News

Council greenlights bridgeworks

AUGUST HAS been a busy month with regards to the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade project.

On August 29, Manningham Council discussed and passed a motion to grant a conditional planning permit to Abzeco Pty Ltd on behalf of VicRoads for the roadworks associated with the bridge upgrade on the Manningham side of the river.

Approval granted

Cr McLeish made amendments to the original motion to include details around the use of local stone and for a “safe crossing point” where the bridge meets the roundabout.

This alternate motion was carried by the Council, which effectively means once VicRoads produce the required amendments, they will have their permit.

The ammended motion comes after Council, VicRoads and the objectors met in a Submitters meeting.

At the meeting, a number of proposed changes were put forward.

The Diary asked the WCA for comment on Manningham’s decision, Mr Gillan, on behalf of the WCA told the Diary they were happy with the addition of the pedestrian crossing but “disappointed the other conditions were not adopted”.

Reports that bridgeworks would start in late October sparked conversation in the community last week.

With the bridge project always earmarked for completion “before the next fire season”, the prospect of major roadworks during the region’s most dangerous time of year is unsettling.

This news conflicts with comment from Manningham councillors who stated they were told works would be delayed until after the fire season, the Diary spoke with Manningham Mayor Cr Michelle Kleinert.

“With any upgrade there is always going to be disruption, we are in one of the top 10 places in the world for fire hazard — traffic is lighter over school holidays but we have this factor of bushfire,” she said.

Manningham council also stressed that this is a VicRoads project and legal responsibility for safeguarding their workers and the community lies with them.

Once construction commences, the roadworks will include:

  • Road space to accommodate the three traffic lanes on the bridge (one northbound and two southbound).
  • Pedestrian footpath widening to accommodate the three-metre-wide path on the east/downstream side of the bridge and the 1.8metre wide path on the west/upstream side of the bridge.
  • A dedicated left turn lane onto the bridge going northbound.
  • Guard rails for traffic and pedestrians.
  • New retaining walls.
  • The removal of five native trees/shrubs.

On the Nillumbik side, there were six objections to the planning application for roadworks and vegetation removal on the north side of the river, Nillumbik’s planning officer is currently talking to Melbourne Water about the application and the Diary is led to believe a decision will be made very soon.

As we go to print, we have also learned Nillumbik Shire CEO Mark Stoermer has written to VicRoads relaying concerns that the “Warrandyte Bridge serves as a critical, single access point for both the local community and emergency services during emergency events, particularly during the bushfire season”.

Nillumbik Council also told the Diary:

Council is waiting on a response from VicRoads confirming that the bridgeworks will not affect emergency responses to and from the area.

That VicRoads will provide an outline of the measures proposed during days of elevated fire risk.

And a communication plan informing residents of any possible closures so residents can make informed decisions about their safety.

Council expects a response from VicRoads by mid-September.

The Diary have pressed VicRoads for comment regarding bridgeworks over the summer, as we go to print, we are still awaiting comment.

The deliberation

When considering the application, Manningham council reported the key issues in this application are environment impact, landscape impact and heritage consideration.

A number of environmental (ESO 2 and ESO 3) and heritage overlays at the site for the bridgeworks mean a planning permit is required for the roadworks associated with the bridge upgrade and as such, a number of conditions need to be met if the planning application is to be approved.

The report indicates the removal of the five trees has resulted in the recommendation that 92 plants must be planted to offset the loss of the trees, this means 14 canopy trees and 78 indigenous trees, shrubs, climbers or grasses all of which must be indigenous to Manningham and will be located within the “Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority Boundary or Manningham City Council municipal district”.

The report also suggests the addition of an aerial wildlife movement pathway is also condition for approval.

The Council’s heritage advisor is quoted in the report as saying:

“This application has been assessed in relation to the impact of the proposed development on the precinct as a whole.

“Given the extensive nature of the precinct and the amount of mature vegetation that exists within it, it is not anticipated that the proposed works will impact on the distinctive landscape character of the precinct. 

“It is also noted that there is potential for the proposed works to contribute to the appreciation of heritage values associated with the area by reducing traffic congestion at this key intersection, and by increasing potential for use and enjoyment of the area by pedestrians and cyclists”.

The department of City Strategy (Open Space) asked the plans to address the following elements:

  • The new roads and kerbs need to match existing stonework projects within Warrandyte and conform to the township’s heritage guidelines.
  • A new footpath between Yarra Street and the river on the Western side of the bridge.
  • Signage to help pedestrians identify the pedestrian crossing point on either side of the roundabout or to give them the option to walk under the bridge, along the river.

The Council report also noted there is an amendment in place to minimise any modifications to the existing bus stops around the Bridge intersection (eastbound at the toilet block and westbound in front of the War Memorial) but there is a provision for a semi-mountable kerb opposite 217 Yarra Street (approximately located above the Lions Club tennis courts) for a bus parking area.

With the bus parking area and the new northbound slip-lane, the number of parking bays between the lolly shop and the bridge are likely to be significantly reduced.

The Council report noted there were 10 objectors to the Manningham application, these objectors were made up of two local groups and eight private objectors.

Their objections centred around environmental and natural impact relating to the removal of the trees, the aesthetic and heritage impact of the bridge, the disruption during construction and the threat of increased traffic flow once the upgrade is complete.

On Thursday August 24, VicRoads, Manningham Council and the 10 objectors held a Submitters meeting at Manningham Council offices where the objectors were able to voice their concerns and discuss their objection to the planning application.

Following this meeting, Kyle Gillan, representing the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA), invited a few of the objectors along to a meeting with the Diary to discuss their objections to the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade project.

The Diary asked the group about the Submitters meeting on August 24; Mr Gillan began with a summary of what the WCA had taken to the meeting, in reaction to the council officer’s report.

“The submission the WCA made was asking for four additional conditions to be imposed on the permit,” he said.

The WCA’s additional conditions were:

  • The retention of the pedestrian crossing between the bridge and the roundabout.
  • Yarra Street is not to be widened to accommodate the northbound slip lane.
  • Crash barriers redesigned or removed because they are an “eyesore” and “not consistent with the heritage overlay”.
  • The use of natural stone (similar to stone used in the recent footpath works east of the bridge) on all paths, abutments and retaining walls.

Mr Gillan later clarified the objectors at the Submitters meeting wanted this crossing changed from a pedestrian refuge to a zebra crossing.

“At the moment there is a pedestrian refuge so what everyone’s asking for is a zebra crossing which gives pedestrians priority and legal protection, so if they are on that they are protected”.

“A lot of the councillors, particularly Cr Sophy Galbally of Mullum Mullum ward was very concerned about pedestrian safety as she herself has mobility issues.

“The VicRoads plan will be quite bad for people with mobility issues or for children who are catching the bus,” said Mr Gillan.

Other objectors to the Manningham planning application expressed their concern about the cultural and environmental impact of the works.

Pamela Hipwell is worried about the future of the stonework underneath the War Memorial.

Her concern lies in the non-existence of any statement which suggests the stonework around the War Memorial will be protected at all cost.

“They were built by sustenance workers in the 1930s depression and they are of unique historic and aesthetic value and they link up with the War Memorial and that is very very precious to Warrandyte.

“What I am concerned about is that will chip away, they’ve got their slip lanes and then they will be gouging out more because Yarra Street won’t cope with the extra traffic flow and they’ll want more,” she said.

All the way through the extensive discussion the Diary had with the objectors, concerns over protecting the township’s heritage and the environment were at the core of their arguments, but there was also genuine concern that the bridgeworks will do nothing to alleviate the peak-time traffic congestion.

Theresa Dawson and Jeremy Loftus-Hills, who are also on the Urban Design Advisory Panel (UDAP), expressed doubts as to the benefits the bridge upgrade will have.

