Featured

Vandals fail to break Warrandyte’s spirit

THE WARRANDTYE community awoke to the sad news that the RSL memorial had been vandalised overnight.
The graffiti displayed the symbol for anarchy and the words “War is Murder”.
While vandalism is always a hurtful act, the defacing of the RSL’s war memorial on the eve of Anzac Day was felt particularly strong within the community.
The council were quick to act and soda-blasted the offending marks.
However, this process also strips the gold trim out of the words on the memorial.
Stephen Papal from Advanced Stone, a company that specialises in the making bespoke headstones and memorials, contacted the RSL directly to volunteer his company’s services and restore the memorial back to its former glory.
“I know what it’s like for RSLs and clubs to try and find the money to cover up something that’s been vandalised.
“I rang them because I knew they’d soda-blast it, the process should be to sand it and touch up where the graffiti has been.
“This will look magnificent tomorrow”, said Mr Papal.

Stephen and Ben Papal from Advanced Stone volunteering their services

Local Member of Parliament, Ryan Smith also visited the memorial to see the damage for himself and personally thank the men who had come out to undo the damage.
In an interview with the Warrandyte Diary, Mr Smith expressed his appal on last night’s criminal act.
“It’s just completely appalling that this has happened in Warrandyte, the vandals that did this — the very freedom that they are making a statement against were fought for by the people remembered at this memorial… that this has happened in Warrandyte is just disgraceful.”
Mr Henk Van Der Helm, President of the Warrandyte RSL stated: “We are pretty disgusted with this act but we’ve been able to clear it off”.
The Warrandyte RSL have decided to pay for security around the War Memorial tonight over concerns that the publicity that has been generated may encourage the “ratbags” to return.
Mr Van Der Helm is confident that the Anzac day ceremony will go ahead, as planned, tomorrow morning.
Victoria Police have issued a public appeal for information relating to the vandalism of the memorial, acting Sergeant Nick Bailey stated: “It’s sad to see this attempt to diminish the spirit of the ANZACs with this disrespectful act.”
If you have any information regarding last nights graffiti, please contact Crimestoppers on:
1800 333 000
Despite the attempts to deface the Warrandyte memorial, the RSL’s Anzac Day service will go ahead tomorrow morning, as planned.
The march will start from Whipstick Gully at 10:30am with a service to follow from 11am.

Pigeon Bank planning pain 

A storm is brewing in North Warrandyte after Nillumbik council granted planning approval for a residential building at 2 Pigeon Bank Road.

At a meeting of the Future Nillumbik committee on March 14, five out of seven councillors voted to approve the plans, going against the recommendation of the council planning department.

The land in question is a pristine, steep riverine bush-block in an extremely environmentally sensitive area.

Architect Phillip Mannerheim purchased the block in 2014 and has plans to build an eco-friendly sustainable home on it for his retirement.

The property is one of eight blocks in a low density or bush land residential street that is well serviced with existing infrastructure, including sealed road with reticulated water, power and sewerage.

There was just one objector, a neighbour, who was not objecting to the development but wanted better separation and screening from his property.

There are multiple parties both for and against this development.

Warrandyte Community Association

The Warrandyte Community Association distributed a flyer entitled Thin end of the green wedge at the Warrandyte Festival, which states:

  • The land is unique in having four distinct native plant communities supporting diverse wildlife populations.
  • The planning sets a disastrous precedent which could see the end of the “Green Wedge” as we know it.
  • The decision, against the recommendation of experienced Nillumbik Planning Officers to reject the planning application, will see the destruction of at least 746 trees to build a house and out-buildings on a ridge, creating a visual eyesore and threatening the nearby Koornong State Park bushland.
  • At 5.3 hectares, the block is smaller than the eight hectare minimum subdivision required under Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ) Schedule 3.
  • Clause 35.06 of Nillumbik’s own planning scheme requires use of land to protect and enhance the environmental and landscape value of the land — This proposal does the opposite.
  • Rural Conservation Zoning seeks to ensure that “the existing character, landscape quality, view-lines and other natural environmental characteristics of the area are protected and enhanced in an equitable and sustainable manner”.
  • The proposal also contravenes other clauses and overlays in the Nillumbik planning scheme.
  • The “Stranded Asset” argument, that a landowner has a reasonable right to build on such a site has no validity as RCZ zoning was introduced as early as 1973 and any land purchaser should conduct due diligence on any property before purchase.
  • The nearby Koornong land was purchased by the State in 1979 after an intensive campaign by the Warrandyte Environment League, supported by the Warrandyte Diary, to save it from destruction by inappropriate housing development.
  • Council has apparently identified about 700 similar undersized blocks which could be opened-up for development in Nillumbik.
  • This would destroy the Green Wedge and Nillumbik as “The Green Wedge Shire”.

Council planning department

The planning officers’ recommendation to councillors to refuse a permit is on the grounds that the proposal:

  • To use the land for a dwelling on a substandard sized lot is not consistent with the intended purpose and decision guidelines of the RCZ.
  • Does not seek to use the land to protect and enhance the environmental and landscape value of the site.
  • Is not consistent with clauses concerning green wedges, vision strategic framework, settlement and housing and rural land use.
  • Does not respond to the decision guidelines of the RCZ, and siting and design policy, for buildings and works in non-urban areas, due to the level of site disturbance required for the construction of the dwelling, and the associated conservation and environmental impacts.
  • Has not adequately responded to the objectives and decision guidelines of the bushfire management overlay and wildfire management policy as the development of the land; a dwelling will pose a threat to life and property, is inappropriately sited, requires an impractical level of maintenance — in light of the site’s topographical features — and is deemed unsafe.
  • Is not responsive to the objectives and decision guidelines concerning native vegetation in that the proposal has not adequately considered the role of native vegetation as both habitat, and playing a crucial role in minimising land degradation.
  • Has not adequately responded to the objectives and decision guidelines of the environmental significance overlay in terms of the potential to detrimentally impact on the environmental values of the land due to the proposed vegetation removal.
  • Will not result in an acceptable planning outcome as outlined in the decision guidelines having regard to the orderly planning of the area, the degree of fire hazard for the proposed development, the extent of vegetation proposed to be removed, and the potential land degradation and erosion.

Jane Ashton – Sugarloaf ward councillor

Jane Ashton was one of five councillors who supported the development. She spoke at length to the Diary, and these are her main points.

  • The decision was not made lightly; I did a considerable amount of research beforehand with regard to the design, the CFA reports and the environmental studies performed.
  • The block has a house number and kerbing for the driveway.
  • The Department of Environment and Land did not object and said the development “is not expected to have a significant impact on any rare or threatened species”.
  • The applicant commissioned 5 ecological surveys, has agreed to 4.5 ha becoming Bushland Conservation Zone and is providing $80,000 of offsets.
  • The applicant is an experienced architect.
  • He has designed an eco-friendly carbon-neutral home with a 10-star energy rating
  • The home has solar panels, a 500,000 litre water tank for bushfire survival and is recessed into the ground to minimise any visual impact and reduce the footprint substantially.
  • The application meets all bushfire risk management requirements and the design displays excellence in satisfying CFA requirements.
  • The block is very heavily treed having over 5,000 trees, many of which are small.
  • The 750 trees mentioned are mainly saplings and very immature trees with a girth less than 50cm, there are very few mature trees and no “significant” trees.
  • The number of mature trees impacted is likely to be less than 100 in total and, as with the other houses in the street, removal is necessary to provide a defendable space around the property.
  • The applicant has committed to connect to the sewer at considerable distance and expense, even though this is not a requirement.
  • The eight-hectare minimum lot size mentioned by critics is for subdivision planning only and is not relevant to this application as the area has already been subdivided.
  • Under RCZ Schedule 3, dwellings are not prohibited, the land is in private ownership and is not reserved for conservation purposes.
  • I firmly believe that we do not own the land, the land owns us; we are the guardians.
  • Friends of Nillumbik should embrace the applicant with open arms and help him tidy up the understory and remove the 17% of introduced species from his block.
  • I am of the opinion that the applicant will be an impeccable guardian of this precious land.

