Monthly Archives: December 2021

Expect delays around Fitzsimons Lane construction blitz

**UPDATE 21/01/2022
Stage 1 works have now finished as part of the blitz, finishing five days ahead of schedule.

As of the morning of January 21, traffic can once again travel northbound from Templestowe to Eltham on Fitzsimons Lane with detours in place via Bolton Street for traffic travelling towards Eltham from Lower Plenty.
MRPV maintain Stage 2 works will finish on February 13, as per the December announcement.
For further details, read the story below.

WORKS ON THE Major Roads Project along Fitzsimons Lane are picking up during the school holidays, with plans for around-the-clock construction at the Main Road intersection from January 4 until February 13, 2022.
A statement from Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) said upgrades to key intersections in Eltham and Templestowe are set to improve safety and traffic flow for the 60,000 people who drive through the area every day.
Continuous day and night works
From Tuesday, January 4 until February 13, 2022, construction will be occurring 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to complete six months of work in six weeks and upgrade the Main Road roundabout to traffic lights.
Major construction will occur during the school holidays while traffic volumes are reduced; however, intersection closures will result in significant delays throughout the area.
Works will include:

  • installation of new drainage and new pavement,
  • installation and placement of new kerb,
  • underground services and foundation installation for the new traffic signals and lighting,
  • installation of traffic signals and lighting, and
  • completion of new sections of footpaths and driveways for the new intersection.

MRPV said it would continue to work closely with residents, businesses and drivers to undertake these works safely and efficiently.
However, during major construction, there will be lengthy disruptions, detours, and lane closures, and significant delays when travelling through the area
Residents will be impacted by noise from equipment and machinery such as generators, excavators, trucks, vibrations, dust, and light from the work area.
Speeds will be reduced to 40km/h and traffic management will be in place 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The 901 buses will continue uninterrupted, and 902 buses will be given priority travel through the work area during major construction works, so the route is also unchanged.
The 513 will be detoured via Bridge and Bolton streets.
MRPV said it was working closely with emergency services to ensure that emergency access is maintained throughout this period.

Traffic changes
The construction impacts and planned traffic management will be broken into two stages.

Stage 1
From January 4, 2022, there will be significant delays throughout the area.
Where possible, MRPV recommends drivers seek alternative routes, avoiding the intersection during peak-hours and allowing an extra 30 minutes travel time.
One lane will remain open through the Main Road intersection for those heading south towards the city via Fitzsimons Lane from Eltham.
If you are coming from the city heading north towards Eltham or travelling between Lower Plenty and Eltham, a temporary detour via Bolton Street and Bridge Street will be in place.

Stage 2
The intersection will be reopened from January 26, 2022, to allow traffic movement towards Eltham from the city via Fitzsimons Lane.
Travel delays of up to 15 minutes are expected during this time, and detours will still be in place via Bolton Street for those travelling between Lower Plenty and Eltham.
Throughout this period, Souter Street and Jayson Avenue will be closed.
While the road is closed, Souter Street will have a temporary detour via Falkiner Street.
Jayson Avenue will be detoured via Homestead Road to Fitzsimons Lane.

Managing impacts
MRPV stated it would monitor noise, vibration and dust levels at all times to ensure these impacts are kept to a minimum.
If you have any noise concerns, please contact MRPV on 1800 105 105.

For more information, visit bigbuild.vic.gov.au/projects/mrpv/fitzsimons-lane-upgrade/roads/main-road