“My first and major concern was once they widen the bridge and then there is no room — yes the traffic, for a split second over the bridge, will move faster but then it is going to come to a dead halt on either side of the bridge,” said Ms Dawson.

Mr Loftus-Hills objects to the current plan in its entirety and says it has been stunted by Government budget constraints.

“We are better off without it… my objection is to the design that’s been built into the bridge has been lowering the performance of the existing bridge,” he said.

Mr Loftus-Hills later explained why he thinks the bridge is constrained by budget.

“If you read the feedback they gave us in November last year, they say they cannot do that for economic reasons and for environmental reasons but …the last FOI response I got from them said they hadn’t done any costings, there is no paperwork to show you, that’s now before the commissioner,” he said.

The Manningham Council report contains a response to objections about funding for this project.

The report states the bridge offers “significant community benefits” and states the “extensive consultation” which has occurred over the past three years “cannot be revisited under the planning assessment”.

The key issue around the bridge upgrade is the comment by Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner, Craig Lapsley, who identified the Yarra crossing in Warrandyte as a real weakness for traffic flow, in both everyday congestion and in emergency evacuation during bushfire.

During the interview with the Diary, objectors raised concern this context to the bridge upgrade was muddying the CFA’s “leave early” message.

The Diary put this concern to Warrandyte CFA Captain, Adrian Mullens.

“Potentially yeah, the hardest part is to get into people’s heads that they have to leave early,” he said.

Captain Mullens went on to say the high turnover of population in Warrandyte and that there have been no significant fires in Warrandyte since 2014 has led to a state of complacency in the community.

The take-out from this is that the bridge’s effectiveness during emergency evacuation is indeed an important aspect of the upgrade project and an aspect which should be put under heavy critical analysis.

However, awareness of the risks of bushfire and the message of “leave early” is something that, as a community, we need to be proactive about.

Time to come together

It is becoming clear the Warrandyte Bridge upgrade will eventually happen, the government feels it has invested a lot of money into this project and VicRoads will not want to be seen backing down on this issue, especially with the link between the bridge widening and the threat of bushfire.

Objections to the bridge project centre on protecting heritage and environmental overlays, as well as defending the “independent township” culture of our suburb.

An idea that has been fought for by long term residents for many decades and it is these same residents who now argue the point of the fight is to maintain the identity, as it is, for future generations.

“From the very start I said ‘don’t let this happen because it is not about what happens today, it is about where it will go in the future’, so you have to look outside of here to fix the problem and that’s what everyone has to get on board with, it’s leave us alone and we have to push them to move outside the area — do the Ring Road,” said Ms Dawson.

Mr Gillan added: “It’s not the residents of Warrandyte that are causing this, it’s the growth in the sprawling suburbs of Melbourne, the northern growth corridor.

“That’s why we have the heritage overlay, that’s why we have the Green Wedge protected by the Environment act and those things have to be respected,” he said.

The conversations the Diary has had with different sides of the bridge debate and the type of conversation seen on Social Media would suggest there is a growing divide between the residents who have been in the Township for 20,30,40 years and those who have not.

Warrandyte has fought hard to maintain an aesthetic and amenity which makes Warrandyte the lovely place it is but the suburbs around the Green Wedge and along the northern growth corridors are pushing more cars and more people through Warrandyte and the surrounding area.

The Warrandyte Bridge upgrade debate illustrates the clash between maintaining our village-like heritage and functioning as a suburb of a growing Melbourne.

To have the qualities that define Warrandyte as a special place and accessibility to modern infrastructure is always going to be a difficult balance, but this is a special place and we are a determined community.

With some intelligent conversation and some empathy towards other people’s views we can have the best of both worlds.

Teapots of every shape, size and function


THE STONEHOUSE Gallery has taken up the mantel of hosting this year’s Melbourne Teapot Exhibition.

Studio@Flinders started the annual event back in 2004, but when the gallery closed in 2016, the Stonehouse Gallery was delighted to be given the opportunity to extend the life of this annual event.

38 artists have contributed a combined total of 66 teapots (21 functional and 45 non-functional pieces).

The exhibition features a number of prizes, of which a teapot from both functional and non-functional categories will be selected: excellence in design; highly commended; encouragement; people’s choice.

Teapots have travelled from all over Australia to be in this year’s exhibition with the furthest all the way from Budderim, Queensland.

Closer to home, entrants include students from Marge Beecham’s pottery group who work out of the old fire station behind the Mechanics’ Institute.

But it is not only potters who have been hard at work in the build-up to this exhibition.

As well as a large advertising poster supplied by Gardiner McGuiness, the gallery has also received sponsorship from Quinton’s Supa IGA Supermarket, Warrandyte Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank and Rob Dolan wines.

The gallery also wished to acknowledge Clayworks, GE and GE Kilns, Northcote pottery and Walker Ceramics for their donations towards prizes.

Additionally, local businesses took part in the “Warrandyte Teapot Photo” social media campaign where they posted photos of their business using teapots in unique ways.

Stonehouse artist and exhibition curator Marymae Trench has extended an invitation to all locals to come and see the wonderful teapots on display.

“We are hoping that the Teapot Exhibition will bring many new people to Warrandyte, and that all local businesses (including the Stonehouse Gallery) will benefit from their visits.

“We always appreciate the support from Warrandyte residents.

“Come and visit us at the Stonehouse Gallery, 103 Yarra Street Warrandyte,” she said.

The exhibition runs until August 15.

Photo: Bill McAuley

Bridge advisory panel walks a rocky road


An Urban Design Advisory Panel (UDAP) has been formed to represent the Warrandyte community with regards to the aesthetic elements of the works planned for the Warrandyte Bridge.

VicRoads Acting Director of Operations Metro North West, Fatima Mohamed, told the Diary that any design changes will be guided by the outcome of the Panel meetings.

“In addition to extensive community consultation already undertaken, an Urban Design Advisory Panel has been established to provide an opportunity for the wider Warrandyte community to provide feedback on bridge design, such as to the look and feel of the upgraded bridge and retaining wall and footpath finishes,” she said.

VicRoads has provided terms of reference which outline the topics the UDAP will be consulted on, including:

• Outer bridge railing (design, colour, finish).

• Bridge abutment treatment and finish.

• Footpath surface colour and treatment.

• Pedestrian movement — including possible under bridge crossing (with connections to the river trail).

• Retaining wall treatments surface and finish.

• Retaining wall pedestrian railings.

• Bollards to approaches.

• Landscape integration including replacement of the large Eucalypts which frame the southern bridge approach.

• Rock beaching to drainage outlets and batters (local rock preferred).

Panel members will be asked to provide advice and make decisions on the above topics on behalf of the wider Warrandyte community.

At the bottom of this article is an image gallery with excerpts from the presentation given by VicRoads in the first meeting.

The presentation gives details on bridge specs and the types of materials being proposed by VicRoads.

The panel is made up of a cross section of the Warrandyte community who will bring divergent views to the panel:

David Carty, John Chapman, Theresa Dawson, Geoff Flicking, Kyle Gillan, Bambi Gordon, Leigh Hearn, Jennie Hill, Jeremy Loftus-Hills and Sasha Reid.

The meetings are chaired by an independent facilitator responsible for guiding discussions to reach decisions for two to three topics at the end of each meeting.

FIRST MEETING: DOWN TO BUSINESS

A report of the initial meeting was provided to the Diary by panel member Bambi Gordon.

The meeting began with an overview of the first task for the Panel, which was to agree upon the objectives for the bridge works — and in fact the Panel itself.

It was agreed that members would evaluate all options in the area of landscaping, environmental management, bridge finishes and so on against the stated objective to achieve “a functional bridge which is sympathetic to and reflects the environments and the character of the town in the design and finish”.

Some changes had already been made (prior to the UDAP meeting) based on earlier objections received.

The primary change to the plan was the addition of a shared footpath on the eastern side of the bridge.

