Bricks and mortar travel agency or online? Warrandyte Travel & Cruise expert Carolyn Allen explains why the traditional travel agent is best.
Bricks and mortar travel agent versus online. What is your take on that? – Scott, Warrandyte.
I liken this discussion to comparing eating at McDonald’s against a la carte dining at a fine dining restaurant.
At McDonald’s you are offered a simple menu whereas at a fine dining establishment you have a choice of interesting taste combinations that you may not have ever thought of yourself.
If your needs are simple and you are happy to take what’s offered by a robotic search engine then there is nothing wrong with online booking. However, if you are looking for more than just point to point travel and one hotel then you will benefit from working with an expert on the other side of the desk in a bricks and mor- tar travel agency.
For example: we recently had a client wanted to go to Malaysia, Mainland China and Hong Kong. The online booking sites, as was our system quoted a fare in the vicinity of $8000. Our human expertise was able to apply some creativity, rework the fare and reduce it by half.
Q: What else do you consider to be the makings of a great travel booking experience?
A: A great travel experience starts the minute you walk in the door and are greeted by a consultant who genuinely cares about travel needs. It is vital your travel professional gets to know you, knows your likes and dislikes and works as your best advocate to provide great holiday arrangements – tailored to suit your requirements, taste and budget.
Invariably your consultant has travelled to the destination. They have great travel tips, can recommend restaurants and of course the best places to stay.
I recently travelled to Rajasthan in India – one of my favourite parts in the world. The back alley tours in the cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur provide a wonderful insight into the vibrant life that is India – for me these little gems are a must but rarely promoted!
A reputable travel company takes pride in providing their clients with all options enabling them to make informed choices. Your booking experience should be almost as enjoyable as the journey itself.
Our travel expert Carolyn is the manager of Warrandyte Travel and Cruise. Email her at email@example.com
TOMMY Kerkhof is Warrandyte’s best-known television personality. He is the man behind our TV screens. This year his television repair business celebrates a 50-year milestone. For almost half a century, Tom has toiled and tinkered with our Panasonics and adjusted our Samsungs and Sonys.
From the clunky boxes of the 1950s to the sleek flat screen models of today, he has kept us tuned in and switched on.
“But times have changed,” said Tom. “I’m basically in forced semi-retirement because hardly anybody gets their TVs repaired anymore, they just throw them away. But if any work turns up, I’ll do it.”
Tom and the rest of his family arrived in Australia from Holland when he was only nine. The year was 1952 and Tom could hardly speak a word of English. They first went to live in Hepburn Springs, but Tom’s dad heard about a house to rent at Warrandyte and he came all the way down here to inspect it.
“Dad was a nature lover,” said Tom. “And as soon as he saw the beautiful river across the road from the house, he knew it would be a great place for the four kids to grow up.”
The family, moved into 304 Yarra St and Tom remembers becoming excited the day they arrived.
“I saw the Warrandyte sign as we drove into town and thought to myself, this is the place where we are going to live.”
Tom attended Warrandyte Primary School the very next day.
“The first thing they asked me was, can you play football? Although I could only under- stand a few English words, I could understand the question,” remembers Tom. “I replied, yes, and they handed me a red oval-shaped ball and it looked nothing like a soccer ball.”
Although Tom knew nothing about footy at that stage, he was convinced by fellow student Ray Girling to barrack for Essendon and Tom’s been a red and black faithful ever since.
Tom’s lack of English was to get him into trouble early at his new school.
“My classmate Johnny Smith set me up a beauty,” he says, laughing. “He told me to go over and tell the teacher to go and get, well, a very rude word. She blew up and seemed surprised at my colourful language but she soon realised that I had been set up by Smithy and I was let off.
“Our teacher Mrs Cowden cottoned on to the fact that I could hold a tune and later that year she cast me in a school play that was held at The Mechanics Institute. She introduced me to the crowd saying that although I had been in Australia only four months, they should listen to me as I sang to my fellow student Margo Forder. The crowd stood up and applauded at the end of the song and I had to sing an encore.”
Tom picked up English quickly and today speaks without any accent at all. He attended Ringwood High School and remembers travelling on the school bus with fellow Warrandytians such as Frank Schubert, Daryl Pike, Laurie Warr and Willie Merbis.
