Bulletin

Category for WD Bulletin originated stories

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.

Construction to commence on Fitzsimons Lane intersections

DESPITE COMMUNITY objection, work is about to commence on redevelopment of the “Eltham Gateway”, the intersection of Fitzsimons Lane with Main Road in Eltham and Porter Street in Templestowe.
Contractors BMD Construction are setting up to begin construction on the Fitzsimons Lane Major Roads project.
The project will upgrade key intersections along Fitzsimons Lane to reduce congestion, improve safety and provide better walking and cycling connections for the 60,000 people who use it every day.
A statement from Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) said that the roundabouts cause delays, which can create risks for all road users.

“People travelling along Fitzsimons Lane will benefit from better and safer journeys travelling through these upgraded intersections.”

Local activists, Eltham Community Action Group (ECAG) have been vocal in their objection to the project.
The group has tied red ribbons around each of the trees earmarked for destruction.
They presented the State Government with a 2,900-signature petition against the project, calling the works an unnecessary overkill, which will see “hundreds” of trees removed in the process.

“A massive, signalised intersection (the three roads having 10, 8 and 8 lanes at the lights) will form an area of bitumen and concrete roughly the size of the MCG oval and destroy forever our iconic entrance to the Green Wedge Shire,” they said in a statement.

ECAG said they commissioned and presented their own alternative design that would keep the roundabout and many of the trees, but despite agreeing it was as effective as the official designs, MRPV rejected the compromise.
The statement from MRPV said following community consultation last year it removed two traffic lanes from the Eltham approach.

“We have also removed the bus priority lanes from all approaches to reduce the footprint of the Main Road and Fitzsimons Lane intersection.
“This change has reduced the number of trees that will be impacted, whilst ensuring the community and road users will still benefit from reduced congestion and improved safety.”

A construction worker who is working on the project told the WD Bulletin that he is concerned that lack of communications with the public by MRPV will see construction workers potentially come into conflict with protesters when tree removal begins.
ECAG is urging anyone with concerns about the project to visit elthamaction.org.au and write to their local member.
More information about the project plans from MRPV can be found at roadprojects.vic.gov.au/projects/fitzsimons-lane-upgrade

Recycling goes up in smoke

RESIDENTS of Research received a lesson in the dangers of not properly disposing of their waste and recycling when they witnessed a small fire outside Research CFA Station.
On Wednesday morning, January 13 the driver of a garbage truck, collecting recycling, noticed his load had caught fire, and proceeded to drive to, and dump its load in the Research CFA carpark.
WD Bulletin spoke with Jarrad Bradley, 5th Lieutenant, Research CFA about the incident, he provided this statement, and picture.

“On Wednesday, January 13, at 07:36, the Research CFA brigade received an emergency fire call for a truck fire at the Research Fire Station.
Upon arrival at the station, members discovered that there was a large pile of rubbish on-fire in the middle of the station carpark.
It was quickly ascertained that a local rubbish truck, full of recycling refuse, had experienced a small fire in the load and had deposited the load into the station car park to save the truck and to allow for complete extinguishment.
Members safely entered the station and immediately deployed the Brigade’s tanker so that the fire could be delt with.
Several members used BA [Breathing Apparatus] to ensure that the smoke and any possible hazards where not a risk.
The fire was soon extinguished and the task of pulling the pile apart commenced.
This was to ensure that any embers or smouldering debris were out.
The remaining pile was later transferred to a dumpster via a bobcat and the rubbish contractor completed the disposal and the car park was washed clean.”

Smoke was visible around Research and triggered a warning via the VIC Emergency app.
The statement goes on to say.

“While a specific cause of this fire was not apparent, these types of fires are usually caused by the incorrect disposal of dangerous items in household rubbish bins.
Please ensure you check what can and cannot be put in your bins.
Particularly dangerous items include hot embers and ashes, gas cylinders — including small camping type Butane cylinders, and modern rechargeable batteries — especially Lithium, phone, laptop and LiPo batteries.
Please remember to check what goes into your bins, especially the correct disposal of batteries.”

Thanks to the quick thinking of the garbage truck driver, and the professionalism of the Research CFA volunteers, the events of Wednesday morning were quickly contained.
For information on how to properly dispose of e-waste, visit your local council’s website.

