Bulletin

Category for WD Bulletin originated stories

Birrarung has a new voice

North Warrandyte resident, Charlotte Sterrett has been appointed a Yarra Riverkeeper, the first woman to take up the role.
The Yarra Riverkeeper Association (YRKA) is the voice of the Yarra, an independent, communityled organisation of advocates who represent and protect this iconic Melbourne waterway.
Charlotte said, as Melbourne’s population grows, the river is under increasing environmental pressure, pollution, and habitat fragmentation.
“Riverkeepers are vital to keeping the Yarra healthy”.
Much of Charlotte’s career has been with aid charities Oxfam and World Vision on climate change education and community adaptation
projects in countries such as Bangladesh, Vanuatu, and South Africa.
She is a member of WarrandyteCAN (Climate Action Now), as well as a local Landcare group, and is a regular environmental columnist for
Warrandyte Diary.
She told the Bulletin that working with Warrandyte CAN has shown her the impact local action can make.
She said her role is as the chief spokesperson for the organisation and “she will be telling the story of the Birrarung/Yarra and lobbying local and state governments”.
Charlotte joins another Warrandyte resident, Warwick Leeson, who is chair of the YRKA.
She replaces outgoing Riverkeeper, Andrew Kelly.

Photo BILL McAULEY

Macedon traders unsatisfied

MACEDON Square’s proposed streetscape upgrade has been in the works for over a year, with traders fighting to keep the centre functional and safe.
In August 2020, Manningham Council released two concept designs aiming to upgrade Macedon Square, one with an open space plan (Option B) and one without (Option A). Traders and community members identified several sore points in the proposed plans, leading Council to prolong consultation and work alongside community members to address these issues.
Four key areas were identified for improvement: parking, safety, accessibility, and other design features. “Consulting with the community is a top priority for Council,” Director City Planning and Community, Angelo Kourambas, told WD Bulletin.
Officers created a revised plan based on this feedback, which was endorsed by Council in its September 28 Ordinary Council Meeting.
However, traders in the centre are still left unsatisfied. Gary Cyganek, owner of Egons Bakery and representing the Macedon Square traders, spoke with WD Bulletin about the points of contention in the revised plan.
“All they’ve done is revise the plan we’ve rejected.
“We feel safety has been compromised,” he said. Although the revised concept design increases road widths along Macedon Road (5.6 metres) compared to prior plans, traders are unsettled by any narrowing of the road at all. Council will also install a 0.6m wide central traffic median to limit east/west car movements along Macedon Road. Traders are apprehensive about the prospective narrowing of the road, due to fears of potential safety hazards, increased collisions, and congestion.
“I think it’s still very dangerous on the road, which is our number one priority.
“By narrowing the road you’re putting people closer to moving vehicles when they’re loading and unloading their car.
“We know the feedback from our customers — they don’t like the congestion [in the centre] and this is going to make it worse.”
Mr Cyganek goes on to say the traders are not convinced the restructuring of the road will create any benefit to Macedon Square patrons and traders alike.
“We’re going to call for an independent TAC report because we feel we need to be shown that this will be best practice, because we just can’t see it.
“We feel this is not functional nor is it safe,” Mr Cyganek says.
In the September 2021 engagement report, Council re- surveyed the community, prompting individuals to choose between Option A, Option B or Option C.
19 per cent voted for Option A (without open space), 56 per cent voted for Option B (with open space) and 24 per cent voted for Option C (neither).
With majority community support for an open space concept, Council is now preparing to progress with the detail design phase of the project, with construction expected to commence in early 2023.
Mr Kourambas said Council will continue to engage with the community on the Macedon Square project.
“Council will continue to engage with traders during the detail design stage of the project in early 2022.
“This may include further investigation of other suggestions such as locations for new trolley bays, electric vehicle charging stations, car share spaces and smart waste bins,” says Mr Kourambas.

A new chapter for Zul and Café Z

CAFÉ Z, HAS BEEN an important part of the Research and broader Nillumbik community for more than 20 years. Owner Zulal “Zul” Rogers opened the café in June 8, 2001, converting it from the Nillumbik Country Café to Café Z with the aim of introducing the community to Turkish culinary culture.
But after two decades of introducing Research and the surrounding community to Köfte, Döner, Baklava, and Kahvalti, and being a general all-round community superstar, Zul has hung up her apron and handed the café over to new owners in late-September.
To mark this new chapter in her life, WD Bulletin spoke with Zul about the last 20 years.
Prior to owning Café Z, Zul ran a catering business from home, selling food at the Eltham Market and teaching Turkish cooking classes at the local Living and Learning Centre.
The balance between raising young children and running a small business from home was stressful, not being able to “call home, home” is one of the reasons why Zul decided to open Café Z.
“Everyone dreams of owning a café, but I had to work my butt off.”
The first five years were tough, and she initially struggled to attract customers to come and try Turkish cuisine. “Research was a very anglo area and I was introducing Middle Eastern Turkish cuisine, so I had to find the right balance to keep the customers happy”.
Zul found that her food was “accepted, and not accepted” with people making comments belittling the type of food she was making, such as falafel.
But, over time, the community discovered the delight of Turkish cuisine, and she watched her business grow.
It is nearly impossible to chart the journey of a business, especially a café, without mentioning the current pandemic. Like many, government restrictions meant Zul needed to pivot to keep Café Z afloat.
She did this by providing freshly cooked, packed foods, take away coffee, and a bright, positive attitude to everyone who came to her front door.
The community response was a true testament to how Zul has made an impact within the community, with regulars not only showing their support with their wallet.
“The number of bunches of flowers and cards we got from people saying thank you for getting us through COVID was just beautiful, touching and humbling.
“We were fortunate, very fortunate and lucky.”
Doing anything for 20 years is a long time, so WD Bulletin asked Zul what her favourite part was of owning a café. “Meeting beautiful people and customers who have become friends”.
Over time, Zul has developed a two-way relationship with her customers, from an “outpour of love and support for the café and staff ”, to customers bringing in fresh, home-grown lemons for her desserts.
Looking forward, Café Z continues under the stewardship of new owners Rosa and Paul, adding their own take on
Image supplied, Facebook
what regulars of Café Z have become accustomed to, and the new owners have her blessing.
As for Zul, she continues to provide Turkish cuisine and cooking classes under the banner of Hart & Sole Catering and is also looking forward to going back to school in 2022, with the aim to become a teacher and is looking forward to a change of pace from the stresses of running a café.
Zul would like to the thank the community of Nillumbik for the kindness and generosity over the years.
“It’s been a beautiful humbling experience and I’m glad they liked what I did, thank you, thank you, thank you”. Zul would also like to thank her four children, Jess, Dylan, Will and Hamish for their love and support over the years. We wish Zul and her family all the best for their future endeavours.

Locals plea to save Apollo Park

THE APOLLO PARK Community is battling to save their identity and the public space around Civic Drive, Greensborough.
In recent years, the renovated playground, fitness centre, library, along with ample parking, has made the space very popular.
However, a $675M State Government initiative to build 10 community hospitals close to major growth areas across Victoria has identified Civic Drive as the preferred location for the Eltham area Community Hospital.“The Victorian Government is building community hospitals so families can have peace of mind that help is just around the corner when something is not quite right or when a loved one gets sick,” a Department of Health spokesperson told the WD Bulletin.While not against the idea of a new community hospital, residents around Apollo Park are concerned the choice to site the proposed community hospital at Civic Drive will take away existing parking, forcing facility users to spill out into local streets, or avoid the area completely.Apollo Parkway resident Kelly Farrow, told the WD Bulletin why her family moved to the area, and the concerns she and her three year old son Clyde have about the works and the impact it will have on the green spaces and congestion in the area.

“He [Clyde] loves playing at the Rainbow Snake park and running around on the sloped hill and amphitheatre, which will both be loomed and shaded over by the hospital and carpark.
He is genuinely really worried about it and keeps asking me how we will save the park.
We moved to Apollo Parkways from the inner-city two years ago and one reason was that open green space and facilities on Civic Drive.
Clyde will go to the Apollo Parkways Primary School in two years, which is directly opposite the hospital site.
Due to the steep roads around here, we will have to drive there, and I’m already worrying about where I’ll park to drop him off as I’ve seen (and got stuck in!) the insane bottlenecks during peak times.
You can’t even enter the IGA carpark from 3pm as it’s completely chokkas with parents, as is every road and
carpark around there.
As his mum, I’m really worried about the greatly increased traffic that will go in past the playpark and sports centre, and out past the library, as kids like Clyde are fast runners and are used to being able to tramp around this green area quite safely,” Kelly said.

