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Council elections arrive


Elections are underway. Look closely at the candidates…and their promises, writes Val Polley

We’re having elections again – this time it’s local government elections this month.

We don’t have to turn out and queue this time, however. It’s a postal ballot in both Nillumbik
 and Manningham but if we intend to treat it seriously there’s some work to do. Local government is the closest level of government to where we actually live. It deserves some of our time to give some attention to the candidates and their promises.

North Warrandyte sits in the Sugarloaf Ward of Nillumbik Shire Council. This is a single councillor ward and there are 14 nominations to ll the seat left vacant by Ken King who has retired. Warrandyte is included in the Mullum Mullum Ward of Manningham City Council. It sees the three sitting councillors renominating as well as a further 10 nominations for the three seats. With the move to postal ballots the only guaranteed information voters can access comes via the candidates’ own 200 or so word CV.

These can be found on the Victorian Electoral Commission website. They should also be included in the posted out papers.

If you care about the issues in Warrandyte then it pays to read through the candidates’ CVs and what they have to say on our two page spread showcasing them on pages 14-15 of the Warrandyte Diary, October 2016 edition.

There are very few public meetings, door knocks and personal interaction. Very few of us will meet our candidates before we fill out our ballot papers. It comes down to their words to capture your interest and encourage you to vote for them.

When looking for your ideal candidates there are a few things to keep in mind. Have they submitted a CV?

If so, look at what they write. Are they truly involved in the community through sport, schools, organisations or other interests or just paying lip service to community involvement? This can be a major indicator of their real interest in being a councillor. If they haven’t provided a CV then are they really serious about their chances of election?

Are they standing on just one particular issue? The work of a councillor is all encompassing and councillors have to be involved across the range of subjects that will come before them.

Do you want them to be independent or can they represent a political party?

The Greens candidates have clearly stated their allegiance. Other candidates’ possible party allegiances appear more opaque.

Are they setting preferences in their CV to benefit one particular group looking for specific outcomes? Recent Electoral Act changes were designed to eliminate the practice of dummy candidates, it remains to be seen if this will be the case.

Would you like them to live locally?

Both wards are very large and a truly local representative can often be a major asset. Incumbents enjoy a privileged position. Their names are usually more recognisable particularly if they have played a major role in the local community.

That said, do you want to re-elect a sitting councillor? Is their record good enough, how long have they served and have you been pleased with their efforts on your behalf?

Being a councillor is an arduous four year long round of meetings, decisions, negotiations and con- stituent involvement across the whole of the City or Shire. It is not for the faint hearted and indeed it is very encouraging for local democracy that so many of our fellow residents are prepared to put up their hand for the privilege of serving their community.

If we want the best possible out- come for these elections and the next four years then we must take the time and make a balanced and considered decision on how to mark that important ballot paper. If not we will have no-one to blame but ourselves if we don’t like the result.

Gold adventures

What to do when the school holidays arrive and winter has the whole family shivering in its collective boots?

You head north, hit the east coast and soak up the sun in between theme parks, that’s what. But it’s not for the faint-hearted.

A Gold Coast adventure with theme parks on the agenda in a Griswald-style escape may be an oldie, but it’s certainly a goodie and the perfect way to elude the Victorian winter chill for a week or so. With five kids – aged 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 – stacked into a people mover, the good news is cabin fever only lasts in small doses, especially if you prepare, book and deliver properly, so the “are we there yets” are few and far between. This is how we did it…

First on the list is book flights and accommodation early. For a party of seven you’re crazy if you don’t, and one of the first things you should do is be registered for updates from low cost carriers Tiger, Jetstar and Virgin. Tiger was the winner for us as we got in early and managed to snag seven return airfares for under $1200. Next on the list was self-contained accommodation and the ultimate scenario was to have a venue right smack bang near all the action – in Helensvale – so a three bedroom cabin was locked and loaded at Gold Coast Holiday Park, but more about that later. For more visit Tiger Airways, Jetstar and Virgin websites to sign up to newsletters.

Book a people mover at DriveNow for the best deal. Yep, you can’t go past this website which is akin to Wotif in the world of car hire, and we bagged a big Hyundai Imax, an eight-seater, plenty of room for suitcases, aircon and auto for less than a grand for 10 days! The process is simple in that you search for people movers in desired location and eight or 10 options pop up with the best deals. We had wheels and there was a party going on in the cabin above them! A great website that’s easy to navigate, book quickly and be all sorted for transport while away. More drivenow.com.au

Gold Coast Holiday Park, a big kick-arse cabin with the works. You can either shell out and get a fancy hotel on the Goldie or you can lower your sights and get a home away from home in a more down to earth location like a modern caravan park – which are like mini resorts these days. GCHP is not just any holiday park, but a Big 4 holiday park and anyone who has stayed at one knows exactly what I mean: they’re the upper echelon for raising the bar in facilities and standards. Aside from a superb spacious cabin, with kitchenette, bunk beds, great lounge area and widescreen TV was the fact Gold Coast Holiday Park is an entertainment hub in its own right with an amazing pool and waterslide adjoining Nibbles Cafe, an upmarket camp kitchen, bike track, tennis court, outdoor cinema and loads more. But the piece de resistance? It’s literally five minutes by car to Movieworld or 10-15 minutes to Dreamworld! All the kids admitted a holiday spent entirely at this great park would be worth the trip to the Gold Coast alone. More goldcoast holidaypark.com.au

Brace yourself for the rides of your life. The instructions were clear from the kids: leave your fear of heights back in Victoria and strap yourself in. The best thing about staying at Gold Coast Holiday Park is they can offer the best multiple park ticket deals going – a must if you want to save some serious dollars. So with our stomachs flipped upside down, sideways and round and round multiple times over the next few days what were the highlights? The kids voted Dreamworld and Movieworld and their accompanying water parks as the best for all the action. Here are some rides that rattled our bones and insides: The Giant Drop, Wipeout, Shockwave, Superman ride, Scooby Doo Spooky rollercoaster, Arkham Asylum, the Batwing, and the Tower of Terror. Speaking of which, see inset for how we grown-ups were processing the Superman ride while our two blonde teenagers in front of us were already looking for something more dangerous! Of course, there’s plenty more features to explore and absorb, including a tiger cub being walked around the grounds at Dreamworld which is a cute surprise. More movieworld.com.au and dream world.com.au

The NightQuarter night markets in Helensvale are unmissable. When you’re not kicking back in the great facilities at Gold Coast Holiday Park or going nuts in the theme parks, this market experience is an absolute treat for both grown-ups and the kids. A hive of activity, there are more than 120 food trucks/stalls, micro-restaurants, bars, craftspeo- ple, musicians and other quirky points of interest in a real carnival atmosphere. Otherwise known as “shipping container city”, the concept is catching on all over Australia. The food is everything from tapas, oysters, BBQ ribs and Asian choices to cronuts, chocolate fountains, amazing icecreams and more. More nightquarter.com.au

Warrandyte in the 1950s

Growing up in Warrandyte in the 1950s was pretty special. We had the river and the bush and a strong feeling of belonging. Call it plenty of community spirit if you like.

We McAuleys were a mongrel breed, part Irish, part German and with a bit of English and Scottish thrown in. Back then Warrandyte was still a country town but quickly developing into a suburb. My family had lived here for generations, my grandmother Eva Belzer came from German stock and attended the local stone-built state primary school that was built by my great-great grandfather William Masterton back in the 1800s. She married Sam McAuley, whose father James was born in County Tyrone, Ireland.

My grandparents set up their orchard and stable on a tract of land next to the school, raised their own livestock, baked bread and grew vegetables for their dinner table.

There was no electricity for cooking, heating or light. It was a time when people made their own music at special events such as births, weddings and wakes. My grand- father played the concertina and people danced and sang in the old homestead in the light of flickering hurricane lamps and candles. They had six children Evelyn, Gertrude, Jack, Bill, Lillian and my father Ralph, the youngest.

The family suffered many setbacks over the years, losing their home in the devastating Black Friday firestorm of 1939. Three years later, during WWII, my uncle Bill was shot dead as he led his troops across a beach in what was then New Guinea. I was proudly named William in memory of my Uncle Bill when I was born six years after the end of the war.

My father came home from WWII after serving in the Middle East and New Guinea. He met and married my mother Patricia and built our family home from fieldstone gathered in nearby hills and transported back to his building site on a horse-drawn dray.

In due course, my sister Sue and I were born and we grew up running gloriously free in the small town, through which the Yarra River meandered.

The river was the focal point of our lives. We kids met by the river, swam together in the river and with a trembling heart, when I was still as innocent as an angel, I had my first kiss by the river.

Our village consisted of a series of shops and included the Mechanics Institute Hall, the Post Office and a pub.

Across from the pub was Jack Moore’s general store. The atmospheric old shop was full of sacks of grain, hardware items and tools, glass jars filled with nuts and lollies and rows of biscuit tins. Buying a brown paper bag full of broken biscuits was a heavenly treat for us kids. Scotch fingers, Iced Vovos and Milk Arrowroots were my favourites.

The store was crammed with little treasures hiding in the shadows on the dusty wooden floor, a great place for a child to explore. Unfortunately, the old shop, a remnant from another age, burned to the ground when I was still a child; it was never rebuilt and the site has been used as a car park for the Grand Hotel ever since.

Jack Moore’s sister Aggy ran the milk bar next to the Mechanics Institute Hall, right where the community centre is today. In the late 1950s, matinees were shown at the hall every Saturday and the town’s young film-goers would gather in her shop at interval to drink the ‘spiders’ she made and to buy more Jaffas to roll down the aisles during the Hopalong Cassidy or Tom Mix feature.

Lime ‘Spiders’ were Aggy’s specialty and consisted of a scoop of ice cream stirred into a big sundae glass of lime cordial and lemonade. The delicious creamy concoction fizzed and oozed over the rim of the glass, the bubbles tickling your nose as you tried to drink it before there was too much spillage.