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Images courtesy: Jarrad Bradley, 5th Lieutenant, Research CFA

Chock-full of chooks

FOR THE LAST six months, Eltham local, Joan Denison has been using her passion for art to spread joy throughout her community, creating Iso Chook paintings on old fence palings.
WD Bulletin previously featured Joan and her quirky cartoon-like chooks at the beginning of her Iso Chook journey in our September 2020 issue.
Since then, demand for her Iso Chooks has grown and her paling paintings are now proudly on display through Eltham and surrounding communities.
Joan’s love for illustration began when she studied fashion design at RMIT, and later had a long career working for fashion houses.
Joan now frequents groups such as the Nillumbik U3A, who usually gather and paint together weekly.

“I’ve always been painting and drawing,” she says.

Joan was saddened to see her neighbours’ spirits dampened during the trialling times of the pandemic, so to spread a bit of joy, she painted a small group of chickens for her garden, so onlookers could have a smile.

“We noticed that people were stopping and taking photos of them, and so we painted some more.
“We put a sign outside our house and people started helping themselves,” Joan told WD Bulletin.

Joan and her husband had set up a stall every Saturday to give away free chook palings to the community, which received a fantastic response from families, especially those with small children.

“The line was all the way down the hill!” says Joan.

Enthused about the chooks taking Eltham gardens by storm, Joan’s neighbours and community members offered her free fencing to continue her crazy chook journey and during one of the most testing times for Victorian’s in recent history, Joan’s chooks became a symbol of hope and community cohesiveness.

“In the one hour we were allowed out for exercise, my husband and I went around putting chooks in peoples’ letter boxes just to surprise them — like Father Christmas!” Joan laughs.

To date, Joan has painted over 1,000 Iso Chooks and with demand still out there, she is showing no sign of stopping and is now taking commissions from community organisations.

“I’ve given to lots of hospitals, nursing homes, and five schools.
“It’s been a very interesting journey I tell you — it takes a lot of work,” she says.
“I’ve slowed down a bit, since Christmas.
“People are a lot busier now, we’re not seeing many people walking past our house anymore,” she says.

In decades to come, many will look back on 2020 and only see crisis, but for residents of Eltham, they will remember hope, joy and a connected community, symbolised by Joan’s Iso Chooks.

If you would like to contact Joan for a commissioned piece, she can be contacted through Facebook Messenger.
https://www.facebook.com/joan.denison.52

Running into 2021

Photo: Gavid D Andrew Photographer

WARRANDYTE’S celebrated community running event, Run Warrandyte, is toeing the line for a celebration of sport, health, and community as the event committee makes final preparations for its 10th anniversary run.
Preparation for this event is a year-long process and the uncertainty of Coronavirus restrictions has made planning for 2021 trickier than usual, but the Run Warrandyte Committee has sculpted an event to allow walkers, joggers and runners, of all abilities, to celebrate Warrandyte’s bush setting and the spirit of community in a COVID-Safe way.
Run Warrandyte committee representative, Michelle Bean, spoke to WD Bulletin about the challenges and changes to this year’s event.

“COVID created a challenge to our committee this year, as we had to come up with an event that would fit in with restrictions and also be flexible and adjustable to any potential lockdowns we might be back in on the February 28.
“We feel we have created something that fits those requirements,” she said.

Currently set to occur on Sunday, February 28, the event will be capped at 500 participants with an option to switch to a 30-day virtual option if Melbourne or Victoria is forced into another lockdown.
Michelle also notes a number of other, significant changes which will ensure this year’s event remains COVID-Safe:

  • No on the day registrations.
  • Separate start and finish lines.
  • Staggered start times (every 15 minutes).
  • No event village
  • No spectators

COVID-Safe measures such as hand sanitising stations, COVID Marshalls and face masks will also be a feature of the 2021 event, but Michelle says this will not take away from the fun of the day.

“We still plan to create a fun, community event, where our runners can run their favourite distances and receive their free 10-year celebration medal and backpack.
“We will also have spot prizes and goodies provided by some great local businesses and as always appreciate our sponsors: Charlie Bins, Warrandyte Ringwood Osteo’s, IGA, Harding Swift Caravan Services, The Grand Hotel and Project Clothing.
“We are excited to also announce a new 21km event and interest in this has been strong.
“This is alongside the regular 2.2km, 5km, 10km and 15km distances,” she said.

