News

Road to nowhere


AS the flood mitigation saga in the Melbourne Hill Road storm water catchment continues, communication between residents and council officers has hit a crisis point with each side of the debate accusing the other of inaccuracies, inconsistencies and misrepresentations of fact.

At the most recent meeting with Manningham council, the community representative panel presented a letter to council CEO Joe Carbone (published in the Diary’s August edition) outlining their dissatisfaction with the handling and progress of the issue, and the conclusions in the Community Report presented by council.

In a conference call briefing, and a lengthy media statement, Director Assets and Engineering Leigh Harrison outlined to the Diary areas with which council disagree with the residents’ summation.

Although extremely detailed and sometimes confusing, council’s main points of contention seem to focus on the residents’ assertion that the process has been manipulated and that the external consultancy firm has not acted independently — which council denies.

According to Mr Harrison: “Claims that the process has been manipulated to achieve a preconceived outcome are baseless. A consultative process has been followed throughout.”

Similarly: “The assertion that council did not allow for an independent assessment of the issue is a misinterpretation of fact.”

Mr Harrison also indicated council did not agree to provide draft reports directly to the residents and, although a baseline cost estimate was requested by the panel on the upgrade to manage a one in five year storm event, it was “not a requirement of the project brief and would have no value in informing the process”.

In the media statement, the issue of environmental impact on the eco- logically sensitive area is dismissed, with focus only on the impact of nitrogen flows on Andersons Creek in minor storm events. There is no mention of major flood activity (the impetus for the report) or of the impact drilling, construction, concreting and insertion of underground storm water infrastructure would have on the whole topography, amenity and long term ecological sustainability of the catchment.

Manager Engineering and Technical Services, Roger Woodlock, also sent out a letter to all the residents in the catchment summarising the last public meeting from the council perspective. This was labelled as “deliberately misleading” by rep panel spokesperson Daniel Drew.

Additionally, a new fact sheet has been placed on the area dedicated to Melbourne Hill Road on council’s ‘Your Say Manningham’ consultation portal. The page outlines the council’s position about the issue but at the time the Diary went to print omits provision for public commentary.

Mr Harrison told the Diary: “Council has gone to great lengths to ensure a consultative and inclusive process through the development of the Community Report, and every effort has been made to involve the affected community in the identification of flood mitigation schemes and the basis for comparison.”

However, the fact remains that after three years of considerable work on the part of council officers, the establishment of a community reference panel and the appointment of an external consultancy firm, Manningham council has been unsuccessful in communicating their position and have not sold their original plan to ratepayers.

Daniel Drew told the Diary: “The representative panel stands by its statement of rejection of the so- called ‘independent’ consultant’s flood mitigation report and our accusation of incomplete, misleading or biased information provided by council to the catchment community.”

For more information on Manningham Council’s Community Report visit: yoursaymanningham.com.au

The full statement from both Manningham City Council and the Melbourne Hill Road panel can be found below…

 

 

 

COUNCIL STATEMENT

Please note:

  • Text in regular font is quoting the Warrandyte Diary article on Melbourne Hill Road, August 2015
  • Text in bold is responding to points/issues raised in the above article

Despite three years of negotiations with ratepayers, Manningham council officers appear determined to enforce their original and controversial “special charge scheme” for flood mitigation in Melbourne Hill Road.

After residents objected in force to the scheme, which was devised to address flooding in four properties in 2011, a dedicated rep panel was set up by council to investigate alternative options.

There are 8 properties in this catchment which flood in a 1 in 100 year (major) flood event.

Among other issues, the panel criticised the scheme’s exorbitant cost to householders, as well as its lack of environmental consideration for the ecological sensitivity of the catchment.

The focus of the initial scheme was flood mitigation, in keeping with the core objectives of this project, as set out in the Project Brief developed in consultation with a subcommittee of the Reference Panel.

The Melbourne Hill Road catchment contributes flows to Andersons Creek. The Community Report assessed the relative environmental impacts of each scheme in terms of their ability to reduce the quantity of nitrogen discharging from the catchment and their relative impacts on the naturalness of peak flows in a minor storm event in Andersons Creek. As this sub catchment represents only a small proportion of the Andersons Creek catchment, the relative impacts of the four schemes on the naturalness of Andersons Creek flows from this catchment vary by only 4%.   Differences in impacts in this sense are not significant.  

Only two of the schemes developed in consultation with the community provided any benefit in terms of reducing the discharge of nitrogen from the catchment. It is clear that the original scheme does not provide the level of nitrogen discharge reduction benefit of schemes 4 and 5.

Works incorporated into any flood mitigation scheme for this catchment will be scoped to achieve the project objectives only. Competitive tenders will be called for any scheme and the Council will seek the most cost effective proposal.  

At the request of the rep panel, Manningham Council eventually appointed an independent consulting firm to produce a report for flood mitigation in the catchment.

However, spokesperson for the rep panel Daniel Drew told the Diary he believed engineers “manipulated the options in the report to reflect preconceived outcomes” and that the process was engineered by engineers from the beginning.

Claims that the process has been manipulated to achieve a preconceived outcome are baseless. A consultative process has been followed throughout the development of the three additional schemes, and the consultant has acted independently and in accordance with the industry Code of Ethics.

The process adopted for the development of the three additional sustainable flood mitigation schemes was identified in the Project Brief, which was developed in consultation with a subcommittee of the Reference Panel. Reference Panel input was sought in developing the Community Values which have informed the assessment and comparison of the performances of the four schemes.

The appointed consultant has assessed the four flood mitigation options for the Melbourne Hill Road catchment and the results of their investigations are set out in the Community Report which is available on the Your Say Manningham website.

In developing the three options, the consultant developed a long list of 25 sustainable flood mitigation options as components available to be incorporated into the three community short listed flood mitigation schemes to be tested through the flood model. At the short listing workshop, the long list options were presented and the community prioritised these options. The community then worked with the consultant and officers to develop the three additional shortlisted schemes for testing through the flood model. Council has no record of Mr Drew attending the shortlisting workshop. Furthermore, no decision has been taken at this time regarding a preferred flood mitigation scheme for this catchment.

Mr Drew, who is also a professional environment consultant, said: “Council’s justification for the drainage scheme is to provide flood protection to a handful of houses in the lower section of Melbourne Hill Road – houses that were somehow give planning and building approval by this same council, which is now seeking to erase their responsibility in allowing such houses to be built.

The properties which flood in a major storm event are not restricted to the lower section of Melbourne Hill Road. Irrespective, these houses were built in accordance with state-wide building controls that applied at the time, and without the knowledge that has been gained since, in relation to stormwater flows. Council has no liability for past actions by private land owners.

While Council will contribute to the project cost, the Local Government Act 1989, supported by decades of tribunal case law, provides that residents gaining a direct benefit from the provision of drainage infrastructure should pay separately for that benefit; while general rates are to be used for broad community benefit. The overriding principle being that the broad resident base shouldn’t subsidise individual benefit. The fact that drainage was not provided at the time of development does not mean that resident liability is foregone. It simply means that residents have been able to defer the cost of drainage for those years that have since passed.

“Additionally, a substantial contributor to the floodwater is the uncontrolled flow of council water through the catchment and the underlying responsibility of council to install infrastructure required to manage such flows … without impacting on the threatened houses – which were permitted to be built in the flood zone”.

The Wildflower Reserve and associated road reservation constitute approximately 12 per cent of the catchment, therefore the remaining 88 per cent of the catchment is made up of private properties and streets, and the contributions to downstream storm flows in the valley are of a similar proportion. All areas, including public and private land contribute to overland flows within this catchment and there is a need to manage these flows to achieve the flood mitigation project objective. It is not feasible to construct drainage infrastructure solely within road reservations and achieve the project habitable floor flood mitigation objective.

Mr Drew also told the Diary it is “on record in a number of meetings” that ratepayers are only legally required to contribute to flood mitigation costs for what is termed “One-in-Five-Year” rainfall events. The solution proposed by council, to which residents would be required to contribute, however, is designed for a “One-in-100-Year” event.

It is confirmed that Council will contribute to the cost of any flood mitigation scheme in accordance with the requirements of its Policy. Council will fund the cost of upgrading the minor 5 year drainage system to convey flows from the major or 100 year storm events. In addition, Council will contribute to the cost of the minor 5 year system works proportionate to the area of public land within the catchment. Logically, residents should also contribute to the project costs on the basis of the stormwater runoff their land contributes and/or the protection their properties derive from the works (in accordance with lawful tribunal rulings).

