Featured

Celebrating Neighbourhood House Week

WARRANDYTE Neighbourhood House is celebrated the start of Neighbourhood House Week 2022 with an exciting, free Community Morning Tea on Monday, May 9 at 11am and the whole community is invited.
Neighbourhood House Week, happening May 9–15 is a national initiative, which celebrates the role of over 1,000 neighbourhood houses in local communities across Australia.
Warrandyte Neighbourhood House is one of 400 in Victoria.

“We are super excited to be bringing our community together to celebrate what makes Warrandyte Neighbourhood House such a special place for so many locals,” Manager Lana Bedford said.
“It’s been a tough time with the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are proud of everything we have done to make it a little easier for our community.
During lockdown the organisation launched a food relief program in partnership with CareNet and made welfare calls to our vulnerable participants who live alone, just to have a chat and make sure they were doing ok.
It was so important to us that no one felt completely isolated during such a difficult time.”

Lana said the morning tea would include a number of guest speakers including Hanh Tranh, from local Warrandyte business PoppySmack.
Hanh will share her stories and culture and will also demonstrate how to make delicious rice paper rolls.
Beautiful Zeus, the Diary’s very own Canine Correspondent, had also agreed to make a special appearance.
His owner Don will share how Zeus became a Service Dog.
Morning tea will be provided.
Nicole Battle, President of the national peak body Australian Neighbourhood Houses and Centres Association, said this year’s Neighbourhood House Week theme was about re-emerging and rebuilding a harmonious and resilient community after the lockdowns that saw so many Australians isolated.
Ms Battle said:

“I am so proud to lead such a resilient, responsive and adaptive sector, made up of so many selfless and hardworking individuals.
Neighbourhood and community houses and centres have truly demonstrated their weight in gold over the past two and a half years.
While so many other services closed during the lockdowns, Victorian neighbourhood houses stepped up.
Around 96 per cent of neighbourhood houses continued to deliver in varying capacities, and 60 per cent ran food relief programs, responding to a significant rise in demand.
Other services our houses provided included childcare, remote adult education, home deliveries, wellbeing calls, letterbox drops, online social gatherings, technology support and device hire.
Neighbourhood houses also played a valuable role during the rollout of the vaccine program, creating awareness and combating vaccine hesitancy.
Some even hosted pop-up vaccination sites at their premises to make the vaccine more accessible to vulnerable community members.
This Neighbourhood House Week we acknowledge this incredible effort and the staff, volunteers and community members who made it all happen.
However, now as we begin to re-emerge, we are looking to rebuild those strong social connections that many people lost, building a stronger, more resilient community than ever before.” 

Visit https://www.nhvic.org.au/nhw to find Neighbourhood House Week events near you.

Events in Nillumbik during Neighbourhood House Week

Diamond Creek

Thursday 12 May: 1-3pm: Launch of weekly drop in cuppa and games – FREE
Friday 13 May: 1pm: Restoration of “Welcome” mosaic + afternoon tea – FREE

Eltham

Tuesday 10 May and Thursday 12 May: 3.30-4pm: Cupcake decorating workshops for children – FREE
Wednesday 11 May: 10-11.30am: Macramé workshop – FREE
Wednesday 11 May: 3-3.30pm: Shared afternoon tea. Bring a plate and make new friends – FREE

Panton Hill

Tuesday 10 May: 11.30am-12.30pm: Build a clay cup/plate/bowl and enjoy lunch – FREE
Wednesday 11 May: 10am-2pm: Create a wellbeing garden and enjoy lunch and afternoon tea – FREE
Thursday 12 May: 9.30am-10.30am: Active Movers exercise class – FREE