In June, winter rain turned the river into a muddy torrent that coursed through the valley. Rising above the yellow-brown river, the rain-misted hills were mostly capped with grey leaden skies. Winter months were cold, wet and depressing, the dullness broken only by local football matches, which were the absolute highlight.

In summer, the ever-dwindling river ran through tinder dry gum trees that shimmered in the oppressive heat. Wattle trees were laden with bright yellow blossom and the sharp scent of eucalyptus hung in the hot January air. The crack of ball on bat could be heard as the local cricket team crafted their way through another innings.

Sometimes during stinking heatwaves my father would wake me at first light and we’d drive down to the river in his 1951 Bedford truck for a swim before school. Steam rose from the cold muddy river as we waded in together to cool off. I’d cling to my father’s broad shoulders as we swam clear across the current to the tall rocky cliffs on the other side. I felt safe in the water with him.

The other local lads and I climbed cliffs and trees and dived into shallow water from heights of up to 20 metres. We were fearless and I suspect slightly mad, as we risked life and limb every day with our daredevil stunts. We congregated at a swimming hole called ‘The Log’, where a rope hung from a tall gum tree on the other side of the river. Time after time we’d swing out over the water and let go of the rope, flying like acrobats through the air as we somersaulted down into the owing brown water.

Our bread was baked in a wood fired oven in the village and delivered daily to each house, sometimes still warm. And milk was delivered each day by a local character, “Tiger” Flowers. He always wore a sleeveless Richmond Football Club guernsey.

He was our unofficial town crier: all our breaking news came from Tiger as he called out during his milk deliveries, “Mrs Chapman has had a baby boy”, or “The bush fire is coming from the north”. Though I knew Tiger all of his life, I never knew his Christian, or given, name; I always called him Tiger.

The iceman came once a week, a huge block of ice carried on a shoulder protected by a potato sack. Once in our kitchen he’d hoist up the heavy block and unceremoniously plonk it in our icebox. It was the time before electric refrigerators were common in 1950s homes.

The “dunny man” came once a week, too, to collect the pan from our outdoor toilet, with a grunt he’d lift the frighteningly full pan up and on to his head and carry it down to the dunny truck. It was an endless joke with us kids: what would happen if the bottom of the pan gave way as he balanced it on his head? Shit and disaster! That’s what!

Our old-fashioned telephone was attached to the wall. To make a call you held the earpiece at the end of a cord to your ear while winding a handle to ring the local exchange. Mrs Fitch, the operator, worked her magic from the post office, now the Historical Society Museum. Speaking into the mouthpiece on the wall, you’d tell Mrs Fitch the number you required and she’d connect you via telephone lines tangled like spaghetti on her switchboard.

Our mail was delivered by horse- back each day by old Bill McCulloch. Wearing a pith helmet, he’d ride his horse Silver right past our letterbox, up the drive and deliver the mail by hand saying, “Good morning, Mrs McAuley.” When we heard the clip clop of Silver’s hooves we’d scurry outside to pat the friendly old horse.

NEXT MONTH: The coming of television and the Melbourne Olympics.

Pricking up the pieces

ASK Karina Templeton about the way people approach health and wellness these days and she believes we’re seeing some balance in integrating a more clinical Western approach with traditional Eastern methods that are steeped in history.

With a double degree in Health Science and Chinese Medicine, she’s a practitioner who certainly appreciates and respects conventional practices but who has a real passion for Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine principles and associated treatments.

“I’ve studied in a very clinical based environment and I guess I’m now going back to more traditional ways,” she told the Diary. “There’s definitely a way to integrate both in using Western and Chinese Medicine.

“The principles of Chinese Medicine, like eating through the seasons and that kind of thing, have always been there, but we just somehow lost it when there was such a shift to Western medicine. Then, of course, processed foods and busy lifestyles causing stress came into it and I think now people are realising those things are not good for them.”

She believes we’re becoming a lot more conscientious and informed, there’s greater awareness – especially with the internet coming into play on the research front: “I went to a conference recently and they pointed out the importance of knowing what we’re prescribing because it’s so easy for people to simply jump on Google and tell you what’s happening. We certainly have to be on top of it.”

Karina moved to Warrandyte this time last year and is setting about establishing her Chinese Medicine practice from home in Lorraine Avenue to be able to enjoy our village lifestyle and environment while raising a family with husband. Karina uses Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine as part of her “compassionate, supportive treatments” and incorporates modalities such as Cupping, Electro Stimulation, Moxibustion and Chinese Diet and Exercise Therapy.

She studied myotherapy at RMIT in her early 20s, but says she knew it just wasn’t quite for her as the process was taxing on her body as well as the patients’, and she found it was very much about the same musculoskeletal conditions, “of which it works really well for, but it just wasn’t all I wanted to do”.

“So while doing that I had to do some clinical placements where I worked with a whole variety of practitioners and I did it with a Chinese Medical practitioner and was blown away,” Karina says. “It was so gentle, I watched what he did, and took detailed notes of what I was doing. Putting these needles in, which are just so quick and fine, and being able to leave the room and allow a person to rest themselves while not being physically draining on me was something that appealed.

“And the scope of people and conditions he was seeing in that day was just incredible so I was really drawn to the variety, and I could see the changes that were happening.” So what’s the lowdown on Acupuncture and how it works? “There are acupuncture points all along the meridians, there are 12 main ones that run through the body and par- ticular organs, such as the spleen meridian, the kidney meridian, the bladder meridian and so on,” Karina explains. “So they’re not working exactly on those organs, as we say in Western medicine, because it’s a totally different theory, but they’re passing through and that’s why they’re named after them. There are thousands of points we can choose from. Essentially, by using those points we’re inserting messages into the body and how we want it to function. We can use one point on its own or we can couple them by using certain points together where they can have a different effect altogether.”

As for the conditions she treats, they’re wide and varied. “Common ones I’ve seen here in Warrandyte include musculoskeletal, from the majority of men that are coming, but all different types of things. I’m doing a lot of birth work, digestion and insomnia issues, dizziness and, of course, stress is a big thing,” Karina says.

Among a long list, other treatable conditions include: low energy, respiratory infections, hay fever, migraines, stress, digestive issues, constipation, loose stools, pain, IBS, insomnia, vertigo, musculoskeletal conditions, women’s health – menstrual health, natural fertility, assisted repro- ductive support, pregnancy and positive birthing support, pregnancy associated conditions including morning sickness, heartburn, fatigue, pains and turning breech babies.

“I’ve seen some people trying Western medicine to get well with their condition but for whatever reason it’s just not getting them over the line, and they come with an open mind and try the Chinese Medicine approach, it’s worked, so of course they tell their friends about it,” Karina says. “I’m certainly seeing a shift in that regard. I think it definitely picks up where Western medicine can’t come in, for example, I focus a bit on pregnancy and there’s so much medication you can’t take – Acupuncture is something you can have safely throughout your entire pregnancy.

“I’ll treat anyone and everyone, but I’ve done a lot of women’s health,” Karina admits. “Women’s health is the main thing and that’s mainly because I got into a women’s health clinic and was mentored really well through that. Otherwise here I’m seeing people with all sorts of conditions and I’m enjoying the variety.

Karina is registered with AHPRA & AACMA. She is covered by all major health funds and her patients are eligible for private insurance rebates and consultations. Consultations are $70 (after an initial $90 consultation) and are available by appointment on 0415 443 148, ktch- inesemedicine@gmail.com or visitktchinesemedicine.

Light therapy tackles Lyme

Less than six months ago, the Diary published an article on a cluster of Lyme disease patients in Warrandyte. Sufferers were at wits end, frustrated at the lack of support and indifference shown by the government, which still refuses to acknowledge the debilitating dis- ease even exists in Australia.

Andrew Barrett, Warrandyte’s colour and light healing expert, has been treating a Melbourne woman who is also afflicted with the disease. Using a machine called the PhotonWave, the style of therapy has had positive effects on patients suffering from Lyme disease as well as other ailments.

Colour light therapy uses coloured light on the body to create balance and flow, which helps the body heal itself. I was lucky enough to experience a session with Andrew as we spoke about the ancient style of healing. He explained how he had just returned from the International Light Association conference in Vienna where he had learned about using light therapy for heavy metal toxicity and immune mobilisation.

Andrew specialises in Syntronics, the process of shining selected light frequencies through the eyes, impacting key systems of the body. The light therapy session was incredibly relaxing and Andrew explained the colours and lights can be used to treat a whole range of ailments, not just physical pain, but also emotional pain and mental struggles from which people are looking for relief. The coloured light can also help with getting better rest or alternatively offer relief for those with low energy levels.

Set at the back of The Purple Dragon y in Warrandyte, the location was perfect with the scents of soaps and body oils yet another treat for the senses.

Andrew brought out two interesting looking instruments, the rst being the previously mentioned PhotonWave Rainbow Light Simulator, a new invention that has shown proven success in cases of chronic pain, ADHD, depression, heavy metal toxicity, dyslexia, skin conditions, eye diseases and allergies. This is the tool Andrew uses in his treatment of Lyme disease.

A difficult disease to treat with ongoing and chronic symptoms, the sufferer had tried many treatments to no avail until light therapy was suggested. Using the Klinghardt Protocol, a method of eliminating toxicity, Lyme disease sufferers are advised to attend 12 sessions over time to see results.

The second tool looked like a torch, with varying coloured disks that could be attached, before holding the different coloured lights over different zones of the body. I felt very relaxed after the session, a heavy but contented feeling, which I described to him as like floating on a dense flowerbed. It was hard to imagine anyone having trouble sleeping after a session like that.

As Andrew explained, the light therapy, while gentle and non-invasive, is designed to balance the physical, emotional and mental aspects of your wellbeing. Just some of the other issues Andrew can treat include migraines, depression, MS, chronic fatigue and skin dis- orders, while the therapy supports the functioning of bodily processes of the immune system, the lymphatic system and the endocrine system.

Many of his clients have tried everything else and have found the colour light therapy to be the only thing to have worked in their recovery and healing.

