WITH THE BRIDGE Upgrade now almost complete, attention turns to the Lions Park, previously the Lions Tennis Courts and more recently the work site for the bridgeworks.
The masterplan for the Lions Park project was approved by Manningham Council in September last year, and covered in our October issue.
Key features include additional picnic facilities, seating, barbeques, outdoor fitness equipment, drinking fountains, signage, public art displays and landscaping work, which includes an improved path layout and river access.
Angelo Kourambas, Director City Planning and Community at Manningham Council, told the Diary: “The site of the Lions Tennis Court will be updated as a part of the broader Lions Park Masterplan, which will deliver places and spaces for the whole community to enjoy.
“Lions Park works will be undertaken in a staged implementation over 2019/20 and 2020/21 and the immediate focus will be on updates to the areas surrounding the bridge, access and carpark improvements.
“Further community consultation will be undertaken around the design of the Lions Park play space and area and nearby picnic facilities.”
Council has allocated a total of $450,000 to the project in this and the next financial year. There is an excellent animated video of the planned works here . For more information, see manningham.vic.gov.au/manningham-approves-lions-park-masterplan
AS THE QUEEN of the Shire was returned to her rightful place, State Government politicians have come out to applaud the completion of the Warrandyte Bridge.
Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green has officially announced the completion of the project to widen the bridge to three lanes and build a new shared path for pedestrians and cyclists across the Yarra River.
“We’ve worked hard to make this bridge safer while preserving the unique character of the bridge and this area of Warrandyte,” said Ms Green.
She also commended the people of Warrandyte for their patience during the roadworks.
“We appreciate all of the feedback we received from locals who helped shape the look and feel of this bridge and showed great patience while we made these important safety improvements,” she said.
Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, Sonja Terpstra said: “I am really pleased to see the results of this project to make the bridge crossing safer and easier for all local road users.”
So with the politicians marking the project as complete, the Diary thought it was time to ask the authorities concerned with the Bridge Upgrade project whether they regarded it as complete, and what the total cost was.
Nillumbik suggested that we ask VicRoads whether they had any further landscaping works to be done on the north side.
Manningham told us that “Council is working with VicRoads to plan the delivery of the surrounding landscape works” in particular with reference to the Lions Park project, so we take it that there is still more site clearing and landscaping work to be done on the south side by VicRoads.
We asked VicRoads whether they considered the project to be complete, however they had not responded by the time we went to press. Cost of the Upgrade
The Andrews Labor Government committed $5.1 million funding for the project in March 2016.
In May 2017, we ascertained the contract had been awarded to VEC Civil Engineering Pty Ltd for $4.265M.
In November 2017, following representations in State Parliament by local member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith, a further $200,000 had been secured for the slip-lane on the south side.
Following extensive delays to the project we asked VicRoads in November 2018 what the final cost of the project would be, in view of rumours circulating that the cost had blown out way beyond the original funding commitments.
At that time, they responded “The total cost of the project will be provided once complete”.
The Diary has continued to ask VicRoads over the past month what the final cost will be, and they have failed to respond to our questions.
We will publish an update if we learn anything further.
THE VICTORIAN Electoral Commission (VEC) have released its preliminary report regarding the electoral structure of Nillumbik Shire Council in its representation review.
Following an analysis of the projected population/voter data and the comments made in the Preliminary Submissions the VEC want feedback on two options:
Option A: Seven councillors elected from three wards (one three‑councillor ward and two two‑councillor wards)
Option B: Seven councillors elected from seven single‑councillor wards.
The VEC has highlighted its preference is for Option A.
An extensive 36 page report has been produced by the VEC and can read and downloaded here.
The urban/rural divide and the challenge of fairly representing residents was a common theme during the submission period.
It is common knowledge that the 435 square kilometre shire, with an estimated population of around 50,000 struggles with the challenges of having a highly concentrated population in its urban areas (Eltham had a population of 18,314 in the 2016 census) but has a responsibility to conserve the Green Wedge which makes up 91% of the geographical area and a population of 13,000.
This, coupled with ideological differences between significant community groups within Nillumbik’s Green Wedge, make fair representation a challenge.
Under the Local Government Act 1989 (LGA89), a subdivided municipality needs to ensure that each councillor represents around 10% of the total voter population.
The VEC uses LGA89 to calculate the total number of councillors needed to accurately represent each ward.
The choice to keep the number of councillors at seven is based on population growth projections which estimates Nillumbik Shire’s voting population will increase by 9.51% by the year 2036.
A large number of the submissions called for a system based on un-subdivided proportional representation, and while its preferred multi-councillor ward system does rely on proportional representation, it decided to not adopt a single ward model:
“The VEC recognises that there are some significant advantages to an un-subdivided electoral structure for Nillumbik Shire Council.
It would mean the proportional representation system would be used at elections and ensure that all seven councillors would be subject to the same quota to be elected (12.5%), which increases the community’s confidence during elections.
The un-subdivided electoral structure would provide voters with the widest choice of candidates at elections, enable both geographic and non-geographic communities of interest to elect a representative based on the proportion of support by the whole community and promote a whole-of-shire focus for councillors in a local council area where urban and rural interests are deeply inter-related due to their shared concerns about balancing environmental and development priorities.
However, the VEC has observed that elections for Nillumbik Shire Council have consistently been highly contested.
…An un-subdivided election for Nillumbik Shire Council will result in a lengthy ballot paper with an unwieldy list of candidates.
In the VEC’s experience, longer ballot papers can be confusing for voters and more difficult to fill out correctly, leading to higher levels of informal voting through voter error thereby effectively disenfranchising these voters.
On balance, the VEC did not favour an un-subdivided electoral structure for Nillumbik Shire Council for the following reasons:
An un-subdivided electoral structure would result in a much larger ballot paper.
The preliminary submissions have tended to focus on the division between interest groups with conservation or development priorities in the Green Wedge.
However, the VEC has generally heard that there remain differences in experiences and interests between urban and rural voters in the Shire.
Unlike an un-subdivided electoral structure, a subdivided structure would ensure there remains recognition of the broad geographic communities of interest in Nillumbik Shire.”