Bring back that loving feeling

TRACY BARTRAM has a frypan she loves.
That love has lasted longer than her two marriages.
She has just renewed her vows with her frypan at the Warrandyte Repair Café.
“I was with my second husband 17 years, and I took the frypan when I left — I took the frypan when I left the first one — even though it was his best friend who gave it to us.”
There’s something about cast iron frypans — they get better with age.
She explained that even though the iron was still great, the handle was perished, so she couldn’t hold the pan straight.
“Where the handle went into the frypan itself, when I picked it up, it would swivel — that was dangerous, so I thought I’ll take it to the Repair
Café,” she said.
I had only been to the Repair Café once or twice before, and — full disclosure — the idea of going to a Repair Café filled me with anxiety.
“I live with anxiety, and I live with depression — I’m a recovering alcoholic — I can go into a room with thousands of people that need me to
entertain them or do a keynote — that’s my job —but if you ask me to go to a dinner party or make small talk with people, I have enormous trouble,” she said.
She considered the Ringwood Repair Café, but Tracy feels a real connection with Warrandyte having spent her happiest times in Warrandyte when her family first migrated to Australia.
“And because this was in the Mechanics’ Hall — and I know the Mechanics’ Hall — and because Warrandyte is my spiritual home — I
felt less anxious.
“The first time I went, I had something to repair and found Carol, who sews; she can fix anything.
“Then I was hanging on to this frypan pan over lockdown.
“When I walked in with it, it was like an old home week, because everyone was like ‘Tracy, how are you going,’
and I saw Carol and I saw Greg down the back and David the coordinator came, he said ‘what have we got today, Trace?’ and I said ‘well…’ and I showed him my frypan.
“I just love the whole process,” she said.
Tracy said three men were involved in repairing it.
“Dave came down with some washers, they took the handle off, and there was a guy called Jelle who had some wood putty, and they put that in.
“And then put another washer on the end and he said, ‘let it sit there for 24 hours, so it gets harder, and then you can use it’ — and I was just beside myself,” she said.
“It just makes me feel really happy to do that — and I’ve got my frypan back!
“The first thing I did was go home and re-season it and cook something — boom! I’m back in the game,” she said.
Tracy said the whole idea of “reduce and recycle” was a foreign concept when she was a child.
“I didn’t grow up with that — I’m a kid who grew up in the 70s where everything was thrown away.
“My parents had a giant bin in the kitchen, and everything went in that, bottles, cans, everything.”
She said she is glad things are now moving toward more sustainable practices.
The other item Tracy had repaired on that day was a pair of denim jeans.
Tracy had a pair of jeans she adored but were now just good for gardening,
so she brought them in to get a bit more life out of them and put a patch on them.
“I bumped into my friend Christie, and she came up to me and said, ‘I’ve just taken a pair of jeans to get shortened, and Carol’s going to use the denim offcuts from my jeans to fix your jeans’,” Tracy said.
“I just love the fact that everyone’s so excited when things are repaired — and I’ve seen people getting chargers for computers fixed, instead of them going into landfill — even the most mundane things can be brought back to life — the whole vibe is very Warrandyte.”
She said she is surprised that more people are not using this incredible resource we have in the Warrandyte Repair Café.
“And it doesn’t matter what it is, just take it down, because if they don’t have someone to fix it, they’ll say ‘leave it with us and come back next month’, Tracy said.”
The Repair Café is run by the Warrandyte Mechanics’ Institute Arts Association. It is open 10:30am–12:30pm on the first Sunday of every
month at the Mechanics’ Hall, corner of Yarra Street and Mitchell Avenue, Warrandyte.
The Repair Café is always looking for more fixers, so if you can help out, contact the Warrandyte Repair Café Co-ordinator, David Tynan, at
davidtyn@gmail.com.

Manningham’s new pet plan

HOW MANNINGHAM’S cats and dogs are managed over the next four years is in the final stages of review, with Council currently seeking community comment on its draft Domestic Animal Management Plan 2022–2025.
Local Councils in Victoria must develop a fresh Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP) every four years under the Domestic Animal Act 1994.
The plan exclusively manages cats and dogs; other animals and livestock are managed under different legislation, such as the Livestock Management Act 2010.
In June 2021, Manningham Council began developing its latest DAMP.
At that time, Warrandyte Diary contacted local animal advocacy group Friends of Manningham Dogs and Cats (FOMDAC) about what they would like to see in the 2022–2025 DAMP.

“FOMDAC would like to see cat curfews explored, especially in environmentally sensitive areas.
It is now rare to see dogs roaming in the streets, and we would like to see owners confine their cats to their own backyards.
It would be sensible for owners to keep their cats indoors/confined at night (we must protect our local flora and fauna).
We would like to see plans to safely assist residents in evacuating their animals in an emergency.”

In their statement, FOMDAC went on to talk about the need for more off-lead dog areas and better access to poo bins for dog owners.

“FOMDAC would also like to see more poo bins along walking trails.
Aranga Reserve has been a great success and a model which other councils have followed.
FOMDAC believes there is a need for more secure off-leash parks similar to Aranga.”

Talking points in the proposed DAMP include a 12-month pilot for a 24-hour cat curfew, a review of the number of dog waste bins, and investigations into fenced, dog off-leash areas east of the Mullum Mullum Creek.
The 29-page draft DAMP is available to read on Council’s Your Say website, which also includes a feedback form; anyone with a vested interest in the welfare of cats and dogs, in Manningham, over the next four years is encouraged to read the draft plan and supply any relevant feedback before April 12.
According to local government data, 10,410 dogs and 4,155 cats are registered in Manningham, which is an increase from data collected in 2019/20.
Visit yoursay.manningham.vic.gov.au/damp to have your say on this important issue.

Planned burn in Warrandyte

UPDATED: Thursday March 24

FOREST FIRE Management Victoria (FFMVic) will be conducting a planned burn at Pigtail Track in Warrandyte State Park this Saturday, March 26.

This 10.9 hectare bushfire risk reduction burn is on the eastern edge of Warrandyte State Park.

Walking tracks in Warrandyte State Park in and near the burn area will be closed to the public, smoke will be visible in the area and FFMVic are expecting the smoke to move towards the south Saturday morning, then towards the north and north east later in the day, which will mean it may be smoky in Warrandyte township and could drift towards houses as the wind changes.

See map for burn area.

If there is visible smoke in the area it is advisable to close doors and windows and take any necessary health precautions.

Map courtesy FFMVic

Stay informed about planned burning

Sign up forautomated notifications about planned burns near you at Planned Burns Victoria www.vic.gov.au/plannedburns
Visit www.ffm.vic.gov.au
Call the VicEmergency Hotline on freecall 1800 226 226
Download the Vic Emergency app to see the location of ignited burns.
Callers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech/communication impairment can contact the VicEmergency Hotline via the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677.