According to residents, one of the difficulties of the brief given to the consulting firm is they were asked to compare and gauge the alternatives with the ‘benchmark’ provided in the original council model. This did not allow for an original and independent assessment of the task at hand, but rather an appraisal of the effectiveness of the existing scheme.

This statement is a misinterpretation of fact. Contrary to this assertion, it was important for the consultancy to independently assess the original scheme, in order to verify, or otherwise, its legitimacy against other possible solutions. To not have done so would have been prejudicial to the process. In addition, the inclusion of this option did not in any way influence the consultant’s independent thinking in regard to other options. Each option was separately assessed against the objectives, and not against each other.

The Brief was developed in consultation with a subcommittee of the Reference Panel. The Brief is clear in its requirements for the consultant to consider traditional and non-traditional solutions to meet flood protection and achieve improved environmental outcomes. Further, the brief called for the development of cost effective solutions, in consultation with the affected community. Schemes 4 and 5 both offer sustainability benefits and these results are in contrast with the concerns expressed. The project objectives have been met, within the constraints of the local topography, limitations on the availability of public land and the broader catchment appetite for a sustainable solution.

The issue currently plaguing Melbourne Hill road is likely to become a widespread one within Warrandyte and Manningham as a whole, as councils are forced to deal with escalating extreme weather events caused by climate change. The Melbourne Hill Road residents are of the opinion it seems Manningham Council engineers are happy to come up with “special charges schemes” rather than address long-term effective environmental solutions.

The residents of the area are liable for their drainage and for the contribution their drainage makes to downstream flows. There is no escaping this fact. By its very nature, this means that residents are responsible for these aspects. A scheme is merely a legal means of ensuring that this is affected in an equitable way. This is a common approach across the state, and the country, supported by decades of tribunal case law.

Significant effort and time has been invested in the development of three alternative, sustainable flood mitigation schemes, which have been tested through the flood model and assessed against the community and project values. Special charge schemes can incorporate environmental solutions where the associated assets provide a special benefit.

The Melbourne Hill Road Catchment Community Representative Panel unanimously rejects the report from BMT WBM entitled:

“Melbourne Hill Road Drainage Scheme Assessment – Community Report”

The report is rejected because:

  1. The Rep Panel has strong reservations about the independence and therefore the integrity of the report:

The consultant agreed on 5 February 2015 to provide a written declaration of independence to the Rep Panel. No such statement has been received

The Reference Panel Terms of Reference signed by the Ward Councillor and the Chairperson for the Melbourne Hill Road Representative Panel on 5 February 2015 state that the consultant is independent. The Terms of Reference have been available through the Your Say Manningham website since February 2015.

The consultant agreed to provide draft reports to the Rep Panel (together with all supporting raw data) at the same time as such information was provided to council. Both the consultants and Council are in breach of this agreement as all information relating to the consultant’s work has been provided only after prior approval by Council officers.

While there was a request for draft reports to be provided by the Consultant directly to the Reference Panel, there was no agreement to this request. It would, in fact, be highly inappropriate for Council to allow the work of any consultant to be made public without first confirming its accuracy and its compliance with the contract, as awarded. Council has a responsibility to ensure due process is followed in the management of any contract that it has let. To not do so would be negligent of Council. However, it should be made patently clear that this does not mean that Council has unduly influenced the contractor/consultant.

The consultant’s work is their own, and all Council is doing is acting responsibly in ensuring that the agreed terms of the contract are met. Council’s independent auditors would insist on this.

  1. The report contains statements that the Rep Panel believe to be factually incorrect:

“The entire catchment contributes to the flooding issues experienced in the catchment” is a patently untrue statement and we believe its inclusion is solely to support justifying a special charges scheme for the entire catchment.

This is an entirely inaccurate statement. By basic physical fact, stormwater that falls in any part of a catchment contributes to downstream flows, whether that land is private property or otherwise.

  1. The Rep Panel has reason to question some of the flood modelling and has been given no opportunity to discuss these issues or obtain clarification before the report was released.

At the community meeting held on 30 April 2015, the flood modelling undertaken in respect of the existing catchment was presented to the community. Comment was invited and received from community members, including the Reference Panel, specifically relating to the flood extents in the Lorraine Avenue area. In response, a further field survey was undertaken by Council officers and this information was incorporated into the flood model. Details of these changes and the updated flood model results have been explained in the Community Report. The flood model results were also compared against the reports of the actual property flooding that was experienced, and the video footage provided by community members of overland flows following the December 2011 flood event. It was found that there was good correlation between the model results and the community reports. This is a universally accepted means of testing the validity of models, and, as a result, Council is satisfied with the accuracy of the modelling.

Further, this statement was made at the commencement of the community meeting conducted on Monday, 10 August 2015. The purpose of the community meeting was to present the findings of the Community Report and respond to any questions raised by the community members. Responses to several questions regarding the flood mapping were provided at the community meeting, and a list of questions and responses from that meeting will be posted on Your Say Manningham shortly.

  1. The report fails to quantify the significant contribution to flooding in the catchment from water which originates from Council-controlled areas or Council assets

The flood modelling quantifies the aggregated stormwater runoff from the catchment as stormwater runoff moves downstream, and progressively picks up more land. This is how all flood models work. It is not practical to increasingly isolate flows from road reservations from those flows from private property as it travels down the catchment. However, the apportionment of costs between Council and the property owners for the preferred scheme will take account of the relative areas of public and private land at that stage of the project development. This work is beyond the scope of the current study and will be undertaken by Council officers.

This is standard practice for any scheme (not just for Manningham), and is a verified process through VCAT, which is the ultimate test of a scheme’s integrity.

It should also be reiterated here that, in addition to its land, Council is bearing the cost of the runoff from all streets, irrespective of the fact that they can legally be charged to the private land owners.

  1. The report fails to include a baseline estimate of minimum cost required to upgrade existing drainage infrastructure to manage a 1 in 5 year ARI.

Apart from the fact that this was not a requirement of the Project Brief, which was developed in consultation with a subcommittee of the Reference Panel, it would have no value in informing the process. This would mean that Council would be assigning apportioned costs to residents based on a minimal works model against a larger scheme and bearing the balance of the resident costs itself. This lesser cost should not then be used as the basis of resident contributions towards a full drainage scheme (e.g. Option 1), as, by default, Council would be paying for drains in upstream properties through general rates, rather than the properties paying for what they are liable for. The Project Brief requires the protection of habitable floor areas from flooding in a major (1 in 100 year) flood event. The value of the minor (five year) rainfall event infrastructure will be estimated based on the preferred scheme option.

  1. The report implies that the Rep Panel endorsed the 4 options modelled, whereas

Scheme 1 has never been accepted or endorsed by the Rep Panel

Accepted, however, scheme 1 was required to be included in the Study as part of the agreed Project Brief, in order to have it checked for probity purposes, and to enable the consultant to independently assess it against any other model they may have come up with.

Scheme 5 as modelled was not agreed to by the Rep Panel.

This is not correct. Scheme 5 was proposed by the Reference Panel following the community shortlisting workshop conducted on 30 April 2015, to replace scheme 3 as developed by the community. Scheme 5 was modelled based on the options originally provided by the Panel. After the closing date, the Panel submitted a modified Scheme 5, but the flood modelling had already progressed based on the original Scheme 5. Advice was provided to the Panel that the modified Scheme 5 could therefore not be included in the project.

  1. The report fails to record how each of the houses that are subject to flooding were permitted to be built without adequate flood protection

This was not a requirement of the Project Brief developed in consultation with a subcommittee of the Reference Panel and falls beyond the scope of the consultant study. These houses were built in accordance with state-wide building controls that applied at the time, and without the knowledge that has been gained since, in relation to stormwater flows.

The fact that drainage was not provided at the time of development does not mean that resident liability is foregone. It simply means that residents have been able to defer the cost of drainage for those years that have since passed.

  1. The report fails to offer any proposals for site-specific flood-protection measures for any of the flood-threatened houses, in the absence of a Scheme 1 project.

The study has been prepared in accordance with the methodology specified in the Project Brief, including the development of three schemes with the community. This option was not raised as the basis of a potential scheme. Site specific flood protection measures are unlikely to be feasible for all properties subject to flooding of habitable floor areas within this catchment, particularly for houses located in the valley. For Council to contribute to the cost of drainage improvement works, the assets developed need to be owned and maintained by Council. If site specific flood protection measures were feasible, it is likely that the affected property owner would be liable for the cost of construction. This approach would be inequitable, as it denies the responsibility of the owners of upstream properties to contribute to the cost of addressing downstream flooding and damage to neighbouring properties, which they are jointly accountable for.

