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Lest we forget

Anzac Day services were held across the country, and after missing the camaraderie during last year’s lockdown, this year people were eager to gather together to remember our fallen heroes.
Across Manningham and Nillumbik moving services were held during Anzac morning.
Well-attended dawn services in Eltham and Doncaster preceded a mid-morning service in Templestowe, along with marches and commemorations in Warrandyte, and Montmorency, where moving tributes to veterans old and young were held.
The new tradition of remembrance at home saw people light up the dawn in their driveways, with livestreams from national and local services allowing connection from afar.

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Fitzsimons Lane roundabout

An update and Call for Action

A group of outraged Eltham residents are continuing their campaign to get Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) to pause construction work on the proposed “upgrade of the Fitzsimons Lane roundabout”.
The approaches to this roundabout are the northern gateway to the areas bushland landscape character, which they are calling on to be conserved.
The objectors to the project say the scale of this upgrade is totally unnecessary.
Diary readers will have read about project workers cutting down and chipping all trees on the roundabouts on February 15, 2021, during a COVID lockdown.

Eltham locals Vicky Shukuroglou and Nicole Johnstone became so disturbed at the pattern of refusal of access to information and poor community consultation they decided to call a meeting at the Eltham Golf Club on March 31.
They said the community was being systematically manipulated by MRPV through the implementation of a mis-directed corporate stakeholder management strategy and wished to canvas and respond to these concerns.

The March issue of the Diary reported about the claims of deficit in consultation, the overkill scale of the design, inaccuracies in the traffic modelling figures and the dismissive response to an expertly prepared alternative, lower impact design submitted by Eltham Community Action Group.

Protest Action continues

Those attending the March meeeting were treated to presentations by three engineering experts on the alternative plan and on traffic modelling together with a paper on the legal issues surrounding the process and interaction with MRPV.
Speakers told the meeting “this is not a normal road upgrade”, as its inclusion within the scope of the greater North East Link Project means that the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade falls within the grand scale thinking, funding and legal Great Wall boundary of the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009.
The Fitzsimons Lane Bridge is the next upstream Yarra River crossing to the Bansksia Street Bridge and therefore to the North East Link, hence why they consider Fitzsimons Lane should be “fixed” too.
In a paper, Interpreting the Fitzsimons Lane Traffic Forecasts, presented to the March meeting, Civil Engineer Denis Johnston contends the MRPV traffic forecasts do not justify the upgrade.

This paper is available on the website below.

The report discusses:

  1. the MRPV assumed a traffic volume growth rate of more than three times the average growth rate forecast in the NE Link modelling.
  2. MRPV officers said they did not account for the traffic relief of the NE Link opening in 2027 – when asked why, officers said  ‘the business case people said not to’.
  3. MRPV did not account for the reduction in traffic flows on Fitzsimons Lane that will occur when the NE Link opens in 2027 (approximately 25 per cent in peak periods according to the NE Link modelling).
    Figure 1 from the paper demonstrates this upgrade cannot be justified on traffic volume grounds.

After 2027 the reduced traffic flows can be handled efficiently by the existing roundabout.
The alternative design which is kinder to the environment, does not include a retaining wall up to five metres in height, is safer for cyclists would be a cheaper and better solution.

Further Action

The wrap up message from the meeting was to renew community protests to call for better conversations and transparent governance, as the refusal by authorities and Government to seriously listen to the community justifies a “Call for a Pause”.

A revamped website now provides further details and contact list for protest submissions: www.elthamroundabout.wixsite.com/my-site

Fact Sheets

Meanwhile MRPV has released a series of Fact Sheets outlining different aspects of the project.

A Fact Sheet on the design process has outlined the recent changes they have made to the project design during the course of 2021.

“Design refinements that have further reduced impacts to trees include:
• minimising the works and footprint of the intersections where possible
• project-wide design changes to avoid impacting underground services
• realignment of the Porter Street eastern section (saving over 10 trees including two river red gums and four sugar gums)
• maintaining the kerb line and minimising earthworks on the eastern side of Fitzsimons Lane at the main road intersection
• reduced retaining wall footprint at the Main/Fitzsimons intersection.”

They have also released pamphlets on Environmental Impact, Dust, Noise, and Business Support during construction.