Friends of Nillumbik

This group’s latest bulletin states:

  • The permit approval undermines Green Wedge values and our Planning Scheme
  • The 5.3 hectares contains habitat of high conservation significance, almost a hectare of vegetation will be cleared including the loss of 746 trees.
  • A ridge top will be extensively cleared for the house so landscape values will be seriously degraded.
  • It is intended to use the land for rural residential purposes, a use at odds with its rural conservation zoning.
  • Councillor’s Brooker and Dumaresq opposed issuing the permit urging respect for our planning scheme.
  • This irresponsible council decision shows that the purpose of Nillumbik’s Green Wedge has been purposely questioned by councillors.

They have recently added the following comments:

  • Nillumbik was created to be “the conservation shire with the Green Wedge as its strategic focus”.
  • The bulk of Nillumbik’s Green Wedge was given protection under the Rural Conservation Zone (Schedule 3) of the Planning Scheme and the later placement of the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) reinforced this demarcation separating planned residential land from rural land.
  • The government’s intention to protect our Green Wedge was given further emphasis when it required any rezoning proposal affecting Green Wedge land to be passed by both houses of the Victorian Parliament.
  • This permit application has brought into sharp focus the application of Nillumbik’s Scheme.
  • The north side of Pigeon Bank Road is outside the UGB, is zoned Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ3) and there is no mention of residential use in the zone purpose.
  • In fact for the RCZ it is all about protecting the natural environment, landscape, faunal habitat and cultural values including biodiversity of the area and ensuring that land use changes do not have an adverse impact on these.
  • The removal of close to a hectare of bushland, including the destruction of 746 trees and the clearing of a landscape-sensitive ridge top, is not consistent with these zone requirements.
  • It is up to a purchaser of land to consider all restrictions which may affect future plans; hence the need for a permit.

The landowner

Phillip Mannerheim spoke to the Diary and stated:

“This is to be a home for my retirement.

“I jumped through various hoops, hurdles, ecological surveys and assessments required by council, at considerable expense.

“At their suggestion, the plans have already been changed so as to relocate down from the ridge top and the driveway redesigned for fire truck access.

“It was therefore quite dismaying to receive a recommendation from the planning department which was totally negative, and amounted to a statement to the effect that this land was unsuitable for a building.

“I cannot understand why my block is being singled out for special treatment, as all the other blocks in the subdivision contain houses and the planning regulations have not changed.

“Fortunately, Mayor Peter Clarke, himself an architect and with considerable experience as a Councillor at Melbourne City, saw my point of view and four of the other six councillors agreed with him.

“I am trying here to achieve a 10-star energy rating with innovations such as tracking the sun, insulation, and recessing part of the home into the ground; all designed with world-leading conservation values in mind.

“I am surprised that so-called conservation and community groups would be against this development, when what I am proposing should set an example to Australia on how to build sensitively and efficiently in the bush while protecting and enhancing the environmental and landscape value of the land”.

Moving forward

Not being an original objector to the proposal Warrandyte Community Association is unable to lodge a direct case at VCAT.

However — as we go to press — we learn that it is considering whether as an “Affected Person”, it will apply to VCAT for leave under Section 82B of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to apply for a review of Nillumbik Council’s decision.

2017 Festival Walkthrough

WARRANDYTE’S biggest weekend is coming your way March 24, 25 and 26. This year, Warrandyte Festival honours 40 years of community celebration. It is time, lovers of ‘70s rock, to fish out your flairs and party like it’s 1977! The best in home-grown, family fun, Cherie Moselen walks you through the festival that has it all.

BATTLE OF THE BANDS

From 6pm on Friday March 24, local youth bands battle it out at Stiggants Reserve for the top prize: a day in a recording studio.

Headlining the event is last year’s battle winner, Cardinia. Soft drink, water and a Scouts’ sausage sizzle will be available on the night for cash purchase only. This is a drug, smoke and alcohol free event. Admission is FREE.

ART

Enjoy Warrandyte/Donvale Rotary’s 33rd exhibition of artwork by local and interstate artists. Preview the art and join in the festivities at the Gala Champagne Opening from 7pm – 10pm on Friday March 24, at the Warrandyte Community Church in Yarra Street. A gala ticket costs $25. Weekend viewing extends from 9am – 5pm on Saturday and 10am – 4pm on Sunday. A $5 ticket includes a catalogue. Entry is free for children and senior students.

THE LOUNGE BY NIGHT

Film lovers—don’t miss out! The Warrandyte Film Feast makes its debut at The Lounge on the lower riverbank of Stiggants Reserve on Friday March 24. Sixteen short films from different genres will be screened, including Apprentice of the Year, starring Shane Jacobson, and locally made film, Heed, among others. MC for the evening is Australian actor Daniel Schepisi. Fabulous food and drink can be purchased from 6pm; the first film starts at 8pm. A ticket costs $10. Book online at www.trybooking.com/OPEG. NOTE: Films are not classified and some content may offend.

THE LOUNGE BY DAY

String Band music will entertain Lounge audiences from 12pm – 5pm on Saturday. See authentic old-time Cajun band Iron Gob String Band, the Stetson Family, Honeyfields and the Strzelecki Stringbusters. On Sunday, check out the Funky Monkeys circus band from noon, followed by a Sanctum Theatre presentation of Otto Learns to Fly—an interactive children’s puppet show. Ukuleles and hula hoops also come out to play. And it is all for FREE!

 GRAND PARADE

This year, four parade monarchs have been chosen to honour the festival’s origins. Donning royal regalia are festival pioneers Yvonne Reid, Howard Geldard, Patrick Nuzum and Tim Ferguson. The procession makes its way from the Mechanics’ Institute in Yarra Street to Stiggants Reserve on Saturday March 25 after official kick-off at 11am. Community groups, schools, sports clubs, vintage cars, a vintage flyover and fabulous floats—that’s Warrandyte on parade. Incredible!

MAIN STAGE MUSIC

Music starts at midday with local school and bush bands and continues with quality acts Mango Retreat, Dannika, The Teskey Brothers and The Scrims, among others. Sunday’s programme features a variety of talent from 11.00am. A festival favourite for 20 years, acclaimed bush band Paradiddle will rouse the crowd at 3pm, followed by The April Family, The Weeping Willows and Aleyce Simmonds. Lovers of ‘70s rock—don’t miss Mother! While Nudist Funk Orchestra is closing the show! Bring seating and a picnic, or buy food and drink across the weekend.

RIVERBANK STAGE

Children’s entertainer Keeping the Beat brings noonday fun on Saturday, followed by a diverse musical line-up including Fulton Street, Watercolour and Sideglance. Get your tango on by the banks of the Yarra from 7pm Saturday. Enjoy a dance class, special show from Sidewalk Tango’s Performance Troupe and two hours of “Milonga”! Sunday’s programme will please animal lovers with everyone’s favourite Pet Parade at 9:30am and Wildlife Exposure on at 11:15am. Music lovers stick around also, to see Beautiful Beasts, Real Love and Warrandyte’s own Mia Hamilton.