  1. The Rep Panel believes the tone of the report to be biased towards Council’s intention to enforce a Special Charges Scheme onto MHRC ratepayers and section 5.10 is a thinly veiled attempt to intimidate the community into acceptance of such a Scheme that would maximize their contribution.

The Community Report simply states the results of the investigation into the relative merits of the four schemes considered as part of the study and compares their performance based on the community values suggested by the community and the core project values stated in the Project Brief. Community contributions to any adopted scheme will be in accordance with the requirements of Council policy. In fact, Council is doing the opposite of trying to maximise resident costs. Manningham’s policy is generous compared with the equivalent policies of many other councils. For example, under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1989, residents should also pay for what their local streets contribute, but it should be noted that in the case of the Melbourne Hill Road catchment, Council is proposing paying for this. In addition, Council is proposing paying for the 100 year storm contribution, not the residents, as well as other concessional costs normally covered by residents, like boring.

  1. The MHRC community unanimously objects to the imposition of a Special Charges Scheme and nowhere in the report is this noted.

The focus of the Community Report was a technical assessment of four flood mitigation schemes. This is only a part of the overall process. Community views will be sought and reported to Council by Council officers, prior to Council determining a course of action in relation to the project.

  1. During the period of the study, numerous delays have occurred as the consultants and/or Council failed to meet their own deadlines. Provision of information to the Rep Panel was always late and invariably insufficient time was allowed by Council for Rep Panel assessment with no consideration given for submissions after Council-imposed deadlines.

The Reference Panel received documentation a minimum of five days prior to each community meeting. It should also be pointed out that Council has gone beyond the original consultancy remit in responding to resident concerns as they arise, and this has, by implication, resulted in more work and more time being expended through the process.

  1. The Rep Panel believes that the report has been unduly influenced by the views of Council officers and does not adequately reflect the input from either the Rep Panel or the wider MHRC community

Claims that the process has been manipulated to achieve a preconceived outcome are baseless. As stated earlier, Council has a responsibility to ensure due process is followed in the management of any contract that it has let. To not do so would be negligent of Council. However, it should be made patently clear that this does not mean that Council has unduly influenced the contractor/consultant. The consultant’s work is their own, and all Council is doing is acting responsibly in ensuring that the agreed terms of the contract are met. Council’s independent auditors would insist on this.

 

Council has gone to great lengths to ensure a consultative and inclusive process through the development of the Community Report, and every effort has been made to involve the affected community in the identification of flood mitigation schemes and the basis for comparison.

The MHRC Community Representative Panel is resolute in its rejection of the report and the apparent collusive relationship with Council officers. We are prepared to refer this matter to a higher Investigative Authority.

The Way Forward

Council officers have stated that the MHRC community would be required to contribute to the cost of upgrading the drainage infrastructure to manage a 1 in 5 year ARI. Further upgrades required to manage a 1 in 100 year ARI would be fully funded by Council.

The significant inputs of water from Council-controlled assets (Wildflower reserve, Upper MHR reserve and the Leber Street drain), are solely the responsibility of Council and all infrastructure required to conduct such water through the catchment must be paid for by council alone.

The Melbourne Hill Road Catchment Community Representative Panel therefore demands:

  • An independent baseline costing of the minimum upgrades to existing MHRC drainage infrastructure to manage a 1 in 5 year ARI in the absence of water originating from Council assets.

Further to the response to the prior item 5, firstly, to the question of the minimum infrastructure requirements to address habitable floor flooding within the Melbourne hill Road catchment. Minor improvements to the existing drainage network will not resolve habitable floor flooding within this catchment.   The modelling has clearly demonstrated that the entire length of the Valley Drain requires significant upgrade to deliver the required level of flood protection. The consultant has run the flood model in the order of 200 times with refinements of the requested infrastructure for each scheme and has optimised the proposed infrastructure through this process.

The lowest cost scheme analysed was scheme 2 but this scheme also had the poorest flood mitigation performance. All schemes included similar upgrades to the valley drain. In order to identify a lower cost scheme with comparable flood mitigation performance to scheme 1, it is proposed to work with the Reference Panel to develop a modified version of scheme 2. Scheme 2 (modified) will then be tested through the flood model for the 100 year or major storm event and optimised, and a cost estimate will be prepared. Scheme 2 (modified) will also be assessed against the community and core project values and the results will be shared with the community.

A community survey will be conducted following this process to invite community feedback regarding their preferred flood mitigation scheme. The results of this survey will be reported with other information to Council, prior to Council resolving on any further action to address the habitable floor flooding in this catchment.

Any contribution required of the community to fund the preferred scheme works will need to relate to the actual works to be constructed as the community will need to contribute to the cost of the works proportional to the special benefit derived, in accordance with the provisions of Council’s Policy. Information regarding the cost apportionments between Council and the property owners have been prepared and are available through the Your Say Manningham website for Schemes 1 and 5. This information will also follow for the modified Scheme 2 when available.

In order to meet the requirements of the project brief, each scheme to be considered by Council must achieve the protection of habitable floor areas in a major (1 in 100 year) storm event. As such, the approach requested by the Reference Panel to focus on minor (1 in 5 year) event infrastructure required to convey flows from private property alone is not supported; it is contrary to Council’s policy.  

Suggested Drainage Scheme Implementation:

A drainage scheme to manage the water from Council-controlled assets be implemented to manage a 1 in 100 year ARI. Construction to be staged and in consultation with affected property owners such that costs to Council be spread over a number of years.

This approach is not supported as it will not resolve the flooding of habitable floors within the catchment.

The staged approach to include the diversion of water down Houghton Road

The diversion of water down Houghton Road is included in scheme 5.

 

MHRC REPRESENTATIVE PANEL STATEMENT

The MHRC Representative Panel Stands by its statement of rejection of the so-called “independent” consultant’s flood mitigation report and our accusation of incomplete, misleading or biased information provided by Council to the catchment community.

The provision of selective information from Council has continued with a letter to the catchment community from Mr Roger Woodlock reporting on the public meeting held on 10 August 2015. The letter, received by residents on 14 August:

  • Fails to mention the Rep Panel’s unanimous rejection of the consultant’s report
  • Contains information which is untrue
  • Contains selective information presented to support Council objectives
  • States that questions raised at the meeting and Council responses would be posted on the “Your Say Manningham” website by 20 August 2015. At the time of writing, no questions or answers have been posted nor has any information from the Representative Panel been posted, even though copies have been provided to Council.

As the letter was circulated to the entire MHRC community, residents that were unable to attend the 10 August public meeting would most likely be misled into thinking the Rep Panel accepts the report’s methodology, editorial content and recommendations. This is clearly not the case.

As representatives of our catchment community, we are increasingly disturbed by the persistent dogmatic presentation of partial information, misinformation, intentionally withheld information and biased Council-interpretation of data and regulations, all aimed at maximizing the contribution from catchment Ratepayers towards implementation of a drainage scheme designed primarily to convey council storm water through the catchment.

Here are some REAL facts:

  1. Ratepayers are only required to contribute to infrastructure which can manage a 1 in 5 year Average Recurrence Interval (ARI) storm event.
  1. Council is obliged to fully fund any infrastructure upgrade (above a 1 in 5 year event), required to manage a 1 in 100 year ARI storm event (This is Council Policy).
  1. Council is solely responsible for transporting its own storm water through the catchment or away from the catchment.
  1. A large number of properties currently included in the proposed Special Charges Scheme are exempt from any charges in relation to the proposed Scheme.
  1. Not all properties currently included in the proposed scheme contribute to flooding of houses in the lower catchment.

The MHRC Representative Panel again calls upon Council to:

  • Immediately undertake an independent baseline costing of the minimum upgrades to existing MHRC drainage infrastructure to manage a 1 in 5 year ARI in the absence of water originating from Council assets.

This request is fundamental to an objective assessment of the community’s contribution to costs yet has been ignored, in fact not even acknowledged, by Council or Council officers.

  • Acknowledge major deficiencies in the consultant’s report and the Rep Panel’s unanimous rejection of the report
  • Acknowledge past serious deficiencies with planning and building permits
  • Acknowledge the Rep Panel’s legitimate claims of deception and cunning used by Council to mislead catchment Ratepayers in order to avoid its obligations.
  • Publish our rejection of the consultant’s report on the Your Say Manningham website. The rejection notice is now a public document, is directly related to the proposed drainage scheme and the consultant’s report, and is after all…. “Our Say” and not Our Say as ignored by, interpreted by, twisted around by or misrepresented by, Council.