Run Warrandyte: the tale of the trail

THAT INTERIM period where the cricket season is winding down and the footy season hasn’t quite started yet means only one thing for our local running community; it is time — once again — to lace up those runners and tackle the Run Warrandyte fun run.
This is the second year of the 21km course option, and the allure of a half-marathon and any excuse to run the picturesque riverside trial in Pound Bend saw me two-for-two with the 21km distance.
For those who do not know, the 5km–21km distances are one to four laps of a course that takes runners up Everard Drive and onto the Tank Track, before a sweeping downhill section to the walking track, then the hard slog up to Third Street, before following West End Road back down to the Sports Pavilion and the start/ finish.
With its placement at the beginning of March, often bushfires, dehydration, and snakes are your biggest worry.
But, the recent, unusual weather and the brief soaking the township received the previous day, the course and conditions were cool and damp, making for some fast single trail through the lush, green forest alongside a flowing Yarra River.
Four laps of this course has you out there for a long time, but starting first and finishing after all the other distances had been completed meant I managed to see most of the other distance runners out on the course.
From 5km to 21km, young kids to seasoned recreational runners, everyone was smiling and just enjoying being out in Warrandyte’s bush environment.
Hats off to the community of volunteers who gave up a sleep-in on a Sunday morning to guide and cheer the runners around the course.
With a little over 100 metres of elevation per lap, the 21km event accumulates between 400 and 450 metres (depending on your smartwatch) of elevation over the four laps, which makes this course fun but challenging at any distance.
The atmosphere around the event village was electric, and kudos to the organisers who have designed a course where the buzz of onlookers and the activities in the event village invigorates and motivates you to go another lap.
I can say with certainty that the Run Warrandyte fun run has matured into an excellent community event, and I am looking forward to taking on its challenging hills and trails in 2023.
I hope they don’t add any more laps; I might not be able to help myself.

For all of this year’s results visit: https://www.runwarrandyte.com/

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

NaNY Gallery off to a great start

THE NEW NaNY art gallery in the main street of Warrandyte has been an instant hit with locals and visitors alike.
Located inside the Now and Not Yet café and featuring local artist Jacinta Payne’s work as the first exhibition, the feedback to the gallery has been extremely positive.
Seven of Jacinta’s paintings have been snapped up by eager purchasers.
The next exhibition will be of North Warrandyte artist Tori Swedosh’s work. Entitled Can you see the beauty in it? this exhibition will feature works of mixed media, paintings, and sculptures.
“It all started by taking photos of mud”, said Tori.

“I’m a member of an awesome Facebook page called Warrandyte Nature.
“There are gorgeous photos of all the amazing birds, animals, flowers and sunsets around this beautiful place where I live in northeastern Melbourne.
“It was lockdown, and we were all confined to a 5km radius of our homes.
“I was meditating one morning down by the Yarra, and as I opened my eyes, I found myself looking at sloppy, mushy mud and some strands of grass that were growing out of it.
“It struck me then how we mostly don’t even notice the beauty of the earth beneath us.
“It’s easy to appreciate a great photo of a kangaroo, a wombat or an Eastern Rosella. “But dirt and leaves? I posted some photos on the page where a very funny conversation ensued. “’What is it?’, ‘Is there a snake?’.
“My response: ‘Nope. Just mud.’
“It made me laugh.
“Then I started to notice the exquisite quality of the fine details around me.
“A feather stuck in some leaves, bark from various trees, shadows and reflections.
“It’s endless if you dive into the minutiae of nature; the closer you look, the more detail you can find.
“It’s really quite wonderful.
“And it’s awesome to know that we are connected to all things and everyone.”

Nillumbik Council has provided a grant for the exhibition through their Nillumbik Artist in Own Residence program.
This program has been developed to commission opportunities for local creatives to create for, or with, community from their own unique art spaces.
Tori’s work has been produced in her home studio in North Warrandyte.
The exhibition opening night is on Sunday, February 6, from 5pm to 7pm.
The gallery will be set up as an immersive experience of the Warrandyte forests.
Wine and canapes will be served.
Other upcoming Exhibitions are as follows, with the opening night to be held from 5pm to 7pm on the dates below:

  • Kim Charbonneau, from April 3, 2022.
  • Myra Carter, from June 5, 2022.
  • Bronwyn Elmore, from August 7, 2022.

To stay informed of future exhibitions and events at NaNY Gallery follow their Facebook page at fb.me/NaNYGalleryWarrandyte.

Photo’s supplied

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jazz takes up residence in Hurstbridge

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

Next performance

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

Meet our new Yarra Riverkeeper

Photo: Bill McAuley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sky’s the limit for Doomsday Pilot

Winners of Rockfest 2021, Eltham Festival Battle of the bands 2020, Doomsday Pilot is a four-piece heavy rock band formed at Templestowe College, made up of group members Pablo Benzon Tuke (Vocals), Skyte O’Malley (Guitar), Gus Foletta (Bass), and Halley Simpson (Drums). Making a name for themselves, and starting to work the pub circuit, the Diary’s KIERAN PETRIK-BRUCE sat down with the group to discuss everything Doomsday Pilot.

