News

Earthquake update

A MAGINTUDE 6.0 Earthquake was felt across Victoria at 9:15am today, Wednesday September 22.
Geoscience Australia is reporting the epicentre was in Mansfield at a depth of 10 kilometres.
So far, there are minimal reports of damage or injury.

The Diary will continue to monitor Geoscience Australia and other information sources and update this story as necessary.

Locals plea to save Apollo Park

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

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

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

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

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

Writers set sights on the Nillumbik Prize

ENTRIES ARE open for the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing.
Now is the time to start writing those unwritten short stories and poems.
Nillumbik Council has announced that entries for the 2022 Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing (NPCW) are now open, and on top of the glory of winning the prestigious award, there is $18,000 available in prizes.
The NPCW is awarded every two years and builds on the Shire’s strong tradition of supporting contemporary Australian writing.
In 2022 prizes will be awarded for:

  • Best short stories — with open, local and youth categories
  • Best poems — also with open, local and youth categories

In addition, there will also be a Mayor’s Award.
The prestigious Alan Marshall Short Story Award will be awarded to the open winner in the short story category.
The Alan Marshall Short Story Award has been an important fixture on the Australian literary calendar since 1985 and celebrates one of the giants of the local literary scene.
And speaking of prestigious, the judges for this year’s awards have also been announced with some high calibre names on the judging panel:

Judges

Alan Marshall Short Story Prize:

Tim Richards is a Melbourne- based writer, script consultant and screenwriting teacher.
He is the author of three story collections.
His latest book is Approximate Life: The Prince and Other Stories

Bec Kavanagh is a Melbourne-based writer and academic.
She has written fiction and non- fiction for a number of publications including Westerly, Meanjin, Review of Australian Fiction and the Shuffle anthology.

Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Writing – Poetry:

Cassandra Atherton is an international expert on the prose poetry form and an award-winning prose poet.
Cassandra has authored and edited over 30 critical and creative books and has been invited to edit 12 special editions of leading refereed journals.

Tony Birch is the author of three novels: the bestselling The White Girl; Ghost River, which won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Indigenous Writing; and Blood, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.
In 2021, Tony will publish two new books; a poetry collection Whisper Songs, and a new book of short stories Dark As Last Night

Its 17th year

Nillumbik Mayor Peter Perkins said the Australian renowned and highly regarded prize is now into its 17th year.

“This prestigious award showcases excellence in contemporary writing and celebrates Nillumbik’s culturally rich artistic community.
“Council is proudly a strong supporter of all art forms, support that is especially important as we continue to mitigate the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cr Perkins said.

The best writing in local, open, youth and poetry categories from the Nillumbik Prize will be published in an anthology and celebrated at a special event next year.

Entries close Sunday, November 7. For more information and to enter visit nillumbik.vic.gov.au/NPCW

Doggie doo and cat curfews

THE DOCUMENT which outlines how Nillumbik residents and businesses manage their cats and dogs for the next four years has reached the next phase of public consultation.
Nillumbik’s draft Domestic Animal Management Plan 2021-2025 (DAMP) is on display with Council requesting feedback until September 22.
Under the Domestic Animals Act 1994, every Victorian council is required to plan how it deals with its cats and dogs.
Council received more than 860 submissions from the public earlier this year about the management of cats and dogs in the Shire, collected at pop-up consultations in the community and via the Participate Nillumbik website.
Mayor Peter Perkins thanked everyone who made a submission to inform the draft, and said he hopes to see plenty of community submissions on the draft plan.

“To have more than 800 responses to the DAMP survey is reflective of how important pets are to our community.
“The consultation that has now kicked off is asking for your thoughts on the draft plan.
“You can quickly and easily provide feedback and let us know if you think anything else should be covered in the draft,” he said.

During the August 24 Ordinary Council Meeting, Councillors Natalie Duffy and Ben Ramcharan spoke to the motion.

“Education is key and that is one of the messages we have heard and what we have been trying to do as a council in coming up with this plan, “ said Cr Duffy.
“It is looking at how we can educate about responsible pet ownership and that seems to be the highest level of importance for the community.”

10 issues of community concern have been highlighted:

  • Dog owners not picking up excrement after their pets.
  • Dogs off leash when in on-leash areas.
  • Cats outside of property at night- time after curfew.
  • Dogs with owners far away/absent in parks and reserves.
  • Dogs barking for long periods of time.
  • Cats preying on wildlife.
  • Cats causing a nuisance to resident’s properties.
  • Cats that appear unowned.
  • Residents unaware of services the
  • Community Safety Department provides to the community, such as where the pet registration funds are spent each year and the cat trapping program.
  • Residents unaware of how to find on and off-leash areas in their community.

During the Council meeting, Councillors spoke specifically around the issues of dog poop and cat curfews.
Cr Duffy spoke to the unpleasantness of finding un-scooped dog poo and the frustration experienced by responsible dog owners.

“Most dog owners do scoop their pooch but there are many that don’t, which makes it really unpleasant for those of us who either step in it, dodge it, or are left to clean up the mess.
“It makes it really uncomfortable for those dog owners who do do the right thing as well so that would be my call to the community to make the effort to pick up your dog poo,” Cr Duffy said.

The DAMP outlines how, without any Local Laws in place around responsible pet ownership, it intends to use education through social media, printed materials, pet events and park patrols to inform and encourage responsible pet ownership.
Cr Ramcharan spoke about a proposed cat curfew.
The DAMP suggests a 22.5 hour cat curfew, which would run from 7:30am to 6am.
During these times, cats would be confined to their owners’ properties, although if a cat is found roaming the streets outside the curfew, it can be trapped if the resident “objects to the cat being on their property”.

The DAMP reports that a number of communities within the Green Wedge areas were in favour of a 24- hour cat curfew — including North Warrandyte, Bend of Islands and Christmas Hills, which Cr Ramcharan spoke to.

“A lot of submitters were in favour of that, and it would be a win for our wildlife, although I do understand that many people do have concerns with that,” he said.

There are many issues and procedures covered in the draft DAMP and Nillumbik residents are encouraged to read the plan and make sure they have their say on how our cats and dogs are treated, in Nillumbik, for the next four years.

The draft DAMP, its accompanying consultation finding report and the mechanism for submitting a written submission responding to the draft DAMP is available at participate. nillumbik.vic.gov.au/damp

Fiveways intersection strikes again

A MAJOR COLLISION at the intersection at Croydon Road and Ringwood-Warrandyte Road has seen a resurgence of calls for an upgrade to the dangerous intersection.
A Police spokesperson told the Diary a 24-year-old woman was airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries following a collision between a car and a truck just before midday on Friday, September 3.
The intersection of Ringwood- Warrandyte Road/Croydon Road/ Husseys Lane and Brumbys Lane in Warrandyte South, known locally as “Fiveways” is on a State controlled arterial road managed by the Department of Transport (DoT) which incorporates VicRoads.
Member of Warrandyte, Ryan Smith said he had been lobbying the government with three successive Labor Roads Ministers, “all of which have either ignored our community or assured us the intersection is safe”.
After years of agitation falling on deaf ears at VicRoads, many locals have taken to social media to vent their anger at the lack of action, with one local saying it is an “absolute disgrace that VicRoads refuse to do anything despite the community pleading for years”.
Renny Koerner-Brown created an online petition in 2019 that gathered more than 1,000 signatures.
Following this most recent accident she said: “It hurts my soul that after years of fighting VicRoads for something to be done, and their response to me and Ryan Smith has been “not on their radar”.

“What is it going to take to get this horrendous intersection “on the … radar”?

Former Police Officer and now Secretary of South Warrandyte CFA, Kim Dixon was first on scene at the accident, and has since written to Roads Minister Ben Minister, which she has shared with the Diary.

“If this isn’t a fatality, it will only be by the grace of god,” she wrote, after outlining the seriousness of the woman’s injuries, and the trauma of waiting with her until the Ambulance arrived.

She said it is not just the victims of the car accidents that occur at this intersection that suffer.

“The workers at the Shell Service station, who constantly see and hear accidents occurring and then go to their assistance.
The locals that live nearby, that assist the victims till emergency services arrive.
The Police, Fire and Ambulance Services that attend this intersection regularly, that just ‘accept’ that accidents happen at this intersection, as no one will acknowledge that there is a major issue there.”

Ms Dixon asked the Minister “why are roadworks being performed or proposed at intersection like Warrandyte Road and Tortice Drive, North Ringwood, that don’t carry as much traffic or seem to be less accident prone that this intersection.