Jazz takes up residence in Hurstbridge

IT WAS ALMOST like the “old days” at the launch of the Hurstbridge Jazz Club on Friday, December 10.
For a few hours, patrons could forget about lockdowns and all the restrictions endured due to the pesky pandemic and enjoy some world- class jazz.
Of course, there was still the COVID check-in process to do (effortlessly managed by the organisers), but the buzz of excitement from both the audience and performers was palpable.
Joy would be how I would describe the feeling in the room — joy and awe that such top-notch music was being delivered so close to home. Following an incredibly tough two years for the creative industry, it was an exciting night for musicians and music lovers alike.
With the continued uncertainty around the globe as we emerge from COVID, musicians’ opportunity to perform in their own community is more important than ever.
The club was launched by the Kimba Griffith Quintet, who are musicians at the top of their game.
Equally impressive were the young musicians who performed as special guests.
Jazz, I am told, is often a divisive genre — you either love it or hate it.
The audience was a mixed bag; yes, there were some seasoned jazz lovers in the room, but there were just as many people experiencing this type of music for the first time, and I would say that “love it” was the vibe for the night.
The music was divine, energetic, and foot tappingly addictive.
The musicians were masters of their craft, visibly delighted to be performing again and even more so in their own community.
And then there was the venue — the Anglers Club in Cherry Tree Road, Hurstbridge, is a tiny building you could be forgiven for never noticing.
Yet, it has been there for over 50 years.
Once a Guides’ hall, it is now a converted black box theatre managed by Eltham Arts Council, also the setting for the regular Comedy at The Anglers sessions.
This unique venue is intimate and interesting. Patrons are seated at cafe tables or on comfy couches with coffee tables.
There are candles, the odd red velvet curtain, a house piano, and a small, excellently lit stage.
Bring Your Own is the go, although a generous platter was also provided for those who forgot to bring any nibbles.
The venture was a huge success, led by local musician Ryan Griffith and supported by a Nillumbik Community Fund arts and culture grant.
Ryan said the idea for the club came about due to the impact the pandemic had on live music performance.
“Everything, all gigs, stopped or were cancelled. “I have many professional jazz musician friends who live in the area who were naturally in the same boat, so I thought wouldn’t it be great to bring some live jazz to our local area and foster a scene here for local players of all ages.
“We have some of Australia’s finest jazz musicians living in Nillumbik.
“Traditionally they wouldn’t play much around town because they are always touring or playing city clubs.
“Hopefully this jazz club will provide a dedicated place for jazz in Nillumbik,” he said.
Ryan went on to speak about the club’s mission to foster younger jazz artists and will feature an up-and-coming jazz musician at each event. “They are incredibly talented and I know that our audience on December 10 loved our young artists as much as they did the feature band,” he said.
Three hours whizzed by.
The interaction between the band and the audience was a bonus, being refreshingly humorous and engaging.
The stories behind the songs and personal reflections were all part of the performance.
You get the sense that this is just the start of something special.
And at just $20 a ticket, it is not only a very affordable night out but one that doesn’t require a trek into the city.
The Anglers Club is destined to become a hidden gem in Nillumbik’s cultural repertoire.
Due to the size of the venue, tickets are limited, so book soon for the next event in January 2022.

Next performance

January edition of Hurstbridge Jazz Club featuring the Gideon Brazil Quintet and The Forbidden Groove.
7–10pm, Friday, January 21, 2022.
Anglers Club, 31 Cherry Tree Rd, Hurstbridge, Tickets: www.trybooking.com/events/ landing?eid=848960&

Talented sports teacher recognised

MEREDITH THORNTON has been announced as a finalist for Teacher of the Year at the Netball Victoria Community Awards.
A teacher since 1986 and a Warrandytian from 1987, Meredith embodies everything that is community within Warrandyte.
If you can think of a community role, chances are Meredith has at some point held it or worked with those in that role.
Now a PE teacher and at times acting Principal of Anderson’s Creek Primary School, as well as owner of The White Owl café in the Goldfields, and on the Warrandyte Netball Club (WNC) committee helping the club get grants, Meredith says she loves working locally.
“I love being a part of the community,” she said.
Having lived in Warrandyte for almost 35 years Meredith said she feels very connected with the community.
This award nomination from Netball Victoria came as a shock to Meredith, who said she knew nothing about it but was “absolutely stoked, absolutely staggered… just to be a finalist, is a real honour”
The Netball Victoria Community Awards celebrate the significant achievements of individuals and groups who have contributed to the sport of netball in Victoria.
Speaking to the Diary, Meredith said that she has always been passionate about sport and in particular girls and women being involved.

“My mum reminded me the other day that, when I was in year 12, you have those English essays you could do whatever topic you wanted, and mine was that girls should be involved in sport,” she said.