The MHRC Community Representative Panel calls on Council to stop the charade of misinformation and engage openly, transparently and honestly with the community to resolve this matter to the satisfaction of all catchment Ratepayers.

 

 

 

 

 

Push for more police


IN response to the recent increase in anti-social behaviour and crime in the area, our local member Ryan Smith has launched an initiative in an effort to increase police numbers and operational hours for the Warrandyte police station.

A petition for the proposed change has been dispersed across multiple local businesses to gauge public perspective on the matter.

“I have had a number of constituents contact my office with concerns about the operating hours of Warrandyte police station and the low numbers of police stationed there,” Mr Smith said. “Warrandyte police station is not a 24-hour station and, at its full complement, has only seven police officers. Of course they are not all there at the same time but are spread out over the week’s shifts.”

Through launching the petition, Mr Smith is able to see if the wider Warrandyte community also share the view that an increased police presence in Warrandyte would be beneficial. With more than 550 signatures in less than a week, it appears the answer is a resounding yes.

Mr Smith said the rising number of crimes in the area has contributed to the community’s concern and has essentially fuelled the initiative. Several homes and local businesses have been broken into in the past few months alone, including Ruby Tuesday, Warrandyte Café and Quinton’s IGA.

“With the increasing population and this perceived rise in anti-social behaviour, there really should be more police and more operating hours,” Mr Smith said.

Julie Quinton – owner of Quinton’s IGA and advocate of the petitions – is hopeful the petition achieves its goal. After her store’s recent break-in she is led to question the level of safety in our town.

“I don’t think anything’s completely safe anymore and that’s always a worry,” Julie said. “We’re not immune from [criminal activity] here in Warrandyte, but I think people have often thought that we are immune – but we’re not.”

Julie said her No.1 priority as a storeowner is the protection of her staff and any initiative to support that is worthwhile in her eyes.

Once a significant number of signatures are attained, Mr Smith intends to take it to parliament.

“The aim of the game is to raise it in parliament, make sure the minister knows that my community wants to see some action,” Mr Smith said.

“A petition in parliament needs to be seen as serious and there’s not a finite number required, but the more names and signatures there are then the more the government should understand that there is a real need.”

“The government hasn’t demonstrated a real interest in the Warrandyte community which is unfortunate. But these things are about making as much noise as possible and if you can keep raising it in parliament, it gets to the point where the government has to give you a reason why they’re not acting, and sometimes that’s the thing that’ll push things along,” he added.

Mr Smith understands it’s ultimately the chief commissioner of Victoria Police who determines where police resources go. However, making the minister aware of the issue can lead him to direct the chief commissioner to where he believes resources are needed.

“I anticipate that the minister’s formal answer will be the allocation of resources is up to police command. However, we know that the minister has directed Victoria Police to place additional police in Bellarine, a marginal Labor seat.”

While most locals have responded positively to the petition, others have questioned if those measures were necessary.

“At the end of the day, my job is to be the voice of my community and one of the reasons why the petition’s out there is for me to gauge if there is more support for this out there then just a few anecdotal comments that I’ve heard or the emails that I’ve got,” Mr Smith said. “So my answer to people who would ask if it’s really needed – well I’m going to have a lot of signatures that say we do and my job is to make sure that those people are heard.”

To support the initiative for increased police numbers and hours, sign the petition at Quinton’s IGA, the Warrandyte Community Bank or other participating businesses in the area.

Hope for our teens with mental illness


A MANNINGHAM Youth Services project is set to launch next month in a bid to offer guidance and hope for Warrandyte teenagers affected by mental illness.

The String of Hope aims to encourage young people talk to about mental illness and reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues.

It’s a taboo topic, but with research figures showing one in four young people living with a mental illness, it can’t be ignored.

What started as a youth photography experiment, highlighting the prevalence of mental illness among young people, has blossomed into a multi-faceted project with school visits, a website and a festival in the works.

The String of Hope is being led by a group of dedicated youth volunteers. The group of 15 – from Warrandyte and surrounding areas – are determined to create a safe environment for teenagers to talk about mental health issues; in the schoolyard and online.

“The fact that String of Hope has been envisioned and led by young volunteers is this project’s biggest strength,” volunteer Lauren Lowe tells the Diary. “No one under- stands what young people are going through better than young people themselves.”

The String of Hope website will provide a platform for young people to share personal stories of mental illness and connect with others. The

site aims to arm teens with information about mental illness and direct them to the relevant support services in the area.

“Projects like the String of Hope are essential in an era where mental health is too often neglected and stigma- tised. This is especially true for younger generations, with poor mental health being one of the top ranking issues fac- ing Australian teens. We love the String of Hope because it empowers these young people to take control of their mental health and talk about their struggles and progress,” Lowe says.

The project has already launched in schools in the district with Warrandyte High School the first to experience the education sessions.

“Students participated in positive mental health activities, sports and music. They actively discussed and shared positive mental health strategies with the facilitators and each other. Lots of them seemed excited and engaged,” Manningham YMCA employee Kim Nguyen says.

The String of Hope team is putting their months of hard work on display at a festival next month during Mental Health Week. There’ll be activities, live music, food, a photography exhibition and more.

VIDEO: Sweet Valentine


SARAH Valentine is Warrandyte’s musical pride and joy. The 22-year-old wedding singer is a regular on Warrandyte’s main street and, in recent times, a regular on hundreds of thousands of TV screens in living rooms across the country.

Sarah’s just wrapped filming for Channel Nine’s The Voice, the hottest reality singing show on Australian television. As Sarah tells the Diary, there’s a big difference between busking at the local market and recording a TV performance watched by over a million people.

“My experience on The Voice was not what I expected it would be. I didn’t think that I’d get very far—but it just kept going and working in my favour,” Sarah said.

It’s been a wild ride for Sarah, who travelled between Sydney and Melbourne for months to film the fourth season of the show. Her blind audition has racked up tens of thousands of views and The Voice regularly tops the ratings, boasting over a million viewers every night. But it’s not all glitz and glamour, and Sarah assures the Diary that so much more goes on behind the scenes compared with what we see on our screens.

“The TV world is very different to anything I expected. The power of editing is second to none. It sur- prised me a lot,” she said.

“I’d done about seven auditions prior to even getting to audition in front of the coaches. One day, they took 10 hours to audition eight peo- ple. It’s crazy!”

Despite all the waiting, long hours, nerves and sitting around in hair and make-up, Sarah wouldn’t change a thing.

“It was very, very intense. But I loved every minute of it.”

The community of people working on the show ended up feeling like family for Sarah.

“Your backstage crew are the people that you latch onto. They’re the ones that show you the most support,” she told the Diary.

“I loved my stylist. She gave me the most amazing outfits—I remember coming out of the wardrobe each time and everyone else would say ‘Oh, Sarah’s got the best outfit again’. You literally feel like a rock star. It’s so awesome.”

So, what is it like working with the Madden Brothers? Are they as cool, calm and collected, as they seem on TV?

“They were so great. Their strength was setting the atmosphere and making it a relaxed environment. They treat you like friends. You’d never feel like there’s a status difference and they don’t act like celebrities—they talk to you like they would their pals.”

Sarah cites the support from her family and friends as one of the best parts of the experience and the support from her local Warrandyte community as “second to none.”

“I actually posted on the Facebook about my audition and everyone was commenting and wishing me luck.

“It was like ‘Team Sarah!’ and ‘Team Warrandyte!’ It was so cool.

“A week after I got booted from the show, I did a busking gig at the Warrandyte market. It was so great to interact with people who had followed my journey just because I was from Warrandyte, like I became their pride and joy. I loved that and I soaked it all up!”

What’s next for Sarah?

“I’m doing some gigs and the moment. I got a lot of work and traction from the show. I think next for me though is writing some songs and releasing an EP,” Sarah told the Diary.

She might not be on our TV screens any more, but one thing is for sure: you certainly haven’t heard the last of Sarah Valentine.

VIDEO: Rare block sells for $2.03 million


The Diary team heads to the auction of the rare vacant block on Keen Avenue. The 2.7 acres of untouched land is one of the few remaining allotments in Warrandyte which permits subdivision, selling for an impressive $2.03 million.

