Olivigna cooks up an MBEA winner

Warrandyte has dominated the Manningham Business Excellence Awards once again with local treasure Olivigna winning the coveted top spot.

Olivigna was awarded the 2016 Business of the Year accolade at a gala dinner held at the Manningham City Council offices in mid-November, with fellow Warrandyte businesses The White Owl and Warrandyte Quality Meats highly commended for their excellent business operations and commitment to community.

It’s becoming something of a popular trend—Warrandyte taking the cake, that is—with local businesses claiming the top spot three out of four years in a row, with Quinton’s IGA and H2Pro Plumbing coming first in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Co-owner and founder of Olivigna, Anna Gallo, says she is “thrilled and humbled” to have won the 2016 award.

“To be chosen amongst such esteemed finalists really is an honour,” Anna told the Diary.

“When my husband John Di Pietro and I first dreamt up Olivigna – a place that would combine the best of Italy with the best of Australia on a beautiful stretch of rolling bushland – we always hoped people would get what we wanted to achieve; that they would see our vision and want to be a part of it.

“The award confirms they do. It reinforces that the way we bring friends and family together – to relax, to connect, to celebrate, to experience la dolce a vita on our 20 stunning acres – really is valued.

“I couldn’t be more proud of how we’ve been accepted by the community and of how we’ve been able to add to what makes this part of the world so very special.”

Olivigna took home the Accomodation and Food Services award in 2015, so to win the biggest prize of them all this year is the icing on the cake.

And it might have something to do with their move into liqueur making, with Anna’s famous limoncello now on offer and generating plenty of buzz.

Marketing manager Bea Barrett says: “The newest part of the Olivigna dream is the production of our own limoncello— the fine and famous citrusy liqueur first crafted in Italy. Ours is made to a secret family recipe using lemons we’ve grown here ourselves and alcohol we’ve distilled here ourselves. We are the only place in all of Australia to be crafting limoncello in this orchard-to-glass way.”

But it’s not just the food and wine that makes Olivigna so great, and so worthy of winning the Business of the Year Award. Bea says she hopes the judges saw Olivigna’s commitment to community as an important aspect of their business.

“We also think the judges were impressed with our contribution to the community. They recognised, we believe, the value of creating a place here in this beautiful part of the world where friends and family come together to connect, to relax, to share special occasions, to make golden memories,” Bea says.

“They recognised, too, the value of creating new jobs within the region; we currently employ more than 40 people – and of giving back to the region; we support many local charities and organisations throughout the year.”

Olivigna is a villa-restaurant, winery, olive grove, distillery and events venue nestled off Brumby’s Road in leafy South Warrandyte. Olivigna has flourished and prospered since opening in February of 2014 and is now a much loved staple of the local landscape and beyond, providing a unique dining experience that the team on deck describes as a “get-away-to-Italy vibe” on over 20 acres of great Mediterrean-like landscape.

For more information visit or pay them a visit at 54-56 Brumbys Rd, Warrandyte, Vic 3134.

For more information on the Manningham Business Excellence Awards, visit the website

Celebrating 40 fantastic Warrandyte festivals

Warrandyte Festival 2017 will hit the town over the weekend of March 24-26. Pop it in your calendars, folks, because it’s going to be SPECtacular.

The theme is “Warrandyte Festival—since ’77: 40 Years of Fun” and it promises an extra special celebration in honour of the festival’s long-standing history in the township.

Warrandyte Festival was first held in April 1977 as an initiative of War-randyte Environment League (WEL). The idea “for all of Warrandyte to come together in a community festi- val, without the commercialism and exploitation of the more elaborate affairs closer to the city” came from Stan Stewart, local Presbyterian minister at the time and president of WEL from 1974-75.

Given the potent energy building in the Warrandyte community during the 1970s it’s not surprising more than one person suggested the town hold a festival, but in 1976, three WEL members – Patrick Nuzum, Anne Martin and Howard Geldard – got together to canvass support for it from the community, including the historical society and arts association, local traders, sporting clubs and councillors.

With a budget in hand, local lads willing to help with the sound and setup of equipment for a concert and Diary cartoonist Jock Macneish designing posters to let the town know what was afoot, the first festival got underway.

Forty years on, Warrandyte Festival is still run entirely by volunteers. As an event that has experienced longevity when many like it have finished up, it is somewhat unique in Victoria.

Warrandyte’s “big weekend” will feature much-loved events: the Grand Parade, Scouts Waterslide, Billycart Derby, Nature’s Play, Duck Race and Kids Market.

Food, of course, there will be glorious food. It’s always a good idea to bring your appetite—and dance moves.

Are you ready for this? Organisers will be putting on a ‘70s Disco! Think, “Saturday Night Festival Fever.” Get your gear out from the back of the wardrobe. I’m talking flares, Warrandyte. You know you’ve got them. Saturday night will also feature a variety of youth bands. Festival favourites Nudist Funk Orchestra will give Sunday’s Main Stage their funk- lled attention. And a blast from the past, Paradiddle – the mighty bush band who first played at the festival in 1978 and went on to close the weekend for the next 20 years – will make a special appearance. Warrandyte Festival is also creating a Light Sculpture Competition for 2017 and is asking participants to design, build and enter sculptures in a variety of categories.

“Rising Sun” is the category for schools, youth organisations and child prodigies. “Light Under a Bushel” is an adult category for those who are not professionals in this field but who are, nonetheless, in possession of inspiration.

Finally, “Sirius”. It’s the brightest star in our night sky and the category for professional artists and lighting technicians. The festival will work with applicants to identify a location that best ts the concept of their sculptures and maximises their impact. Competition requirements – voltage, safety, stability and the like – will be outlined in the application form, which is available online at or email

But wait, there’s more! A new book is being launched in honour of Warrandyte’s time-honoured festival. Warrandyte Festival Celebrating 40 Years: ‘Best One Ever!’ is a salute to both the character and continuity of Warrandyte’s unique annual celebration.

It’s a colourful story. Of concerts and camel rides, parades and whacky races. Of families tuckered out on picnic blankets as Sunday evening bands perform final tunes. And of countless volunteers radiating ideas and pitching in. It illustrates not just the fun of Warrandyte Festival but also the undeniable power of community to enrich lives.

So many good times; such a great Warrandyte tradition!

Festival lovers will be able to spot themselves over the years: on a oat in the parade, at the market, in a Sulo bin race, under lights at the front of the stage or in many other wonderful events.

The book is a limited edition and can be pre-ordered for $40 through the website:

The Diary will bring you more on Warrandyte’s biggest event of the year in following months.

Until then, shuffle that ipod and tap into some Bee Gees dance tunes. Barry’s R & B falsetto is sure to bring on the fever!

Quinton’s IGA in the movies

WARRANDYTE’S Quinton’s SUPA IGA are the stars of a new short film which aims to inspire healthy, creative and affordable ways to feed the whole family.

Last month, Independent Grocer of Australia (IGA) chose Quinton’s to help launch the IGA Family Program and the new initiative is the subject of the IGA movie. Owner Julie Quinton — pictured with her children Hayley (left), Dale (right) and granddaughter Ocea, — says she is proud to be a part of such an exciting program.

“We want to create an even stronger community for all our customers and the IGA Family Program is a great way to help families with healthy recipes, creative activities and fun facts,” says Julie.

The film will become available towards the end of this month and the team at Quinton’s SUPA IGA can’t wait to show the community their on-screen talent.

Quinton’s SUPA IGA invite local families to sign up via and check out the new site which provides information on how to live in a happier and healthier Australia.

The Family Program offers a range of activities designed to encourage kids to be creative and imaginative as well as develop cooking skills.

The program also promotes educating children on where their food comes from to help foster a greater and healthier relationship with food. This category, known as the “Paddock to Plate”, will have regularly updated information and a newsletter to members who sign up.

Members will have the chance to win regular prizes and children up to the age of 13 will receive an exciting birthday gift from Quinton’s each year.

Julie says the store is proud to support a variety of local charities every day through the IGA Community Chest initiative which also funds local sporting teams and organisations through in-store purchases.

Quinton’s also supports the community through the Quinton’s Rewards Points program that donates a percentage of the money spent.

“We have a thriving local community with many families shopping each week at their local Quinton’s IGA,” Julie says.

Bushfire scenario event is a great success

What is it like to survive a bush fire? About 100 people learnt (the easy way) from those who found out the hard way as part of the Be Ready Warrandyte initiative.

The audience heard from bush fire survivors, Joff Manders, who lived through bush fires in Warrandyte in the 1960s, Steve Pascoe, a resident of Strathewen who lost his whole community on Black Saturday, and Julia Robertson, who lost her home in Flannery Court two years ago.

A realistic scenario was played out across the evening, using a timeline of events, from ignition to recovery, of a fire sweeping through Warrandyte.

The audience heard a frank description of what living through such an event was like, overlayed with ideas and advice on how to make effective choices at every turn.

School principals, the police and fire brigade and other community leaders offered insight into the policy and procedures local institutions follow to keep the community safe.

Quinton’s IGA’s Julie Quintin reminded residents the supermarket would not necessarily be available as a place of refuge as her policy is to evacuate the store to keep her staff safe in the event of a major incident.

“You may turn up to see the lights on and the generator running, but it will be locked up and you won’t have access,” she said.

Warrandyte High School principal Dr Steven Parkin said local schools have been given funding to bolster the school’s fire refuges against bush fire impact.

Sue Dyos, acting principal of Anderson’s Creek Primary School, told parents the school had procedures to deal with such a scenario an it is safer to leave children at school.

“Don’t put yourself in danger to come and collect your kids, they will be in a safe place,” she said.

Local police sergeant Stewart Henderson discussed the likely conditions on the road in a fire and pointed out roads would be thick with smoke and clogged with traffic, making travel perilous.

Sgt Henderson also reminded the audience that once the fire had been through, if an area is deemed unsafe by the fire brigade you would not be allowed past roadblocks.

“So you may be gone for days,” he said.