How was the band in its current iteration formed?
Halley: Back in the midst of 2019, around mid-year, we were placed in a music performance class. It was just Skyte and me in that class, everyone was forming groups and whatnot, and I think we were the last ones.
Skyte: The nerds!
Halley: And we just looked at each other and were like, hey, you want to play together? Sure. Then we were thinking, who plays bass? I think Gus played bass a few times.
Gus: I never had, you were wrong, but it didn’t matter.
I originally joined as a guitarist but then Skyte was better so I was like, ok, I’ll pick up bass then.
Halley: Pablo was a more recent addition
Pablo: They had another vocalist.
Halley: But they changed schools, which made it hard.
Pablo: Skyte and I have known each other for a while, so when he didn’t have a vocalist, it took him a while, but eventually he texted me, “do you want to do vocals for us”?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How has being at the same school together helped the music?
G: I don’t know if it would have worked if we weren’t at the same school
H: Obviously access, the facilities the music program has is unreal, a professional-standard recording studio we have access to whenever we can.
P: I think the way it was organised it’s very supportive, if you’ve got a lot of passion the music program will just kind of let you pursue that, even if that meant you sitting in the music room all lunchtime, every lunchtime.
Who are your musical influences?
G: Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Royal Blood made me want to play bass.
S: Very into The White Stripes, Royal Blood, and Jeff Buckley is very important in expanding the more complicated parts of my writing that isn’t just power chords.
H: Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, really anything influenced by Dave Grohls drumming.
P: I sort of picked up singing, with early 2000s pop-punk so Panic! At The Disco, Fallout Boy, My Chemical Romance.
Now the singing I’m doing sounds a lot like Jeff Buckley, but I’ve never listened to Jeff Buckley!
How did you get the name Doomsday Pilot?
H: We basically had a sheet of random song names and album names and we simply pieced them together Doomsday Pilot and we were like, damn, that’s a pretty epic name. It doesn’t have any real relevant meaning behind it. Also, the fact that it’s really easy to find on Google and streaming services as no other artists run by that name.
How did it feel to win at Rockfest?
H: We were absolutely off the walls when the winners were announced! We were incredibly doubtful as to whether we could win just due to the great number of artists that entered and at such a high standard. It’s a confidence booster, if we get this music to the right people, yeah, they will appreciate it for what it is, and we can get results like that.
P: Yeah, it was a nice confidence booster
G: It feels like a bit of an ego booster, but I don’t want it to be!
H:Wellhe(Gus)gotnominatedforbest bass player as well.
And you only picked up the bass two years ago?
G: Yeah about that long.
Over lockdowns, have you picked up any new instruments, or played around with any new sounds you might incorporate?
S: Saxophone Solo!
P: I want to play some piano.
H: Pablo is a bit of a freak on the piano, so imagine we would be incorporating some of that.
G: And more Cowbell!
Is the progression of the sound something discussed, something you’re trying to do?
S: It just sort of happens, it gets very boring if you do the same thing over and over again.
P: I think the way the band kind of works, everyone is in the band because the other band mates want them to do whatever their thing is.
So what’s next, anything new and exciting brewing?
S: Well, we are working on an EP, four tracks and we are in the final stages.
P: Most of these we have had for ages.
S: We just want to get them out, we hope within a month.
H: I would hope by the end of the year.

For those wanting to hear Doomsday Pilot’s newer music before their EP drops, the tracks are a part of their current set list, and with lockdown ending the group hope to have a few gigs in November.
Keep a lookout on their Facebook and Instagram Pages for upcoming event details.

Sawdust in his veins

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

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos courtesy: RYAN GASKETT

A Woi-wurrung name for our park

THE UPGRADED park and land along the Yarra River in Warrandyte, locally known as Lions Park, will be given an official Woi-wurrung name to reflect the language, culture and heritage of the local Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people.
Once endorsed by Council at its September meeting, the park will be officially named wonguim wilam.
Following earlier consultation with key stakeholders, Manningham Council met with the Warrandyte Lions Club and Masterplan Community Reference Group, who showed support to adopt a Woi-wurrung name for the park.
Council has worked with Aunty Doreen and the Wurundjeri Woi- wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, who has provided the park name of “wonguim wilam” [pronounced “won-goom willum”], which means “boomerang place”.
Manningham Mayor Cr Andrew Conlon said Council’s commitment to reconciliation is underpinned by respect for the rich and complex nature of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung culture and heritage and thanked the Warrandyte Lions Club for taking up this important opportunity in reconciliation.

“While Council has committed to creating equity, equality and building relationships, and is close to finalising our Reconciliation Action Plan, reconciliation requires a commitment from the whole community,” he said.
“The Lions Club has shown their willingness to be a community leader by supporting this name change.”

In the coming weeks the precinct will officially adopt the Woi-wurrung name approved by the Wurundjeri Woi- wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, honouring the original owners of the land.

“We would like to thank past and present members of the Warrandyte Lions Club of the last 40-plus years for maintaining the park and the tennis courts, as well as contributing $45,000 towards the latest exercise equipment,” Cr Conlon said.

Warrandyte Lions Club President David Englefield said it was an honour to look after the park and provide a much loved gathering space for the community over the last four decades.

“The Lions Club has always been looking to make a difference and improve the lives of the Warrandyte people and others in our community,” he said.
“Reconciliation is important and this is an incredible opportunity for us to work with Council and with due consultation, provide leadership in honouring First Nations communities.”