VIDEO: Jock Macneish’s life in cartoons

The Warrandyte Historical Society presents ‘A Cartoonist’s Insight into Living in Warrandyte,’ an inspiring and amusing presentation by Jock Macneish. The Diary captured the event and spoke to Jock and a few people of interest about his presentation.

The Cliffy is here


WARRANDYTE is renowned for its creative types and now the Warrandyte Diary is calling all aspiring writers, young and old, to enter The Cliffy, a new short story com- petition to be held annually.

The Cliffy aims to celebrate and honour the contribution to Australian writing made by Cliff Green (OAM, inset) and to promote the skill of writing and the pleasure of reading in the community.

The competition is open to everyone and will be judged by a panel representing the Warrandyte Diary and the Warrandyte Library.

The entries can be submitted by email as a word document and are to be strictly limited to 1000 words. There will be no restrictions on subject, however, the entry must be suitable for un-edited publication in the Warrandyte Diary and on the Diary website.

The competition is advertised (below) and was officially opened at the start of this month and will close by 5pm on November 30.
The winner will be announced
at the Warrandyte Festival Grand Read event next year (March) and the winner will be given the opportunity to present the material at the event.
 Successful entries will be published in the Warrandyte Diary and the winner will receive prizes in the form of book tokens from major bookshops.

The value of the tokens is yet to be determined but expected to be about $250.

Of course, in addition to the tokens, the winner will be officially presented with The Cliffy figurine.

WARRANDYTE is renowned for its creative types and now the Warrandyte Diary is calling all aspiring writers, young and old, to enter The Cliffy, a new short story com- petition to be held annually.

The Cliffy aims to celebrate and honour the contribution to Australian writing made by Cliff Green (OAM, inset) and to promote the skill of writing and the pleasure of reading in the community.

The competition is open to everyone and will be judged by a panel representing the Warrandyte Diary and the Warrandyte Library.

The entries can be submitted by email as a word document and are to be strictly limited to 1000 words. There will be no restrictions on subject, however, the entry must be suitable for un-edited publica- tion in the Warrandyte Diary and on the Diary website.

The competition is advertised (below) and was officially opened at the start of this month and will close by 5pm on November 30.
The winner will be announced
at the Warrandyte Festival Grand Read event next year (March) and the winner will be given the opportunity to present the material at the event.
Successful entries will be published in the Warrandyte Diary and the winner will receive prizes in the form of book tokens from major bookshops.

The value of the tokens is yet to be determined but expected to be about $250.

Of course, in addition to the tokens, the winner will be officially presented with The Cliffy figurine.

 

Too funny for words


DIARY cartoonist Jock Macneish is a gifted artist.

His Warrandyte Festival logos, superbly drawn to capture the iconic presence of the Yarra River within each theme’s graphic, have been a hallmark here for almost 40 years. He also paints an exquisite watercolour.

However, it was Jock’s brilliance as a cartoonist that lit up audi- ence members at a presentation by Warrandyte Historical Society last month.

Illustrated by just 30 of almost 2000 cartoons he has drawn for the Diary since it’s first edition, Jock’s talk covered the local paper, the community, the role of Warrandyte Historical Society “and a bunch of other stuff”.

His keen impressions of “this wonderful community” filled the hall at North Warrandyte with laughter and earned a nod from many who recognised themselves in more than one cartoon. While his observations carried with them a thought-provoking message about care and identity, two concepts Jock believes make Warrandyte a great place to live.

“Communities are the things we do and the things we share because we care for people and for the good of the place,” Jock said. “Warrandyte is a fortunate location, populated by a fortunate people who have what is known as a ‘care surplus’.

“Although we think of Warrandyte as the ‘home of the artist’, in fact it would be more accurate to describe the Warrandyte house as the ‘unfinished symphony’,” he joked. “Probably a result of homeowners spending far too much time at community working bees.”

About identity, Jock said:

“Warrandyte Historical Society does an excellent job of letting us know who we were and Warrandyte Diary is, and has been, an ideal way of finding out who we are. As to who we are becoming…”

“Tomorrow belongs to that happy band of mumbling, awkward, slightly smelly bunch of teenagers you’ll find slouching about in school play- grounds and skate parks,” he said. “I can’t understand much of what they are saying, but I do know that by growing up in Warrandyte they are acquiring an identity, which will serve them well throughout their lives. And they’re absorbing a capacity to care for people and place which is second to none.”

Although he’s “never really thought of himself as a cartoonist” because he “does so many other things” (like being an architect, author, artist and illustrator who spent 20 years working in media broadcasting and another 20 years as an independent communications consultant), Jock told the Diary he has “drawn cartoons for a living.” From 1969-70, Jock was the daily pocket cartoonist at short-lived Melbourne evening newspaper Newsday, alongside feature cartoonist Michael Leunig of today’s Age.

He was also the cartoonist for Papua New Guinea’s national newspaper the Post Courier, from 1973-75.

Outwardly, cartoons about Warrandyte, about anything, might look easy to create, but are they? I asked Jock to draw me a picture.

“The powerful thing about cartoons is that visually they are all about recognition, but cognitively they are about revelation. Cartoonists try to reveal aspects of the human condition and express those in a form of visual shorthand – a cartoon,” he explained.

“They ‘see’ what’s going on in the slightly more obscure world of human behaviour, the subtle inter-relationships between people and place that make up, say, the Warrandyte community.”

“Anyone living here can recognise Warrandyte at a glance, but actually ‘seeing’ is much more difficult. Seeing Warrandyte’s shapes and textures, its colours and its shadows is what artists do.”

(No, Jock. Seriously. I meant draw me a picture.)

While visual communication is undoubtedly Jock’s strong suit, the talented artist’s parting words were equally insightful.

“It’s been a privilege, having been part of recording ‘what happened’ to Warrandyte over the past 46 years,” he said. “It’s taught me how to better care for people and for the good of the place. It’s shaped my identity.”

VIDEO: Striking a chord


The Diary embarked upon a musical mission to get a taste of what Warrandyte and surrounds has to offer.  We had a chat to local bands The Scrimshaw Four, Sunborne, The Teskey Brothers and Selling Time to gauge their thoughts on the music scene in the eastern suburbs, as well as their own musical endeavours. Check it out below!

Servo to VCAT


WARRANDYTE residents are furious the final decision regarding the development of a 24-hour service station at 1-5 Yarra Street has been taken to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

A $1.5 million proposal was submit- ted by the applicant in April last year from site owner Platinum King Management Pty Ltd to develop a 250m/sq petrol station and convenience store accommodating six fuel pumps and 13 car parking spaces. Despite attracting a reported 69 objections, the proposal was neither accepted nor rejected by Manningham City Council.

The Diary understands the applicant has taken the matter directly to VCAT and is appealing for the proposal to be approved.

Manningham City Council informed the Diary just before going to print that a full council report would be available on July 16 and the matter would be addressed at a council meeting on July 28 outlining council’s position of not supporting the application.

In strong dialogue on social media pages in the past 12 months – and in particular last week on the Warrandyte Business & Community Network page – there have been mixed views for and against the service station being built at the site. Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) member Doug Seymour said it was surprising the community was not made aware of the decisions from Manningham council since objections were lodged 14 months ago.

“This is a complex issue and it is possible that council has not made a determination and therefore the applicant has lodged this application for review and decision. It would be helpful to all parties to know where council now stands on this issue,” Mr Seymour says.

Manningham council CEO Joe Carbone said objectors would be advised of council’s position on the application shortly. That position will then be advocated for at VCAT.

Only last week objectors to the proposal opened a letter in their mail to find that their objections to Manningham council had not been successful and the decision was to be finalised by VCAT at a hearing on October 29.

The letter, sent by the solicitor representing the applicant, stated July 10 (this Friday) would be the “closing date for objectors and referral authorities to lodge a statement of grounds with VCAT”.

Discussion on social media has been divided since the information was released. However, there are many concerns if the development goes ahead, including the environmental impact, compromising the character of Warrandyte, disturbance to residents, and safety concerns in the event of bushfires.

The development would require the removal of vegetation and six yellow box trees, as outlined in the initial proposal.

North Warrandyte resident Annie Watkins believes it is vital the environment in Warrandyte be protected at any cost.

“When you have a substantial and unique environment like Warrandyte, you have got to do what you can to preserve it,” she says. Ms Watkins is also concerned that, if approved, the proposal will set a potentially dangerous precedent.

“If we allow the service station, what else will be allowed to go up in Warrandyte?”

“We need to be a little more responsible as a society to recognise what’s valuable. We want to keep true to the essence of Warrandyte,” Ms Watkins says.