This then had a flow-on effect of requiring a pedestrian crossing on the northern side of the bridge to allow for people to access both footpaths from the north.

The panel were against a pedestrian crossing on the northern end of the bridge due to the potential delay of traffic during peak hours.

However, the panel was also concerned about having the pedestrian crossing on the southern end and it was generally agreed that this crossing needs to be under the bridge — whether that requires some steps down to ground level and back up to Yarra Street, or a slung pedestrian pathway under the bridge.

Both options for a pedestrian crossing at the southern end will entail the potential removal of one or two trees — a further concern for some members as was the retention of the prunus trees that could be impacted by the addition of a left hand turn slip lane on Yarra Street.

The panel ended the meeting with a number of questions for VicRoads and the bridge architect to consider.

In general, the panel were respectful of each other and though no decisions were made on the night it is the Panel’s aim to come to those decisions over the further three scheduled meetings.

Following the first meeting Kyle Gillan, who represents the WCA, told the Diary he was concerned with a comment from VicRoads engineer William Nottle.

In his introductory comments to the panel Mr Nottle noted the project intends to double the amount of traffic through Warrandyte in the morning peak.

“When [Mr Nottle was] pressed on the projected number of additional cars in Warrandyte he answered he could only comment on queue lengths and not increased traffic volumes.

“The impact on the amenity and character of the town is of utmost importance to the WCA.

“That is why the panel is helping to mitigate the broader effects of the project by ensuring we get the very best design for Warrandyte,” said Mr Gillan

SECOND MEETING: PROCEEDINGS TURN SOUR

The panel members returned to their respective groups to report on the proceedings, which initiated some heated discussion online.

Ms Gordon reported to the Diary the Facebook vitriol spilled into the second meeting, so proceedings did not run so smoothly:

The second meeting of the UDAP was in stark contrast to the first. 

Prior to the meeting commencing, one of the members demanded 15 minutes to read a prepared statement to complain about a post made on Facebook a few days earlier by another member.  

A representative from the Historical Society also addressed this same post.  

At issue for both members was that a post on the Fix the Warrandyte Bridge Facebook Group referred to them as members of the WCA – which they are not.  

The post also commented that they had been against the bridge widening. 

Again they stressed that they are not against the bridge widening.
With regard to the social media post the administrator of that group has since apologised for her assumption. 

It should also be noted, at no time did the post name any members of the UDAP.
These and many of the UDAP members still have objections to various aspects of the plan and it is unclear how they will proceed if these objections are not addressed satisfactorily.
Once the meeting commenced it very quickly went off the tracks with members wanting to make presentations and give submissions, which is outside the remit of UDAP.
The various issues discussed at this second meeting, within the nine issues that UDAP is instructed to make recommendations upon were:  landscape integration, pedestrian movement, pathway surfaces, beaching under bridge, retaining walls and new sections of bridge abutment.
Regarding “landscape integration” and “surfaces” UDAP made recommendations, but in the most part the recommendations were for further investigation.

For all the other issues UDAP has asked for further investigation.
The meeting was very heated, with raised voices and direct criticism of the VicRoads representatives.

At one point a member left (and was encouraged to re-join by one of the VicRoads Stakeholder Engagement staff).
A few of the members have since said they hold little hope in UDAP being able to agree upon recommendations for the nine design issues, that the level of vitriol and disrespect makes the process very uncomfortable.

These members also suspect there are some people who will continue to disagree simply to indefinitely delay the project.

They are also concerned that one member of UDAP has already stated quite firmly that if the changes they want are not made the bridge widening will not proceed, while another has said they will “sit here for six months” if their changes are not made.

Meanwhile, VicRoads has told the Diary the contractor has begun work in preparation to commence construction.

“We have appointed a contractor which has begun off-site works which are not tied to the planning process and we intend to commence on-site activities in the coming months,” Ms Mohamed said.

This is despite The Diary being led to believe that one member of UDAP is considering taking the matter to VCAT, which could delay the commencement of works until at least next year.

As we go to print, three members of the advisory panel are considering whether to continue with their role.

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Local producers taste success at Food Awards


LOCAL producers have impressed at the 2017 Australian Food Awards, bringing home a total of six prizes from the prestigious competition.

Competition debutants PoppySmack were awarded two Bronze medals for their Vietnamese Dipping Sauce and Siam Chilli Sambal, while North Warrandyte’s Blue Pear Pantry took home a Silver medal for their Gourmet Sausage Rolls.

Ringwood-based Asterisk Kitchen continued their fine form from last year’s competition, winning both the Gold and Best in Class medals for their Fennel and Thyme Lavosh Crackers, as well as a Bronze medal for their Activated Coconut Charcoal Lavosh Crackers.

Conducted by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, the Australian Food Awards are the country’s leading national food awards program.

The Awards recognise Australian products and produce across eight categories in which the judges focus on the sensory and technical aspects of the product and its appearance.

The gold, silver and bronze medallists are awarded with a national brand seal of quality and the opportunity to be showcased at international and local trade shows.

The presentation dinner will take place on September 7 in the MasterChef kitchen and it promises to be an appetising night, with award-winning products usually featured at the ceremony’s dinner.

“It will be a fun night – lots of people from the industry, big or small; good food — usually made by a very well known chef,” said Younis Khazour of Asterisk Kitchen.

Deb Graham from Blue Pear Pantry is looking forward to the presentation night, yet still can’t quite believe that she has won an award in just her first entry into the competition.

“It’s very surreal,” she said. “I’m still expecting a phone call to tell me that there has been a mix up.”

Ms Graham believes the secret to Blue Pear Pantry’s success is largely due to high quality ingredients.

“My local suppliers give me fresh produce,” she said.

This prestigious award is sure to give business a boost, with the silver stamp not going unnoticed by potential buyers.

“People’s eyes look at them differently than they have in the past,” she said.

For Hanh Truong of PoppySmack, it is not just about producing great food; it is also about sharing the Vietnamese culture throughout the community.

“I just feel like there are a lot of stories that we can share when we’re at the market,” Ms Truong said.

“It’s always come down to where we’ve come from and what we can bring to all our customers.

“We’d like Vietnamese food to be a common household food — that’s what our objective is.”

The talents of these local producers affect the lives of people in ways much deeper than just their taste buds.

Ms Truong, along with her sister and business partner Tran also use their skills with sauce to raise money for the Welcome To Eltham group – an organisation which strives to make refugees feel safe in the local community.

“We create enough money in the business that we can donate it out and help others,” she said.

“That’s kind of our goal as well.”

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Major public transport upgrade on the horizon

Proposed rapid transit system to ease commuter congestion

GLOBAL PUBLIC transport company Transdev have put forward a proposal for a new Doncaster Bus Rapid Transit project.

The proposal presents a plan for Melbourne’s first ever express bus way, potentially revolutionising public transport for the eastern suburbs.

A BRT system would separate purpose built and high capacity buses from other traffic such as cars and SMART buses, by providing a dedicated bus lane with full right of way.

If the plan goes ahead, it would see the Eastern Freeway median strip — which has been reserved for the potential Doncaster rail link — developed into a bus expressway.

The bus way would also continue down the centre of Hoddle Street, making for just a 30 minute journey from Doncaster to the CBD.

This could be welcome news for commuters, who currently travel for 47 minutes or more during peak times — and for Warrandyte residents, who often travel for over an hour on the current 906 route.

The bus way would be the first of its kind here in Victoria, but Transdev has built similar systems overseas with successful bus rapid transit operations in Bogotá, Columbia and the French cities of Rouen and Nantes.

The new purpose built buses will have a capacity of up to 150 people, and are believed to operate more like a rail link (with fast transit times and minimal waiting times for services in peak hours) than a traditional bus lane.