Andrew is offering a special of $75 for the first consultation and $60 thereafter and urges those living with Lyme disease to get in touch.

Family…and my FJ

WARRANDYTE’s David Cameron was born in Zurich in 1951. Five years later a brand new FJ Holden drove off the GMH assembly line in Australia, and David and the classic motor vehicle were destined to come together for a lifelong partnership.

The FJ eventually became David’s mum and dad’s family car and when he turned 18 his father presented him with the keys. What makes it really special is it was David’s first and last car.

Now, almost half a century later, he’s still driving the classic around the hills of Warrandyte.

“It’s been a member of the family for well over 50 years,” says David. “People often advise me to upgrade to a more modern car, but I just say to them, you don’t trade in your grandmother just because she’s getting old. We have to treat the old girl with great respect.”

David moved to Warrandyte with his parents Barbara and Don in 1962. “We moved to Glynn’s Road just after the great fire,” says David. After Grade 6 at the local primary school, David went to Norwood High School. “I completed my six year sentence at Norwood. It was a terrible time for me because I was so painfully shy. Life during those years was a bit of a misery. Later I played keyboard in a band called Pieces of Eight and that helped me with my shyness and gave me a passport into parties and social events,” he explains.

David studied biological science at Latrobe University and it was during his second year when he met his wife Lee who was studying medicine at Melbourne Uni.

“Laurie Ball was the matchmaker,” remembers David. “He got us together at his house in Research Warrandyte Road.”

Lee remembers the meeting too. “There was a little voice inside my head saying, ‘This man is going to be my husband’,” says Lee with a smile. “There was also another voice saying, ‘Why me? This little Swiss apple is too young and green’. But it has all worked out and we still really love each other.”

David adds: “Yes, we have weathered the obstacles together. But our fairy godmothers have worked overtime.”

Lee pipes up saying: “We’ve been held together by Angel’s Glue and it’s held well because we are soon to celebrate our 45th anniversary.”

David and Lee raised a family of six children, Marcel, 41, John, 37, Virgil, 35, Maria, 33, Felix, 31, and Angelica, 28. The family has grown up with the old FJ, too.

“We’ve brought up our six kids and they have all been driven to school in the car, learned to drive in the car and some of the kids were even conceived in the car,” says David with a twinkle in his eye. “Unbelievably, the 1956 car’s odometer still reads in miles not kilometers. And when we add up all the miles we’ve done driving the kids to the Rudolf Steiner School, it adds up to more than the distance to the moon.

“Sure, there have been accidents along the way, but the FJ is built like a tank from solid metal and not designed to crumple like modern cars. If somebody runs into me, they’ll come off second best. We always get the old girl patched up and back on the road.”

Lee has kept up the family tradition and driven a 1954 FJ special since ’85. “My cars first engine lasted from 1956 until 1970,” David says.
The first replacement-reconditioned engine lasted until ’88, the next replacement engine went until 2007 and David is confident the fourth engine will last until 2027. “Now I really look after the old girl and don’t push her too hard,” says David. As a botanist, David has ventured forth and driven his FJ on most of his field trips over the years, often taking Lee with him.

“The car speedo has probably been around the dial about five times,” he points out. “We’ve had some close calls in the car too. One night we were coming back from Goongerah with the whole family in the car when the fan belt gave out. I always carry rubber bands in my pocket so I put about 10 big fat rubber bands in place of the fan belt and off we went. Five miles down the road there was the smell of burning rubber and these strange pinging sounds coming from under the bonnet. We tried the rubber bands again but once again only got another five miles along the road before they gave out. Eventually a good samaritan stopped with a mobile phone and called the RACV.”

Another time David and Lee were travelling through the South Australian Outback with a group of botanists. Lee was pregnant at the time and the corrugations on the outback roads were creating a rough ride.

“We feared the constant bumps could have an adverse effect on the pregnancy and so we left the group and turned for home,” remembers David. “Nevertheless, it was a charmed and wonderful trip to make before we had a big family.

“Over the years people have got increasingly nostalgic towards these classic cars. People constantly wave and approach me at petrol stations to tell me their FJ Holden stories. I’ve had endless offers to buy the car and people ask me how much I want for her. I tell them that the car is priceless and that I never want to sell it. It’s a member of my family and I can’t part with it.”

Sometimes David and Lee have lived away from Warrandyte but like all good and committed Warrandytians they have gravitated back to where they belong.

David tells the Diary why he loves Warrandyte: “It’s a place that’s generous towards unusual and odd people. A place that’s tolerant of people who don’t quite fit into the suburban straightjacket.”

David, at 65, will keep working as a senior botanist with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and doesn’t intend retiring his trusty FJ Holden any time soon. It seems they will travel onwards together, for the whole journey.

Perhaps the Angels Glue that has bound David and Lee’s marriage will also keep the old classic car on the road forever, all the way to the moon and back.

Tom our TV man


TOMMY Kerkhof is Warrandyte’s best-known television personality. He is the man behind our TV screens. This year his television repair business celebrates a 50-year milestone. For almost half a century, Tom has toiled and tinkered with our Panasonics and adjusted our Samsungs and Sonys.

From the clunky boxes of the 1950s to the sleek flat screen models of today, he has kept us tuned in and switched on.

“But times have changed,” said Tom. “I’m basically in forced semi-retirement because hardly anybody gets their TVs repaired anymore, they just throw them away. But if any work turns up, I’ll do it.”

Tom and the rest of his family arrived in Australia from Holland when he was only nine. The year was 1952 and Tom could hardly speak a word of English. They first went to live in Hepburn Springs, but Tom’s dad heard about a house to rent at Warrandyte and he came all the way down here to inspect it.

“Dad was a nature lover,” said Tom. “And as soon as he saw the beautiful river across the road from the house, he knew it would be a great place for the four kids to grow up.”

The family, moved into 304 Yarra St and Tom remembers becoming excited the day they arrived.

“I saw the Warrandyte sign as we drove into town and thought to myself, this is the place where we are going to live.”

Tom attended Warrandyte Primary School the very next day.

“The first thing they asked me was, can you play football? Although I could only under- stand a few English words, I could understand the question,” remembers Tom. “I replied, yes, and they handed me a red oval-shaped ball and it looked nothing like a soccer ball.”

Although Tom knew nothing about footy at that stage, he was convinced by fellow student Ray Girling to barrack for Essendon and Tom’s been a red and black faithful ever since.

Tom’s lack of English was to get him into trouble early at his new school.

“My classmate Johnny Smith set me up a beauty,” he says, laughing. “He told me to go over and tell the teacher to go and get, well, a very rude word. She blew up and seemed surprised at my colourful language but she soon realised that I had been set up by Smithy and I was let off.

“Our teacher Mrs Cowden cottoned on to the fact that I could hold a tune and later that year she cast me in a school play that was held at The Mechanics Institute. She introduced me to the crowd saying that although I had been in Australia only four months, they should listen to me as I sang to my fellow student Margo Forder. The crowd stood up and applauded at the end of the song and I had to sing an encore.”

Tom picked up English quickly and today speaks without any accent at all. He attended Ringwood High School and remembers travelling on the school bus with fellow Warrandytians such as Frank Schubert, Daryl Pike, Laurie Warr and Willie Merbis.

“The bus driver Dick Termorshuizen wouldn’t take any nonsense,” remembers Tom. “And if there was any ruckus he’d pull over and throw the offending kids off the bus and they’d have to walk home to Warrandyte.”

Tom was keen on high jumping and joined Ringwood High’s athletics team. The ability to jump would serve him well in later years when he played first ruck for the 1966 Warrandyte premiership team.

Tom also became keen on electrical things and interested in radio. In 1956 when TV came in, Tom was even more interested.

“I thought TV repairs could be a good job because it was mostly indoors and would keep me out of the heat and rain.”

After finishing Year 10, a teacher gave Tom some good advice saying: “If you are interested in radio and TV then there is no point in staying on at school.” Tom took his advice and started his apprenticeship at Stoney’s, an electrical retail store in Ringwood. His course lasted five years as an apprentice radio and television technician, which included studying one day a week at RMIT.

“At Stoney’s I started out fixing irons, jugs and toasters but finally progressed to radio and TV,” said Tom. “I also met my wife Penny at Stoney’s where she worked as a sales assistant. I was 20 and she was 16. We’ve been together ever since.

“Penny and I got off to a slow start because I used to squire her around in Stoney’s Vauxhall ute. She wasn’t too keen to be seen in the ute, but she brightened up considerably in 1961 when I pulled up in my newly bought FC Holden.”

Eventually Tom and Penny were married in the Ringwood Catholic Church in 1968. They honeymooned in Surfers, driving there in the FC Holden that Penny much admired.

“The first night of the honeymoon was spent in a motel in Springvale,” remembers Penny. “We couldn’t understand why it was so hot and we spent all night trying to get cool. We opened all the windows and doors of the motel unit and it wasn’t until the morning that we noticed an air conditioner in the room. If only we’d switched it on!”

Tom started playing football with the mighty Bloods when he was 17.

“I started in the reserves but rapidly improved and within two years I was playing in the seniors,” said Tom. “I trained hard because I had a passion for footy, I just wanted to get better and better and better.”

Tom remembers when they won the 1966 Grand Final. “It’s a great feeling when you’re doing what you love, playing well as a team and actually winning the flag.”

Tom’s hard training paid off when he was voted Warrandyte’s best and fairest player in 1971. He was invited to train with Fitzroy but declined saying, “I just started my own business and I love playing with the local boys.”

Tom and Penny started up Tom Kerkhof Television in 1966 when his job at Stoney’s began to interfere with playing football with Warrandyte. It’s interesting to note they have loyally advertised their business in every single edition of the Warrandyte Diary since 1970. Tom fully acknowledges his wife’s involvement in the family business saying: “Penny has done all the paperwork for the past 50 years. She has also worked for 40 years as a medical receptionist.”

The Kerkhofs had one daughter, Melissa, now 43, and they spend a lot of their time with their granddaughters, Ebony 7 and Chloe 2.