The VEC’s preferred three-ward multi-councillor option divides the shire into urban and rural wards and the multi-councillor option “ensures that the same counting system will be used in all three wards (i.e. proportional representation).”
With more than one councillor per ward, it is hoped this would address the issues of polarised council policy, specifically in the Green Wedge as it will not be just one councillor representing the view of everyone.
However, this is only going to work if the views/opinions of two Green Wedge council representatives are different enough to bring balanced representation to both conservation and development factions within the Green Wedge.
The VEC does highlight that under the three-ward Option, the Artisan Hills Ward is disproportionately larger — in terms of area — than the other two wards and may mean long travel times for those elected councillors, but the VEC states that this two-councillor structure keeps with the 10% representation tolerance.
If Option-A is chosen, will it “fix” the legislative issues in the Green Wedge? — probably not. It is this journalist’s opinion that the ideological and policy issues of the Green Wedge transcend Local Government.
However, if having multi-councillor wards stops the trend of Council swinging dramatically between development and conservation and allows for some debate on how to address both sides of the Green Wedge debate, then it is a good thing.
The VEC wants to know your opinion on Option A and Option B, public submissions are open until 5pm, Wednesday, May 8.
Submissions must include the full name, address and contact telephone number of the submitter.
Submissions without this information cannot be accepted.
THE QUEEN of the Shire is coming home, and her creator, highly acclaimed sculptor Deborah Halpern, is one of many that will be happy to see her back where
“I’m glad she is coming home,” said Deborah, “it’s exciting.”
Residents and visitors to the area have asked of her whereabouts and when she is returning.
“When a work is made for a special place and it is moved it is upsetting,” said Deborah.
Queen of the Shire, commissioned by Nillumbik Council and installed in 2015, usually stands 2.5 metres above the ground, on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Rd just north of the bridge, marking the entrance to Nillumbik Shire.
Per the agreement between Council and VicRoads, the sculpture was removed for protection.
“She was in the way”, said Deborah.
Queen of the Shire was found to have some damage so was taken away
“She’s gone … to have a little revamp,” said Deborah.
Council spokesperson Mitch Grayson said the artwork underwent a standard condition report while roadworks were underway.
“This condition report applies to all public artworks exposed to natural elements that can cause some wear”.
Council attributed the damage to “almost three years of exposure to natural elements”, saying that the repairs only amounted to “replacing about five missing tiles out of a sculpture that has a couple of thousand tiles”.
He said the costs were minimal — “and well within the standard maintenance budget for keeping public artworks in pristine condition”.
As a gateway piece, Queen of the Shire has the role of both welcoming residents and visitors into Nillumbik Shire, and also of watching over
“If only she could speak,” said Deborah, “if only she could say, look — slow down, you have to be careful here.
“We have the river, and we love our river, we love our little village … so be careful.”
When the sculpture first went up, many people would tell Deborah how much they loved her, and that “she was magical”.
“Her eyes look at you,” they would say, and Deborah’s response was “yes, she is looking, she is looking at everything and she’s looking
Growing up in Warrandyte, Deborah has lived here for over 60 years and has noticed that many things have changed.
Perhaps the return of The Queen of the Shire is a good opportunity to remind us all that there is a law to the land and we must be careful, we need to treat the area with respect.
“There are a lot of people here who are new to Warrandyte,” said Deborah, “and you have to get into the vibe and understand it.
“You need to have a sensitivity to the place you are in and take time to find out about it.”
Although not aware of her official return date, having her ready to come back is a relief.
With the bridge now open as usual, people have been wondering when and even if the Queen would return but with a new footing poured and the giant truck warning sign relocated, the Diary has been able to confirm with both VicRoads and Nillumbik Shire Council that Warrandyte and Nillumbik Shire’s prized sculpture will return within a few weeks.
“I enjoy spending time with her because I get to revisit the process … but she has a job to do … and she is coming back to look over that intersection … to look over the area.”
“We have restored her and she looks beautiful again, we have cleaned her up… and now she is coming home.”
Mitch Grayson agrees, telling the Diary that the Shire Council is very much looking forward to her being re-installed.
“What a great day that will be for all the people who have missed her so much!” he said.
Deborah is part of the Nillumbik Artists Open Studios, and her studio will be one of many open on the weekend of May 4-5 (see page 9 for more details).
IN JULY 2016, Manningham Council endorsed the Jumping Creek Road Development Framework, a major project costing (then) $17.9M with a construction period of six years scheduled to begin in 2018.
The road currently carries over 8,000 vehicles per day, a number which is expected to double by 2035, and has had over 20 recorded vehicle crashes in the past five years.
An important link road between Warrandyte and the Yarra Valley, the road also gives access to the only river crossing within 10 kilometres for Wonga Park and the surrounding area.
A Jumping Creek Road Community Reference Panel was formed in 2017 and this consists of nine people comprising residents, businesses and community groups which are directly affected by Jumping Creek Road.
The works will include roadway realignment, emergency vehicle stopping bays and a shared pedestrian/cycling path which will run the entire length of Jumping Creek Road between Wonga Park and Warrandyte.
Roundabouts are to be constructed at the Warrandyte State Park Entrance, Hooper Road, Hartley Road and Yarra Road.
We ran a detailed description of this project in our July 2017 issue.
However, since then progress has been very slow and not a lot has happened.
The Diary asked Manningham Council for an update.
“Works to relocate water, gas and telecommunications lines between Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and Nelson Drive are progressing as part of stage 1A of the Jumping Creek Road upgrade,” said Grant Jack, Acting Director City Services.
“These works started in November 2018; over summer some electrical relocation works were delayed due to warm weather.
“While the relocation works are underway, Council is finalising the design of stage 1A of the road upgrade.
“This will include a planning permit process, which is anticipated to be advertised for public comment during April/May.
“The schedule of construction works for stage 1A will be set once the design is finalised.
“It is anticipated works will commence later in 2019.
“The upgrade is proposed to be constructed across a number of stages over an eight year period,” he said.
Manningham’s Yoursay website has a comprehensive map of the upgrade works.
However the website, and the responses from Manningham Council refer to various stages by number, but it is hard to determine which features are included in which stage and we have asked for further clarification of this and a mud map of the stage process with dates.