Transdev’s proposal has been welcomed by Manningham Council who believe the project can vastly improve commuter’s public transport experience in the eastern suburbs.

Leigh Harrison, Manningham Director Assets and Engineering spoke to the Diary and was hopeful the project would be approved by State Government as the project would greatly enhance eastern Melbourne’s public transport system.

“Transdev’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) proposal would provide Manningham’s commuters with a markedly improved public transport option that maximises what buses can offer.

We hope the proposal will be given serious consideration and support from the State Government,” he said.

But for Manningham Council, the Doncaster rail link still remains of the utmost importance and the Doncaster BRT is viewed as merely a short-term solution.

“Manningham remains the only Melbourne metropolitan municipality with no rail, and the proposal for a BRT is the next best thing in the short to medium term to cater for already overcrowded public transport services.

The proposed BRT may also offer improved reliability and travel times between the Melbourne CBD and Warrandyte,” said Mr Harrison.

Mr Harrison then went on to emphasise Manningham’s position that any sort of rapid transit system is merely a short-term solution to public transport congestion, congestion which Manningham thinks can only be resolved — in the long term — by the Doncaster rail link.

“The proposed BRT must be designed so as not to prevent a future Doncaster rail link and ensure the Eastern Freeway median is preserved for a future rail line to Doncaster.

Manningham Council will continue to advocate to the State Government to prioritise a rail line to Doncaster as the ultimate public transport solution for the area,” he said.

The BRT project remains in the proposal stage at this point in time.

Should the proposal gain the support or approval of the State Government, community engagement and conversation with key stakeholders will be carried out in order to develop the project appropriately.

The Grand Hotel elevates standards in accessibility


IF WALLS COULD talk, the walls of The Grand Hotel Warrandyte would have an extraordinary story to tell.

Built in 1895, The Grand Hotel Warrandyte has stood proudly for more than 120 years as the backbone to the Warrandyte township.

On June 30, the historic Yarra Street hotel marked a significant milestone, celebrating the installation of a lift, bringing the hotel in line with the national Disability Discrimination Act.

The ribbon was cut by local councillor Sophy Galbally who applauded the hotel as a great example of a business that recognises the community need for access for families.

“At great expense the Grand installs a lift which sends a welcome to the 20% of the population with a disability and to our ageing baby boomers who are now over 65,” she said.

When locals Greg Kennedy and Steve Graham took ownership, they promptly got rid of the pokies and replaced them with a kids play room.

Since then, the hotel has undergone dramatic renovations, numerous licks of paint and is being lovingly cared for by general manager Peter Appleby.

Mr Kennedy and Mr Graham told the Diary, that shortly after they purchased the hotel an 80-year-old man arrived one night to go to his granddaughters 21st birthday party, but when he could not get up the stairs he had to go home.

“We thought ‘that’s not good enough,’” the pair said.

So they immediately started planning to install a lift to allow access to the upstairs function rooms.

It has taken them three years to retrofit the historic building to meet current standards.

The official opening of the elevator was attended by local resident Meindert Withoff, who uses a wheelchair, and he is very happy that the hotel is now fully accessible by everyone.

“It’s fantastic! I really appreciate it — I know that in the past some people with disabilities couldn’t go to certain functions in the pub just because they couldn’t go up the stairs — and that is a real shame — because pub is an abbreviation for public, and it is not very public if it is not accessible for people with disabilities,” Mr Withoff said.

The function rooms upstairs are now being fitted with disabled toilets to complement the existing ones on the ground floor.

These new facilities continue the Grand’s reputation as the backbone of Warrandyte, where the hotel has served as a safe place for those in need, opening its doors to the community during the 1931 floods, 1939 Black Friday fires and subsequent bush fires in the 1950s and 1960s, this renovation will now allow the hotel to serve all members of the community.

The Grand is part of Warrandyte’s social and community hub, with patrons ranging from 18 to 80 +year olds and from all walks of life, installation of the lift will give seniors, parents with prams and people with disabilities easier access to the venue.

After the ribbon cutting, councillor Galbally stated how the Grand was an example to all businesses and urged others to look at ways in which they can make themselves more inclusive to our modern, diverse community.

“I encourage all local businesses to see how they can improve accessibility so they too send this message of welcome,” she said.

North East Link planning hots up


ACTIVITY IS RAMPING up in the planning for the North East Link, and the route to be chosen is by far the most contentious issue.

North East Link Authority (NELA)

NELA has confirmed their process of consultation will commence in July/August.

Their current investigations are concentrating on geotechnical testing and analysis.

Their website has a short video on the current program of drilling to take soil samples from 24 sites.

Geotechnical study sites (North East Link Authority website)

Whilst the line of drillings to the west of Warrandyte follows the expected path of the central route past Beasley’s Nursery, there is one curious drilling location shown in Warrandyte, south of the river around the Stonehouse Café area.

Katie Hall, Corporate Communications and Media Manager North East Link Authority, told the Diary “the drill locations on the video map are indicative of where drilling will take place but are not exact.

“Where the rigs are set up depends on where there is a suitable location such as a VicRoads reservation, and where we are missing information regarding the soil and rock profiles,” she said.

The current investigations will look at the suitability of tunnelling, cut and fill, gradients, vegetation, environmental and socioeconomic considerations.

NELA will then identify several corridors.

Each of the identified corridors will have a full analysis of the positives and negatives for each.

This process will not select a route for the NE Link; it is a broad corridor identification process only.

After the corridors have been identified, the first full round of public consultation by NELA will commence.

The consultations will allow the public to have input into the corridors identified and to make submissions with respect to their suitability.

Nillumbik Pro-Active Landowners (PALs)

The PALs group conducted a survey via their Facebook page, this survey received 146 responses.

47% of the responders were from Kangaroo Ground while only 1% were from North Warrandyte.

The overwhelming majority (94%) of respondents supported the North East Link with only 5% saying they did not support it.

While 70% objected to the road being built in Nillumbik, with 25% saying they approved of a Green Wedge route, and 65% supporting the link being mainly tunnel (12% against).

Spokesman for the PALs group, Max Parsons, told the Diary PALs will be working to ensure NELA understand, acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the Green Wedge to the residents and landowners in Nillumbik, as well as its state and national significance, Mr Parsons also stressed the importance of financial compensation for landowners.

“With a determined view to the primacy of human life in relation to bush fire risk, the loss of vegetation and Green Wedge areas, the dissection of and disruption to existing communities and the isolation of native fauna must all be factored into the equation to select an appropriate route for the North East Link.

“Should the North East Link proceed, affected landowners must receive appropriate market-based compensation for any acquired land or adjoining affected properties,” he said.

Warrandyte Community Association (WCA)

The WCA has expressed concern Banyule Council and residents are mounting a well-organised campaign advocating the Central Option to the west of Warrandyte as preferable to the shorter route running down to andunder the Banyule river flats to join the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen.

Convenor of the Warrandyte Community Association subcommittee working on this issue, Carli Lange-Boutle, feels the action in Banyule could have serious impact on Warrandyte.

“The Government plans to start construction on the Link in 2019 and community groups and Councils along the various routes are linking up and preparing to argue against a route through their communities,” she said

The WCA understands the public will have only six weeks in which to respond to the NELA Route Options paper, planned for issue in late July so the research needed to lodge an objection needs to begin now.

The WCA is alarmed at the potential impact of the Greensborough–Ringwood route.

The borehole location figure on the NELA website confirms the Authority is considering an alignment parallel to the high voltage powerline easements running from St Helena to Ringwood, crossing or passing under the Yarra River near Target Road in Warrandyte.

At 19 km long, this route would be over twice the length of the Banyule route and unless extensive tunnelling is used, it would impact the Diamond and Mullum Mullum Creeks, as well as the Yarra River.