Other objectors believe a petrol station next to Andersons Creek is illogical particularly when the creek is prone to flooding which would allow pollutants and litter to enter the creek.

With the proposed development being next door to the Warrandyte Reserve Pavilion, others are concerned people’s safety will be com- promised in a bushfire emergency. According to the CFA, the reserve is the place of last resort for Warrandyte residents in the event of all other bushfire plans failing.

The disturbance caused by the construction of the petrol station is also a major concern. The WCA lodged an amended objection reit- erating the reasons why they object to the proposal, including the dif- ficulty at access and exit points at the Heidelberg Road / Harris Gully Road roundabout and the vague details relating to signage, lighting and hours of operation.

The impact on the character of Warrandyte is creating a lot of controversy. Resident Tricia Barrett believes the design of the building, along with the large bright advertising and signage, lighting and unnatural noise would affect all residents, especially those within close proximity to the site and visitors to Warrandyte.

“It is not within the character of Warrandyte and we don’t need it or want it.”

Nonetheless, not everyone is opposed to the petrol station. On social media some residents believe there is sufficient demand for it to be built, and consider the Yarra Street site to be a perfect location and a welcome alternative to the Warrandyte South petrol station.

Resident Elaine Raphael says while a 24-hour “monstrosity” is unnecessary, a petrol station in keeping with Warrandyte’s surroundings would be ideal.

Other concerned parties are asking the protestors to consider non-residents. Sheya Atherton points out that many commuters pass through Warrandyte for many reasons and having a petrol station in that spot would be convenient.

“Each community is made up of its locals and those that come into the suburb and there is as much of a positive and negative component to that,” Ms Atherton says.

In her objection to council, Ms Barrett expressed her belief that a petrol station at the proposed site is simply unnecessary.

“We (residents) are happy with nearest petrol availability in Warrandyte South, Fitzsimons Lane roundabout, and Reynolds Road – these facilities service Warrandyte residents adequately already.”

The Diary has been told that while a lot of the concern is stemming from the location and the imposing nature of the proposed petrol station, the prospect of a fast food or retail association being attached to the site is equally disconcerting with fears that would impact on local food and beverage businesses.

VCAT will hold a practice hearing on July 17 before the official hearing on October 29. The objectors are working together with the WCA before lodging their objections at the practice hearing.

 

Best in business


JULIE Quinton has some sound advice for business owners:

“You have got to be involved in your community in every aspect. You have got to be part of it, you have to get to know people and know what your customers want.”

Julie is the progressive owner of Quinton’s IGA in Warrandyte – and also the inaugural winner of the Manningham Business Excellence Awards, which return for a third time this year.

After losing her husband in August of 2007, Julie’s life changed in many ways. Brian Quinton bought the supermarket in 2000 and ran the business successfully for seven years.

Although Julie admits she was never inclined to run her own business, she felt compelled to continue her husband’s legacy.

“It’s been a real learning curve,” Julie says. “I had no aspirations before he passed away – now I do.”

After taking out first place in two categories at the 2013 Manningham Business Excellence Awards, including Manningham Business of the Year and Manningham Contribution to Community Business of the Year, Julie and her staff felt a great sense of pride and affirmation.

“When we won, that was the greatest reward and it felt like we were on the right track. It was a wonderful moment,” she recalls.

This year marks the third Manningham Business Excellence Awards, a joint initiative of the four Rotary clubs in Manningham; Doncaster East, Templestowe Village and Warrandyte Community Bank branches; Manningham Business and the Manningham Business Network.

The awards provide a platform for business owners to not only celebrate their success but to undertake a more detailed analysis of their business strengths and identify potential areas for improvement.

Event manager for the awards Liz Small says they are a great way for businesses to review their activity and an opportunity for businesses to look at their operations in a much deeper, analytical sense.

Tony Welsh, owner of H2Pro Plumbing and winner of the 2014 Manningham Business of the Year and Manningham Professional Services Business of the Year awards, believes the MBEA have helped his business move forward and plan more efficiently for the future.

“The Manningham Business Excellence Awards give you a chance to look at your business and its structure from the outside in and realise what you do have in place and what you need to put in place,” Tony told the Diary.

Recognising business achievements is important to Tony and although he regrets often being too busy to acknowledge his business’s success, the MBEA gave him the chance to do just that. Receiving recognition from others in the business industry, such as business coaches and marketing professionals on the awards judging panel, was especially gratifying, he explains.

Tony concedes running a business can sometimes be a “lonely road” because it can be difficult for owners to judge exactly how well everything is progressing. However, winning the awards pushed those feelings of uncertainty aside.

“It felt like the hard work had paid off and it was recognition that the business is moving forward,” Tony says.

Liz Small, of the MBEA, says while the awards provide an ideal opportunity for local businesses to showcase themselves and their achievements, one of the key criteria for nominees is the contribution they have made to the community.

“The key reason why they (the awards) were arranged was to recognise the businesses that give back to the community… that’s the big driving force behind the whole thing,” Liz says.

Quinton’s IGA aligns with that philosophy.

Julie says an important part of running her business is conducting forums with customers to determine what they like or dislike and what they want from the business.

“You need to work in your business and not just on it. Business owners cannot just do only what they want all the time,” she says.

The MBEA celebrate the point of difference offered by businesses and how that allows them to stand out from competitors. Both Julie and Tony share the philosophy that the quality of what they offer is foremost.

“I don’t think you could compare our produce to the larger supermarket chains. Our quality is superior and exceptional,” Julie says.

Tony says competitive pricing is something he considers, but he measures his business more on the quality of service provided and how the customers respond to that service.

“We always try to go beyond the call of duty and over deliver. We aim to give that ‘wow’ factor.”

Naturally, two successful business owners such as Julie Quinton and Tony Welsh know that running a business is not possible without commitment, energy and, most of all, passion.

“You can’t go into business half-heartedly. You have got to have a passion for what you do and always aim to be one of the best in your profession,” Tony says.

Julie’s passion stems from a significant personal experience and adds another dimension to her perspective on running her business.

“I’m not driven by money, it’s not my passion. My passion is Brian’s legacy. I focus on my staff and what we provide to our community and I truly believe that has been the secret to our success,” she says.

Julie and Tony believe the future for businesses in Warrandyte is bright, especially given the community’s willingness to support local business. “I think as long as you try and run your business to the best of your ability and do so with integrity, you’ll definitely succeed,” Julie says.

Businesses operating within Manningham or servicing suburbs within the municipality are encouraged to nominate themselves for the 2015 Manningham Business Excellence Awards. The awards breakfast launch will be held on Tuesday July 28 at the Manningham Function Centre. There will be an opportunity to hear from past award winners and how the Manningham Business Excellence Awards have benefitted their business.

For more information visit www.manninghambea.com.au

Bec hits the wall


From the hills of Warrandyte to the Great Wall of China, local fitness femme BEC ROSTRON completed a marathon from great heights recently and is this month’s guest travel writer. A proud Warrandytian for the past 12 years with her husband Marty and three children, Hudson (13), Archer (11) and Rose (9), Bec has also played a big part in our local community, including transforming many local women’s lives with
her fitness business called Femmex. That provided the building blocks to launch her into becoming our latest Marathon Woman.

RUNNING a small women’s fitness business for the past four years, I’ve really enjoyed specialising in high intensity workouts that are certainly not for the faint-hearted. I love motivating all those local dedicated girls who come to my classes and see them achieve their fitness and weight loss goals.

I work my butt off in the classes, too, so that girls are constantly pushed to another level. Through these classes my fitness has increased and so too did the length of my runs. I started my love of running about 10 years ago, but definitely was not doing big runs for the first few years. I have now done one marathon, three half marathons, three Puffing Billy runs and countless other fun runs in and around Melbourne.

I first decided to do a marathon in my 40th year as kind of a tick on my bucket list. I have had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 23 and was told I’d be in a wheel chair by the time I turned 40. So when, after limitless visits to hospitals, doctors, nutritionists, acupuncturists and so on, I found just a change in my eating habits sent my arthritis into remission (where it has now been for about eight years) and I decided to take my running a bit more seriously.

With 5164 steps and endless hills to be climbed, the Great Wall of China Marathon has been billed as one of the toughest running events in the world: which is why I eventually chose this one.

I was lucky enough to have talked a friend from Queensland into conquering this marathon with me. Chantal grew up in Park Orchards and attended Aquinas with me so I have known her for many years.