Julia Robertson gave a gripping recount of her family’s experience during the Flannery Court fire, outlining all of the things she had wished she had done to be better prepared and how the loss of her home had impacted her.

“No one thinks it will happen to them, but it does,” she said.

She told how not knowing whether or not her family was alive were the worst hours of her life.

“I discovered a home is built from memories and relationships not from possessions,” she said.

CFA chief officer Craig Lapsley rounded out the evening with his insights into bush fire survival.

“Find two ways to find information… being informed gives you choices and helps you make better decisions,” he said.

Mr Lapsley praised Warrandyte for being a smart, connected and well resourced community and said Warrandyte as a community had the resilience to survive a major bush fire.

“Don’t be scared, but take it seriously, work out where the stresses are and stick together,” he said. Warrandyte Community Association president Dick Davies said the focus of the night was to examine how the community was going to be able to pick up the pieces if a bush fire comes through Warrandyte.

“If things do go wrong, if we do lose lots of houses, or even lives, you need to know what to expect. There will be social dislocation and social dysfunction and it’ll be up to the community to put that stuff right,” Mr Davies said.

Facilitator Steve Pascoe told the Diary since he spoke to the Warrandyte community two years ago there had been a major shift into leaving early and this event has been able to highlight what that means; that is having a plan of exactly where to go, what you need to take and how to cope with the aftermath.

“The strange mix of elation and guilt that you have survived where others have not – it is a tough thing to deal with,” he said.

A major theme of the night was that things don’t always go to plan and despite planning to leave, people may still get caught at home, so residents need to prepare for that eventuality.

Mr Lapsley told the Diary he believed the event was timely because November is the time to begin preparing for the bush fire season.

“Whatever you have to do on your property, if you don’t start in November, it’ll beat you,” he said.

Warrandyte Neighbourhood House is running a Fire Plan Workshop on November 26.

Council election shake-up

Nillumbik shake-up: new faces for Sugarloaf and Mullum Mullum

THE people have voted and Nillumbik’s Sugarloaf Ward and Manningham’s Mullum Mullum Ward have elected new councillors in this year’s council elections.

Only one incumbent will return to Nillumbik council in a boilover election, which was expected given the controversial lead-up surrounding landscape and environmental overlay amendments.

Peter Perkins was the only candidate to land more than 50 per cent of first preference votes but will be seated alongside a near clean sweep of new faces in the Nillumbik chamber.

Jane Ashton emerged victorious from a field of 14 candidates in Sugarloaf while Andrew Conlon was one of three councillors elected in Mullum Mullum, joining re-elected councillors Paul McLeish and Sophy Galbally.

Ashton registered 54 per cent of Sugarloaf’s 5800 voters as the ward witnessed its largest ever number of candidates running for election since it was restructured by the Victorian Electoral Commission in 2008.

Sugarloaf’s new councillor said she was looking forward to the role ahead and working in such a picturesque environment.

“I’m humbled by the support I received and it’s important to thank Ken King for his eight years of service as the previous Sugarloaf councillor,” Ashton said. “This must be one of the most beautiful wards in Victoria and I just love the diversity of the landscape and the wonderful people who live here. I am so excited,” she added.

Ashton also emphasized her commitment to reviewing the C81 and C101 amendments and stressed the importance of working together as a community on issues such as the Warrandyte Bridge.

“The election result was a clear mandate for change, with an overwhelming majority of rural residents voting to reject the controversial C81 and C101. So, obviously the first thing I want to see is these amendments reviewed,” she said.

“I want to reassure people that I do not want to dismantle the Green Wedge, but there was definitely a level of anger and frustration in the community about the ever increasing divide between the reality of living in Nillumbik, particularly around fire mitigation, property management and the micro management and prescriptive attitude of the previous council.

“Good sustainable land management is essential, but you achieve this by working with the community, not by alienating them,” Ashton explained.

“I am looking forward to the bridge widening in Warrandyte being completed as quickly as possible and will in the longer term lobby for a North East Ring road, which would not only reduce traffic congestion in Warrandyte, but also in other areas of Nillumbik.”

Over 23,000 voters took part in Mullum Mullum’s election and with a voter turnout of just under 80 per cent, the contest was considerably close.

Conlon was not only the new face on the Manningham Council block but he also received the most votes in the ward, claiming the highest percentage of votes at 16 per cent.

McLeish and Galbally received 12.95 per cent and 10.34 per cent respectively to remain as councillors. Outgoing councillor, Meg Downie, narrowly missed out with 9.30 per cent.

Conlon said the opportunity to represent Mullum Mullum was exciting and he is eager to start as a councillor.

“It’s a great honour. I hope to serve the people of Mullum Mullum and Manningham as well as I can for the next four years and I’m thoroughly looking forward to it,” he said.

“I’m hoping to ensure Manningham can reduce the risk of bush fire and it will be great working on behalf of the rate payers and residents of Manningham.

Who’s in for Manningham:

Heide Ward: Geoff Gough (returning), Paula Piccinini, Michelle Kleinert (returning). Koonung: Dot Haynes (re- turning), Anna Chen, Mike Za ropoulos. Mullum Mullum: Andrew Conlon, Paul Mc- Leish (returning), Sophy Gal- bally (returning).

Sugarloaf: Jane Ashton. Blue Lake: Grant Brooker. Bunjil: Karen Egan. Edendale: John Dumaresq. Ellis: Peter Per- kins. Swipers Gully: Bruce Ranken. Wingrove: Peter Clark.

Re-elected Cr McLeish said he was delighted to continue working with people in the Mullum Mullum Ward and paid tribute to departing councillor Meg Downie.

“I’m honoured and humbled by the opportunity. Our community has been very generous to re-elect me and consider me a worthy representative on their behalf, I’m looking forward to delivering for them,” he said.

“I’d like to thank Meg Downie for her dedication as a councillor who served her community very well.”

McLeish also singled out Warrandyte’s traffic dilemmas as a key issue that needs addressing.

“I will continue to press the case with the State Government to do the research and understand the nature of the traffic situation in Warrandyte. I’m very keen to see the right planning schemes in place and make sure any development doesn’t overwhelm the character of the area,” he said.

McLeish said the close election in the ward was representative of the many hard working candidates who ran in the election.

“Every organisation needs renewal,” said McLeish. “There’s four new councillors for Manningham and it’s great to see all the candidates who ran are community-minded people who would’ve made a positive impact to Manningham.”

Galbally echoed the sentiments of her Mullum Mullum colleague, pointing out that many of the ward’s candidates are already great contributors to the community.

“People who are willing to give up their time for committees and organisations that benefit the community is a great indication of the standard of candidates that took part in the election,” she said.

The re-elected councillor said she was thrilled to work with an updated council and also highlighted the importance of communication between councillors and residents in Mullum Mullum.

“I’m really grateful to the community and everyone who voted for me. It’s wonderful to have the encouragement to keep going and continuing to represent the community,” Galbally said.

“I expect it to be an even better council now that there’s a few fresh faces. I look forward to working with them all. People need to know that councillors are there for them on the big issues as well as smaller things. It’s important for us to listen to the community to help solve issues both big and small.”

Time to spring clean your garden

As Spring begins to show its colours throughout Warrandyte, it’s the perfect time to make a few changes to your garden. The Diary’s TOBY WARD caught up with Nick Katis from Warran Glenn Garden Centre & Café to find out how any gardener can liven up their outside space.

TW: Nick, can you tell us why Spring is a good time for people to get outdoors and start gardening?

NK: Well, gardening for 30 to 45 minutes is equivalent to walking 3km for 40 minutes or cycling 8km in 30 minutes. Daily gardening results in a 36% lower rate of developing dementia and scientists have found that being around plants can reduce stress and make us feel happier and more relaxed.

What is going to blossom during Spring? What colours can Warrandytians expect to see?

I’m sure that everyone’s noticed that all of Warrandyte has a link chain of bright Big Red Geraniums in hanging baskets.

Organised by Julie Quinton and her Warrandyte beautification team, and supplied by Warran Glen, it defines Warrandyte as big, bright and colourful.

Spring is also time for some new and old favourites to take centre stage including: Maples, Ornamental Pears, Ornamental Cherries, Petunias and a huge range of exotic and native flowering plants.


Why is Warran Glen the place to go in Spring? What can people expect in the next few weeks?

We have a massive range of plants, pots and trees this Spring that will turn garden dreams into reality. We insist on ‘quality’, ‘natural’ and ‘value’ in all aspects of Warran Glen and Spring is the time when this shines most.

Our team, our customers and our stock are all blooming at the moment – so the more, the merrier!

What’s your advice for gardeners and how can Warran Glen help?

Don’t fall for the trap of “cheap plants” and no proper advice. We have a team of quali ed, dedicated horticulturists that will help you with the right plants, the right pots, the right trees for your garden. We can even come to your home for a tailor made service which we call our “Garden Consultation” service.

The word around town is you have a pretty special food offering there?

Well, Spring is alfresco time at Warran Glen Café. Our team of chefs and café staff work together to provide you with a local café/restaurant delivering great food and great service. And kids are always welcome to wander through the gardens and play on Thomas the Tank Engine. In October we have a series of FREE Garden Talks: including this Sunday October 16 at 11am with Melissa King and Sunday October 23 at 11am with Kevin Sheedy.

For more information visit

Diary is ‘Best Newspaper’ again!

For the third successive year the Warrandyte Diary has claimed the title as Best Newspaper at the Community Newspaper Association of Victoria (CNAV) annual awards.

Diary stalwart Jock Macneish and his wife Di attended the awards and almost wore out their shoes in walking up to collect them on behalf of the Diary.

“It was a fantastic night and we were thrilled to be involved in so many awards, whether it be as a winner or finalist,” Jock said. “It’s a fabulous result for all of Warrandyte.”