Penny looks back on her time living in Warrandyte: “I really love Warrandyte even though I didn’t live here as a child,” she says.

“We do a lot of socializing with our friends and neighbours and have a long and close involvement with the tennis club.”

For Tom it’s been a wonderful journey for a little Dutch boy who came to live here 63 years ago. One who quickly learnt to speak English and then assimilated into the melting pot of our culture, business and sport and found a place to call his home.

Tom has the last word: “I’ve never had a reason to shift and never thought of leaving. We’ll probably live here forever.”

Fire & rain


THE drama of fire and rain featured in Chris Scott’s young life. She was born in Warrandyte in 1934, the year of the great flood, when the Yarra River overflowed its banks and spread as a single lake from Richmond to Warrandyte.

The heavy rain throughout the state caused the river to rise above Yarra Street and the locals had to wade across the river at the football ground to get to the township.

“I was only a couple of months old at the time,” Chris said. “So I have no memory of the flood, but I remember well the Black Friday bushfires of 1939.

“My mum Phyllis, sister Robin and I were sitting in the river opposite the cliffs when the fire roared across the top of us as we huddled under wet blankets. I wasn’t scared and thought it was exciting. I was only five at the time.

“Our house in Castle Rd survived, but the ferns growing alongside the house were all scorched. Unfortunately the family car was burnt. The next week when we passed some burnt out stumps in Everard Drive, I told my little sister that there were witches living in them.”

Chris was born into one of Warrandyte’s oldest families and can trace her ancestry back to the gold rush days of 1853, when her great-great Uncle John Hutchinson arrived here. John held the position of pound keeper from 1855 until 1872. Her great-great grandfather William Hutchinson arrived in 1855 and eventually owned all the land from the top of Melbourne Hill down to the tunnel.

Her father Richard Spetts married Phyllis Hutchinson and they both worked in the local butcher shop. They set up their home and started to raise their family in Castle Road.

“It was great living near the river and us kids spent all summer swimming there, but we had to scurry home for tea when we heard our father’s whistle,” Chris said with a smile.

When Chris was eight years old, her parents split up and both she and her sister were sent to live in a boarding school in Killara.

“We both hated it, some of the sisters were very strict.”

Two years later their dad came and rescued the girls from Killara and took them to live with him and their grandmother in Croydon.

“They were good years and dad tutored me in mathematics and algebra. After his tutoring I received top marks,” she said with pride.

Eventually Chris and Robin returned to live in Warrandyte when their father took them back to the family home in Castle Road.

“I loved being back in Warrandyte and it felt like I had come home,” said Chris. “We were much more independent and free living here. I loved it so much that after I married, I imported my husband Jack to Warrandyte.

Chris remembers walking to Warrandyte Primary School in the mornings.

“I mostly enjoyed school but wasn’t too happy when one of the teachers picked me up by the fringe of my hair,” she said.

“At school during WWII we used to train in case of air raid attack. The boys dug trenches and we had to crouch in the trenches with our erasers clamped between our teeth. The teachers made us do that in case a bomb went off and we damaged our teeth.

“We were also trained not to look up in case the Japanese fighter pilots could look down and see the whites of our eyes,” she added with an incredulous grin. “During the war when the men were away fighting, my mum drove Walsh’s bakers van and Babe Stewart drove the Ringwood bus.”

Chris was 17 when she met her husband Jack (then 22) for the first time outside the Melbourne Town Hall. They were friendly at a party three months later and married within two and a half years at the historic Christ Church in South Yarra.

“It was a year after the Queen visited that same church,” said Chris. “You couldn’t get down Chapel Street the day the Queen was there.”

After that the couple bought a house in Houghton’s Road.

“We worked hard and had the house paid for in two years,” said Chris. “It was a good start.”

They started a family of four children. Michael now is 61, Susan 59, Linda 58 and Macgregor 54.

Next March, Chris and Jack will have been married for 62 years.

“When I first met Chris, I asked her where she lived,” chimed in Jack. “She replied Warrandyte and I said where the hell is that? But there has never been a dull moment and we complement each other.”

Chris agreed. “We are both Libras and balance each other out. It’s funny though, all our kids have married Libras too.”

“Jack spent 10 years as a councilor on Manningham City Council and served for a year as mayor in 1977. He is very civic-minded and wanted to represent our town with a voice in council to keep from excessive development of Warrandyte. Not to stop development, but to make sure it was appropriate.”

The couple has four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren and keep busy tending their garden in Knees Road. But life is not all roses and about five years ago the Scotts were given a new challenge.

“Jack was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and that has slowed him up a bit,” said Chris.

Recently she was asked to share her experience with Alzheimer’s by being a guest speaker with Alzheimer’s Australia.

“I’m not used to making speeches but I think I did OK,” she said.

Jack immediately smiles and offers his heartfelt support.

“You did it well Chris, you did it well!”

Crikey Crickets


MOTHER and son duo Nicole and Joel have seized a window of opportunity in the business world through their new entrepreneurial initiative, Crikey Crickets. The pair teamed up to breed and sell live crickets from their home in Warrandyte to local reptile owners.

school crickets - joel 3 copy

The idea stemmed from Nicole’s light-bulb moment when she was fed up with spending excessive amounts on crickets to feed Joel’s five hungry bearded dragon lizards: Jupiter, Rocky, Regis, Hamish and Charlie. It was costing the family about $36 every 10 days to keep the lizards healthy and satisfied.

With that, Nicole suggested to Joel they go into business to breed and sell crickets themselves. Although initially apprehensive towards his mum’s ambitious venture, Joel was quick to jump on board.

“My mum’s like my business partner. She helps a lot with the crickets and everything because, after all, it was her idea. She does a lot of the work because she was the one who learnt how to do it and then you know she’s kind of teaching me.”

Anderson’s Creek Primary School allowed Joel to survey the school in order to gauge the level of interest in their endeavour. He then proceeded to design and hand out fliers to local reptile owners, offering a cheaper alternative to the leading cricket vendor.

“I just went down and asked who has reptiles. There was a fair few and I gave a flier to whoever wanted them.”

Many instructional YouTube videos later, Nicole and Joel came to realise that the process of breeding the critters would not be easy.

“It takes around 8-12 weeks for them to fully grow and there’s a lot of death with the babies,” Joel explained.

“They’re all very dumb, they like to go into the water and drown them- selves or clog up together and eat each other, and then get squished by things. We have to make [their enclosure] pretty much baby proof.”

Eventually the pair came to perfect the science and business began to boom. Joel also handles the marketing side of things and designs the buckets for delivery.

“I have around eight or so customers at the moment all wanting crickets every now and again. And I just got my school to purchase crickets from me for the Animals Program. I’ve got a few kids from there getting crickets and then a few mothers from ACPS,” Joel said.

When asked how he goes about getting the product to his customers, Joel told the Diary he sometimes does the deliveries himself.

“People come here [for pickup] but with the people at school I bring the crickets to them on the bus. The bus driver sort of gives me a weird look but I just make sure to greet them and say goodbye and then they’re happy.”

Joel advises other like-minded, entrepreneurial young people to “just research what you want to do and pursue it”. For his next ambitious venture, Joel intends to establish his own part-time dog grooming business.

Joel told the Diary the teachers at Templestowe College are very supportive of his goals through the Animals Program.

“I want to be a part-time dog owner when I’m older. I’m already going to groom two dogs tomorrow at school,” Joel said.

For inquiries, contact Joel and Nicole via sales@crikeycrickets.com.au or check out their website at www.crikeycrickets.com.au

Do you know a child or teen in Warrandyte exploring their entrepreneurial side? Let us know at info@warrandytediary.com.au

Christmas gift ideas


ethical girlCHRISTMAS is fast approaching and with busy lives it can be challenging to complete all the shopping in time.

This year, a little pre planning will take away some of that anxiety so you can forget the frenzy of last minute purchases.

Here are 10 clutter-free gift ideas that you can make/create/ buy that are useful, practical, fun and often consumable.

  1. Homemade voucher.
 Time is precious so make a voucher for someone special that would be meaningful for them. New parents: babysitting. Elderly: help in the garden. Busy family: cook one dinner a month for a year.
What are your talents? Sewing, cleaning, wash car, computer help. A voucher of your time is valued by everyone.
  2. Movie vouchers. Why not give them with a packet of popcorn and Maltesers.
  3. Classes. Yoga, dancing, pilates, gym; pay for a term and wrap
it along with a couple of health bars.
  4. Mani/pedi. Take one nice empty glass jar, add nail polish, acetone, cotton balls, nail file and wrap with ribbon.
  5. Homemade food treats such as chutneys, pickles, sauces, jams, biscuit, curry paste, baked goods and so on.
  6. iTunes voucher. Always a favourite with the younger ones.
  7. The gift of green. Succulents, cactus, native plants, maybe a trailer load of mulch? Think big.
  8. Tickets for fun and being active, such as mini golf, ten pin bowling, the zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, Melbourne Aquarium, a water park. Tailor it to suit the individual or family.
  9. Massage. So who doesn’t like a massage? A little pampering goes a long way.
  10. Wine or Beer, an all-time favourite but present it a little differently. I made these last year for my colleagues. I called them Rein Beers.

Giving us the Trotts


WE’VE laughed at them. We’ve marvelled at their mistakes.

But finally, after eight years or so of bringing us doozies like the Nevillectomy, Trotts creator Alan Cornell is waving them off, both in search of new horizons.

Warrandyte’s fallible family first appeared on page-two of the paper in July 2007 after Diary founder Cliff Green approached Alan to write a regular column.

Page 2 was precious to Cliff. It had been the nook of late Herald journalist Lee Tindale, his Smoky Joe column a superb fit.

“It took Cliff a while to work out what to do with it and he left it to me to come up with something,” says Alan. “I didn’t really have an idea, I only knew I didn’t want to do ‘Alan Cornell’s opinions; there were plenty of other people giving their take on things.”

He eventually decided on something amusing: a Warrandyte-flavoured situation comedy.