Being a PE teacher, and being heavily involved with WNC, Meredith is pleased her four daughters all played netball at Warrandyte, with Jemma still involved as a player and coach.
Meredith has coached, been responsible for successfully applying for a number grants and as a committee member of the Warrandyte Sporting Group (WSG), helped see the construction of the fantastic facilities now available to the netball club.
Meredith is also a past recipient of WNC’s Club Person of the Year Award. She said this passion has been driven by the fact that netball has “given girls the opportunity to shine.”
Meredith told the Diary that the netball club was a big initiator in setting up the WSG as an inclusive sporting club.

“We just needed the girls to have a home, girls were getting changed for netball training outside or in the bathrooms after school.”

This push has no doubt also been a key factor in breaking the barriers for other sports to include women and girls, with both the cricket, and now football club, looking to field a women’s team.
A move Meredith says is “fantastic” as the different codes “all work together as a combined sports club for the benefit of Warrandyte, and to get the kids and young people as involved as possible.”
One of the challenges of the pandemic has been keeping the kids engaged and especially in sport.
Meredith said that it has been extremely hard on the kids, who have missed out on being part of the team.

“All the PE activities I put up for students to do at home were generally something they could do with a parent, or sibling, or up against a wall.”

The drop off in kids enjoying sport has been an obvious one, but one that “is a concern” according to Meredith, adding that “they just haven’t had that team aspect, when you can grow up learning about working in a team it is really important.”
In addition to the amazing work with the primary school and the netball club, Meredith has also done work for the Warrandyte Business Association (WBA), as a coordinator, a part time role which stemmed from being the manager of the community centre.
Meredith told the Diary that when commonwealth bank was closing in Warrandyte, there was a lot of concern about what they [WBA] were going to do about it.

“We [WBA] needed to set up a different bank, someone said Bendigo Bank they’re really good.”
“We were one of the first, around 2001 and 2002, there weren’t a lot of community banks around but we really liked the concept.”

After the wave of community support, the board of WBA and also Bendigo Bank realised that “what we really wanted to do was to give back to our community.”
To this day it continues to be a big part of Warrandyte, and Meredith continues to do amazing work within the community.
Meredith says that she is pretty driven, in a positive way and that “I really like people and I really like connections.”
“When I look back on all the things I have done, it is all about connections, getting people together with the community and enjoy life and having fun,” she said.
Meredith is a more than deserving finalist for this award, from the Diary team, we say congratulations and thank you for all you have done and continue to do in our community.

A warm welcome back to the theatre for Visitors

REVIEW

IT IS A GLORIOUS return to the stage at the Mechanics’ Institute as Warrandyte Theatre Company presents Visitors by Barney Norris.
Nerves were frayed a little as the already-COVID-delayed opening night was threatened by yet another setback in the form of a massive thunderstorm, and its companion blackout, in the hours before curtain call.
However, the storm passed, and we were welcomed into the theatre, with a gentle, poignant, witty production, about love, family, relationships, and aging.
The auditorium was thoughtfully, socially distanced with café style seating, with candles at each couplet — there was no bad seat in the house, even with additional release of seats as the lockdown rules eased.
The deft hand of the Director, Grant Purdy, guided the four performers to weave a beautiful, if heart-aching tale, taking us on a journey through the light and shade of our autumn years.
Some cast members are well-known to audiences, and others are new to the Warrandyte stage.
Carol Keating, as Edie, spends almost the whole two hours on stage, where we watch her slide slowly into dementia.
We are with her through the ebb and flow of her battle with her deteriorating mind, as her adoring husband (played by Reg Ellery) supports her as best as he can as his own body begins to fail him, and he battles to keep the family farm running.
As the dysfunctional, distant son, Stephen, Don Nicholson nails his character as a man who doesn’t fully understand how to relate to people.
The ensemble family perfectly paints the prickly relationship formed when parent and child don’t see eye-to-eye, especially when it comes to life’s big decisions.
But the biggest bouquet must go to newcomer Meg Davies, she gives a masterful performance, transitioning from awkward interloper to tender carer and then turns on a dime to unleash her fury as a woman scorned.
The simple set, the understated lighting and uncluttered audio (with the well-choreographed squeaky floorboard a standout moment) supported the beautifully written script and thoughtful direction.
Visitors runs until December 10, so head to trybooking to scoop up a couple of the few remaining tickets of the 2021 season.
WTC returns for 2022 with Follies Goes off the Rails in March, a season of One-Act Plays in May, Blackbird in July, the long-awaited Calendar Girls in September, before Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge in November.

