It’s a purrrfect storm

Myth or monster? Community speaks up about big cat.

Following the Diary’s big reveal on the return of Warrandyte’s resident “Big Cat” sightings, social media has been awash with opinion and more sightings of the alleged resident beast.

The Diary Facebook page unveiled both video teaser and published article relating to the Big Cat and the response has been overwhelming, with avid Diary followers noticing a divide in public opinion.

A handful jokingly suggested Warrandytians claiming to have seen the cat had gone without their medicine (which is yet to be verified) or that flying spaceships were colluding with the whiskered one in some capacity.

On the other hand, multiple residents backed up claims the cat did indeed exist. After last month’s eye witness testimony provided by Ross Henderson and Kassie Jones, Warrandytians have stepped up to share their experiences about Big Cat sightings, and one “encounter“ stands out above the rest.

Judith Irving recalled an incident of five or six years prior which may well shed some light on the origins of Warrandyte’s enormous cat.

“Many years ago now my neighbour had a friend who came over with this cat and asked me to look after it,” Judith said. “She admitted it was virtually wild and the owners who fed it had it microchipped. I put it in my room it was quite large at this stage. It was so crazy and in the morning I couldn’t find it. I’d left the window open and it had leapt up about four feet off a shelf, out the window and flown through the flywire.”

If this cat did happen to have some kind of connection with the elusive wild beast lurking in our woods today, Judith pointed out the microchip would still be present and would be able to prove if the two animals were one and the same.

“I rang up the microchip people and got my name on their files, but I never heard any more and no one seemed to see it,” she said. “It was wild enough to look after itself. I was hoping someone would see it and let me know, but I’ve heard nothing. If anyone could ever manage to catch it and see if it’s microchipped, it could be the same cat as the one people are talking about today.

“It’s had plenty of time to get big as wild cats do.”

The odds that the two creatures are the same may be slim, but it is certainly not out of the question. If Judith’s “wild cat” is indeed our resident mystery creature, we may have proof that the cat has been roaming in our midst for at least five years.

Any locals with any information about the big cat are urged to contact us at

Volunteers See Red

IN a stoush that has claimed the heads of the emergency services minister, and both the CFA’s chief executive officer and chief fire officer, and dampened Labor’s Victorian swing in the federal election and possibly costing them government, the very public dispute over fire fighters pay and conditions has been well and truly felt in Warrandyte.

About 50 volunteer fire fighters from the area met at Warrandyte fire station on the morning of the election before setting off in convoy as a “show of strength” to pro- test over the lack of consultation with volunteer fire fighters.

Ken Reed, group officer of the CFA’s Maroondah group of brigades, which includes Warrandyte, Wonga Park, Yarra Glen, Lilydale and Coldstream, said despite the politics, they also want to demonstrate they are still there to support the community.

“Our main aim is to make people aware we are still here for the community, but the way we have been getting screwed is very unfair and the worst part about it is the volunteers have had no say in the EBA at all, and that’s what we are disappointed about,” he said.

Head of the United Firefighters Union (UFU), Peter Marshall, addressed volunteers in an open letter.

“Fire fighters need to fight fires, not each other,” he wrote.

Volunteers involved in the convoy did not want the protest to be a sign of disrespect for the career fire fighters they work with, but saw it as sending a message to the State Labor government.
“We have to send a message to Labor that certain things are sacrosanct and CFA is one of them,” said one volunteer from Cold- stream.

“I’ve got no problem with the paid staff, all we want to do is fight fires,” said another.

The timing of the dispute, which has lasted over 1000 days, is seen as unfortunate by outgoing South Warrandyte captain Greg Kennedy.

In a recent interview with the Diary, Mr Kennedy said politics would not affect the operation of the station.

“The guys who work there are going to be paid in accordance with their EBA, they will do their duties in accordance with their EBA, which will be exactly the same way they do their duties at the other 31 CFA career staff stations,” he said.

“Poor old South Warrandyte just happens to be the poor buggers that are trying to open a fire station when all this is going on.”

Jamie Hansen, new officer-in-charge at South Warrandyte, did not want to comment on the dispute while the EBA was still being negotiated.

“What I can assure the community is that the volunteers and career staff at South Warrandyte Fire Brigade will maintain their commitment to providing the highest level of emergency response and there will certainly be no reduction of service from any of the surrounding brigades as a result of this ongoing dispute,” he said.

Current captains of Warrandyte and North Warrandyte also declined to comment on the dispute, but former North Warrandyte captain, Rohan Thornton, says the issue is not about fire fighters’ pay.

“I think most volunteers, and I have never found an exception, believe that all our emergency service workers, police, ambos, nurses are underpaid and deserve everything they get – this is not about the conditions and the pay,” he said.

He believes there will be positive benefits from the EBA for all fire fighters, including the contentious clause to have seven fire fighters dispatched before starting to fight a fire.

“I don’t see that and never did see that as an issue, I just see it as a union providing a safe workplace for their members which is fine – yes please,” said Mr Thornton.

Both staff and volunteer alike have made claims about lies and misinformation, and Mr Thornton can see why that is confusing the public.

“There is truth and lies on both sides and that’s what’s confusing everyone, certainly the community who I’ve had feedback from, they are worried they are concerned and they don’t understand it: it is hard to understand,” Mr Thornton said.

He says for those not in the CFA many aspects of the organisation are confusing, least of which is why people volunteer, and Mr Thornton is concerned the EBA dispute will hurt the volunteer spirit in the organisation.

“It is hard to understand the culture, what makes people, you know, get out of bed at four o’clock in the morning and hold someone’s hand until the ambulance arrives, it takes a special person to have that commitment and it’s just getting harder and harder to maintain that commitment,” he said.

A bridge to Nauru from Warrandyte

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also try a Bridge too far or Bridge over troubled waters


Winter is the time to clean up Warrandyte

The Warrandyte Community Association has teamed up with the CFA, SES, Nillumbik and Manningham councils and Red Cross in urging Warrandytians to use the cooler winter months to maintain their properties in order to stay safe in case of fire, floods and storms.

“In the past, preparedness messages have been broadcast just before the anticipated bushfire season, not leaving too much time before fire restrictions kick in,” said Dick Davies, president of the Warrandyte Community Association.

North Warrandyte CFA captain Mick Keating admits he was one of the residents caught out last year when the re restrictions came into force in October, causing a mad scramble to get his property cleaned up ahead of the fire danger.

“Start cleaning up now for next year’s summer, rather than wait – because if it does come out early again you can get caught out very quickly,” Captain Keating said.

CFA community safety manager Tammy Garrett said this was the ideal time to get properties prepared, saying: “If you do it bit by bit, an hour on this weekend and an hour on that weekend, it doesn’t take as much as it would if you try and do it all at once.” Manningham City Council emergency management officer Helen Napier said while the focus for Warrandyte was generally about preparing for bushfire, the impact of floods and storms could be just as devastating.

“I think that sometimes people forget about the other hazards, and there is still the potential in some areas for that to impact just as much – the consequences are similar, you can be displaced, you might not have a home to live in, so the ow on effects can be the same as a bush fire,” she said.

SES community education officer Sue Whitten says there are things that can be done to mitigate the risks.

“Cleaning out the gutters and ensuring things like overhanging branches are checked regularly, making sure anything on your property is tied down… making sure that drains are kept clean, that any debris that comes down from the storm doesn’t end up in the drains and cause backlog and then potential for flooding,” said Ms Whitten.

Emergency management officer for Nillumbik council, Justin Murray, suggests it’s not just a clean-up that needs to be considered, but planning your garden to minimise risk is important when planting around your house.

“If people are designing gardens or making changes, have consideration to what that would look like, not only now in the short term, but also in the long term with regards to how vegetation develops and grows and also to consider what sort of vegetation they are putting in especially close to their dwellings,” Mr Murray said.

To get rid of green waste, residents have a number of options, either take green waste to council collection facilities, or larger properties, over 0.4ha, are able to burn off outside the fire restriction period, however smaller properties must obtain a permit from their local council.

Justin Murray said smaller blocks in Nillumbik were only permitted to burn off from October, so another option open to those residents is to pay for a second green bin.

“If one bin isn’t sufficient for you then the option is to have an additional one; so phone council to arrange that,” he said.

“There is no charge for the additional collection, but there is a small charge for the provision of the bin.”

Big cat on the prowl

Warrandyte citizens keep your wits about you, for the resident “big cat” has once again been seen in the community’s leafy surroundings. Fresh sightings of the freakishly sized feline have been reported all throughout early 2016, with multiple sources claiming to have seen the big black cat in different areas of Warrandyte.

Melissa Van Bergen and Ross Henderson recalled two incidents in which they came across the cat at their home in North Warrandyte.

“It was about three o’clock in the morning in the summer, and I looked out and I saw this black thing. It was big, I thought it was as big as a Shetland pony,” Ross said. “But it moved, it moved very quickly off into the bush, it was a cat-like movement.”