“Why are insignificant roundabouts and gutter works being performed on Knees Road, Park Orchards, where there is definitely minimal traffic compared to this intersection and I would say little to no accidents occurring?” she asked.

Ms Dixon wrote:

“Someone needs to stop saying that this intersection is not on Vic Roads radar to be fixed.
Bureaucrats that allegedly keep informing members of the community that there need to be at least 3 deaths before they will even look at fixing the intersection.
This is not acceptable.
Passing the buck needs to stop and it needs to stop now.”

A spokesperson for the DoT told the Diary the Fiveways intersection, is a key, high volume access route.

“We will be working with Victoria Police to investigate the circumstances of the crash — and our thoughts are with the victim and her loved ones.
The safety of everyone travelling on our roads is our number one priority.
As part of the investigations we will review this intersection and make any improvements required to keep Victorians on our road network safe.”

The DoT spokesperson said assessments to improve the intersection are continually being made — including working to reduce bottlenecks and improve traffic flow.

“We receive many requests each year for safety improvements and upgrades to intersections, including new traffic lights, from across Victoria.
All requests are prioritised based on the extent to which such a treatment would improve safety and/or congestion at each intersection.
We consider a range of factors such as the number and type of vehicles using the intersection, the need to cater for pedestrians, the historical safety record of the site and the impact the improvements would have on the surrounding road network.”

The DoT spokesperson said there were six incidents at this intersection between 31/12/2016 and 31/12/2020,

Lockdown extended and tightened

Updated August 23

Pandemic of complacency

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

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

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

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

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

VCE Changes

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

Getting tested and vaccinated

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

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

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

Building the path less travelled

TWO RECENT projects to construct footpaths and kerbing on Research-Warrandyte Road have been completed by Nillumbik Council. Both sections were constructed and fully funded as part of the Getting to School Safely Program, which is known by the Federal Government as the School Infrastructure Road Upgrade project. Council received $1.6 million from the Federal Government for the project, which includes 17 sites across Nillumbik. The less contentious of these works connects Danita Drive to the bottom end of Valias Street, requiring pedestrians to cross the road at the bus stops, and runs for approximately 180 metres costing approximately $90,000. But the one that has caused controversy is a short length on the north side of Research-Warrandyte Road from the traffic lights at Kangaroo Ground Road up to the junction of a service road, a distance of around 90 metres, with associated kerbing and fencing at a cost of approximately $80,000.
Shane Drieberg star ted the discussion on Facebook and described it as a “path to nowhere”. In his post, he stated:
“Is anyone else a little disappointed with the new short stretch of path on the north side of Research- Warrandyte road which only serves the small number of houses in the little lane way it leads to? This was funded from ‘Getting Kids to School Safely’ program but it has missed the mark.”
Many others complained that the money could have been better spent. Reg Byrne, who lives in that little service road posted:
“We now use that path and whilst I don’t disagree that there may be families who need a path more, someone old or young may benefit from what has been done. I hope as a community we can seek support for continued development of services.”
When asked by the Diary for comment on the rationale behind this work, a spokesperson from Nillumbik Council said council sought community feedback on the project in March–April 2018, before advocating for funding.
“We received 144 submissions from 70 respondents. “A number of submissions from the North Warrandyte community sought footpath improvements to access the existing bus stops located on Research- Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road”. It could be argued that a benefit from the works has been to tidy up that side of Research Road following the bridge and traffic lights works, and the rebuilding of part of the culvert in the low section before the lights. Cr Ben Ramcharan had been pushing to have this footpath extended to Somers Road in the short term, and eventually all the way up to the top of the hill, but is struggling to get this up the priority list and to get the necessary funding. He has advised the Diary that Council officers are arranging a site visit at Somers Road in the coming weeks. This will give them a chance to see what the issues are there and will help inform where it sits in Council’s priority list. We asked Council for information on further footpath works in the pipeline and it advised:
“A further project planned for North Warrandyte is the design and construction of a 1.2m wide asphalt footpath along Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road, North Warrandyte between Aton St and Blooms Rd. This project is still being designed to minimise native vegetation impacts.”
There has also been community concern for the difficulty that people, especially schoolchildren, have in crossing Research-Warrandyte Road, particularly in the vicinity of Browns Road where the footpath crosses from the north side to the south side at a blind corner — this concern was put to Council.
“There is a safe pedestrian crossing of Research-Warrandyte Road at the intersection of Kangaroo Ground- Warrandyte Road. A pedestrian crossing near Browns Road has not been funded as part of this program and there are no plans or funding at this stage for such a project. As a declared State arterial road, any additional crossing locations on Research-Warrandyte Road require the consent of the Department of Transport.”

Festival event is all about the music

BANDS WILL be back on the Main Stage at Stiggants Reserve from 4pm to 10pm on Saturday, 23 October, all going well. Despite the ongoing threat of cancellation due to COVID-19 restrictions, Warrandyte Festival organisers continue planning the one-off community celebration. Warrandyte: Together Again — which will feature the iconic festival event, the Battle of the Bands — will focus entirely on musical entertainment. However, complying with COVID health and safety standards for large gatherings is an added task for the volunteers staging this musical event. A festival committee spokesperson told the Diary that to meet expectations from primary festival-funding body Manningham Council, organisers must prepare a comprehensive COVID-Safe Plan.
The overlay addresses five key areas: oversight and administration, attendee management, cleaning and hygiene, workers, vendors and contractors, and operational spaces. This increased workload — to provide and implement measures and event controls to reduce the risk of COVID transmission — has meant curtailing the size of the event originally planned. Spirits remain high among the organising group.
“The show must go on,” an enthusiastic spokesperson said, “and barring any lockdown issues, it will!” For decades the Battle of the Bands has provided a platform for young local musicians to perform in front of a home audience. Contemporary bands and musicians, aged 12 to 25, interested in being a part of the Battle this year are invited to email a summary of their act to battle@warrandytefestival.org. This year, awards from the Battle’s Melbourne music industry judges — including a day’s session in a recording studio — will be accompanied by the People’s Choice Award and a new award, to be presented by Manningham Council in support of our local music industry. The Battle will get underway at 4pm on the Main Stage at Stiggants Reserve. A Welcome To Country and opening of the event by council Mayors is also planned. Following Battle of the Bands, several musical acts will rock the stage from about 7pm. At this stage, a limited number of food stalls will be provided.
Warrandyte Diary will keep you posted on further updates. Stay tuned.

Cyclist safety concerns on Knees Road

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

 