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Gooligulch reopening

Photo: BILL McAULEY

THE REFURBISHMENT of the much loved Wonga Park playspace, based on Graeme Base’s book, My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch, is now complete with an official opening scheduled for 4pm, Wednesday, December 15.
Children can once again ride kangaroos, befriend wombats, emus and other characters under the watchful eye of Grandma at the refurbished Gooligulch Playspace in Wonga Park.
Mayor Cr Michelle Kleinert said the refurbishment was a successful collaboration between Council, author Graeme Base and the original Gooligulch creative team, featuring artists, fabricators and suppliers.

“We listened to the community and worked together to preserve the park’s distinctly Australian theme, inspired by the book.
“The refurbished park will ensure new generations of children can experience this unique story and iconic playspace for years to come,” she said.

The refurbishment includes a renovated house for Grandma, refurbished play units for children, and reinstated art panels, improved seating, landscaping, picnic areas and signage for everyone.
The official opening will include storytelling, hearing from the original creative team and Christmas decoration for Grandma’s house.
The upgrade is part of Manningham’s Parks Improvement Program.

“Thank you to our community for their patience over the last few months as we complete the refurbishment,” Cr Kleinert said.

The Wonga Park Community Cottage 40th anniversary

WONGA PARK Community Cottage passed its 40-year milestone in early 2020.
Celebrations had to be delayed for close to two years as COVID suspended celebrations and gatherings.
So, on November 27, the Cottage belatedly marked its anniversary with a “Back to the Cottage” day and the unveiling of a commemorative artwork.
Current and former tutors and students all gathered for a laughter-filled afternoon — clearly everyone was delighted to be in one another’s company again.
Emcee of the official proceedings, Joan Hume, recounted a brief history of the cottage, which started its life in 1950 as the home of Alan Bickford and his family, some of whom were in attendance at the event.
In 1978, the then Lilydale Shire Council purchased the property as part of their plans to establish a recreational reserve in Wonga Park and the cottage began its life as a community centre.
It has been used extensively by locals and those from neighbouring suburbs for arts and craft, history clubs, cooking, bread making, exercise classes, and even laughter classes.
In the mid-80s it opened a childminding centre offering a supervised playroom for $1 per week per child.
In 1990 Lynda Hay became the first salaried coordinator, who retired in 2019 after chalking up an incredible 29 years at the helm.
“You could have tried for 30,” quipped laughter class facilitator, Tracy Bartram.
Louise Schweiger started as assistant coordinator in 2008, and then took over as coordinator in 2019 upon Lynda’s retirement.
In early 2021 the native garden and tables and chairs were installed with help from Manningham Council’s placemaking funding, where Brew & Willow’s coffee van now visits most Saturday mornings.
Manningham Mayor, Michelle Kleinert assisted the artist Janet Hayes in the unveiling of her painting, which was drawn from photographs throughout the last four decades at the cottage.
Janet, who teaches art classes at the cottage, reflected that it was in a way like painting portraits of her family.
“I feel that the people of the centre are like my extended family.
“40 years encompasses my adult life, so I could be any one of the people in this painting,” Janet said.
Cr Kleinert said everyone that attends the cottage is creating history. “The beauty of this cottage, there is life here — there is 40 years of history that we are celebrating, and we think there is going to be another 40 years, and you are part of the history here today,” she said.
Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said he could sense the connection that everyone at the cottage felt for one another, especially after lockdown.
“Let’s not ever take for granted the people we are able to spend time with because we never know what is around the corner, none of us saw the last two years happening, and now that it is hopefully behind us, let us embrace every moment together, because there is no one so special as each other,” he said.
Joan thanked everyone who contributed during those 40 years to the cottage, and Manager Louise Schweiger for organising the event.
“Everybody puts their little part into the cottage on a weekly basis,”she said.
Which is why it is such a special part of the Wonga Park community.