COMMUNITY BUS

An all-access bus service returns to the festival this year. Provided by Nillumbik Council, this community bus has full wheel chair accessibility. It will run every 15 minutes, stopping at the Warrandyte Sports Club carpark; at the top of Stiggants Reserve; at the bottom of Stiggant Street and opposite the Community Centre. The bus will operate from 11:30am – 5pm on Saturday and 9am – 5pm on Sunday.

 SCOUTS’ WATERSLIDE

BYO bathers and towel (change tent available) and get ready to slip and slide downhill at Stiggants Reserve. Hosted by Warrandyte/Park Orchards Scout Group. Charges apply. It is giant. It is awesome!

BILLY CARTS

Have you got the steel to join the billycart hall of fame? Wheels line up at the top of Police Street from Sunday 9:30am. Registration of $8 takes place between 8:30am – 9:15am for children aged eight to 15 years. The event features a parents’ race, trophies and great prizes. Carts MUST meet strict safety criteria. For enquiries call 0418 357 282 or go to the website: www. warrandytefestival.org.

DUCK RACE

Duck down to the river at 2:30pm on Sunday to watch 1,000 plastic duckies take the plunge. The first to float downriver from Police Street to Stiggant Street wins the trophy. Ducks can be prior-purchased for $3 from local schools, or during festival weekend from the Information Caravan.

DISPLAYS

Discover a range of opportunities through local groups and service providers, including: Aboriginal art exhibition, Animals on the Move, Be Ready Warrandyte, Combined Emergency Services, Eltham Steam and Stationary Engine Preservation Society, Friends of Warrandyte State Park, Manningham City Council, Middle Yarra Landcare Group, Reconciliation Manningham, Warrandyte Community Association, Warrandyte Community Garden, Warrandyte Toy Library, plus miners, blacksmiths, woodcrafters, reptiles, and solar/electric bikes.

NATURE’S PLAYGROUND

Directed by local arts therapist Tania Virgona and supported by Manningham Council, this activity encourages children to collectively create artistic instalments such as cubbies, nests and sculptures as influenced by local flora and Indigenous heritage. Nature Play runs from 12:00pm – 4pm on Sunday only.

FOLLIES

Written and directed by Warrandyte Theatre Company members, Open Book Follies is a romp of comic sketches and musical numbers. Performance dates for 2017 are: March 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 and April 1, 6, 7 and 8. A ticket costs $25 (concession $20). BYO food and drink. Showtime is 7.30 for 8pm at the Mechanics Institute Hall. Book online at www.warrandytehallarts.asn.au

GRAND READ

This year marks the Grand Read’s 20th evening of presenting quality readings from local poets and writers. The feature guest for 2017 is Arnold Zable, an award winning Australian writer, storyteller, educator and human rights advocate whose writing focuses primarily on migrant experience. Warrandyte’s literary showcase takes place upstairs at the Grand Hotel at 7:30pm on Tuesday March 28. A ticket costs $20 (Concession $16) and includes a light supper. For catering purposes, please purchase in advance from Warrandyte Neighbourhood House on 9844 1839. Or visit the website: www.warrandyteneighbourhoodhouse.org.au

Check out www.warrandytefestival.org for information including: road closures, programme details, accessibility info, maps and registration forms. Facebookers can search “Warrandyte Festival” for regular weekend updates.

Pick up or download the March edition of the Warrandyte Dairy for your four-page pull-out of the 2017 Warrandyte Festival.

Fire danger period to end south of the river

The CFA have declared the fire danger period for District 13 will finish at 1am on March 20, this includes Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, and Yarra Ranges Council areas.

CFA Operations Manager Dave Renkin urges people to remember to adhere to local council regulations, and to register their burn-offs.

“Calls to unregistered burn-offs take volunteer firefighters away from workplaces, families and potentially genuine emergencies,” he said.

Given Nillumbik still has fire restrictions in place, taking the necessary precautions when planning to burn-off will allow the fire authorities to react efficiently to all fire calls.

“If you haven’t registered your burn you can expect some disgruntled fireys arriving at your property asking you to ‘please explain’,” Mr Renkin said.

Keep your burn off safe and legal:

  • Check fire restrictions in your area and always register your burn.
  • Check and monitor weather conditions — particularly wind.
  • Warn your neighbours beforehand that there will be smoke in the air.
  • Stay in attendance the whole time your burn is going.
  • Have sufficient equipment and water to stop the fire spreading.

Landowners can register their burn-off with the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) by calling 1800 668 511 or emailing burnoffs@esta.vic.gov.au

Photo: Stephen Reynolds

Australia Day honours for Warrandyte’s finest

This year’s Australia Day saw a clutch of honours go to local Warrandyte residents.

We welcome Warrandyte’s newest member of the Order of Australia, Judy Lazarus (AM), Her citation commends her for significant service to the community through social welfare groups, notably through custodial rehabilitation and resettlement initiatives.

She has been involved in a variety of services, including Victorian Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, Beechworth Correctional Centre, Association of Neighbourhood Houses and Learning Centres, Beechworth Health Service, Women’s Correctional Services Committee, and the Ministerial Community Advisory Committee – Prison Leaves and a Non-Government Sector Representative for the Corrections Victoria Stakeholder’s Forum. Judy has also been a recipient of a Churchill Fellowship, and has had the Judy Lazarus Transitional Centre named in her honour.

Also receiving a national honour for meritorious service was Warrandyte local Paul Wilkinson who received an Ambulance Service Medal (ASM).

Mr Wilkinson has been a paramedic with Ambulance Victoria for over 32 years and throughout his career has focused on developing paramedics and improving workplace health and safety.

His citation noted that “He has consistently demonstrated a selfless attitude and dedication to improving the lives and well-being of his colleagues. As a Clinical Instructor, he worked to mentor and instruct graduate paramedics to develop and build their clinical skills, and provide a strong ambulance service to the community”.

The Menzies community awards were handed out by local federal member Kevin Andrews, who saw the occasion as one to celebrate the grassroots achievements in our community.

“If only we knew what people in our community do, it is only on occasions like this that we find out,” said Mr Andrews.

The Menzies Community Awards saw two Warrandyte recipients.

Pam Booth received an award for her contribution as a volunteer at Information Warrandyte for a total of 13 years.

Ms Booth’s citation describes her as a “dedicated and reliable volunteer who capably assisted visitors and clients. She also contributed to Information Warrandyte’s Directory of Services and maintained the Community Centre Public noticeboard. Pam has been a long time Warrandyte resident, local kindergarten teacher and Warrandyte Tennis Club member”.

Denise Farran was recognised as a valued member of the Warrandyte community, working with the Neighbourhood House Committee of Management and as a Film Society member and volunteer. She was also recognised for her volunteer work at the Tarrawarra Gallery and for events at the Warrandyte Arts Association and Festival.

Denise Farran was very surprised to receive her award, especially after accidentally mistaking her letter as junk mail – but fortunately she managed to recover her invitation.

“The award was a surprise and a real treat,” she said.

Menzies Awards were also given to the parents of local identity Peter Fraser, whose father Malcolm Fraser and mother Beverley Fraser were both recognised for their work at St Mark’s Anglican Church in Templestowe.