Staying hydrated and COVID-Safe

One of the biggest challenges for event organisers, and event caterers is how to provide food and drink in a convenient but COVID-Safe way.
Staying hydrated while exercising is important, and with high temperatures a distinct possibility for February 28, ensuring participants have access to water is vital.
The simplest method is to provide disposable, sealed containers, like bottled water, but this adds unnecessary waste to the environment and goes against Run Warrandyte’s mission to be as eco-friendly as possible.
Michelle told WD Bulletin Run Warrandyte has secured a partnership deal with a Victorian based company, who will provide water in containers made from plants.

“We are excited to announce our event partnership with the eco-friendly company Just Water.
“Just Water takes Spring Water that is sourced from Mt Warranheip in Ballarat, Victoria and packages it in plant based, eco-friendly cartons, made by Tetra Pak.
“The packaging materials and processes result in 75 per cent less harmful emissions, primarily C02, compared to a standard PET plastic bottle.
“The design of the carton was created to remain flat until it is filled with water, meaning Tetra Pak use only one truck to transport the cartons, compared to the same number of plastic bottles needing 13 trucks.
“Just Water and Tetra Pak will be providing water on course and at the finish line in 2021 to keep our event COVID-Safe for our runners.
“Being an eco-friendly event is super important to us and with this in mind, we feel Just Water and Run Warrandyte are a great fit,” she said.

Visit the Run Warrandyte website for more event details and to enter the 2021 event.

Soul food: Josh Teskey and Ash Grunwald new collaborative project

DIARY REPORTER STEPHANIE CARAGLANIS recently sat down with Josh Teskey to discuss his new 8-Track Blues project with Ash Grunwald.
Titled Push The Blues Away, the album features raw blues instrumentation, combined with soulful and reflective lyricism.
Read on as Steph and Josh talk roots, inspiration and Josh’s pie of choice from the Warrandyte Bakery.
The Teskey Brothers are proud Warrandyte boys, so how did growing up in Warrandyte inspire you creatively?
Well, I think a big part of growing up in Warrandyte that inspired us was probably the music community around us.
I mean that was one of the biggest things, people like Chris Wilson and local Blues musicians, we were surrounded by Blues.
They have a thing for it in this area, it has influenced our music massively.

How would you describe the sound of Push The Blues Away to both new listeners and existing Teskey Brothers fans?

What we were doing growing up, prior to the release of the Teskey Brothers albums, in a live setting — it was more in that soul realm, a more raw sort of Blues thing.
We have always been very influenced by that and played a lot of that.
This project is a lot more along those lines, it is really back to basics Blues and there is nothing complicated about it.
There is not even really a rhythm section, it is just me and Ash on guitars, a bit of harmonica, stomp boxes — it is raw and almost a bit rough around the edges.
We just wanted to have some fun with it, so we did not want to get too complicated.
We did not spend heaps of time fixing little things up, you hear a little bit of laughing in the background, or there might not be the most perfect little vocal takes, sometimes.
We wanted it that way, it is almost kind of live sounding.
A lot of what we recorded was basically live in the room, every one of these tracks is just Ash and I playing through the song, what we put down that was it.
It is really raw, that is the way I would describe it.

I think that is a bit of a hidden gem, a lot of people do not really know there is a Blues scene hidden in Warrandyte.

That is right!
There are a lot of artists who live in and around here, more than we realise.
It is a special little thing.

I definitely noticed that!
Especially on Thinking ‘Bout Myself, you guys have the harmonicas, the claps which is really stripped down and different from what the Teskey Brothers usually produce, can we expect this stripped back instrumentation throughout the entire album?

Absolutely!
There are no drums, there is no bass guitar.
I just finished an album with the Teskey Brothers when we started this project, where we did a lot of production, strings sections and horns.
So this was really fun for us, we did not want to do a lot of production on this one, just made to be really fun and really easy. 

So you and Ash have collaborated previously on his track Ain’t My Problem, why did you decide to go all the way and collaborate on a full album together?