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Warrandyte has a new brew

THERE IS A new beer in town.
The eagle-eyed and more adventurous amongst you may have even already tried it.
The Warrandyte Brewing Co. launched its inaugural beer on Friday, November 28, an Australian pale ale called Sunnyside Ale.
Partial to an independently brewed beer, and always interested in trying something new, I was fortuitous enough to pick up a six-pack from Quinton’s IGA.
Warrandyte Brewing Co.’s first beer from the brewery is light, easy to drink, and perfect for spring/early summer.
I was curious to learn more about who is putting Warrandyte on the beer mat; I sat down with North Ringwood couple David and Bianca Ryan to learn about their inspiration and future plans.
David is a paramedic working out of the Ringwood branch, and Bianca works for a not-for-profit in the disability sector.
I started by asking them what drew them to Warrandyte and making beer.

BR: We both come from a background of wanting to contribute to the community and give back.
We love walking along the river, the sense of community and all the local shops, and we’ve got family out here as well.
Our dog loves swimming in the river as well.
But why we started Warrandyte Brewing Co.? I’ll leave that to David.

DR: Well, I spent a lot of money on beer — so, I guess it’s a way of saving money.
But, I guess the idea started when we lived abroad.
We lived in Calgary, and I guess it isn’t a typical place that people move to overseas because it is a smaller city. It’s on the west coast, so it is known for its harsh climate.
I worked there as a paramedic on a
First Nations reserve; I was contracted to look after them for whatever reason they needed.
It was an eye-opening experience because Australia has an Indigenous population, but there are so many similarities between their culture and the culture of Australia’s Indigenous peoples.
It was a very uniquely beautiful culture, so that was an interesting experience.

BR: Canadians are just so lovely.
Everyone you interacted with was so welcoming and kind of wanted to know your story.
We went there knowing that we wanted to still work in our fields, so I worked for UNICEF when I was over there.
We were there for a year and made great friendships, and hopefully, we can go back to visit soon.

DR: [In Canada] we lived near some breweries, and we found that they were the heartbeat of the area, and it was very social.
A lot of community events happen through the brewery or are associated with the brewing.
I guess that’s how we made lots of our friends that we still talk to now.
So, we want to provide that sort of atmosphere back where we lived, and then I think the COVID lockdown got the creative juices flowing.
And you know, one thing led to another, and the next minute, we are making and selling our brand to local venues and local liquor stores.
It is still weird to see people drinking your beer, but it’s super exciting.

JP: So let’s talk about the beer — with so many great beer varieties around, how did you decide on launching with an Australian pale ale?

DR: Well, that was the great dilemma. But then you have to ask what will number two be, and that’s the next great dilemma.
But, beer has seasons, and people drink beer based on the season.
So we knew that we were going to release it at the start of summer.
The Australian pale ale is approachable to everyone, whether you are a craft beer fanatic or a Carlton Draught drinker.
Through and through, we think there’s something in this pale ale that either side of the story can appreciate.

BR: Our goal is to, I guess, one day have a physical presence in the Warrandyte area but for now, we’re starting small and trying to produce good beer that everyone enjoys.

DR: I asked Michael [Burnley Brewing] his opinion on what would suit the Warrandyte area.
At the time, I was already thinking Australian pale ale, and he recommended it.
I just thought it’s a good fit for an Australian Riverside town.
And yeah, we’re delighted with the way it came out.
It’s low in alcohol or lower on the normal side in our call.
Which for me is a bonus because that’s the way I like.
It’s nice, easy-drinking, really approachable that I hope everyone enjoys it.
We have had a lot of feedback, and everyone seems pretty happy with it, particularly for our first release.
So we’re very, very proud.

JP: Let’s talk a bit about your logo design.

BR: We wanted it to be very on-brand for Warrandyte — we know that our label is quite different to what the other craft beer labels are like out there.
We wanted to make it our own and wanted it to represent Warrandyte as well.
So, there’s a gum tree around the can, and our logo is based on a gum leaf.

DR: It was Bianca’s friend who helped with the design.
I gave a bit of a design profile of what I saw in my head.