“About a week later at a similar time, I saw it in another part of the bush. I hadn’t heard any stories about it (the big cat), but my first impressions were that it was definitely black. I could see it in the moonlight because it was summer. It was sort of a panther type thing, something like that anyway. It had a fair size to it.”

Animals are often the first to notice a disturbance, and Melissa believes the family dog may also have noticed the presence of the black cat.

“Normally the dog barks and growls at everything. But this one time I found him at the door, growling, with his tail completely between his legs, and he’s never like that,” Melissa said.

Melissa, who has worked as vet nurse, also said she found large drop- pings in the area that didn’t belong to a kangaroo, dog or wombat.

Local woman Kassie Jones further alerted the Diary to the existence of the big cat on the community Facebook page last week, purporting to have seen the creature not far from the Shell service station in South Warrandyte.

“I saw it last Thursday (26/5) just before Gold Memorial Road intersected with Husseys Lane. It was around 1pm,” Kassie said.

“It was around the size of a Labrador but a bit bigger, was fully black and I didn’t see the head because when it saw the car it jumped off the road into the bush.

“I think it may have been a house cat or a domestic cat that got loose and started feeding off wildlife and grew, or a phantom cat from the Gippsland areas or from the Grampians area.”

The flurry of black cat sightings has thrust the creature back into the community spotlight, almost three and a half years after Diary contributor Jan Tindale took the original photo printed in the paper in December 2013.

“I’ll never forget when it was looking at me with those big illuminous eyes and slits. I won’t forget its tail, either; it was long and very brushy at the end,” Mrs Tindale told the Diary back then.

According to Cliff Green’s article in December 2013, eyewitness accounts going back decades have recorded sightings of “big cats” in the Warrandyte region as far back as 1979.

Furthermore, according to the Leader (August 27, 2003), Warrandyte residents should have no reason to feel a little crazy for sighting the cat, considering there have been about 20 documented sightings at Warrandyte State Park in the past 25 years.

Only time will tell if the creature, or indeed creatures, are still lurking in our midst, but if you see any big cats please contact the Diary at info@warrandytediary. or phone 9844 0555.

Leaders in their field

Every month, the Warrandyte Diary showcases the extraordinary talents and kind hearts of our community. We love highlighting the in- credible work of locals and how their efforts are benefitting everyone.

Here we talk with two people not just doing their part for the community, but who are changing lives all around Australia and the world. Warrandyte may be better known for its artists, environment and cosmopolitan cafes, but now we’re known for being a home to leaders in scientific medical research and heart-warming charities. Meet Professor Doug Hilton and Dr Linda Worrall Carter, two Warrandytians making waves in the medical research community, with results having real-world impacts and which are changing lives. We hope you enjoy their stories and are encouraged to support their causes.

Professor Doug Hilton

(Walter and Eliza Hall Institute CEO)

Professor Doug Hilton

PROFESSOR Doug Hilton has lived in Warrandyte for most of the past 47 years – growing up here himself and now raising his children in our village. In our community, he’s a familiar face and a well-known referee at junior basketball matches.

Since 2009 he’s been the director and CEO of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, a 100-year-old organisation dedicated to innovative medical research, education and improving the lives of those struggling with illness or disease.

“I’m director and CEO, so on one level I’m in charge, but I also have a laboratory where I can do experiments and still work on research. I kind of have two roles – the overall running of the place and the other is to still do original research on blood cells and blood cell cancers.”

The institute has made many important scientific breakthroughs in medical research in its 100-year history. Recently, a pharmaceutical the institute helped to develop was approved for use in the treatment of leukaemia and lymphoma in America.

“It’s been a 30-year journey, a 30-year journey at the institute from the original discovery to now having a new pharmaceutical on the market that really is giving people with leukaemia, which was once a death sentence, some amazing hope [for recovery].”

Doug’s own research into blood cells and blood cancers is always making developments – an interesting area of research that he’s clearly passionate about.

“The goal of my work is to say you’ve got 30,000 genes … 30,000 different pieces in a jigsaw that make up your genetic blueprint. What I’m interested in trying to understand is which of those 30,000 are important in making blood cells normally, and which of those might go wrong when you get a disease like leukaemia and lymphoma, how blood production goes wrong.”

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute is home to over 1000 staff and students, researches over 40 different diseases and conducts 100 clinical trials every year. They provide education and training to hundreds of young graduates that come through their doors. And they change lives for the better pretty much daily.

“It’s really exciting to be a part of that,” Doug says.

But no institution can exist and flourish without the support of others, and Doug says there are three key ways the Warrandyte community in particular can assist the institute with its mission.

“If they have an opportunity to talk to politicians, tell them that they value medical research generally. Lots of people in the community are really strong supporters of medical research. Talk about your support,” he said.

“And if you have kids that are interested in maths and science, in primary school or in high school, keep them interested and keep them studying for as long as they can. Melbourne has produced some amazing researchers and we’re always looking for the next generation. Having kids interested in maths and science is really critical to our future.”

Finally, Doug says the information and understanding is hugely important, too.

“Get interested in what we’re doing. We have discovery tours and opportunities to visit the institute and we have great info online. Get to know what we’re doing. If you like what we’re doing, then we can have a conversation about how the community can support us further.”

Doug is thankful for the communities support and says it’s wonderful to live in a place with our environment and people.

“It’s an amazing community that really looks after everyone, very egalitarian. It’s just a wonderful place to grow up and a wonderful place to bring kids up.”

You can find out more about the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research at

Dr Linda Worrall Carter

(CEO and Founder of Her Heart)










Dr Linda Worrall Carter heads up Her Heart, Australia’s only charity dedicated to women and heart disease. Her Heart is the only not-for-profit in Australia focused on education and awareness of heart disease, the biggest killer of women in our country.

“I attend a lot of local events and activities to speak to women about heart disease. I must say the response is always the same ‘I didn’t know that heart disease is the biggest killer of women’. Each time I hear this, it makes me sad, but also more determined to make Her Heart a local, national and global success,” Linda says.

“As a society we educate women on many diseases such as cancer, almost all women know to have mammograms and Pap smears, however few women know that they should go and have a heart health check.”

In Australia, heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. Global research shows us that 80% of heart disease is preventable and yet women are dying far too often in our country and all around the world. Women in the 25-40 age group are the largest growing demographic of people dying of heart disease – and Linda says her work aims to ensure women avoid becoming another statistic.

“This research has helped me identify the urgent need to make a difference, to take action and use my knowledge and experience to reduce this dreadful statistic. I founded Her Heart to go beyond research, to educate women and create national awareness of this deadly disease. Australia has 11 million wom- en who are all precious to someone and they deserve the opportunity to be in the know and live happy, healthy lives. Our goal is to reduce heart disease by 50% by 2025.”

Linda is passionate about awareness and education. After working as a nurse, and after many years nursing cardiac patients and teaching nursing, researching women’s heart disease piqued her interest. Fifteen years have since passed, and Linda has published over 100 research papers, presented at over 50 conferences and been a founding member of four different research centres.

Now, Her Heart is putting Linda’s research at the forefront of the conversation around women’s health. The not-for-profit takes a personal approach to education, encouraging women to speak with one another and with their doctor about their thoughts and suspicions.

“One of the issues we have is trying to encourage women to put themselves first, as they are often used to prioritising others above themselves. We often find women are very intuitive and have a sense that ‘something is not quite right’ – so they need to be encouraged to act on their instincts.

Linda has been a part of the Warrandyte community for over 15 years, raising her two daughters here and getting involved in Warrandyte’s school and basketball communities. She says the Warrandyte community has helped her immensely in the launch of the charity and can continue to support Her Heart through social media, local fundraisers, donations and sponsorship.

“There is clearly a huge sense of social responsibility within Warrandyte and it is flattering to be showcased alongside others who have been devoted to various causes… it is just wonderful to be acknowledged in this way.”

“As the founder of Her Heart, and a mum, a wife, and sister, I actively support women’s health and work hard to be a ‘Her Heart’ role model – so I walk the talk!

“ I am also passionate about getting the message out through any means that I can. The years of being a leader in research has allowed me to now y another ag, after all this research, what we need is to get the message out to women.”

You can find out more about Her Heart at

Are you, or someone you know, our next leader in research? Tell us! Send an email to OR send us a Facebook message.

New CFA station for the South

BIG changes are afoot for South Warrandyte Fire Brigade.

The brigade is moving in July to their new home in Falconer Rd where the volunteers will be joined by a contingent of paid firefighters.

Greg Kennedy has stood down as captain, with the role being abolished as part of the integration process, and operations officer Jamie Hansen now appointed as officer in charge.

Mr Kennedy is returning to the rank of firefighter after six years in the captain’s chair and he says he is very proud of the work he has achieved.

“I have had a wonderful experience being involved in with the CFA over the past 32 years, it is a tremendous organisation full of tremendous people, which I will continue to serve from back in the ranks,” he said.