“The bus driver Dick Termorshuizen wouldn’t take any nonsense,” remembers Tom. “And if there was any ruckus he’d pull over and throw the offending kids off the bus and they’d have to walk home to Warrandyte.”
Tom was keen on high jumping and joined Ringwood High’s athletics team. The ability to jump would serve him well in later years when he played first ruck for the 1966 Warrandyte premiership team.
Tom also became keen on electrical things and interested in radio. In 1956 when TV came in, Tom was even more interested.
“I thought TV repairs could be a good job because it was mostly indoors and would keep me out of the heat and rain.”
After finishing Year 10, a teacher gave Tom some good advice saying: “If you are interested in radio and TV then there is no point in staying on at school.” Tom took his advice and started his apprenticeship at Stoney’s, an electrical retail store in Ringwood. His course lasted five years as an apprentice radio and television technician, which included studying one day a week at RMIT.
“At Stoney’s I started out fixing irons, jugs and toasters but finally progressed to radio and TV,” said Tom. “I also met my wife Penny at Stoney’s where she worked as a sales assistant. I was 20 and she was 16. We’ve been together ever since.
“Penny and I got off to a slow start because I used to squire her around in Stoney’s Vauxhall ute. She wasn’t too keen to be seen in the ute, but she brightened up considerably in 1961 when I pulled up in my newly bought FC Holden.”
Eventually Tom and Penny were married in the Ringwood Catholic Church in 1968. They honeymooned in Surfers, driving there in the FC Holden that Penny much admired.
“The first night of the honeymoon was spent in a motel in Springvale,” remembers Penny. “We couldn’t understand why it was so hot and we spent all night trying to get cool. We opened all the windows and doors of the motel unit and it wasn’t until the morning that we noticed an air conditioner in the room. If only we’d switched it on!”
Tom started playing football with the mighty Bloods when he was 17.
“I started in the reserves but rapidly improved and within two years I was playing in the seniors,” said Tom. “I trained hard because I had a passion for footy, I just wanted to get better and better and better.”
Tom remembers when they won the 1966 Grand Final. “It’s a great feeling when you’re doing what you love, playing well as a team and actually winning the flag.”
Tom’s hard training paid off when he was voted Warrandyte’s best and fairest player in 1971. He was invited to train with Fitzroy but declined saying, “I just started my own business and I love playing with the local boys.”
Tom and Penny started up Tom Kerkhof Television in 1966 when his job at Stoney’s began to interfere with playing football with Warrandyte. It’s interesting to note they have loyally advertised their business in every single edition of the Warrandyte Diary since 1970. Tom fully acknowledges his wife’s involvement in the family business saying: “Penny has done all the paperwork for the past 50 years. She has also worked for 40 years as a medical receptionist.”
The Kerkhofs had one daughter, Melissa, now 43, and they spend a lot of their time with their granddaughters, Ebony 7 and Chloe 2.
Penny looks back on her time living in Warrandyte: “I really love Warrandyte even though I didn’t live here as a child,” she says.
“We do a lot of socializing with our friends and neighbours and have a long and close involvement with the tennis club.”
For Tom it’s been a wonderful journey for a little Dutch boy who came to live here 63 years ago. One who quickly learnt to speak English and then assimilated into the melting pot of our culture, business and sport and found a place to call his home.
Tom has the last word: “I’ve never had a reason to shift and never thought of leaving. We’ll probably live here forever.”
WARRANDYTE Festival. It’s a battleground for young musicians, a race to glory for daredevil ducks and a feast for fun- lovers. Coming your way on March 18, 19 and 20, CHERIE MOSELEN guides you through some of what’s on offer.
Watch local youth bands at Stiggants Reserve main stage fight for the top prize, a day in a recording studio. Battles rage from 6.30pm on Friday 18 March with featured headliner this year, Amiko. Soft drink, water and BBQ will be available for cash purchase. This is a drug, smoke and alcohol free event. Admission is FREE.
Warrandyte Rotary’s 32nd Art Show will exhibit work by local and interstate artists. Preview the art around 500 paintings as you enjoy a gala champagne opening at 7pm on Friday 18 March. Venue: Warrandyte Community Church, 57 Yarra Street. Tickets cost $25. The Art Show opens on Saturday and Sunday from 10am.