BR: We wanted to use the seasonal colours of the landscape as well.
So right now, we are also brainstorming what the next one might look like as well.

DR: We like a simple looking can.
I know some are very in your face and can grab your attention from the shelves.
We hope our beer speaks for itself.

BR: We hope that when we release other beers in the future, you know that as soon as you see our logo that it’s the Warrandyte Brewing Co.
We wanted to keep it simple and true and to represent the area.

JP: Without giving away too many secrets, what’s next?

DR: As I said earlier, beer has seasons, so we anticipate our next one coming out towards the end of January.
With every beer we release, we want it to not be just, ‘get another beer out there to make another dollar’.
We want it to be out there for a long time.
It will be one where on a 30 or 40-degree day when it is nice and dry, it will wet your whistle, be refreshing.

Warrandyte Brewing Co.’s beer is locally available at Hops and Vine and Quinton’s IGA, as well as stores in Ringwood East and Eltham.
See their website for more details warrandytebrewingco.com.au

Meet our new Yarra Riverkeeper

Photo: Bill McAuley

WHEN CHARLOTTE Sterrett came to Australia at the age of 19, she fell in love with the Yarra River.
She has now been appointed its keeper.
Melbourne’s “upside-down river” is a unique ecosystem that brings nature, culture, and people together.
It wends its way 242 kilometres from near Mt Baw Baw, through the Yarra Valley and finishes in the Port Phillip Bay.
It is an important part of Warrandyte’s identity.
This is why the Diary is delighted that Warrandyte resident, Charlotte takes up her mantle as Melbourne’s third Yarra Riverkeeper in January.
Working with the Yarra Riverkeepers Association (YRKA), she will continue her lifelong work as an advocate for the environment. Warrandyte Diary caught up with Charlotte following the announcement of her appointment.

WD: Firstly, what is a Riverkeeper?
CS:
The Riverkeeper, along with the Birrarung Council is there to be a voice for the Birrarung — a voice for the Yarra — to tell the story of the river from source to sea.
There are lots of stories there, historical stories, stories of now, stories of people and all the creatures.
And to educate people about the problems facing the Birrarung, which we know are litter, pollution from chemical waste, unsustainable development, water flow, and climate change — to educate people about those issues but also work together on the solutions.
There are lots of people who use the river and are involved with the river. There are 16 Councils that the river runs through, plus Melbourne Water. But this role is very much about educating people about those problems and working on the solutions together.
The YRKA also does a lot of the clean-up work as well as work with community groups to clean up the river.
The Association has done a lot of research on the types of plastic pollution — polystyrene balls being the number one — and then there are about eight regeneration sites along the river, including Westerfolds, where YRKA does that regeneration work. So, my role as Riverkeeper is to really talk about all the things that the organisation is doing, and connect people with the river, whether they are a politician or local community group, school, or local council.
I will be the third Yarra Riverkeeper, Ian Penrose was the inaugural one, he used to live on my street, and started the Yarra Riverkeepers Association as a volunteer group, and then Andrew Kelly took over about six years ago. YRKA CEO Warwick Leeson is also from Warrandyte, he became involved a couple of years after it started. Warrandyte has got some amazing people.

WD: Why is the Yarra special to you?
CS:
When I first came to Australia I found the Australian environment very different to the English countryside. When I first came to Warrandyte, doing some volunteer work with a local Landcare group, it was on Hamilton Road near where I live now, I remember seeing the river and it was so different, the colours, the smells, the trees, just the natural environment was so different, so captivating.
Nature sometimes does this — it makes you feel a different way, it makes you feel calm and peaceful and relaxed, I love being surrounded by nature, and I remember thinking at the time I really wanted to live here. I love being on the river canoeing, I do that quite a lot, and we are very fortunate in Warrandyte that we can swim in the river, which you don’t get to do farther downstream.
You can be at the waterhole down near the end of our street, you feel like you are really out in the bush in a big way, and you can really feel why the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people see the river as part of their identity.
I would love for other people to feel that way too, that they really see the river as part of their identity.