Well, it just kind of escalated you know?
One thing sort of led to another.
It began when he did that track with the Teskey Brothers, he sent us the song and we became the rhythm section on that tune he sent us.
A few months later he came out to our studio in Warrandyte to do a film clip, we were going to film a little thing of me and Ash having a jam together — I just had a harmonica and he had a guitar.
When you are filming things like this there is a lot of waiting around.
So we were waiting around, having a jam in the room, and got to talking, saying “ah wouldn’t it be great just to do an album like that one day?, just a guitar and a harmonica in a room and do some of that stuff we have always loved.”
Ash being the hustler that he is, gives me a call a couple of weeks later and says:
“Hey! Do you have any time? We should just do this!”
We did not really know what was going to come of it, it began by being together in the studio, I did not know if we were going to release it or just have a bit of a jam.
But he came out for a week and my brother, Sam, came out to the studio here.
Sam set up all the stuff, he also produced and recorded this thing as well, so he has been very involved in a lot of ways too.
As we got into it, I came in with a couple of songs I put together just a couple of days before.
Ash had a couple of songs he put together, then we thought of a couple of covers we were into, a couple of old Blues standards — and before we knew it, we had eight or nine songs sitting there ready to go.
And we were like “Man there is a whole album’s worth here”.
Before we knew it, Sam mixed it all together and our label, Ivy League Records said: “Yeah! We should release this.”
It was a very cruisy process and now we have got a whole album.

I really liked the music video you guys produced for Hungry Heart just that very cosy homemade video, it was very cute and organic.

It was really fun for us.
It was an appropriate video to do during isolation.It was more about working out what we could do, film a bit of our lives — as that is all we can do at the moment.
I think my favourite thing I have heard someone say about you is “When I close my eyes I hear Otis Redding and when I open them I see Thor”.
How do you feel about being compared a Marvel hero?
I love it!
People have been telling me I look like Chris Hemsworth for many years.
It was such a funny thing, Chris discovers our music, next thing I know I find myself at the Avengers premiere walking down with Liam and Chris.
It was very bizarre seeing how the Hollywood crew do it.

Do you and Ash share any musical influences and how did that influence this new project?

Well I think it is really appropriate for the Warrandyte Diary here.
Ash actually grew up in the same area as well, you know he was close by.
I actually grew up watching Ash!
When I was about 13/14, I used to watch Ash play sets out of the St Andrews pub.
I would be busking at the market with Sam; we would come up after the market, get some food over at the hotel there and Ash was always playing a set.
So I grew up watching Ash play Blues.
He was one of those influences in the area, which was really cool, alongside people like Geoff Achison and Chris Wilson.
About five years later, I am watching him play the Main Stage at Falls Festival.
In a big way he has influenced our music as well.
I tell him now we used to grow up watching him, because he discovered us independently.
We even did a gig in Northcote where we supported him, he did not remember that.
The Teskey Brothers were a support for him, and then when Ash found us to do a bit of work on his album he could not believe we into his music back in the day.
We are very closely connected in many ways.

That is a wholesome story.

He is a beautiful character, he is a lovely guy, and it has been a really nice fun project just to work with him and get to know him, he has a really great soul.

I feel like this is my most imperative question of the whole interview, what is your order at the famous Warrandyte Bakery?

Very nice!
Okay, I have been going down for years and I just love getting some croissants.
I usually get about five croissants on a Sunday.
If I am not doing that and I am just a bit hungry, and I want to get something, I love the veggie pie down there which is delicious!
I think it is far superior to the veggie pasty.
I also normally get a cheeky caramel slice, so a veggie pie and a caramel slice would be my first choice, ha ha!

A little bit of an unpopular opinion hey?

I feel like everyone goes for the beef pie and the vanilla slice.

That is a bit of a classic, I do love the classic beef as well.
But there is something about that veggie pie, and not a lot of people know about it!
It is a bit of an inside secret.

I love it, you are putting the veggie pie on the map single-handedly.

Absolutely!
Try it out Warrandyte, try it out.

Shopping centres shuttered

OUR ONCE bustling shopping centres now resemble museums to commercialism — shop shutters locked in place, and lights dimmed.
While we often focus on how local businesses are doing; the butchers, the milk bar, the IGA, how often do we extend that thought to the traders at Eastland, The Pines, or Doncaster Shopping Town.?