WD Bulletin also spoke to community members Rosemary Burdett and Dr Svetlana Ryzhihk, who have been active in the fight to save Apollo Park.
“I’m just disappointed that the hospital is going to be built on all the parking that services the facilities in the area — the stadium, the library — and that parking is also used by the parents of Apollo Parkways Primary School.
“I don’t understand why they think they can take all of that parking and then leave none for the local people who have been accessing those facilities for decades.
“All those community hospitals are a terrific thing, nobody is arguing against it, it’s just the site,” says Ms Burdett.
Parking pains are exacerbated with the expansion of the fitness centre — now hosting regional matches and more training sessions, increasing the demand for parking space.
There are currently no guarantees of free parking, as Austin Health will be managing future parking pertaining to the hospital.
Locals fear that potential paid parking in the precinct could deter activity in the centre and create congestion in nearby streets.
“If you take away the parking, where are people going to park?
“People are either going to use local streets or they won’t use the stadium,” says Ms Burdett.
Dr Svetlana Ryzhihk, President of Friends of Apollo Parkways (FoAP), has gained immense community support with her Save Apollo Parklands Now petition, receiving over 1,300 signatures nearly reaching its goal of 1,500.
Dr Ryzhihk says the community is also concerned by the “non-existent” public transport access.
“Public transport access is non-existent.
“There are two bus stops one 500 metres away and one 600 metres away — the terrain is very steep, so for people with limited mobility that won’t be an option,” said Dr Ryzhihk.
The open space in Civic 0Drive has been well loved by its community — many locals utilising the space for picnics, gatherings and walks with furry friends.
“Putting in one more high use facility will kill the community.
“The community is asking Council not to sell the land,” says Dr Ryzhihk.
In the coming weeks Council will decide whether or not to sell — however, if the August 24 Nillumbik Ordinary Council Meeting is an indicator of things to come, regardless of the verdict, the fate of Apollo Park could already be sealed.
Cr Peter Perkins told the meeting:

“Council has not yet resolved a formal position on whether or not to sell the land.
It is important to note that if Council resolves not to sell the land to the State Government, the option of compulsory acquisition is still very open to it.
Council will consider all available information at the time before making any decision.”

The Department of Health told the WD Bulletin they are considering community views. “We’re continuing to work with Nillumbik Shire Council to ensure community views are heard around the preferred location for the Eltham area Community Hospital.” However, a report from a member of FoAP following a Victorian Health Building Authority (VHBA) information session on September 8 would suggest VHBA’s community engagement is as tokenistic as the engagement other community groups have experienced with Big Build projects, as reported in September’s Warrandyte Diary.
Of the 40+ questions submitted by FoAP at the information session, FoAP says many were not answered or VHBA provided answers that qualified community concern.
As a verdict draws near, the local community are adamant that they will not give up their fight to preserve Apollo Park.
“We can’t let anything else happen to this land, we’re trying our hardest,” says Dr Ryzhihk. Nillumbik has an online community feedback portal on its Participate website for the Eltham area Community Hospital project, which is open until September 26. Following this, Council plans to decide on whether or not to sell the land to VHBA at the October 26 Council Meeting.
To have your say, visit: participate.nillumbik.vic.gov.au/hospital
To learn more about the community concerns at Apollo Park visit: www.facebook.com/Friends-of-Apollo-ParkwaysInc-101202678897604
To learn more about the Community Hospital Program visit : www.vhba.vic.gov.au/health/community-based-care/ community-hospitals-program

Sawdust in his veins

RYAN GASKETT HAS spent the last 10 years with the smell of sawdust and two stroke in his nostrils.
The filmmaker has been filming chainsaw artist Leigh Conkie since 2012 for the feature length documentary Leigh, which will have its premiere screening at ACMI in December.
Ryan first met the iconic Eltham artist while at film school.
He said he had always loved looking at the sculptor’s “outdoor gallery”, which is a feature of everyone’s commute along Eltham’s Main Road, so he jumped at the chance to interview him.
“We had to make a short documentary, and I chose to do stories from the neighbourhood, and a friend introduced me to his neighbour, and I interviewed him for two hours and made a 10-minute documentary about him,” he told WD Bulletin.
Ryan said the initial short film could not do the chainsaw artist justice, as there was so much more he wanted to tell about Leigh, so the initial interview was the first of many filming sessions they had over several years.
In late 2014, Ryan filmed Leigh sculpting a female asylum seeker holding a baby.
Then, Ryan said, they did a late-night installation of the work on the lawn of The Age’s then headquarters in Collins Street, Melbourne.
Within hours, security guards had removed the sculpture, but the installation had made its point — raising awareness of refugee issues and generating thousands of “Likes” online.
While Leigh Conkie is known around Eltham for his chainsaw art, Ryan said the film is not really about that, it is about the man behind the artist.
“He’s had a pretty hard life, he was abused as a child, had been in a major car accident, and he was in a pretty down place”.
Ryan said at one stage, Leigh lost the passion for his art and was just producing playground features for the money.
The bulk of the film was recorded between 2014 and 2016, when Leigh made the decision to turn his life around.
“He was going through a pretty low point in his life at the time, and he decided to give himself a goal and go to Japan to climb Mount Fuji,” he said.
Ryan said while that was a pretty “out there” thing to do, anyone who knew Leigh thought it was totally something that he would do.
“I actually have the moment he made the decision to do it on camera, he made his mind up while we were in the middle of an interview,” the filmmaker said.
From then, he stopped drinking and started running and working out and eating healthy — although he wouldn’t give up the cigarettes.
Ryan said it was a big deal for Leigh to attempt something as big as climbing Mt Fuji, because at the time he could barely walk to the local 7Eleven.
But Ryan was there with Leigh every step of the way, documenting the long road to his health and his art.
Originally crowd sourced through Pozible, the filmmaker managed to get a host of local collaboration on the film, including local composer Charly Harrison scoring the documentary, and including music from the Teskey Brothers, and Gotye.
The film was originally due to be premiered in October, but due to COVID, the screening has been moved to December, and has already sold out.
A second ACMI screening in February has just been announced, and if you get in quick, tickets can be booked via Eventbrite.

‘Leigh’ – Documentary Trailer from Ava Grace Productions on Vimeo.

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Photos courtesy: RYAN GASKETT

Get out on the green

LAWN BOWLS has seen a resurgence over recent times and the sport is growing in popularity around the world as people of all ages see the benefits of getting out on the green. And in Manningham it is no different.
With multiple clubs across the municipality, residents are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a green close to them.
Each club offers something slightly different, with everything from barefoot bowls to Pennant competitions, there really is something for everyone.
Greg Hodson from Templestowe Bowling Club said members enjoy a club atmosphere and ethic that values sporting participation.

“It is a club that demonstrates community spirit, honesty and friendship, good sportsmanship but most importantly promotes having a good time,” he said.

The club offers Saturday and midweek Pennant Competition in the summer season.

“Interclub challenge matches and Intraclub Tournaments are also eagerly anticipated and highly enjoyable events,” Greg said.

Recreational and casual bowling is made available, and Saturday social games are played outside of the summer season, and Wednesday social games are played all year round.
He said Barefoot Bowling is scheduled every Sunday or upon request.
Donvale Bowls Club’s Robert Fairweather said his club has a vision for its future, developing a strong administration, member participation, and importantly, coaching and encouragement, expressed as “Donvale a vibrant, growing and successful club”.
He said the club has overcome some hard times, but has been successfully embarking on a determined and assertive recruitment program, a program designed to attract and retain new bowlers.
The Club’s membership has grown in the last five years to 242 members and continues to grow.

“With 13 affiliated and qualified coaches, a coaching and development program in place, we are ensuring all our members, receive ample opportunities to achieve their potential as bowlers, coaches, umpires, committee members or selectors,” he said.