We managed to win four of the nine awards, including Best Newspaper (2014-15-16), Best Sports Reporting, Best Feature Story (Sammi Taylor’s investigation of Lyme Disease) and Best Photograph (Bill Hudson-McAuley’s wonderful photograph taken at Ron Day’s funeral). We also finished as finalists in another three including Best Editorial Comment (editor Scott Podmore’s close look at social media in the local community), Best Design and Layout, and Best History Story (Living in the ’50s).

So what did the independent judges say about our work? Read on:


Best Newspaper – Winner 

Warrandyte Diary

This entry wins because of its all-round appeal, combining excellent hard news with great photographs, an engaging front page, features and coverage of grass-roots events. Particularly notable was its strong hard news coverage on issues where accurate, current information for residents was paramount: including stories on a VicRoads bridge proposal, a plan to extend the M80 Ring Road and a VCAT hearing on a proposed new petrol station. These stories were well-crafted, relevant and strong, admirably answering the five golden questions of journalism: who, what, where, when and why. Clearly the stories were also being chased and followed up, demonstrating a drive to actively hunt for the news and report it, not just re-print a press release. This entry also stood out for an excellent feature on socal media and a comment piece adding context to a controversial planning amendment. The ‘Our Living Treasure’ column is a wonderful idea, in this edition profiling a local potter, a piece that illuminated the region’s rural past with lyrical humour. A top-notch sports section completed the picture. With minor quibbles, page designs were good: photos were used well, and headlines and sub-headings were appropriate and well-written.  All stories were well-crafted and edited with care.  A great example of a community newspaper with both heart and teeth.

Best Design and Layout – Finalist

Warrandyte Diary

The name ‘diary’ and the masthead are a lovely feel for a community newsletter, obviously including as many local people as possible. This newsletter is packed full of great articles which are easy to find and read. It resembles a newspaper which would encourage readers to have a look. The front cover is engaging with its big type drawing the reader in. I think the community would keep this newsletter and come back and back to read more.

Best editorial comment – Finalist

Warrandyte Diary – Scott Podmore

Care and concern for a serious local issue, well researched, well written, balanced.  A detailed, comprehensive, serious look at an important issue.  Well done!

Best Sports Reporting – Winner

Warrandyte Diary

The winning entry stood out for a number of reasons.

The front page photograph is a cracker and I loved the headline and the use of colour in the headline. The short sharp introduction draws readers into the extensive finals coverage inside.

The Warrandyte Diary’s spread on the grand final Triple Treat inside is a great read and the pictures and layouts are clean and first rate.

I also loved the double page spread of celebratory pics combined with the top 10 highlights of the match. This was a really innovative idea. The coverage indicates the writers and photographers spent considerable time and effort covering the matches and its fantastic they got reactions and responses from the people involved. It’s all about our local people and community after all.

The Warrandyte Diary has also devoted loads of space to a wide array of other sports and local achievers.

Best history story – Finalist

Warrandyte Diary

‘Warrandyte in the 1950s’ by Bill Hudson-McAuley

This is a snapshot of a town at a particular time – Warrandyte in the 1950s. Bill describes the town and the shops and the home delivery men – the baker, the milkman, the iceman and the dunny man (who collected not delivered!) and just the simple pleasures of growing up in a country town where children were encouraged to make their own entertainment. Lovely story.

Best feature story – Winner

Warrandyte Diary

‘Living with Lyme disease’ by Sammi Taylor

The winner was clear cut.

This was an extremely well written piece of investigative journalism. It was sensitively handled, beautifully structured and whole article was a gripping read from the first word to the last. This very important story is about Lyme disease not being acknowledged as a medical condition in Australia and details the pain and anguish being experienced by several Warrandyte residents with Lyme-like symptoms. Excellent work Sammi.

Best Photograph – Winner

Warrandyte Diary

‘One Beautiful Day’ – Photographer: Bill Hudson-McAuley

This is a very moving photo taken under challenging circumstances.  In covering a funeral the photographer has to strike a balance between being respectful and being present, perhaps even intrusive, enough to tell the story.  Shot from a discrete position that demonstrates respect for the grieving family, tightly framed to remove unnecessary detail, and carefully timed to capture Kianie’s hand in a final farewell to her grandad, this is a quiet and very touching image.




Big-hearted basher Nev

The Warrandyte community is known for its supportive attitude and general giving nature.

The Colenso family have not only been in Warrandyte for half a century but have also been a shining example of that Warrandyte spirit.

Lyn Colenso set up the Bhava Centre on West End Road some 30 years ago while her daughter Maedy Colenso is a naturopath practitioner at the Possum Hollow natural health clinic.

However, the focus of the Diary’s attention for this profile is the family’s father, Neville (Nev) Colenso, a recently retired screen printer who has spent the best part of the past 10 years raising money for Variety, the children’s charity that specialises in empowering children who are sick, disadvantaged or who have special needs.

Nev achieves this by raising money to take part in the annual Victoria Bash, a point-to-point tour where teams take cars over 30 years old and drive them through Outback Australia, visiting towns and schools and raising awareness for disadvantaged children.

“The most enjoyable thing is when you go to a school, especially a disadvantaged school to give out things. You see the faces of these kids getting these gifts, how they love seeing all the cars,” said Nev.

As well as getting away from the daily grind to do something a little bit different for a good cause, participants in “The Bash” are encouraged to style their cars, and themselves, in a fun theme. Nev is on his third Mercedes-Benz bash car.

For his first car, Nev and his team went as The Wombat Boys, which had a giant wombat on a skateboard on the roof of his car, but these days Nev can be seen bashing as Popeye in his bright green “Spinachmobile”.

“Every four years The Bash has a big get together of all the Bashes from the other states,” Nev said. “The last one they had was in Sydney. To see some 500 cars all in the showgrounds in Sydney, all dressed up is fantastic, really.

In his early 20s, Nev spent six months travelling around Australia in an old Land Rover, so he is no stranger to adventurous road trips, he really is just bashing for the chil-dren but each year he has to raise a minimum amount of money, last year he had to raise a minimum of $8000.

“In 10 years I have probably raised $120,000. There is always a minimum amount but I try to raise a bit more if I can. The last three years we have got up to $15,000,” said Nev, who explains how he raises all this money.

“A lot of people raise more who use their franchise businesses to generate donations. But we don’t do too bad considering we just do tin rattles and go down the market selling mandalas and have sausage sizzles at the IGA. We also sell names on the car and ask businesses for $400 donation to have their name on the car.”

Nev really does give it all for the bash. Using his screen printing skills he produces stickers for Variety as well as bash branded stubby holders that are given out to the competitors on the bash.

Now 75 and retired, Nev is looking to relaxing a little but is still fully committed to the bash. He is down at the Warrandyte market every month and occasionally outside the IGA, so look out for the big green Spinachmobile and say hello to Nev (who may or may not be in his Popeye outfit) and buy a mandala or a sausage and help him continue to raise vital funds for Variety.

“I can concentrate more on Variety now, and I will keep doing it until I can’t cope anymore.”

Watching Big Brother

The easy way for an amateur theatre group to go is to put on a nice comedy. Preferably one that you’ve already heard of. “Allo, Allo,” I’m told, is a sure-fire bet around the amateur traps at the moment.

It’s pleasing then to see our local thespians tackling something more serious. Especially when this brave new direction is initiated by its juvenile arm, the Warrandyte Youth Theatre, and all the more satisfying to see it attracting such strong audiences.

Orwell’s 1984, of course, is an important work, still chillingly relevant, which is why it is remains firmly on the school syllabus.

Although penned in 1949, and set in a far-flung future we have long since overtaken, we don’t have to look far abroad to see thriving examples of institutionalised hatred, rigid party control, brainwashing, citizen spies, re-education programs and all the insidious manifestations of totalitarianism so vividly imagined here. The debasement of language into shallow slogans and soundbites has become de rigueur even within our own political system – and don’t get me started on email and Twitter-speak. OMG!

So the storyline was immediately compelling and guaranteed to provide that much-vaunted ‘something to think about long after the final curtain’. It unfolded

smoothly under sure-footed direction from Adrian Rice and crisply effective staging as party apparatchiks pivoted a sequence of stark backdrops into position like flipping through the pages of the book itself.

Our doomed innocent, Winston Smith, was excellently portrayed by Matthew Freeman whose passion and control provided a convincing journey from subversive to submissive. Nicola De Rosbo-Davies was equally strong as the seductively rebellious Julia, playing the part with innocence and restraint. Nick Vanderhaar in the demanding role of O’Brien managed to suck the audience in as effectively as he did the young couple until unleashing his true colours with frightening force. Matt Wallace as Syme, Lydia Phelan as Parsons, Georgina Topp as the Landlady, Emma Withoff and Renata Levin-Buckland in multiple roles and Jaz Harwood as the fanatical 14-year-old played their roles for the team with good effect.

I was also impressed to hear that the evocative background score was an original effort from the multi-talented Matt Wallace.

Warrandyte’s Youth Theatre is one of the most exciting theatrical developments we have seen in recent years and we can only hope the momentum established can be maintained. It’s a difficult challenge as the first wave of exceptional talent we enjoyed in the first four years is already outgrowing the youth label. But if 1984 is any indication, the next crop of young performers is well up to the task.

Next up for the company is Speaking in Tongues on which the highly-acclaimed movie Lantana was based. It opens on 18 October.









Micky doubles up with gyms

Time is running out for those looking to get fit quick ahead of summer, but thanks to an expansion project from Micky’s fitness in Research, Warrandytians won’t be short of venues to do a class or crunch some iron in.

Micky White and his wife Kate, owners of the popular Micky’s Fitness in Candlebark Court, Research, have recently opened up a gym just down the road at another bigger venue delivering even more opportunities to get yourself in tip-top shape.

Offering select classes in boxing, training fighters, a core and abs program, the new space at 5/1637 Main Rd, Research, will allow gym users to make the most of their Micky’s membership.

This will come as welcome news to Warrandyte locals, who already make up a decent percentage of the gym’s existing clientele.

“What inspired it was a lot to do with the space at the other gym, it was getting a little bit cramped. We wanted to create a better environment, more space but also to be able to include a lot more equipment and a bit more variety to the great classes that we already run,” Micky said.