Mrs Lange-Boutle says, “Access ramps at Reynolds Road near Springvale Rd seem likely for this route option and this could generate serious traffic volumes for Yarra Street Warrandyte, including Warrandyte Bridge traffic and through the neighbouring Donvale and Park Orchards.

“There is also great concern for the health of the Mullum Mullum Creek and Yarra River.

“We need to consider all impacts to our communities; economically, socially and environmentally,” she said.

There is also pressure from the east.

Nillumbik groups are preparing to argue against the routes through the Green Wedge areas of Kangaroo Ground and Christmas Hills; there are serious environmental issues along these routes too.

The WCA has urged Warrandyte residents to take an active interest on this issue

Manningham City Council

Unlike other municipalities, Manningham City Council seems to be sitting on the fence when it comesto taking a position on the route the North East Link should take.

Last month Director of Assets and Engineering, Leigh Harrison, advised the Diary the “council does not currently have a formal position on the proposal”.

The council has an Integrated Transport Advisory Subcommittee (ITAC), but Mr Harrison advised “The ITAC is an advisory committee and, as such, does not formulate policy for Council’s consideration.

“The committee can agree on a view in relation to North East Link however, to date, the level of detail associated with the North East Link is too abstract to determine any concrete direction,” he said.

Their reluctance to take a position is perhaps understandable when it is considered a number of route options pass within their boundaries.

Nillumbik Shire Council

Nillumbik council officers and Councillors Karen Egan and Jane Ashton have reached agreement with NELA to hold several information sessions for local communities within the Nillumbik investigation area to talk with NELA representatives about their process, opportunities, issues and the challenges North East Link will bring so that they can use what they learn in their decision making.

The sessions are planned to be held:

  • Sunday July 23 — 9am – 12pm Eltham Town Square
  • Monday July 24 — 5pm – 8pm Nillumbik Civic Centre Greensborough
  • Saturday July 29 — 10am – 1:30pm Diamond Creek Community Centre
  • Sunday July 30 — 10am – 12:30pm Research shops

Jane Ashton said on Facebook she is aiming to organise for a meeting in Kangaroo Ground “as this is where people who care live”.

Narelle Campbell, from the No Rural Link group who have started the social media hashtag #buildthelinkbutdontsplitthewedge are opposing the road passing through the Green Wedge.

Ms Campbell thinks the sessions are “a great opportunity for our communities to engage with NELA face to face in a reasonable, evidence based, informal and passionate way”.

More formal information, engagement and feedback sessions are planned once corridors are identified and announced in August.

The North East Link Authority are not going to have an easy time ahead of them north-east Melbourne seems to find itself in a situation where most people want the link but very few want it anywhere near them.

Major upgrade for Jumping Creek Road


AFTER 17 RECORDED vehicle crashes in four years, Manningham Council began the process for a major upgrade to Jumping Creek Road in July 2016.

At an estimated cost of $17.9M and a construction period of six years, works are scheduled to begin in 2018, after the next fire danger period has ended and assuming the necessary permits have been issued.

An important link road between Warrandyte and the Yarra Valley, the road also gives access to the only river crossing with 10 kilometres for Wonga Park and the surrounding area.

Manningham Council estimates Jumping Creek Road currently carries more than 8000 vehicles per day, a number which is expected to of doubled by 2035.

Taking into account the number of accidents on this important artery, Manningham believe the road, which is already failing to keep drivers safe will be unable to accommodate a major increase in traffic without an upgrade.

The works will include roadway realignment, roundabouts, emergency vehicle stopping bays and a shared pedestrian/cycling path which will run the entire length of Jumping Creek Road between Wonga Park and Warrandyte.

This last adjustment will deliver greater accessibility to the Wonga Park community as well as improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

As part of the development process, Manningham Council have formed the Jumping Creek Road Community Reference Panel, a panel which consists of residents, businesses and community groups which are directly affected by Jumping Creek Road.

Mr Leigh Harrison, Director of Assets and Engineering for Manningham Council spoke to the Diary, explaining the role the panel will play in the forthcoming upgrade.

“The Jumping Creek Road Community Reference Panel will provide an important and long term opportunity for the community to highlight issues, queries and provide feedback on proposals to upgrade Jumping Creek Road.

“[The panel] will also help guide the materials and finishes, path widths, replanting opportunities, fauna crossings, street lighting, pedestrian crossing locations, non-regulatory signage, roadside aesthetics, emergency stopping bay locations, the Dudley Road/Yarra Road/Jumping Creek Road intersection surface treatment and the extent and nature of equestrian treatments,” he said.

Residents will get the opportunity to express their thoughts on the road upgrade via the Community Reference Panel, as well as via the Manningham “Your Say” page.

However, one major concern will be traffic congestion.

The Diary asked Mr Harrison what steps have been taken to minimise further congestion to an already heavily congested area.

“The key objectives of this project are to improve safety for all users, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, and to accommodate the forecasted increase in traffic volumes — which is expected to double to 15,000 vehicles per day by 2035.

“During our consultation process, concerns were raised about traffic congestion at the Jumping Creek Road and Homestead Road intersection — located on the municipal boundary between the Shire of Yarra Ranges and the City of Manningham.

“Council is working with the Shire of Yarra Ranges to address resident concerns regarding this intersection.

“Some traffic disruption during works of this scale is unavoidable,” he said.

Jumping Creek Road Upgrade plan courtesy of the Manningham “YourSay” page

Electoral Tribunal sends Koonung ward back to the ballot box


Voters in Koonung ward may find themselves back at the ballot box after the Municipal Electoral Tribunal today found the results from the 2016 election void due a failure to properly inform all ratepayers on their eligibility to vote.

Last October’s election results were challenged by Ms Stella Yee, a resident of Doncaster who came fifth in the Local Council election on the grounds the Ward’s non-citizen ratepayers were not properly informed on their right to vote in the election.

Mr Warwick Winn, Manningham Council CEO issued a statement saying “Magistrate Smith found the Victoria Electoral Commission (VEC) ‘effectively failed to properly inform, or may have misled, non-resident ratepayers as to their eligibility to enrol to vote’”, he said.

Magistrate Smith also found the numbers of non-resident ratepayers who were prevented or disenfranchised from taking part in the election were significant enough that their inclusion in the election process probably would have affected the outcome of the election.

The three Manningham councillors, Cr Dot Haynes, Cr Anna Chen and Cr Mike Zafiropoulos will continue in their roles as elected officials for the time being, VEC have seven days to appeal the decision.

If the VEC accept today’s decision the next step will be to inform the Minister for Local Government who will then need to set a new election date.

The Warrandyte Diary will have more on this story as it develops.

Bridge work further delayed awaiting permits

• Contractor now known but not yet announced

• VicRoads in meetings with objectors for Manningham permit

• Nillumbik permit still stalled

WORKS HAVE still not commenced on the bridge expansion originally due to begin in April with  completion scheduled for before the start of the next bushfire season.

VicRoads has not formally announced the contractor for these works and has not replied to questions from the Diary on this or when the work will be starting.

However, the Diary has ascertained the contract has been awarded to VEC Civil Engineering Pty Ltd for $4.265M

VEC is part of the Downer group of companies and is a respected civil engineering design and construction company specialising in bridges.

Some confusion still remains on the start date for works, as planning permits have still not been approved by Manningham or Nillumbik.

William Nottle, Senior Structures Engineer at VicRoads Metro North West, stated: “At this stage, it is unlikely any works will commence until permits are granted.

“VicRoads will never conduct any work on site (or established a site for that matter) before obtaining appropriate planning approval.

“We have recently suspended site activity with our contractor in order to resolve the current planning issues,” he said.

However, in somewhat of a contradiction he continued: “In keeping with the project schedule to complete the works ahead of the next bush fire season, we have initiated works that do not require planning approval”.

Manningham received objections to the proposed planning permit from seven individuals and from the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) .