Our CFA brigades ready for hot summer

On a warm November Sunday 200 fire fighters from 30 brigades descended on Warrandyte to train for responding to several of bush fire scenarios that could affect the area in this coming summer.

A series of exercises were conducted by volunteers from Warrandyte and Wonga Park and volunteers and career staff from the integrated South Warrandyte brigade.

Maroondah Group training manager Lt Will Hodgson said fire fighters from neighbouring areas were given an idea of the challenges faced where the Green Wedge meets metropolitan Melbourne.

The crews experienced scenarios from protecting houses in the difficult terrain of North Warrandyte to supporting a Place of Last Resort where hundreds of residents may take shelter from an oncoming bush fire.

Lt Hodgson said the logistical support of Manningham City Council and the Salvation Army allowed for a realistic exercise which gave the brigades a chance to prepare for summer.

“We are making sure the fire fighters’ skills are ready to go for summer and to give the crew leaders and strike team leaders the opportunity to plan for what they are going to do if they are tasked to provide asset protection in the greater Warrandyte area,” he said.

Warrandyte CFA captain Adrian Mullens said CFA volunteers and career staff were working together to protect the Warrandyte Community this fire season, and all year round.

“The South Warrandyte career staff are able to turn out to inci- dents quicker than the volunteers, but we will always be out supporting the community with them,” he said.

PICTURE: STEPHEN REYNOLDS

Oh what a night!

FIREBALL 2016 is being applauded as an outstanding sold-out success, raising more than $70,000 in much needed funds for our local CFAs in a truly glamorous Saturday night affair.

The final figure matched 2014’s result when $70,000 was raised to contribute to a new truck for the North Warrandyte CFA. This year, the funds raised will go towards buying a Slip-On: a 4WD first-respondent vehicle on the wish-list of the Greater Warrandyte brigades for many years.

Fireball has grown since it’s inaugural event in 2014, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars and support for our local fire brigades: North Warrandyte, Warrandyte, South Warrandyte and Wonga Park.

The absolutely stunning Park Hyatt Ballroom was the place to be on Saturday October 15 with hundreds of guests from the Greater Warrandyte area dancing the night away in style—and showing their support for the fireys that dedicate so much of their time to keeping our community safe.

It was ball gowns galore and old Hollywood glamour with guests dressed to the nines in their best black tie.

Pre-dinner drinks were served in the luxurious foyer before the huge ballroom doors opened and guests flooded the dance floor and dining tables.

Melbourne’s hottest corporate cover band, Popcorn, sent the dance floor into a frenzy with covers from Taylor Swift and the Bee Gees, while guests also participated in a live online auction to raise more funds.

The live auction saw a stunning natural ruby necklace donated by Warrandyte’s own Ruby Tuesday actively stir the bidding, as did an original artwork by Laural Retz along with villas up for grabs in Thailand and Bali.

Another popular item was the wine fridge filled with wine which one local hairdresser was lucky enough to win.

Major sponsor and Fireball champion Julie Quinton was thrilled with the auction results and seeing the event come to fruition.

“Our committee has worked tirelessly for many months to not only build an event with significant fundraising capacity but also an event to remember,” she said.

“From early feedback we think we hit the mark. The Park Hyatt ballroom was alive and full to capacity with Greater Warrandyte taking it to town in support of our fireys and enjoying a quality night out to boot.

“Thanks to Warrandyte Community Bank, many attendees were chauffeured in and out of the city in comfortable buses from various parts of the area. The Park Hyatt ballroom delivered a stunning impression as our community entered on the night. It was alive and full to capacity.”

The Fireball committee will continue to raise funds for the CFA and expect the 2018 event to be an even bigger success.

“The objective of the night was for our community to take on the responsibility and obligation of fundraising from our local CFA volunteers. Fireball is the vehicle for our community to ease the burden of fundraising for our local CFAs,” Julie said.

“We choose to live and work in this beautiful, fragile and very volatile environment; so it makes sense for us to ensure those people who volunteer to defend and protect it are armed with the tools to best do that job.”

PHOTOS: Deb Sullivan

Kayakers rescued in Warrandyte floodwater

1_yarra-kayak-rescue-attempt_09885ayarra-kayak-rescue-attempt_09878Two kayakers trapped in floodwater in the Yarra River in Warrandyte have been rescued.

With fast flowing water in a dangerous section of the Yarra, the couple found themselves in trouble about 11am and were found clinging to a tree branch in the middle of the river. A cast of thousands were on hand to witness the event, including several news agencies and TV networks.

The rescue operation was led by Victoria Police, with assistance from the Country Fire Authority, Melbourne Fire Brigade and Victoria SES.

More info to come in the October edition of the Warrandyte Diary on Monday.

(pictures: Stephen Reynolds, copyright Warrandyte Diary)

Save

Babes in the woods

The Warrandyte Riverside Market is one for all ages and although the sun popped through a few times during our first Spring market, these gorgeous “babes in the woods” were lucky their parents Tessa and Jacqueline ensured they were all rugged up to combat the morning chill. Pictured between a rock and a soft place were twins Abel and Olivia, 2, and friend Annika, 2.

PHOTO: Scott Podmore

aa-featured

Warrandyte junior footy teams chase flags

LOCALS are urged to put a few hours aside this Sunday to lend their support to two Warrandyte Junior Football Club teams who have made it through to the grand final in the Yarra Junior Football League.

The two teams are the Under 14s (above, celebrating a recent victory) and the Under 15s (below), who both will play at Victoria Park Lower at 12.30pm and 2.45pm respectively, which means the Red & White army of supporters can set up camp at the one venue and watch the two Grand Finals in a row.

Both teams have not only made the big dance, but are red-hot favourites and had the luxury of a weekend off after smashing victories last Sunday week.

The U15s finished their year second on the ladder with an impressive nine wins from 14 matches. They came into their semi final full of confidence after winning their last three matches of the season.

In the first week of the finals the Bloods travelled to Bundoora, who finished on top of the ladder, only losing four matches all year. Our boys dished out an impressive performance and gave the home team a lesson as they smashed Bundoora 14.14.98 d 5.4.34. The win meant the U15s could progress straight to the Grand Final and have a week off.

bloods 15s

Eugene Hanson, coach of the U15s, spoke passionately about how the boys were ready to go and had the potential (playing at their best) to win the Grand Final but had to learn to control their emotions.

“I told them don’t think about the game itself, it’s very important to make the build-up as normal as possible,” he said.

“We have been training to manage and help the players understand the emotions coming into the game. The boys lost a grand final in the U10s competition five years ago and some of them have a fear of losing, so we want to make sure their emotions don’t get the better of them.”

The U15 boys will go into the Grand Final clear favourites as they do battle with Macleod at Victoria Park Lower in Kew at 2.45pm this Sunday (August 28). The good news is our Bloods have beaten Macleod twice throughout the season by comfortable margins. A flag is looking good.

On the same day the U15s rocketed into the grand final, shortly after the U14s followed suit, giving Doncaster no chance of even a sniff of victory as they ran over them 13.5.83 to 5.12.42.

The U14 team’s road to the finals was solid as they finished the regular season on top of the ladder, winning 11 of their possible 15 games, including only one loss in the last 11 (to Preston who was bundled out last week). What made the U14s semi final win even more impressive was that Doncaster finished second, also on 11 wins, with only percentage separating the two teams.