New areas need new staff and Micky and Kate took no time in securing a professional boxing coach Rod Tanner to help run the new boxing program and give customers extra support in the ring.

The gym also contains a health bar, which provides gym goers with an easy opportunity to supplement their exercise with the right foods.

“The benefit of having a health bar in the gym is that it’s convenient for members and also the staff as well. It’s an added service, rather than have to head down to the shops to pick up their healthy food, people can grab it while they’re at training.”

The expansion is the first of many in the couple’s goal for the business, which involves establishing a double digit number of gyms over a period of time. “The ultimate goal is to have 10 gyms in 10 years and we want to keep the core of our business. So we are just going to keep building on what we are doing, obviously we will change and adapt what we are doing along the way, because any business knows there is room for improvement,” Micky said.

Even though the chain is growing, Micky and Kate are by no means moving away from their personalised style and will continue to ensure members receive the best possible experience.

“The great advantage of having a more personalised gym is just the community feel that we create, a lot of the big gyms and you’re just a nomad. A lot of gyms they’re not bothered, once they’ve got you in the door, you’re forgotten about. We really take care and pride in looking after the members to the best of our ability, remembering their names and actually getting to know them.”

For more information visit and find Micky’s Fitness on Facebook.

Grand’s spooky secrets

Through fire and flood, our local has survived it all … even a spooky visitor or two, as SAMMI TAYLOR discovers.

The Grand Hotel Warrandyte is the beating heart of Yarra Street. It’s been Warrandyte’s community hub for over a century and has welcomed everyone through its doors. People have lived within its walls, shared lasting memories with their family and friends in the function rooms and dining halls. In the past, in times of fire or flood, it was a safe place and refuge for those who needed it most. Now, it’s a culinary hotspot and lively public bar…with layer after layer of rich history to peel back and peek into.

Our local pub has 120 years of history to explore, from natural disasters to renovations and para- normal experiences. It’s been the centre point for tragedy and celebration, and might just be home to a ghost or two.

The Grand Hotel Warrandyte was built in 1895 on the former site of the Andersons Creek Hotel, which burned to the ground in one of the many res the town would see in the following century.

The building is now over 120 years old and has been lovingly cared for and tended to by general manager Peter Appleby and his staff since they took the reins four years ago.

“We put a bit of love back into the place, just where it was lacking a little bit. We tidied it up and got the beauty back, how the grand old girl should look,” Peter says.

And boy, does it look beautiful now. Red earth toned carpet and the polished wooden bar give the Bistro area a stylish feel, with plenty of big windows and natural light streaming in during the spring and summer months. The building stands tall on Yarra Street and is lit up at night, with dinner-goers and evening drinkers filling the dining room, public bar and upstairs balcony every weekend.



The Grand Hotel has stood the test of time.

After the Andersons Creek Hotel burned down in the late 1800s, and the Warrandyte Hotel just down the road perished in a 1920s fire, The Grand Hotel is the last one standing and has seen tragedy come and go from Warrandyte all too frequently.

“There were floods back in 1931, the Black Friday fires in 1939, there were fires in the 50s and 60s…she survived all that and stood the test of time. She really is a grand old girl,” Pete says.

The pub has even survived a blaze within it’s own walls, after a small fire broke out in early 2015. Thanks to the quick attendance and action of local fire fighters, it caused minor damage and the pub again lives to tell the tale. “We’re strong believers that the pub should be the hub of the town, the hub of the community. In tragic times, everybody flocked to the pub. It’s a place of refuge, even during fire and flood. That’s what the pub has to do for the town, for the community, it has to be there standing for everyone,” Pete says.

The Grand Hotel has changed over its 120-year tenure, with renovations and numerous licks of paint. Up until the late 20th century, the upstairs rooms were lodging halls for tenants to stay over night. People visited Warrandyte from inner-city Melbourne and country Victoria, from interstate and even overseas. Some made the hotel their home for the night, others stayed for prolonged periods of time. It is the home of many fond memories for many Warrandyte residents.

And there are so many stories to tell—both from the horse’s mouth and stories that have been passed down through friends and family members that remember the pub from decades ago.

Past owners can recount the weird and wonderful characters that lodged in the rooms upstairs in the 1950s and share stories of playing cricket and football on Yarra Street, back when it was bare and without traffic. It was quieter back then, but the pub was still the centre of the community and a meeting point for all.

Pete has his own memories of the pub from when he was a teenager. His first ever pub job was at the Grand Hotel Warrandyte when he was 17. Now, as general manager for four years, he has an even deeper connection to the establishment.

“I had a great time growing up in Warrandyte, it was fantastic. I went to school here and made some life long friends. Great town back then and still a great town now. My first ever pub job was here when I was 17… how the wheel turns.”

Nowadays, the pub is expanding and changing in new and exciting ways. Food has become a focus for the Grand Hotel, which now boasts an extensive menu of great taste and fresh cuisine. They’ve even won an accolade for Best Parma in Victoria.

But Pete says it’s the people that make the pub, and interacting with his customers is his biggest delight.

“At the public bar, you’ve got everybody ranging from 18 year olds to 70 year olds. It’s a great mix and there’s no animosity between the young upstarts and the older guys, everybody gets along and has a chat.”

“I love chatting and meeting people and interacting, that’s what I get my satisfaction from. It’s a great part of my job cause every day is different, not one day is the same. Happy faces, happy customers.”




With rich layers of history comes some seriously interesting and unique stories, and the pub has a ripper.

In the 1930s, when a person had drowned in the river, their body would be brought into the upstairs rooms at the Grand Hotel where it would wait until the coroner could make the trip out from Melbourne. While we’re unsure of how often this occurred or just how many bodies were in limbo at the pub, there’s a chance it’s still having lasting – and haunting – effects now.

“We have a bit of paranormal activity going on here,” Pete told the Diary.

“We took over (the business) nearly four years ago and we got straight into renovating and tidying up, but we’re told that spirits don’t like change. We’ve seen a bit of movement going on, things moving around … one of my chef’s has had a physical encounter with a spirit. We’ve seen shadows and heard footsteps, there’s been knocks on the door and nobody’s there…”

Pete’s office is located upstairs and – as spooky coincidence would have it – within the quarters of the old room 13, where the bodies were kept.

“There’s every possibility someone that may have drowned might still be floating around here. It’s all good though, they’re not nasty or anything, the spirits. They seem friendly,” Pete says with a chuckle.

We might get to know more about Warrandyte’s resident Casper the friendly ghost soon, as the Grand Hotel staff have enlist- ed the support of some local paranormal investigators who plan on communicating with the spirits.

“It’s really fascinating stuff and I’d love to follow it through and see who’s here,” Pete says.

“The history is a great thing and we’re right in touch with all of that.”

We’ll be following this story in the coming months at the Diary. If you have memories of the pub you’d like to share, or stories of your own Warrandyte paranormal encounters, we’d love to hear them. Send an email to or let us know on Facebook.

Road to frustration

Road works, road jams and road rage seems to be running rife as traffic congestion issues continue in the heart of Warrandyte, north and south.

Among proposed bridge works, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians are now having to deal with road works, sewerage works and power lines going underground in what has become a mighty mess for locals wanting to get anywhere in a hurry.

Meanwhile, as the Diary goes to press, James Lindsay, communications and stakeholder relations officer at VicRoads, advises VicRoads is organising an online survey to gather additional feedback on the bridge upgrade, in particular the T intersection north of the bridge.

When this survey is online, they will be advertising it on social media, the web page and will send emails to those who registered their interest previously.

Recently locals were given a chance to give feedback at the VicRoads website – while comments are now closed, you can read the feedback here vicroads.mysocialpinpoint. com/warrandyte#/marker/20819

Among many comments by local residents, here is a selection:

  • “We desperately need a zebra crossing from the river to the group of shops in Yarra St (just after the bridge near the toilets). People drive over the bridge and through the roundabout too quickly – Someone will be run over one day.”
  • “Bus interchange needs to be moved (right near the bridge). Sometimes 2-3 buses arrive and they block the roundabout in peak hour, meaning zero traffic flow in any direction.”
  • “It regularly takes me over 15 minutes to travel 1km, all due to the bottleneck at research road and the bridge. We need another crossing at the end of Bradley’s Lane.”
  • “The queue at morning rush hour trying to cross the bridge from north to south can take 30 minutes – etiquette system means those turning R from R-W Rd are turning illegally into KG Rd traffic.”
  • “Expanding bridge will not solve traffic congestion or help in a fire. Maybe a blue lane out of Warrandyte that is active in fire time. Upgrading the bridge will encourage idiots to stay to fight fires.”
  • “Will the foot bridge be completed before the bridge widening, I walk my dogs across the bridge frequently and would like this to remain possible during construction.”
  • The bridge is not the problem. Traffic coming from the township side of the road is terrible and banks back 1km to 2 km at peak hour which limits the traffic flow off the bridge at the roundabout.”
  • “Do not widen the bridge. This will only cause further congestion on the Ringwood-Warrandyte Road. Another separate bridge needs to be built across the Yarra river at Wonga Park or further out.”
  • “Traffic using Warrandyte Bridge in peak hour is not just local traffic – an additional bridge must be put in to deal with the volume which is only going to grow with further development.”
  • “I am not a truck driver but see truck traffic increasing on this road every year. Need to look at what is creating this and work to resolve it – not make it easier and quicker for more trucks!”

500 reasons to love our Diary

This edition marks No.500 for our much loved Warrandyte Diary, a newspaper keeping us informed on all community matters for almost 46 years. We ask some of the team to share their thoughts on what makes our paper so special.


Cliff Green

Founder, former editor and Diary godfather

Is the Diary a great little paper because it has been created in Warrandyte, which is a great little place? Or is Warrandyte a great little place because it has the Diary? Both answers are correct.

The quarto-sized 12 pager was only a few issues old when Peter Lovett knocked on our front door: “Want a hand with that little paper you’ve started?”