A further meeting of the Reference Panel has now been convened for Thursday, April 11 and we have been promised an update following this.
WARRANDYTE, and its surrounds, is home to many artists, and some are throwing open the doors to their studios to let the public see just how they work.
The next instalment of the Nillumbik Artists Open Studios program will take place on the weekend of May 4-5, with over over 30 artists participating, including relative newcomer to the program, Deborah Halpern, sculptor and creator of Warrandyte’s own Queen of the Shire.
The Diary caught up with Deborah recently, and she gave us some insight into what it’s like for an artist to welcome people in to their workspace. “Open Studios is a great time to have conversations with people,” said Deborah.
“It’s nice that people are interested and a lot of people don’t know what a studio looks like.”
Deborah says that much of what is within her studio is experimental or works in progress, and many of the works will not make it into public view.
“It is quite challenging to open your studio,” said Deborah.
“The good side is that you have to clean it up – tidying up is a good thing, you have to do it sometimes, but you also feel a bit invaded – it’s like people coming into your head,” she said.
Deborah’s son, Artek Halpern-Laurence, is a screen printer and, with his studio on the same property, will also be participating in the program.
Founding Open Studio artists and Diary regulars, Ona Henderson and Syd Tunn will also be opening the doors to their Bend Of Islands studio, an ‘Aladdin’s cave … abundant with magical adventures’.
The artists officially open their studios two weekends a year, in May and November, but many of the artists also run workshops at other times.
The weekend after Open Studios, May 11-12, Deborah will be holding one of her two-day mosaic workshops, where participants can create a mosaic piece from design to completion.
Later in the year, Research Potter, Jack Lätti will hold a workshop on wheelwork, hand building and raku firing.
Navigating around the 32 participating studios across the Shire has been made easier with the program being divided into geographical zones. Studios in Zone A centre around Eltham and Research and include Kate Hudson, Chris and Mary-Lou Pittard, Wendy Hicks, Linda MacAulay, Sue McFarland, Glynis Brown, Clare Dunstan, Jacquie Hacansson and Jack Lätti.
Zone B includes artists from Warrandyte, Panton Hill, St Andrews and Bend Of Islands: Artek Halpern-Laurence and Deborah Halpern, Annette Nobes, Nerina Lascelles, Bruce Mckay, Ona Henderson and Syd Tunn, Tim Read and Jess Jarvie.
While Zone C features artists from Hurstbridge, Cottles Bridge and Plenty.
Nillumbik Artist Open Studios will be held on May 4-5, with participating studios opening their doors from 10 am until 5pm.
More information on Nillumbik Artists Open Studios can be found at artistsopenstudios.com.au
This amazing artwork, which was commissioned to celebrate an international blockbuster film, now takes pride of place on the Tread Sculptures art trail in the Bend of Islands.
Artist Tim Read works with reclaimed steel to produce some incredible, imaginative works of art, often collaborating with fellow artists, such as glass artist Rob Hayley, who produced the glasswork for the eyes and wings on the sculpture Tim is calling Buzz.
“Rob is great to work with, very experimental and always up for a challenge, which is great as I knew we would be pushing the boundaries when it came to the glasswork for this piece,” Tim said.
Tread Sculptures is at 225 Catani Blvd, Bend Of Islands, Kangaroo Ground and will be open 4-5 May as part of Nillumbik Artist Open Studios, where local artists open their studios to visitors to meet the artists and get to see amazing pieces like Buzz in her natural environment.
WARRANDYTE Community Bank Branch has recently purchased seven new automatic external defibrillators which have been installed throughout the greater Warrandyte area.
The defibrillators, which were purchased as part of the bank’s Defib Your Community program, were part of a $20,000 contribution by the local branch.
Branch Chair Aaron Farr said the defibrillators were one of the most important investments the bank has ever put into the community.
“Over the next 20 years, if one of our new defibrillators can be used to save one life, it will be worth all the money we’ve invested”.
Community liaison officer Dee Dickson said the program was something the bank was very passionate about.
“The directors are volunteers on the Board because they believe in community and want the best outcomes for our community.
“As soon as they heard about the program, they unanimously said ‘we’re in, let’s do it’.”
Ambulance Victoria figures show approximately 6,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital each year in Victoria.
The new defibrillators, which are fixed externally to buildings throughout the community, are accessible 24/7 and are designed to assist in these exact emergency scenarios.
Advanced Life Support Paramedic Bec Hodgson said with greater access to a defibrillator in the community, chances of surviving a cardiac arrest are greatly increased.
“The management of a patient between the time of collapse and the arrival of an ambulance is vital.
“Survival rates nearly double when a defibrillator has been used prior to paramedic arrival,” she said.
While most businesses will have a defibrillator, it may only be available during business hours, these new externally mounted units give people a chance when a cardiac arrest occurs outside of business hours — like on a Monday.
“If you’re going for a 7am walk along the river, they’re not available.
“Hopefully the community doesn’t need them, but these new external defibrillators are an insurance policy in case they do.”
As well as providing a priceless benefit to the community, the new defibrillators will relieve some of the stress for emergency services workers and volunteers, who respond to these calls.
“They may make the difference between a patient still being in cardiac arrest or having come out of it when the ambulance arrives,” said Ms Hodgson.
Aside from funding the program, the bank is also working with emergency services organisations to encourage those members of the community who already have defibrillators to register them with Ambulance Victoria.
The more defibrillators which are registered means an Emergency Services Telecommunication Agency worker can direct someone calling 000 to the nearest unit, potentially saving someone’s life.
“There’s no point in someone calling 000 and the operator not knowing there is a defibrillator two doors down because it’s not registered,” said Mr Farr.
The defibrillators were purchased through non-for-profit organisation Defib For Life, which also provides on-going support for the machines, including regular checks and training.
The bank will be working with Defib For Life to organise training sessions in the coming months for those interested in building confidence with the defibrillators.
Although proper training on how to use one of these units will mean they are used properly, and promptly during an emergency, Ms Hodgson says they are also designed so anyone can assist someone suffering from a cardiac arrest.
“The unit will talk you through what you need to do in simple steps and you will have the support of the 000 call taker also helping you through the process”.