Warrandyte will battle it out with Banyule in the Grand Final after the Bears beat Doncaster in the preliminary final by one goal on Sunday.

U14s coach Andrew Wallace says he is very confident and reckons if the boys “stay strong and work as a team” and “keep their heads up until the final siren” they can pull off a win.

Warrandyte’s U14s will play Banyule at Victoria Park Lower, Kew, at 12.30pm this Sunday (the match before the U15s).

Both coaches and the rest of the WJFC urge Warrandytians to head down to the grand finals this Sunday and support our young Bloods as they hunt for flag glory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save

Save

Cookin’ up a storm

Quinton’s IGA hires a top gun chef to take the supermarket to new heights.

The supermarket industry has changed significantly over the past 20 years and sadly many family owned grocers have been snuffed out by the big chains and multinationals who dominate the Australian market.

So it is becoming quite rare for a supermarket such as Warrandyte’s very own family owned and run, Quinton’s IGA, to not only survive but thrive, powering on with innovation and, at times, with community faith-based risk and often leading the way in what is a very ruthless, cutthroat industry.

The ongoing success of Warrandyte’s family grocer is due to the quality and standards set by Quinton’s.

The philosophy is, “If it’s not good enough for our family’s dinner table, then it’s not good enough for our customer’s table.”

The drive to continually evolve and to keep up with trends is also a major factor in Quinton’s success. However, Quinton’s IGA is about to take our much loved family grocery store to a whole new level over the coming few months.

With the introduction of new head chef, Dave Cafarella, who is partnering with the Quinton’s team, bringing ‘big city’ convenience to Warrandyte, while still keeping our community uniqueness and country town friendliness.

Julie Quinton’s excitement over the development is infectious, as she reels off Chef Dave’s credentials.

“Dave has been head chef at Domaine Chandon, head chef at The Public Brewery, sous chef at Olivigna and head chef at the Lilydale General,” she told the Diary. “Along with his beautiful wife Bec and his two gorgeous little girls Mika 7 and Jaidah 4, Dave is now going to get some great family/work/life balance back into his life without his ‘cheffy’ nights working in restaurants. Dave is as excited as we are so it’s a win all around we think!”

It’s time for loyal locals to get excited. Quinton’s IGA has plans underway for a bigger new deli and a full chef’s kitchen, where Dave will have full reign over his new domain.

“We are going to make meal planning so incredibly simple for our customers,” Julie explains. “We will also be opening up on lots more fresh Australian seafood and ‘ready to cook – chef prepared’ meal ideas with the focus on health, Australian grown, ethical, vegan and un- processed foods.

“We are so excited and confident in our new direction – we know we’re going to hit the mark and we know our customers are going to love the changes.”

While big changes are afoot, it’s the little things that matter, too. The supermarket’s new deli will also carry a larger range and deliver slice on demand for all hams, salamis and prosciutto.

“The gourmet cheese range will also improve with the assistance of our Cheesemonger in training, my daughter Hayley,” Julie says with a smile.

“Another sensational addition to our Quinton’s staff has been our new liquor manager, Mark Hansford. Mark comes to us with great wine knowledge and will be only too pleased to help our customers select and advise on our wines. Be sure to look for Mark’s recommendations and special deals in the liquor department.”

Julie’s nous for not only survival but also progress is leading edge. She’s an award-winner, an inspirational leader in the IGA chain and many will agree the lifeblood for our community heartbeat on so many levels.

Community cook-ups, sports club support and Fireball sponsorship just a few to name off the cuff. There’s plenty more we could reference.

She’s a leader, one who threads a community tapestry with her ability to make things happen and inspire others.

“We realise, for our continued survival and longevity in Warrandyte, we need to continually realign ourselves to be relevant in our customers’ busy lives as well as providing exceptional customer service and that’s what we are prepared to do,” Julie says.

Stay tuned for a revamped Quinton’s IGA with something big cooking in the kitchen.

Warrandyte’s Fireball hot in the city

EIGHTEEN months of planning for the biggest community fundraiser in the greater Warrandyte region nearly came undone, ironically due to the sheer popularity of the event.

Days before tickets went on sale for Fireball 2016 our popular and much loved Olivigna restaurant, which was to host the night of nights, was unable to secure the necessary permit for the number of people who will attend. Such a permit would have required an amendment to the State Government Planning Scheme.

Undeterred, organisers quickly moved to Plan B and the committee of volunteers led by chair Michelle Lambert were able to secure the 5 Star Park Hyatt Hotel, East Melbourne, overlooking the Fitzroy Gardens.
“The demand for Fireball requires us to use a venue that can cater to our capacity,” said committee member Jaime Noye.

“With only days to secure a venue and with October positioned in the midst of wedding season we were thrilled to be able to secure the Park Hyatt. It offers a range of transport options to the city and it is a beautiful venue consistent with the calibre of event that is Fireball.”

Julie Quinton, who initiated the inaugural Fireball in 2014 and who has furthered her commitment to the Wonga Park and Warrandyte CFAs by offering Quinton’s Online Supermarket as the event’s major sponsor for 2016 said: “We thought two years ago that possibly after three or more Fireballs we would need to move to a larger venue to be able to handle the growth. It has come far earlier than expected and that can only be a good thing as we fundraise for a Slip On – a first respondent 4WD vehicle which is currently on the Greater Warrandyte brigade’s wish-list.”

The 2014 Fireball contributed to a new truck for the North Warrandyte CFA.

“Thank you for our new fire truck, our new toy.  It will serve our community well,” said North Warrandyte captain Mick Keating.
Despite the location change Fireball’s mission remains the same – “easing the burden of fundraising from our volunteer firefighters”. Every cent raised from Fireball 2016 will be returned to the Greater Warrandyte CFAs to ensure they are able to access the most up to date equipment.

Tickets are now on sale at www.fireball.org.au

Gerard’s Giant Steps

Warrandyte’s Gerard Stevenson, pictured with wife Sue, may be paralysed from the neck down after a horrific fall at home almost two years ago, yet he powers on with what is a new way of life but with the same old love from family and friends. With that kind of support and finding inspiration in a famous Sir Isaac Newton quote, Gerard enters the blogosphere with his new blog ‘Stand on the Shoulders of Giants’ – www.standontheshouldersofgiants.com.au. Picture: REFLECT PHOTOGRAPHY (www.reflectphotography.com.au)

WARRANDYTE’S Gerard Stevenson suffered a fall at home in August 2014, leaving him paralysed from the neck down, but he has been nothing short of inspirational in readjusting to a new way of life. That includes starting a new blog about his experiences called Stand on the Shoulders of Giants, inspired by a quote from Sir Isaac Newton.

In a recent exam the question read, Who was Sir Isaac Newton? One young student answered: “He was the man who invented gravity!”

Well, he didn’t invent or discover gravity but he did revolutionise scientific thought with his theory of universal gravitation, the sticky stuff holding together the universe.

Sir Isaac was an outstanding scientist and mathematician. He literally changed the way we think about the world. He revolutionised our ideas about light. He invented the world’s first reflecting telescope. He invented calculus, making it possible to measure curved areas and determine the rate at which things change.

With his insights, world knowledge took a giant step forward. When he was pressed to explain how he could make so many important discoveries and inventions, he said: “If I have been able to see further than others it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.”

Gerard has taken his lead for his blog from that quote. He weaves into his blog inspirational stories from the lives of greats as diverse as Columbus, early Australian sheep breeder John MacArthur and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick among others.