Did I ever! “We’ll hunt up some real news and chuck the type around a bit,” he said. So began a seemingly endless stream of co-editors, associate editors, standby editors, replacement editors. Most of them professional journalists, all of them local stalwarts: Lee Tindale, Bob Millington, Mark Davis, Robert White; plus a huge army of volunteer writers, cartoonists, photographers and artists and especially our young cadets, who have learned the trade with us.

Warrandyte is rich with talented people; many of them have donated their skills to this paper.

Across the 500 issues, and almost 46 years, this community has created something special.

Current editor Scott Podmore is expanding this legacy, developing a new frontier into the digital age and better integrating our financially essential advertisers into the community news pages.

Here’s to our next 500 issues!

Briony Bottarelli

Office manager and Diary gatekeeper

About 10 years ago I met Jan Tindale, wife of the infamous Lee Tindale, sports editor and voice behind “Smokey Joe”.

Lee had passed away, but I became friends with Jan. Rae Danks’ health was failing and she retired, so Jan suggested I might like to take on her position of handling administration and advertising at the Diary. The paper was struggling financially at the time and a great deal of satisfaction came with me being able to lift the coffers somewhat.

Having grown up in Warrandyte. I love the open spaces, the river I grew up with and learnt to swim in, the tall trees, the birds, nature itself – and of course, the community.

Working at the Diary has enabled me to become even more involved in the community and meeting more locals I hadn’t known before. I commenced working with Cliff Green who probably stayed longer than he may have wished, but was determined to keep this wonderful paper going. He was relieved when Scott Podmore came along and offered to take the job on. Scott has opened the paper up to a wider and younger part of the community with modern technology hitting the Diary (and me) big time. I work in the best office in Melbourne. I love what I do and I hope the Diary, the longest running tabloid in Australia, keeps running for a long time to come.

Jock Macneish

Cartoonist, Diary’s “Gandalf”

Do you keep a diary?

Does it describe what you’ve been doing, record your private thoughts, and chronicle your opinions on anything and every- thing?

I’ve been keeping a diary for the past 46 years. It’s called the Warrandyte Diary.

It’s not exactly private, but it does document the things I’ve been thinking about since December 1970.

In 4000 illustrations, spread over 500 editions, the Diary has published a guide of my somewhat oddball way of thinking about Warrandyte. It’s meant doing a lot of drawing, and a lot of thinking. But it’s a wonderful privilege to be able to share my story with Warrandyte people.

And as many Warrandyte people know, I’m a compulsive show-off, despite not having very much to show.

The Warrandyte Diary means that I have a great excuse to strut my stuff in front of the Diary readers, whether they like it or not. So far, nobody has yet demanded that I stop drawing cartoons about our town and it’s long-suffering citizens. I take it as a sign of grudging tolerance, if not actual acceptance.

Can’t wait to put it in my Dairy. Look out for it.

Scott Podmore

Diary chief and current flag bearer

“The essence of community, its heart and soul, is the non-monetary exchange of value; things we do and share because we care for others, and for the good of the place.”

They’re the wise words of Dee Hock, the same man who founded VISA credit card and a major in influencer on constructing thought-experiments about the nature of organisational management. It makes me think of the Diary, an important non-profit community newspaper with a big impact on its readers. Everyone cares about it. I took over this magical publication as editor when Cliff Green passed me the baton three years ago this month. Managing it has been, and is, challenging but rewarding. I think we keep most people happy and everyone looks forward to it coming out each month.

The Diary works so well because it’s a classic case of being produced by the people for the people. It provides us with a community heartbeat and unites our people, clubs, schools, businesses and service groups not only as a platform to bring you news, photographs, funnies, advice and much more by way of newspaper format, but also as a powerful voice when we need it.

What makes it really special is its people. The people care about the newspaper. The newspaper cares about its people. Long live the Diary.

Stephen Reynolds

Diary photographer and stalwart

Having spent the last 15 years photographing every aspect of Warrandyte for the Diary, whether it be the festival, monthly market, theatre productions, community forums, celebrated artists, ANZAC Day, the changing seasons, personalities, sport or just our cherished environment of the river and Australian bush, there is one thing that continually stands out to me as quite unique in a metropolis of four and a half million people.

While outsiders might classify us as “fringe suburbia” that one unique quality that both Warrandyte and the Diary espouse and re ect is “community”.

In our fast paced, ever changing world Warrandyte still retains a notably distinct, rural charm with a country feel that embraces our community organisations and diverse social fabric, be it
schools, sport, the CFA, churches or service clubs.

As one who attends, observes and photographs many of Warrandyte’s functions the enthusiasm, involvement and commitment of her community parallels that of the Diary where each month a band of dedicated contributors including journalists, artists, poets, cartoonists and photographers produce content that reinforces that very quality and have done since the first issue rolled off the press in 1970.

It is that contribution that reinforces the old saying “you only get out of something what you put into it” that for me makes the Warrandyte Diary an integral part of, and mirrors that very community. Congratulations to our Diary team and most importantly Warrandyte for supporting us for 500 monthly editions.

Val Polley

History writer, Diary legend

What the Diary means to me is its truly local news, views and issues – the stuff that binds a community together. There is little doubt in my mind that Warrandyte would not be, or look, the way it is without the Diary. It has provided ongoing support for events (think of the festival), campaigns (such as One Warrandyte, Be Ready Warrandyte), sports (those great pages in every issue) and people (too numerous to identify individually).

It has provided encouragement and opportunity to locals to find their voice through writing, photography and poetry.

Not only that; it’s been notable for mentoring new talent and journalistic skills among young aspiring journalists. It is also a wonderful example of volunteerism. Without many volunteers giving their time over the decades the Diary would not exist. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.

Finally history, the Diary has provided 500 issues and over 40 years worth of documented Warrandyte history thus far – priceless.

Thank you Diary for the 500 issues that have been part of my life, I cannot imagine a Warrandyte without you. Congratulations on a wonderful achievement.

Green with envy

Warrandyte will be turned into a swamp this month as everyone’s favourite ogre hits the stage for one of the first times in Australia. Students from Warrandyte High will be bringing the much-loved movie to life in Shrek the Musical Jr.

The school is renowned for its quality productions that our community continues to enjoy year after year. With all the hilarity you’d expect and a toe-tapping, contemporary rock score to boot, it promises to be a great show for the whole family.

You’ll be green with envy if you miss out! Show opens Thursday August 27 with a show on Friday August 28 and then two shows on Saturday August 29 to follow. Tickets start at just $12 and can be purchased at or phone the school in office hours on 9844 2749.

Pictured above at rehearsal are Shrek (Jake), Princess Fiona (Kristen), Donkey (Nick) and Lord Farquaad (Damon).

Bridge over troubled water

Change of direction at VicRoads forum

About 350 residents attended an information session run by Vic Roads at the Warrandyte Community Church last month, an event facilitated and encouraged by (not run by) the Warrandyte Community Association.

Residents were somewhat unclear as to the form this event would take. Some had expected a sit-down meeting with presentations, some had expected workshop sessions and others had expected a less formal static presentation where residents could “drop-in” at some point in the evening. It was also unclear beforehand as to whether VicRoads were using this as a method of disseminating information as to what they were proposing or alternatively seeking community views before the design being finalised.

Attendees were asked to register their details and were provided with a brochure Information Update.

On entering the main hall attendees found a number of tables displaying the proposed plans, each staffed by one or more VicRoads staff who were kept busy all evening discussing details with residents. It was difficult to know whether each table was displaying some different scenario so attendees were expected to attend each table, or whether the information was the same at each table. Police were present and happy to discuss evacuation scenarios.

Two “focus group” sessions had been scheduled in another room.


Much of the information provided in the Information Update has already been covered in earlier editions of the Diary. It became obvious, however, there had recently been a serious re-think of the strategy. The original proposal announced by the minister in March was for a bridge widening project based solely on the need to evacuate the area in the case of a serious bush fire. Now VicRoads were presenting us with alternative solutions which also take into account the ever increasing daily traffic congestion in Warrandyte.

The major changes under review:

CONSIDERATION is being given to a providing a roundabout on the north side of the bridge instead of the proposed traffic lights.

IT is intended to increase the length of turning lanes on Research Rd for traffic approaching Kangaroo Ground Rd.

A NEW turning lane eastbound on Yarra St is proposed to be introduced at the roundabout, so there will be a separate lane for left turning traffic going across the bridge (able to hold about four vehicles), and a right-hand lane for vehicles proceeding straight on towards Ringwood.

THERE is mention of a new pedestrian crossing at the roundabout on the west side, but details of this are scant.

NONE of this work will commence this year; it will be done after the upcoming bush fire season in time for the 2017-2018 season. It was previously planned the traffic lights would be installed by November this year: this will not happen.

The proposed revised timeline is… July-November 2016: Design, services and pre-construction. December 2016: Advertise works. Early to mid 2017: Contract awarded. Construction begins. Late 2017: Construction ends.


Most of the attendees the Diary spoke to during the evening did not want these changes at all, and although frustrated by the current traffic jams and bottlenecks felt these changes would not only detract from the village atmosphere of Warrandyte but would attract even more vehicles to the area. There was almost universal acceptance a roundabout north of the river would be far preferable to traffic lights operating 24 hours per day which would be a complete eyesore. However, some Kangaroo Ground Rd residents expressed concern a roundabout would complicate the morning traffic flow and southbound traffic on KG Rd would be locked out by south-turning traffic from Research Rd.

A diagram was provided on the reverse of the Information Update brochure, which purported to show the morning and evening congestion overlaid with other plots showing a vast improvement after the works would be completed. This was met with disbelief by many and VicRoads staff, when asked, were unable to provide any data to back this up or substantiate these projections which most people did not think were attainable. The general consensus was all this work was just fiddling around the edges and the real solution was to take the long-distance traffic away from the area by completing the north-east link of the ring road.

It was disappointing at this stage there were no artists impressions of what the updated bridge would look like, and more particularly what the cantilevered pedestrian walkway would look like. We did, however, gather the latter is to be on the west side of the bridge.