“It’s always confounded me, there’s so much comedy on television and radio but newspapers are dry. There’s barely a smile to be found – with rare exceptions.”

Alan says inventing the little family gave him a number of different characters who “could do all sorts of things and react to different situations”. He admits the character of Gran was “an afterthought”.

“It quickly turned out Gran was a very valuable addition who gave the writing an edge. She might only be in a storyline for a couple of sentences but could instantly give it the focus.”

I ask him, tongue in cheek, how much of Living with the Trotts is a case of art imitating life? (I’m thinking of the time Cinnamon penned the “balletic tour de force” Duck River after borrowing Black Swan, Billy Elliot and Flashdance from VideoEzy, curious whether Alan has a script tucked away in a drawer.)

He laughs: “Yes, a storyline can be based on something personal. But that’s a trap because then people presume you’re as crappy a handy- man as Neville is – which happens to be true!”

“The surprising thing is, after the initial enthusiasm when you seem to have any number of things around you to draw from, I always imagined it would get easier and easier. But it doesn’t actually. It gets harder as time goes on.”

Which brings us to his decision to end the popular chronicles.

“Everything has it’s own life. I’ve probably been finding it harder to write the Trotts over the past 12 months. When I looked back and realised I had been doing it for eight years – about 90 episodes – I just felt the time was right for something new.”

‘Something new’ is something of a tonic for creative people.

Along with various literary projects, (he’s written novel The Gentle Art of Tossing and had short stories published) Alan’s quick wit and stellar performances with a guitar are well known to Warrandyte Theatre Company audiences.

“It was a very Sunday-school-concert concept when I started performing in the Follies 30 years ago. With some awful things, some quaint things, and every now and then a good thing which sparkled by comparison. But it had a real naïve charm about it that I always liked,” he recalls.

The amateur production was Alan’s introduction to performing on stage. Low-key, he characterises his Follies involvement over three decades more or less by saying he “got quite good at writing silly songs”.

However, this belies his visible growth as a performer – his improved skills led to paid gigs outside of Warrandyte – and as a writer/director who has created about 100 Follies sketches and directed three productions.

One skit, which Alan developed with the help of his Bushfire Press colleagues into the musical Open Season, has since been published and performed by high schools and adult amateur theatre groups.

Follies aside, Alan recently co-directed The 39 Steps and this year directed one-act play Arctic Fevers, which has likewise been touring successfully, picking up awards.

“I wouldn’t say I have remarkable insight into theatre,” he says, “but interpreting someone else’s work is quite interesting. And then bringing your own ideas to it – so you don’t just reproduce what the last person did – I do enjoy finding ways of making that work.”

Alan also worked hard at serious song writing for a time but “never quite cracked” the music industry.

“I won a few awards and some of my songs were signed to a couple of record labels. Judith Durham was going to take one and record it as the title song on her new album; the seekers asked me to write a couple of songs for their comeback album,” he reveals.

“So, for a while there I was around the fringe. Unfortunately, it all just… fell over. Still, it was very enjoyable while it lasted.”

When he’s not doing “fun stuff” (or getting behind a microphone as an emcee) Alan works as a copywriter and creative director who has run small ad agencies.

And though he no longer lives locally, the Trotts author remains attached to the township he credits with unearthing his writer-self.

“I actually started out in economics but switched to advertising just before moving to Warrandyte,” he says.

“When my family and I arrived here some 30 years ago, everything gelled. You could say Warrandyte has been the inspiration for my creative side, because it gave me a sense of belonging I hadn’t experienced before.”

He talks of living in Balwyn before the shift.

“Not long after my wife Jan and I had our first child, we went to Edinburgh for a time. It was terrific; we felt a real sense of community. Then we came back to Balwyn, to a life of peering over 5-foot fences pretending you couldn’t see your neighbours, because that would be intrusive.”

He laughs: “We used to get mail from people in Scotland, but some of it accidentally ended up at the house opposite. Our neighbours kept posting the letters back to Edinburgh! And we thought – this is not a community.”

When they eventually bought Stonygrad, (a North Warrandyte stone pile, hand built by sculptor Danila Vassilieff) the Cornells found themselves part of a genuine circle.

“We met all these wonderful people through schools, groups, and the theatre company of course.”

He mentions the enjoyment of seeing his characters come to life each month through one of these “wonderful people”, Diary cartoonist and Living with the Trotts illustrator, Jock Macneish.

“Usually, you have an idea and when you pass it on you hope to see it made bigger. And that’s exactly what happened under Jock’s expert care”, says Alan.

trotts bookI wonder if the Trotts will ever return. (Imagine the travel stories… Gran bellowing on about the virtue of seeking adventure before dementia!)

“Probably not, but they could. I’m not purposefully driving them off a cliff or anything like that, so you never know,” he says.

Meanwhile, Trotts fans will be happy to know the little family is being immortalised in a book, to be launched locally next month (see ad for details).

Before talking future plans, I ask Alan what he has learned from the Trotts’ antics over the years.

“That we’re one big happy family here in Warrandyte. And that writing a column in the Diary is like riding a bicycle – you better be wearing a bike helmet because every now and then you’re going to crash,” he replies, true to his comic nature.

As to what’s next…

“Now that I have a bit more time, I might look at further directing. I’ll also keep doing a column for the Diary, something along the lines of ‘children’s stories written for adults’,” he says. “I think parents like to read something bright to their children but at the same time enjoy the language.”

Wilful and wickedly funny, the Trotts have left our building.

We leave you with an earlier memory of the Diary’s most loveable weekend warrior cocking up a camping trip in The Man from Yarra River.

Neville, Narelle, Cinnamon, Jasper and Gran, you will be very much missed.

Steeped in history


STRAWBERRIES, cherries and an angel’s kiss in Spring. Aumann’s Family Orchard Shop is really made from all these things. The iconic shop at the old packing shed on the top of the hill in Harris Gully Road sells plenty of other yummy, fresh and delicious fruits too, including apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, oranges and lemons.

Barry Aumann, 69, is part of a family that has been growing fruit here since the 19th century. Four generations of Aumanns have lived and worked on this land since the 1890s when Barry’s grandfather Wilhelm “Bill” and his brother Harry bought 60 acres on the beautiful hilly slopes.

“Some would say too bloody steep and not an ideal place for an or- chard,” quips Barry as he shares his family’s story with the Diary.

“My grandfather and his brother cleared the land and tried growing potatoes while they waited for the fruit trees to come into production. But the potatoes must have been hit- ting the rocks underground because they weren’t very evenly rounded,” he adds with a cheeky grin.

Wilhelm Aumann married Maria and they had four children, one of them being Herbert who was Barry’s father. Herbert married Marjorie and they had four kids too: Gwen, Bill, Richard and Barry. Herbert took over Harry’s share of the orchard and worked it with his sons until his death in 1986.

Barry’s mother Majorie died when Barry was only five and his two aunts Ada and Mary bought him up on the amily property. Barry’s robust and direct energy softens for a moment as he reflects on the loss of his mother at such a young age. “The older I got, the more I realized how much I missed her,” he says.

The three brothers, Bill, Richard and Barry, started working in the orchard when they were only five or six years of age.

“We had watering duties during the summer holidays,” remembers Barry. “There was a real art in that, making sure all the trees got a good drink.”

The boys all went to Box Hill Tech for three years then started working in the orchard full time when they were 14.

“Back then there was still no electricity along Tindals Road. It didn’t come until 1960,” says Barry. “So we grew up with Tilley lamps to light up our homes.”

In Barry’s grandfather’s day, taking the fruit to market was a much more leisurely affair than it is now.

His horse drawn cart loaded with cases of fruit would head off towards the Queen Victoria Market about midnight. The patient horses knew their route well and the orchardist could afford to nod off and have a snooze as the horses plodded stoically along throughout the dark night. They travelled through Kew and Richmond and arrived at the market as the first blush of dawn crept over the horizon. Cruise control 1910 style and the first driverless vehicles!

Now, over 100 years later, driverless cars are finally coming into pro- duction. Going to market became a lot quicker in 1926 when Bill Aumann purchased a Chev 4 cab chassis for 269 pounds and started trucking his fruit to town.

The Aumanns worked hard in the old days. When they picked fruit there was so much double, triple and quadruple handling. The apples and pears had to be picked from the tree, packed in a box, loaded onto a trailer, then loaded onto a truck and taken to the cool store in Fitzsimmons Lane.

When they were ready to sell, the process had to be repeated in reverse. The fruit was taken back to the orchard and stacked in the shed, then repacked for market and loaded onto the truck. That was all done by hand, but the Aumanns were used to the strenuous work and just got the job done. That changed during the 1960s when forklift trucks and bulk bins were introduced.

Barry has spent all his life on the orchard except for two years during the 1960s when he was called up for National Service. Barry served in Vietnam with The Royal Australian Engineers. After the war and back on the land, Barry met Michelle at a dance in Hawthorn.

“I took one look at her and thought she looks all right,” says Barry. “ We were married two years later in 1975.”

Barry and Michelle built a house on the orchard and have been there ever since, raising their three kids, Susannah, now 38, Michael 36 and Caroline 32.

After four generations of hard work running their business, the Aumanns are looking to sell the freehold and business, which include five acres of land.

“We have already sold some of the land,” says Barry. “But I would love to see the business continue and see the land being utilised. Michelle and I intend to stay on in the house we love, but I won’t be growing fruit. As far as The Aumanns are concerned, that has come to an end.

“We could have relocated the orchard but because of the Green Wedge restrictions we’ve been denied the opportunity to realise the full potential of the land value. I’m disappointed that we haven’t had the capital to relocate like many of our counterparts who have been able to get a fair price for their land.

“Life on the orchard has been great though,” Barry says with a grin. “It’s been bloody hard work. What we do revolves around the seasons and it’s a seven-day-a-week job. When you consider getting ready to leave for market at midnight the hours worked add up. Mostly I’ve been working 80 hours a week for over 50 years. The women in the family have been working just as hard as the men too.”

