 10 seconds,” he said.

The PlatypusSPOT app contains more tips and photographs that can also help distinguish between a platypus and rakali.

 How to help the platypus

“Platypus need deep water, so the less water that we use the more that can go back into the environment, even though the drought is finished it is really important that people are still really water conscious,” said Mr Griffiths

At an individual level there are several ways to help the platypus.

“Platypus often get tangled in litter, fishing lines, or anything that forms an enclosed loop like a rubber band.

“Keep an eye on dogs around the waterway — at this time of the year when there are juvenile platypus starting to come out of the burrows, they are a bit naïve, they get taken by dogs and foxes,” he said.

Of major concern are opera house nets, which are used to catch yabbies and crayfish:

“Unfortunately they are illegal in public waters but they are still used very regularly, I think a lot of people aren’t aware that they pose a risk to platypus and water rats and to turtles that go in those nets and drown very quickly.

“The nets get thrown into the water and they are fully submerged and a platypus can only hold its breath for a couple of minutes, they go in there chasing the yabbies that go in there, so [the traps] basically become a baited trap for platypus – they are still very widely available and I think a lot of people just aren’t aware of the dangers they pose,” he said.

 Using technology to track platypus.

As well as using traditional methods, or citizen science projects like PlatypusSPOT, researchers are using increasingly hi-tech, non-invasive, methods to monitor platypus populations.

“We are now also using a new technique called environmental DNA (eDNA), which allows us to take a sample of water from a location and search for DNA markers that are unique to platypus — using this method, we can tell if platypus have been in the water at a given location,” said Mr Benier.

“We can go out and take a water sample and actually look for genetic traces in the water and identify platypus as well as other species in the water – it’s a lot more efficient than going out doing trapping all night and they are quite sensitive and cost effective, so that is providing another avenue where we can monitor the populations”, added Mr Griffiths.

The PlatypusSpot App is available from the Apples Store or Google Play

Road closures for Festival Parade

Warrandyte Police have issued a reminder about road closures during Saturday morning’s Festival Parade down Yarra Street.

Sergeant Stewart Henderson advised residents and visitors that Yarra Street will be closed between Kangaroo Ground Road and Harris Gully Road for the duration of the parade (1100-1200) however police traffic blocks will be in place 10 minutes prior to this.

“All side streets off Yarra Street will be barricaded for the duration of the parade and manned by emergency management personnel to prevent vehicles turning into Yarra Street and there will be reduced access across the bridge for about 10 – 15 mins as the floats and other vehicles exit Tills Road and head West along Yarra Street,” he said.

All Southbound traffic crossing the bridge during the parade will be turned East towards Ringwood, with West bound traffic along Ringwood-Warrandyte Road diverted along Falconer Street and only those vehicles going to Wonga Park and Croydon Road will be able to get through.

Police will be setting up a traffic management point at Jumping Creek Road and Ringwood Warrandyte Road where Wonga Park bound traffic can turn right but no traffic will be allowed to continue on towards Warrandyte.

“We recommend traffic travelling from Ringwood towards Warrandyte are encouraged to turn left at Falconer Road to avoid being turned around at Jumping Creek Road,” Sgt Henderson said.

For those parents dropping children off for the parade he suggested: “arrive early as there will be limited parking along Yarra Street and once the Roadblocks are in place no vehicles will be allowed through.”

Additionally, Stiggant Street will be closed to traffic for the entire weekend with the exception of residents, emergency services, St Stephen’s church attendees, 2017 Parking Permit holders and vehicles with an accessibility parking permit, while Police Street will be closed on Sunday morning during the Billy Cart Derby.