Yarra Street (between the Kangaroo Ground Road bridge roundabout and Harris Gully Road roundabout) will be closed to traffic from 10.30am until 12pm on Saturday 19 March 2016.
Watch Warrandyte’s fabulous street parade boogie on down to Stiggants Reserve! The official ceremony starts at 11am on Saturday March 19. Parade marchers leave from Mitchell Avenue. Community groups, schools, sports clubs, your CFA and fabulous floats you won’t want to miss it!
The official opening kicks things off at noon. Meet your monarchs and get ready for entertainment from local school and bush bands. The Scrims (formerly known as the Scrimshaw Four) and Teskey Brothers slot into a fabulous line up on Saturday afternoon. Sunday’s program starts at 11.30am and includes acts: Pinball Machine, Little Stevies, Chocolate Lilies and The Demon Parade. (If you love a bit of banjo twang, don’t miss final band, ARIA nominated Mustered Courage!)
Cruise along the Yarra on board the festival’s faithful ships of the desert. Camel rides leave from the bottom of Police Street at 8.30am throughout the weekend.
If it’s extra speed you want, try the Scouts’ Giant Water Slide from noon Saturday and Sunday. Charges apply for both activities. Family Bike Ride leaves on Sunday 9am from Warrandyte Netball Courts, Taroona Avenue. Conditions apply (see program).
Children’s performer Carmen Up brings on the entertainment at noon on Saturday, with African Star Olly Friend and Side Glance, among others carrying the show. Sunday’s fun gets underway with the Pet Parade at 9.30am. Get excited for Sergei & Svetlana (the strongest people in the world!) and stay tuned for bands featuring young Melbourne up-and-comers.
Located downhill adjacent to the Warrandyte Community Church this is the place to drop the kids on Saturday afternoon. Puppeteers show, The Funky Monkeys, drumming, ukuleles and jujitsu for those with plenty of beans. All for FREE!
On Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, the boogie is live. Tango lessons, Hip-hop, Tribal and Bollywood, Go Go or Belly dancing… this is your chance Warrandyte, to get your groove on.
The Derby is back and the challenge is real. Carts line up at the top of Police Street from Sunday 9.30am. Registration takes place between 8.30 – 9.15am for children ages 8 to 15 years. Parents’ race, trophies and great prizes… it doesn’t get any bigger. Carts MUST meet strict safety criteria. For enquiries and registration call 0418 357 282 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Up to 1000 plastic ducks dive into the Yarra on Sunday at 2.30pm… but only one will make it downriver to Stiggant Street as the winner! Ducks can be pre-purchased from local schools or from the Information Caravan at the festival, for $3. Ducks will be displayed at the Kid’s Activity Top Tent on Sunday from 11.30am – 2.30pm. Launch takes place from the bottom of Police Street.
Local groups and service providers will offer information and a range of opportunities. Check the program for the complete list of static displays situated along the riverbank. Furthering this year’s festival theme “Boogie in the Bush”, Warrandyte Historical Society Museum will house a special exhibit called Decades of Dance, showcasing dance and dancing in Warrandyte over the years.
In its 19th year, this year’s Grand Read feature guest is Jennifer Harrison, 2011 winner of the Christopher Brennan Award for lifetime achievement in poetry. Enjoy the work of quality poets and writers at this much-loved literary event, from 7.30pm on Tuesday 22 March upstairs at the Grand Hotel. Adult $20 (Concession $16) includes a light supper. Please purchase in advance from Warrandyte Neighbourhood House on 9844 1839. Visit warrandyteneighbourhoodhouse.org.au
Imaginative outdoor art and craft for children of all ages, Nature’s Playground is proudly supported by Manningham council. Located next to the children’s playground, discover a unique play space to create cubbies, nests and sculptures influenced by local flora. From 12pm to 4pm, Sunday only.
‘Follies Goes Viral’ is the latest contribution of laugh-out-loud comedy from Warrandyte Theatre Company. A clever look at society’s fascination with ‘things that go viral’, show dates as follows: 31 March and 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16 April, from 8pm at the Mechanics Institute Hall.