Rob said many new bowlers who join, are initially only interested in social bowling, have fun, enjoy the fellowship a club such as Donvale provides, lots of opportunities to keep them involved.
However, he said for those with a competitive spirit, Pennant sides provide an opportunity for all abilities. Donvale has both grass and synthetic greens, enabling members to play or roll up all year.
Rob said the club is indeed fortunate enlisting the services of current senior and highly credentialed playing Coach Scott Rees.
He said Scott has played an active and integral role in the success story associated with the Donvale Bowls Club. “Scott, our current Club Champion, continued on to win the coveted Champion of Champions — indeed a mighty effort,” Rob said.
Last season, Donvale had a remarkable Pennant season with eight teams qualifying and playing finals, including a promotion to Division 1.
New members are always welcome, and both the Templestowe and Donvale Bowls Clubs encourage anyone interested to get in touch.
No matter where you live, once play resumes after lockdown, there is a club ready to welcome you on to the green.

feature image: pixabay

A butterfly flaps its wings

in response to Derailed by the butterfly effect, (WD Bulletin, July 2021)

MANY IN MONTMORENCY welcomed the announcement of the Hurstbridge Line Duplication (HLD) project at the 2018 election.
In 2019, when the project was confirmed to start in 2021, the Montmorency community was promised an “upgrade” to our small, unmanned station following a community consultation period.
No information on planned design or footprint was given to the community during the consultation period from late 2019 until October 2020.
Montmorency locals were aware of investigative works taking place throughout 2019 and 2020, including environmental assessments as mandated by the Banyule Council Planning Scheme for any works in a declared Vegetation Protection Overlay 1 (VPO1) where native species are protected.
In January 2020, feedback was sought for Amendment GC155 to the Banyule Planning Scheme.
This was then superseded by clause 52.03 Level Crossing Removal Project of the Victorian Planning Scheme, passed in late January 2020.
Clause 52.03 gives the Level Crossing Removal Project (LXPR) wide-ranging scope to bypass all local planning schemes in order to facilitate any project undertaken by LXRP.
Only minimal consultation with councils or communities is required, and all reports and assessments can be carried out only “to the satisfaction of the Minister for Planning”, with no other checks and balances for compliance or responsibility.
The Environmental Management Framework (EMF) required by Clause 52.03 was not made available to the public, despite repeated requests directly to LXRP, until late June 2021 via Banyule Council.
The released EMF, dated March 29, 2021, is Revision 2 of the EMF.
We have been unable to obtain previous versions of this document to date.
The current EMF version does mention the discovery of the Eltham Copper Butterfly (ECB) in January 2021 and the actions taken to ensure the protection of its habitat since confirmation of its presence.
Environmentalists in Montmorency and beyond were extremely thankful to the local resident who recognised the endangered butterfly and reported its sighting to the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.
As WD Bulletin’s July article comprehensively related, the conditions for a colony of ECB to thrive are very particular and require a three-way symbiotic relationship between a native bush, Bursaria Spinosa, a specific species of ant, Notoncus genus, and the ECB.
We take issue however with Sonja Terpstra’s claims that the ECB “before this year, was not previously known to be in Montmorency” and “has never before been seen in Montmorency”.
According to a report Butterfly changes in a peri-urban landscape published in Austral Entomology, the colony was first detected in 1977, on a property on Looker Road.

“The Montmorency site was monitored for over 10 years (from 1977 to 1988) but was subsequently reduced in extent by housing development in 1985, and then the colony subsequently collapsed sometime during the late 1990s-early 2000s.”

According to a letter from the Hon. Jacinta Allan dated July 12, 2021:

“Since 2017, the Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) has been conducting detailed ecological assessments to make sure the project would not threaten the ECB and its habitat.”

Yet these same ecological assessors failed to find any evidence of the presence of the ECB in an area where at least two of the three required species are present and would have been for a while, and close to where the ECB was recorded and monitored until the early 2000s.
The area around the rail cutting, currently fenced as an Environment Protection No-Go Zone, is also well-known to be a very significant example of pre-occupation remnant bushland where native species thrive.
It is not a stretch to assume that ecological assessments, carried out over almost four years, should have been actively looking for the ECB since it is part of the list of seven protected species potentially found in the project area as per the EMF.
Environmental and community groups are rightly worried that this fairly cavalier attitude to protecting areas of significant vegetation and wildlife is carrying through to other areas of the project.
This worry is borne out by the experience of members of the Banyule Sugar Glider Project and the Montmorency Community Group, who have been trying to work with LXRP to secure assurances that the Montmorency sugar glider colony would be shielded from impacts of the construction works as much as possible.
The Banyule Sugar Glider Project was awarded a $64,000 grant in 2019 as part of this State Government’s Pick My Project, a participatory budgeting community grants initiative carried out in 2018.
This same State Government’s LXRP has now destroyed a large part of the sugar gliders’ habitat in Montmorency and Greensborough.
The hard work of community volunteers, who nurtured and secured a thriving colony of over 70 sugar gliders in the area, was wiped out when LXRP removed most of the mature canopy trees found along the rail corridor between the Plenty River and the Diamond Creek, mostly for site access, car parks and a project whose scope is sorely lacking in foresight and benefits.
This rail corridor is also in a VPO1 zone and is recognised by local environmentalists and community groups as a thriving wildlife corridor supporting many native species of our precious and declining fauna.
LXRP’s consultation process with community groups has been tokenistic at best, and manipulated to fit their narrative at worst.
Many community members are feeling dejected and betrayed, having been used as pawns by the government’s spinning machine, to pay lip service to sham consultation processes.
As quoted in Derailed by the butterfly effect, LXPR downgraded its delivery expectations in light of the ECB habitat protection with peak services “on average every seven minutes from Greensborough, every 10 minutes from Montmorency and Eltham, and every 20 minutes from Diamond Creek, Wattle Glen and Hurstbridge, and will be delivered by the end of 2022”.
Montmorency is bearing the brunt of the environmental impacts of the project, yet it appears that there is no integrated plan to improve services and amenities along the Hurstbridge line as part of this $530m project, nor any political will to ensure a lasting legacy for the communities along the train line.
The revised design has deleted 950m of duplicated tracks and a brand-new bridge at Mountain View Road, yet we are told there have been no significant savings and that the extra services can now be achieved through signalling works. Calculations, based on the current PTV timetable, have found that the current morning peak services already meet the promised average of trains every seven minutes from Greensborough, 10 minutes from Eltham and 20 minutes from Hurstbridge.
Afternoon service peaks would require eight additional services to Greensborough, six to Eltham, and two to Hurstbridge to deliver the promised benefits.
LXRP has confirmed that only two additional services in the morning peak will be delivered at the end of 2022.
Once again, we question the extent of the construction impacts on the environment and the community for only two additional services in the morning and no change to afternoon services.
Many communities around Melbourne are seeing their precious green environment devastated and irreversibly changed for the worse, for the benefit of major infrastructure projects that are being imposed on them with no meaningful consultation, and with no regard for local planning and environmental safeguards.
Locals are being disempowered and silenced by large government agencies dedicated to spinning and selling major works on behalf of a state government without an integrated transport plan.
This is devastating for our local environment and far- reaching across our city.

Information session

LXRP had planned to host some information sessions to outline the changes to the project following the discovery of the Eltham Copper Butterfly (ECB) in Montmorency.
In a statement from Member of Eltham, Vicki Ward, it was announced that the current lockdown has made it clear that face-to-face sessions will not be able to be run. “I have asked LXRP to host an online information session regarding the changes to the project, to replace the sessions scheduled for last month,” she said.

An online information session will now be held at 4pm on Friday, August 27.

To register, please visit:

hurstbridge-line-duplication.eventbrite.com.au

Community representatives are calling on greater consultation on landscaping, colour scheme, and artwork of the Montmorency station upgrade, to allow the community to take ownership of the project.
Local activist Cécile Ménard said:

“Monty and its surrounding area is teeming with passionate environmentalists, artists and community-minded people who would love to put their mark on the heart of their village for the better”.
She urged the local member to call on LXRP to “revisit their token Landscaping Working Group, Stakeholder Liaison Group and 2021 Consultation Report (conducted when the community had no information on the design) and turn them into forces for good — there is still time.”

feature image supplied

Lockdown extended and tightened

Updated August 23

Pandemic of complacency

VICTORIA IS in hard lockdown as the state battles to get ahead of the highly infectious Delta strain.
Existing restrictions have been expanded across the state and permitted worker scheme, which was originally implemented in August 2020, has been reinstated, the 9pm curfew has also been reintroduced for Melbourne.
The current restrictions build on what was implemented on August 5, 2021, and are currently due to expire on September 2 at 11:59pm.
For three weeks, locals have been living with work-from- home arrangements, the 5km bubble and two-hours of exercise per day.
As of 11:59pm on August 16, these restrictions were expanded to further limit movement and the risk of community infection.
In addition to the 9pm–5am curfew and the need for “authorised” workers to carry a permit, exercise was adjusted to a maximum of two people — plus dependents — even if you are in the same household, and public skateparks, playgrounds, exercise equipment and basketball hoops are closed.
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton said the new measures were needed to gain control of the outbreak and come on the back of several events that flouted the restrictions, which Professor Sutton hopes will not become super-spreader events.