Mr Farr said the training will be directed at building confidence with the machines.
“If you’re more confident in using something, you’re more likely to pick it up and use it.
“When people actually feel confident in using it, it empowers them to say, ‘I know how to make a difference myself’.
“So, it’s no longer just this daunting box on the side of the wall,” he said.
Warrandyte Community Bank will continue to fund the Defib Your Community program, and have two more defibrillators already lined up.
“We’re going to keep rolling them out until you can’t go 10 minutes without seeing one,” said Ms Dickson.
“By us dotting them around the community, with some even only 200 metres apart, we’re really increasing the outcomes for members of our community if something drastic happens.”
Ms Dickson reminds us that it is the profits gained from banking with Warrandyte Community Bank which goes towards funding projects like this and through locals and businesses banking locally, they can be proud knowing their money is being reinvested in the health of their local community.
“People are making a difference just by banking here — it’s so simple,” she said.
Members of the community with defibrillators can register them with Ambulance Victoria via www.reigstermyaed.ambulance.vic.gov.au or call 1800 233 734.
Anyone wishing to participate in training with the defibrillators can contact Dee Dickson via
NILLUMBIK Council is considering a report to cease providing a wildlife euthanising service across the Shire.
The service attends to the euthanasia of injured wildlife and domestic animals on both public and private land, in accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1968.
Wherever possible, qualified and accredited officers are obliged to minimise the suffering of injured animals where a recovery from injuries is unlikely.
The service also seeks to minimise the chance of injured wildlife creating a hazard on public roads.
The service is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Currently, two licensed Rangers attend to incidents within business hours and a contractor delivers the service outside of business hours.
In May 2018, Council engaged Maddocks Lawyers and PPB Advisory (now part of PWC) to undertake an independent audit and review of its past, present and future management of its wildlife euthanising service and related management of firearms.
The audit report was presented to Council’s Audit Committee on August 13, 2018, due to the Committee’s risk management advisory role and expertise.
At its meeting, the Audit Committee decided that the Council should consider making alternative arrangements to deliver these services in the future.
Since then, officers have continued to seek alternatives for the provision of this service, and have commenced engaging with key stakeholders such as the Victoria Police and Wildlife Victoria in preparation for Council exiting this service.
In a report considered at the Council’s February Future Nillumbik Committee meeting, Councillors were briefed on a report which addressed the costs of providing this service, and the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) risks associated with the management and use of firearms in the day to day duties of Community Safety Officers (i.e. Rangers).
The report recommended that Council “support officers in engaging key stakeholders to develop an orderly exit from this service”.
The report went on to recommend:
Immediately cease providing the injured wildlife euthanisation service on private property and only focus on risks within the public realm.
Direct officers to continue an engage with Victoria Police, Wildlife Victoria and other stakeholder organisations in formulating an exit of this service.
Direct officers to negotiate a support package for Wildlife Victoria for a period of three years to ensure that they continue to be adequately funded within Nillumbik to provide this service as they do across the rest of Victoria.
Endorse a planned exit from the injured wildlife euthanisation service in its entirety by no later than June 30, 2019.
Council also heard that the financial benefit of exiting this service will be a direct cost saving of $56,000 annually as well as freeing up the time of Rangers to attend to other duties.
The report noted that the trend amongst other councils has been to pull out of this service, with all councils surveyed having stopped using firearms, while two have moved to using bolt guns.
“The remaining councils either ceased providing the service, or had never provided the service.
“Concerns relating to the overall risk of handling of firearms; whether councils really should be in the business of handling firearms; and points of decreasing demand, or access to other agencies (such as the police) being better suited to providing the service were all points put forward by these councils”, the report stated.
The Committee took the recommendations on advisement and has commissioned a period of public consultation and a further report to be considered at their May meeting.
THERE IS A NEW wave of optimism that the Wonga Park Village shops will be given a new lease of life.
The “For Lease” sign that has stood as a sentinel outside the derelict shopping strip for over a year was given the addition of an “Under New Ownership” sign in late February, and has been joined by some cyclone fencing around the perimeter of the centre.
On contacting the leasing agent, Lewis Waddell of Fitzroys Real Estate, it was confirmed that the site has been purchased by a developer who would like to remain anonymous at this time.
Mr Waddell told the Dairy that the new owner has submitted plans to redevelop and refurbish the site to “bring it back to life”.
The owner has plans for what, in his words, will be a “community revitalisation”, and is hoping to attract tenants for a variety of retail, medical and dining spaces.
“Depending on how the permit application goes the owner hopes [tenants will be able to move in] within the next three to six months,” said Mr Waddell.
Tenants were evicted from the shopping centre by the former owner three years ago.
Hairdresser, Lynn Munro received notice to vacate her Yarra Road salon just before Christmas of 2015.
“I received a letter on December 17, 2015 to say I had to vacate within four weeks,” she said.
Since then the shops in the precinct have remained empty, much to the frustration of Wonga Park locals.
“The owner was a local person, but she moved to Sydney and stopped renewing leases on all the shops, even the Post Office couldn’t continue to operate,” she said.
When the centre was put up for lease again last year there were hopes for activity at the site, but despite numerous enquiries from potential tenants, none of the shops were let.
“The shops were the heart and soul of Wonga Park, with everyone living on such big blocks it was a place for everyone to meet.
“When I was the last shop there, people would come in and say, ‘where can we get a coffee?’, but there was nowhere,” Ms Munro said.
Over the last three years, all attempts of contacting the now-former Sydney-based owner of the property have proven futile as Council, media and residents have had letters unanswered, phone calls cut off, and many questions left unanswered.
While the centre has been languishing unoccupied, the town has been resolute in maintaining their community spirit.
Wonga Park Farmers Market has been established in an attempt to reinvigorate the community, but this does not solve the village’s day-to-day needs, which, until the property is tenanted, are still unmet.
Angelo Kourambas, Director City Planning and Community at Manningham City Council said it was too early for Council to comment on the owner’s ideas for the site.
However, he said the Council welcomes the potential rejuvenation of the centre.
“Council is keen to see the Wonga Park Village Centre restored to a viable and vibrant local shopping and community precinct for the local community to enjoy,” he said.