Check out warrandytefestival.org for more info: program details, accessibility info, road closures, maps and registration forms. Warrandyte Festival is dedicated to reducing the amount of waste produced each year. Please do your part. Find a bin, bring a water bottle and consider using your own cutlery and crockery. Your efforts will not be wasted!
Tribute by Jamie Day read by Jamie at Lilydale Memorial Gardens 19/02/16. Jamie is Ron Day’s son.
THANK you everyone for coming today. I know Dad wouldn’t have wanted all the fuss. However, here we all are.
Looking around the room is a testament to the wonderful man that was my father.
So what do you say about the man Ron Day? A man who could talk to anyone on any level and debate almost any topic.
There are many words that could describe Dad. Well read, fair, reasonable, intelligent, articulate, a husband, a father, a grandfather but most of all, my best friend.
As a child I remember the sound of the ACCO starting up in the early hours of the morning and arriving late at night. If not that, then it was swearing and tools hitting the shed floor as a repair was made for the next day’s deliveries. A man who’s work ethic is a forgotten attribute!
As most of you all realise there was always a project with Dad and never enough time to finish it. Dad always said if you’re disorganised you’re always busy! Maybe there is a lesson in there for all of us.
I could write a book on “Quotes by Ronno” and I’m sure it would outsell “Shit my Dad says”, for those of you who know the book!
I remember speaking to him from Indonesia and telling him how great we were doing financially.
“We’re living like kings,” I said to which he answered: “Why don’t you live like a prince and put a bit in your pocket!” Always a leveller to bring me down to earth.
I rolled his beloved Massey Ferguson onto his Falcon ute. After the dressing down that I rightly deserved, we walked across to Gallatly’s Lane, he winked at me and said, “Go get the camera.” Lesson learnt nothing more to be said. That was Dad’s way.
We sometimes borrowed his motorbikes when we were younger, not necessarily legally. He laughed about it later, it was much, much later.
Screaming around in the Commer van. Dad yelling at us: “That thing wouldn’t pull a fart off a shit.”
I had the privilege of travelling to Turkey with Dad and sitting in a boat off the coast of Gallipoli looking at the beach his father fought on so many years before.
One of the few times I ever saw him express emotion, I am so lucky to have known him and spent time with him for so many more years than he had the chance to with his own father.
My wife Annie and our three beautiful girls have been able to travel with my parents, sit with our kids on beaches in the Philippines; travel through Europe looking at the wonders of Rome, Milan and old cities in France whilst listening to Dad explain the history of these places to our children.
He also had to explain how he put diesel in a petrol car! Probably the hardest thing he has ever had to do
Maybe that’s a story for later.
He wondered at history and was amazed by the world in general.
The Soil Shop was the proving ground for our relationship.
After Dad decided it was a good idea to go to the auction for the Soil Shop and then subsequently purchase it, he was dragged kicking and screaming into the computer age and our years at the Soil Shop were tumultuous at times to say the least. It wasn’t always an easy road but we got there in the end.
After some time he finally agreed to pay me! His quote was: “Jamie has finally learnt the value of a dollar.”
I think I always knew the value, it was just he never gave it to me!
It was these great few years which forged the friendship between Cameron and myself.
Mum soldiered on with the computer age whilst Dad bowed three times to Windows 95 then went on to deliver the next load of crushed rock.
A lot of my friends spent a great deal of time at Pound Bend and experienced the hospitality of Mum and Dad.
Michael and Jacqui were both accepted as one of Mum and Dad’s own at different times.
There are so many stories of how Dad touched different people’s lives, but no time to recount them here today.
There will be no filling the void that has been left behind since Dad has gone, so all I can do is try to fill it with all the great memories that I have.
He was constantly steering me in the right direction throughout my life, which at times made no sense, although as I matured, a point on which some may disagree, his advice and wisdom became clear.
He was a special man, a rough exterior with a heart of gold and for those of us who knew him we’re better off for it.
THERE is risk of a precedent being set in the Manningham Green Wedge after a section of land in Warrandyte was controversially awarded as a new title, abandoning usual processes.
In 2010, Brad and Eve Hatfield purchased land at 294 Tindals Road and were told soon after that a corner of their land, about 1000m2, was subject to a claim of adverse possession submitted by their then neighbour.