Image courtesy Google Earth

Derailed by the butterfly effect

WORKS ON THE Hurstbridge Rail Duplication project have been disrupted by the discovery of the Eltham Copper Butterfly in bushland near Montmorency station. Since the last confirmed sighting of the butterfly in January this year, works on the project have been diverted to avoid the butterfly habitat as experts engaged by the Level Crossing Removal Project have carried out further investigations, assessments and design work to avoid impacting the butterfly. In 1986, the Eltham Copper Butterfly (Paralucia pyrodiscus lucida), then thought to be extinct, was rediscovered in Eltham, and before this year, was not previously known to be in Montmorency. The butterfly habitat comprises a three-way relationship between the butterfly, a tree, and an ant. The life cycle of the butterfly includes an intimate and obligatory association with ants of the genus Notoncus and a dwarfed form of the shrub Bursaria spinosa (Sweet Bursaria). The butterflies have not been found in areas where Notoncus ant colonies do not occur. Adults lay their eggs on the roots of Bursaria spinosa. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars are guarded by the ants, which lead them to and from the ant colony to browse on the Sweet Bursaria leaves. In return, the ants feed on sugar secretions which are exuded from the caterpillars’ bodies. Vicki Ward, Member for Eltham said Labor has a long history of protecting the butterfly over many decades.
“I’m proud and happy we’ve been able to work alongside our engineers to continue that record,” she said. As the Diary reported in the lead up to the 2018 election, the Andrews Government made the commitment that the works
“would allow trains to run every six and a half minutes at Greensborough, every 10 minutes at Eltham and Montmorency, and every 20 minutes at Hurstbridge, Diamond Creek and Wattle Glen, as well as two extra Hurstbridge express services, and would be completed by 2022”. To allow the project to continue duplicating the Hurstbridge line while protecting the endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly, which is listed as protected under the Commonwealth Environment and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, there will be changes to the original scope of the project and how the project will be delivered. The Level Crossing Removal Project (LXRP) claims it will still be able to deliver the election commitments, with adjustments to signalling to compensate for the 950 metres of line that will now not be duplicated. However, the revised outcomes do fall slightly short of the election commitments, as the project now promised trains will be able to run
“on average every 7 minutes from Greensborough, every 10 minutes from Montmorency and Eltham, and every 20 minutes from Diamond Creek, Wattle Glen and Hurstbridge, and will be delivered by the end of 2022”. Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said:
“We have had to act quickly to ensure that we are both following the Commonwealth environmental legislation and can still get on with this vital project”. LXRP CEO Kevin Devlin assured the Diary the endangered Eltham Copper Butterfly will be protected during the works.
“We’ve avoided the Eltham Copper butterfly and its habitat won’t be impacted during construction,” he said. Mr Develin said they will continue to deliver the Hurstbridge line duplication,
“which will allow for more frequent and reliable services for passengers on the Hurstbridge line as well as new stations at Greensborough and Montmorency.” The discovery of the butterfly means there is almost 1km of track that will remain single track, however, Mr Develin said there is still
“approximately 2km of the rail line to be duplicated between Greensborough and Montmorency, and approximately 1.5km between Diamond Creek and Wattle Glen.” He said the bulk of the original scope of the project was located outside of the butterfly habitat and therefore will continue to be delivered under the revised design. The new sections of track, along with other infrastructure improvements, will facilitate the delivery of the planned service improvements for passengers. There will be two new stations at Greensborough and Montmorency which will feature greater weather protection, better and safer connections to the surrounding area and new car parking. Platform two at Diamond Creek Station is getting an upgrade and a new pedestrian connection will be built behind Diamond Valley College. Construction for the new design of the project is underway, and the butterfly habitat has been fenced off, with major construction set to start early next year and the project completed in late 2022. Sonja Terpstra, State Labor Member for the Eastern Metropolitan Region said she commended Vicki Ward MP, the Member for Eltham on her strong advocacy around the preservation and protection of the Eltham Copper Butterfly habitat.
“The Andrews Labor Government will continue to modernise and upgrade Montmorency station, whilst ensuring the rare Eltham Copper Butterfly, which has never before been seen in Montmorency, be protected whilst important rail upgrades take place. “I look forward to seeing the completed project at Montmorency Station as this rare butterfly flourishes in its new-found habitat near the station,” she said.

Volunteers make the world go round

CAN YOU IMAGINE a world without volunteers? Volunteers do so much for our community, our CFA, Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, SES, Op Shops, sporting clubs, Run Warrandyte, Neighbourhood House… they even write for the Diary. Volunteering has taken a bit of a hit during the pandemic, but local community organisations are hoping for a resurgence in volunteerism now COVID lockdown seems to be behind us.
If ever there was a time to step up and volunteer it was right now.
The Diary has put together a few suggestions to how you can help. Judy Hall from Warrandyte Rotary said the pandemic has been causing a real problem with a lot of volunteers.
“A lot of volunteers are older, and they are more worried about going into the community.” She hopes that once the pandemic is over, people might feel a little more disposed to getting out and about and helping out.
“There are so many good openings for volunteers, there is no reason for anyone to be bored,” Judy said. Lions Club, Rotary, and the Warrandyte Community Association and Doncare are among several groups in the local area that rely on volunteers to help people in the community through fundraising and hands-on projects. Local community organisations are looking for people to join them to enrich and enhance life in Warrandyte for all of us. Beyond the feel-good factor of helping others, volunteering can be a great way of gaining employable skills, connect with other like-minded people — and it looks great on your CV. While service clubs like Rotary and Lions may have, in the past, been seen as stuffy old blokes meeting for dinner once a week, modern service clubs could not be more different. The fundraising and community spirit are all still alive and well, but the clubs are now much more dynamic, and project based. Gone are the obligations to attend weekly meetings, or to be a certain demographic, and while the current members are getting older, an injection of “youth” will ensure the clubs remain viable into the future. Judy said Rotary is looking for people who can help get things done.
“Things get done outside of meetings, not in meetings”. Judy said modern family life means people with young families who are working full time probably do not have the time to give to service organisations.
“So we are looking at people whose kids have got to the point where they don’t need supervision all the time, the 40–60s, or early retirees, people with a bit of time up their sleeves,” she said. Rotary has many projects that it undertakes to help the community, members help run both the Warrandyte Riverside Market and the Tunstall Square Market, as well as the Rotary Art Show.
“We are a small group, but we are very dynamic — we are risk takers, we put our hand up to do things, even if they might sound a bit way out.
“We will try things if we think they are going to benefit people in the community,” she said. Judy said Rotary has adopted a new area of focus lately and are developing projects around environmental issues.
“Rotary is getting on board with a lot of environmental projects, and it is something I would like see our club getting involved with a bit more, particularly in Warrandyte because there are so many opportunities here,” she said.
Lions Club has been part of the Warrandyte Community for almost 50 years, it provides help and support to community members in times of need, through its Op Shop and providing emergency food or other staples, like school fees or clothes. Lions’ secretary, Lyn McDonald says that those doing the helping get a lot out of it too.
“What you get out of it is the boost of knowing that you are actually helping people, which is why I think anyone volunteers, they want to help people.
“But it is also good to know that someone who is invisible can be seen and be assisted, and that is where I worry, there are all these invisible people out there who don’t know who to ask for, don’t know how to ask.” Or when disaster strikes, Lions can jump in with practical assistance, like following the Black Saturday Fires, when the club took a tool library to Kinglake to assist the community to rebuild things like fencing. Lions also runs events during the year that are designed to both provide something for both their members and the broader community. The club also works with Doncaster All Abilities Basketball, the Warrandyte Riverside Market, Warrandyte Pottery Expo, and many other community projects that enhance our community. Once a year the Lions rev it up with a day at Sandown Raceway, giving vision impaired motorists a chance to get in the driver’s seat and do hot laps of the racetrack.
“It is such a boon to so many people and so many other clubs love it and get involved — there is a real buzz about it, people love it, we have people from all over and it has been really disappointing we haven’t been able to run that during COVID,” said Lyn. A major fundraising stream for the club is the Op Shop. Lyn said the Op Shop is not just an asset for the community, but also an asset for the people who work there.
“It is a social hub, and a lot of customers come in on a regular basis, you get to know them and they find it a nice social atmosphere too.” However, as the pandemic has kept some of their regular volunteers away, the Lions are facing a challenge keeping the club, and therefore the Op Shop viable.
“It would be a real shame if we had to fold, people have busy lives and so might not have the time to volunteer, if we could get a few people under 60 it would be wonderful, we have talked to other groups, it has been a major issue overhanging us for the last few years, it is just getting less and less and falling on fewer and fewer people.
“We find we are very useful, and we want to stay useful.” Dick Davies from the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) is on the Warrandyte Riverside Market committee, and says it is a case of many hands make light work. But at the moment, it is falling to the same people to turn up month after month.
“It is a question of just getting enough new people in, and the more people you get the easier it is, because you are not relying on the same people all the time,” he said.
“Everyone enjoys the market, and it doesn’t just happen, a lot of people put a lot of effort into it.
“It would be very nice to have a list of people we could call on now and again, and not rely on the same people all of the time.” He said the market is always looking for people to help with set up and pack up.
“It is mainly to direct traffic and make sure the cars don’t block the pathway and the stall holders, facilitating the exit, and being friendly to people.” The Market is run by a collection of community groups, North Warrandyte CFA help with the setup, while Rotary, and the WCA help with the bump in and the Lions help with the pack-up. WCA is also involved in the Warrandyte Retirement Housing Co-Operative, which has built and now operates two small retirement villages in Warrandyte. Dick said the Co-Op was started many years ago by Valarie Polley and Cliff Green. It took several years to get all the ducks in a row and the first block of five units, Creekside, went in at Harris Gully Road in 2011, and Riverside was opened in West End Road in 2019. However, Dick said many of the founding members of the committee have passed away and so they are looking for assistance in a range of different areas.
“It is a question of getting a bit more assistance right across the board, we have a formal board and we do have vacancies for board members, people don’t have to be a board member they can help on a casual basis, give advice or assistance.
“We used to have a lawyer and a bank manager, but they have both passed away, but we had legal and financial expertise on the committee, Doug Seymour is on the committee, he is a retired council engineer so he is very good on that and Andrew Yen is a developer and he has done an enormous amount.
“My concern as chairman of the Retirement Housing Co-op, is these buildings are going to be around for another 50–100 years, it is run on a cooperative basis, so we have to keep it going.
“We could do with people with general board and accounting experience, people with nursing experience, people who know about old people — it is a community thing,” he said.
Doncare Op Shops in staffing crisis
Doncare has been predicated on volunteerism for over 50 years with volunteers providing support to vulnerable families through their work as Community Support Workers, Op shop workers, Social Support volunteers, Counsellors and mentors to women recovering from family violence. Doncare CEO, Gaby Thomson said volunteer numbers in the op shops are down 30 per cent.
“We are now faced with having to temporarily close stores because we cannot staff them.
“Doncare has already suffered significant losses in revenue due to the closure of stores due to restrictions in the past 12 months,” Gaby said. Doncare relies on the revenue of its seven opportunity shops to support women and children recovering from family violence, provide emergency relief to disadvantaged families, counselling, therapeutic support groups and provide recreational activities to socially isolated seniors in Warrandyte.
“We desperately need people to volunteer as retail shop assistants in Tunstall Square, Templestowe Village and Mitcham in particular,” she said. There are shifts available during the week or Saturdays from 9:15am–1pm and 1pm–4pm.