“We are very fortunate that other than the three houses that were lost in 2014, we have managed to ensure that Warrandyte remains safe, and there are lots of capable people ready to continue to do that into the future.”

There will be a roster of 20 new firefighters at the station, with many drawn from the local area.

“Two of the station officers live in Warranwood and another station officer was previously a volunteer member at Warrandyte … people who understand what we do in this part of the world, because it is, after all, a special place,” Mr Kennedy said.

Jamie Hansen is a staff officer in the CFA and has been attached to the brigade as integration officer for the past two years.

As incoming officer-in-charge, he says the move will see a benefit to the community in terms of faster response times across the whole of the Greater Warrandyte area.

“Having career staff within the brigade at the new station will significantly enhance the response times, we will have a minimum crew of four paid firefighters on a truck, out the door in under 90 seconds, and because of our quicker response times it enables us to get further a field and support more of the surrounding brigades, including the MFB,” he said.

The outgoing captain believes the difficulty of providing a consistent service to the community with volunteers is a growing challenge.

“There was a time 20-30 years ago when there were a number of people working every day in the Greater Warrandyte area but they don’t do that any more – there are always some members available, but there are times, not often, when the brigade struggles to have sufficient members available to respond to calls; as a captain of a brigade, the potential of not being able to re- spond to a call causes a great deal of concern,” he said.

He believes having career staff will alleviate most of that concern.

“There will be four fire fighters responding within 90 seconds of a call being received – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The pressure on brigades will be reduced significantly and, as a bonus, the ability of all brigades in the Greater Warrandyte area to improve our service delivery has increased tremendously – so why wouldn’t we want this result for our community,” he said.

Operations officer Hansen said another benefit for the Greater Warrandyte community is both career firefighters and volunteers will be trained as “first responders” for medical emergencies.

“You will see the South Warrandyte brigade responding to medical events that have been reported to Ambulance Victoria … we will be responded to assist the ambulance with specialist medical gear including defibrillators,” he said.

The brigade will still be active within the community with fire safety presentations and other programs.

“We will have more capacity to get to some of the schools in the area and I would encourage schools to visit the CFA website and register their interest in Fire Safe Kids program,” Mr Hansen said.

The construction and fit-out of the station is nearing completion, however, the brigade will continue to operate from Brumbys Road until the move to Falconer Road in July.

Mr Hansen said the new arrangements would begin on July 22.

“Day shift starts at 8am when the volunteer crews will be bringing the vehicles from the old station to the new station and hand over to the new staff,” he said.

See more in next month’s Diary.

The Cliffys, 2nd place

Robin Fitzherbert’s My Childhood Kitchen was a big hit with the judges for our inaugural Cliffy Awards, a short story writing competition in honour of the Diary’s founder, Cliff Green (pictured). We hope you enjoy it ~ the Diary team.

MY CHILDHOOD KITCHEN – by Robin Fitzherbert

It was blue and cream, all wood with a wooden plate rack on the wall over the sink. In the corner of the kitchen was a large brick fireplace where the old slow combustion stove used to be. Mum had removed the old stove because Grandpa nearly burned the house down a few times. He’d leave the furnace door open to get more heat, but being deaf he didn’t hear logs falling out onto the wooden floor, where they would smoulder for hours.

A new GE electric stove was installed under the window facing the side fence. It wasn’t the best place for a stove, but it was the only place available. The curtain near the stove was always charred along the bottom where Mum had been a bit careless with the cooking.

In winter, Mum did most of the cooking in a pressure cooker and the ceiling above the stove was splattered with stains as the pressure cooker exploded with regular ferocity. I was scared of the pressure cooker and when Mum was using it I tried not to go into the kitchen until the noise and spluttering died down. It occurred to me, many years later that Mum didn’t really understand quite how pressure cookers worked. I have never owned one as I’m still scared of them.

The other kitchen window faced up the front path and I loved this window because you could sit and watch the world go by. Our road was the main road and all cars, buses and delivery trucks in and out of Warrandyte going to and from the city passed by our house. My Grandpa bought this house specifically because the bus stopped just outside. As we didn’t have a car until 1955, it was necessary to have public transport handy.

Bill McCulloch was our postman and he rode a large white horse called Silver to deliver the mail. Sometimes he rode down the driveway and down the steps to the front porch before he blew his whistle. As this gigantic white horse loomed ever closer I hid under the blue laminex table, just in case he had a mind to bring the great thing into the house. Fear and fascination gripped me in equal measure.

Our laminex table was the hub of our kitchen. Everything was done on this table from preparing meals, dining, mincing left over cold roast meat, cutting sewing patterns, dressing wounds, playing cards, doing homework and anything else you could think of. Grandpa had bought the latest chrome chairs that didn’t actually have legs. The chrome was bent into an “S” shape and the chairs were very bouncy. My brother and I loved to rock back and forth on them, even though we weren’t supposed to. We spent many hours sitting at this table as we were not allowed to leave until our meal was finished – every last over pressure-cooked morsel.

The windows were hung with curtains that were thick enough to keep in the warmth in winter and the heat out in summer. The material had a cream background with a blue jug pattern and they were hung on big blue curtain rings over a wooden rod.

Mum and her friend Kath would sit on hot summer days, with curtains drawn against the heat, playing cards while I played on the floor. Through gaps at the edges of the curtains shafts of sunlight would strike the walls or the fridge and I marveled at the patterns they made. It was the most peaceful of times.

On the other wall at right angles to the stove was the sink with some bench space on either side. One bench was charred and black with a crater in the centre where the kettle had burned out more than once. High above the sink were built-in cupboards. They were so high they could only be reached (apart from the first shelf) by climbing on a chair and then onto the bench. My brother and I became mountain goats and no matter how much Mum tried to hide goodies in the top shelves, we always found them.

My brother had a real sweet tooth and maintains to this day that he was sweet deprived as a child. He would eat packets of jelly crystals. I don’t know why Mum bought them, as she never made any jelly. She didn’t approve of such “junk” food. They were probably for “just in case”. That was Mum’s usual reason for having anything that she considered out of the ordinary.

The Christmas when I was nearly 11, Mum bought a new fridge. This was not just an ordinary fridge. This fridge came with a Christmas hamper. A few weeks before Christmas the fridge arrived, and with it a large cardboard box, marked “Christmas Hamper”. What jubilation.

My brother and I gathered around Mum as she opened the box. She pulled out a tinned ham, a Christmas cake, biscuits, bottles of wine, lollies, soft drinks, toys and so much more that I cannot remember. But the thing I remember the most was the Christmas pudding in the blue earthenware bowl, which I still have – just the bowl, not the pudding.

Christmas puddings were fraught with angst in our house. Mum was a fair to good cook, but she couldn’t make Christmas pudding to save her life. It was the fault of that stupid bloody pressure cooker. The last Christmas pudding Mum ever attempted came out literally, hard as a rock. My brother was mortified because it was stuffed to the gunnels with threepences and sixpences.

However my brother came up with a creative solution that is now folklore in our family. The pudding was placed in the chook pen and he spent the next week sitting with the chooks, watching and waiting for the next coin to be revealed as the chooks diligently pecked away at it. My brother has always had patience when it comes to money.

Mum was pleased too as she never liked to waste good food.

Times are changing

‘There’s never been a more exciting time….’ is an oft-repeated quote by the current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. With a double dissolution election looming and a very long election campaign ahead, perhaps not many would agree with him.

While much can be put down to hindsight and history, for me the most exciting time of change was back in the 1970s. The ‘60s had seen major shifts in attitudes overseas and it seemed by 1970 that Australia too, with its increased prosperity and changes in migration, was on the cusp of a transformation.

Think 1970. Warrandyte was a small rural township out on the north eastern edge of Melbourne. The suburbs had not yet reached out to encircle our village and it was surrounded by orchards and open space. The Warrandyte Diary had commenced with a four page black and white edition, Potters Cottage had opened its new restaurant to complement its pottery gallery, a State Park was proposed but not formalised, the Warrandyte Environment League was active, and the post office still operated from the old post office in Yarra Street.

Some proposed subdivisions were proving controversial but more houses were being built and young families were moving into the town. Think Australia still involved in the Vietnam War with large demonstrations held in opposition to the war and conscription. The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer was published in 1970. The emergence of the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Women’s Electoral Lobby meant the role and treatment of women in Australia was coming under increasing debate. For many women this was heady stuff.

At that time Australia had been governed by a Liberal Government for 23 years, firstly with Sir Robert Menzies for 16 years from 1944-1966, then with Harold Holt, John Gorton and Billy McMahon in quick succession. Meanwhile, Victoria had been ruled by Sir Henry Bolte’s Liberals for 15 years. However, views were shifting in Australia and there was a mood afoot for political, economic and social change in both areas of government.