What has been good about a lifetime of work on the steep slopes of the family orchard?

“We’ve always had good rapport with the other orchardists,” says Barry. “It’s a great place to live and the view is fantastic from our place. We enjoy the best of both worlds. Living in this beautiful spot but only 30 minutes from town.

“One thing I will miss after we sell the business is interacting with all the different people who come in the shop. I will miss that.”

True ‘friends’ of our state park


THE Friends of Warrandyte State Park (FOWSP) is a volunteer-based group that understands the importance of growing indigenous plants in our gardens. We can’t underestimate the group’s value to the community.

The nursery grows plants indigenous to the area not only to conserve these important species but also to try and encourage people to plant them in their own gardens. Too often we see garden runaways such as Pittosporum and Agapanthus invading the territory of beautiful native orchids, Eucalypts and other natural splendours.

‘Friends’ groups such as our Warrandyte team are of such value to the priceless bushland in our area.

They never get tired of pulling weeds and planting important indigenous plants around the park. The habitat created and improved by FOWSP will continue to house all types of native creatures from phascogales and sugar gliders to powerful owls; even the native bees are taken good care of.

Linda Rogan, an active member of FOWSP, reflects upon her time volunteering and believes she has “found a wonderful supportive community of people from various backgrounds, including enthusiastic youngsters as well as us elders, all with the common goal of supporting the State Park, the rangers and the local flora and fauna”. She says “FOWSP is now an important part of my active life”.

Linda joined FOWSP with the intention of “learning more about our indigenous flora and to do something positive for our local natural environment” and ended up becoming the newsletter editor and finding herself immersed in learning about the state park.

FOWSP has had many successes around the park including creating a wetland frog habitat near the nursery and revegetating many disturbed areas.

From my own personal experience it is so rewarding being part of this team. Every time I go out with them I feel like I have given something back to the environment and an area, which I enjoy visiting often.

As a great bonus the people are amazing and so much fun to be around and the morning tea is always astounding.

The state parks in Warrandyte are an integral piece in a much larger puzzle. The importance of it being looked after for rare and endangered plants and animals and also for the enjoyment of you all in Warrandyte is greater than I can describe in this article. You’ll have to go out into the park, enjoy the company of the wallabies and and feel the change in the air to appreciate its true significance.

The nursery is open to the public and to anybody who wishes to volunteer on Thursdays from 9.30am until 12.30pm and on the first weekend of every month when the Warrandyte Community Market is on.

For more info visit fowsp.org.au

Bridge too far?


SHOULD we be careful what we wish for? The Manningham Leader carried a story last month under the heading One Bridge Not Enough saying hundreds of “squeaky wheels” were “demanding VicRoads build a second crossing of the Yarra River in Warrandyte”.

The impetus behind this demand is a petition launched by local resident, Jan Freeman, which is receiving much attention on social media. Long traffic queues at peak times and concern about outcomes in the event of a major bushfire have fuelled support for the petition.

Historically, the problem has arisen because Warrandyte has one of only three bridges that span the Yarra River in the north east of Melbourne. The others are Fitzsimons Lane at Templestowe (also very busy at peak times) and Vasey Houghton Bridge at Yarra Glen. With population growth and greater vehicle numbers, traffic through the township has increased over the years leading to the long queues at peak times.

This severely impacts Warrandyte residents, particularly those who live north of the river, in both the morning and afternoon peak periods and there is naturally a desire to see improvements. But more bridges mean more roads, a wider bridge means widened roads and, no matter what, better traffic conditions leads to more, not less, traffic as improved travel times attract more drivers from other congested routes.

There is anecdotal evidence that the failure so far to link the Metropolitan Ring Road to the Eastern Freeway and Eastlink has led to traffic finding alternative routes and river crossings through the north-eastern suburbs. Despite calls to complete the so-called “missing link”, through the Banyule Flats and Yarra River area which would entail another river bridge, no action appears forthcoming.

That is despite calls as recently as April this year when the RACV identified the “missing link’’ as its No.1 priority and called on the state government to fund it. However, the Banyule plan is actively opposed by local groups seeking to protect their area’s environmental values.

There is no doubt that Warrandyte’s topography, environmental sensitivity and history also presents many challenges for road and traffic planners seeking to improve traffic flow and the river crossing. The question must be asked, how much is the Warrandyte community prepared to compromise to achieve a better traffic outcome at peak periods?

Many solutions have been suggested in the past, ranging from a proposed Yarra Street widening and realignment in the 1980s (vehemently opposed by the com- munity) to a bridge from Bradleys Lane to Everard Drive more recently (discounted by authorities). Dick Davies, president of the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA), said recently that up until now everybody had a solution to Warrandyte’s traffic problems but nobody had data, so a VicRoads traffic report on the bridge road network, due in August, will be most welcome and should assist in identifying problems and solutions.

In addition, $140,000 has been budgeted to investigate ways to improve the bridge’s traffic capacity during an emergency, including widening and strengthening the bridge. An emergency situation is the greatest impetus for change. The current bridge has served our community well for nearly 60 years. No doubt the community will wish to be involved in any plans for change in order to protect the amenity and historical connections particularly if change leads to modifications to Yarra Street or the historic streetscape.

To return to the original question do we need to be careful what we wish for?

While much attention has been focused on the bridge do we want to see it vastly altered, especially if it leads to major road changes as a result?

While much attention has been focused on the traffic line in Yarra Street at peak periods which so infuriates motorists, what changes can we hope for given this type of congestion happens at most major river crossings (even those on major arterial roads such as Fitzsimons Lane or Banksia Street)?

Can we accept that traffic congestion has the effect of deterring some traffic and that increasing capacity will attract more, not less, traffic as has been experienced elsewhere? Should we be more focused on the broader area solutions such as the Northern Arterial extension from Reynolds Road to the Maroondah Highway?

One thing is for sure – the debate, petitions and lobbying will persist as long as the line of traffic continues to snake along the township’s roads.

 

The camel’s kiss


PETE’S jaw dropped mid-sentence as the inquisitive creature’s foul-smelling breath intruded on the deliciously rich, earthy outback air.

“Quickly!” he said, breathing as I scrambled in the passenger seat to grab my camera from the dusty red floor of the Land Cruiser. “Zac” had decided to participate in the cheerful human banter, projecting his huge rubbery mouth through the car window to give Pete a fetid, sloppy kiss.

I am on a secluded four-day trek with renowned landscape photographer Pete Dobré, run by Camel Treks Australia, deep in the varied landscape of the South Australian Flinders Ranges. Venturing on a spectacular journey from the perspective of an outback pioneer aboard a single humped camel, 
I was keen to capture the iconic ranges, a photographer’s utopia with a showcase of abundant wild- life and astonishing landscapes.

From Adelaide airport, we drive north through the Clare Valley wine and gourmet food district, established in the 1850s by Jesuit priests fleeing Silesia (Poland) and religious persecution (definitely worth a stop for lunch and perhaps a sample of the local vintage if you are a passenger!). Six hours and 400km later we arrive at the edge of Wilpena Pound—a natural mountain amphitheatre home to the small township of Hawker, 12km from our final destination.

The road to Wonoka Station basecamp is a hard compact dirt road, meaning there is no need for a 4WD, although the driveway is over 10km long. The alternative is travel via coach from Adelaide, with Genesis Tour and Charter to Hawker, where staff will collect and shuttle you to Wonoka Station.

We are greeted by husband and wife team Karen and Paul Ellis and their two children. The couple operates Camel Trek Australia tours over 20,000 acres. Following the obligatory safety drill, the gentle giants seeming to mildly protest their chewing being disturbed, groaned and then (not so graciously) lay down while the excited, impatient riders climbed aboard.

We were off!

Travelling in string formation, with each camel tied to the one in front Indiana Jones-style and led by a “cameleer”, we ventured 5km to our first base camp for the next two days. The honey-coloured sand- stone blocks of Mayo’s Hut are well over 100 years old, but renovated to house weary travellers on the Heysen Trail as well as those on camel treks. Camp was already set up and from the delicious aromas wafting by, it was obvious dinner was underway. Treated to nibblies, wine and a three-course meal prepared in mouth-watering, rustic outback style (all dietary needs catered), we kick back around a roaring campfire to exchange lively banter until it is time to hit the (rather luxurious) swags.

We awake each day to a huge hearty breakfast, and with lunches packed in camel saddlebags, we hit the trail each day for a new adventure.

For four days our surrounding scenery is an enticing smorgasbord for the eyes. The constantly evolving landscapes alternate from ruggedly mountainous ranges and spectacularly harsh, golden rocky gorges to delightfully cool and relaxing bubbling creeks (after the rain), sheltered by ancient river red gums and then onto the deep, rich sandy red plains stretching across the horizon as far as the eye can see.

Camel Treks Australia presents a fantastic opportunity to experience the organic breathtaking landscape of the Flinders Ranges, with many tour options to discover. It caters for school groups, families, photographers and adventurers—there is a trek for everyone.

More cameltreksaustralia.com.au

 

Life of drama and dance

YVONNE Reid is a woman of considerable presence. Dressed in black she welcomes the Diary into her rather spectacular stone-built residence in Banning Rd, North Warrandyte. Yvonne’s warmth and intelligence shines through as she talks about her life as a dancer, actor, teacher, choreographer, psychologist and Jungian analyst.

Her contribution to our arts community is immeasurable through her role as drama and dance teacher with the Warrandyte Arts Association’s Theatrekids. For more than 25 years she encouraged freedom of expression with hundreds of young Warrandyte children through her creative dance and drama classes.

Yvonne came to live in Warrandyte in 1942 when she was only two, along with her mother Hilda Mitchell and sister Bev (then seven) and moved into a little cottage in Albert Rd. Little brother David was yet to be born.

“We had no electricity and no telephone,” Yvonne says. “Little lamps at night, possums, howling winds and all that stuff.”

Their father Lynton (Lyn) was away serving in the army during WWII. The girls naturally missed their Dad. “But we didn’t forget him,” Yvonne says. “Mum had a picture of Dad that we used to kiss every night before going to bed.”