He describes the medical procedures he has had since his injury in easy to understand language. He keeps a keen eye on the latest developments in spinal research and brainwave technology.

Warrandytians are urged to be a part of Gerard’s journey by reading his blog at standontheshouldersof giants.com.au

A bridge to Nauru from Warrandyte

WARRANDYTE Bridge is often a focal point for the community but last night (June 21) the bridge drew a different sort of focus.

Warrandyte’s Stephen Clendinnen organised a peaceful protest on the bridge using posters and banners to bring awareness about human rights issues at the Australian Immigration Detention Centres on Nauru and Manus Island. Many would ask why Warrandyte is holding a protest of this nature and why now?

“Yesterday was World Refugee Day and today is the Solstice so I think it’s a good time to bring this up,” said Mr Clendinnen.

Although the numbers were small to start with, the group soon swelled to about two dozen people who felt passionately about the plight of the refugees being detained in the offshore detention centres.

“(The Government) has the power to make the decision to allow these people (to stay); they are no different to post Second World War, post Vietnam refugees, they’re just the same,” said Gillian, a protestor.

The protestors who turned out were a mixture of ages, from the elderly to young families including Amy who had brought her young daughter along.

“I just disagree with the way these people are being treated, they have the same rights as we have,” she said. “My daughter has been asking what’s Nauru, what’s the detention centre … I think it is good for them to get that feeling of what it is to be together with people who feel passionately about a cause.”

Both offshore detention centres were opened in 2001 and briefly shut down in 2008 by the Rudd Government, but they were reopened in 2012 and still operate today.

Although this protest was an independent event, Mr Clendinnen feels he is part of a bigger movement.

“I know there are thousands of Australians who completely agree with what I am doing and thousands of refugees who are now citizens of Australia who are desperate to see their sisters and brothers free from cruel treatment.”

There are no more bridge protests currently planned but Mr Clendinnen is keen to drive this issue back into the media spotlight through political and artistic actions.

Also try a Bridge too far or Bridge over troubled waters

 

Warrandyte shops burgled

Our riverside cafes in Yarra Street, Riverview Cafe and Thyme on the Yarra, were broken into and burgled in the early hours of Sunday morning, June 5.

A thief was captured on video security footage at both cafes and a neighbouring business, however his face was covered.

The burglar broke into Riverview (pictured) through a bottom glass panel on the front door and set off with cash registers, cash and a laptop.

0Z9A5365

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was obvious the thief injured himself (police believe his left forearm) as a large amount of blood was found on the floor of the cafe.

He also stole $40 worth of tips at Thyme on the Yarra and there was damage to the front door.

Riverview Cafe’s Nicole Salem said: “I can’t believe how someone could do this to a family business, it’s disgraceful.”

At the time the Diary went to print Doncaster Police said the thief hadn’t yet been identified.

If you have any information about the break-ins contact Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.

This weekend in Warrandyte (June 3) …

Looking for something to do in Warrandyte this weekend? Try our Five for Friday …

One … The Warrandyte Community Riverside Market is on tomorrow! Made up of hundreds of small, mainly local, businesses. Crafts, arts, fresh food, flowers, plants, gift cards, coffee stalls … all set on our lovely part of the Yarra River on a day expected to be just 15 but with little chance of rain. Be there.

Two … The grand opening of The Night Owl is on tonight (the grown up version of The White Owl at Goldfields Plaza) from 6pm-10pm. Come along with your friends to enjoy some wine, tapas and live music. Also serving craft beer, cider, antipasto and cheese platters. Open every Friday night.

Three … The Grand Hotel Warrandyte is rockin’ with Ruckus tonight! Craft beers on tap, great food (check out our review in the Diary next week) and great local people.

Four … Blatant plug for a loyal advertiser. Low energy, stress, sore muscles, women’s health issues? Try Karina Templeton Chinese Medicine in Lorraine Avenue. Karina uses acupuncture and Chinese Medicine as part of her compassionate, supportive treatments and cinorporate modalities such as cupping, electro stimulation, moxibustion and Chinese Diet and Exercise Therapy. www.ktchinesemedicine.com or call 0415 443 148.

Five … It’s time to start thinking about the Greater Warrandyte Business Expo to be held at the Warrandyte Community Church on August 17. Learn from the experts and network, network, network. Visit the website http://www.warrandytebusinessexpo.com.au/ to find out more.

 

Alpacas do the bus stop

It was Warrandyte’s version of the Great Escape recently when four pet alpacas named Boris, Mr Snuffy, Kath and Kim pulled the wool over their owners eyes and ventured beyond the boundaries of their property in Research-Warrandyte Road.

But it was their appearance at the local bus stop where it really gets interesting. They’d clearly spat it and were well and truly on the move!

The Diary’s very own IT man Bora Seker was driving past and couldn’t believe his eyes, so he snapped a quick photo on his mobile and sent it into to yours truly before rounding up the naughty escapees and calling for help.

A week or so later and a Diary Facebook photo post about the incident has clocked up more than 660 likes, 75 shares and reached more than 20,000 people in an astonishing social media viral reaction.

The culprit? Owner Monique Jaksic, who was a little sheepish when quizzed by us.

“Yep, it was my fault, I left the gate open,” Monique said with a giggle.

“After a while I thought I’d better check on the alpacas and I started calling them. I couldn’t see them, so I went into panic mode and went into the forest, ringing all the neighbours – it was four hours later and I finally found out they were up the top.”

Originally the Jaksics went down the goat route to keep the grass down on their property, but “they were a real pain”.

“They used to get into the neighbours’ property, into the roses and that sort of stuff,” Monique says.

“In the end we got onto the alpacas and bought these guys from Kangaroo Ground. They’re so beautiful, they just nibble at the grass and don’t rip it like goats do, and they don’t run through the fences, they’re great with the kids and, of course, they’re great lawn mowers.”

Let’s be honest. Hands up who wouldn’t want a pet alpaca? Even Diesel the family pet dog is best mates with them at Jaksic central.

“They have their own individual personalities,” Monique said with a smile. “The baby, Kim, she will stare you down. She’s quite feisty. Being the males, Boris and Mr Snuffy (named after Sesame Street’s Mr Snufeupagus) fight over the girls all the time. They have these really funny neck fights – they can be quite noisy and annoyed at each other.

“But they’re pretty good. We love them all, of course, especially now they’re famous.”

Boogie brilliance at Warrandyte Festival

By CHERIE MOSELEN

THERE are some realities organisers can do without when readying a large group for an outdoor celebration. Like, for example, continuous rain.

Even Town Crier Ian Craig was heard trying to auction off his velvet frock coat to the lowest bidder in light of wet conditions before Saturday morning’s Grand Parade.

But the weather gods certainly took pity on Warrandyte Festival last month, ending heavy showers before they dampened crowd enthusiasm.

Kids in kangaroo tails, mini monsters, this year’s festival theme Boogie in the Bush produced some fantastic costumes. (See parade awards).

Warrandyte Neighbourhood House waved their boogie boards, while the team from Riveresque looked right at home wearing the curtains.

Light show projectionist Hugh McSpedden, (famously first to light up the Exhibition Building in Melbourne) and accomplished musician and botany lover Glen Jameson, were this year’s parade monarchs.

Warrandyte’s Emperor of Luminosity stole the show somewhat with his fanciful pairing of giant turban and cow print pants. Arabian Nights meets pyjama party, perhaps?