Reports from those who attended the workshop sessions indicated most people were of the opinion they did not want the bridge upgrade and associated works, and had not ever been consulted on same. We are told the mood became quite agitated, and senior VicRoads staff were summoned to come back into the room to be told this. Again this showed the disconnect between the expectation of the attendees versus that of VicRoads. VicRoads has funding for these works and their brief is to go ahead and implement them. What VicRoads presumably wanted to get out of the evening was information as to how to implement the changes. Many attendees, however, were trying to make a point that they did not want the works at all, which was not VicRoads decision to make! To VicRoads it is a done deal.


A feedback form was provided to attendees and they were encouraged to complete it and send it to VicRoads. Their online engagement page on the web stayed open until July 31, and residents were encouraged to log in and leave comments. VicRoads would not commit to a specific timeframe or process for further community discussion or for their making a decision, particularly with regard to whether to go ahead with a roundabout or traffic lights on the north side. Rather, they would produce a report which would go to senior VicRoads management and a decision would be made in due course following community input. Obviously rm decisions would have to be made before December as that is when it is proposed to advertise the work for tender.

WCA spokesman Warwick Leeson told the Diary WCA continued to be very concerned at the lack of ongoing process for community views to be taken into account. WCA would be organising more opportunities for community engagement in early October and would invite the Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan, Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley and senior VicRoads staff to be involved.

Mr Leeson indicated that although originally launched as an initiative for bush re and emergency evacuation, they now understood the bulk of funding was in fact coming out of the general allocation for traffic improvement. WCA was particularly concerned as a huge amount of local effort over the past few years had gone into making people aware of the bush re dangers and the need to leave home well in advance on Code Red days or on other danger days if householders are not capable of staying and defending. Yet some say this latest government action lies in the face of that advice and implies the bridge will be safe and last minute evacuation will be acceptable.

What’s your view? Email the editor at

Get out of your business

One of the most valuable actions a business owner can take is to get out of their business for a day to network, gain knowledge and plan for the future and the Greater Warrandyte Business Expo on Wednesday August 17 is an invaluable opportunity to spend a day working “on” your business and network with local professional, trade, retail, hospitality and home based businesses.

“We get caught up in the day to day tasks of working in the business – and rarely take time to breathe, to analyse how we are going,” said Bambi Gordon of The Woo, organisers of the 2016 Expo.

“If we are going to make the most of our business we need to take the time to keep up to date with technology, find better ways to drive profits, identify what we don’t know – and then go and find the knowledge and help we need.”

The Expo, being held at the Warrandyte Community Church from 9am to 6pm on Wednesday August 17, comprises almost 30 local businesses who provide business and lifestyle products and services to the Manningham and Nillumbik regions.

A feature of the event is the 20 business development seminars on topics such as working online, marketing, financial management, communication, human resources and motivation.

The event is free for all thanks to the support of businesses such as Thinking Printing, Curlew Creative, the Warrandyte Diary, our local councils – Manningham and Nillumbik – and major sponsor, Warrandyte Community Bank.

“We recognise the vital importance of our local businesses in ensuring a stable economy; an economy that supports our retailers, hospitality providers, personnel, professional and trade services; from Goldfields and Yarra St, into the home based businesses across the region,” said Warrandyte Community bank manager Sam Pearce.

“As the major sponsor of the Greater Warrandyte Business Expo it is our aim to underpin this initiative so that all local businesses can access the quality networking opportunities, so that all businesses can have a visual profile, and so delegates can specifically seek information in areas where they may need help.”

Though free to attend, delegates need to register online prior to the day by visiting or you can call organisers on 9844 4100.


What: Protecting Yourself and Your Business.
Time 9.30am
Who: Marina Michael, Financial Planning Leader and Tony Zaras, Bendigo Financial Planning at Bendigo & Adelaide Bank

Life is full of surprises: some good, some bad. Protection against life’s uncertainties is sensible financial management. Investing in personal insurance will ensure you and your family can continue to enjoy the quality of life that you want, or at the very least, avoid the emotional distress of having to think about how you’re going to meet your financial commitments should life take a turn for the worst. Insurance is especially important to small business owners because of the often close relationship between business and personal assets. Even if you run a successful business, disaster could strike at any moment and force you to shut your doors. Business insurance can be purchased to cover virtually every aspect of the business, leaving what you have worked so hard for intact.

There is no better time than the present to sit down and consider your personal and business insurance requirements. Make it your priority to join us for an informative session that will show you just how important adequate protection is and how it can bring peace of mind and security to you and your family.

What: Creating The Customer Experience
Time: 9.30am

Who: Ruth Langley, Ruth Langley Hospitality Training

In a competitive hospitality and retail industry, what does it take to keep customers coming back time and time again? Ask any leading hospitality group or retailer and they’ll tell you the customer experience is the answer. And not just any experience, you must create a stand out, memorable and anything-but-average experience. But what does it really take to turn a customer’s experience in your venue or store from average to extraordinary and leave them wanting more?

Ruth Langley is a leading hospitality professional with over 15 years experience working in and with small and medium hospitality venues across Melbourne and London. Join her to discover real and practical ways to improve the customer experience in your venue and how to turn your service into your point of difference.

What: Think Again!
Time: 9.30am
Who: Lisa Smith, Mindworker at Minds At Work

Everyone’s talking innovation but where do the ideas come from? Most businesses are great at delivering the plan, but without creative thinking the plan is probably not going to give you the edge you need. Even though we are hard-wired to think creatively, the closer you are to your business the harder it is to have ideas. This session is designed to give you the tools you need to unlock your creativity and transform the way you think about your business.

What: Back it up!
Time: 10.30am
Who: Bora Seker, Technology Integrator at BN Solutions
Hope is not a strategy. And though we hope that you don’t get hit by a virus, huge power surge, a theft, or the big ones – malware, fire and flood – it is important for the sustain- ability of your business to plan for it.
In this session Bora will share information about how to protect yourself from data loss, the types of backups available to you, what to backup and where to backup.

What: How to approach traditional and digital media
Who: Jules Brooke, Handle Your Own PR

Getting “free” publicity can be an outstanding boost for your business. Imagine being featured in a magazine, interviewed on TV or radio. But how do you reach out to the journalists, producers and presenters?

The standard action is to send out a media release and hope that someone picks it up. And that can work – when you craft your release the right way. But a media release is not the only way to approach the media. Sometimes it is worth picking up the phone; perhaps sending sample products; meeting in person….

In this session Jules will go through the ways you can reach out to traditional and digital media with confidence, and drive that valuable publicity for your business.

What: Manage your relationship with your Business Banker
Time: 11.30am
Who: Shaun Brown, Business Banking Area Manager at West Victoria, Bendigo Bank

A good relationship with your bank ensures it understands your business and is in the best possible position to provide support when needed. A key component of this is keeping your bank well informed of your business activities and performance to ensure they are ready to respond to any request you may have.

What: LinkedIn for Business Owners and Professionals in Practice
Time: 11.30am
Who: Sue Ellson , LinkedIn Expert

LinkedIn is more than an online resume service and recruitment database. LinkedIn enables you to showcase your skills and enterprise, build your network, maintain your business relationships and attract the right opportunities.

Find out how to: understand the basics; increase your digital footprint; select what to like, comment, share or publish; manage your LinkedIn profile in 10 minutes per week. See live examples that you can use as a template for your own enterprise. Ask questions, even stupid ones! Everyone is welcome.

What: Do the Digital DeClutter
Time: 12.30pm
Who: Chantal Imbach, Owner of Simply In Order

In this day and age most of us have not only a computer but also several devices, not to forget the cloud! These great inventions have made parts of our lives easier. On the other hand, things can get out of control and overwhelming really quickly, resulting in an accumulation of digital clutter. Often, we are less aware of this kind of clutter because it is not as visible as physical chaos. However, it can be just as stressful and hinder our productivity.

If you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, this presentation is for you! Chantal will share simple decluttering, organising and maintenance strategies and tips which you will be able to implement and benefit from immediately.

What: Boost Your Revenue Using Instagram
Time: 12.30pm

Who: Craig Annand, Social Club Media

In this presentation, Craig will show how business and brands can increase their reve- nue, and sometimes earn an income solely using Insta- gram. He’ll present you examples of the main methods of using Instagram to boost sales, and even how to monetize the account itself.

What: Business Pitching
Time: 12.30pm
Who: Eric Chan, Pitch Specialist

When you speak with people you’re always pitching. Sure, not always in the traditional sales pitch sense, but in many different ways that create a perception of your brand in your audience’s mind. Pitching is a learned skill which you must have as an entrepreneur. So knowing how to pitch with authority and confidence will open many doors, attract prequalified clients and create an outstanding brand image. In this interactive presentation, you’ll discover: the five keys to capturing immediate attention; the secret to a commanding stage presence; and how to understand the power of your verbal brand.

What: Top 10 commandments of websites and digital media
Time: 1.30pm
Who: Craig Reardon Owner, The E Team

As you read this, at least one prospective customer will be searching the web for products and services your local business provides. If that business can’t be found via the leading search engines, they won’t attract the customer. Even if they do, can they be certain their website gives prospects the information they need in the way they want it? And are search engines the best way for that business to promote themselves online anyway? What about email marketing or social media techniques?

In this session Craig will provide you with a step by step guide to meeting the online expectations of your customers. Using a special checklist, participants can determine how their online presence is performing and the steps they need to take to improve it. And using a live internet connection ( fingers crossed! This is Warrandyte) Craig will surf the web in real time to illustrate the benefits of an effective online presence. Best of all, it’s in plain English.

What: ATO initiatives
Time: 1.30pm
Who: Grant Little, Project Officer, Small Business Engagement and Support (Moonee Ponds) Australian Taxation Office.