We arrived in China and had a day of sightseeing around Beijing before heading to the Tianjin Province, Jixian, to settle in before checking out the hardest wall portion of the run. The photos just don’t let you know exactly how steep the steps actually are, but the views are out of this world. I wasn’t expecting it to be as breathtaking as it was. The 3.5km section we completed felt really hard and woke up with sore calves the next day: we questioned whether we were ready for such a feat. What had we got ourselves into? Already sore with only steps and no kilometres!

We had a day to rest before waking up at 5am on Saturday May 16 and were shuttled on a bus to the Yin & Yang Square where the run would commence. It was a crazy atmosphere in the square as 2500 runners were all milling about waiting for their turn. We had a very funny 1980s aerobics-inspired warm-up for a few minutes and then it was time to line up at the start.

It was going to be 30 degrees and sunny so the morning chill didn’t last very long once the race began.

I started out strong and thank goodness for all the hours spent training on the hills of Warrandyte as there were a lot more hills than I was expecting. I felt strong climbing the wall and headed out to complete 26km around the villages for what I thought was the flat part of the run (I was wrong!).

Despite the continuous hills, this was also one of the best parts for me as the streets were lined with children wanting high fives and shouting words of encouragement. It definitely kept me in great spirits for the rest of the run. Despite accidentally taking a 5km detour (serious blonde moment and bad signage), I absolutely loved every part of it.

Climbing back up the wall for a second time was devastatingly hard after completing 36km, but I powered through it still on the adrenalin rush I began the race with – that and about five energy gels to help me along my way.

There were plenty of people struggling to get through this last part of the run and the steps were lined with exhausted and seriously depleted runners. To give you an idea of just how steep and hard this section was, ever kilometre on this part of the wall took about 18 minutes to complete.

Running back into the square and over the finish line was out of this world, I can’t describe how ecstatic I was. I couldn’t believe during and after such a hard marathon I was still feeling energetic and extremely elated.

Even after all the steps, heat, hills and accidental detours, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

I finished in 5:07hrs and with that time managed to come second in my age group (40-44) and was the 17th woman across the line.

Despite all the challenges it was one of the most scenic, beautiful and rewarding runs I have ever done. It was one of the best moments of my life.

Beijing also was a great place for a celebration, that’s for sure!

Simply China: From $2,179 – 9 Days, fully inclusive from Melbourne. For more details contact the team at Warrandyte Travel And Cruise.

Traffic report due in August


TRAFFIC modelling of the Warrandyte Bridge road network will be conducted and a report handed down by the end of August, according to VicRoads regional director Adam Maguire.

An additional $140,000 has been committed in the 2015–16 budget to investigate ways to improve traffic capacity of the Warrandyte Bridge during an emergency, including widening and strengthening the bridge, Mr Maguire confirmed in a letter to Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith.

The traffic modelling will look at the road network around the Warrandyte Bridge in both day-to-day and emergency scenarios and is expected to accurately represent current traffic conditions.

Mr Maguire wrote: “The model will be used to assess future traffic scenarios, whether due general traffic growth over time or resulting from any particular emergency traffic movement.”

Once complete, results of the study will be discussed with both Nillumbik Shire Council and Manningham City Council.

Member for Warrandyte Ryan Smith said he is pleased that after six months VicRoads has offered some concrete information.

“We now have a timeline and something to which we can hold the government accountable,” he said. “As a community we should be pre- pared to make a noise if the report or funding fails to materialise.”

Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) President Dick Davies has also welcomed the news.

“Up until now everybody had a solution to Warrandyte’s traffic problems but nobody had the data.

“We’ve been advocating for this for a long time and want to see the results. The more transparency we get from VicRoads, the better,” he said. Mr Davies also saw this as an opportunity for the traffic issues to be looked at holistically, combining emergency traffic management alongside the day-to-day issues.

“It might help bring us further up the VicRoads priority list.”

In related news:

  • The WCA is also supporting the proposed construction of the Northern Arterial Route. According to the 2014 Manningham Link Roads Improvement Strategy Plan, the Northern Arterial Route would extend Reynolds Road beyond Tindals Road to Ringwood-Warrandyte Road. VicRoads does not have a timeframe for the project development. The proposed North East Link is also a potential solution to easing congestion in north eastern suburbs as it would provide an additional major Yarra River crossing for Melbourne, however, the government has not committed to the project.
  • Discussions continue with Nillumbik Shire Council to determine future improvements along the Kangaroo-Ground-Warrandye Rd corridor to address congestions coming off the bridge, a spokesperson for the Minister of Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan has confirmed.
  • Warrandyte resident Jan Freeman has started a petition to address the bridge issue. She says the petition is calling for another bridge to be built within close proximity to the exist- ing one. For more information or to show your support for the petition, visit the Petition to fix the problem of the Warrandyte Bridge queues event page or the Fix the Warrandyte Bottleneck page on Facebook.

Blacksmith’s Hut moves


ONLOOKERS outside the Old Post Office Museum recently were amazed to see a trailer, loaded with a dismantled building, being expertly backed onto the site. The move was the culmination of several months work to save a small relocatable building from loss.

The Blacksmith’s Hut, a small timber and corrugated iron building owned by the Warrandyte Historical Society, was listed on
the Doncaster and Templestowe 1991 Heritage Study as being of at least local interest. It was thought to have been occupied by one of the Sloan family who operated as a blacksmith. It was located for many years behind the then butcher’s shop in Yarra Street. It was later moved to the Getson’s site (Community Centre site) when the Historical Society set up its museum there.

The hut was a centerpiece of
a functioning blacksmith’s shop where every Saturday the blacksmith would undertake repairs and blacksmithing. With the closing down of the site to enable the building of the new centre in the late 1980s, the hut was removed to land in Tills Drive owned by Shirley and Ted Rotherham where it was used for hay storage for many years.
 Fast forward to 2014 and the Rotherham house and land in Tills Drive was about to be auctioned. Manningham’s Heritage Adviser raised a last-minute warning that the hut would be lost if the Society did not act urgently. Frantic phone calls and an obliging seller and purchaser averted this fate and the hut remained on site while the Society sought ways to transfer it to the museum.

Finding a way, funds and permission proved time consuming over the first few months of 2015. However, problems were eventually overcome culminating in the dis- mantling of the hut on-site, loading it onto a trailer and moving it to the museum site in ‘flat-pack’ form. Heritage carpenter Matt Jeffries (aka Crackajack) was responsible for the successful move (aided by a number of willing volunteers) and will also be responsible for reassembling the hut on the museum site.

The Heritage Architect has written a new citation for the hut that says it is rare and relatively intact example of a homemade black- smith’s wagon/sleeping quarters with an attractive ‘domestic’ appearance, probably to encourage trade, which demonstrates a way of life and business for a single man during the 1930s Depression. It’s also important for its association with blacksmith Paul Sloan of the prominent Sloan family, who from the 1850s practiced various trades and businesses in the district, including William Sloan’s Yarra St butcher’s shop established in 1901. The citation considers the hut is of local significance and may well be of state significance due to its rarity.

Photos of the move uploaded
on the Society’s Facebook page invoked an immediate response with several people remembering it as being located on the river bank or playing in it as a cubby. The hut has obviously had several uses over its life and will shortly enter another phase in the grounds of the museum.

The Society possesses blacksmith tools and equipment that may
be able to be displayed once the hut is reassembled. Plans are currently being made as to the hut’s placement on-site and its future use. It is hoped the next phase will commence soon with the support and advice of Manningham council. The Society thanks previous and present owners for their forbearance in moving the hut and all the volunteers involved thus far. It, along with many others in the community, looks forward to seeing it restored once more.

Free food and a big heart


WHEN Judith Lightfoot read about a laneway in Ballarat where food is free to anyone who wants it, she thought, “Why can’t we do this in Warrandyte?”

So last month that’s exactly what she did.

Instead of a laneway she uses the Rotary op-shop, which she manages as a volunteer. Vandals wrecked her first attempt to give away food, so she moved her operation inside.

Now, there are food racks filled fruit, vegetables, herbs, bread and even baby formula.

The food has all been donated— it’s fresh and free to anybody who needs it.

“In this job you hear a lot of sad stories and people come in who need some assistance. It’s such a simple idea. People have extra [food] in their gardens. They can bring it in and share it.”

When the Diary spoke to Judith, the project had been going just three weeks and already more than 100 people had taken food. Donations were being dropped in every day, aided by a call out on the Warrandyte Business and Community Facebook page.

“It just makes me all warm and fuzzy,” Judith says.