The cottage was next to a huge cliff that dropped 300 feet to the river at Pound Bend.

“I used to climb down and spend time in a little cave hall way down the cliff,” she says. “Mum didn’t mind me climbing up and down the cliff because she said I was sure-footed.”

Perhaps time spent in that little cave sparked the imagination of the little girl who would later express her creative side with writing, dance and choreography.

Yvonne was interested in dance and theatre from an early age be- cause of her friendship with neighbour Yvonne Day.

“She was a dancer and I idolised her,” she explains. “Yvonne Day and her sister June had numerous scrapbooks full of pictures and stories about the Hollywood stars of the day.

“I was totally captivated and I knew the names and faces of the actors and dancers before I had ever seen them on film.”

Inspired, Yvonne began creative dance classes held by émigré dancers Hanny Kolm and Daisy Pernitzer from Vienna. It was a determined effort for an eight-year-old girl to make the journey into the city once a week and an absolute testament to her mother Hilda’s devotion to make this happen. It involved a series of bus and train rides and an overnight stay with her Nana in Box Hill.

Two years later, Yvonne was persuaded to move away from cre- ative dance and into the classical discipline by her friend Barbara McIntyre.

“I studied classical ballet at The Royal Academy of Dance in Exhibition St,” Yvonne says. “But in the end I wasn’t convinced that classical ballet was sufficient for really creative expression.”

Yvonne first had the idea of teaching creative dance when she was 15 when she suggested to the WAA that she could teach ballet and creative dance and offered to do it without payment.

“But Joan Golding from the committee thought that lessons too cheap might not be appreciated and it was decided that I would charge 2/6 per lesson,” she says.

“There was no television and no extra curricular activities in our little town in those days and the local lasses turned up in droves,” she adds, smiling.

“Over 30 little girls arrived at the hall for the first lesson. We had our first recital Children Love to Dance at the end of that year.”

One ex-student Suzanne Dour (nee McAuley) spoke to the Diary about attending Yvonne’s dance classes over 50 years ago.

“It was all very modern and we were very privileged to learn with Yvonne,” Suzanne says.

“During one concert we had cardboard boxes over our heads and were marching about all over the stage. It was a lot of fun and we were able to really express ourselves. I still dance around the place to this day.”

There were no boys in the first years as it was considered to be “too sissy”. A few years later, Yvonne began to incorporate drama into her classes and advertised the classes under the WAA Theatrekids name.

Many boys came and started doing exactly what the girls had been doing before them. Theatrekids workshopped plays and used the work as a “sociodrama” to engage with issues common to the kids such as bullying.

In 1976 success came with one of Theatrekids productions entitled Gliders and Spirits when the one- act play won the Victorian State Schools Drama Competition.

“It was about a group of kids on a picnic in the Warrandyte bush,” Yvonne says. “It was a play with a magical touch and in one scene the kids are flying their gliders from a cliff very much like the one I climbed down as a child at Pound Bend. There is a transformation in the scene and suddenly the Wur- rundji children are dancing.”

Another highlight for Theatrekids was The Wizard of Warrandyte, a play that was instigated by the kids after some of them saw a bulldozer crushing some young trees. The hero of the day was The Wizard, an androgynous spirit figure who fought The Glink, a metallic monster symbolizing the earthmovers and bulldozers.

In 1959 Yvonne sailed to Italy on The Fairsky. After landing in Naples she took a train journey across Europe that she describes as stunning. She arrived in London to try her luck as an actress in repertory theatre.

Australian painters Yvonne and Arthur Boyd invited her to live with them in return for being a mother’s helper and she travelled through Europe with the Boyds.

“Seeing galleries in Europe with Arthur Boyd was quite something,” Yvonne says.

Yvonne was offered a season with Oldham Rep but homesickness was starting to bite. Another cold dark English winter was setting in and she was broke. Yvonne rang her father Lyn and he sent her the money for the trip home.

Back in Melbourne, Yvonne was reacquainted with Irving Reid.

“He was a dashing young man with a love of literature and art,” she says. “Once together it became an absurd notion that we would ever part and we never did.”

They were married in 1962, the same year as the bushfires burnt down Yvonne’s childhood home on top of the cliff in Albert Rd. They had four children: Lynton, Sacha, Duc and Than.

Unfortunately Irving passed away three years ago.

“It’s been an extremely difficult time, especially since his illness was misdiagnosed and wrongly treated,” Yvonne says.

Her wonderfully strong and determined face softens as she talks about Irving, the love of her life: “He was a painter, writer, mathematician and a great actor too! I miss him terribly, he was my best friend.”

Gough Whitlam’s initiatives in tertiary education made it possible for Yvonne to return to study and in 1982 she achieved registration as a psychologist. In 2005 she graduated as a Jungian analyst, 13 years study in all.

Yvonne believes her work as a psychologist and Jungian analyst is not far removed from the arts and she agrees with Jung’s notion that the value of imagination is a creative force.

Although Yvonne has achieved many accolades for both her creative and academic work, she is still passionate about her ten-year association with the Warrandyte Environment League.

“It is still profoundly important to me,” she says.

“One of the highlights of being involved with the league was being able to save Koornong from housing development.”

Today aged 74 Yvonne still works three days a week as a Jungian analyst. She is forever interested in the human psyche and the wonder of the universe.

Speaking as a practicing christian, Yvonne’s final comment is practical as much as being philosophical.

“I think the world needs some fresh approaches to solving the worsening problems of our planet.”

Gran’s on the money

A few years ago I went to one of those free seminars they advertise on 3AW. It was supposed to be a PowerPoint presentation but the cord didn’t even reach the powerpoint, that’s how hopeless they were.

Eventually they found an extension cord and showed us all these graphs and pie charts about how to fund your retirement until life expectancy. Too bad if you happen to live longer than expected but what do you expect from a free seminar?

The bloke said if you want to save for a rainy day you’ve got two options. The first was about investing in property but my hearing aid battery packed it in at that point and I couldn’t make head nor tale of it all. Some stuff about negative earrings and real estate Asians, and when they got on to sex and thirty-twos I tuned out altogether.

The second option was to invest in the stock market and I’m thinking what do I want with a herd of farty cud-chewers when he says if you really want a comfortable future the best thing to do is put your money in chairs and sit on them.

Well I thought you’re the expert so I went out and bought a whole stack of chairs and I put them in the garage and every now and then I go out and sit on them.

But you can’t just buy any old chairs. Not on your Nelly! You have to have a diversified portfolio of blue chipped chairs and speculative chairs but your blue chipped chairs are the key to your whole investment strategy. So I went to Ikea and they had plenty of blue chairs though none of them were chipped but I bought 150 anyway. They all had keys that were way too fiddly for me but I got Jasper to put them together and by the time he’d stacked them all in the garage most of them were chipped in fact some of them were completely stuffed.

But like I said, I still needed some speculative chairs because they’re the ones that go up and down all the time. Anyway, I found some little humdingers at Officeworks with a little lever under the seat that makes them go up and down so I thought that’ll do this little black duck and I bought a hundred.

So I had all my chairs stacked in the garage and it felt really comfortable, financially speaking. I’d go out and sit on my chairs while they appreciated and you can appreciate how I appreciated my chairs appreciating.

But like I always say, you should never count your chickens till they’re hatched. And sure enough along comes a rainy day and it turns out the garage roof leaks and I have to sell some of my chairs. So I put a stack of them on eBay, the speculative ones that go up and down but it turned out they hadn’t gone up they’d only gone down. The chairs I bought at Officeworks for $69 each were still $69 each at Officeworks and nobody wanted to pay more than $69 for mine, in fact, no one would even give me what I paid for them so I had to try selling some of my blue chipped chairs. So I tried selling my blue Plonkadonka chairs that cost me $239 each and the best I could get was fifty bucks on Gumtree and when the lady found out they were chipped she wouldn’t take them anyway.

So I sent an email to the bloke from the seminar saying your chair strategy stinks, rude letter following. And he wrote back and said if my earnings per chair ratio was underperforming I should turn them over. I said it will take us hours to turn them all over but he said you can’t sit on them any longer so I got Jasper to turn them all over and the bloke was right.

“You can’t sit on them any longer.”

When strange things happen


PLOTTING my original ABC-TV four-part drama Marion, I was determined to cover my tracks. I set the story amongst the tall timber of East Gippsland, far from my first one-teacher experience in the Mallee.

I made the beginner teacher a woman. I placed it in the time of my own childhood – 1942.

But hidden forces were at work.

As I wandered through the wonderful, accurate and evocative studio sets, prior to the commencement of the first day of studio filming in the ABC studios in Ripponlea, I found one period element that jarred.

In the apparently faultless set representing the interior of the school committee president’s farmhouse there was a telephone. But it didn’t look right; too exotic. It had been hired from a noted collector, an Ericsson model from the 1920s. Then I looked closer at the telephone number. It was Rainbow 192D. The phone number of our first school residence was Rainbow 192U, the other instrument on a two-party line. Inauthentic indeed!

A few of the actors had wandered on set by this time and when I pointed out this remarkable ‘coincidence’ they looked askance: actors are a superstitious lot. But I was assured that the telephone was exactly right.

Some years later, Judy and I spent a few nights as guests of the farming couple who were secretary of the Mothers’ Club and School Committee president during the years when I was their teacher. The school had closed and been demolished by this time.

I told the story of the strange phone. Saying nothing, our host left us for a few minutes, returning with the records of the school committee during 1942 – there was the name of the president – and his telephone number: Rainbow 192U!

Several years later, colleague and good friend Howard Griffiths and I were commissioned by the ABC to adapt the epic novel Power Without Glory. We broke the book into 26 parts, shaped each into a separate episode and wrote the first episode together, then assembled a team of four or five writers to script the series.

The morning after the first episode went to air nationally, two doctors – a pediatrician and a gynaecologist – were opening their joint practice in far-off suburban Perth. They were discussing the previous night’s TV viewing.