“At the moment we have a steady number of cases who are out in the community each day, and an increasing number of mystery cases, and we need to get ahead of that.
“These new measures will help us limit movement, so we can catch up and shut down this outbreak,” he said.

Professor Sutton has also made recommendations that masks be worn by all primary school aged children.
The government acknowledged the sense of lockdown fatigue that has set in but stressed these measures were needed to make our communities “CovidSafe” once again.

“These restrictions are hard work for every Victorian,” said State Premier, Daniel Andrews.
“Everyone wants this pandemic to be over, but the rules are in place for a reason — we know they work and if we follow them together, we’ll be able to lift them sooner.”

Although the list of exposure sites currently exceeds 500 across metropolitan Melbourne and there are more than 273 active cases in this current outbreak, residents of Manningham and Nillumbik are doing their part, with both municipalities relatively free of exposure sites, with one Tier 2 exposure site in East Doncaster recently added.

VCE Changes

All examinations, onsite school-based assessments and the General Assessment Test (GAT) will be conducted with extra health precautions.
And the Consideration of Educational Disadvantage will apply to every student completing one or more VCE or scored VCE VET Unit 3-4 subject in 2021.
Consistent with 2020, the process will consider the individual impact of Coronavirus, such as school closures, students’ health impact, remote learning and mental health challenges, and will use data like the GAT, other assessment and school comparisons to calculate final VCE results.

Getting tested and vaccinated

The message from government is to get tested if you have even the mildest of symptom

  • fever
  • chills or sweats
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath
  • runny nose
  • loss or change in sense of smell or taste

Visit the State Government’s Coronavirus website for the most up to date information on testing locations www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/where-get-tested-covid-19 People aged 18 and above are now eligible for vaccination with nearby vaccination centres located in Ringwood East and Heidelberg Heights and it is highly recommended to book in advance as most centres are not taking walk-ins for under-60s.
As of August 31, anyone 16–39 will be eligible for Pfizer vaccine.
For more information about the coronavirus vaccination and where you can get it, visit: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccine.

Cyclist safety concerns on Knees Road

MANNINGHAM COUNCIL announced as part of their 2020/21 Capital Works Program, Knees Road, Park Orchards, would be receiving a long-awaited upgrade.
Knees Rd is a crucial local link in our community, bringing traffic into Park Orchards and Warrandyte. The upgrade aims to improve safety for all users, including motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians, and incorporates kerb and channel, new footpaths and shared paths, and a roundabout at the Arundel Road intersection.
However, Park orchards local Stephen Gleeson says the plans leave cyclists feeling excluded and unsatisfied.
“I’ve been riding bikes in Park Orchards for the last 26 years – every Tuesday and Thursday morning there’s a group of us here in Park Orchards who come together and ride our bikes”, he says.
Mr Gleeson has voiced his safety concerns to Manningham Council and recently wrote a letter to Ward Councillor, Cari Lange.
“The new works have narrowed the existing road considerably — the result is those bike riders, heading in both directions, will be pushed in with car and truck traffic.
“Vehicles will either have to slow down and travel behind the cyclist to avoid hitting the rider or enter the lane of oncoming traffic,”
These concerns run rampant among cyclists, due to the increased rate of cyclist fatalities in recent years, a report by the Australian Automobile Association stated that in the 12 months up to December 2020, 42 cyclists died on Australian roads, an increase of 7.7 per cent.
“It’s so bloody dangerous now.
“Cars just get so impatient — they pull out and pull over the other side of the road and pass me, then jam the breaks on because it’s a narrow road.
“Their [the motorists’] mentality is ‘what are you doing on the road?’ ‘why are you holding me up?’ and they’re totally right in thinking that, because roads haven’t been designed for bikes to be on there with cars,” Mr Gleeson tells the Bulletin.
As part of the upgrade, the Council will be building a 2.5m wide off-road shared path aiming to accommodate cyclists of all abilities, including children, to cater for the influx of students who ride their bikes to St Annes Catholic and Park Orchards Primary Schools. Manningham Council supplied Mr Gleeson with a response to his letter outlining the reasons why it chose to proceed in this manner, but Mr Gleeson feels the pathway solution will only add additional stresses, especially for groups of cyclists who wish to ride together.
Mr Gleeson notes the dangers of cycling on shared paths due to the “unpredictable behaviour” of other path users such as off-lead dogs, children, or cars reversing out of driveways.
“We estimate that upwards of 100 bikes go through Park Orchards, none of those cyclists will use that path.
“Have you seen a group of say 30 road bikes get up on a footpath and have to battle it out with kids on bikes, dogs off-leads and prams? Paths are dangerous too,” he says.
“What they could do is make the road wider, make a shoulder which is divided from the roadway where cars and trucks go, with a raised concrete strip painted a bright colour – make that a metre and a half for either side of the road, just make it separate,” Mr Gleeson says.
Mr Gleeson and the broader cycling community attest to the benefits cycling has had on their health, wishing more people would get on the bike.
“Making it safe for inexperienced bike riders will encourage more people to participate, it will be better for their physical, as well as their mental health,” he says.

 