Forward to 1972 and the It’s Time Labor campaign. Labor opposition leader Gough Whitlam put forward a socially progressive program of measures. The campaign was borne along with Gough’s much vaunted oratory as well as the advertisements and It’s Time jingle. Celebrities of the day singing in the advert included Bert Newton, Graham Kennedy, Bobby Limb, Jackie Weaver and Little Pattie. It proved to be a winner; it didn’t mention Labor or Gough Whitlam but suited the mood of the moment.

There was a real fizz and buzz around the campaign.

Warrandyte was, at that time, included in the Federal seat of Casey held by the Liberals. It was the most marginal in the country so received a great deal of attention being considered a real litmus test for the election. Unlike today’s broad-based media political campaigns and social media, then it was local meetings and face-to-face contact to ensure voters met the candidates.

Warrandyte had an active branch of the Labor Party with Fred Davis (who later stood (unsuccessfully) as a Labour candidate in the state election of 1976) encouraging locals to attend some meetings.

Gough Whitlam received a rock star welcome at a Ringwood meeting and it was an exhilarating experience. Artist Clifton Pugh was an active Labor supporter and held a meeting in his house at Cottlesbridge where his pet wombat provided an entertaining diversion rubbing his back against one of the pew seats.

At the election in December 1972, the Whitlam Labor Government was swept into power with its reformist agenda. The pace of change was amazing and its many achievements included ending conscription, supporting a wide range of women’s issues, introducing universal health care and free university education and many more.

It has often been said it tried to do too much too quickly. It ran foul of a hostile Senate and eventually in 1974 called a double dissolution election, which it won. But it was plagued by a number of scandals and a deteriorating economy and following further hostile Senate action was dismissed by the Governor-General in November 1975 and then subsequently defeated at the next election.

There can, however, be little doubt that it changed the face of Australia at the time.

Meantime, also in 1972 in Victoria, the long Liberal government of Sir Henry Bolte drew to a close with his retirement. He was replaced by Rupert Hamer (later Sir) who won the state election in 1973 with the slogan ‘Hamer Makes it Happen’ and a socially progressive agenda to modernise and liberalise government in Victoria. It was another rewarding and productive time. He was the first premier to establish an Arts ministry.

His commitment to the environment led to the declaration of Warrandyte State Park, protection of the Yarra River and the Green Wedge concept. His government strengthened environmental protection laws, abolished the death penalty, decriminalised abortion and homosexuality, and introduced anti-discrimination laws amongst many others. He was personally both environmentally aware and supportive of the arts and remained in power until 1981. His legacy remains today through many of his environmental and art initiatives.

It is hard to encapsulate the profound transformation these two governments, one Labor and one Liberal, achieved, and the effect they had on Warrandyte as well as on individuals. For me at the time, the protection of the environment and the changes to women’s roles were the most important personally. Since then, though, it has become apparent just how transformative the changes were, and how following governments and the community generally have continued to benefit from those achievements. Of course everyone will have a different take on ‘there’s never been a more exciting time…..’ However, Australia does appear once again to be standing on the brink of change with a looming Federal double dis- solution election and two ‘newbies’ who have not yet faced an election as leaders.

They face enormous challenges such as climate change, increasing refugee numbers and greater globalization, and in an ever-changing world. It is to be hoped that perhaps someone in 40 years time will look back at this election as one of those that became a transforming force for good. But then history and hindsight can be a wonderful thing …

Meet our Von Trapps

WARRANDYTE youngsters Bronte and Kayla Muir are doing their hometown proud after being cast in the Melbourne revival production of The Sound of Music.

Bronte (13) and Kayla (8) beat out over 1000 other Australian child performers in their auditions to snag the roles of Louisa and Marta Von Trapp, two of the most coveted roles in the musical.

But the Muir girls are collected and composed when talking about the audition process, making it sound like a walk in the park.

“There were 1000 kids and they teach you songs and you sing the songs. And then you either get a call back or get kicked out. So then we learned some dancing and then there were more call backs, and more call backs and more singing…but it was really fun,” Bronte told the Diary.

“I was excited. They make it a really fun environment. They prep you up and they play games with you before you go into the room. They make it really fun and relaxed.”

At 13, Bronte is already a seasoned performer having being cast in the musical Annie! at the Regent Theatre in 2012. She says that after a while you “start to miss being up on stage”.

“Annie went for about four months, and after Annie finished it was really sad because we had made a family. My cast still catches up, which is really nice. But you miss being back on the stage and all that.”

The sisters are looking forward to performing at the Regent Theatre together, which they think is a “really cool” venue and will be a part of rotating child cast during the shows run, as to not miss out on their schooling opportunities.

As for their characters, Bronte and Kayla are excited to be playing Von Trapp sisters and getting to explore each characters individual personality on stage.

“Marta loves pink like me, and she’s really nice,” Kayla says, while Bronte is excited to explore Louisa’s “cheeky” side.

“Louisa is really cheeky. In the movie, she’s the one who puts all the toads in Maria’s bed. She’s the jokester and she likes to play tricks on people.

“And my favourite song is The Lonely Goatherd, it’s the one where they’re yodelling. It’s really fun to sing.”

The sisters are ambitious and have long and interesting careers in the performing arts ahead of them. They’re gaining experience and skill in a highly competitive industry that will certainly pay off in the years to come.

But at the moment, what’s most important to the girls in the friendships they’re making and the fun experiences they’re sharing.

“I think it’s going to be really cool, because we’re playing a big family with lots of brothers and sisters … so it’s going to be really fun having other brothers and sisters and dancing with them on stage.”

The Sound of Music is playing at the Regent Theatre from May 13. Tickets are now available from

Social Injustice

Facebook is fabulous but it’s flawed. That’s the general consensus. One thing is certain, it touches the lives of most of the Warrandyte community for better or worse. In a special series, this is the first part of a conversation ‘we needed to have’ as editor Scott Podmore gets the ball rolling. We invite readers to write in with your views in a bid to make our own social media community a happier and less damaging space.

SOCIAL media (noun): websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. That’s a simple definition with a complicated reality. One I can’t fit onto this single page when it comes to how awed it can be and the distress it can cause.

Social media can be fantastic. We can stay connected with old friends, romances are sparked for the lonely, humane causes can achieve peaceful or inspiring outcomes. We can express ourselves. A great example of the positive power of social media is when Facebook and Twitter became invaluable tools for millions of people caught up in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake five years ago and lives were saved. We’ve even had our own terrific examples of community pages helping those in need, tracking down a lost pet, as a communication tool when bush res strike, or to even have a laugh at a family of alpacas trying to catch a bus!

But the sad truth? An evil lurks within, and don’t we know it.

We’ve all had moments on Face- book when emotions get the better of us. Over the coming months I’ll speak to experts (real ones) in social media about shining a light on the darkness. It’s designed to catch your attention in the hope we can all find a way to achieve a goal together: and that is to be a little kinder on Face- book. It’s about creating an awareness around a very important topic that’s affecting us in different ways.

We need to start in our own back- yard here in Warrandyte in taking responsibility for our children, families, neighbours, schools and businesses with regards to what we post. There must be an ethical teaching behind it all, so let’s tap into some

substance when it comes to being responsible for our comments and behaviour and what we’re teaching our kids in what’s appropriate and what isn’t.

Most of you reading this right now know exactly what’s triggered this. It’s the elephant in the cyber room, or rather, elephants. We’ve seen it on our own community social pages, including the Diary’s. Without digging up too much detail, one example is the disgraceful personal attacks on conscientious people trying to create a constructive page to “ x the bottleneck” at the Warrandyte Bridge. Yes, the line was blurred in a few certain areas on freedom of speech or what some may call healthy cyber debate, but the bare facts of disgusting, threatening behaviour are there for everyone to digest and feel sick about; if you have a conscience, that is. It wasn’t designed to be the mouthpiece of the community or offend anyone, but rather a platform to have a discussion with the aim of achieving a positive result for one and all.

There are plenty of others that most of us know of. Local food outlets have been tainted by immature or irresponsible comments (just ask Grand Hotel Warrandyte manager Peter Appleby how funny the breadgate issue was and you’ll be met with a furrowed brow), and another young girl (who won’t be named) was so traumatised by attacks on a community page she became so depressed she refuses to be seen in public. At 14, she’s undergoing counselling and she’s not in a good way. Read that again. She is 14 years old. It’s not about whether she should be able to handle the comments, either, it’s all about how it makes her feel and the fact is she’s not in a very unhealthy and sad mental and emotional state.

This isn’t about who’s right or wrong and social media will never be a perfect science. But it’s about creating a positive ripple effect in moving towards a healthier state of social media behaviour in our own community.

Facebook, in particular, has clearly become a breeding ground for hatred, where emotions can explode and serious flaws in human behaviour unravel. It’s become a platform that can cause incomprehensible emotional anguish and distress. Comments in the heat of the moment so hurtful friendships are ruined forever. Businesses damaged because of one little bad moment. Marriages breakdown. Even worse … paedophiles using it as a tool to groom. A child even lmed the act of committing suicide and posted it on social media to send a message to those who mentally tortured him. It doesn’t get any more serious than that, just in case you thought for a second this may be an insigni cant topic. What if that happened to your friend? Or your child?