WD: What was your journey to this point?
CS: I used to work in outdoor education for schools and that was part of the journey, I used to take kids out into the bush canoeing, rafting, lots of bushwalking, some rock climbing, so I have always liked nature.
I then worked with Oxfam in southern Africa, and very soon after that, I became interested in Climate Change. I have been working in International Development for about 17 years.
I have worked in about 20 countries worldwide including lots of countries in the Pacific.
My most recent role was working with World Vision providing support to countries that are trying to adapt to Climate Change.
Locally, I have been with Warrandyte Climate Action Now (Warrandyte CAN), and Osborne Peninsular Landcare Group.
This role helps me combine all these roles that I love – working on environmental issues, working with local communities, working on solutions, and advocating for the right kinds of solutions, that are good for people and the planet.
I guess COVID has shaken things up a bit and I decided I would like to do something more local.
I think being at home has really helped me reconnect with the area and the Yarra has been somewhere that has really helped lots of people, and myself included, to get through the various lockdowns.
I have really come to appreciate it, which is why I want to do this work. We are very lucky in Warrandyte to have the river right there.

WD: What are you looking forward to in this role?
CS: I am excited to learn more about the work that is happening to protect not only the Birrarung but the other waterways that come into the Birrarung, like the Maribyrnong, there is a Riverkeeper for that river too, and a Port Phillip Bay Keeper.
In fact, in Australia, there are about seven waterway keepers and over 300 around the world, so I am really interested to learn about what are the issues that all these people have been working on with their communities.
The river to me is like a living breathing entity, the lifeblood of Melbourne, so it is a real honour to speak for the river.
Since it was announced I was the riverkeeper, people have contacted me out of the blue like a lady up in Millgrove talking about the regeneration work they are doing alongside the river, and Port Phillip Eco Centre spoke to me about the things they are doing at the mouth of the river.
I have worked a lot internationally on some of the international transboundary issues like the Mekong or the Brahmaputra that comes off the Himalayas, and now I get to work on this river, so it doesn’t feel like a job, it is something I would do anyway, so I am very excited about that.
I will be working with the government as well, there is a whole bunch of Yarra River planning controls and a Strategic Plan, including a 50-year Community Vision.
I’ll be working with Government and Melbourne Water to implement that, but also hold them to account.
As well as working with the Birrarung Council and the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Corporation.
I am really excited about working with First Nations people.
I have worked with First Nations groups overseas, so to be able to do that in Melbourne is fantastic.
I look forward to educating people in a way that they learn more about the river and the river’s history — and it is a fascinating history, especially since white man came and really changed it, diverted it, it is a very different river downstream than it used to be.

WD: What can we all do to help the Yarra?
CS: Looking after the river is everyone’s responsibility, I might have the title of the Yarra Riverkeeper, but we are all riverkeepers.
We love the river, we love where we live, and it is our responsibility to look after it.
It is a personal responsibility to treat the river with respect, not dropping litter and not polluting the river, but it is also talking to people about the issues that face the river.
I think we are very lucky in Warrandyte that we have quite a strong community that has been able to keep the character of Warrandyte alive for a long period of time.
But urban development along the river corridor is a big issue, obviously closer to the city we see more of this issue.
Until recently, Warrandyte had septic running into the river, and there are fertilisers running into the river from people’s gardens, and broader issues of Climate Change, and people becoming educated about the impacts of Climate Change on water flow — the river doesn’t have enough flow for it to be fully healthy — so people recognising that and talking to local and state government about those issues.
One thing that has been interesting during COVID was that people have been more connected to their local environment.
It is important that we don’t take these areas of natural beauty for granted.
The Yarra/Birrarung provides 70 per cent of Melbourne’s drinking water, so while people might see their river as being a brown river, they might not realise the catchment provides our drinking water, so we need to protect that.

WD: What is your favourite part of the river?
CS: I have a couple of favourite spots, at the bottom of Osborne Road, just off the path on the right-hand side, just below one of the rapids, where Jumping Creek comes out, you can swim there, depending on the river level, I love going down there.
Not far from there is a beautiful spot with a massive rock that in the morning gets all the sun on it and the whole side lights up with beautiful orange light and it is just glorious.

December 2021

Welcome to our December edition of Warrandyte Diary.

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