Works on the playspace upgrade are anticipated to begin early next year and completed by mid-2022.
The completed upgrade of the park will feature significant signage taking visitors on a journey through its history and the involvement of the Warrandyte Lions Club.
Manningham will continue to work with the Warrandyte Lions Club on recognising their contributions on a plaque and interpretive signage.
Manningham will continue to work with the Warrandyte Lions Club, Warrandyte Historical Society and the Warrandyte Community Association on the maintenance of the park to ensure it honours its past and present custodians.
An official naming ceremony is planned to be held when COVID restrictions allow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lions Park “Taffy’s Green” set to stay

CONSTRUCTION IS set to commence on the Lions Park upgrade along the Warrandyte River Reserve, following Manningham Council being awarded a $300,000 grant as part of the Victorian State Government’s Local Parks Program. Manningham Mayor Cr Andrew Conlon said Manningham was successful in securing the maximum value of the grant per project from the Government’s $10 million program, and works are anticipated to begin early next year. At the end of 2020, Manningham consulted with the community on the concept plan for a new play space as part of the park’s upgrades. When the completed Stage 1 works were unveiled at the start of 2021, there were many that attended the highly successful Year of Wonders exhibition at the site who asked Council to retain the grassy area adjacent to Taffy’s Hut and happily, this has now been incorporated in the amended plans. Council said results showed there was a good level of support for the new play space, designed to connect children with nature and offer play opportunities for children of all ages and abilities.
“Thank you to everyone who provided feedback. “We’ve reviewed these and have adjusted the final plan,” Cr Conlon said. Overall, the community were in favour of the concept’s direction, including the natural look and feel of the space. However, Cr Conlon said there was large support for the existing grass space to remain, which required planners to reduce the size of the play space.
Changes to the final design include:
• retention of the open grass space
• reduced number of picnic tables
• smaller footprint on the main structure
• one less spinner.
The stage two upgrade includes:
• full play space design and upgrade
• new shelter, drinking fountain,
BBQ, picnic area to accompany the play space
• new art piece with an indigenous focus and community art piece.
“The successful grant application will enable us to make the necessary amendments and carry out the works, improving the amenity of the park,” said Cr Conlon. Works on the upgrade of the play space are anticipated to begin early 2022 and to be completed by June 2022. The existing play space will be completely removed for the duration of works. Council says the new upgrades will expand the existing play-space and aims to further connect the community with the natural habitat of Warrandyte. The play space is inspired by the animal crossing structure completed in Stage 1, and gives children the impression of moving among the trees like native animals. It will feature play opportunities for children of all ages and abilities. In addition, the ceramic leaves produced at the Warrandyte Pottery Expo have now been installed along the Warrandyte River Reserve. During the 2021 Warrandyte Pottery Expo, Warrandyte ceramic artist Jane Annois and Clay Talk at Montsalvat led a children’s art activity in creating these colourful “leaves” representing leaves from the local area. Landscaper, Crafted Landscape has now installed the new art element along the path edging by the new shelter under the bridge. Stage 2 works are anticipated to be completed in mid-2022.
The final plan is now available on: yoursay.manningham.vic.gov.au/lions-park.

Roos to be locked out of golf course

Cull cancelled but questions remain

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

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

Going for Gold in Tokyo

WARRANDYTE’S OWN will be going to Tokyo 2020. In December 2020, Rachael Lynch, Federation of International Hockey 2019 goalkeeper of the year, was dropped from the 2021 squad by then coach Paul Guadoin, But in a wonderful turn of events, it has been confirmed that the now- Perth-based nurse will represent Australia in Tokyo, in her second Olympic Games. Lynch’s international debut with the Hockeyroos was in 2006 and since then has chalked up numerous international fixtures, including three Commonwealth Games. Since the decision to drop her in late 2020, major change has occurred throughout the Hockeyroos setup including the appointment of a new coach, two-time Gold medal Hockeyroo, Katrina Powell. Over the past 12 months, Lynch, a registered nurse, has been simultaneously working on the front line of the pandemic, conducting COVID-19 tests for a mining company in Perth, while tirelessly training to fight for her place on the 16-player squad. Lynch told the Diary that this time playing for the Green and Gold felt, “way bigger”, adding that since the brunt of the pandemic the players have a
“new-found gratitude for international travel, for competition, and for being outside without a mask.” While initially focused on her performance and what she needed to do to break back into the squad, Lynch, as an experienced player, focuses as much of her time helping the rest of the girls in the squad, especially the newer players, saying
“I know that it (also) helps me and my training.” Adding that she has been to an Olympics already and that it helps to impart that knowledge and to
“shed some light on some of the things that make the girls nervous”. The Hockeyroos will be chasing medal placing at Tokyo, currently they are ranked 4th in the world, yet Lynch feels that all the teams are on a
“level playing field.” With very few international competitions, most of the nations have not been able to scout other teams, something that, according to Lynch, allows teams to
“have the opportunity to go away and work on things essentially in private.” Most of the scouting and information on other teams — their strategy, and their set-up — will all be done during the Games; Powell and the coaching team will have their work cut out for them, having to apply game plans they have trained, while accommodating for what other teams are doing. Lynch believes that the most important thing will be to
“keep calm” in those high-pressure situations, adding that medal placings
“will come down to who can adapt quickly.” Lynch’s return to the squad is a boost, not just for her work in goal, but for her knowledge and calm demeanour,
“that’s what I bring to the group.
“That will give the girls a lot more confidence.”
Tokyo 2020 will be vastly different to any of the modern Olympics, with no friends, family, or fans in the stadiums, and with players isolating away from most of the other athletes. Lynch believes that there will be less distractions, although socialising in the village, while distracting “is an enjoyable part of the experience”.
An experience athletes will miss out on, but one that will not be too isolating, as most of the time players are with the rest of the squad or in the hotels.
One of the reasons the athletes socialising is important is it allows for time to “switch off when you need to” Lynch said, you need to
“have a bit of fun within the confines of what you can do.”
While the lack of family and friends present may be challenging mentally, a lack of a crowd may provide an advantage to the athletes. On field players rely on hearing communications from coaches and other players which, without needing to shout over thousands, is something Lynch said they
“don’t have to worry about too much.” While the hopes of the nation can weigh heavy and add pressure, Lynch said that
“knowing that there is a couple of million people watching on TV, that goes out of your head soon as you start the game.” So without the screaming fans there is less to distract you as
“when you have a packed house that adds pressure, that can de-rail you.”
Reflecting on the fact that there had been a few moments she thought Tokyo 2020 would not go ahead, along with her axing and reinstatement to the squad, Lynch said that representing Australia at Tokyo will feel special.
“For me personally, given what I have been through, this feels special to do it, and to do so on a world stage will be even better.”
The Hockeyroos campaign for Gold begins with a match against Spain on Sunday, July 25, at 10am Japan Standard time (JST) (11am AEST).