Bike path goes back to the drawing board

COMMUNITY ACTION against the proposed Taroona Avenue bike path has won, and Council is going back to the drawing board to come up with a design more fitting with the surrounding environment and the needs of the community.
Following the advertising of an updated plan for the shared path in April/May this year; plans which left more questions than answers regarding the appropriateness of the design and which trees were going to be removed.
Nearby residents and users of Taroona Avenue and adjacent areas were spurred into action to submit their objection to the planned path. At a submitters meeting, in early June, a number of locals, including Jozica Kutin, Doug Seymour, and Warrandyte Community Association President Terry Tovey were in attendance and have supplied the Diary with the following comments: “There were quite a few people in attendance,” begins Ms Kutin.
“The council meeting chair pointed out that the application and meeting was only about the removal of trees — nothing else. “However, it was clear that many people wanted to, and did, express their concerns about the actual design of the path, the materials from which it is going to be constructed and the route it was taking.
“Doug Seymour presented an overview of the previous path plan (a board walk on the creek end) side of the road at the Everard end and suggested this was still a viable option — the council engineer didn’t think so — and pointed out that when they built boardwalks in Wonga Park, the residents did not like them,” she said. Mr Seymour told the Diary he had been nominated by the WCA in 2017 to work with Council on the original plans. In the June edition of the Diary, Manningham Mayor, Andrew Conlon said Council had “recently gone back out to nearby residents with an updated design” but Mr Seymour says neither he nor Bev Hanson, who provided consultation on the 2017 design, were notified changes to the original design had even been drafted.
“I don’t recall the final 2018 drawings being forwarded to Bev and me for comment; on reflection the 2018 location of proposed crossing could have been improved, but overall, the design had merit. “The latest design for the path departs significantly from that previous concept, particularly in the use of a rigid concrete pavement and the deletion of the boardwalk in favour of squeezing the path past a couple of those magnificent trees on the east (oval) side on the edge of the road pavement.
“The boardwalk solution at this tight spot guided users behind the trees, much as boardwalks are built around the world take us through sensitive forests without disturbing the habitat. “A method worthy of closer consideration by Council and, moving the path back from the road pavement also allows parking to continue. “Both editions of the design include a crossing from east to west near the intersection of First Street to avoid the narrow and vegetated verge alongside Andersons Creek as Everard Drive is
approached. “The current design locates the crossing on a crest allowing good visual checks but as a local objector pointed out at the Objectors meeting there is a boundary error on the drawings which complicate this detail. “Warrandyte’s impressive skills pool was demonstrated by the presentations at the recent Objectors meeting; I find myself working with locals who are positively working on alternative concepts to help present imaginative solutions to the forthcoming Community Forum,” he said.

Glenn Jameson drew the Objectors meeting to the need for improved attention to a good drainage outcome, point discharges being a big problem: “Curb and channel and drainage pits are proposed for a site that I’ve never ever noticed any drainage problems. Presently excess water flows into the creek along a broad flat creek bank area thereby avoiding hydraulic pressure causing erosion. How will the water collected by the proposed drainage system be treated as it goes into Andersons Creek?
If the road drainage along Everard drive is anything to go on, then it will be another dysfunctional road drainage effort by Council. Everywhere the road drainage goes into the Warrandyte State Park from Everard Drive, there has been massive erosion from single pipe discharge with unprotected impact points, which is still ongoing and which the Council have been unable or unwilling to find a creative solution to. Consequently, metres of soils have eroded from the Warrandyte State Park into the Yarra River causing all sorts of environmental damage. Trees have been undermined and fallen into the river; weeds have enjoyed the excess water; as well as creating eroding holes that are a danger to people using the park. Manningham needs and can do better than this.” Council had placed the path in its Bicycle Strategy Plan 2013 and had heralded it as one step closer to linking Warrandyte to the Main Yarra Trail, but as a local walker, runner and cyclist, Ms Kutin felt there were better ways in which Council could spend funds set aside as part of the Bicycle Strategy. “As a local cyclist, runner and walker — I use this area a lot. I was a bit taken aback by council representatives talking about this section ‘as an important missing link in the Yarra Trail’. I would have to say that the most important missing links were: between Beasley’s Nursery and the High School, then the section between Pound Road and Taroona Avenue — these sections have no paths and the alternative is walking or riding on the incredibly busy Warrandyte-Heidelberg Road. But, of course, these are difficult and presumably expensive sections to tackle. Taroona Avenue is low hanging fruit. I have witnessed my fellow riding friends being almost side swiped by trucks riding the section between Beasley’s and the High School — the truck in question having no regard for keeping their distance from cyclists. Touting of this section by council as an ‘important missing link’ misrepresents these issues.
It is the least important missing link — Taroona Avenue is a relatively quiet road for cyclists. Taroona Avenue could benefit from a path but if it doesn’t follow how people already use the road they will continue to walk on the road or the shoulder. “Take the path on Everard Road between Yarra Street and Taroona Avenue as an example — or even the footpath on West End Road. For some reason, people in Warrandyte love walking on their roads. The shoulder on the opposite side of the creek near Everard is very muddy at the moment — but this is also an informal over-flow parking area on busy weekends. As a cyclist, I’m likely to continue to use the bitumen on Taroona
Avenue to access the river path and surrounding areas — with or without a shared path,” she said.

On June 25, Council informed submitters that the advertised plans have been withdrawn “to allow for further consultation and time to review the design”. The email goes on to say: “A public information session is planned to be held at the Warrandyte Sports Pavilion, Warrandyte Reserve in coming weeks. This will be a feedback session on a suitable path and to discuss options to overcome the concerns raised by the community. I can advise that Council will not be proceeding with the proposed contract for the works and has withdrawn the contract.” WCA applauded the Council on their June 25 decision, and WCA President, Terry Tovey encouraged residents, and sporting groups to attend the proposed community session. “We are delighted that Council has responded to the 25 objections and the expert presentations made during a recent objectors meeting. “This side of Taroona Avenue is packed with cars during sports and market days, and we are therefore amazed that no parking impact study was undertaken by council to inform the design. “We would urge the sports clubs affected and the market committee to register their interest in attending a council forum which is planned to discuss the project,” he said. The WCA is currently working with residents and expert Association members to develop a submission setting out a less urban and more imaginative solution, which respects Warrandyte’s leafy bush landscape while maintaining much needed parking for community activities. Mr Seymour said the outcome of this whole process needs to consider ‘what works for Warrandyte’. “There is a body of opinion that Warrandyte does not need this path and in fact doesn’t want it because it would ruin a valued streetscape,”he said. The Diary will continue to report as this story develops and will publish dates for the community information sessions when they are released.