Every action of yours contributes, for better or worse.

Social media is in its infancy, constantly evolving and while there are some incredibly clever, effective and socially responsible workshops, causes, books and policies being borne, ultimately we’re the ones who need to take responsibility and tone it down. So take a deep breath, Warrandyte. Cyber-bullying and a downright nasty spate of personal attacks are happening right here in our own backyard. It’s up to us to fix it and that starts by thinking before you post and simply showing a little bit of respect for our fellow man.

Let’s share some thoughts from our community page or group leaders who have seen it all so far.

Bambi Gordon, of the Warrandyte Business and Community Group, says “people should behave on Facebook as they would if they were in a ‘real world’ situation”.

“You wouldn’t, in a real life situation, listen into a conversation and when you hear something that you don’t agree with just jump in and tell the person ‘You’re an idiot’ – and yet it happens on Facebook. Social Media is a tool for people to communicate – and that needs to be done with respect. We won’t all agree with each other. Just look at some of the infrastructure and development issues around the greater Warrandyte community and the wide variety of passionately held views for and against.”

Warrandyte Second Hand Page creator Debi Slinger says there’s a serious responsibility that comes with running a social media page or group.

“With close to 4000 members and running for three years, the WSHP has never tolerated rude, disrespectful or bullying behavior,” she says. “We regard our members as part of our community, our family. When you buy and sell, you have to remember that you’ll probably see these people at the IGA, your son’s footy match, your daughter’s netball game or at a local social function.

Yet Debi admits the page has encountered the “ugliness”.

“Worst examples include people telling us to f— off because we don’t know what we’re doing, saying ‘I know where you live!’ to which I replied, ‘That’s great, come over and we can have a cuppa together’. I try to diffuse things with sarcasm, humour or use my law background to legal speak them into understanding what they’ve done.

“Being nice to someone should be the default position for people – if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online. Freedom of speech is one thing – online trolling is another.”

The ripple effect of Facebook negativity can quickly take hold of a person’s frame of mind, even when they are perfectly jovial without a harmful bone in their body like my friend Josh Langley, author of Turning Inside Out. He told me how he chose to go 30 days without Facebook because of how much it was affecting him.

“It was another stupid post on Facebook that tipped me over the edge,” he says. “I can’t actually remember exactly what it was, it could have been another ignorant racist ‘F- — off we’re full’ kind of comment from one of my FB Friends or it could have been some joke that had been doing the rounds for the past two years and someone had only just discovered and thought it was really funny or it could have been one of those thoroughly annoying bait click articles designed to get millions of likes with headlines such as ‘watch this baby do something incredible with a hammer drill, brought tears to my eyes, best thing you’ll see all year!’

“I could literally feel the anger and annoyance rising up from my feet and my whole body started to tremble with fury,” Josh points out.

“I had a love-hate relationship with social media and Facebook, especially. It pushed all my buttons and I would find myself getting angry at the stupidest things and I’d have to pull myself back from the brink of pounding the computer to death and say ‘hold on, this isn’t real’ and sit back and take a chill pill.

“While I never attacked anyone or posted nasty comments, my mind was full of not so nice thoughts about how stupid most of the content was and that people didn’t have a life. I soon realised I was the one who didn’t have a life and I needed to do something about it otherwise I was going to be bitter and twisted just because of another cat meme.”

Social media is here to stay, but in its current state is not healthy. We need to clean it up and that starts with each individual being mindful of their own social media etiquette. It’s time to lead the way.

I welcome letters to the editor for a mature discussion about how we can make it better. It’s time to throw the negative crap in the toilet and ush it and focus on positive, constructive ways we can all alter our behaviour and set some smart, effective policies in place. While I haven’t been able to include all the feedback I’ve already received, I appreciate it and thank those wholeheartedly for their contributions via email and Facebook so far.


We talk to Kirra Pendergast of Safe On Social, a team of collaborating consultants with specific industry expertise and a focus on Social Media Security, Privacy and Risk Management solutions and training services.

Antony wins Cliffy

AT the end of last year the Diary launched a short story competition in honour of the paper’s founding father, Cliff Green.

Stories had to be 1000 words or less and about 30 entries were received, several of them fabulous tales by school-age writers.

Judges narrowed the field to three finalists who were recently announced at Warrandyte’s Grand Read: Robin Fitzherbert, Laura Wellington and Antony Pollock.

Before the big reveal, the Diary disclosed the winner of the competition’s encouragement award: 8-year old Keira Edmonds, for her story The Show.

(Keira will receive a $40 book voucher, plus free entry to an up- coming Eltham Bookshop writer’s event featuring Melbourne-based author of more than 90 books for kids and teens, George Ivanoff.)

The Diary is pleased to inform readers that the winner of the 2015/2016 Cliff Green Short Story Competition was Antony Pollock. He received a $200 book voucher and was also given the opportunity to read his entry The Hermit, about an old man who finds himself in a moral dilemma following his battle with a giant fish.

The Diary learned Antony had written the core of the story, which was somewhat poetic in style and rhythm, when he was 12.

“I’ve been at work on something with words my entire life,” said The Cliffy winner. “I initially trained and worked as a journalist on the Daily Mercury in Queensland, so got good experience there in writing stories.”

Adding, he’d had a “romantic view” of being a full time author for many years:

cliffy award“You know, the room above the bread shop in the old quarter, drinking coffee at an ancient sidewalk cafe while I produce the great novel,” said Antony. “But doing a PhD thesis in Classics at ANU shattered that myth for me. It took me seven years to do and was the hardest thing I have ever written. I now know writing full time is really hard and discipline is required.”

Antony said he is trying to use his thesis experience to produce fiction in a substantial way, but confessed he was still feeling his way as a writer.

“Writing is like a physical muscle: I am learning to write and am not very fit, so shorter stories are good for my level of endurance. Having said that, the story I am currently working on is five chapters and counting.”

The successful entrant described his win as “surprising”.

“It is the first writing competition I have ever entered, let alone won. Warrandyte is such a creative place, so to win here is something I think,” he said. “I was very humbled and honoured, to be honest.”

A relative newcomer to Warrandyte, Antony (who works in a Commonwealth department in Melbourne) said he moved here almost 12 months ago from Canberra with wife Jacinta and their two-year-old son.

“So we are Warrandytians now and I just love the alternative feel to the place, the small village like atmosphere, the friendly neighbours … the even friendlier possums!”

And we just love that Warrandyte has another would-be author in its mix of talented writers. See his award-winning short story below …

THE HERMIT by Antony Pollock

In the forest lived a hermit. He had lived in the forest for as long as he could remember and there was never a time when he did not seem part of the meadows and streams. He was an old man with skin as wrinkled as a prune and hair as white as the clouds which drifted across the sky. But his eyes remained young and were as blue as the sparkling sea. He wore a long robe which was as old as he was and he leaned on an old crooked staff when he was tired.

He lived in a small wooden hut beside a gurgling stream and drew his water from an old well nearby. But sometimes the water in the well froze over during winter and the old man knew then that times were indeed hard. He fed the deer and other forest creatures which left the woods to drink in the long summer twilights. In winter the deer gathered close to his hut looking for food and he fed them too. But some days, food was scarce and then both deer and the old man went hungry.

One day, the old man travelled high into the hills. A cold wind whipped through the trees and snatched at the old man as he gathered his cloak around him. Winter was coming and a chill ran through him. He walked for a day and a half, further than he had ever walked before. He spent the night wrapped in his cloak in the leaf litter beside a small fire and set off again in the misty dawn, leaning heavily on his old staff.

Presently he came to a small pond pooled like a glistening jewel in the hills. He had walked for a long time and was tired, so decided to camp by the pond. As he knelt to wash his face the old man saw a huge fish lying motionless just below the surface in the centre of the pond. It was an old fish with many marks and scars on its faded body and fins notched and torn. But his gills still pulsated powerfully and his flank rippled with muscle. Because he had travelled far and because he was hungry the old man decided to catch the fish.

So he drew from his pouch a line and his finest lure and cast it upon the water. There was a wet plop as it landed and the old man jiggled and teased it along the surface. No fish ever known to him could resist that. But resist it the old fish did and try as he might, the old man could not catch him. He tried every trick he knew. He cast the line long and drew in fast. He cast the line short and drew in slowly. He weighted the lure and let it sink before pulling it back to shore. He changed his lure then changed it back again. He fished and fished until the shadows lengthened and the late afternoon chill passed through his thin clothing and entered the marrow of his bones. He fished until he was spent and in his frustration and hunger waded into the water to shout at the fish. But nothing worked.

Soon the old man stood exhausted and empty by the pond, his lure and twine hanging limply from his hand. Twilight was fast approaching and the old man, dejected and defeated, looked at the fish. It was then that he noticed something he had not noticed before. The eyes of the fish were milky and stared into nothing and suddenly, like a flash of summer lightning, the old man knew. “He’s blind! He’s blind!” he shouted at the trees. And so it was with shadows lengthening and evening drawing close that the old man discovered the secret of the fish. In its old age it had gone blind. He could not see the fine lure case before him let alone see to bite it.