Heart and soul of our community

WE LOVE our pub.
In fact, we love our pub more than any other town in Victoria.
Grand Hotel Warrandyte has taken out the Heart of the Community award at the recent Australian Hotels’ Association Victorian awards.
The AHA Awards recognise venues who do over and above outstanding service and contributions to the industry and the community.
The Grand’s General Manager, Peter Appleby is rightly proud of this award, and of his Functions and Event manager, Nicole Irvine, who has taken out the Emerging Leader award at the same event.
“We nominated for six awards — then it goes through a mystery shopper process, and we were a finalist in all six of those awards, and the best part was, and you can’t nominate for the Best Overall Hotel, Metropolitan — on the back of our success during the program we were then elevated into that category, which was fantastic,” he said.
Peter said he is particularly excited to have taken out the Heart of the Community award.
“It is very dear to my heart, because we have been in this town a long, long time.
“I grew up in the town as well, so it is a pretty proud moment to snare that one for, not just myself, but also the team, and the community who has invested in us over the years, and we in them,” he said.
Peter said he nominated Nicole for the Emerging Leader of the Year.
“That was a CV and then interview process, and she nailed it, she got the top gong in the state as the emerging young leader.
“She is our Function and Events Manager but took on a hell of a lot more through lockdown last year, and once we reopened, I saw her advance her skills on the floor, and take a lot more management opportunities.
“I am very proud of her and what she went through last year in lockdown — she chose to swim when others chose to sink — and that is not just here, that is across everywhere — and every industry.
“She self-educated, she did courses online to better herself and I think that shone through with the recognition of that award, so we are super proud of her,” Peter said.
Nicole told the Diary she was honoured when Peter chose to nominate her.
“Entering this award is not something I would usually do and was completely outside of my comfort zone.
“The support and encouragement I received from my team was incredible, it really helped me prepare for the judging process.
When they read out my name to win the award, I was so shocked and so proud, I began to cry.
“I could not believe it — it is a moment I will never forget”.
Nicole said like everyone, she found 2020 to be a challenge, with The Grand closed, she was not in a position where she could work from home.
“We all had the option of sitting back or stepping up and I chose to step up,” she said.
“Throughout lockdown, I was determined to not let COVID beat me, and I took that time to better myself and my knowledge by signing up to as many training resources as possible.
“When we re-opened our doors in late October of 2020, I was prepared and ready to go.
“This award is a true testament and acknowledgment of all my hard work and dedication, and I could not be more proud of myself,” she said.
Nicole’s award includes a $10,000 scholarship, which is a joint initiative from the Australian Government and the AHA Victoria.
She said the scholarship can be used on training courses or a hospitality experience, such as a seminar.
“I will use this opportunity to gain new skills, and grow as a hospitality professional,” she said.
Peter said the Grand is now eligible for the national awards, which are held in September in Tasmania.
“It would be great to be recognised not just in Victoria as the Heart of the Community, but in Australia, it would be pretty special for our little Warrandyte pub,” he said.