Stockland The Pines, a once bustling hub for your everyday shopping needs, is now filled with visions of shutters and muted light amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shopping has been hard the past few months, especially for those behind the counter, with many vendors having to constantly adapt to ever changing lockdown restrictions.

The combination of business restrictions and the public making shopping and lifestyle choices minimising their movement, the swathe of retail and hospitality businesses within The Pines have seen significant drop-offs in their customer numbers.

While some coffee shops and eateries within The Pines have opted to take up the takeaway only option — such as Indulgence Café and Chirpy Chix — and weather the pandemic, many, facing dwindling shopper numbers, have opted to close.

Indulgence Café has been a Pines favourite for the 15 years — with decadent cakes, coffees and a homey brunch menu, the café was often busy, as shoppers took time out during their shop.

Café’s Manager, Shantha, says it is important to continue trading during these tough times, to maintain a sense of normality.

“We want to look after the regulars and keep the community spirit around,” she said.

Shantha says the encouragement to keep going is reflected through their regular customers.

“Our regulars supported us so much,” she said.

While the new culture of take away and delivery has provided a buoyancy aid for many hospitality businesses, charcoal chicken shop, Chirpy Chix’s owner Madrit told WD Bulletin that the dine-in experience is a big part of cuisine culture for many businesses, and these businesses are beginning to feel the impact of reduced foot traffic.

“Weekdays are quiet, not like they used to be,” he said.

Recently, the Victorian Government announced the $3 billion business support package which Premier Daniel Andrews described as the “biggest package of business support” the state has ever obtained.

Over $1.1B in cash grants will be allocated to small and medium-sized businesses, those vendors most affected by tough lockdown restrictions.

As Melburnians patiently wait for metropolitan restrictions to be relaxed, the Victorian Government will invest $44 million to aid businesses in easing and adapting toward our new COVID Normal.

But Madrit says, for businesses like his who are reliant on the dine-in experience, this support is not enough.

With plummeting sales, loss of customers and staff concerned about catching Coronavirus, the emotional and financial losses are not offset by government payments.

The prolonged restrictions are also beginning to impact the day-to-day legal matters, like rent.

Negotiations with landlords can be stressful at the best of times, let alone during a global health crisis.

Madrit says small businesses are having to quickly learn and adjust to negotiating with landlords, often without help, making these conversations difficult to navigate.

Some, like Madrit, have resorted to employing a middleman to help with lease negotiations and he says this has eased some of the burden of having to deal with this crisis, and the mechanics of running a business.

However, there is a glimmer of hope, Madrit says small and medium businesses are “fighting every day”.

“Stress is there, anxiety is there — but we have to be positive about it.”

As active cases fall and regional Victoria beginning to open up, there is hope that a café culture will return soon, albeit through a COVID Normal filter.

WD Bulletin also spoke with The Pines Centre Management but they did not wish to comment.

However, when these restrictions took hold in late July, The Pines put out a statement on their website expressing their support for struggling businesses.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of our customers, retailers, team members and the wider community is our highest priority so we are taking extra precautions to ensure our centres are clean, hygienic and minimise large scale interactions.

“We know this is a unique and changing situation, but we’re all in it together.

“We’re proud to be part of a community that can support each other.”

Lease help for retailers

On Friday, September 18, the Victorian Government announced changes in the Retail Leases Act 2003.

The changes focus on making it easier for small business owners to get their security deposits back more promptly, in addition to making leases and legal obligations easier to understand.

  • Key edits to the act include:
  • Landlords informing tenants of rent increases prior to lease extensions.
  • An additional seven days to consider terms and conditions proposed in a lease.
  • A maximum of 30 days for the return of a security deposit.

The Government is also extending further support to affected parties through the Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme as well as the Commercial Landlord Hardship Fund.

The Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme, introduced on March 29, 2020, provides rent reductions for small-to-medium sized businesses who’s income has been directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also puts a freeze on evictions for rent non-payment for those businesses with an annual turnover of under $50M, that have also experienced a minimum 30 per cent reduction in turnover due to COVID-19.

The Commercial Tenancy Relief Scheme offers grants of up to $3,000 per tenancy to eligible landlords experiencing financial hardship due to rent reductions.