According to the titles office – now known as the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) – adverse possession is a legal principle that “enables the occupier of a piece of land to obtain ownership if uninterrupted and exclusive possession of the land for at least 15 years can be proven”.
Having successfully obtained the piece of land from the Hatfields, the neighbour sold the property. However, the regular laws of subdivision were bypassed and the piece of land acquired through adverse possession became its own title.
“We moved on from the adverse possession claim and thought the property had been sold as one piece of land only to find out there was a new title,” said Brad.
“It was like another kick in the teeth. We bought the property to build our dream home and we’ve lost a corner of it where someone could potentially build a house, looking out across our land. It’s shocking and it’s changed all our plans.”
Manningham councillor Geoff Gough said DELWP had circumvented the normal subdivision procedures.
“The fact that subdivision or small lots can be created via this [process], and that they’re separate titles and not added to one title, is a real issue for the future of the Green Wedge,” Cr Gough said.
“I think the ultimate issue is with the titles office being able to create titles without council or anybody knowing and creating a brand new lot smaller than the minimum lot size.”
Within the Manningham Green Wedge zone, properties can not be subdivided below eight hectares. Former Manningham mayor Bob Beynon argues that if an application to subdivide the property was submitted to council, it would have been rejected.
“Council could refuse a permit to build on the title. But if your application meets the requirements of the zone provisions, it’s possible it could be taken to VCAT and have the council’s decision overturned,” he said. “I became involved in this because I believe it sets a worrying precedent,” Beynon said. “Although council aren’t culpable, it’s in their best interest to start making inquiries as to what council’s role could be in the event that people may try to pull the same sort of stunt.”
Teresa Dominik, director of planning and environment at Manningham council, said the correct procedures had been followed in the case of adverse possession and that DELWP had created a new title without informing council.
“The Land Title Office confirmed that the granting of the adverse possession application followed the necessary legislative requirements and processes prior to the granting of the application and creation of the new Folio,” she told the Diary.
“This was done by the Land Title Office and the process did not require any notification to council. The parcel of land is 1088m2 in size and officers were surprised it wasn’t sold with the main property.”
Eve Hatfield said her family could not move on from the case while the neighbouring title poses so many uncertainties.
“It’s just been a constant battle to keep the dream going,” she said. “Our fight continues with the intricate issues surrounding this small parcel of land and what the owner proposes to do with it.”
WARRANDYTE Reserve was awash with cones, colour and competition yesterday as runners of all ages and abilities took part in the fifth annual Run Warrandyte event.
Record numbers were recorded as runners competed across the six events. Everyone from parents in prams, school kids, Warrandyte Bloods players and dedicated athletes like the Westerfoldians parkarun group took part. Five-kilometre runner Simon Tu, a member of the parkarun group, believes running truly is a sport for those of all abilities.
“No matter quickly or slowly you run, everyone is going at full capacity. So it’s the most democratic sport there is,” said Simon.
Most exciting was the introduction and running of the inaugural Grand Hotel Warrandyte Gift. After a series of heats involving over 30 competitors, it was Rory Ashton who won out in a photo finish, crossing the line milliseconds ahead of Sharlotte Rimelowe and Kellie Appleby.
The first three placing’s received cash prizes courtesy of the Grand Hotel, ensuring the hard work of runners was rewarded.
Long distance runner Stephen Rennick was the star of the show in the Ringwood Warrandyte Osteopath 15km event, leading the field with an exceptional time of 55 minutes 40 seconds, beating out all comers, including a brave runner who finished the track barefooted while drumming along to music. Not to be outdone was Wendy Mountford, who clocked a rapid time of 1 hour 7 minutes and 14 seconds in an outstanding effort in the 15km female event, just beating out Clare Oliveira who came in a minute later. Simon Bull and Jennifer Wood took out the Harding’s Swift Caravan Services 10km honours respectively, while Simon Tu and Alicia Callahan were the winners in the Ruby Tuesday Jewellery 5km category.
Perhaps the most hotly contested was the Quinton’s SUPA IGA 2.2 kilometre run, in which youngsters led the way, treating the race like a sprint early before pushing each other all the way to the line.