VicRoads had scheduled a series of separate meetings with each objector on May 23 to hear and discuss their concerns.

WCA had filed a well-considered objection on two main grounds.

Firstly the applicant (a Mr Richard Francis of Abzeco Ltd) is not the owner of the land, the application is not signed by the owner of the land, and therefore the whole application is invalid and must be thrown out.

Secondly the applicant has failed to adequately address the requirements of Heritage Overlay Schedules applicable to the area.

As mentioned in the May issue, the Warrandyte Historical Society and the WCA had joined forces with a view to establishing an Urban Design Advisory Panel (UDAP) to evaluate, discuss and attempt to reach agreement with VicRoads on the materials to be used in the construction, to ensure the heritage values of the area at the south side of the bridge were considered and preserved.

They had expressed concern because the historical road alignment is being changed and widened, and the use of barriers and guardrails — similar to those recently the subject of protests in Kangaroo Ground — fences and the ugly use of grey concrete and plastic handrails do not comply with the heritage guidelines required by Manningham.

We understand at that meeting VicRoads had agreed with WCA’s proposal that this UDAP be set up.

However, the terms of reference and scope have yet to be agreed.

Most of the individual objectors spoke to the Diary on condition of anonymity.

Three objectors wanted the two tall trees  at the southern end of the bridge to be retained;  one suggested this could be done by making the cantilevered pathway go around the tree on the west side, and fill be avoided at the base of the tree on the east side with the new off-ramp being shored up with pylons or a wall constructed.

VicRoads agreed to investigate the practicality and costs associated with such additional works, but had some doubts on the ability of the budget to accommodate the increased costs involved.

One resident tabled the VicRoads-produced artist’s impression of the south side as published in the March edition and asked how the four tall trees shown in this impression were to be provided.

VicRoads confirmed they would not be there “It’s only an artist’s impression”; which the objector suggested was deliberately misleading.

As part of the discussion it became evident that, in addition to the new cantilevered shared pathway on the west side, the bridge structure will also be extended slightly out on the east side to partly move that footpath outwards.

It was also discovered the plans provide for considerable fill material on the south east off-ramp side and it was not clear how this was to be revegetated.

An objector wanted the whole issue of tree retention, flora, fauna and reforestation to be included in the scope of the UDAP, but VicRoads was adamant the UDAP restrict itself only to the construction materials.

“How can you have a design panel which does not look at the total design; the final ‘look’ of the whole project is what matters most?” asked one resident.

A recurring theme in the objectors’ submissions was they did not want the development to proceed at all on various grounds including this was a band-aid solution to a wider problem, they suggested the decision should be delayed until the route for the North East Link had been decided and the traffic flow through Warrandyte had been remodelled and the original modelling of evacuation times and improvements to daily traffic flow was fundamentally flawed.

A resident of Ringwood-Warrandyte road pointed to the stationary queues of traffic outside their house and dreaded to think how bad this would become when further traffic was attracted to the area and red traffic lights north of the bridge would cause gridlock back around the roundabout at the bridge causing even longer queues along Ringwood-Warrandyte Road in the evening peak period.

Also raised was concern the materials used and the extra fenced-off pathways might completely or partially block the view of the Yarra for passengers in vehicles.

Many comments were made on the lack of concern for flora and fauna, these included:

• “I object to the removal of indigenous eucalyptus polyanthemus, eucalyptus goniocalyx and, bursaria spinosa trees and shrub on the north east embankment of Yarra Street.”

• “The Southern Mahogany nearby should also be retained.”

• “Eucalyptus polyanthemus is already in severe decline in Warrandyte — all large trees should be retained for habitat, ecology reasons, mitigating against climate change.”

• “These works will greatly downgrade the significant river scenery.”

• “Construction of the turning lane will impact on fauna habitat and corridors, including breeding wombats and swamp wallabies.”

• “A canopy rope bridge for arboreal fauna must be included, as must a pipe to enable wombats to cross under Kangaroo Ground Road at the north end of the Bridge.”

• “Kookaburras, wood ducks and sulphur crested cockatoos use hollows in other beautiful large eucalyptus trees a few metres below the embankment nearer the river.”

• “These trees will also be at risk from the proposed works due to root damage, changes to the water table, possible introduction of harmful fungi, etc.”

• “All the trees in the vicinity of Warrandyte Bridge require protection — measures must be taken to minimize impact.”

• “The character of unique and historic Warrandyte, prized by artists past and present is irreplaceable.”

• “To what extent have the Wurundjeri Tribe Council Elders been consulted about these works?”

• “So much lost — heritage, wildlife safety, access and habitat, pedestrian safety at an already difficult intersection, liveability through increased traffic volumes — for little, if any, gain.”

A number of these comments, whilst being very valid, are outside the scope of Manningham to determine in direct relation to the planning laws.

However WCA’s first and primary objection on the grounds the application as submitted is invalid in law will be difficult for Manningham to disprove and it is hard to see how they could grant a permit to an invalid applicant.

We await with interest to see if Manningham planners will hold off making a recommendation to councillors until the UDAP has been formed and its scope agreed and findings released.

We asked WCA to comment on their meeting with VicRoads and formation of the UDAP, but they declined to comment.

North side of the bridge

In terms of progress not much has happened.

The planning permit application was lodged with Nillumbik on April 3.

A site inspection was carried out by the council planners on April 27 following which a letter was sent to VicRoads requesting more information, Nillumbik are still awaiting VicRoads’ reply.

When that is to hand the matter will progress to the “advertised” status, which will involve a notice being posted and the public then given 14 days in which to make submissions or objections.

We await further progress with interest.

Residents fear Green Wedge at risk in Nillumbik’s draft plan

DURING a community consultation session held at Eltham’s Edendale Farm on May 17, local Nillumbik residents voiced their concerns at Nillumbik Council’s draft 2017–2021 Plan.

In the plan, the Council has chosen to focus on five key “strategic” objectives:

• Engaged, connected communities.

• Active and creative people.

• Safe and healthy environments.

• A prosperous economy.

• Responsible leadership.

Members of the community were concerned about a lack of balance in the plan between protecting the environment and other issues, such as generating income and infrastructure projects.

North Warrandyte local Ian Penrose has made a written submission to Nillumbik Council, criticising the language used in the plan.

“[The Green Wedge] is fundamental to the shire’s identity and its responsibility,” he said.

Mr Penrose is also concerned about the plan’s lack of focus on maintaining and improving the environment in the Green Wedge.

“The language used by the Council is an indicator of its perspective, and that is worrying,” he said.

Other locals voiced similar concerns to Mr Penrose during the community consultation, particularly surrounding property development around the Shire.

There were strong opinions about what the Council should do with some vacant blocks of land.

While the Council could sell the land to fund other community-based projects, Nillumbik residents were nervous about the potential for further development in busy townships such as Eltham and Diamond Creek.

One woman argued there was “intrinsic value in vacant land” and “odd pockets of trees and land add to the natural streetscape of the Shire”.

Others were troubled about a potential “population increase” as well as criticising the Council for seeing vacant lots as a “development opportunity”.

These are the latest development worries for Nillumbik residents, with the Warrandyte Diary reporting concerns surrounding a potential property development on Pigeon Bank Road in North Warrandyte (see page 9).

Spokesperson for the Nillumbik Pro Active Landowners (PALs), Max Parsons said, “Nillumbik PALs supports the Council’s focus on the importance of proper representation of, and advocacy for, its ratepayers.”

The Nillumbik PALs believe the Green Wedge Management Plan is due for review and supports the Council’s focus on building the Shire’s economic possibilities.

“Like all relevant sections of any Planning Scheme, the Green Wedge Management Plan should be subject to review and updating, as it is long overdue,” Mr Parsons said.

The Nillumbik PALs support “the establishment of a strong financial position, which includes an emphasis on the economy, tourism and employment,” Mr Parsons said.