Image courtesy Google Earth

Roos to be locked out of golf course

Cull cancelled but questions remain

AFTER A HUGE community outcry, the Heritage Golf and Country Club has decided not to proceed with a planned cull of kangaroos on its two courses, instead installing fencing to lock the roos out of the fairways. The Club put out a press release in July announcing that they had listened to community concerns and decided to cancel the “Council approved cull”. Local Councils came out swinging as Heritage Golf Club attempted to implicate them in approval of the now aborted kangaroo cull at the club. In a strongly worded statement, both Yarra Ranges and Nillumbik Councils refute the claim in their press release that the cull was “Council approved”.
Yarra Ranges statement said:“Council wishes to advise it was not involved in any decision to approve the culling of kangaroos at the Heritage Golf and Country Club. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) not Council, is responsible for managing wildlife in Victoria. Council understands the management of kangaroos is a sensitive topic that is of great concern to our community. We will be contacting Heritage Golf and Country Club to ask them to correct their media release.”
Nillumbik Shire Council also issued a statement to “correct unequivocally for the record, inaccuracies contained in this statement”.
The land owned by the proprietors of the Heritage Golf and Country Club encompasses three separate Local Government Areas — Nillumbik Shire Council, as well as Yarra Ranges and Manningham. Councils, however, do not have the authority to make decisions on the culling of native wildlife. Permission to do so can only be sought and obtained through the appropriate State Government agencies – the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) or the Game Management Authority. A key consideration in this matter is that the area in which the club is situated is a significant protective corridor for native wildlife and any use of the land must therefore take this status into account. Our community places a high value on the protection of native wildlife and the environment in which they live, and Council makes it a priority to act in the community’s interests on this issue. At its Planning and Consultation Committee Meeting on 8 June 2021, Council resolved, unanimously, to express its concern over initial reports of a planned kangaroo cull and subsequently wrote to the club to inform it of this resolution. Council also requested that the club consider alternative (nonlethal) approaches to managing the kangaroo population, should there be an absolute need to control the numbers on its property. In light of recent developments, Nillumbik Shire Council also wishes to express its deep concern at reports from the community — including from animal rescue service Wildlife Victoria — of the killing of kangaroos in the area.”
Heritage’s Press Release went on to say there was a meeting on May 6 where interested parties including Wildlife Victoria, Club management and residents met and discussed plans to cull kangaroos at the Heritage Golf and Country Club property. Club management claim their plans to cull the kangaroos was due to a “tripling of the population in 12 months due to a breeding surge during the drought and the advantages of easy access to a carpet of grass on golfing fairways”.
However, Wildlife Victoria CEO Lisa Palma said a tripling of a kangaroo population in 12 months is “simply biologically impossible and absolutely ludicrous”.
“Female kangaroos commonly have one young annually, with the mortality rate in the wild for joeys typically at 70 per cent in the first year of life,” she said.
New club Managing Director Dr Cher Coad has blamed Parks Victoria for not managing the population in neighbouring Warrandyte State Park.
“If the Victorian State government was doing its job, in terms of managing the land bordering the Heritage Golf and Country Club, then we wouldn’t have this problem,” she said.
She says the lack of golfers during the recent COVID lockdown has provided kangaroos with unlimited access to the Heritage Golf and Country Club and they are reluctant to move, with management raising fears of the bigger male kangaroos becoming aggressive towards people.
“While the risk of this happening is quite small, the responsibility of the HGCC is to club members, visiting golfers, residents and their families and young children,” said Dr Coad.
“We have excessive numbers of kangaroos on our fairways and grounds, and they are powerful and potentially dangerous.
“The last thing we want is for a large grey kangaroo to cause harm to a golfer or children visiting their grandparents,” she said.
Ms Palma said she absolutely refuted the notion that the kangaroo population is dangerous with Wildlife Victoria receiving no reports kangaroo aggression towards people at the site.
“Some of the larger male kangaroos are known by the locals to be peaceful creatures, who enjoy the natural habitat of the local landscape.
“Indeed, the big fellow known as Scar Face is beloved by many in the community,” said Ms Palma.
“In direct contrast to Heritage’s statement, Wildlife Victoria has received an inordinate number of calls from concerned members of the public, residents, golfers and staff who are terribly worried for the safety and wellbeing of the kangaroo population on site.
Dr Coad said while the treatment of kangaroos is fraught with regulatory and ethical difficulties, the Heritage Golf and Country Club recognises the need for golfers and kangaroos to co-exist. Growing evidence leans towards the idea that the kangaroo population must be managed via more humane means. Ms Palma said that since the meeting of May 6, no further discussion had taken place between those parties.
“Instead, we have witnessed the result of stealthy cruel and violent attacks on the kangaroo population night after night at the site — this has been ongoing for months now!”
The recent spate of kangaroo deaths at the Club is currently subject to a multi-agency investigation. Ms Palma said to date, Wildlife Victoria has seen a significant number of cases of kangaroos that have been savaged by dogs, shot, dismembered and driven over by vehicles.
“We have taken many calls and received letters from members of the public who are too afraid to walk on or near the grounds for fear of the dogs turning on the locals,” Ms Palma said. DELWP issued a statement, saying the Conservation Regulator is “continuing its investigation into alleged fatal and harmful dog attacks on kangaroos at Heritage Golf and Country Club in Chirnside Park”. The statement said Victoria Police and local councils are assisting the Conservation Regulator with the investigation and Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers are conducting patrols in the area. Dr Coad said the task to oversee the management and protection of kangaroos lies with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). She said the “kangaroos will be relocated back into the Warrandyte State Forrest [sic] and the property will be fenced”. Ms Palma said it is outrageous, unacceptable and illegal for the Heritage Golf and Country Club to relocate the kangaroos without the required authorisation from the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning. Despite this, Ms Palma said Wildlife Victoria remains hopeful that Heritage Management will consult with the group to achieve a positive outcome for the remaining kangaroos on the site.
Anyone with information about the alleged dog attacks or other cases of wildlife crime should contact Crime Stoppers Victoria on 1800 333 000.
The Diary will continue to follow this story over the coming months and hopes to speak further with Club management and Wildlife Victoria in time for the September edition.

(UPDATE) This story was originally in the July Bulletin and has been updated for the August Diary.

Arundel Road residents cheesed off at rat-runners

RESIDENTS OF Arundel Road in Park Orchards have applied to Council to have their road closed to through traffic.
At the May 25 Manningham Council meeting, Council supported, in principle, the permanent closure of Arundel Road (west) to through traffic at the intersection of Park Road.
A petition from residents was tabled at the meeting, where Council then heard that traffic volumes have increased during the Knees Road roadworks, as motorists look to avoid congestion linked to the works.
Extensive traffic management devices were installed along the section of road when constructed in the 1990s, however residents are still experiencing traffic concerns and dangers.
Residents of Arundel Road have raised extensive concerns and objections to the construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Knees Road and Arundel Road and are extremely concerned about Arundel Road being increasingly and dangerously used as a rat-run; particularly by school parents and residents avoiding traffic congestion.
Council officers held an on-site meeting with residents prior to the council meeting.
Residents at the street-meeting requested the permanent closure of Arundel Road at Park Road, indicating that the closure of the road would prevent through traffic using this section of Arundel Road making it safer for pedestrians to walk along the road pavement.
Several reported near misses and three accidents of children being hit by cars rushing along Arundel Road have occurred.
In the most recent incident in April, a child was struck on his bike at the intersection of Park Road and Arundel Road by a driver using Arundel Road as a cut through.
Residents told council officers that the street is too narrow and has chicanes and speed humps to deter this traffic — this is unfortunately not enough of a deterrent.
Residents have noted parents running late for school drop off/pick up rush at dangerous speeds down Arundel Road and residents believe the new roundabout at Arundel Road will only compound this issue.
The street was originally a private road and was set up and built accordingly, as well as originally designed as a “no through road”.
Other mitigation and pedestrian safety measures were considered, including the construction of a footpath along one side of Arundel Road.
Residents said they rejected this idea as they did not wish to change the streetscape or impact existing vegetation.
Cr Carli Lange has been advocating for the residents of Arundel Road, she told the Diary: “The residents are asking for the opportunity to provide a delegation to represent the street in the consultation process and have strong support in the street for this Road Closure solution”.
The road closure would include a turnabout area, to facilitate large vehicle movements, such as waste collection vehicles.
The implementation of the road closure is still contingent on a report being obtained from the Department of Transport and agreement from emergency services agencies.

Lest we forget

Anzac Day services were held across the country, and after missing the camaraderie during last year’s lockdown, this year people were eager to gather together to remember our fallen heroes.
Across Manningham and Nillumbik moving services were held during Anzac morning.
Well-attended dawn services in Eltham and Doncaster preceded a mid-morning service in Templestowe, along with marches and commemorations in Warrandyte, and Montmorency, where moving tributes to veterans old and young were held.
The new tradition of remembrance at home saw people light up the dawn in their driveways, with livestreams from national and local services allowing connection from afar.

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Will gives back to the life savers

GOOD FRIDAY is a special day on the calendar for Warrandyte CFA volunteer Firefighter Will Hodgson.
It is the day he gets to give back to the place that saved his life.
Will told the Bulletin that if it were not Paediatric Surgeon Nate Myers at the Royal Children’s Hospital, he would not be here today.
Born with a diaphragmatic hernia, Will’s initial prognosis was not good.
“It means that there were a whole heap of organs sitting in my lungs,” he said.
He said even today it is a technical operation, but in 1976 “it was a huge deal”.
Born in Box Hill Hospital, the doctors there struggled to keep Will alive.
“Every time they took me off a ventilator, I just dropped my bundle,” he said.
He said Box Hill admitted it was beyond them so, while Will’s mother Debbie stayed on the Maternity ward at Box Hill, Will’s father Ian went with him to the Mercy to try and get some answers.
The Mercy too ran out of ideas, telling Ian that Will was not going to make it.
“They asked him if I wanted to be baptised,” said Will.
Eventually, Mr Nate Myers from the Royal Children’s was called in to take a look and told Ian that he had an idea of what was wrong with his baby son.
“I went to the Children’s and, thanks to Mr Myers, I came out the other side healthy”.
Will spent the next six months at the Children’s and then next five years with follow up appointments, travelling in from North Warrandyte.
Will said that he is grateful for the life that the Children’s Hospital has given him.
“The best thing for me is to acknowledge the sun going up in the morning and going down at night, because you have been lucky enough to be given a life — through one specialist who has been able to identify it — and so now I am here.”
Will has since dedicated his life to helping others.
Following the Pound Bend Fires in 1991, at the age of just 15, Will decided to volunteer with the North Warrandyte Fire Brigade and then when he started his own family he moved across the river to Warrandyte, and transferred to Warrandyte CFA.
From the start, he made it a priority to get out to shake tins for the Good Friday Appeal, and when North Warrandyte didn’t shake tins, he went out with South Warrandyte.
“I jumped across to South Warrandyte to shake tins, with Mark Kennedy and Greg Kennedy, and I do remember us being underage, but we were shaking the tin and that is all that mattered,” he said.
Will has collected money each year since, and even last year when restrictions made it impossible to shake tins, Warrandyte CFA set up a virtual tin shake, raising around $4,500 for the RCH.
“I think the online collection was a good thing, because when Warrandyte shakes a tin, it shakes a tin in Bulleen, so we are just picking up commuters, but being online gave an opportunity for the Warrandyte community, if they wanted, to donate through the Warrandyte Fire Brigade.”
They will have the best of both worlds this year, with the virtual tin shake online while brigades will be out collecting at intersections across Manningham: Warrandyte at Bulleen and Manningham Roads, North Warrandyte at Reynolds and Blackburn Roads, and South Warrandyte at Mitcham and Springvale Roads.
So, if you are out and about on Good Friday, chip in for a great cause, and if you are not, hop online to give to “the kids”.
www.virtualtinshake.com.au