In the end, it was simple. The old man replaced his lure with a fat grub he dug from the soil and let it sink slowly in front of the old fish. The fish smelt the grub, bit and was caught. In his agony he thrashed on the end of the line. He dived to the bottom of the pond and leapt high into the air trying to dislodge the awful hook. But try as he might he could not release himself and soon lay gasping on the ground, his long life finally ebbing away in the twilight.

At first the old man whooped with savage joy. But then as he watched the old fish dying on the ground, his flanks heaving and quivering, he was overcome by deep sadness. For years this creature had lived peacefully in the pond growing blind in his old age. He had seen many winters and each passing of the season wrote another chapter on his body full of scars and crevices. And he was killing him.

Suddenly the old man could not stand it and he reached down and twisted free the hook from the great head. He lifted the fish and plunged it into the pond, moving him gently through the water. At first nothing happened and the man was afraid he had killed him. Then a fin twitched, then another. As evening fell the fish slowly revived and as he watched him swim away the old man felt a deep release and sighed with pleasure.

That night he slept peacefully wrapped in his cloak under a thousand twinkling stars. In the moonlight in the centre of the pond the old fish hung motionless in the water as he had for countless nights before. In the morning the old man made his way back up the trail and by the time the sunlight hit the surface of the shining pond, he was far away. Not once did he look back.

Bridge of confusion


THE announcement of changes to the Warrandyte Bridge reported in last month’s Diary has polarised the Warrandyte community.

While some residents are applauding VicRoads’ plan, there are many who are unhappy with the lack of community consultation.

President of the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) Dick Davies said there had been a huge backlash over a lack of community engagement.

“It doesn’t really matter whether people were in favour of it or against it or want Warrandyte to remain the same. I think they have managed to antagonise most people because there wasn’t any community consultation,” said Mr Davies.

One plan that was mooted in the community forum last November, but is now seemingly discarded by VicRoads, was for another bridge for use during emergencies from Reynolds Road to Blackburn Road.

Jan Freemen, who has set up a petition to gather support for the second bridge concept, is angry authorities have made their mind up without asking the community.

“The state government seems hellbent on a solution in Warrandyte which many do not agree with,” she said.

State Minister for Roads, Luke Donnellan, and Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Shaun Leane, have highlighted the re evacuation benefits with both citing modelling which will see evacuation times reduced.

“This plan will potentially reduce emergency evacuation times for drivers travelling south over the bridge by up to 90 minutes,” said Mr Leane.

Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith said while he has had some very positive feedback about the plan, it was disappointing that community consultation did not eventuate.

“I still think there is an opportunity to put a public meeting in place so people can retrospectively talk about what they would like to see as enhancements to the proposal,” he said.

Since the announcement several Facebook groups have been the scene of heated discussion, some in support of the plan and others vehemently opposed to the changes to the bridge.

There is major confusion over whether the changes are being implemented to ease the notorious morning traffic congestion or as a public safety measure in the event of bushfire.

Spokesperson for the Facebook group Save Our Bridge, Sasha Reid, told the Diary the changes were being promoted as a public safety initiative, which is contradictory to the CFA’s leave early message.

“It’s being presented as a solution to doomsday catastrophic fire scenarios and if there are days when that is possible, such as Black Saturday, then perhaps people shouldn’t be here,” Ms Reid said.

Local fire brigades are also skeptical of the value of the changes in a bushfire scenario, Captain of North Warrandyte CFA, Mick Keating, high- lighted the fact there is more to an evacuation plan than getting over the bridge.

“It doesn’t matter what they do at the bridge, the problem is with the roads on the other side of the river, the feeder roads are only single roads, you can’t get lots of cars out of the area because the roads just don’t handle it – build a freeway along Yarra Street and you’ll be able to get all the cars out – but Yarra Street isn’t going to take all the cars out of the area very quickly either, so again you go back to getting out early,” Mr Keating said.

Warrandyte CFA captain Adrian Mullens agrees the supporting roads won’t allow a faster egress.

“If you had road infrastructure either side of the bridge that would be capable of coping with the traffic, but you haven’t got it,” Mr Mullens.

Hope that the changes will ease the morning peak hour are also meeting scepticism; spokesperson of the Fix the Bottleneck Facebook group, Jennie Hill, sees it as only a partial solution, but needed for the immediate needs of North Warrandyte residents.

“For the people sitting in kilometres of traffic every morning trying to get their kids to school, I see the bridge widening and lights as a short term fix, and now we have to start working towards the long-term fix,” she said. And the long-term fix in many people’s eyes is the completion of the M80, however most concede even an optimistic timeframe for the Ring Road solution is at least a decade. WCA’s Dick Davies is hopeful VicRoads will return for more consultation and has offered to facilitate a community forum.
“Given that they are going to do something, what’s the best thing? You need to listen to the people who actually use the road, and of course everybody has got different views depending on where people live and what time they use the road, whether they are taking kids to school or going to work or what ever you know and if you listen to people you will find out what their views are,” Mr Davies said.

“It’s no good saying ‘it’s better to have the Ring Road’ – well it is better to have the Ring Road, but it’s not going to happen, not in the near future, so really we have got to try and work on the best design.”

Phase 1 of construction is due to begin in August with traffic lights being installed and a widening of the intersection of Kangaroo Ground and Research roads.

New model Green machine


WHEN we heard there’d been a new signing, and the name Shelby Green had been dropped, we wondered which women’s soccer team had ensnared the up and coming North Warrandyte local and granddaughter of Diary founder Cliff Green.

Further digging revealed the athletic youngster was the centre of a very different signing. Australian fashion icon Chadwicks Models, with over 30 years in the industry, believe Shelby’s striking features and hard-working attitude just might make her the next big thing in an arena, keen to portray a fresh, healthy image for young Australian women.

“Shelby joins a select group managed and promoted by the highly respected company,” Chadwicks booker Nathan Rossenrode told the Diary.

“As agents we are always on the lookout for talent who possess an individuality that will stand them apart from their modeling peers. When I first saw Shelby I was struck by her uniqueness, she possesses a different kind of beauty from many girls we represent.

“Apart from her physical attributes Shelby is also a very articulate and intelligent young woman. As models, it’s important to have a confidence. Beauty can only take attitude and personality that takes you to that next level. Shelby is still very young, but is confident and has a maturity beyond her years.”

Shelby’s soccer is also on the up and up. After a season with the Victorian state team at the National Training Centre and a successful nationals competition at Coffs Harbour, the fast running full back is now a proud member of the Bulleen Lions Women’s National Premier League side for the 2016 season.

Balancing school, soccer and a potential modelling career will provide quite a challenge, but the focused 15-year-old told the Diary: “I’ll just have to prioritise everything, be organised and get things done, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to see where this (modelling) might lead me.”

And when asked how she might find standing in a bathing suit in a cold day? “No problem, try smashing into grown women, on a six degree day in the middle of a wind-swept soccer pitch.”

The Diary will be keeping an eye out for Shelby, whether she be shooting goals or featuring in fashion shoots. There’s no limit to what this third generation Warrandytian can achieve.

VIDEO: Travel agency or online?

Bricks and mortar travel agency or online? Warrandyte Travel & Cruise expert Carolyn Allen explains why the traditional travel agent is best.

Bricks and mortar travel agent versus online. What is your take on that? – Scott, Warrandyte.

I liken this discussion to comparing eating at McDonald’s against a la carte dining at a fine dining restaurant.

At McDonald’s you are offered a simple menu whereas at a fine dining establishment you have a choice of interesting taste combinations that you may not have ever thought of yourself.

If your needs are simple and you are happy to take what’s offered by a robotic search engine then there is nothing wrong with online booking. However, if you are looking for more than just point to point travel and one hotel then you will benefit from working with an expert on the other side of the desk in a bricks and mor- tar travel agency.

For example: we recently had a client wanted to go to Malaysia, Mainland China and Hong Kong. The online booking sites, as was our system quoted a fare in the vicinity of $8000. Our human expertise was able to apply some creativity, rework the fare and reduce it by half.

Q: What else do you consider to be the makings of a great travel booking experience?

A: A great travel experience starts the minute you walk in the door and are greeted by a consultant who genuinely cares about travel needs. It is vital your travel professional gets to know you, knows your likes and dislikes and works as your best advocate to provide great holiday arrangements – tailored to suit your requirements, taste and budget.

Invariably your consultant has travelled to the destination. They have great travel tips, can recommend restaurants and of course the best places to stay.

I recently travelled to Rajasthan in India – one of my favourite parts in the world. The back alley tours in the cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur provide a wonderful insight into the vibrant life that is India – for me these little gems are a must but rarely promoted!

A reputable travel company takes pride in providing their clients with all options enabling them to make informed choices. Your booking experience should be almost as enjoyable as the journey itself.