Monarchs and entourage floated down Yarra Street on a “magic carpet”, stately and dignified bar the occasional honk from a squeaky clown horn. (Vintage McSpedden).

Meanwhile, down at Stiggants Reserve, festival committee volunteers showed their true colours having shovelled mulch over much of the site to combat boggy conditions.

It helped.

Numbers were a little thinner on Saturday but wet weather aside, the popular village celebration unfolded with ease.

A Welcome to Country and introduction from local councillors, then it was time to put on those boogie shoes and get around some fabulous food and entertainment.

As you would expect from an event that attracts upwards of 10,000 people, there was a lot to see and do.

I didn’t make it to the tango lessons on Saturday evening, but heard they were a huge hit. Here are some things that kept me entertained over Warrandyte’s biggest weekend.

Crowd pleaser: Crazy energy and an irresistible beat from drumming ensemble African Star had audience members dancing up a storm at the Riverbank stage on Saturday. Nobody cared about the actual rain. Bow to the rhythm!

Gozleme grace: There was some- thing serene and comforting about the ladies in white from Turkish Kitchen & Catering, calmly rolling out their pastry amid the hubbub. Most importantly, weren’t those little parcels delicious?

Move over bananas in pyjamas: Colourful costumes, stacks of talent, the Funky Monkeys musical act and circus show made me wish my teen- age boys were small again. (Yes, they were that good.)

Who’s news? The Diary decided to put the community into the community newspaper this year, rigging up a frame so people could have their photo taken celebrity-style. Congratulations if you were front page news over the weekend!

Eastern FM 98.1. A long-time festival favourite, this community radio station kept the crooners coming, pumping out familiar tunes in between announcements. Because, who doesn’t love a bit of Harry Connick with their coffee?

Second is the new first. She didn’t win. She managed second. However, her happy grin said it was just as good. Aboriginal art exhibitor Loz told the Diary she’d been trying to win Sunday’s iconic duck race for years. Next year, Lorraine, next year…

Transport Tribute: Nillumbik council donated the use of a shuttle bus and two staff to take people who needed it, back and forth between the festival ground and the commu- nity centre. Hats off, for providing these much appreciated free rides.

Caravan of care: Whether the quandary was “toilet paper?” or “I’ve lost my children”, the staff in the information caravan dealt with it expertly. One shy little girl buying a drink admitted to “only having not really enough money”. Top notch volunteer, the man in the van Cyril Dixon gave it to her anyway.

Boogie central: I wish, like Michael Jackson, I could blame my dance moves on the boogie – and no, I hadn’t made one too many trips to the beer tent! This space was all about getting down: Hip-hop, Go Go, belly dancing and more. The lessons were tremendous fun (and Bollywood a touch harder than it looks. Just saying).

Dragon dance: If you decided to wait for the last band on Sunday evening, well done. Festival organisers pulled out a surprise finale. Huge silk dragons, lit from within, whirling through the picnic crowd. The look of awe on children’s faces: priceless.

Old favourites: It’s been a feature of this town for 39 years but still the sight of family-friendly, well-behaved festival crowds never gets old. I spent part of my weekend conducting a survey and almost everyone when I asked “what do you love about this event?” mentioned the strong sense of community.

It’s official.
Warrandyte Festival, you’re a gem.

Bridge over troubled waters

Bridge over troubled waters

IN a surprise move the Andrews State Government has committed to $5.1 million funding for major works to Warrandyte Bridge that includes widening it in an aim to reduce congestion and boost safety in Warrandyte by making it quicker and easier for residents to evacuate during emergencies.

Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan, Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green and ALP Senate candidate for Victoria Steve Kent made a sudden visit to the bridge last week to announce the plan.

The works…

The funding is for a project to widen the bridge to three lanes and build a new pedestrian path across the Yarra River. Two of the lanes will be for southbound traffic travelling from North Warrandyte to Warrandyte and the existing footpaths on either side of the bridge will be removed and replaced with a footpath on one side of the bridge.

Improvements will also be made to accommodate an extra lane of traffic from the bridge at the roundabout at the Yarra Street and Warrandyte-Ringwood Rd roundabout. Traffic lights will also be installed at a wider Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Rd and Research-Warrandyte Rd intersection. Drivers travelling across the bridge on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Rd regularly experience significant traffic congestion and long delays. The press release went on to state that according to traffic modelling data about 2500 vehicles per hour would potentially travel southbound across the bridge during an emergency evacuation compared with the current 1100 vehicles per hour during a typical morning peak.

The works will take place either side of the fire danger season and are expected to start next month and be completed by the end of 2017.

Mr Donnellan said:We’re widening the bridge to ensure the safety of locals by reducing evacuation times by up to 90 minutes. We have listened to the community and we’re delivering a safer and more efficient bridge.”

Ms Green said: “Crossing Warrandyte Bridge, especially in the event of an emergency, has been a serious concern for the local community for many years and we’re fixing it. We’ve listened to local residents and we’re building the infrastructure that they need for a safer community.”

The history…

This announcement comes after increased community anger in the past two months (and longer) at the rapidly escalating delays to traffic traversing Warrandyte in the morning peak period, afternoon school period, and the early evening, which until this month had no funding in sight nor any state government will to resolve the problem. It might be useful to recap the events leading up to the announcement.

At the end of 2014 VicRoads installed folded signs and Displan boxes on each side of the bridge to assist in traffic control and one- way operation in emergency and evacuation situations, but this did nothing to solve the day-to-day problems of peak-hour gridlock.

In April last year Jennie Hill founded the “Fix the Warrandyte Bridge Bottleneck” Facebook group with many posts per day and more than 250 members. Note: not an official body, but merely a page with a constructive mission to create some noise and make something happen.

In June last year, after extensive lobbying over more than 12 months by Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) and supported by Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley, VicRoads regional director Adam Maguire obtained funding of $140,000 to conduct a feasibility study and modelling to look at the road network around Warrandyte Bridge in both day-to-day and emergency situations.

In November last year at a WCA Emergency Management forum the results of this modelling and four alternative scenarios and their costs were presented, summarised as illustrated below.

P9-table

Only the second of these options would in fact help in a non-emergency day-by-day situation.

And that is where the situation had stalled.

The only funding that had come through was for the installation of four traffic-monitoring webcams which are the subject of a separate article in this edition of the Diary.

So, with nothing further being done, the rush-hour situation is getting worse daily, and is particularly compounded when there are traffic accidents or blockages either in Warrandyte or on the Fitzsimons Lane bridge. Such major disruptions have happened twice in February, on the 3rd and 19th, and resulting in traffic for Warrandyte banking up most of the way to Research. An excellent video of the latter is to be found on the Fix the Warrandyte Bridge Bottleneck Facebook group page. And on February 18 a bad accident closed Kangaroo Ground Road in the morning peak hour.

Recent actions…

On February 19 Ms Hill and local resident Belinda Steve met with Ryan Smith, Member for Warrandyte, to investigate what could further be done to have some funding and action. Mr Smith produced a large file of correspondence on the matter including Hansards and letters to Luke Donnellan MP the Minister for Roads and Road Safety. He was so frustrated with the lack of action and funding by the Victorian government that he rose in the house on February 10 to make a member’s statement on Warrandyte Bridge. Mr Smith told the house: “Whilst the minister was finally pushed, kicking and screaming, into reallocating the funding the previous coalition government had set aside for work to be done to provide options for the traffic problems in Warrandyte, he has not provided Warrandyte residents the opportunity for input. Nor has any funding been allocated for a solution to be implemented … fed-up residents have now formed the Fix the Warrandyte Bottleneck group and are demanding that the minister takes action.”