Melbourne locked-down once again

METROPOLITAN Melbourne braced for bad news on Wednesday, June 2 when the inevitable announcement came that they would have to endure another seven-days of lockdown.
The highly infectious “Kappa” variant of COVID-19 arrived in Melbourne via a hotel quarantine breach in South Australia, in early May.
In in the last week of May, the outbreak reached 60 cases, encompassing exposure sites numbering more than 350 across Melbourne and Regional Victoria.
Locally, there have been no reported cases in Warrandyte, although a burger bar in Doncaster Shoppingtown and a popular petrol station in East Doncaster were listed as exposure sites as part of the outbreak.
Following the announcement, Acting Premier James Merlino highlighted just how frighteningly contagious the Kappa is.
“To date, the approach has been to track the spread through friends, family and workmates.
“People spending time together for minutes and hours — not seconds.
“What we’re seeing now is something else — something even more serious. “At least one in 10 current cases have caught this virus from a stranger. “People brushing against each other in a small shop.
“Getting a take-away coffee from the same cafe.
“Being in the same place, at the same time for mere moments.
“Just walking past someone you’ve never met can mean the virus is jumping to a whole new network.
“And when you don’t know someone — you don’t know their name or where they live — you’re looking for one person in 6.6 million,” he said.
Local businesses, such as Warrandyte IGA and Grand Hotel Warrandyte were both impacted by the 2020 lockdowns, both financially and emotionally.
This latest lockdown is throwing new challenges at Melburnians on a daily basis, as we go to press, there are more than 70 active cases related to this latest outbreak and recent news that the Delta variant of COVID-19 — which is also highly infectious — has also been detected.
As we enter the final five days of the extended lockdown, health authorities race to link mystery cases in this outbreak.
For the local Warrandyte economy, lockdown is particularly hard.
Our bustling restaurant and café strewn high street is eerily quiet and new rules around the mandatory requirement to check in with the Government QR code system is causing additional queues at cafes and supermarket entrances.
It is now mandatory for all customer facing retail businesses to record whoever enters their premises, even if it is only for a few minutes — businesses can take paper records if a customer is unable to use the QR code system, and businesses who are found in breach of following the new mandatory QR code tracking rules could face a fine.

Five reasons to leave home

Under the new lockdown rules, locals have to, once again, adhere to:

  • 10 kilometre radius
  • Some school students on remote learning
  • Limits on weddings and funerals
  • Playcentres, gyms, entertainment venues, hair and beauty and tourism closed.
  • Community sport cancelled
  • Restaurants and cafes restricted to take away service
  • Visitor restrictions on aged care facilities and hospitals

There are now five reasons to leave home; essential shopping, exercise (two hours maximum per day with one other person), care and caregiving, authorised work, and vaccination.
As of Friday, June 4, the lockdown of late May changed slightly — once again Melbourne and Regional Victoria (RV) were separated by rules and although the “ring of steel” has not been reinstated, retail businesses close to Melbourne are being asked to check IDs of all their customers to ensure people aren’t, effectively, breeching Melbourne quarantine.
Checking into the Government’s QR code system will now also be mandatory anyone who enters any retail premises for any duration, even if it is less than 15 minutes.
The Acting Premier acknowledged this was going to be tough, but stated it was necessary.
“No one wants to be here.
“And I know this news is tough for every Victorian, every family and every business in this state.
“But the Chief Health Officer has no choice but to give this advice.
“And the Government has no choice but to follow it.
“If we don’t, this thing will get away from us and people will die.
“No one wants to repeat last winter.
“To stop that from happening, we need every Victorian to follow the rules, to get tested and to get vaccinated when it’s your turn.
“We can do this, but we need to do it together,” he said.

Some good news

While we settle into the second week of lockdown, Years 11 and 12, as well as any student taking a Unit 3 / 4 VCE or VCAL subject have returned to the classroom at this most crucial time and some outdoor businesses, such as landscaping, gardening, painting, et cetera have been reclassified as “authorised” businesses for the extended lockdown.
The State Government has also added an additional $209 million to its business support package, raising the funding to nearly $450 million to support businesses impacted by the lockdown in the form of a series of grants.

New support package for businesses
The aptly named Circuit Breaker Business Support Package aims to help up to 90,000 businesses affected by the current lockdown.
However, there is a catch, one of the requirements for accessing the Business Costs Assistance Program funds is that the business must be registered for GST, as of May 27, 2021. As many businesses know, if your annual turnover is below $75,000 then registering for GST is optional.
Not-for-profits which have an annual turnover between $75,000 and $150,000 and meet the other grant requirements can also apply for the Business Costs Assistance Program. The package is divided into three initiatives:

  • Business Costs Assistance Program •
  • Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund
  • Support for events operators

In its original form, the package would see $190M funnelled into a second round of the Business Costs Assistance Program, offering grants of $2,500 for eligible businesses directly affected by the lockdown’s industry restrictions; this includes restaurants and cafes, event suppliers, accommodation providers, and non- essential retail.
A new round of the Licenced Hospitality Venue Fund will see $40.7M provided to businesses with a liquor license and food certificate, distributed in grants of $3,500 per premises.
With the extension of the lockdown and an additional $209M package, eligible businesses, who find themselves in a second week of lockdown will have access to additional funds.
Businesses which are still unable to open will be able to apply for a $5,000 grant while licenced hospitality venues applying for the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund, who find themselves still unable to operate, will be able to apply for $7,000 per premises.
It is important to note, if you were unable to open for the first week of lockdown but are now able to operate, you will still be able to claim a share of the business support package, but only for the original amount.
For operators in the events industry who have been impacted financially by the lockdown, they will have access to a share of a $20M support scheme.
At the announcement, Mr Merlino said this new package will help businesses stay open in the long term. “The circuit-breaker action will keep Victorians safe and protect businesses and jobs — but we know it’s not easy shutting your doors and putting your plans on hold.
“This support will help businesses pay the bills and maintain their workforce as best they can, as we work together to get through this challenge,” he said.
Minister for Small Business, Jaala Pulford added: “small businesses are crucial to our economy and beyond dollar and cents, important contributors to local communities — we’re proud to stand with them and their workers.”

Emergency essentials in Warrandyte

Warrandyte Neighbourhood House is launching its new food relief service on Wednesday, June 9.
Any locals who are struggling to keep food on the table during the pandemic can collect an essentials hamper on Wednesdays, at Warrandyte Neighbourhood House, Webb Street, from June 9.
See story Page 14 for further details.

Eligible businesses can visit business.vic.gov.au/grants-and- programs/circuit-breaker-business- support-package for further information and to register for a share of the package — most grants opened for application on Thursday, June 3, and are open for three weeks.

Nillumbik unveils pandemic recovery plan

 By SUSAN FOREMAN

AS WE ALL stand together during the ongoing battle with COVID-19, Nillumbik Shire Council has released a critical new “roadmap” to support the community in its recovery from the pandemic.
The Nillumbik Community Pandemic Recovery Plan 2021-22 was endorsed at last week’s Council meeting, just prior to the Shire going into its fourth lockdown in a bid to contain the latest outbreak of the virus.
The plan outlines Council’s initial response, along with the actions it will take to ensure the Nillumbik community can recover as restrictions continue to evolve and life shifts to a “COVID normal”.
The plan is based on four main themes which guide the recovery process:

  • Inclusion
  • Healthy Environments
  • Healthy Behaviours
  • Employment and Education

The plan’s actions span across several areas of Council, and will be supported by State and Federal Government initiatives, and those delivered by community organisations and local partners.
While this plan addresses the short to medium term approach to recovery, Council says it recognises there will be longer term pandemic impacts, which will be addressed through the Council Plan and Municipal Health & Wellbeing Plan.
Nillumbik Mayor Peter Perkins said Council’s approach throughout the pandemic had been comprehensive and collaborative, and would continue to be so.
“Collaboration is a key principle of any work we do, and is especially the case for pandemic recovery,” Cr Perkins said.
He said Council’s approach is reflected in this plan, which highlights
Council’s critical role in service delivery and in advocating to other levels of government on behalf of our community.
“It will be a critical roadmap as we, alongside our community, navigate what continues to be a highly volatile and unpredictable environment.”
Cr Perkins acknowledged the resilience and resourcefulness of the Nillumbik community, which has come to the fore on many occasions over the years, whether in the face of fire, flood or now, pandemic.
“Nevertheless, the challenges of the past 18 months have been like nothing we’ve previously experienced and have, not surprisingly, taken their toll,” he said.
“Council recognises that pandemic response, relief and recovery are all dynamic.
“Therefore, Council is committed to shift and adjust its approach where required, based on local need and the direction of the State Government.”
The plan was largely developed based on the survey results from the Together in Nillumbik survey, conducted last year with healthAbility, an independent, community health organisation.
To view the plan visit nillumbik.vic. gov.au/pandemic-recovery-plan