Focus on the economy and tourism was also on the agenda at the community consultation meeting.

Nillumbik Mayor Peter Clarke proposed the construction of a “Civic Hub” for Eltham.

While no concrete plans are in place, the Mayor encouraged the community to join the conversation about potentially building a hotel or even a small hospital in Eltham.

Mr Penrose feels as if the emphasis on jobs, economy and tourism in the Council’s plan will put the natural landscape of the Green Wedge at risk.

“[The draft Council Plan] conveys the message that the Council is ignoring its fundamental responsibility to care for the Nillumbik Green Wedge,” he said.

“I urge the Council to correct this glaring and critical shortcoming in its plan.”

In response, Mayor Peter Clarke said during the consultation that language specific to the Green Wedge was not used in the strategic objectives because it was seen as “too broad”. He pointed out that other councils also see themselves as a Green Wedge municipality.

That is unlikely to ease the concerns of North Warrandyte residents such as Mr Penrose who want to ensure the natural landscape of Nillumbik Council and the surrounding areas are preserved and improved well into the future.

The public consultation period for the 2017-2021 Plan officially closed on June 2.

Warrandyte set to go potty for teapots

IN 2004 A group of potters joined together and opened The Studio@Flinders, a gallery which sold, exhibited, and raised awareness about the world of wheel thrown, handmade ceramics.

One of the major annual exhibitions The Studio@Flinders hosted was the Melbourne Teapot exhibition.

In 2016, The Studio@Flinders closed, but the craft and spirit of handmade ceramics is still strong in Warrandyte and The Stonehouse Gallery on Yarra Street has taken up the mantel and will be hosting Melbourne’s annual teapot exhibition in August.

The Diary spoke with Marymae Trench, a ceramics artist and Stonehouse Gallery member since 2003, Ms Trench is part of the team who is arranging this year’s exhibition.

“Warrandyte has a long tradition of ceramics… at one stage there were seven shops in Warrandyte so there is definitely a history,” she said.

Ceramics has fallen out of fashion and there are very few courses now that allow new people to learn ceramics,

“I started classes at Potters Cottage in 1979, then ceramics were king but 20 years on ceramics has really slowed down… there used to be three TAFE colleges which allowed students to study ceramics, now there are none,” said Ms Trench.

A trend which is compounded by the convenience and availability of cheaply made and imported ceramic goods.

“We get tyre kickers here on Sunday, this young couple came in and the bloke said ‘there’s a mug in here and you’ve gotta’ pay $20 for it, and his partner said well its handmade you know… people come in and say they’ve always drunk out of clay because that’s what their mum and dad did, but the people who haven’t grown up with handmade stuff don’t really know the joy of using something that has been hand made,” Ms Trench said.

The Melbourne Teapot Exhibition, if successful, could become a regular calendar event for the Stonehouse Gallery which will compliment other community events on the Warrandyte calendar — such as the Warrandyte Festival and Pottery Expo — as a way of bringing tourism into the area.

Ms Trench is talking to local businesses in an attempt to generate some enthusiasm for the exhibition.

To inspire local businesses to get involved, Ms Trench explained how she hoped to replicate something along the lines of the Warrandyte Christmas Gnome hunt.

“We were told there were 200 entries last year, which means there were 200 kids and their parents, wandering the streets of Warrandyte looking in the windows of businesses — this is one of the problems with Warrandyte, people don’t know what is here,” she said.

The Stonehouse Gallery is a working gallery, which means everything on display in the shop, including exhibition content, is for sale.

The exhibition organisers are excited by the prospect of having around 50 different artists from all over Australia displaying their works and the organisers are sure there is something to suit all tastes.

But why teapots?

The process of making tea in a teapot has fallen out of fashion, the convenience of teabags is too hard to ignore.

There is still a generation who do remember their parents or grandparents using a tea pot, and the fashion of handmade is slowly coming back, but what’s in it for the potters?

Ms Trench describes the process of making a teapot and the appeal to potters due to the skill required to make a good teapot.

“When I was a student, I made five teapots and at the end I said I was never going to make a teapot ever, ever, ever, ever again because they are so hard to make.

“So you’ve got to make it so it is going to hold tea, you’ve got to have a handle that is functional, it’s got to have a spout, now when you make it you have got to make sure the level of the spout is above the level of the water— if it is below you fill it up and it comes straight out the spout, you’ve got to make sure the lid doesn’t fall out when you tip it up. “When you have a tea pot that already weighs a lot and you put in a litre of water, that’s another kilogram of weight, and it has to be aesthetically pleasing.

“You have to put the little holes where the spout is.

“You throw it on the wheel, you throw the spout then you have to cut the spout so it fits on and it’s got to have a lip that doesn’t dribble.

“It is totally different to making a bowl because there are so many elements that you need to get right and when it is full the centre of gravity needs to be in the right place and that is very hard to get right.

“It is very difficult and I don’t think people realise just how hard it is,” she said.

The exhibition will be open to the public August 4 – 15.

MDD awareness month


MAY is Metabolic Dietary Disorders awareness month and Warrandyte’s own Grand Hotel have announced a very special program — in what is believed to be a world first; they are offering a special menu to cater for people living with this rare group of diseases.

The Warrandyte Diary spoke with the President of the Metabolic Dietary Disorders Association (MDDA) about the most common of this rare disorder Phenylketonuria (PKU) and what this menu initiative means for people living with PKU.

What is it like living with PKU?

Phenylketonuria is considered a rare disease and I guess the significance of this disease is it is one of the things they pick up with the heal prick test.

The heal prick test has been administered for about 50 years and most newborn babies are tested, so PKU is usually diagnosed within the first ten days of life.

My son is seven and he’s got PKU — when he was diagnosed, I had never heard of it before and it came as quite a shock.

However, as a parent you learn — over time —it is a manageable disease as long as you are diagnosed early, are on top of it, and you teach your child as they are growing into a teenager and an adult.

They live a relatively normal healthy life — the biggest challenge is the diet, because it is all about your metabolism.

What are the symptoms and restrictions?

To have PKU means you have got a faulty enzyme in your liver that prevents you from metabolising a particular amino acid which is found in protein — Phenylalanine.

It can’t be metabolised and therefore creates toxic levels in your body which effect the brain — so a young child, if they are not diagnosed early, just simply breastfeeding is getting more  Phenylalanine than they need.

It sends their levels sky high and potentially within 6-12 months, they are brain damaged, so it is all about avoiding brain damage.

When they are young that is when it is most critical, as they get older their brain gets to a point where it is considered to be developed, which they now say doesn’t happen until they are 25, but they advocate diet for life to protect the brain for life so what that means it they have to have a very strict low protein diet.

My son Charlie is allowed to have 12 grams of protein, kids his age with a metabolism his age would probably have about 40 grams, that doesn’t sound too bad because he is a child, but as he gets older that 12 grams won’t change, most adults will have around 70 grams of protein a day.

For example, an egg is six grams or a glass of milk is 10 grams of protein, a potato is two grams, so it is fruit and vegetable as well — everything has protein in it, even nuts legumes soy; we have to avoid all those things too because they are too high in protein, so what we have to counteract this is a specialised synthesised protein, it is like a protein shake — Charlie will have that three times a day and that gives him all of the other protein amino acids his diets is missing out on.

We also have special protein free rice, pasta, milk, cereals, cheese, the whole lot to make up a lot of the staples of the diet and then depending on what their actual allowance is we will incorporate normal foods in to their diet — I am always to the supermarket now reading labels.

It is a very complex diet and because it is not an allergy, or something like diabetes, it doesn’t have that instant effect so it is very hard for people to understand. oIt doesn’t really fit into any category of special diet either, people say, oh you are just vegan — and then they will bring you out a vegan meal with all these sesame seeds or lentils or something.