Diamond Creek Regional Playspace officially opened

AFTER 10 years in the planning, the Diamond Creek Regional Playspace has been officially opened.
Member for Yan Yean, Danielle Green opened the playspace on behalf of Local Government Minister Shaun Leane, cutting the ribbon with Nillumbik Mayor Peter Perkins, Member for Eltham, Vicki Ward and Nillumbik Councillors at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in early March.
The 2020 School Captains and leaders of Diamond Creek, Diamond Creek East, Wattle Glen and Sacred Heart Diamond Creek Primary Schools also assisted in the ribbon cutting ceremony and plaque reveal.
Mayor, Cr Peter Perkins said the playspace, which references Diamond Creek’s gold mining history, has already proven to be one of the most popular playgrounds in Melbourne’s northeast since its completion late last year.

“The playspace has really helped to put Diamond Creek on the map, and people are travelling from across Melbourne to experience what we are lucky enough to be able to enjoy in our own backyard.
“More than 10 years in the making, this project has revitalised an underutilised area of the Diamond Creek Reserve, and will be enjoyed by families local and from afar, for generations to come,” said Cr Perkins

The $2.5 million playspace was funded by the Victorian Government through the Growing Suburbs Fund, and Cr Perkins thanked the Victorian Government, Danielle Green and Eltham MP Vicki Ward for their support in making a long-term vision for the area a reality.

“This is one of many local infrastructure projects across the Shire — including the extension of the Diamond Creek Trail to Hurstbridge, the new Diamond Creek Netball Pavilion and the Marngrook Oval Pavilion — that have been made possible by Victorian Government support, which has totalled $35 million since 2017,” Cr Perkins said.

A key attraction of the playspace, the Tram Café, was also opened by Danielle Green, Vicki Ward, Cr Perkins and members of the Rotary Club of Diamond Creek.
The Diamond Creek Rotary Tram Project saw a retired W-Class Yarra tram from the Victorian Government beautifully restored and transformed into a café with the support of Nillumbik Shire Council, sponsors including Plenty Valley Financial Services (Bendigo Bank) and many other members of the community.
The playspace has been a huge collaboration with many other community groups.
The Diamond Valley Lions raised almost $24,000 to provide the two popular barbecue shelters and another $36,000 for the fitness stations, while Diamond Creek Men’s Shed built the nesting boxes that have been placed in trees in the reserve.
The Diamond Creek Labyrinth in the reserve off Watkins Street, was also completed as part of the playspace project.
The Labyrinth, which was initiated by OM:NI (Older Men, New Ideas) Diamond Creek, provides visitors with the opportunity for meditation and quiet reflection while following the stone path into the centre and out again.
For more information on the playspace, go to nillumbik.vic.gov.au/diamond-creek-playspace

Images courtesy Nillumbik Shire Council

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FIRE RESTRICTIONS are scheduled to end later this month in Country Fire Authority (CFA) areas of Manningham and Nillumbuk.
A statement from the CFA said, in the latest Australian Seasonal Outlook, above average summer rainfall has led to a reduced bushfire risk for autumn.
These conditions have led to a reduced fire activity in both grasslands and forests this summer.
Victoria will continue to experience milder conditions and lower bushfire potential over the coming months.
CFA District 13’s Fire Danger Period will end at 1am on Monday, March 22 in the following Municipalities:

  • City of Knox
  • City of Manningham (CFA area)
  • City of Maroondah (CFA area)
  • Yarra Ranges Council (CFA area)

At 1am, on Monday, March 29, the Fire Danger Period (FDP) will end for CFA District 14, which includes the following Municipalities:

  • City of Melton
  • City of Wyndham
  • Shire of Nillumbik
  • City of Whittlesea
  • City of Hume
  • City of Banyule

CFA District 13 Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer Colin Brown said the grass is too green in some areas within the District for fire to be sustained.

“Meanwhile other areas may see low intensity fire sustained with low flame heights and controlled with minimal effort,” he said.

A/ACFO Brown emphasised that while the FDP is coming to an end in some areas, it is still important to remain vigilant.

“We’re urging everyone to stay safe, whether you’re living in or travelling to high bushfire risk areas,” he said.

CFA District 14 Assistant Chief Fire Officer Christian Thorley also reminded people that even though the fire conditions are favourable, vigilance is still required.

“Please monitor the conditions on hot, dry and windy days, as we may still see some days of elevated fire risk,” he said.

While the Fire Danger Period will come to an end, it is still important that residents check the local conditions are safe for any burn-off they were considering undertaking.

“You must register your burn-offs, check weather conditions and follow local council laws and regulations.
“Registering your burn-off ensures that if somebody reports smoke, the incident will be cross-checked with the burn-off register, which will then prevent CFA crews wasting resources and showing up at your door,” AFCO Thorley said.

Landowners can now register their burn-off online at firepermits.vic.gov.au.
Burn-offs can also be registered by calling 1800 668 511 or emailing burnoffs@esta.vic.gov.au.
When conducting burn-offs, remain alert and always have resources on hand to extinguish the fire.

Keep your burn off safe and legal

Check fire restrictions in your area and always register your burn at www.firepermits.vic.gov.au.
Check and monitor weather conditions — particularly wind.
To avoid unnecessary calls to emergency services, notify your neighbours beforehand.
Leave a three-metre fire break, free from flammable materials around the burn.
Have sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading.
Never leave a burn-off unattended — stay for its entire duration.
If your burn-off gets out of control, call 000 immediately.

Featured image courtesy CFA Media

Macedon Square Streetscape Upgrade

MACEDON Square has remained a vibrant hub for Manningham residents for over 50 years — now it is time for an overdue makeover.
In August 2020, Manningham Council released two concept designs for an upgrade to the Macedon Square Streetscape, one including an open space concept (Option B) and one without (Option A).
The upgrade seeks to improve the public realm and rejuvenate the centre by addressing existing issues associated with aging infrastructure.
Both concept designs aim to address safety concerns within the centre by employing a new angled bay parking layout, as well as ensuring cars exit on Macedon Road in one direction.
Both options will also bring new paving, flora and outdoor spaces — however, Option B takes these changes to the next level by adding spaces suited for public gatherings, picnic tables and open lawns to draw in more community engagement.
After the extended consultation period concluded on November 15, 2020, a total of 108 responses were collected.
61 per cent were in favour of Option B, 26 per cent in favour of Option A and 13 per cent did not express preference.
Although the majority ruled for Option B, traders in Macedon Square expressed concern for both options and the potential detriment the upgrade could cause to the community space.
The Bulletin spoke to Gary Cyganek, owner of Egon’s Bakery, who is passionate about putting forth an “Option C”.

“We’re putting forward our Option C to say we reject both of these options — we have the support of 29 out of 32 shops in the centre,” he said.

Mr Cyganek went on to say traders in the centre feel as though safety concerns are not being properly addressed, particularly regarding the proposed new car park.

“Safety is most paramount.”

The Bulletin reached out to Manningham Council for additional information regarding this matter.
Manningham Director of City Planning and Community, Angelo Kourambas said the proposed concept plans have been designed with visitors in mind, including people of all ages and abilities.
Businesses have expressed concerns regarding how delivery vehicles will fit into these new parking spaces and the potential overhang of these vehicles causing accidents.
Mr Cyganek stresses the need for delivery accessibility from the front and rear, as some businesses are not suited to take deliveries from rear loading docks — including Australia Post.

“Only some shops are set up to take deliveries from the rear; this is a priority for the whole community.
“The proposed car parking aisle widths for angled parking within the centre are wider than the recommended Australian Standard for this style of shopping centre.
“Larger delivery vehicles will not be permitted to park in the angled parking bays along Macedon Road,” he said.