It is evident Mr Smith continues to be a strong advocate for residents’ concerns now, although his party (when in office) scrapped completion of the M80 Greensborough-East- link “missing link”, a project which has now been pushed out into the next decade which will do nothing to ease the problem in the short term.

However, in more recent times Mr Smith expressed his frustration with the continuing “obfustication” and lack of will to do anything about the local traffic problem. He suggested he may be seen as a lone voice, and that perhaps it would make more impact if residents wrote directly to the minister expressing their frustration.

Just as the Diary was about to publicise a “write to the minister” campaign, the Government appears to have caved in on the matter and the new announcement was made.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley has also been a strong supporter of funding and has urged the government to act.

The media release…

We find it odd local community groups and the local Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith, who has done so much for the cause, were not invited to attend the announcement. We at the Diary were only informed the day before and given we’re a part- time office missed attending. We also find it difficult to understand the role of Danielle Green in this as the Yan Yean electorate does not come any- where near Warrandyte and wonder why defeated ALP candidate Steve Kent was in attendance. The press release announces traffic lights for the Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte and Research-Warrandyte road T-intersection, which was not part of the original VicRoads presentation in November. It also states the works will take place outside the fire danger season and are expected to start next month. However, the fire danger season does not officially end until May 1.

The announcement also makes no mention of any further community consultation, something which has clearly angered residents who have vented on social media.

Dick Davies, president of the Warrandyte Community Association, says: “It’s good that the State Government has addressed the concerns about gridlock after at least 10 years agitation for some action. However, the lack of community consultation, promised by VicRoads in their November and December visits to Warrandyte, is astonishing. After all, residents who actually use the road at different times are most aware of the problems. The modelling quoted in the press release is a desk study based on Emergency Evacuation assumptions not actual data on daily traffic movements as advocated by the WCA. VicRoads will be present at the Warrandyte Festival. It will be an occasion to discuss the plan with them and see if there is room to be more inclusive of community views.”

Other initiatives the Bottleneck group suggested:

Trial traffic lights to operate between 3pm and 6pm at the round- about south of the bridge

Guidelines making Warrandyte roads subject to heavy vehicle exclusions or restrictions on safety grounds (narrow, winding roads)

Guidelines to keep roads not designed for high traffic (including Dingley Dell, Lewis, Blooms, Boyd, Hawkes and Floods Roads) free from traffic trying to evade bridge bottlenecks.

In the medium term, completion of an emergency bridge for bushfire management, possibly at the end of Bradley’s Lane or at another agreed location.

In the longer term, completion of the M80 to Eastlink gap or construction of at least one more permanent bridge across the Yarra somewhere between the Eltham crossing and the Yarra Glen crossing.

 

 

 

What contamination?

AN Environment Protection Authority Victoria investigation has revealed there has been no contamination of the Yarra River and surrounds at Pound Bend Reserve.

A leaked incident and hazard report detailing a poorly maintained wash down facility in the Warrandyte State Park has caused much controversy since it surfaced recently and also ignited some wild speculation and guesswork on Warrandyte social media pages.

The report revealed an apparent chemical contamination of the Yarra River and surrounding vegetation within the Pound Bend workcentre.

While the validity of the report’s claims have been questioned by Friends of the Warrandyte State Park (FOWSP), the matter has seemingly been put to rest by the results of an EPA investigation which proved there was no contamination of the river or surrounds.

According to the original report, which was written on April 29 last year, the wash down facility was “used to pressure wash vehicles, to triple rinse chemical containers and to mix/fill herbicides for use in the park”.

The report revealed the facility led to chemical drainage into the Yarra River and consequent nearby tree death. It also claimed “the wash bay doesn’t meet any legal requirements and if the EPA was informed, PV would face serious fines”.

The report surfaced in early January and was published by major news outlets. The allegations caused uproar from the media and general public as many were led to believe the issue was ongoing.

“These are shocking revelations of the Yarra being poisoned in a secret government report which Daniel Andrews has tried to bury,” said shadow environment minister Brad Battin.

“Daniel Andrews needs to order a full investigation into what’s been done to stop this environmental vandalism,” he added.

In response to the abundance of reports and articles, Friends of the Warrandyte State Park (FOWSP) committee of management addressed the accusations for the Diary in an official statement.

“We are not aware of any negative impact to the environment as detailed in the report – there is no out-of-the-ordinary dead vegetation downhill of the ‘wash-down’ facility. We would, of course, be greatly concerned, if this were the case.

“FOWSP enjoys a close working relationship with the rangers who operate from the Pound Bend workcentre. Their concern for safety and the environment is not only paramount, but it’s their job. As such, we do not believe that any of their staff would knowingly be a party to the actions in the aforementioned report.”

Committee member of the FOWSP Jason Patton elaborated on this with a list of his own personal observations after attaining a copy of the infamous report.

“There is NO tree death downhill from the site – well, actually there is one dead tree among a stand of healthy trees,” he told the Diary.

“The Yarra River is some 200m downhill from the site, including crossing an 80m alluvial plain. Is anyone aware of any water quality checks that prove that the Yarra has been contaminated from this site?

“I am not versed in the operation of the containment facility (pits, etc), but I CAN say that from my many visits there, it is designed as a retention basin to prevent release of poisons to the surrounding environment.”

The report certainly raises questions as there is no sign of river contamination or dead vegetation at the time of its public release.

However, local MP Ryan Smith said the report would have been filled in by the Warrandyte State Park rangers themselves.

“In this case, Parks Vic rangers themselves would have filled in the report as they noticed the effects of the waste water on surrounding vegetation. So, in short, this is a self-acknowledged incident, not a report done by an external party,” he said.

“The Warrandyte State Park rangers would have noted it for their bosses. What happens then was a decision for those higher up the chain.”

On January 20, Parks Victoria released a statement with the results of the EPA’s recent investigation into Warrandyte State Park’s waste management practices.

The EPA confirmed there was “no current contamination of the Yarra from these herbicides” and “minor herbicide contamination of soil near the wash bay” at the Warrandyte Depot.

Parks Victoria chief executive Bradley Fauteux revealed that resolution of the incident commenced in June of 2015.

“I am pleased that there is no current evidence of herbicides being washed into the Yarra. Herbicide washing in the facility ceased in June last year after the issue was flagged by staff in an internal occupational, health and safety report,” Mr Fauteux said.

“Trucks now come in to remove sediment. We have commenced an investigation and an immediate and ongoing state-wide review of our facilities, including wash bay facilities and reporting procedures.”

While the issue appears to be somewhat resolved, Mr Smith said he did not find that explanation conclusive enough.

“There has been no feedback about why practices allowed it to happen or what has actually been done to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” he said. “The response seems to have been ‘OK, it was wrong, it’s fixed, please move on’. I think that locals need more reassurance than this.”

Mr Patton, on the other hand, remains sceptical about the accuracy of the report in the first place.

“I do not believe that there ever was any contamination, from the lack of dead vegetation. The ‘report’, which is merely five bullet-points, would appear to be written by someone who does not have an understanding of the area, for example, a temp worker, or visitor.

“Unfortunately, the public and media have jumped on the report, and taken it verbatim – no investigation of the site.”