Keeping our community safe

By STEPHEN BENDLE

WE HAVE ALL heard a lot about vaccines lately.
They have been around since the late 18th century when used to fight smallpox.
There is a pretty strong push for all Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they can.
Some in our community might choose not to; but to avoid future lockdowns, protect the vulnerable among us, ease the stress on our health system and enjoy the wonders of international travel again, we are being encouraged to line up and get the jab.
There are a million websites to review, but the Diary thought we would go straight to those in our community who know best, our doctors, starting with Dr Garth Cooze, GP at Warrandyte Medical Centre, just prior to the latest outbreak.
“It is understandable that some people are apprehensive about a vaccine which has not been around for a long time.
“It is important to note, when making decisions about COVID-19 vaccination, that the risks posed by the vaccinations are infinitesimally small and are by far outweighed by their inherent benefits.
“Vaccinations have been hailed by infectious disease experts as one of the safest forms of medicine.
“As we are heading into the winter months, we face a significant and very real threat in this country, as we have seen across Europe, of virus surge in the community again.
“This virus, as with most respiratory viruses, thrives during the colder months.
“In light of this, it is important not to be complacent — this pandemic, is still very real and we remain in a precarious position (notwithstanding Australia’s clear successes).
“Our principal exit strategy remains en-masse vaccination.
“I would urge people not to delay or be complacent with this.
“We encourage members of the community to get vaccinated, to protect ourselves, our families and also the wider community.
“This will pave the way to some sustainable semblance of normality.”
Dr Paul Proimos from Goldfields Family Medical Centre told the Diary their practice is proud to be part of the biggest vaccination rollout in Australian history.
He encouraged all locals to be vaccinated as soon as they can.
“Goldfields Medical Centre commenced their COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics in April and are currently working through our waiting list.”
The Diary also asked one of Warrandyte’s most celebrated scientists, Professor Doug Hilton AO, who is the Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne and Head of the Department of Medical Biology at the University of Melbourne.
Coincidentally, when we spoke to him, he had just received his first vaccine.
“For me, growing up in Warrandyte meant being looked after by the whole community, which was such a privilege.
“In 2021, by the far the best way we can look after everyone in our community is to get vaccinated.
“The vaccines against Sars-Cov-2 are among the safest and most effective vaccines ever developed.
“The side-effects that have been reported so prominently in the media are incredibly rare — much rarer than the side-effects of medicines we use routinely.
“Please get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible — through your GP or at a mass vaccination centre.
“Both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines will reduce your likelihood of getting infected by Sars-Cov-2 and they will reduce the severity of illness if you are infected.
“A single dose of either vaccine is more than 80 per cent effective at preventing admission to hospital and preventing death from COVID-19.
“The second booster dose will greatly increase this protection.
“In addition, both vaccines greatly reduce the chance of passing the virus on to someone else.
“Vaccination is a win for you and a win for the community,” said Doug.
For further information about vaccines, where to get tested or current exposure sites, visit: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au

A symbol of community spirit and optimism

By JAMES POYNER

JOAN DENISION’S fence post Iso Chooks have returned to the streets of Eltham, Warrandyte, St Kilda, and beyond, as a symbol of community spirit.
Last year, Joan, who has a passion for art and fashion, began painting chicken characters on old fence palings.
These cheerful Iso Chooks became an overnight success and what started as a distraction for her street soon saw Joan painting thousands of Iso Chooks which now adorn gardens and shop fronts all over Eltham.
The Diary asked owners of Iso Chooks to send in pictures of their proudly placed pictoral poultry.
Marg and Michael Weston’s “Three Tenors” from the Woodridge area of Eltham told us a little about the journey their three Iso Chooks have been on.
“We are a very theatrical and musical family and love working in and attending the Opera.
We couldn’t resist calling our chooks The Three Tenors (they cost $10 each). Each of our four adult kids have an Iso Chook, so they are bringing smiles in St Kilda, East Malvern, Ivanhoe and Elizabeth Bay NSW.
Another was gifted to a dear friend in Windermere, Tasmania and is greatly loved down there!”
Joans Chooks are also being given to new Australian Citizens at Nillumbik Citizenship ceremonies.

Arundel Road residents cheesed off at rat-runners

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

Community rejects Taroona Avenue plan

RESIDENTS were left with more questions than answers last month when the plans for a long-delayed shared path upgrade along Taroona Avenue advertised a very different concept to what was originally proposed three years ago.
The original plan involved an asphalt path with a kerb running the length of Taroona Avenue, except for a section of boardwalk near the small oval.
The updated plan is a shared pedestrian/bicycle path running the length of Taroona Avenue, separated from the road by kerb and channel.
The Diary asked Council a number of questions last month regarding the updated plans, questioning the appropriateness of the new plans in reference to the character of the area and the confusing documentation regarding the apparant removal
of trees, including the two mature manna gums at the corner of Everard Drive, which were to be retained in the initial plans
Council was unable to get a response to us in time for the May 2021 edition of Warrandyte Diary, but has now supplied a reply.
Manningham Mayor, Cr Andrew Conlon told the Diary the path is now part of Council’s Bicycle Strategy Plan 2013.
“This is an exciting project as it delivers on Council’s long-term Bicycle Strategy Plan 2013, working towards providing a fully integrated and continuous trail.
“We started engaging with our community in 2017, asking for feedback on the layout and design.
“After considering the feedback, including concerns with the impact on vegetation, we have reworked the design and layout and have more
recently gone back out to nearby residents with an updated design.”
“The proposed design is for a 2.5m wide shared path that avoids all large significant indigenous trees along the roadside, with eight sapling trees identified for possible removal.
“We are keen to ensure that the final design fits with the aesthetics of the local area following feedback from the community.”
“A detailed arboriculture assessment to determine the ecological value and impact of the works on adjacent trees and referenced a Cultural Heritage Management assessment for the area is now underway.
“Improving our liveability, providing safe and accessible connections that encourage recreation and minimises reliance and use of vehicles continues to be a key activity of Council”, Cr Conlon said.
Despite what council says, it is
clear that residents are not happy with the proposed plans with local cyclists exacerbated at the absurdity of having a fully engineered curb and channel shared bike path along a 200 metre stretch of road which only really gets busy on market and community sports days — when both sides of the road become a car park.
A number of concerned residents have flagged the danger of the path crossing the road at First Street.
The crossing is half-way down a hill and in a blind spot for any oncoming vehicles.
Warrandyte Community Association has informed the Diary it is seeking to meet with council on the community’s behalf with president, Terry Tovey calling on council for further consultation.
“The current proposal seeks to do too much with what is a constrained roadway with the consequence that
no one is happy with the result. “Identifying Taroona Avenue as part of the bicycle network seems misguided when there are much more urgent bicycle link priorities, such as that between Warrandyte and the Yarra Trail from Beasley’s
Nursery.
“The Council needs to look for a less
intrusive solution for Taroona Avenue which better protects the streetscape and environment and which meets the community’s continuing need for adequate parking and safe pedestrian access,” he said.
Ensuring our cyclists are safe on the roads is important, but the real missing link is the connection between Warrandyte High School and the Mullum Mullum Trail at Beasleys.
The Diary, the WCA and the broader community request Council makes linking Warrandyte safely to the Mullum Mullum trail its priority.

New support package for businesses announced

THE VICTORIAN Government has announced a $250.7 million business support package which includes finances for small to medium-sized businesses and sole traders.
The aptly named Circuit Breaker Business Support Package aims to help up to 90,000 businesses affected by the current lockdown.
The package is divided into three initiatives:

  • Business Costs Assistance Program
  • Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund
  • Support for events operators

Of the package, $190M will be funnelled into a second round of the Business Costs Assistance Program, offering grants of $2,500 for eligible businesses directly affected by the lockdown’s industry restrictions; this includes restaurants and cafes, event suppliers, accommodation providers, and non-essential retail.
A new round of the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund will see $40.7M provided to businesses with a liquor license and food certificate distributed in grants of $3,500 per premises.
For operators in the events industry who have been impacted finically by the lockdown, they will have access to a share of a $20M support scheme.
At the announcement, Acting Premier James Merlino said this new package will help businesses stay open in the long term.

“The circuit-breaker action will keep Victorians safe and protect businesses and jobs – but we know it’s not easy shutting your doors and putting your plans on hold.
“This support will help businesses pay the bills and maintain their workforce as best they can, as we work together to get through this challenge,” he said.

Minister for Small Business, Jaala Pulford added “Small businesses are crucial to our economy and beyond dollar and cents, important contributors to local communities — we’re proud to stand with them and their workers.”

Businesses can visit https://business.vic.gov.au/grants-and-programs/circuit-breaker-business-support-package for further information and to register for some of the package — at this stage, most grants will be open for application from Wednesday, June 2.