The documents can be found at roadprojects.vic.gov.au/projects/fitzsimons-lane-upgrade/factsheets

Brady Poole claims Pascoe Medal

18-YEAR OLD Brady Poole claimed Warrandyte Cricket Club’s Steve Pascoe Best & Fairest Medal, becoming the second-youngest player to do so in the awards history.
Poole took out the “P”, along with the Gerald Walshe First XI Medal, with 23 votes after hitting 174 runs and taking 19 wickets in a stellar all-round season.
In front of a packed venue, last season’s winner, Josh Aitken, presented Poole the latest red and white striped jacket, a garment awarded exclusively to Pascoe medallists.
Poole, also Warrandyte’s youngest ever First XI debutant, claimed the club’s highest honour ahead of Craig Haslam (21 votes) and Second XI skipper Luke Warren (17 votes) in an exciting vote count.
Poole has compiled an impressive Warrandyte cricketing resumé already.
Moving from Sixth XI cricket to the First XI in the space of a season, debuting in the Ones at just 13, premiership player and captain and now a place among the club’s elite as one of the club’s Pascoe Medallists.
Just two votes behind in second, Haslam amassed seven half-centuries and 239 runs this season to win the inaugural Greg Warren Eighth XI Medal.
Warren claimed 25 wickets at an average of 13, claiming the Brett Kline Medal as the Second XI Best and Fairest to make it back to back awards after previously claiming the Third XI Award.
Third XI Skipper and U16 premiership Coach Brandon Stafford capped off a stellar season by winning the Nathan Croft Third XI Best and Fairest after claiming 28 wickets at an average of just 12.
Shaun Ison made it back to back Jim Gathercole Medals in the Fourth XI after hitting 176 runs and taking 15 wickets.
Drew El-Moussali was another back to back Best and Fairest winner, taking out his second Rob Leguier in as many years after topping the club run-scoring with 497 at a whopping average of 82.
At just 16 years of age, Isaac Rakuscek took out yet another Best and Fairest, claiming the Ivan Vojlay Medal after previously claiming the Seventh XI Award in 2019/2020.
Travis Jackson, a cricketer fondly referred to as ‘The Run Machine’, was the Andrew Thomas C with 262 runs to his name in 2020/2021.
The President’s Award was presented to Michelle Heffernan for her work in getting Girl’s and Women’s competitions up and running.
With last year’s full event cancelled due to COVID restrictions, a sizeable crowd walked down the literal red carpet into the Warrandyte clubrooms bringing the season proper to a close for the club.

Fitzsimons Lane River Peel relocation

ONE OF THE City of Manningham’s most recognisable landmarks is about to move to a new home.
The River Peel sculpture will be relocated as part of the Fitzsimons Road Upgrade, being delivered by Major Road Projects Victoria.
The artwork is currently situated at the Fitzsimons Lane and Porter Street roundabout, which is being redeveloped to remove the roundabout and install traffic lights.
River Peel will be carefully dismantled and temporarily placed into storage before being reinstalled further along Fitzsimons Lane, close to the Yarra River crossing.
Manningham Mayor Cr Andrew Conlon described the River Peel as an “iconic local artwork signifying the unique river landscape and orcharding past of the local area of Doncaster and Templestowe”.
He said the relocation of River Peel from the roundabout to farther along Fitzsimons Lane will allow residents and visitors to continue to enjoy this sculptural piece in Manningham.
Work to remove the sculpture from its current home will begin on April 8, with the relocation expected to be completed by the middle of the year.
River Peel was created in 2001 by artists Michael Bellemo and Catriona Macleod.
It draws on the local heritage and surrounding landscape, imitating the Yarra River as it bends and turns through the area, and an apple peel to reflect the history of orchards in Doncaster and Templestowe.
MRPV has worked closely with Mr Bellemo and Ms Macleod, Manningham Council, Parks Victoria, Department of Transport, and Wurundjeri as the Registered Aboriginal Party to agree on the relocation site for River Peel.
The move will ensure the sculpture continues to be a gateway piece to Manningham on Fitzsimons Lane.
The Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade will redevelop four intersections along Fitzsimons Lane, which is a major thoroughfare connecting Melbourne’s northern suburbs with the city and eastern suburbs, and is used by more than 60,000 vehicles every day.
Major Road Projects Victoria Program Director Dipal Sorathia said the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade has been designed to respond to the area’s growing transport needs, while also respecting the heritage of the local community.
“We’re proud we’ve been able to help find a new home for River Peel, which ensures it keeps its status as an important Manningham gateway piece for decades to come.”
He said, once completed, the road will be safer for all road users and provide drivers with faster, more reliable journeys.

Community objection

The project remains a focus of strong community protest.
The large-scale removal of trees at the Main Road and Fitzsimons Lane intersection — during the February lockdown — has not sat well with many residents, who felt the timing was a smack in the face for objectors.
Three residents local to the roundabout have become alarmed at MRPV’s interaction with local Councils and the community during the design stage and early works.
Vicki Shukuroglou and members of the Johnstone family convened a well-attended meeting at the Eltham bowls Club last week to report on meetings with MRPV and to plan further protest action.
Local engineers told the meeting they had presented calculations and plans supporting their contention that the 25 per cent reductions in traffic volume (14,000 vehicles per day) resulting from the North East Link have not been factored into the 6-8 lane design, only to be told the MPV design supports the business case for the Project.
Other speakers highlighted gaps in the environmental approvals and processes.
Ms Shukuroglou called for this meeting be the beginning of a call to “Pause this Project”.
A full report of the meeting will be published in the April WD Bulletin.
MRPV said in a statement, the project is the first in a multi-billion-dollar pipeline of road upgrades in Melbourne’s north as part of Victoria’s “Big Build”.
The statement said the project is generating much-needed jobs as part of the State Government’s COVID-19 response.
MRPV remains committed to delivering the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade by the end of 2025.