Aldi is also donating food, as Rotary fits under their charitable guidelines. “We pick it up every Monday and Friday,” Judith says. “It’s such an adventure. We bring it back and make it look pretty.”

Judith, who is a former chef, says it’s really heart-warming to see all sorts of people coming in and taking the food—even if at first they are a bit shy.

“It needs to be taken while it’s fresh. So I say, ‘Grab something for the kids’ lunchboxes. Take what you need’.”

There are gold coin donation boxes to help people feel more comfortable taking the food, Judith explains.
“I get that people are embarrassed, so we just want to make it an enjoyable experience.

“Anyone’s welcome to it. Rotary doesn’t mind who has it. We can’t sell the food, and it makes us cry to throw it out.”

Judith is at pains to explain this initiative isn’t replacing the long-standing Warrandyte Food Bank, run by Margory Lapworth.

“This is new and it’s different to the food bank because it’s fresh food. We just need to see what happens.”

The #foodisfree movement started in Texas in 2012—with free planter boxes given to schools and community groups as edible gardens. Since then it’s spread around the world. Founder John VanDeusen Edwards estimates it’s operating in around 190 cities world-wide.

Anyone wishing to donate fresh food can drop it into the Rotary op shop, behind the Yarra street shops near the roundabout.

VIDEO: Turning dryers into fires


The Diary’s new Around the home series meets avid repurposer, Andrew Driscoll. Andrew welcomes us into his fascinating workspace where he up-cycles old washing machines and dryers into top-quality fire drums! An inventive, practical and rewarding way to reduce waste.

Great wall of Warrandyte

IN the April edition of the Diary, we outlined the intentions and goals of the Warrandyte Community Association’s recent project, the Writer’s Wall. Its stall over the festival week- end received an overwhelming re- sponse as people of all ages and areas expressed their hopes and visions for the future of our town.

Festival-goers were encouraged to complete the thought-provoking sentence: “I want Warrandyte to be…”

WCA president Dick Davies ex- pressed the association’s gratitude for the amount of quality feedback received.

“We were blown away by the re- sponse (over 500 comments on the actual wall, many more on its virtual counterpart via social media), not only the aspirations that were left on the wall but the discussions that they generated,” Dick said.

The voices of Warrandytians and other local residents have been heard as contributions have been compiled and categorised into com- mon themes by WCA project manag- er Kim Humphris.

“A major theme was to preserve the unique quality of Warrandyte: its environmental, heritage, cultural and sporting aspects,” Dick said.

This desire for Warrandyte to remain unchanged shows the level of appreciation and respect for our town as it is. A number of other positive adjectives were also thrown around as locals hope for Warrandyte to remain a wonderful, friendly, creative, happy and healthy place to live and visit.

Conversely, many seized the opportunity presented by the Writer’s Wall to draw attention to areas needing addressing within Warrandyte. Issues concerning infrastructure, the envi- ronment, pets and animals, subdivisions, communications and politics were among those most discussed.

Traffic management was one of the most frequently raised points on the Writer’s Wall. Locals unanimously agreed that something must be done to improve the worsening bridge congestion.

Suggestions to resolve this issue include building another/widening the bridge, joining the ring road to Eastlink, discouraging non-local traffic and improving public trans- port services. Although it is difficult to determine the viability of these suggestions, the abundance of like-minded responses makes it clear that the issue must be addressed in one way or another.

Another proposal for infrastructural development was to install more bike tracks/lanes and footpaths for pedestrians. Not only would this improve safety for all commuters, but also help to promote active and healthy lifestyles.

Many Warrandytians also expressed their hopes for a fire-safe future. Although Warrandyte will always be a vulnerable bushfire area, contributors suggested practical ways to minimise the risk. These included maintaining bushscape to reduce fuel, more accessible escape routes and increased fire awareness.

This vision is on the road to be- coming a reality largely due to the WCA’s pre-existing Be Ready Warrandyte campaign. While the aforementioned traffic congestion over the bridge still poses as a problem in a bushfire situation, Warrandyte has come a long way in recent years in terms of bushfire awareness and preparedness.

Let’s hope our progress as a community continues in the right direction.

A lot of negativity towards roaming household cats was also received on the Writer’s Wall, reinforcing the rele- vance of the WCA’s proposed 24-hour cat curfew. Evidently, the project not only gave voice to new visions for Warrandyte but also reaffirmed the validity of issues currently under discussion.

Cats were not the only household pets, however, to receive a bit of flack. Conflicting opinions arose regarding dogs in public situations, such as whether or not they should be kept on a leash in populated areas. This is likely to be a contro- versial subject, but still one entitled to consideration.

Other popular suggestions included improving Warrandyte’s mobile and internet connectivity, prohibiting the subdivision of property and to be more respectful of our native environment and wildlife.

The contributions gathered from the Writer’s Wall are to be presented to the wider WCA for continued conversation. Informed by the priorities of our community, the WCA will put words into action to ensure a brighter future for Warrandyte.

The common themes and issues raised will also be focus points in WCA’s regular discussions with local councils.

Dick is positive about the potential of this inclusive project to determine a unified vision for our town.

“We’re really excited at the opportunity this gives us to develop a collective vision for Warrandyte that we can share, support and implement, in partnership with all those who help to make this a very special place.”

Do we have drug problems?

A LARGE drug bust in Warrandyte and conviction of a local man late last year has shone a spotlight on whether there is a local drug problem, a hot topic of debate among residents recently.

Richard James Pollard, 32, of Warrandyte, was found guilty of commercial trafficking and sentenced in the County Court to 11 years jail with a non-parole period of seven years, four months in October last year.

The court heard Pollard trafficked a range of illegal drugs via the website Silk Road and distributed them by express post, including MDMA, ice, cocaine, ketamine and other assorted substances in what Judge Paul Lacava described as a “sophisticated drug-trafficking business”.

Pollard’s assets, including tens of millions of dollars in the electronic currency of bitcoins, were also seized by police. Pending appeals, it is believed these will be sold and monies raised will be directed to the state’s consolidated fund, which is used for recouping costs and issuing compensation to victims of crime by the Department of Justice.

According to Sergeant Henderson of Warrandyte Police “drugs are a problem everywhere, but we don’t see a large aspect of drug-taking and drug-dealing here”.

Sgt Henderson, who has also worked in inner-city areas, told the Diary that problems associated with alcohol and teenage binge drinking constituted a bigger local issue, and while illicit drugs are readily available throughout Melbourne, Warrandyte is relatively drug-free and “does not have a deeply-rooted drug issue”.

Sergeant Henderson attributes Warrandyte’s active sports club culture as being responsible for the town’s ability to remain largely unaffected by the ice epidemic faced by other Melbourne suburbs.

His advice for parents is: “Avoid the big divide – keep open lines of communication, without judgement, with your kids.” At the same time, he said it was not advisable to be friends with your teenage children, “You need to remain vigilant and aware of symptoms of drug-use as well as the company kids keep.”

What are your thoughts? Does Warrandyte have a drug problem? Join in the poll online at www.warrandytediary.com.au

Fire strikes our local


A SMALL fire at the Grand Hotel resulted in the evacuation of patrons and structural damage before being brought under control by the CFA.

Flames were localised to a section of the balcony bar, which was hosting a function at the time. According to manager Peter Appleby the origin of the fire hasn’t yet been determined.

Although the lives of patrons were not threatened, a level of panic was reached when flames and smoke became visible.

After the duty manager was informed of the smoke, the Warrandyte CFA swiftly arrived on the scene and were backed up by units from South and North Warrandyte.

Evacuation of the function was a well coordinated by the authorities in front of a curious crowd of locals who gathered to witness proceedings.

Staff member on the scene Nick Schlueter described the day as a “rapid change of events”.

“Despite a fire breaking loose and the whole venue evacuated, I was confident we would still continue to serve customers, which we did,” Schlueter said.

Damage to the premise was limited by an excellent effort by the CFA.

“Minor repairs are required to the balcony section and the carpet needs to be replaced in the public bar due to water damage,” Appleby said.

Valiant efforts by the chefs and staff had the pub looking presentable enough to open the bistro, which was undamaged, for dinner at 7pm on the night of the disaster.

The public bar re-opened on Monday and all resumed as normal Wednesday afternoon.

Staff, patrons and owners are all relieved that the danger was so swiftly controlled and are well aware things could have been much worse, especially Appleby.

“We are extremely grateful that all of our wonderful staff and customers are safe, and that this beautiful 120-year-old building, is still standing to continue to serve the community proudly.”