Does the Australian Taxation Office come to mind when you are looking for help to run your business? It should! Over the years the ATO has built up a wealth of knowledge that they freely share with business.
Hear about ATO initiatives such as: the ATO App; online ATO Small Business Newsroom; Small Business Super Clearing House; employee/contractor decision tool – find out whether your worker is an employee or contractor for tax and super purposes; Face to face educational workshops and conversations; Working with the ATO to test new products and the Business Performance check tool which provides a quick assessment of the financial position of your small business.

What: In Search of Profit
Time: 1.30pm
Rohan Wright, Business Consultant at Thexton Armstrong Broadfoot

Love what you do… but aren’t getting reward for effort? Is your business set up to succeed, are you in the 5%?
Years of experience running SME businesses, and recently consulting to others, have taught me that there are some basics things that every business needs to get right in order to both grow and, more importantly – make money.
In 30 minutes an interactive and entertaining workshop will give you some real insights into how to structure for success; diagnose your critical gaps; and take away three things you can do now to improve your business.
Learn: The 9 elements of successful business structure; 7 key items that set you up for success; the A + S x SB = Results framework for understanding how to make it happen. Takeaway: the answers to what you’re not getting right (yet) and three actions that will make a difference (now).

What: The What, Why and How of Content Marketing
Time: 2.30pm
Who: Bambi Gordon, The Woo

Using a wide range of media (social, video, digital, and traditional) to share your knowledge with potential customers can be a powerful marketing tool. The aim is to grab their attention whilst positioning yourself as an expert in your field, to build an ongoing relationship that eventually makes a sale. When you see a video pop up on Facebook? That’s content marketing. When you get an enewsletter in your inbox? Content marketing. Blogs, social media posts, articles, white papers – it is all content marketing.

In this session we will look at what content marketing is, why it may be of value to your business and, importantly, how to become a content marketer whilst challenged with a lack of resources and little time.

What: The Art of Research for Small Business
Time: 2.30pm
Who: Sarah Wrigley, Gundabluey Research

Do you know who your target market is and what they want? Do you know who your customers are and what they want and expect from your business? Who thought asking questions could be so difficult? If you need to find out the answers to these and other questions, this session will help. It’s all about free tools and how to design your own survey without falling into the common pitfalls associated with market research, and without spending a cent!

Key objectives of the session: how to use the really good information available through the Australian Bureau of Statistics; tools you can use to get information about your customers; free online survey tools for your business; tips on questionnaire design, including a simple template you can use straight away in your business.

What: Small business HR horror stories revealed…
Time: 2.30pm
Who: Emily Jaksch, HR Gurus

Think your business is too small to need a robust HR function? Well you could be a HR horror story in the making… It is a cliché be- cause it is true: People are at the heart of your business. You need the right people individually making up the right team, that in turn drives your culture. That means hiring the right people for the right roles. Or moving on those who aren’t going to make the grade. Emily Jaksch from HR Gurus has seen it all over her 18-year career in the human resource management field and in this session she will share her most amazing HR horror stories and reveal her top five secrets for turning these situations around.

What: Blogging for Business
Time: 3.30pm
Who: Nerissa Bentley, Owner of Write to the Point Communications

Most experts in social media recommend blogging as a way to build your business. Some of the most valuable outcomes of blogs include: driving traffic to your website; helping convert traffic into leads, which then turn into sales; increasing your subscription lists (also known as leads). There is no doubt blogging can be an excel-lent tool for a lot of businesses. But is it the right tool for yours?
In this session Nerissa will address the four key things to consider before getting started (or if you are considering stopping the blogging). 1. Will a blog help or be a distraction from other core business activities? 2. How big do you want your business to grow? 3. What is YOUR purpose for having a blog. Just because everyone else is doing it, isn’t a good enough reason. 4. Will you do your blog justice?

What: Communicating with people who aren’t like us
Time: 3.30pm
Kay Morton, Business coach at Tolhurst Morton

Our lives are based around communicating with others; in our work lives, our personal lives, pretty much everything we do. Sometimes we can feel like we just aren’t getting through to people – that they are not getting our message. And sometimes we feel like we have no idea what the other person is on about. Understanding people’s behavioural styles and preferences can really help with our relationships with others. Using the Extended DISC profiling tool as the foundation, Kay will talk about the different behavioural types, how each type prefers to communicate and how you can more effectively communicate with each of the types.

Having an understanding of behavioural styles and energy types can help you improve sales, create better relationships with your customers and staff, build better teams and enhance your relationship with your partner, your children and your friends. And, of course, it can help you understand yourself!

What: What is SEO (and what it isn’t)
Time: 4.30pm
Sean McCoy, Owner of Captivate Digital

Research shows that the majority of small businesses set up a website … and then never touch it again. Your website is not supposed to be a brochure. Your website is supposed to be a tool that captures the attention of people who are looking for you, your product and service; people who you are likely never going to be able to find through outward marketing tactics.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the function of making your online content visible to search engines for ranking so that those strangers out there who are looking for your product or service can find you. SEO is not black magic, it’s not smoke and mirrors, but it is incredibly important in today’s business environment. Come and learn why SEO is so important to you and your business, be introduced to tools that you can use and strategies to give yourself the best opportunity to be found online.

What: What to do now to protect your business when you’re gone
Time: 4.30pm
Melissa Sloan, Solicitor of Madison Sloan Lawyers

One question business clients ask is “How do I make provision for my business/business assets in the event that something happens to me?” In this presentation I will address the various business structures – such as sole proprietors or a partnership – and how that structure impacts the future of your business. We will also address the merits of putting in place Business Succession Agreements and Partnership Agreements so that at the time of business sale, closure or inheritance, the business is protected.

What: Why Facebook isn’t working for you
Time: 5.30pm
Who: Bambi Gordon, Chief Cook & Bottle Washer at The Woo

Hey – it’s free. Everyone is there. There are cute cats, witting memes and inspirational quotes. But really – is it working for you? Are you attracting customers? Doing business? My guess is that Facebook is only working for a minority of businesses.

In this session we will address the top 10 mistakes people are making on Facebook that damage their chance of ever reaching their objectives.

If you are one of the 5500 plus people in the Warrandyte Business & Community Network group on Facebook, and despite enjoying being there you are not getting any traction for your business, you will want to be in the audience for this presentation.

More info at

Warrandyte’s Fireball hot in the city

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tickets are now on sale at

Our bank is a beauty

NOTHING says helping the community quite like $2 million and that’s exactly what the Warrandyte Community Bank Branch has done – returned $2 million in grants and sponsorship contributions to the community in its 12 years of operation.

That’s money for schools, sporting clubs, the CFA, for our students and teachers, small businesses and people in need in our community, and even the community newspaper you’re reading right now.
It’s money Warrandyte deserves and money Warrandytians have earned by banking locally. That’s the key to opening the vault for money flowing back into our community – you bank with your Warrandyte Community Bank and everyone benefits, including you. It’s a bank like no other in that it givers back, not always ‘take’ like the others.

The Warrandyte Community Bank Branch is part of the Bendigo Bank group and has been an important fixture of the Warrandyte community since 2003. It was created thanks to funding and pledges from local people, who are now shareholders, with a team of professional directors made up entirely of volunteers.


It’s a bank steeped in community spirit and which is determined to create new avenues for community benefit. And the vast majority of the profit is returned to the local community in several ways to the tune of $2m.

Every year, money from the bank goes towards local projects, programs, resources and infrastructure. It’s money used to support local people, keep them safe and improve their lives.

It’s an initiative the bank’s board chairman Aaron Farr is proud to be a part of.

“We’ve given $2 million back to the community, and $390,000 in the past 12 months, and we hope to increase that number every year exponentially,” Aaron says. “We’ve given money back to the CFA, to local pre-schools and schools, we’ve given money to help with the development down at the local sports club.”

Every year, $50,000 is awarded to the local CFA to ensure Warrandyte’s fire fighters have the resources to keep the community as safe as possible. Funds have contributed towards a new generator, new trucks, vehicles, lockers, defibrillators and more.

Warrandyte Kinder kids

But even the small grants can make a big difference – the kinder kids of Burch Memorial Pre-School have received over 100 new books, CD books, parent resource books and an upgrade to their Burch Bookworm Library thanks to a grant of $1518.

The Warrandyte Community Bank’s scholarship program has also changed lives, contributing $25,000 in the past year to university-aged students who may be facing disadvantage. Last year five students received $5000 to put towards their education.

“Our scholarship program has also provided funds to young people attending university who, without the money maybe wouldn’t have been able to attend university due to financial hardship or personal hardship,” Aaron says.

“I’ve been very proud of being involved in that because we’ve assisted those young people to grow and to develop and get back involved with the local community, and further their education.”

Community funding is only generated by accounts opened at the Warrandyte branch, which is why it’s important to bank locally. Money banked at the Warrandyte Community Bank Branch finds a meaningful purpose and helps not only improve the Warrandyte community, but to change lives in big and small ways.

For more info about how to make the move and change banks, or to find out about the Warrandyte Community Bank Branch’s Community Funding initiative, warrandyte

Our Green Queen

ALTHOUGH Judy Green didn’t come to live in Warrandyte until 1969, her family was associated with the area generations ago. Her grandfather Samuel Painter was an original member of the Wonga Park Village Settlement in 1893.

At the outbreak of WW1, Judy’s father Les Painter answered the call and joined the ranks of the Australian Army. Les served in Gallipoli and fortunately was one of the lucky survivors. After the war, Les was in London waiting to be repatriated back to Australia when he met Judy’s grandmother Dorothy. In 1921 they married in London before the young Aussie digger brought his bride back to Australia and settled in Cheltenham.

Judy grew up in Sandringham and Springvale and attended Dandenong High School. She met her husband Cliff Green in 1957 and they were married in 1959.

Cliff, then a young primary teacher, was sent out to teach in country Victoria. For the next seven years, he was a headmaster/teacher in the tiny Mallee town of Rainbow and then at Torrumbarry on the mighty Murray River.

The Greens began raising their brood of four children during their time in country Victoria. Mandy, now 56, Kathy, 54, and Fiona, 50, were born during their time in the country, and David, the youngest, 43, was born in Warrandyte. All children attended Warrandyte Primary School.