“That Power Without Glory” looks like a good show,” one commented. “Yes, my brother-in-law wrote the script,” one of them said proudly. “No, my brother-inlaw wrote the script,” countered the other.

They were both right. The gynaecologist was married to my wife Judy’s sister, the pediatrician was married to Howard’s wife’s sister!

A year or two later again, a niece of mine was working as a nurse at an HIV clinic in Sydney. She and the social worker in the clinic had become close friends. They were discussing Picnic at Hanging Rock, which they had seen separately. “My uncle wrote the screenplay, one of them proclaimed. “No, my uncle wrote it,” the other argued.

They were both right. The nurse was my sister’s daughter, the social worker was my wife’s brother’s daughter! They had become firm friends not knowing they were related by marriage. Forty years later they are still firm friends.

I secured the job on Picnic because of where I live. Author Joan Lindsay had right of approval of producer, director and screenwriter. Pat Lovell and Peter Weir had passed muster, now it was my turn. We met for lunch at the ABC canteen in Ripponlea.

“Where do you live?” was Joan’s first question. “Warrandyte,” I replied. “Then that will be all right,” she said. “Someone from Warrandyte will understand what that book’s all about!”

It turned out that of all plac- es, Warrandyte was special to Joan. She had been especially close to Penleigh Boyd, the renowned Warrandyte artist who was her cousin. She had often visited his family when she was an art student, I even heard that she met her future husband Daryl Lindsay here in Warrandyte.

“How did you get to Warrandyte in those days?” I asked. “Why, by train to Ringwood,” she answered. “Then on to Warrandyte in a horse-drawn drag.”

“That drag was operated by a Mr Bill Hussey?” I said.

“I don’t remember his name,” she answered “Well, he’s in the book, except he’s Ben Hussey.” (Ben drove the girls on their fateful journey to Hanging Rock.) “Bill Hussey was our son-in-law’s grandfather!”

“Well,” Joan countered with a twinkle, “strange things happen, don’t they?”

Tale of three rivers


IN late November and early December 1934, the Yarra River at Warrandyte rose to its highest recorded level, lifting to beyond a metre above the decking of the old wooden bridge. Homes, orchards and shops were inundated.

I was born in December 1934 at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne. The Yarra River did not touch my life until several decades later.

My first river was the Maribyrnong. Not the polluted, sluggish stream that then flowed through Footscray, but the near-pristine river that twisted its way across the Keilor plain, its passage marked by the River Redgums and Yellow Box trees that lined its banks, emerging into the edge of suburbia beyond the open paddocks, outback from North Sunshine.

Unbeknown to our parents we walked there. I was a small boy at the time, battling to keep up with the big kids. It seemed a very long way. Finally we reached our destination: a high, elevated railway bridge that crossed the river as it cut through its gorge, away down below.

Beneath the bridge hung a narrow pedestrian walkway, perilously close to the dual railway tracks above. This was our ultimate objective, to cross the walkway while a train thundered above. I was terrified. But no-one “squibbed”.

Goods trains were frequent, as the bridge was on a direct line to the north. Occasionally one of these interminably long trains was hauled by “Heavy Harry”, one of the world’s largest railway engines, built at the Newport Railway Workshops. Some were loaded with tanks, Bren gun carriers, field artillery, wingless fighter planes; all the hardware of conflict, for World War II was its height and Australia was under dire threat.

We crouched on the walkway as trains thundered overhead, deafened by the noise, scalded by steam, singed by flying cinders, longing for – and dreading – the moment when the engine would sound its whistle. And it always did.

My first introduction to the Murray River came via a railway train, the overnight sleeper to Mildura. I awoke at dawn, and from my upper bunk watched entranced as the sun arose, through the silhouette of a row of spindly gum trees, etched black against the early morning sky. We crossed the Murray later that morning and I marveled as the wide brown river rolled majestically through the Mallee towards South Australia on its way to the sea.

We travelled up and down the river on several occasions during that holiday, smelling the smoke and the oil-soaked steam, marveling at the great paddle-wheels churning the green water, admiring the deckhand as he leapt with the coil of rope from deck to wharf, envying the captain as he swung the big wheel in the wheelhouse, identifying with the oil-soaked engineer as he threw logs into the leaping flames in the firebox, pulling levers and twisting valves, following directions telegraphed from the wheelhouse above.

So impressed was I with life on the Murray, that when we reached home I spent the next weeks turning the woodpile beside our house into a full-blown paddle-steamer. An old bicycle wheel became the steering wheel and planks and logs became decks, a steep ladder stood in as a companionway and two more bike wheels were transformed into paddlewheels. I recruited a crew from the neighbourhood kids and we steamed the mighty river from the mountains to the sea, battling floods and fires and bushrangers.

My taste for Murray River water was far from sated, so when, decades later, the one-teacher primary school at Torrumbarry on the Murray, some 15 miles downstream from Echuca was declared vacant, I applied and gained the position.

My years on the Murray were among my happiest, and out of them grew a 40-minute children’s film, an educational documentary and my Riverboat Bill series of children’s books.

A new career now required a move closer to Melbourne. We crossed the bridge and headed off down Yarra Street for our exploratory look at Warrandyte: the Mechanics Institute, the picturesque shops, the tree-lined street, and above all, tantalising glimpses of the Yarra River. We were home.

Robin banks on a winner

Our Living TreasureWHEN Robin and Lainey Horkings sat down with a city bank manager to apply for a loan to build their house, the manager asked incredulously,

“Who’d want to live at Warrandyte?”

The young couple weren’t deterred by his cynical remark and replied enthusiastically: “We do, we want to live at Warrandyte.”

They bought their block of land in Webb Street back in the days of pounds, shillings and pence for only £1250. (It seemed like a fortune then.)

Their house was finished just before they were married in 1968 and they have lived there happily for the past 46 years raising a brood of three children along the way, Bruce now 41, Erin 39 and Jeffrey 35.

Robin and Lainey Horkings on their wedding day.

Robin and Lainey Horkings on their wedding day.

“Although the kids live in different parts of Australia, we are still in weekly contact and are very close,” Lainey said proudly.

“And the kids are close with each other as well, our six-year-old granddaughter Myah lives in Queensland but she rings us every week with lots of questions for Grandpa.”

When Robin came to live in Warrandyte in 1953 he was only 12.

“It was rather an eye opener coming from a big city school in Auburn South,” Robin remembers. “We had four grades in one classroom and a playground that stretched from the pine plantation to Fourth Hill Tunnel.

At lunchtime we used to fish for yabbies in the dam next to Lil Whitehead’s house opposite the school.

“My classmates were Bruce McAuley, Barry Able, Darryl Pike, (the policeman’s son) Irene Hendry, Lorraine Norman and Barbara Schneider.

“Things were different back then,” he continues. “To get a milk delivery you’d leave a billycan with your order and some money in it hanging off a tree in Mitchell Ave. Along came the milkman Tiger Flowers with his horse and cart and he’d bail out the milk from a churn into your billycan and take the money.”

Robin says with a smile “the place was dominated by artists and potters in those days”. “They were a bohemian crowd, but you couldn’t hold that against them,” Robin said.

“I worked a couple of seasons at the butchers when I was still at school. My job was to link the sausages but the interesting part was the deliveries. We used to deliver as far as Christmas Hills in the van and I had to run in with the meat and collect the orders. Some of the customers used to invite us in for a cup of tea or something to eat.

“I remember one big bearded fella who wore shearer’s pants and a flannel top. He must have been a trooper back in the day because he told us that he was on duty the day they brought the Kellys in.”

Robin was the first registered scout of the newly formed Warrandyte Scout Troop.

“Our first meetings were held on the riverbank behind Ken Gedge’s chemist shop,” Robin said.

“On dark nights we met under a Tilly lamp fastened to a tree. Eventually we all bucked in and built the scout hall in the early ’50s.”

Later, Robin was able to give something back and worked as a cub leader for 20 years.

On school days Robin had a foolproof way of knowing if he was running late for school or not.

“If I heard Barry Able riding his horse across the old wooden bridge, I’d know it was 8.30am,” Robin said.

“He was as regular as clockwork and the horse’s hooves made such a racket on the wooden roadway.

Warrandyte was so quiet in those days. At night you could hear the old waterwheel on the river squeaking as the wheel turned with the current.”

Unfortunately the picturesque waterwheel that was situated above the swimming hole opposite the pub is long gone now.

Robin smiles as he talks about the old days and tells the Diary a story about Bill McCulloch who was the last mounted postman in Victoria.

“When the new postie took over Bill’s route he asked us if the previous postman was 10 feet tall because local residents had placed their letterboxes in a high position to accommodate Bill who was sitting up on his horse Silver. We replied, ‘No mate, he rode a horse!’

Things changed for Robin in 1959 when he was involved in a serious motor accident.

He was a passenger in a car that hit a tree alongside the Ringwood-Warrandyte Road. The accident affected Robin’s ability to concentrate and he changed his employment as a result of it.

Robin said: “I never really remembered anything about the accident.

No memory of it at all.”

Robin worked for 40 years at the Board of Works and then spent the last 10 years of his working life at Warrandyte Cemetery as a general hand and gravedigger.

Lainey worked as a nurse and also at a Ringwood doctor’s surgery early in the marriage but later worked in childcare.

Rob at 73 and Lainey, 68, are both retired now but keep themselves busy. Rob is still very fit and takes his dog Indie on long walks every morning right up to Eagles Nest at the top of Webb Street.

“And there’s always wood to split and grass to cut,” he says.

Lainey is heavily involved as a volunteer with Mainly Music at St Stephen’s hall and does patchwork on Thursdays.

Robin fondly reflects on his life in Webb Street.

“Everything’s been good here. There’s something about Warrandyte that gets into you and you can’t get it out of your system,” he said.

“Where else can you walk five minutes up the road and see wallabies, kangaroos and echidnas. Also parrots, wrens, kookaburras and currawongs.

“I think that bank manager got it wrong back in 1967. Warrandyte is a great place to live,” said Robin with a triumphant grin.