Anyone interested in leasing space from the new owner can contact Lewis Waddell at Fitzroys Real Estate 0431 107 275.
EARLIER TODAY, VicRoads released their latest information update, detailing bridgeworks to take place over the next two week.
Between 7am and 5pm, Monday to Friday on weeks beginning February 25 and March 4, VicRoads contractors will be on-site installing expansion joints, and a “splitter island” at the south end of the bridge in the centre of the new pedestrian crossing.
The expansion joint will allow the bridge to flex in extreme weather conditions while the splitter island should be installed to complete the pedestrian crossing at the southern end of the bridge, separating the northbound from the southbound traffic.
VicRoads have stated traffic management will be in place to ensure traffic is moving, even during lane closures and there may be speed restrictions in place.
With the works taking place only on weekdays between 7am and 5pm, although the morning peak may be affected by the bridgeworks, the evening peak traffic congestion should remain at its usual level.
IN A MAJOR change of plan, VicRoads has announced with just four days’ advance notice that the resurfacing works on the bridge will commence next Monday, February 11 and are scheduled to take place for the full week in both daytime and night-time including the morning peak period.
Daytime works are scheduled to take place between 7am and 5pm from Monday, February 11 to Saturday, February 16.
Night-time works are scheduled to take place between 8pm and 5am from Tuesday, February 12 to Monday, February 18.
The suddenness of these works and the announcement of both day and night lane closures may come as a bit of a shock, when the Diary recently asked VicRoads about any further lane closures, Stephane Hinkeesing, Manager Structures Metro said:
“Over the coming weeks, we’ll be finalising our works including new asphalting on the bridge and permanent line marking.
“During these works, there may be some overnight temporary lane closures.”
The new update advises that during the above times there will be lane closures on the bridge; however traffic flow will be maintained with on-site traffic management, although it is unclear how many lanes will be open.
The latest email update also states:
“Works can only proceed under favourable weather conditions and can be impacted by rain, cold or excessive heat.
Contingency dates have been included in case of unfavourable weather.”
This would indicate — assuming all goes well — road users in Warrandyte may not need to suffer through a full week of lane closures.
But with peak time traffic still backing up, it is possible that any lane closures are going to have an adverse effect on already congested Warrandyte roads.
Take heed at VicRoads advice, plan ahead and assume the bridge is out of order for the second full week of February.
BLocal artists are using their art to heal the lingering wounds of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires.
A metal dragonfly fashioned from old fencing and barbed wire is one of the works of art at Renewal — A Black Saturday Memorial Exhibition.
It commemorates a decade since the Black Saturday fires tore through Victoria, in one of the darkest days the State has ever experienced.
A dragonfly was the first sign of life artists Dawn and Gary McDonnell saw on their return to their Nillumbik property after the fires — and it became a symbol of hope and renewal to them.
The couple is among 60 artists showcasing their work at an exhibition which runs from January 25 – February 25 at two locations in Nillumbik.
Diary contributors, Ona Henderson and Syd Tunn also feature in the exhibition, which gives them an opportunity to reflect on the events of 2009.
The pair lost friends to the flames that day, and recall the worrying time spent as the fires threatened their Bend of Islands home.
Ona’s contribution to the exhibition, Ancient SilentSentinels [right] comes through as a message of resilience.
Ona explains, “the 2009 bushfires burned hot throughout much of the bush but these graceful grasstrees started to sprout again quite quickly — silent sentinels with black trunk.
She said that the grasstrees became for her symbols of regeneration, as they often stand starkly in the landscape “to remind us of the ability to stand strong and resilient against the chaos and destruction that follows a huge bushfire”.
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan said like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a feeling of renewal, fuelled by hope and courage, had emerged in the community.
“Hope is a flame that burns eternally, and many artists have found creating works of art a cathartic experience,” Cr Egan said.
“Art speaks from the heart often saying what words cannot.”
Ona told the Diary of how, in the month’s following Black Saturday, she and Syd healed by collaborating on shared canvases.
“We both went through trauma where we could not paint for several months, and then we started painting on each other’s paintings, we started new paintings, which were healing paintings,” she said.
Last year, Council put a call out to artists inviting them to exhibit their work.
Their art includes a range of mediums — paintings, ceramics, sculptures, etchings, jewellery, print, wool, a digital movie and photographs.
Cr Egan said many of the works are paintings that reflect the scars on the landscape that have healed over time – an outward manifestation of emotional scars which are often less easy to heal.
Others works of art are less traditional.
One is made from latex casts of fallen trees in the Kinglake National Park.
Cr Egan said for many artists, creating the pieces on display would have been a cathartic experience.
“Some works of art are for sale, others aren’t.
“Some visitors to the galleries will smile, others will be reduced to tears.
“But what I believe all will take away with them is the message of courage, healing and hope,” Cr Egan said.
The exhibitions are at Wadambuk Art Gallery in St Andrews and the Eltham Library Community Gallery.
The exhibition was among seven Nillumbik community initiatives collectively awarded Victorian Government grants of nearly $33,000 to mark the 10th anniversary of Black Saturday.
A HUGE community effort has gone into mitigating the effects of a Public Transport Victoria (PTV) decision to reconstruct the 906 bus terminus at the bridge roundabout; demolishing a wall and damaging heritage stairs in the process.
This work is part of PTV’s ongoing future-proofing of bus stops in the area to allow for the potential introduction of bendy buses.
PTV handed the work over to VicRoads to manage as part of the bridge reconstruction and to be performed simultaneously to prevent the need for any further disruption.
VicRoads had been planning this work for some time and had applied to Manningham Council for an alteration to the original permit to include this work — a permit being required because of the heritage overlay applying to the site.
Manningham Council did not advertise this planning request, deeming it to be of minor nature, and in June 2018 they amended the original permit to include this work.
The Diary has learned from VicRoads correspondence that Council had referred the permit amendment to its heritage advisor and urban design team.
It was recommended that the works reuse as much of the existing stone work as possible and care should be taken to match the new stone wall in size, colour, arrangement and visibility.
The first that locals knew of this work was in mid-November when fencing was erected around the site and contractors began to demolish the existing heritage stone walling, which caused damage to the historic stone steps.