Best of contemporary art on show

THE BARN GALLERY at Montsalvat is once again the setting for the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Art.
The 17th iteration of the prestigious art competition saw 323 entries, responding to the theme “Return”, with the 40 shortlisted finalists currently on show.
Emily Wubben, Exhibition Curator and Collections Management Officer for Nillumbik Council, said there was a good mix of local and national entries.
“The finalist exhibition is a good representation of the entries we received, both locally and nationally, with eight local artists among the 40 finalists.”
The contemporary biennial acquisitive art prize open to artists working in any medium in Australia.
The winner was announced at the exhibition opening on May 6, and for the first time, the Prize has been awarded to a digital artist.
James Nguyen, of Murumbeena, was presented the $20,000 prize in the Open Category for his moving image, The Camelia Economy.
The 20-minute, 29 second video tells the story of a handful of seeds given to the artist by his late grandmother on his return to Vietnam.
In Australia, his family grew the seeds into tea plants which they use to trade and swap with the community, symbolising the preservation of their culture of storytelling, care and entrepreneurship that has survived war and political exile.
Georgia Cribb, Director of Bunjil Place Gallery and one of the three prize judges, said it had been immensely challenging to determine a winner from a strong field across a range of media.
“We are delighted to learn that this is the first time that the prize has been awarded to an artist working in a digital medium,” she said.
The $10,000 local prize was won by Eltham artist Nusra Latif Qureshi for Remnant Blessings-I, an acrylic, graphite, gouache and gold on illustration board.
Nusra told the Diary the award means a lot to her on a personal level, as it is representative of the inclusiveness of the community.
She moved to Eltham about five years ago and says she has found it is a “very nurturing community”.
“I am finding that I am part of the community in a very interesting way, and I know that Eltham has always been a place where artists love to live and make it home.”
Nillumbik Mayor Peter Perkins said this year marked the 17th anniversary of the prize, which was highly regarded around Australia.
“This is a prestigious exhibition for artists to showcase excellence in contemporary art and is a celebration of Nillumbik’s rich artistic and cultural community,” Cr Perkins said.
“Council prides itself on being a strong supporter of the arts on all levels.
“Congratulations to the winners and all the finalists for their impressive and inspiring works.”
Sculptor Clive Murray-White, an artist-in-residence at the Dunmoochin art collective, took out the $500 Mayor’s Award for his work, Assisted Suiseki No: 9.
Cr Perkins said, “This striking piece can be viewed from any angle and immediately caught my eye as it is both contemporary and timeless.”
The open and local prizes are acquisitive, and the winning works will be included in the Nillumbik Shire Art Collection.
Emily said the calibre of the works was extremely high and there was a wonderful cross-section of works in all different media.
She said “Return” has been interpreted in a variety of different ways by the artists.
“These have included an exploration of returning to a sense of ones-self, of true identity — also stories of migration and connections to or memories of home as well as ideas of what returning to normal might be in the COVID context as well as an exploration of retuning to different techniques and methods.
“So there has been a very diverse range of very insightful and creative responses to the one theme,” Emily said.
The biennial prize was judged by Miriam Kelly, Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art; Georgia Cribb, Director of Bunjil Place Gallery and Victoria Lynn, Director of TarraWarra Museum of Art.
The finalists were shortlisted by an independent panel of industry experts: Francis E. Parker, Curator of Exhibitions at Monash University Museum of Art, Jade Bitar, Visual Arts Officer at the City of Stonnington and Helen Walpole, independent art and museum curator.
The Finalist Exhibition is now open at Montsalvat until July 1, 2021.
Entry is free.
Montsalvat is currently open Thursday to Sunday, 10am–4pm.
Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favourite artwork in the People’s Choice Award, which will be announced on July 15, 2021.
For more information about the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Art, go to nillumbik.vic.gov.au/npca

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lest we forget

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jack does it for MS and mental health

JACK WHELAN met a cheering crowd outside Grand Hotel Warrandyte on March 23, after completing a 2,043 kilometre ride around Victoria, raising money and awareness for the charities MS Australia and Outside the Locker Room.
Setting off from Lake Hume on March 9 and averaging 145km a day, Jack, along with a dedicated support crew, cycled through iconic landscapes such as the Murray River and the Great Ocean Road.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 23, he reached the final landmark of his epic journey — The Grand Hotel, Warrandyte — where a joyful crowd had gathered to toast the end of a long two weeks in the saddle.
Surpassing double his original target of $50,000, on Wednesday afternoon he had raised more than $119,000 for his chosen charities, and the Diary was there to welcome the saddle-sore Park Orchardian home, where he spoke to us about his adventure.
“It was a great adventure and I loved absolutely every minute of it.
“Obviously parts were more challenging than expected, and parts were maybe a little bit easier, and more enjoyable than I expected.
“The highlights were the time spent with family and friends around the campfire laughing, telling jokes in the night time.
“We got to ride through some of the most beautiful spots in the world.
“The Great Ocean Road, through the Otways, and we got to spend a lot of time along the mighty Murray River as well, which was really, really, special, and to share that with people I love the most made it really special.”
Jack was riding for two Charities; MS Australia and Outside the Locker Room, two charities Jack has a close personal relationship with.
“I lost my cousin to Multiple Sclerosis at a fairly young age.
He was diagnosed at 28, and from the day he was diagnosed he never worked another day in his life, and sadly passed away about four years after that.
So if I was ever going to do something, MS Australia was the one.
Moving onto the mental health side of things, I experienced some of my own mental health challenges, which a number of us have and a lot of us will do.
I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat to some of the stuff Outside the Locker Room do, so I decided they would be the charity that I also wanted to support.”
Before heading into the Grand Hotel for a well deserved pint of Stone and Wood, Jack had one final message for his supporters and sponsors.
“I would love to say thank you to everyone who has donated so far, we have had over 280 individual donors, which is mind blowing, and I would say I only know 25 per cent of them.
“So people who don’t even know me have done it out of the goodness of their heart, so I will be forever grateful.
“The guys at Port Melbourne Cycles looked after the bike, gave us a heap of hydration and energy and all that kind of stuff — advice and knowledge and wouldn’t take any money, so I would like to give them a massive shout out as well.
“I am extremely appreciative for everyone’s support.”
Since completing his ride, Jack’s Miles for Smiles fundraiser has increased to $122,600.
Jack is planning to keep the fundraising page open for a few more weeks, and will close it off once the “thank you” video that documents his journey is released.
A link to the website where you can donate to his cause can be found at www.facebook.com/Miles-for-Smiles-106216371138548