Additionally, the Government is offering free mediation through the Victorian Small Business Commission, whereby mediators are appointed to help resolve any persisting disputes between renters and landlords — creating an accessible service for businesses who do not have the means to outsource.

Minister for Small Businesses, Jaala Pulford said the scheme was about accessibility and a better understanding of retail leases.

“This is about giving business owners a fair go in tough times and providing certainty for all parties.”

The announcement will be good news for struggling commercial renters and will hopefully alleviate some of the stresses small businesses face when it comes to tenancy, especially when the state is a long way from business as usual.

On the campaign trail

CAMPAIGNING for the 2020 Local Elections has begun and, as we go to print, we are approaching the end of the candidate nomination period.

Those wishing to nominate will need to complete the registration process by 12pm on Tuesday, September 22.

Ballot packs will be mailed out between October 6 and October 8, and registered voters will have until 6pm on October 23 to return their ballot paper.

The Victorian Government has published a detailed breakdown of what campaign activities are permitted under the various steps of their roadmap to COVID Normal.

For candidates in metro-Melbourne, unless there is a further, dramatic and significant drop in active cases and the 14-day average drops below five — the threshold for Step 3 which would bring metro-Melbourne in line with regional Victoria — campaigning for the 2020 local elections is going to play out in our mail boxes, in our newspapers and on social media.

Under Step 1 and Step 2, candidates and their campaign team are permitted to conduct letterbox drops, and bill poster activities within the ward they are campaigning for.

Door knocking, public meetings and face-to-face campaigning is not permitted.

History shows that a public figure’s ability to effectively harness the power of a new communication tool can make or break their campaign.

From the first televised presidential debates in the United States of America in 1960 which historically dubbed John F. Kennedy as “the first television president” for his effective use of the “new” medium of television to speak directly to public, to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign which was significantly bolstered by his use of Twitter, a platform that to this day still plays a big role in commentary and analysis of his time in the White House.

The effective, and ineffective, use of social media platforms have become part of the fabric of national politics both here and around the world and COVID-19 may mean the October 26 local elections may be won and lost on the succinctness of a candidates words and the savviness of their social media.

In October’s Warrandyte Diary and WD Bulletin, we will give candidates in Manningham and Nillumbik the opportunity to present their campaign, ahead of the voting deadline.

In the meantime, now is a good opportunity for voters to get to know their wards.

A combination of the Victorian Electoral Commission’s Representation Review in 2019 and the change to ward structure as part of the newly implemented Local Government Act 2020 means the ward you have previously voted in may not be the ward you vote in this time.

Saving Gooligulch

MANNINGHAM COUNCIL has responded to an outcry from Wonga Park residents around the redevelopment of the historic Golligulch Playground.
Council initially released three options for the playgrounds in Wonga Park, to remodel two areas, the Gooligulch Playground and the Dudley Reserve playground.
Council’s Your Say website proposed removing the current Gooligulch playground and replacing it with either a Nature Playspace for young children, a ropes course aimed at teens, or a small basic facility, which would be offset with a “destination” playground constructed in Dudley Reserve.
However, following a flurry of comments on social media, a petition and numerous letters to Council, the website was amended to acknowledge the importance of the Gooligulch Playspace, Council added a comments section to the survey, which they extended by two weeks.
Frank Vassilacos, Acting Manager Integrated Planning at Manningham Council said in a letter to the Warrandyte Community Association, which has been provided to the Dairy: “We acknowledge that the initial material we provided through our website may not have adequately represented the existing historical elements.
“For that, we sincerely apologise for any angst or concern this may have created”.
Niall Sheehy , Manningham Council’s Acting Director City Planning and Community told the Diary: “Manningham Council is currently seeking feedback on proposals for play spaces in the Wonga Park area, including at Wonga Park Reserve and Dudley Reserve, to understand the needs of the local community and how they may have changed since the play spaces were first installed”.Wonga Park resident, Ros Forrest told the Diary that the community is upset both about the lack of consultation to this point, and that none of those options for the redevelopment include keeping the current unique playground.
Mr Sheehy said the three proposals outline new possibilities for Wonga Park Reserve and Dudley Reserve that may increase play options for a wider range of ages.
He said that the nature play space would “retain the theme and style of the existing Gooligulch Playspace”.
The Gooligulch Playspace was created in 1998, designed by Cathy Kiss, a former Planner with M