A group of concerned residents, along with the Warrandyte Historical Society (WHS), convened meetings with VicRoads and their subcontractors, reminding them of their community obligations and offered the pro-bono services of local conservation stonemason James Charlwood as a design consultant to oversee the rebuilding to the appropriate standards.
Warrandyte Historical Society President, Margaret Kelly, spoke to the Diary regarding the bus stop works.
“The Warrandyte Historical Society was disappointed that there had been no warning of the work to be undertaken on the bus stop wall (this would have allowed photos to be taken for archival purposes) or neither it or other community groups had been consulted on the project.
“This highly visible, central area of the Warrandyte Township Heritage Precinct is historically significant and the Society is concerned that any changes to any of the various elements should be in line with the relevant plans and guidelines.
“We were pleased with the community response and the quick involvement of individuals to try to ensure the best outcome,” she said.
Last year, WHS was successful in negotiating the fate of the Old Dairy with Council and Melbourne Water and are hopeful that this sort of consultation will happen again in the future.
WHS along with Warrandyte Community Association are meeting with Council this month to discuss heritage protection in Warrandyte.
Mr Charlwood has produced a comprehensive Concluding Report which is highly critical of VicRoads, the sub-contractors and Manningham Council for their inadequate provisions to protect the heritage assets.
A copy of the report is available from the Diary upon request.
Whilst to a layperson the finished result may look acceptable, Mr Charlwood is critical that the style of the new work fails to match the adjacent walling.
Others have commented that the diagonal cyclone fencing above the wall detracts from the overall look and feel.
And it is noted that despite all this work, nothing has yet been done to rectify the broken stonework rumble strip that separates the bus stop from the Yarra Street traffic.
It is not known whether further work is intended here, but it would be a shame to leave the broken stonework as is, as the surrounding area and roundabout have been rebuilt.
Theresa Dawson, who was a driving force behind the community initiative to preserve the wall told the Diary: “There are a lot of new people living here now who are more than likely unaware that the reason they are able to live in such a unique and beautiful suburb, in such close proximity to the CBD, is because of the tireless work through the 70s and 80s of the Warrandyte Environment League, WCA, many other diligent locals and the Diary, that acted impartially to present necessary facts to locals.
“We need to continue to honour the legacy of all these groups and individuals by standing up and carrying on their work if we wish to continue enjoying such a lovely village with rich history.”
The last 24 months have seen community groups defending heritage in the face of utilitarian progress and the Diary looks forward to reporting on the plans to help maintain cultural heritage.
THE REPORT from the independent Planning Panel enquiry into Manningham Council’s C117 Planning Scheme amendment has now been published.
The controversial amendment seeks to encourage tourist-related activities within the Green Wedge and had been the subject of a three-day hearing at Planning Panels Victoria in October at which many local individuals, community groups, businesses and the Council made presentations.
The Panel’s findings
The amendment proposes three related but potentially independent changes to clauses within the planning scheme.
The first of these is to change the Municipal Strategic Statement at Clause 21.07 to give greater support to tourism in the Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ).
The panel threw this change out, and recommended that changes to this clause be abandoned.
Changes to Clause 22.19 propose to allow outbuildings and sheds in the RCZ to the same extent as currently applies to the Low Density Residential Zone.
The panel found that these were reasonable.
The new local policy at Clause 22.20 intends to provide more guidance for non-residential land use applications in the RCZ, covering design, location and scale of new buildings.
The panel found that this clause provided useful guidance to applicants, but had some trouble with the wording and suggested improvements.
The Panel concluded that “the broader policy position to support more tourism in the Green Wedge is contrary to sound planning and runs counter to the purposes of the RCZ.”
However, it conceded that many of the issues with this broader policy position were beyond the scope of the Panel.
The Wedge Tails website, sponsored by the Warrandyte Community Association, the Friends of Nillumbik and the Green Wedge Protection Group describes the Panel’s report as “a major win for community involvement and for the values of the Green Wedge in the face of the usual commercial pressures.
“It is also evidence that the system can work as we would want it to.
“The Panel left no doubt that it understood the essential purposes of the Rural Conservation Zone and of the Green Wedge generally.”
Friends of Warrandyte State Park were delighted with the outcome of the panel hearing.
Lynda Gilbert said “FOWSP have been engaged in a number of environmental battles with other like-minded community groups to save the Green Wedge because there are so few places close to the city where humans can observe the wildlife and admire the flora in its natural state.
“There are some 24 restaurants and cafes in Warrandyte already, as well as several B&Bs and a caravan park nearby in Deep Creek, so we do not need any more development as it will severely impact on the habitat for our flora and fauna.
“Our only hope is that Manningham City Council accepts the Panel’s decision.”
Jamie Day, who is seeking to promote an eco-friendly low-impact tourist camping facility at Pound Bend said “I find it disappointing that it seems, in regard to tourism related business activity within the RCZ, the status quo might remain; that would restrict business activity that could be complementary to the area.”
Others who gave evidence at the panel hearing in favour of the amendment were approached for comment, but declined to say anything at this stage.
What happens next?
We now await the response of Manningham Council to the Panel’s report.
Lee Robson, Acting Director of City Planning and Community at Manningham Council told us “Council received the Independent Panel Report for Amendment C117 (Rural Areas Discretionary Land Uses) on December 19, 2018.
“The Report was made available to the public on Council’s website on January 8 this year and Council will consider the Panel’s recommendations at its Council Meeting on February 26, 2019.”
Manningham Council could choose to abandon the entire amendment, or they could put the amendment forward to the Minister for Planning either as it is or including some or all of the Panel’s recommendations.
Nillumbik Council divided over Green Wedge Management Plan
NILLUMBIK Council’s meeting on December 18 continued to run what appears to be a bunfight between Friends of Nillumbik in the one corner and Nillumbik Proactive Landowners Group (PALs)in the other.
As we reported in the December issue a community panel of 39 members had produced a 64-page Community Engagement Report to Nillumbik’s Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP) of which 32 pages were the majority report, and a further 32 pages were a dissenting Minority Report, prepared by five resident hobby farmer panel members.
Because the full panel did not see and was unaware of this content Mayor Karen Egan determined it would not be considered by Council.