So what happens is people with PKU often don’t dine out because it is too hard to explain and prepare a meal and so most places you go generally the staple they have is hot chips, but we generally have to weigh them, because one potato is two grams of protein so if someone is going out trying to find a two gram meal for their kid they have to weigh them and they say: Charlie you can have that many — so it is tough.

 The Grand Hotel are doing a special PKU menu, how important is that?

With dining out, a lot of people say it’s just too hard so they take their food everywhere and they often eat the same bland stuff, that is the other sad thing they have their special free pasta they boil it up they put a bit of their free cheese they might sprinkle some herbs on top, you think how much food is a part of our lives and it so bland – even drinking — I mean beer has protein so to even go and have some beers with your mates, to have that social aspect, for families with kids and teenagers and for adults to be able to come out and have that dining experience and just eat some beautiful foods.

What it will mean is that families that are in the area can come and have a dining experience with their kids or as adults and actually be able to order something off a menu without having to explain it — it is just brilliant to be able to eat something and feel like everyone else.

Locals outraged over “unnecessary” VicRoads safety barriers


KANGAROO GROUND locals are outraged over a 17km stretch of road safety barriers VicRoads are currently constructing on Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road.

According to VicRoads, the project will benefit the community by increasing road safety and preventing high-speed collisions.

The Victorian Government has provided $6.2 million to the project.

But many locals, including Nillumbik Councillor for Sugarloaf Ward Jane Ashton, believe the project is a waste of taxpayer’s money.

“It really is an over-engineered mess in the middle of our beautiful green wedge,” she said.

While Ms Ashton is in favour of making local roads safer, she, and many other locals, are questioning VicRoads’ methods.

“The VicRoads’ data shows that speed reduction has far greater cost benefit than barriers,” Ms Ashton said.

Also worrying locals is the fact that VicRoads have built a section of the barriers near a major kangaroo crossing.

Kangaroo Ground resident Lia Williams says, “It is upsetting to see dead kangaroos on the road outside my property, slaughtered between the newly erected barriers”.

The barriers could also prevent local firefighters from entering properties during an emergency.

“We live in a very high-risk fire area; a barrier is going to block you into your own property. It restricts firefighters’ access and puts all of us in more danger,” Ms Williams said.

Another major concern for the locals and drivers is the safety of cyclists. Up to 500 cyclists travel along Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road each weekend.

“Cyclists [are] being forced along even narrower sections of rough road,” Councillor Ashton said.

Ms Williams believes the barriers are a quick-fix solution.

“Many cyclists use this road up to Kinglake. It is a really narrow road as it is, they should have used the money for cycling lanes. What they are doing is a blanket approach — put barriers where they are needed, not just on straight stretches of road because there are trees.”

Locals voiced their disapproval of the project with ongoing protests during April, with up to 40 attending some rallies.

The protestors have been gathering support through a petition and by passing leaflets to drivers as they stop at the road works.

“We have had a rolling group of protestors nearly every day for three weeks; many people have written to the Premier, their local MPs and VicRoads, but few have had their letters acknowledged,” Councillor Ashton said.

“Nillumbik Council has also written to VicRoads asking them to cease work and re-engage with the community.

“This is really a David and Goliath battle, with VicRoads ploughing on as quickly as possible,” she said.

The residents are frustrated that VicRoads have taken little notice of their disapproval and ignored the local community’s ideas.

“The community suggested improving road shoulders, particularly for cyclists, fixing up road surfaces, creating safer turnouts from Yarra Glen and Wattle Glen Roads onto Kangaroo Ground Road, and additional speed reductions,” Councillor Ashton says.

“For VicRoads it was community consultation but for us it wasn’t — we were ignored,” Ms Williams added.

Ms Williams believes a major issue in VicRoads’ assessment of the area is the fact there have been no fatalities for many years.

“There have been 11 accidents in the past eight years with no fatalities on the Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road in the statistics that we have [from VicRoads], yet Kangaroo Ground – Warrandyte Road has had 23 accidents in the past four years. VicRoads are doing nothing to improve that road,” Ms Williams said.

Local resident George Bernard agreed.

“I’m a local firefighter and I can’t remember the last time I’ve come to a serious accident [on the road] with fatalities or people having to be hospitalised,” he said.

VicRoads data confirmed that there had been zero fatalities on Kangaroo Ground – St Andrews Road since January 1 2006, while on Kangaroo Ground – Warrandyte Road there had been three fatalities.

The VicRoads barriers are being constructed throughout May, and are expected to be completed in June.

Pigeon Bank planning goes to VCAT


Community groups and neighbours join forces to try and appeal planning approval

FOLLOWING on from last month’s story on concern over a proposed development at 2 Pigeon Bank Road in North Warrandyte, several parties have appealed this matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) has joined forces with Friends of Nillumbik and the Green Wedge Protection Group to request a review by VCAT of the decision by Nillumbik Council to approve the planning application.

In addition, it is understood that the original objector, a neighbour, and a number of other nearby residents have lodged similar appeals.

One of the many grounds for the appeal by those who did not originally object to the council is that neighbours and community groups had not been properly advised of the application.

A directions hearing was set down at VCAT for last Friday May 5, intended to be a quick hearing to determine whether the late applicants would be allowed to appeal.

At this hearing, the barrister for the applicant requested the matter be thrown out because there had been no objectors to the original proposal before Nillumbik Council.

He contended the neighbour had put in a submission requesting some changes, rather than an objection and that without any objector there was no case to bring to VCAT.

Much discussion ensued on whether WCA should have been notified of the application, on the standing of the other community groups and their right to join in an action, and whether the community groups and immediate neighbours would be allowed to form a single group to appeal the decision.

The VCAT member, Ms Dalia Cook, reserved her decision on all matters, this is expected to be handed down within the next few weeks.

If the action proceeds, the next step is that the parties will attend a compulsory conference at VCAT on July 6 in an attempt to reach agreement.

If this fails, the matter will go to a full hearing which is not expected to occur before September, and may take between two and four days.

War Memorial shines as Warrandyte remembers


DAMP weather did not deter hundreds turning out for the Anzac Day memorial service this year at the Warrandyte RSL.
Some 150 people participated in the march from Whipstick Gully to the memorial at the RSL.
Lead by Ennio Torresan the march consisted of returned servicemen and women, their families, dignitaries and members of CFA, Scouts, Guides and local sporting groups.
The marchers were joined by an estimated 800 strong crowd to take part in the service around the memorial.
The address was conducted by John Byrne, who recalled the service of the late William Stringer who served in both World Wars, living in Warrandyte until his death at age 70 in 1965.
And what would Anzac Day be without the Bellbird Singers beautiful rendition of I am Australian and Barry Carozzi performing his haunting It’s Not a Soldiers Job to Question Why?
Following the requisite minute’s silence, wreaths were laid on the war memorial by local members of parliament Kevin Andrews and Ryan Smith along with representatives of other community groups and members of the public.
The memorial was vandalised on Sunday night prompting swift action by the community to restore the shrine in time for the Service.
Ryan Smith MP told the Diary he was inspecting the damage when he learned that the RSL was going to have to put on extra security to ensure the vandals did not return again before the service.
“I was lucky to be here at the right time because I was able to offer to pay half of the $700 costs of the added security which the RSL would otherwise have to find from their own pockets,” he said.
Warrandyte RSL President Hank Van de Helm thanked the community for the huge support that was given to the club after the desecration of the memorial.
Federal Minister Kevin Andrews said the act was “absolutely disgusting”.
“But the best answer to that is so many people turning out today,” he said.
Local Councillor Paul McLeish said he was “proud of the way the community came together to right a wrong”.
The restored memorial looked better than ever, so the silver linings from this despicable act were that Warrandyte’s war memorial received a face-lift and the RSL received that warm sense of community that rose from Warrandyte rallying together to erase the damage to our beloved institution.

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