Return to lockdown

Updated 31/5/2021 2pm

Another day in lockdown

DAY FOUR of Victoria’s May circuit-breaker lockdown and we have seen the outbreak grow by about five cases per day, every day.
But a new case at an aged care facility in Maidstone has seen this figure jump to 11 new cases for today, bringing the total to 51 in this outbreak, note earlier today Vic Health reported 5 additional cases, but between then and the 12:15pm press conference, 6 additional cases were identified and added to the daily figure.
Testing and vaccination continue to be very high, with the Sunday/Monday reporting period logging 43,874 tests and 16,752 doses of vaccine administered.
Worryingly, the list of exposure sites continues to grow with the list of 300 exposure sites (at time of writing).
Although the list contains shopping centres, supermarkets, and public transport, there is still no sites near Warrandyte.
Given our previous experience with lockdowns, and with 51 active cases in this outbreak and hundreds of exposure sites, it is hard to imagine we only have three more days of lockdown to go.
However, lockdown brings familiar scenes back to Warrandyte with quiet roads, and ovals and parklands brimming with families and individuals who are — mostly — respecting the social distancing and mask wearing rules.
While we must all feel for those businesses who are not able to operate at the moment, on Sunday, the State Government announced its support package which will hopefully lessen the burden, you can read the story here.

Local exposure site added to list

United Service Station, Doncaster East has been added as a Tier 3 exposure site.
Tier 3 means monitor for symptoms and get tested if any arise.
So, anyone who visited the servo between 4:50pm and 5:30pm on Saturday, May 15 please monitor for symptoms.

 Five reasons to leave home

Current restrictions include:

  • Five-kilometre radius
  • Schools shift to remote learning
  • Limits on weddings and funerals
  • Playcentres, gyms, entertainment venues, hair and beauty and tourism closed.
  • Community sport cancelled
  • Restaurants and cafes restricted to take away service
  • Visitor restrictions on care facilities and hospitals

There are now five reasons to leave home; essential shopping, exercise (two hours maximum per day with one other person), care and caregiving, authorised work, and vaccination.
The Epping cluster may feel like it is a long way away from Warrandyte, but everyone is impacted by the restrictions, local supermarket owner Julie Quinton spoke to the Dairy about the reintroduction of restrictions earlier this week, and asked customers to respect the rules, to protect her staff and the larger community.

“We ask that customers please follow the government guidelines and also wear masks when shopping at Quintons, so we may all help protect one another.
“We also ask that people check in with the QR code when entering our store, as well as sanitising their hands, observing the electronic customer counter at our door, social distancing and following our one-way aisles, to best enable social distancing,” she said.

There has also been a resurgence of panic-buying, with Quinton’s having to reintroduce limits on some purchases, such as toilet paper.
The other corner stone of the Warrandyte community, The Grand Hotel, had it tough during 2020s lockdown, but has been able to maximise its new beer garden to full effect over summer.
General Manager, Peter Appleby, spoke to the Diary about the challenges of lockdown and compliance.

“It’s been a horrible 12 months.
“When we locked down last year, we had already started work [on the beer garden] and we stopped work on that under lockdown rules, and as we learnt more about post COVID we were hearing outdoor spaces would be a factor in getting open with a larger capacity.
“So we picked up the tools again and we reopened about three weeks after you were allowed to, and got the beer garden not quite finished but in a workable state.
“That was great for us because the rules were 10 people per room, maximum two rooms — we were never going to open for that it was simply not viable,” he said.

But with an outdoor space, the pub could have 50 people outside which was much more workable.

“Opening up at the end of October, the weather was fantastic, and it certainly worked for us and we’re pretty proud of what we have achieved, it looks great.”

Peter went on to talk about the support they have had from the community and about the challenges of adapting to COVID rules – such as masks and QR codes.

“The support from the community has been amazing, it has been really well received.
“One of my sayings last year was ‘control the controllable’, get told to wear a mask, we wear a mask, we have to ask our customers to respect that.
“Our staff are trying to do the right thing, we don’t want to shut down again,” he said.

On Wednesday, Acting Premier James Merlino said, “these new cases underscore the importance of people coming forward for testing”.
A message the public responded to, as testing numbers and waiting times at COVID-19 testing sites saw a significant increase.
State Government also replenished pleas for all those who are eligible for Coronavirus vaccination to get vaccinated, which now includes those aged 40–49 — but those eligible must use the coronavirus hotline to book their vaccination appointment, which saw the hotline crash on Thursday, May 27, after 77,000 people tried to call the hotline in 15 minutes.

Municipal restrictions

The lockdown also means some council run facilities and services are closed or working in a remote setting.

Manningham and Nillumbik council have provided the Diary with a run-down of what is and is not open.

Manningham:

Aged and Disability Services

OPEN

Service remains open, including meal delivery service.

Homecare including personal care will continue.

Social Support Programs will continue online and over the telephone.

Arts and Venues

CLOSED

Arts and venues are closed as well as venue hire.

OPEN

MC Square.

Business, events and grants

CLOSED

Holding events on Council land and busking.

Citizen Connect

OPEN

Please call us on 03 9840 9333 if you have any queries.

Early Childhood Services

CLOSED

Playgroups and toy libraries.

OPEN

Find a childcare service.

Find a kindergarten or pre-school.

Parenting seminar series – open through new online format.

Immunisation

OPEN

Service remains open.

You must book a session to attend and observe public health directions.

Maternal and Child Health services

OPEN

All services are open.

Parks / Recreation

OPEN PENDING CLARIFICATION FROM DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

Athletics Track.

BMX Track.

Slipping Track.

Public Tennis Courts.

Public open space/ovals.

Outdoor gym equipment.

Parks and playspaces.

Rieschiecks Reserve.

CLOSED

Aquarena.

Stadiums.

Sports Clubs and Pavilions.

All casual bookings for use of facilities (built and open space) are cancelled.

Social and Community Services

CLOSED

Manningham youth services.

L2P learner driver mentor program – still taking referrals.

Waste Services

OPEN

Waste and recycling services.

CLOSED

Garden waste centre – permanently decommissioned

Nillumbik:

CANCELLED

Roving Performance
The Roving Performance in Eltham as part of our Arts and Culture Strategy consultation on Saturday, May 29 has been cancelled.

POSTPONED

Art Bus Tour
The Art Bus Tour on Saturday, June 5 will be postponed.
All ticket holders will be contacted with next steps shortly.

Celebrating the Platypus in the Diamond Creek
The Celebrating the Platypus in the Diamond Creek event on Sunday, May 30 at Edendale Community Environment Farm has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 4.
Further details will be available on Council’s and Edendale’s social media pages, and at https://nillumbik.vic.gov.au/platypus

Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP) pop-up consultation
Planned to take place on Tuesday, June 1 at Eltham Lower Park, this pop-up has been rescheduled to the same location on Tuesday, June 15 from 2:30pm–5:30pm.

Friends of Edendale community planting day
Planned as part of the Celebrating the platypus in the Diamond Creek event on Sunday May 30, the community planting for platypus will also be postponed.

“Meet and greet” with local deer controllers and businesses
This event, which was due to take place at the Hurstbridge Community Hub on Sunday, May 30, will be rescheduled soon.

Nillumbik ‘Unmuted’ Business Breakfast
The Nillumbik ‘Unmuted’ Business Breakfast in Yarrambat scheduled for Wednesday, June 2 has been postponed.
A new date is yet to be confirmed.

Wiser Driver program
The upcoming Wiser Driver program, which was due to hold its first session on Monday, May 31, is postponed until further notice.
Registered attendees will be contacted.

TEMPORARILY CLOSED

Lisa May and Emine Charlwood exhibitions
These exhibitions at the Eltham Library Community Gallery are closed until at least June 4.
The exhibitions will reopen in line with DHHS requirements.

The Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Art
This exhibition at Montsalvat is closed until at least June 4.
The exhibition will reopen in line with DHHS requirements.

 A developing situation

The Diary will continue to update this story as more details emerge.
As the cluster grows more exposure sites are added to the list.

Visit the website below for the latest exposure sites:
https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites

If you need to get a COVID-19 test, visit the Vic Health website for the latest testing sites and approximate waiting times.
https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/where-get-tested-covid-19

For a full list of what businesses can and cannot operate from midnight tonight, see the attached pdf.

Masks and gathering restrictions return to Melbourne

Story updated 26/05/2021 10:11am

AS OF 6pm on Tuesday, May 25, mandatory mask wearing is back for everyone in metropolitan Melbourne.
Melbourne residents will have new restrictions on private indoor and outdoor gatherings and masks are mandatory — unless with a valid exemption — in indoor settings.
On Wednesday 25, the cluster has grown to 15 active cases with a growing list of exposure sites across Melbourne and in Bendigo.
In the 24 hours between May 25 and May 26, there were 26,180 tests and 15,858 vaccine does administered.
At the Wednesday, May 26 Coronavirus briefing, Acting Premier James Merlino highlighted the importance of getting tested by foreshadowed more restrictions may be on the horizon.