The U8s Crystal Brook Tourist Park Oval Dash was also a crowd favourite, with the little ones running as fast as anyone in front of excited spectators. All events were eagerly supported and watched by a crowd of friends, family and volunteers who cheered each runner over the finish line.
Community favourites were present, such as Grand Hotel manager Peter Appleby, who put the running shoes on with son Liam, to represent the pub, sponsor for the 2016 gift event. Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith was present to award medals to the winners and announce the raffle, and the Warrandyte football players also completed various circuits, despite playing a game the previous day. Participation was strong and impressive MC Steve Ballard was extremely satisfied with the day as a whole.
“It’s been fantastic, probably better than ever,” Steve said.
“We had really strong numbers, the weather was perfect and that really helped.
“It was nice and overcast for the distance runners, and then the sun came out for the Gift. Our sponsors have been really good, there was really good spirit and camaraderie between runners, and we saw some really good times especially in the distance runs.”
Plans are already underway to make the day even bigger in 2017, including more involvement with the local sports clubs.
“It’s a great way to kick off the junior and senior footy season and the netball season, it’s great to see competitors from the different clubs in all the races,” Steve said.
“Next year what we’d like to do is try to set something up to get the sporting clubs to compete as clubs in the races, set them up against each other.”
Special thanks are in order for major organisers, including David Dyason who worked tirelessly along with all the volunteers, the White Owl Cafe who provided exceptional food and coffee for runners and spectators, and, of course, the Warrandyte Community Bank.
IN a surprise move the Andrews State Government has committed to $5.1 million funding for major works to Warrandyte Bridge that includes widening it in an aim to reduce congestion and boost safety in Warrandyte by making it quicker and easier for residents to evacuate during emergencies.
Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan, Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green and ALP Senate candidate for Victoria Steve Kent made a sudden visit to the bridge last week to announce the plan.
The funding is for a project to widen the bridge to three lanes and build a new pedestrian path across the Yarra River. Two of the lanes will be for southbound traffic travelling from North Warrandyte to Warrandyte and the existing footpaths on either side of the bridge will be removed and replaced with a footpath on one side of the bridge.
Improvements will also be made to accommodate an extra lane of traffic from the bridge at the roundabout at the Yarra Street and Warrandyte-Ringwood Rd roundabout. Traffic lights will also be installed at a wider Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Rd and Research-Warrandyte Rd intersection. Drivers travelling across the bridge on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Rd regularly experience significant traffic congestion and long delays. The press release went on to state that according to traffic modelling data about 2500 vehicles per hour would potentially travel southbound across the bridge during an emergency evacuation compared with the current 1100 vehicles per hour during a typical morning peak.
The works will take place either side of the fire danger season and are expected to start next month and be completed by the end of 2017.
Mr Donnellan said:“We’re widening the bridge to ensure the safety of locals by reducing evacuation times by up to 90 minutes. We have listened to the community and we’re delivering a safer and more efficient bridge.”
Ms Green said: “Crossing Warrandyte Bridge, especially in the event of an emergency, has been a serious concern for the local community for many years and we’re fixing it. We’ve listened to local residents and we’re building the infrastructure that they need for a safer community.”
This announcement comes after increased community anger in the past two months (and longer) at the rapidly escalating delays to traffic traversing Warrandyte in the morning peak period, afternoon school period, and the early evening, which until this month had no funding in sight nor any state government will to resolve the problem. It might be useful to recap the events leading up to the announcement.
At the end of 2014 VicRoads installed folded signs and Displan boxes on each side of the bridge to assist in traffic control and one- way operation in emergency and evacuation situations, but this did nothing to solve the day-to-day problems of peak-hour gridlock.
In April last year Jennie Hill founded the “Fix the Warrandyte Bridge Bottleneck” Facebook group with many posts per day and more than 250 members. Note: not an official body, but merely a page with a constructive mission to create some noise and make something happen.
In June last year, after extensive lobbying over more than 12 months by Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) and supported by Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley, VicRoads regional director Adam Maguire obtained funding of $140,000 to conduct a feasibility study and modelling to look at the road network around Warrandyte Bridge in both day-to-day and emergency situations.
In November last year at a WCA Emergency Management forum the results of this modelling and four alternative scenarios and their costs were presented, summarised as illustrated below.