Pottery Expo celebrates 21 years by the river

THE 21ST POTTERY Expo was held on the riverbank on the last weekend of February, with ceramic artists from around Australia showcasing their work to, what organisers say, was the biggest crowd ever.
With live music, 70 stands filled with spectacular creations, demonstrations, talks and a weekend of sunshine and minimal restrictions, it was “a buzz”.
“These are the biggest crowds we have ever seen and I’m anticipating more sales than I’ve ever seen also,” says event coordinator Jane Annois.
“This is great for the local businesses too; the cafes and shops have also benefitted this weekend.”
Along Yarra St the cafes and restaurants were brimming, and Andi from Calla Collective said: “There is a good energy here this weekend, it has certainly lifted the atmosphere around the place.
“There is more excitement in the conversations, there is a buzz, and we need a bit of a buzz.”
There seemed to be a giddiness amongst the crowd, perhaps it was the mixture of sunshine and the opportunity to just be out, somewhere beautiful, amongst lots of people, and feel safe.
As a passer-by bumped into me and apologised profusely, she laughed and said, “I think I need to learn how to do crowds again.”
Perhaps she is right, I walked into people and lost track of my companion several times.
Minna Graham, from Daylesford, is an Expo stalwart and says the weekend was “crazy, busy and fun!”
“It has been amazing,” she said, as she continued wrapping items in tissue paper.
“Everyone is just happy to be out.
“Maybe it’s that and that there is a new appreciation for ceramics.
“Over the last few years people are loving and appreciating ceramics more.”
As Minna ties a package carefully with her trademark black ribbon, a customer smiles, and says,
“It really is good to be out and about, and the works here are just beautiful.”
Adam Cox (South Gippsland) has been exhibiting at the Expo for over ten years and says the weekend has been fantastic.
“People are keen to come out and do something out of lockdown,
“It is always a good weekend and a great opportunity to meet other potters.”
Sunday lunchtime, and his stall is almost empty, so Adam strategically places the few remaining items for sale a little further apart to fill the space.
“I’m almost cleaned out,” he said happily.
“It’s months’ worth of work, it’s the biggest event of the year and I have been keeping my nicest pieces for this.”
Special guests this year were Australian members of the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC).
The Academy is the principal organisation representing the interests of ceramics worldwide.
Based in Geneva, the IAC is an official partner with UNESCO in the cultural sector.
Jane Annois has been a member of the Academy for two years and is honoured to be part of such a global community of ceramic artists that focus on networking, education and raising the standards of excellence within the art.
Jane is thrilled to have an exhibition of such high-end ceramics from many of the Australian members of the Academy at the Expo.
“There are 12 Australian IAC member artists represented here this weekend and it is very exciting.
“Collectors have been here, buying this weekend, and it has lifted the profile of the Expo.
“It has also been very inspiring for the potters to see these works, which are rarely seen together, in one exhibition.”
Sally Wise, from Preston, is also a member of the IAC and has been a ceramist since she was 17 years old.
Her journey started when an influential teacher in high school introduced her to the art.
She went on to study a four-year ceramics degree, and says, “it’s been my passion and obsession ever since”.
“It is exciting to have higher end ceramics at the Expo,” said Sally, “and nice to see collectors here, buying.”

Prize-winners

Winner of the Warrandyte Lions Best Presented Stand was Tian You, from Tian Ceramics, Footscray.
Tian says, “It is always the best event of the year.
“It takes months to prepare and this is the grand opening of my new work.
“It was very well received, there were lots of customers first thing on Saturday morning, determined to get in early.”
The Potters Prize is the peer favourite, voted by the potters, and this year’s winner is Arnaud Barraud, from Kalorama.
Arnaud’s prize is a piece from last year’s winner, and he in turn will donate a piece for next year’s winner.
Su Hanna (Bendigo) and Marina Pribaz (Daylesford) shared the Michael Hallam INCA Award for innovative contemporary ceramics, presented by the Warrandyte Riverside Market.
Su is one of a small group of wood-fire ceramists represented at the Expo, with fellow guest artists Sandy Lockwood, Rob Barron and Jann Kesby.
Wood firing is ceramics at a whole other level, it is earthy and rough.
Someone explained to me that wood firers see “the beauty in the natural colours of ‘brown’ and in the complexity of ‘rough’”.
Many wood-fired ceramists design and build their own kilns and after the backbreaking work of collecting, carrying and splitting wood, are known to have a moment of ceremony as they light the match.
Su says, “You have to be a bit crazy to be a wood-firer.”
“Just splitting the wood is a lot of work, and we are limited with the fire season.
“We have to time it and try and get it done before it hits.
Su and her husband take it in shifts, day, and night, stoking the fire, keeping it to temperature for four days.
“It’s a lot of work,” she repeats, and pauses, “and a lot of wood prep”.
Another pause.
I sense that the work of the firing stays with her long after the fire has gone, and as she looks at the piece in front of her, she says quietly, “but you can’t get the random surfaces, and those colours that I love any other way.
“It’s worth it.”
As I leave her stall, I realise making art is hard, and I have a fresh appreciation for both the art and the artist.
Once again, The Pottery Expo was a huge success, and the riverbank was alive with music and colour and stalls and people.
Quite simply, it was pure fun, and the people were visibly happy.

Photos: BILL McAULEY
 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Price of progress

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

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

Consultation deficit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overkill

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

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

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

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos: VICKY SHUKUROGLOU

Alternatives ignored

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enough is enough

Ms Shukuroglou said MRPV has been asking the wrong questions.

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

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

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

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

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

Replanting plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Display of grief

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

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

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

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

What now for the future?

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