Two of the Greens kids have bought houses and settled in Warrandyte and are bringing up their families here.

“We see a lot of the kids, we also have 11 grandchildren and recently we have a new addition to the family, our brand new great grandchild Tayo, who is only six-weeks-old,” Judy says proudly.

Judy drives her son David’s children to and from school every day.

“I really enjoy doing that, it’s great to have the daily connection with them,” she says.

In 1969 when Cliff and Judy moved to Warrandyte, they fitted into the local community straight away. Cliff joined the youth club committee and Judy joined the mother’s club and the Warrandyte Tennis Club.

“We both felt a sense of belonging straight away,” Judy told the Diary. They eventually moved into the brand new home they had built in Webb Street and have lived there ever since.

Judy trained and worked as a medical technologist and Cliff joined Crawford Productions as a staff scriptwriter. Later when Cliff went freelance, Judy learned to type and helped Cliff with his scriptwriting business.

“She was invaluable to me,” chimes in Cliff. “Judy was meticulous about accuracy. She acted as a sort of editor and wouldn’t allow me to exaggerate. As a scriptwriter I was writing fiction, flights of fancy, but with local stories for the Diary, I was supposed to be writing the truth and Judy helped me achieve that.”

COLUMNS - our green queen

When Judy joined the tennis club it became a big part of her life.

“I was fully involved in managing the junior competitions and playing competition tennis,” she said. Judy is now a life member of the club and still plays for WTC in the night tennis competition.

Judy has won the WTC club person of the year “a couple of times”, she said modestly. In 1993, Judy and Keith Wilson co-wrote a history of the WTC. The book is entitled Rallies by the River – A Centenary of Tennis in Warrandyte.

Judy has been very involved with the community garden, a project she is very passionate about.

“We grow our own vegetables and don’t use sprays,” said Judy. “It’s a great way to socialize and being right down on the river it’s a lovely spot to go.”

She also helps with archiving at the Warrandyte Historical Society and volunteers at the Warrandyte State Park Nursery.

Judy and Cliff have made lifelong friends since moving to Warrandyte 57 years ago, including well known locals such as Jock and Di Macneish, Val and Austin Polley and Shelagh and Richard Morton.

What does Judy think of Warrandyte’s future?

“Well,” she replies thoughtfully. “Let’s keep it the way it is. It’s still the same sort of place that it used to be, even though there’s more people living here. We haven’t lost the feel of the place and the community spirit is still alive. Hopefully we can share our future without service stations,” says Judy, making it very clear how she feels about that particular issue.

“I’m also concerned with what they might do to the bridge. Another bridge downstream is desperately needed. Traffic on the bridge is a problem any time, but especially when the threat of bushfire hangs over us for three months of the year. Living here is worth the worry over fire season though, because it’s so good living here for the other nine months.

“Warrandyte’s been a great place to live and bring up our family,” she added. “We love the environment here, especially the river. Cliff and I walk along the river most days unless it’s raining. As a community we must always be vigilant to what’s happening and try to preserve the physical environment as much as possible.”

Safe on Social

If you hadn’t worked out already, social media remains for the most part an unharnessed minefield where reputations or businesses can be ruined and children can be harmed emotionally, mentally and even physically when all goes to plan for bullies or predators. Same goes for grown-ups, as we’ve all seen or experience on our own community Facebook pages. Talk with anyone and you’ll no doubt hear stories of abuse, bullying and threats that have touched the lives of adults as much as children. But help is at hand amid the gloom, as Diary editor SCOTT PODMORE catches up with a true expert in the field of social media policy, Kirra Pendergast, the founder and managing director of accredited consulting group Safe on Social:

At a time we’re all trying to get our heads around the best way to move forward and manage this ‘new way of life’, organisations like SoS couldn’t have come along soon enough and Kirra explains her own horrible first-hand experience as a victim which inspired her mission to make things “safe on social”.

SP: Thanks for talking to the Diary, Kirra, please tell us what Safe on Social is all about?

KP: The socialisation of the web means that every photo uploaded, every post commented on and every video shared on social media has the potential to compromise an organisation’s security and destroy years of community goodwill.

SoS focuses on teaching people how to use social media with awareness. The team at Safe on Social “SoS” have translated decades of experience in information security, privacy, risk management and business consulting into the social media realm. By implement- ing tools and training to enable safe usage of social media, we 
help organisations to continue to engage and grow their online communities whilst minimising risk. We provide specialist, real world experience based training to educate staff, students and their parents on personal risk management when using social media.

Late in 2015 we were honoured to be one of the first companies in Australia to be accredited by the new Office of the Commissioner of Children’s eSafety for our work in schools across Australia. We are based near Byron Bay and travel nationally.

SP: You’re obviously passionate about this whole initiative/ business for a very good reason. Would you like to share your own experience in the social media space?

KP: Let’s just say that after 18 months of constant bullying online about my looks, my weight and everything else in between, I have some great primary research! I am also dealing with the fact that I was recently informed that my bully had been posting on Instagram that there is someone trolling them and my bully has made the ridiculous assumption that it is me! When I think it might actually be my bully trying to gain sympathy. We are seeing that a lot in high school: bullies setting up fake accounts and bullying themselves to gain sympathy and deflect their terrible behaviour.

Adult online bullying is very
real, people say to switch off but 
it is very, very difficult as people who care about you will continue to send screenshots with “have you seen this”, for example. The bullying brought me to my knees; 
I barely left the house. I was in a very dark place and it is very easy to see why people take their own lives. After a 22-year Information Technology career predominantly focused in Information Security, 
I had already spent the last eight years working in social media security, privacy and risk mostly with large government departments and healthcare. So during this time I decided to fight back and re-focused my eight-year experience in this space and founded Safe on Social. I decided to focus on educating students first and foremost, in an effort to change the culture in a generation. I am now working with 36 schools in NSW and Queensland, state, private and Catholic, and we have a suite of online tools available to them as well as face to face classes.

SP: Kirra, what do you believe are the main things people forget when it comes to social behaviour/common courtesy when tucked away behind the safety of keyboards?

KP: Common courtesy, respect and manners. My grandmother always used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Behind a keyboard there is very little accountability as the law is yet to catch up. I tried to take out a Personal Violence Protection Order when my bully repeatedly threatened me online and the judge refused, calling that facet that the threats were being made through social media “journalistic and vexatious”. I was being stalked and was very scared.

SP: That’s terrible. And no one is untouchable, would you say? It clearly can affect everyone from small children up to celebrities, businesses, sportsmen and every- day people?

KP: Correct. Everyone is vulnerable. I am seeing an enormous rise in anxiety issues in teens. There has been a phenomenal rise in students getting their parents to call the school and ask to excuse their child from public speaking, for example, as they suffer from anxiety. I could almost guarantee that this anxiety, in a lot of cases, is caused by the constant worry about being filmed on Snapchat or photographed while they are doing their speech and openly criticised on social media platforms by other students.

That is a real concern. Most schools try and ban smartphone usage in class but it still happens. Teachers are targets as well.

SP: OK then, for a school or business, in a nutshell what would you recommend as the bare essential requirements for social media policy and/or safety protocols?

KP: A robust social media policy is a must in small businesses. Most bigger businesses and government agencies have them, however, they are often out of date and need to be reviewed by an expert in the field. It protects them and their staff.

Schools should consider guidelines to support the state government policies in place to cover such things as contractors taking photos of students when they are on the campus and posting them and to make sure that staff and students really do understand what can and should not be shared on social media to respect the privacy of others and protect the wellbeing of students.

Ongoing education is key. Parents need to step up and realise that a teacher can not also be a parent. They bought their child a smartphone so they should take the responsibility to guide them in how they can and can’t use it. You wouldn’t hand your 13-year-old the keys to a car and let them drive down a busy highway without les- sons would you?

Parents should also stick to their guns and respect the fact that there are age restrictions on social media platforms for a reason. I see a load of kids under the age of 13 (the age requirement) on Instagram, for example. Parents think it is OK if they have their account set to private, always worried about people looking at their kids, but often forgetting they can’t monitor 24×7 what their kids are looking at. Take, for example, a 10-year-old girl who loves cats typing in #pussy on Instagram. Guess what she is going to see?

SP: Our own Warrandyte Facebook pages can be a complete disaster at times with some really hurtful and damaging content being posted. There’s an argument about freedom of speech, of course, but I’ve seen businesses almost get mauled to death and have talked to people who have been seriously affected. What are your thoughts?

KP: Freedom of speech is all well and good, but administrators of pages need to realise that in the eyes of the law they are considered the publisher of every comment on that page. So if someone is threatening or defaming someone in any comment or post – they are just as liable as the person who posted it.

SP: Is there anything else you’d like to say about the topic?

KP: One thing I really want to point out to your readers is that we post photos of our kids online all the time and then we complain that they don’t respect their own privacy. We have shared their photos of everything they are doing without their permission for years! No wonder they have no respect for privacy and massively over share everything they are doing online.

The horse has bolted – we cannot stop our children from using social media. Everyone under the age of 15 now has never known a world without social media. We need to catch up and realise that this is the primary communication channel for them. Their phone is their social brain and they can not manage their social life without it. We need to teach them how to use social media with awareness, respect their privacy and understand per- sonal risk.

We ( have a range of solutions that can help and is available to schools and through P&C associations where we donate a percentage of the cost back to the school for fundraising.

SP: Speaking of schools, I hear there’s been an interesting development regarding school holidays. Is it true social media may even affect your insurance claims when it comes to being robbed?

KP: Yes, believe it or not that’s correct. When you’re posting photos that clearly state you’re away you’re effectively advertising the fact that no one’s home and there- fore opens the door to be robbed. It’s likely that insurance companies could deny claims for break and enter if you’re not there. That’s a big one to think about, so if you want to post photos do it when you get home. The crooks can see from photo maps where you live on Instagram.

For more info visit the website