Only the second of these options would in fact help in a non-emergency day-by-day situation.
And that is where the situation had stalled.
The only funding that had come through was for the installation of four traffic-monitoring webcams which are the subject of a separate article in this edition of the Diary.
So, with nothing further being done, the rush-hour situation is getting worse daily, and is particularly compounded when there are traffic accidents or blockages either in Warrandyte or on the Fitzsimons Lane bridge. Such major disruptions have happened twice in February, on the 3rd and 19th, and resulting in traffic for Warrandyte banking up most of the way to Research. An excellent video of the latter is to be found on the Fix the Warrandyte Bridge Bottleneck Facebook group page. And on February 18 a bad accident closed Kangaroo Ground Road in the morning peak hour.
On February 19 Ms Hill and local resident Belinda Steve met with Ryan Smith, Member for Warrandyte, to investigate what could further be done to have some funding and action. Mr Smith produced a large file of correspondence on the matter including Hansards and letters to Luke Donnellan MP the Minister for Roads and Road Safety. He was so frustrated with the lack of action and funding by the Victorian government that he rose in the house on February 10 to make a member’s statement on Warrandyte Bridge. Mr Smith told the house: “Whilst the minister was finally pushed, kicking and screaming, into reallocating the funding the previous coalition government had set aside for work to be done to provide options for the traffic problems in Warrandyte, he has not provided Warrandyte residents the opportunity for input. Nor has any funding been allocated for a solution to be implemented … fed-up residents have now formed the Fix the Warrandyte Bottleneck group and are demanding that the minister takes action.”
It is evident Mr Smith continues to be a strong advocate for residents’ concerns now, although his party (when in office) scrapped completion of the M80 Greensborough-East- link “missing link”, a project which has now been pushed out into the next decade which will do nothing to ease the problem in the short term.
However, in more recent times Mr Smith expressed his frustration with the continuing “obfustication” and lack of will to do anything about the local traffic problem. He suggested he may be seen as a lone voice, and that perhaps it would make more impact if residents wrote directly to the minister expressing their frustration.
Just as the Diary was about to publicise a “write to the minister” campaign, the Government appears to have caved in on the matter and the new announcement was made.
Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley has also been a strong supporter of funding and has urged the government to act.
The media release…
We find it odd local community groups and the local Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith, who has done so much for the cause, were not invited to attend the announcement. We at the Diary were only informed the day before and given we’re a part- time office missed attending. We also find it difficult to understand the role of Danielle Green in this as the Yan Yean electorate does not come any- where near Warrandyte and wonder why defeated ALP candidate Steve Kent was in attendance. The press release announces traffic lights for the Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte and Research-Warrandyte road T-intersection, which was not part of the original VicRoads presentation in November. It also states the works will take place outside the fire danger season and are expected to start next month. However, the fire danger season does not officially end until May 1.
The announcement also makes no mention of any further community consultation, something which has clearly angered residents who have vented on social media.
Dick Davies, president of the Warrandyte Community Association, says: “It’s good that the State Government has addressed the concerns about gridlock after at least 10 years agitation for some action. However, the lack of community consultation, promised by VicRoads in their November and December visits to Warrandyte, is astonishing. After all, residents who actually use the road at different times are most aware of the problems. The modelling quoted in the press release is a desk study based on Emergency Evacuation assumptions not actual data on daily traffic movements as advocated by the WCA. VicRoads will be present at the Warrandyte Festival. It will be an occasion to discuss the plan with them and see if there is room to be more inclusive of community views.”
Other initiatives the Bottleneck group suggested:
Trial traffic lights to operate between 3pm and 6pm at the round- about south of the bridge
Guidelines making Warrandyte roads subject to heavy vehicle exclusions or restrictions on safety grounds (narrow, winding roads)
Guidelines to keep roads not designed for high traffic (including Dingley Dell, Lewis, Blooms, Boyd, Hawkes and Floods Roads) free from traffic trying to evade bridge bottlenecks.
In the medium term, completion of an emergency bridge for bushfire management, possibly at the end of Bradley’s Lane or at another agreed location.
In the longer term, completion of the M80 to Eastlink gap or construction of at least one more permanent bridge across the Yarra somewhere between the Eltham crossing and the Yarra Glen crossing.