Mr Kourambas said Council would consider providing spaces within the main car park for regular delivery vans.
Council’s plan to realign the roadway, creating a single directional flow of traffic through the centre, aims to reduce traffic congestion and issues with vehicles attempting to access the same car space from opposite directions.
With a narrower roadway, business owners are anxious about potential collisions due to visibility issues, in the event multiple cars are trying to back out at once.
According to traders, accidents within the centre are common — particularly among elderly patrons.

Parking pains

Parking availability for traders in the centre has been a sore point for several years.
Currently, there are 133 car spaces in the centre — Option A would result in a loss of four car spaces while Option B would incur a loss of six.
For business owners, 133 car spaces has simply never been enough to cater for the needs of traders and customers alike.
In an independent traffic and car park study undertaken in 2017, it was reported that the perception of low parking availability within Macedon Square is a factor of uneven parking distributions, citing that certain areas are operating at full occupancy whilst others are operating at less than half.
Council suggests that areas such as the ALDI basement car park, off street parking near McGahy Street, and parking area to the rear of Woolworths Lower Templestowe should host ample room for shoppers to park.

“It is considered that a loss of between four to six spaces could reasonably be offset by higher utilisation of other parking areas” Mr Kourambas said.

For traders and shoppers who wish to use services provided in the square alone, parking in these further off-site locations can prove to be inconvenient.
Extra parking in the square itself would be a welcomed addition for many.
Mr Cyganek wants Council and the traffic engineers to come up with a more functional solution.

“We want the traffic engineers to sit down with them [the council] to see how we can actually maximise our parking possibilities.
“We want them to use the abundant open space we already do have, to put spaces for people to sit,” said Mr Cyganek.

Consultation closes at 5pm on Thursday, April 8, 2021 — in the meantime, Council is encouraging community members to get involved and have their say.

“Council is currently seeking community input on the proposed concept plans.
“Based on feedback received, Council will consider further suggestions from the community as part of its detailed design process,” said Mr Kourambas

Feature Image artist impression Option B courtesy Manningham Council

Community members are invited to attend a drop-in session with Councillors and council officers on Saturday, March 27, 2021, from 10am to 12pm at Macedon Square, Lower Templestowe.
Additionally, you can have your say at:
yoursay.manningham.vic.gov.au/macedon-square-streetscape-upgrade

Breaking ground on trail extension

WORKS BEGAN ON Stage 2 of the Diamond Creek Trail extension following a ground-breaking ceremony on February 6.
Stage 2 of the trail extension will link Wattle Glen to Hurstbridge.
Once the Diamond Creek Trail is fully extended to Hurstbridge, the 5.5-kilometre trail extension will complete a 55-kilometre continuous trail from Hurstbridge to the CBD, incorporating the Main Yarra Trail from Eltham Lower Park.
The trail extension is primarily funded by the Victorian Government with $4M for Stage 1 through VicRoads’ Towards Zero initiative and Stage 2 utilising $5.1M from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s (DELWP) Suburban Parks Program.
Nillumbik Shire Council also contributed approximately $5M to the project through land acquisition for the 14.4 hectares of land the trail is built on.
Once completed, the trail extension will have a concrete-paved path for pedestrians and cyclists and a separate, parallel natural-surface trail for horse riders.
In attendance at the ground-breaking were members of the community, Nillumbik Shire councillors, Member for Eltham Vicky Ward, Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green, and Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.
Nillumbik Shire Mayor, Peter Perkins commended the efforts of all those involved in the trail project.

“That the Diamond Creek Trail project is now well on the way to completion is a great result for our community and a credit to the efforts of others on their behalf – including the Victorian Government, Danielle Green MP the Member for Yan Yean, and Vicki Ward MP the Member for Eltham.
“Our community, in particular the efforts of our Regional Trails Advisory Group and Trailblazers Inc. are also to be commended.
“Their tireless advocacy and passion for this project has been integral to bringing us to where we are today.
“The trail is an important community asset, providing a fantastic outlet for physical activity and a safe transport connection between the urban parts of the Shire and our rural townships.
“Also critical, is that it will attract more visitors to our Shire, boosting our local tourism industry and other businesses,” he said.

Bunjil Ward Councillor Karen Egan said the commencement of Stage 2 works was a major development for not only the townships, but the Shire’s rural community.

“I’m very pleased that work is starting on the final stage of an infrastructure project that is of such critical importance to many sectors of our community, being a shared trail open to all,” said Cr Egan.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio spoke about the benefits to the local economy and the improved quality of life the trail will bring to the area.

“In the past year, many of us have rediscovered the simple pleasure of going for a walk, run or bike ride.
“Through projects like the Diamond Creek Trail extension, we’re giving people more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
“Construction of the trail extension will create as many as 100 jobs over 12 months and boost the local economy by attracting visitors to the trail and surrounding communities.”

Stage 1 of the trail extension, linking Diamond Creek to Wattle Glen is due to be completed and opened to the public in October 2021.

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Market under threat

THE ELTHAM Craft and Produce Market has been a staple of the Eltham community for 44 years but its future is now under threat.
Founded in 1978 along the driveway of the Living and Learning Centre on Main Road, the Eltham Craft and Produce Market has served as an outlet for locally and homemade crafts and produce.
I remember going to the market as a young boy, buying heat packs at the start of every winter with my parents and sister.
We would walk from home to the market and as you entered Alistair Knox Park, the aromas of the food trucks would draw you in.
Soon, aromas mixed with music, conversation and laughter — the sound of a happy and connected community.
These are memories that I hold dear to my heart, and now, it may all come to an end.
On Sunday, February 21, 2021, possibly the last Eltham Craft and Produce Market took place.
Following conversations with the Market organisers Bianca and Di, and Wingrove Ward Councillor, Geoff Paine, I learned the market is under threat of discontinuing due to the complicated process of obtaining licenses and the grounds to continue hosting the market.
The main issue revolves around having a committee properly in place and obtaining a permit to use the area behind Eltham Library.
The market has been using the location between Panther Place and Library Place since October of 2004, an area with great parking and easy accessibility for anyone to visit.
Both stall holders and market goers expressed their sadness over the potential discontinuation of the market and its end will have a long-lasting impact in the Eltham community.
Market organisers are asking Eltham residents and market goers to lobby the local community and market regulars to let Nillumbik Shire Council know that they want the market to stay.
The Warrandyte Diary and WD Bulletin will have further updates on this story as it develops.

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Price of progress

Eltham residents have come out of lockdown to discover that hundreds of trees that graced the Eltham Gateway roundabout have been removed.
Under cover of COVID, Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) moved in on February 15 to clearfell the intersection of Main Road and Fitzsimons Lane, and then removed the large Lemon Scented Gums from the Porter Street intersection on February 16.
Resident Vicky Shukuroglou described the scene as residents who had left their home for the four reasons and came across the Main Road demolition site.

“People started pulling over and parking their cars and were in shock, complete shock,” she said.

Consultation deficit

Community groups are outraged that there had not been extensive community consultation around the project, with many residents unaware of the impending works until Eltham Community Action Group placed red ribbons around the doomed trees in early 2020.
MRPV said they had 300 responses to their community consultation, but admitted to ECAG that less than 100 of them had come from Eltham residents.
In contrast ECAG had received over 3,000 signatures from locals on its petition.
ECAG have spent around two years negotiating with MRPV to compromise on the project to retain the treed gateway intersection.
Secretary of ECAG, Sue Dyet, said the group had first been made aware of the plans when they were told by local member Vicky Ward some months after the plans were put out for consultation.

“She showed us some plans and we went away looking at them and the enormity of the situation sunk in.”

The group managed to hold some meetings with MRPV but, Ms Dyet said the group feel they have been “managed”.

“They listened to us, they gave us time, but when we asked particular questions, and asked for information it was not always forthcoming,” she said.

Nillumbik Council passed a resolution in December 2020 to request MRPV conduct further community consultation, but this did not occur.
Ms Shukuroglou had organised a protest rally for February 13, which had to be cancelled due to the COVID lockdown.
However, the lockdown did not deter the construction workers who brought out the chainsaws, which was seen as a massive slap in the face to the community.

“Even it had been planned for six months, it was in bad taste,” said Ms Dyet.

Major Road Projects Victoria Program Director Dipal Sorathian defended the works occurring during lockdown.

“This project is essential work, like many other projects that have commenced and continued through various stages of COVID-19 restrictions over the past year,” he said.

Overkill

The project will see the intersection widened substantially, with eight lanes (four lanes each way) on the Main Road, eight lanes on Lower Plenty Road and eleven lanes in total on Fitzsimons Lane.
Although Mayor of Nillumbik, Peter Perkins notes that this was reduced from the original plans.