Our travel expert Carolyn is the manager of Warrandyte Travel and Cruise. Email her at



Festival countdown

WARRANDYTE Festival. It’s a battleground for young musicians, a race to glory for daredevil ducks and a feast for fun- lovers. Coming your way on March 18, 19 and 20, CHERIE MOSELEN guides you through some of what’s on offer.


Watch local youth bands at Stiggants Reserve main stage fight for the top prize, a day in a recording studio. Battles rage from 6.30pm on Friday 18 March with featured headliner this year, Amiko. Soft drink, water and BBQ will be available for cash purchase. This is a drug, smoke and alcohol free event. Admission is FREE.


Warrandyte Rotary’s 32nd Art Show will exhibit work by local and interstate artists. Preview the art around 500 paintings as you enjoy a gala champagne opening at 7pm on Friday 18 March. Venue: Warrandyte Community Church, 57 Yarra Street. Tickets cost $25. The Art Show opens on Saturday and Sunday from 10am.


Yarra Street (between the Kangaroo Ground Road bridge roundabout and Harris Gully Road roundabout) will be closed to traffic from 10.30am until 12pm on Saturday 19 March 2016.


Watch Warrandyte’s fabulous street parade boogie on down to Stiggants Reserve! The official ceremony starts at 11am on Saturday March 19. Parade marchers leave from Mitchell Avenue. Community groups, schools, sports clubs, your CFA and fabulous floats you won’t want to miss it!


The official opening kicks things off at noon. Meet your monarchs and get ready for entertainment from local school and bush bands. The Scrims (formerly known as the Scrimshaw Four) and Teskey Brothers slot into a fabulous line up on Saturday afternoon. Sunday’s program starts at 11.30am and includes acts: Pinball Machine, Little Stevies, Chocolate Lilies and The Demon Parade. (If you love a bit of banjo twang, don’t miss final band, ARIA nominated Mustered Courage!)


Cruise along the Yarra on board the festival’s faithful ships of the desert. Camel rides leave from the bottom of Police Street at 8.30am throughout the weekend.

If it’s extra speed you want, try the Scouts’ Giant Water Slide from noon Saturday and Sunday. Charges apply for both activities. Family Bike Ride leaves on Sunday 9am from Warrandyte Netball Courts, Taroona Avenue. Conditions apply (see program).


Children’s performer Carmen Up brings on the entertainment at noon on Saturday, with African Star Olly Friend and Side Glance, among others carrying the show. Sunday’s fun gets underway with the Pet Parade at 9.30am. Get excited for Sergei & Svetlana (the strongest people in the world!) and stay tuned for bands featuring young Melbourne up-and-comers.


Located downhill adjacent to the Warrandyte Community Church this is the place to drop the kids on Saturday afternoon. Puppeteers show, The Funky Monkeys, drumming, ukuleles and jujitsu for those with plenty of beans. All for FREE!

On Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, the boogie is live. Tango lessons, Hip-hop, Tribal and Bollywood, Go Go or Belly dancing… this is your chance Warrandyte, to get your groove on.


The Derby is back and the challenge is real. Carts line up at the top of Police Street from Sunday 9.30am. Registration takes place between 8.30 – 9.15am for children ages 8 to 15 years. Parents’ race, trophies and great prizes… it doesn’t get any bigger. Carts MUST meet strict safety criteria. For enquiries and registration call 0418 357 282 or email


Up to 1000 plastic ducks dive into the Yarra on Sunday at 2.30pm… but only one will make it downriver to Stiggant Street as the winner! Ducks can be pre-purchased from local schools or from the Information Caravan at the festival, for $3. Ducks will be displayed at the Kid’s Activity Top Tent on Sunday from 11.30am – 2.30pm. Launch takes place from the bottom of Police Street.


Local groups and service providers will offer information and a range of opportunities. Check the program for the complete list of static displays situated along the riverbank. Furthering this year’s festival theme “Boogie in the Bush”, Warrandyte Historical Society Museum will house a special exhibit called Decades of Dance, showcasing dance and dancing in Warrandyte over the years.


In its 19th year, this year’s Grand Read feature guest is Jennifer Harrison, 2011 winner of
the Christopher Brennan Award for lifetime achievement in poetry. Enjoy the work of quality poets and writers at this much-loved literary event, from 7.30pm on Tuesday 22 March upstairs at the Grand Hotel. Adult $20 (Concession $16) includes a light supper. Please purchase in advance from Warrandyte Neighbourhood House on 9844 1839. Visit


Imaginative outdoor art and craft for children of all ages, Nature’s Playground is proudly supported by Manningham council. Located next to the children’s playground, discover a unique play space to create cubbies, nests and sculptures influenced by local flora. From 12pm to 4pm, Sunday only.


‘Follies Goes Viral’ is the latest contribution of laugh-out-loud comedy from Warrandyte Theatre Company. A clever look at society’s fascination with ‘things that go viral’, show dates as follows: 31 March and 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16 April, from 8pm at the Mechanics Institute Hall.


Check out for more info: program details, accessibility info, road closures, maps and registration forms. Warrandyte Festival is dedicated to reducing the amount of waste produced each year. Please do your part. Find a bin, bring a water bottle and consider using your own cutlery and crockery. Your efforts will not be wasted!

One beautiful Day

Tribute by Jamie Day read by Jamie at Lilydale Memorial Gardens 19/02/16. Jamie is Ron Day’s son.

THANK you everyone for coming today. I know Dad wouldn’t have wanted all the fuss. However, here we all are.

Looking around the room is a testament to the wonderful man that was my father.

So what do you say about the man Ron Day? A man who could talk to anyone on any level and debate almost any topic.

There are many words that could describe Dad. Well read, fair, reasonable, intelligent, articulate, a husband, a father, a grandfather but most of all, my best friend.

As a child I remember the sound of the ACCO starting up in the early hours of the morning and arriving late at night. If not that, then it was swearing and tools hitting the shed floor as a repair was made for the next day’s deliveries. A man who’s work ethic is a forgotten attribute!

As most of you all realise there was always a project with Dad and never enough time to finish it. Dad always said if you’re disorganised you’re always busy! Maybe there is a lesson in there for all of us.

I could write a book on “Quotes by Ronno” and I’m sure it would outsell “Shit my Dad says”, for those of you who know the book!

I remember speaking to him from Indonesia and telling him how great we were doing financially.

“We’re living like kings,” I said to which he answered: “Why don’t you live like a prince and put a bit in your pocket!” Always a leveller to bring me down to earth.

I rolled his beloved Massey Ferguson onto his Falcon ute. After the dressing down that I rightly deserved, we walked across to Gallatly’s Lane, he winked at me and said, “Go get the camera.” Lesson learnt nothing more to be said. That was Dad’s way.

We sometimes borrowed his motorbikes when we were younger, not necessarily legally. He laughed about it later, it was much, much later.

Screaming around in the Commer van. Dad yelling at us: “That thing wouldn’t pull a fart off a shit.”

I had the privilege of travelling to Turkey with Dad and sitting in a boat off the coast of Gallipoli looking at the beach his father fought on so many years before.

One of the few times I ever saw him express emotion, I am so lucky to have known him and spent time with him for so many more years than he had the chance to with his own father.

My wife Annie and our three beautiful girls have been able to travel with my parents, sit with our kids on beaches in the Philippines; travel through Europe looking at the wonders of Rome, Milan and old cities in France whilst listening to Dad explain the history of these places to our children.

He also had to explain how he put diesel in a petrol car! Probably the hardest thing he has ever had to do

Maybe that’s a story for later.

He wondered at history and was amazed by the world in general.

The Soil Shop was the proving ground for our relationship.

After Dad decided it was a good idea to go to the auction for the Soil Shop and then subsequently purchase it, he was dragged kicking and screaming into the computer age and our years at the Soil Shop were tumultuous at times to say the least. It wasn’t always an easy road but we got there in the end.

After some time he finally agreed to pay me! His quote was: “Jamie has finally learnt the value of a dollar.”

I think I always knew the value, it was just he never gave it to me!

It was these great few years which forged the friendship between Cameron and myself.

Mum soldiered on with the computer age whilst Dad bowed three times to Windows 95 then went on to deliver the next load of crushed rock.

A lot of my friends spent a great deal of time at Pound Bend and experienced the hospitality of Mum and Dad.

Michael and Jacqui were both accepted as one of Mum and Dad’s own at different times.

There are so many stories of how Dad touched different people’s lives, but no time to recount them here today.

There will be no filling the void that has been left behind since Dad has gone, so all I can do is try to fill it with all the great memories that I have.

He was constantly steering me in the right direction throughout my life, which at times made no sense, although as I matured, a point on which some may disagree, his advice and wisdom became clear.

He was a special man, a rough exterior with a heart of gold and for those of us who knew him we’re better off for it.


Corner of confusion

THERE is risk of a precedent being set in the Manningham Green Wedge after a section of land in Warrandyte was controversially awarded as a new title, abandoning usual processes.