PALs have responded, saying the half of the report now being considered is “illegitimate”.
At the December meeting, Mayor Egan attempted to defuse the situation by saying Council welcomes a submission from the dissenting Panel members — and the wider community — on the draft Green Wedge Management Plan, which will be released for broader engagement in early 2019.
But the meeting quickly descended into farce with the seven amendments to edit various sections of the response document, many being lost on divisions, and personal accusations flying around the room in a meeting that lasted almost 3.5 hours.
The final resolution that passed with amendments requests Officers to commence writing the draft GWMP for consideration by March 2019 for the purposes of wider community engagement.
Council spokesman Licardo Prince told the Diary: “The aim remains for it to go to the March 26 meeting and then subsequently be put out for further community consultation.”
And Nillumbik Council problems are not confined to the Green Wedge issue.
The Council returned two weeks earlier than expected in the middle of January on a Thursday night at a special meeting to consider a motion to rescind a decision made at the December 11 meeting that refused a planning application.
The rescission motion was defeated, but not before Councillors blamed each other for calling the Special Meeting at additional expense to ratepayers.
This is a divided band of Councillors, and it will be interesting to see how they handle the proposed GWMP at their March meeting.
THE DECEMBER Bridge Update Bulletin from VicRoads is now to hand and quietly announces a further major slip to the completion date, which is now listed as “late-February”.
Considering that these works were due to be completed by the end of September and at that time slipped a further three months to “before end of 2018” it is fair to say that the project completion now slips by two months every three months.
And interestingly the contact phone numbers and email addresses for further queries have been removed from the latest bulletin.
We had all expected that the night lane closures scheduled for next week would put the final surface and line markings on the bridge and enable it to be fully opened but we now learn that this work will now not take place until late-January and not be complete until late-February.
All three lanes are now open on the bridge, with temporary barriers separating the northbound from the southbound traffic, and there has been much discussion on social media at the relative narrowness of the lanes and folk are asking why it was necessary to have two footpaths at the expense of lane width.
A single night of lane closure next week is scheduled for either Tuesday 18 or Wednesday 19 December to do some further lane marking, but obviously this will not be the finished job.
Work scheduled for the rest of December involves completing the bus stop upgrade, installing traffic signage, completing pedestrian fencing and packing up the site facilities.
Looking on the brighter side, it would seem that we do at least get all three lanes open during the upcoming fire season.
AFTER almost a year of disruption, and occasional chaos, the bridgeworks are now heading towards completion.
Night works and single lane closures, scheduled for December 1 to 4, to allow the construction team to seal the bridge surface, complete the lane markings and remove the remaining barriers were postposed due to bad weather and have not yet been rescheduled.
A further night of single-lane working on December 8 installed street lighting.
The work is looking very eye-pleasing, with colourful bollards and local stone cairns — sensitively designed echoes of stone end walls — at each of the abutments to the bridge.
Fitting of the green railings each side of the roadway and removal of most of the scaffolding from under the bridge was recently completed.
The further remedial work on the high voltage power cable over the Yarra associated with the bridgework was finally completed in the early hours of Sunday December 9 with a power outage affecting 446 residents.
Further works to be completed include finishing new shared use paths, finalising asphalting and line marking on the bridge, removing all remaining temporary barriers, installing the remaining street lighting, providing power and communications to the traffic lights, further strengthening works underneath the bridge, reinstatement of the Queen of the Shire and landscaping works.
The new bus stop works are being delivered by VicRoads on behalf of Public Transport Victoria (PTV) to extend the bus stop, allowing room for articulated buses on the road.
Traffic light troubles
The traffic lights at the corner of Research-Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road became operational on November 20.
Fatima Mohamed, VicRoads Director Metropolitan Assets, tells us “These new traffic lights have improved traffic flow and boosted safety at the intersection of Research-Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road and we appreciate the community’s patience during these important works.”
Although the traffic lights have been operational since November 20 there has been no power or communications laid on to the site, and the traffic lights are running off a generator.
Digital road rage
Last month, the community and road users continued to vent their frustrations on social media, this time directed at the newly activated traffic lights.
Complaints on social media indicated there was too much priority to traffic on Research Road and motorists stuck in traffic on Kangaroo Ground Road were falling back on old habits and speeding along the Blooms Road rat-run.
But it is the evening traffic that caused the most complaints, with the lights stopping northbound traffic across the bridge, and bridge traffic from Ringwood locking out traffic from the village.
Residents and commuters who have taken their complaints directly to VicRoads have told the Diary they are being advised “VicRoads is currently liaising with Telstra to get the permanent network connection installed which will allow real time adjustment of the signals and we anticipate that there will be tweaks to the signal timings based on traffic volumes once they are fully operational.”
Some adjustment must already be taking place as there has been a substantial improvement in traffic flow during the last week.
Despite criticism of the peak hour queues though Warrandyte, it must be remembered that the primary objective of the upgrade is in relation to bushfire evacuation, and to that extent the recent Bushfire Insurance Forum (see Page 7) was told that the emergency services have welcomed the works and believe that the bridge upgrade has greatly improved the situation in an emergency.
“Whilst the emergency services believe that the bridge upgrade has improved the situation, it is not a panacea and there will still be huge problems on the roads if an evacuation is required.”
The CFA message has always been to leave early and even with two southbound lanes, this message is more important than ever.
Photo: Stephen Reynolds – The Scrims, Warrandyte Festival 2018
THE WARRANDYTE Festival is the annual celebration that gives families and friends the opportunity to celebrate all that is great about Warrandyte’s unique community.
Impressively, volunteers have staged this beloved event for 43 continuous years!
One of the best things about Warrandyte’s biggest weekend is its “home-grown” attitude, which gives local talent the chance to shine.
Artists may dance or play music on stage; enter the Film Feast; hang their art in Friday night’s Rotary Art Show or sell hand-made crafts at market stalls.
Some perform in events like the Grand Read, which features Warrandyte’s literary best.
“Stars of Warrandyte” is the theme for Festival ’19, which runs from March 22 – 24.
Warrandyte schools, sports clubs and community associations are just a few groups who will kick off the fun-filled weekend, when they march in colourful costume in Saturday morning’s Grand Parade.