“These new cases underscore the importance of people coming forward for testing”.
“We are concerned by the number and the locations.
“I cannot rule out taking some further action.
“The next 24 hours are going to be critical if we are going to have to make any further changes,” he said.

The restrictions are a reaction to an error in the contract tracing investigation of a Wollert man who, after undergoing hotel quarantine in South Australia, subsequently tested positive in early May.
On the original investigation, the wrong Woolworths supermarket was listed as an exposure site.
As the new cluster — currently at five — is gnomically linked to the earlier Wollert case, and following the correction to the Woolworths exposure site, the new restrictions have been introduced to help contain a potential Coronavirus outbreak.
Presently, private indoor gatherings will be limited to five and private outdoor gatherings will be limited to 30.
Masks will also be mandatory in indoor settings, which expands mandatory masks from public transport, health facilities, airports and ride share vehicles, to indoor spaces such as supermarkets, pubs, wedding venues, and schools.
A present, there are no further restrictions in place.
The Diary asked local supermarket owner Julie Quinton about what these new restrictions mean for her staff and the community.

“We have instructed our staff that it is now mandatory for our staff, from 6pm tonight, to wear masks when working at Quintons IGA.
“So as to help protect them from any possibly infected people.
“We ask that customers please follow the government guidelines and also wear masks when shopping at Quintons, so we may all help protect one another.
“At this stage we will be allowing leniency, however, we will be monitoring the outbreak and may adjust our conditions of entry accordingly.
“We also ask that people check in with the QR code when entering our store, as well as sanitising their hands, observing the electronic customer counter at our door, social distancing and following our one way aisles, to best enable social distancing,” she said.

The good news is all current active cases in this cluster have been linked, but as Melburnians are all too aware of, we still have a long way to go.
The Diary will continue to update this story as more details emerge.

As the cluster grows more exposure sites are added to the list.
Visit the website below for the latest exposure sites:
https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites

If you need to get a COVID-19 test, visit the Vic Health website for the latest testing sites and approximate waiting times.
https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/where-get-tested-covid-19

Festival brings us “together again” this October

IT IS WITH huge enthusiasm that Warrandyte Festival Committee has recently been discussing the return of its much-loved local weekend.
Warrandyte’s unique festival has enjoyed a proud history, dependably entertaining and celebrating the local community since 1977.
Life, of late, has been utterly transformed due to Coronavirus, with many organisations now having to “reimagine” day-to-day activities and one-off events.
Because the untimely emergence of Coronavirus brings with it the horror of cancellation, the when, what, and how of staging a large event needs careful consideration.
The option to crank up a full festival weekend later this year, then attempt to pull that off again in March 2022 is an effort even beyond these committed volunteers.
They are good, those festival-party-people, but not that good — but there will be a celebration this year.
Warrandyte: Together Again will be staged at Stiggants Reserve from Friday evening, October 22 through Saturday, October 23 only — there will be no Sunday activities.
Festivities kick off on Friday night with a short-film extravaganza.
Seating will be suitably spaced, so tickets will be limited — you will need to get yours quick once they go online.
Saturday will feature a solid music programme: kids’ and community choirs and the full thrust of an epic Battle of the Bands.
Two major acts will play the Main Stage between 7pm and 10pm on Saturday night.
Front-of-stage real estate will be prime seating, so don’t forget your picnic blankets (although there will be limited takeaway food and drink for purchase).
There will be dedicated fun for the kids: circus activities and the like.
And there is a wee rumour that “light magician” Hugh McSpedden is planning something special.
Anyone that has had the privilege of seeing one of Hugh’s “spectacles” won’t want to miss that.
Service providers will, as usual, showcase their range of opportunities and the involvement of local community fundraising stalls will be welcomed.
More details of what’s on offer will unfold as preparation for October develops, so keep a lookout in the Diary for updates.
A fully gold-plated edition of Warrandyte Festival — with favourites like the parade, billycart derby and duck race — is on the agenda for March 2022.
In the meantime, festival organisers are working hard on getting everyone together again.
So, tell all your friends and we will see you in October, Warrandyte!
We’ve missed you.

Council pushes back against Christmas Hills land sale

THE NILLUMBIK Council meeting in April considered a request by Melbourne Water to make amendments to the Nillumbik Planning Scheme to facilitate the sale of land in Christmas Hills.
As the Diary reported during the community consultation phase in 2018, Melbourne Water has determined the proposed Watsons Creek Water Catchment is not necessary and so is seeking to subdivide and sell off the land that has been set aside for that project.
In its Land Use Survey, Melbourne Water divided the land into 43 parcels, which they seek to dispose of following rezoning, of which 22 lots would be below the minimum subdivision size in the Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ).
Melbourne Water has indicated it is also seeking to provide controls on lots under the minimum lot size and with significant vegetation/bushfire constraints to prevent future development.
Council is looking to ensure the undersized blocks are unable to be built on in the future.
However, Cr Karen Egan noted that some people who purchased land in the last land sale were caught by a similar provision, when they purchased the land expecting to build their dream home in paradise, but then discovered they were unable to obtain a building permit.
She advocated for a community education program around the sale to ensure no one gets caught like that again.
Councillors met with Melbourne Water representatives in March for a briefing about the requested changes to the planning scheme.
The briefing raised several points including traditional owners’ rights, bushfire management, inappropriately sized blocks, and the future of the Mechanics Institute and tennis courts.
In a letter to Council on March 31, Melbourne Water said the Mechanics Hall and the tennis courts are currently within Public Use Zone 1 (PUZ1).

“This zone cannot be retained on the land due to the surplus nature of the land with respect to Melbourne Water’s ownership.
An alternate zone is required.”

The letter said the community has indicated a desire to retain both the Mechanics Institute Hall and the tennis courts as publicly available assets.

“Melbourne Water has proposed to facilitate this through the Masterplan and rezoning which supports Council purchase and ownership of this land through application of the PUZ6 (Local Government).
However, if Council are unable to purchase the land an alternate zoning (not a public land zone) will be required that still facilitates use by the community.”

Melbourne Water then suggested the Mechanics’ Institute Hall should come within Rural Conservation zoning as the property is privately owned.
At the April Council meeting, representatives from Christmas Hills Landcare, CFA and other groups used public question time to request Council meet with them about the land sale and the impacts on the existing community.
Mayor Peter Perkins advised the groups that Council would indeed facilitate a future meeting with the Christmas Hills community representatives.
Deliberations were then made at the April Ordinary Council Meeting regarding Council’s role within the divestment.
Sugarloaf Ward Councillor, Ben Ramcharan moved a motion rejecting the proposed amendments to the planning scheme.
“We know the land is going to be sold, it has to be sold, that is a fact and what we need to do is work with the Community, Melbourne Water, and the Land Planning Service to limit the impact of this on the local environment and local community,” Cr Ramcharan said.
The tennis courts were built using bushfire relief funding and are very well valued by the Christmas Hills community, and are managed by a committee of management and run as a not-for-profit.
“It is about the community meeting together in a community space,” said Cr Ramcharan.
A spokesperson for the Christmas Hills community, David Evans said the tennis courts are already managed by the Mechanic’s Hall committee, and their hope is the courts could be incorporated into a title that includes the hall.
“The courts could not be gifted to the committee as it is a private entity, so we hope that the Council could be some sort of intermediary in that respect.
The Council officer’s report noted Melbourne Water’s proposal would cause a huge impost on council in facilitating often complex planning applications, be a financial burden on council with an increased population requiring additional infrastructure, such as roads, and highlighted the additional work that CFA will need to undertake in mitigation works.
Council unanimously voted on a three-point motion.

That Council:

  • Does not support the proposed amendment to the Nillumbik Planning Scheme by Melbourne Water to facilitate the divestment of its land at Christmas Hills in its current form for the reasons identified in this report.
  • Authorises the Mayor to write to the Minister for Planning and local MPs requesting that the Christmas Hills Tennis Courts be retained by Melbourne Water or gifted to Council in order to protect it as a valuable community asset.
  • Directs officers to work with councillors and the Christmas Hills community to prepare a submission to the future Government Land Planning Service Advisory Committee process in consideration of the proposed amendment.

The motion will, in effect, remove Council from overseeing the planning scheme amendment and will see them only as a submitter to the Government Land Planning Service Advisory Committee (GLPSAC).
However, Council has agreed to advocate on behalf of the Christmas Hills Community during any future consultation.
Doug Evans told the Diary the community was happy that the Council chose not to support Melbourne Water’s proposal.
“We hope we can find a position both Council and the community can support and speak together with one voice when GLPSAC have their submission phase.”