anningham Council, themed around a Graeme Base book My Grandma lived in Gooligulch.
The author was in attendance at the opening, signing books for people.
“It was a big event for our little suburb and a great talking point with all the school children in the community.
“It was so nice to have a playground that was very unique, but one which also blended in well in our semi-rural environment — it still does to this day,” Ms Forrest said.
She said many people have contacted her on Facebook saying that they use the playground, they appreciate that it is unique and do not want it demolished.
“Having said that, I have no objection to Council adding extra play equipment to the area for older children, but not at the expense of the current infrastructure,” she said.
“I would love to see this unique piece of history remain and I gather a lot of other people feel the same.”
Other people within the community have welcomed the proposal, with local resident Amy Cresswell posting that: “Council are wanting to provide us with beautiful new, innovative, safe and exciting new play spaces for our children and I can’t believe that anyone would be against this.
“I’m 100% for my rates dollars going towards this cause, it’s wonderful!”
She reminded objectors that first and foremost “children’s happiness is what this is all about”.
The Diary spoke with Author Graeme Base, who was pragmatic in his response to the news that the facility may be revamped.

“After 20 years I’m sure it must be in need of work — I’d love to see it live on, but everything has its day and it’d be silly to hang on to something if it is past its useful life.
We had heaps of fun designing and building all the bits and pieces for the playground back in the day but it’s a mistake to be too precious about one’s creations — if it can be refurbished for a reasonable cost then great — if not, let’s all hope some else fun and imaginative can be created to take its place.”

Following the public outcry Council amended the Your Say website to reflect that the Gooligulch theme would be retained in one of the options.

The council has three options on the table:

Option A
Gooligulch’ playground is replaced with a destination nature play space, that will retain the theme and style of the existing Gooligulch play space, while including a wide range of new nature play experiences and an informal picnic area designed for children between the ages of two and 12 years.
The current play equipment at Dudley Reserve will be replaced with a small local play space suitable for children between the ages of two and 12 years.

Option B
Gooligulch playground is removed and a new nature themed destination obstacle/ropes course aimed at children over 13 years and young adults.
This would be installed near the BMX track and tennis courts.
The current play equipment at Dudley Reserve will be replaced with a small play space suitable for children between the ages of two and 12 years.

Option C
Gooligulch playground is removed and minor improvements are carried out to an existing small playground alongside the lower oval at Wonga Park Reserve.
This playground caters for ages of two to 12 years.
The current play equipment at Dudley Reserve will be replaced with a large destination play space suitable for children between the ages of two and 12 years.

Mr Sheehy said Council understands that the existing Gooligulch play space “is unique and a very cherished feature in Wonga Park”.
“In the 25 years since its installation, Gooligulch Playground at Wonga Park Reserve has experienced considerable deterioration and is in need of replacement,” he said.
Mr Sheey said the images on the Your Say website were chosen to help illustrate the possible options, “but no designs have been prepared at this stage”.
“We are currently consulting with the community to seek feedback and hear suggestions.
“We acknowledge that there is also a strong community connection to the Gooligulch Playground, particularly with the historic elements of the existing play space.
“We are keen to hear from the community to let us know which elements are important to them and how we can best address these themes as part of a customised design,” Mr Sheehy said.
He said following the current consultation to understand the location and type of play space the community would prefer, a detailed design proposal will be prepared and made available for community feedback later this year.
Former Councillor and now declared candidate for Yarra Ward in the upcoming election, Meg Downie has blamed the Council for lack of maintenance that has led to the deterioration of the playground.
“I was frustrated to hear that some time ago Council decided not to maintain this unique playground and now plans have been drawn up without input from the community,” she said on the Your Say forum.
President of the Warrandyte Community Associate, and candidate for Yarra Ward in the forthcoming Manningham Council election, Carli Lange-Boutle, told the Diary that she has advocated for a community consultation panel to work on the final design for the play space.
Ms Lange-Boutle said she has been advised the Council will “involve the relevant historical society and community representatives… to incorporate their input into a future customised design”.
Mr Vassilacos said: “a detailed design proposal will be prepared and made available for community feedback later this year – no doubt, incorporating the existing unique character”.
The initial round of community consultation has been extended and will now close on Monday, September 14.