Organisers tell the Diary there are plans to expand several festival events.
The iconic Battle of the Bands, which gives local youth bands the chance to battle for the prize of spending a day in a recording studio, will move to centre stage from 4pm on Saturday March 23.
“Previously, the Battle of the Bands has been staged on a Friday night but the committee decided to bring the event into Saturday’s music programme to expose the local youth music scene to a wider audience,” says festival committee president Jamie Ferguson.
“We will be approaching local schools before Christmas to try and unearth as many of Warrandyte’s emerging acts as possible.
“We’d love to hear from any young performers keen to be involved.”
As usual, Main Stage performances begin after the 12pm Opening Ceremony.
Sunday’s Main Stage programme will start before 11am and continue a little later, finishing around 10pm.
All the good times return: billycart racing; barrelling down the Scouts’ giant waterslide; duck racing and dog showing.
Warrandyte Film Feast expects to grow substantially in 2019, because what’s not to love about short flicks, a good brew — beer, wine or coffee — and perfect pizza?
The past two events sold out fast and those who lucked in have spread the word, so, co-ordinators are hitching the event to a larger marquee.
The Lounge will start buzzing from 6pm with live music, before the first film screens at 8pm.
Organisers are receiving interest from the filmmaking community already and will put out a formal call to filmmakers over the next few months.
If you want to get your film fix on, Warrandyte Film Feast happens outdoors on the banks of the Yarra on Friday March 22, 2019.
Tickets go online early next year.
Be sure and grab some for your mates if you don’t want them to miss out.
Keep up to date with festival news by visiting Warrandyte Festival Facebook page.
Further festival details in Warrandyte Diary from February 2019.
Battle of the Bands: If you would like to take part in the Battle of the Bands email:
Film Feast: submission guidelines will be available on the Festival website at a later date, but filmmakers can send links to their films or request more info by emailing: email@example.com
Art and craft market: Stall holder applications close December 14.
Forms can be found on the Festival website.
Volunteer: An inspired group of people of all ages puts Warrandyte Festival together.
If you like the thought of planning a big party or have a cracking festival idea please email:
THERE WAS a small field for the coveted position of Member for Warrandyte in the recently held State Election.
Voters turned out in force in the two weeks’ prior to the November 24 poll with early voting numbers reported by the VEC to be almost double the 2014 pre-poll turnout.
The seat of Warrandyte has been a comfortable Liberal seat for over 30 years, with incumbent Ryan Smith having held the seat for 12 years.
Smith, having spent the last four years in opposition was keen to see a change of government as he fought hard on the Liberal platform of law and order.
It was always going to be a difficult fight for control of the Spring Street government benches, but no one expected the massive swings across the state that strengthened Labor’s hold on power.
Labor put in an out-of-towner in Elizabeth McGrath, clearly not expecting her to make inroads into the Blue Ribbon Liberal seat.
However, despite Smith’s personal popularity in the electorate, he was not immune to the tsunami of sentiment away from the conservatives.
His 11 per cent margin was eroded to see him sitting on a frustrating 49.8 per cent, meaning without an absolute majority, a preference distribution was required.
Preferences swung the way of the incumbent, meaning that Ryan Smith was elected for the fourth term as Member of Warrandyte.
The Liberal member’s Two Party Preferred majority now sits at around three per cent.
Elizabeth McGrath attracted 35 per cent of the vote first preference for Labor, while Ben Ramcharan garnered a creditable 10 per cent for the Greens, with the Animal Justice Party’s Lachlan McGill taking four per cent of first preference votes.
To the North of Warrandyte, the electorate of Eildon, which takes in Kangaroo Ground, Christmas Hills and a large swathe of the Nillumbik Green Wedge, Liberal incumbent also went to preferences to claim victory in the seat.
In an almost carbon copy of the 2014 election result, Sally Brennan took a 35 per cent stake, while The Greens’ Ken Deacon took around 10 per cent of first preference votes and Independent Michelle Dunscombe retained her deposit with a five per cent share of the votes.
A community grant issued to Warrandyte RSL by Manningham Council will allow the organisation to make urgent structural repairs to the balcony at their property overlooking the War Memorial.
The grant of $25,000, in conjunction with a grant from Warrandyte Community Bank of $12,500 will help the RSL foot the $37,619 bill to make the necessary repairs and reopen the balcony to the public.
“During Anzac Day, we use the balcony to give the elderly and impaired members of the community a good view of the memorial and the ceremony,” Warrandyte RSL president, David Ryan, told the Diary.
“At the last Anzac Day, the [former] Manningham CEO was attending and asked us how safe the balcony was.”
Following a balcony collapse during a Christmas party at a property in East Doncaster, on December 16, 2017 which resulted in two dead and 17 injured, Council’s across Victoria have been looking closely at balcony’s to make sure the tragic event that occurred last Christmas is not repeated.
“A week and a half later, an engineer from Manningham assessed the balcony and issued us with a building notice, instructing us to close the balcony and make the necessary repairs,” said Mr Ryan.
With quotes from builders ranging between $35,000 and $45,000, the next challenge was to secure the funds.
The Warrandyte Community Bank helped them get off the mark, but a large portion of the required funds was still missing.
“The balcony is very important to the social activities at the club, with nice views of the memorial, the bridge and the Yarra, it is a nice place to sit when we have events on.
“But its main use, these days, is to give the elderly and impaired veterans and locals a place to sit and view the Anzac and Remembrance Day ceremonies.
“The RSL is on a very steep hill and it is very hard for them to access a place with a commanding view of the ceremony without the use of the balcony,” he said.
With Remembrance Day centenary, fast approaching and council officer’s report highlighting the important community value of the space, as well as the RSL’s limited resources in raising the necessary funds to pay for the repairs, Council voted in favour of a one-off grant of $25,000 to Warrandyte RSL at their October 23 meeting, with aspirations the repairs might be completed and the balcony reopened for the November 11 ceremony.
Unfortunately, this was not the case.
“We wanted the work to be finished for Remembrance Day, but to do this, we need the builder to start yesterday… we look forward to using the balcony, again, during the summer and at the next Anzac Day.”