In 2010, Brad and Eve Hatfield purchased land at 294 Tindals Road and were told soon after that a corner of their land, about 1000m2, was subject to a claim of adverse possession submitted by their then neighbour.

According to the titles office – now known as the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) – adverse possession is a legal principle that “enables the occupier of a piece of land to obtain ownership if uninterrupted and exclusive possession of the land for at least 15 years can be proven”.

Having successfully obtained the piece of land from the Hatfields, the neighbour sold the property. However, the regular laws of subdivision were bypassed and the piece of land acquired through adverse possession became its own title.

“We moved on from the adverse possession claim and thought the property had been sold as one piece of land only to find out there was a new title,” said Brad.

“It was like another kick in the teeth. We bought the property to build our dream home and we’ve lost a corner of it where someone could potentially build a house, looking out across our land. It’s shocking and it’s changed all our plans.”

Manningham councillor Geoff Gough said DELWP had circumvented the normal subdivision procedures.

“The fact that subdivision or small lots can be created via this [process], and that they’re separate titles and not added to one title, is a real issue for the future of the Green Wedge,” Cr Gough said.

“I think the ultimate issue is with the titles office being able to create titles without council or anybody knowing and creating a brand new lot smaller than the minimum lot size.”

Within the Manningham Green Wedge zone, properties can not be subdivided below eight hectares. Former Manningham mayor Bob Beynon argues that if an application to subdivide the property was submitted to council, it would have been rejected.

“Council could refuse a permit to build on the title. But if your application meets the requirements of the zone provisions, it’s possible it could be taken to VCAT and have the council’s decision overturned,” he said. “I became involved in this because I believe it sets a worrying precedent,” Beynon said. “Although council aren’t culpable, it’s in their best interest to start making inquiries as to what council’s role could be in the event that people may try to pull the same sort of stunt.”

Teresa Dominik, director of planning and environment at Manningham council, said the correct procedures had been followed in the case of adverse possession and that DELWP had created a new title without informing council.

“The Land Title Office confirmed that the granting of the adverse possession application followed the necessary legislative requirements and processes prior to the granting of the application and creation of the new Folio,” she told the Diary.

“This was done by the Land Title Office and the process did not require any notification to council. The parcel of land is 1088m2 in size and officers were surprised it wasn’t sold with the main property.”

Eve Hatfield said her family could not move on from the case while the neighbouring title poses so many uncertainties.

“It’s just been a constant battle to keep the dream going,” she said. “Our fight continues with the intricate issues surrounding this small parcel of land and what the owner proposes to do with it.”



VIDEO: Soul kitchen

WARRANDYTE not-for-profit café Now and Not Yet are known for providing great coffee, service and atmosphere for their local community to enjoy. But now its branching out with compassion by supporting Victoria’s refugee community.

In 2015, Now and Not Yet employed two young refugee men from Sri Lanka, Nigethan and Selvam, recently released from Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, a detention centre in Broadmeadows.

One of these men is Nigethan, a skilled chef from Sri Lanka, currently living in Warrandyte and working in Now and Not Yet’s kitchen.

“I spent the last six years in a detention centre, and was released four months ago,” Nigethan told the Diary.

“Now, I am very lucky to be here and to have a job in this restaurant. I am very happy and very thankful for the opportunity.”

Derek Bradshaw, founder and general manager of Now and Not Yet, knew there was something he could do to help asylum seekers find their feet in Australia.

“We got really passionate about the refugee issue and the way 
our government is treating these beautiful and amazing people. We thought why don’t we start utilising our amazing little café to be able to help with training and employment opportunities,” Derek told the Diary.

“Part of our goal is to help people get some longevity and housing. A lot of them can’t get
 a job because they don’t have
 a fixed address, and they can’t 
get a fixed address because they haven’t got a job. These people too, they’ve got amazing skills but they don’t have the opportunity to use them or the chance to get some training under their belt. And long term employment helps them to be able to feel good about themselves and feel like they’re actually contributing to Australian society.”

Nigethan’s contribution to the Warrandyte community has been stellar. An incredible chef with
a heart of gold, Nige has been cooking up delicious food for locals and visitors for the past few months, bringing his own unique touch to each and every dish.

“My favourite dish to cook is the coconut butter chicken. It’s not too spicy. In my country, we cook with lots of spice, but here I cook so that anyone can have it, even children,” he says.

“I’m just working in the kitchen at the moment, so that I can get experience. But then I want to learn to do coffee.”

Now and Not Yet has provided support, housing, employment and friendly guidance to help Nigethan and Selvam find their feet outside the detention centre walls. But the Warrandyte community has also been a force to be reckoned with, donating food, money, bedding and household items to give these men a head start.

“One of the things I love about the Warrandyte community is that they’re really passionate about the things we’re passionate about. They’ve given us everything you can possibly think of. Even one lady who’d done her research
on Sri Lankan food went out and bought us all these Sri Lankan spices and a picnic basket so that they could make food and go down to the river to enjoy beautiful Warrandyte,” Derek says.

Nigethan is especially thankful for Derek and his family, who have taken him in and provided him with a positive start in his life outside of detention. The wider Warrandyte community has also ensured that Nigethan feels welcome everywhere he goes.

“I like going to the river. I also like the coffee and the nice people – it’s nice to see new faces all the time. When I was in the detention centre, it was the same people all the time. But now I really enjoy every day. I really love this place,” he says.

Derek hopes Nigethan and Selvam are the first of many to benefit from Now and Not Yet’s program, helping them not only with housing and employment but also with developing their interview and CV skills and improving their English.

“The long-term goal is to continue the program and get people on the road. But we’ve made a commitment to this and they’re part of the family now, so we will continue to support them, encourage them and make sure they’ve got stability moving forward,” Derek says.

The café manager couldn’t be more proud of the way the Warrandyte community has rallied their support for Nigethan and Selvam, and hopes we can all lend a hand in making a difference for refugees and asylum seekers not only in our community, but in all of Australia.

“It’s not an asylum seeker issue that we’re talking about – we’re talking about real people. People who love and are passionate. I hate the way that it’s become this political issue and it’s completely dehumanised.”

“There is joy that comes from engaging with somebody and stopping the dehumanising of it. It’s great. It’s a really good thing for Warrandyte to be part of. Making a difference and standing up to our government and saying ‘this is not the way that we want to treat people’.”

“They bring a lot to our community so it’s a privilege to be a part of it.”

Brackenbury blaze

A MAKESHIFT ashtray was the cause of a fire that gutted a house in Brackenbury Street, according to Warrandyte CFA, as emergency vehicles from Warrandyte, South Warrandyte, North Warrandyte and Eltham CFAs attended the blaze and quickly brought it under control.

Warrandyte CFA captain Adrian Mullens said: “It started at the back at the house – an old, small tomato tin used as an ashtray.”

The house was only a few hundred metres away from Yarra Street, Warrandyte’s busiest part of town, and fortunately no person or animal was injured in the blaze thanks to the excellent response by a combination of seven tankers and pumpers, police, ambulance and rehabilitation unit. A fire investigator and regional officers also attended.

Neighbours called 000 after smelling smoke about 1.30pm on Thursday January 28. Resident Cassie Jones told the Diary she could smell smoke for about half an hour before taking a look around the area to see where it was coming from.

“The CFA trucks were here within minutes,” she said.

“That same house only had a fire that did some damage just a few years ago as well.” Something the Warrandyte CFA confirmed this week, informing the Diary of a chimney fire at the property in recent years.

It is believed the house was left with extensive damage after fire came through the back wall near where the ashtray was situated and through the rooftop with large amounts of smoke billowing out and across nearby streets.

As one local pointed out, the fire is an ominous reminder that had the fire happened only a few weeks earlier on a low humidity, high temperature windy day, containment would have been very difficult.

The house is very close to the old goldmines and bushland protected as part of the Warrandyte State Forest, as well as several nearby houses and commercial buildings in the main street.

Smoke and embers emitted on a severe or catastrophic risk day would have created problematic spot fires in a challenging residential and commercial area.

While our CFA crews and emergency services clearly did a fantastic job, it’s also worth noting the strong community spirit shown on the Warrandyte Business and Commu- nity Group page when several locals immediately committed to offering all sorts of assistance and help for the owner of the property, including somewhere to stay.

“The owner was only gone for an hour and it happened in that time,” Warrandyte CFA captain Adrian Mullens told the Diary. “A pet dog was in the house and the minute the boys opened the door, the dog scooted so fortunately no people or animals were hurt.

The fire initially was in the roof space (the bulk of the fire) and where the ashtray burnt – the point of origin at the back wall.”

A Manningham building inspector arrived at the house, removed the certificate of occupancy, and power and gas was immediately disconnected while asbestos was also identified in the building.

“It certainly wasn’t habitable afterwards,” Capt Mullens said.

“We salvaged what we could get from the house but there’s extensive damage.”