“Council has advocated on behalf of the community since the announcement of this project.
“These efforts have helped to influence MRPV to revise its design, including the reduction of the proposed intersection from 11 to eight lanes, saving more than 200 trees along the corridor.
“Fitzsimons Lane is a key gateway to the Shire and is of significant aesthetic, environmental and economic value to the community.
“Council supports the government’s efforts to minimise traffic congestion while at all times seeking to ensure that the community’s voice is heard and appropriately acted upon,” said Cr Perkins.

Ms Shukuroglou said that with the massive changes in the way people are working and moving around the city the plan should have been reconsidered.
She said the project also does not take the road use changes projected by the North East Link.

“MRPV made their case by using figures that were not really all that accurate, because their traffic modelling and numbers were based on 2027, and then 2028 is estimated for the NEL opening, which suggests traffic will drop by quite a large percentage.
“Then we also need to contemplate there is also a current ban on immigration and the trend of working from home, and that it most likely to be the thing that remains.
“Once the pandemic is abated, people will start getting back on the trains and will be working from home — these things have not been taken into account,” she said.

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Photos: VICKY SHUKUROGLOU

Alternatives ignored

Ms Shukuroglou  went on to say: “We realised as a bunch of volunteers on community planning issues we needed to get hold of some people who knew more about this game than we did.

“So we subsequently got three experts in the field, one a retired VicRoads person, one transport manager from AECOM in London, a huge international firm, and more recently someone who is an expert on roundabouts.

The group had their experts draw up alternative plans in attempt to reduce the footprint of the works and to retain the roundabout, and therefore the trees, but despite being told their plans were as affective as the official plans they would not be considered.
Mr Sorathia told WD Bulletin as part of the development process, “a number of designs options were investigated”, and he said it was found that upgrading to a signalised intersection was the best option to make the road safer and less congested.

“Compared to signals, a roundabout solution will be less safe, increase congestion and travel times, and will not alleviate the traffic queues,” he said.

Objectors to the roadworks were resigned to the fact that the project would go ahead no matter what their objections, but Ms Dyet said she felt that MRPV played lip-service to community consultation.

“I would say that they feel that they ticked all the boxes,” she said.

Enough is enough

Ms Shukuroglou said MRPV has been asking the wrong questions.

“They went in and said, ‘well there is a traffic problem how are we going to solve the traffic problem’.
“As opposed to ‘there is a traffic problem, how can we solve this while respecting the community, the area, and all the values that are within this place’,” she said.

She said she wants to see a dynamic change in how major projects such as this are managed.

“It seems to us very clearly, is the greatest needs of society, which is social and environmental health, which are not just boxes to be ticked and they ought to underpin all decisions, and infrastructure ought to serve purposes in response to these things,” said Ms Shukologlou.
“It starts creeping inwards, it is the thin edge of the wedge, this is where we can slowly chip away and say ‘now that road is there, we are going to have to do this duplication, we are going to have to add extra roads’.
“At what point do we say, ‘actually, enough is enough’?”

She said the community has learnt from this “absolutely horrendous” process and the “devastating” outcome.

“The one thing we need to do is maintain hope for what we can achieve for anything that is happening in the future.
“There are a lot of demoralised, tired people, there are people who feel like they have there is no point in attempting to have a go.
“But that, in all sorts of ways, the system is working in that way.
“It would be much easier if we all sat down and said nothing, there would be a lot less hiccups, work could be done a lot more efficiently.
“But we are not just going to sit down and accept this — we will organise the protest again to say, this must change, this is not an appropriate example of community consultation.
“This is not a good example of how things must be.”

Replanting plan

“We have heard from the local community that they appreciate the natural environment, which is why we are planting more trees than we remove on the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade,” said Mr Sorathian.

Local member Vicky Ward has announced that 5,000 trees will be planted around Eltham to offset the trees that have been removed.
In a statement, she said approximately six new trees will be planted for every tree removed as part of the project.
This calculation makes the tally of trees lost at approximately 830.

“This program will leave an important legacy that all participants and the wider community will enjoy for years to come,” she said.

Ms Ward’s announcement stated local secondary school students will also be involved in a propagating project to create a new supply of native plants and trees, which will be planted and grown in the local area.
However, Ms Shoukoglou said even 5,000 trees, will not replace what has been lost.

“One of the main issues is there are very few hollow bearing trees left, and it is a serious problem.
“So planting a one-year-old, or five-year-old tree is nothing like it.
“Even if you have 5,000 of them, it is nothing like one mature tree that has lived for 50, 60, 100, 200 years.
“You are never going to regain that,” she said.

Cr Perkins said Council and the community lament the recent destruction of so many trees at this key gateway.

“We look forward to the completion of the project when the benefits will be realised and landscaping completed,” he said.

Display of grief

On Saturday, 20 February, locals gathered for a demonstration at the intersection, gathering in small groups to place “letters of love and loss”.
Ms Shukuroglou told WD Bulletin due to COVID restrictions the community was unable to protest in the traditional sense.
To ensure the event was conducted safely the organisers opted for a multi-site staged gathering over the course of the day.

“It was an independent demonstration, a COVID-safe solution, and an opportunity for people to express their grief, which is immense and rippling through the community”.

She said people came on their own mournful walk, delivered letters, had conversations, and shared their feelings of dismay, anxiety, shock.

“People’s worlds have been rocked — how can that be allowed in our system which is touted as fair?
“Others said their anxiety is through the roof… so much more,” she said.

What now for the future?

Protest organisers are asking concerned citizens to visit their website, to send messages, and keep updated on future actions.
elthamroundabout.wixsite.com/my-site
The WD Bulletin and Warrandyte Diary will continue to follow this developing story.

 

ComBank Closure in Macedon Square

LAST YEAR, The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) made the decision to temporarily close their branch located in Macedon Square, Lower Templestowe to address growing COVID-19 related concerns.

In a letter addressed to Manningham Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Day on January 21, 2021, CBA stated they would not re-open the Lower Templestowe branch due to a shift in customer behaviours — citing that more customers have opted to do their banking online and over the phone.

On January 28, 2021, Councillor Stephen Mayne brought the motion to the monthly Manningham Council Meeting to undertake an advocacy campaign with the CBA to delay or reverse this decision.

Councillor Mayne felt strongly that the closure of the Lower Templestowe branch would be detrimental to the community space, considering Macedon Square is a bustling hub for Manningham residents.

Increasing concerns of potential loss of foot traffic in the centre grow, as the February closure date looms ahead.

“Bank branches drive visitation to local activity centres so it is important to fight to retain the last bank in any centre,” said Cr Mayne.

“Macedon Square is the number one community meeting place in the Ruffey Ward that we are considering spending two to three million dollars on improving in the period ahead.

“I am hoping our engagement will lead to a change in decision here.

“We are publicly signalling to the bank that we are disappointed with this decision,” Cr Mayne said at the January Ordinary Council Meeting.

The council resolved by majority vote to pass the motion.

The Bulletin contacted Councillor Mayne for further comments and updates regarding the motion.

As Councillor Mayne stated in the January council meeting, the council understands that technology is changing and internet banking is becoming the norm.

However, it is still important to look after the needs and interests of everybody in the community, specifically our elderly population.

“Manningham has one of the oldest communities in Victoria so it is particularly important to look after their needs, and many of our elderly residents still like to visit bank branches,” he said.

In a letter addressed to Councillor Mayne on the February 1, 2021, a final verdict on the matter had been reached.

“CBA has written [to the council] confirming the permanent closure, blaming it on a 34 per cent drop in branch activity in recent years,” he writes.

The ATM at the Lower Templestowe Branch will only remain until 12pm on Friday, February 19, however CBA advises that there are 12 nearby ATMs within 5km of the Macedon Square branch.

Cash withdraw services are also available within nearby supermarkets, service centres as well as Australia Post, who also extend their services to deposits and bill payments.

The letter from CBA goes on to say:

“While our decision is final regarding the closure of Lower Templestowe branch, we recognise that some older customers do prefer to do their banking face to face and this is one of the reasons why CBA is proud to maintain the largest branch network in the country.”

As of February 19, the nearest bank to Macedon Square, CBA or otherwise, is located at Westfield Doncaster, The Pines East Doncaster, Tunstall Square Doncaster and Bulleen Plaza, all of which are at least 2.5km away.