Staying local to honour their service this Anzac Day

AFTER LAST year’s lockdown saw Anzac Day commemorations much changed, Victorians will be able to honour the sacrifice of our service men and women in person this year.
While attendance at the Dawn Service and March to the Shrine of Remembrance is to be limited this year, local services will be held at local RSLs across the state, including Warrandyte.
The Victorian Government has worked closely with RSL Victoria to ensure veterans and their families could march this year, but encourages Victorians to stay local on Anzac Day.

Chief Executive Officer of RSL Victoria Jamie Twidale said RSL Branches and local councils across the state are gearing up for an Anzac Day that will see the whole Victorian community commemorate in a COVID Safe way.“This Anzac Day — as we have done every year for over a century — we will remember them — Lest we forget.”

RSL sub-branch, local government and community services are being planned, so finding a service close to home is an easy, meaningful, and a COVID Safe way to remember those who served.
The Anzac Day March can proceed safely with 5,500 people, in line with the application submitted by the RSL and approved under Victoria’s Public Events Framework.
The traditional Dawn Service and Commemorative Services will also be held with smaller numbers in partnership with the Shrine of Remembrance, and streamed for all Victorians to watch on Facebook.
The Warrandyte RSL has advised that the traditional Anzac Day march and service will proceed on Sunday, April 25.
The march will step off at 10:30am in Yarra Street, from the carpark opposite Whipstick Gully Road.
A service will be held at the cenotaph in the RSL Memorial grounds at the conclusion of the march at 10:45am.
Secretary of the Warrandyte RSL, Del Caulfield said there will be limited reserved seating available from the RSL balcony for elderly or disabled veterans or those with restricted mobility.
Attendants will also be available to anyone requiring assistance on the day.
“Regrettably due to COVID-19 restrictions, the community morning tea which usually follows the service cannot be provided,” she said.
The Lions Club of Warrandyte will instead offer a sausage sizzle within the RSL grounds with all proceeds going to the Lions Club of Warrandyte.Police have confirmed that Yarra Street, will be closed between Whipstick Gully and the Warrandyte Bridge for the duration of the march.

42K Media will again be working with the Diary to produce a Livestream of the Warrandyte service.
Details on how to view the stream will be made available in the week leading up to the event.
Readers can also share their show of remembrance from home by taking part in #lightupthedawn on social media, while observing the traditional minute’s silence from their driveways, front yards, or balconies.
Anzac Day, April 25 — one of our most important national days — began as a commemoration of the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli in 1915 during World War One.
It has grown to become a reflection on the service and sacrifice of all Australians who have served in conflict or on peacekeeping operations.
On Anzac Day, donations to the Anzac Appeal are encouraged through anzacappeal.com.au.
To reserve seats or for any further information about the local service please phone Del Caulfield on 0481 307 696 or leave a message at warrandytersl@gmail.com.

 

New dog on-lead area around Warrandyte Lions Park

MANNINGHAM COUNCIL has made changes to dog controls in the Warrandyte River Reserve to ensure dogs remain on lead near the Warrandyte Bridge including the recently upgraded Lions Park area.
The change has been introduced to support safety for residents and visitors to this area and those enjoying the newly upgraded community facilities within the reserve.
Dogs must be on lead within the newly designated on lead area, which is a 260-metre section of the Warrandyte River Reserve, between 183 Yarra Street and the Warrandyte Bridge.
The new on lead area is in accordance with Council’s resolution in September 2020, which introduced Order Number 4 Dog and Cat Controls across Manningham.
This order was introduced in line with the Domestic Animals Act 1994.
There are still sections within the Warrandyte River Reserve that are designated as off lead areas.
In Manningham, dogs are only permitted off lead in designated areas providing the dog is kept under control at all times.
Dogs must be on lead within 15 metres of:
• public barbecue facilities
• children’s play equipment
• organised sporting events
• approved community functions or public outdoor meetings.
There can be penalties for owners who let their dog off their lead in areas where it is not permitted.
It is important to note that dogs are not permitted within the Federation Playspace area of this reserve.
For more information, on dog controls including on and off lead areas, visit manningham.vic.gov.au /changes-to-dog-on-lead-areas
or call 9840 9333.

Jack does it for MS and mental health

JACK WHELAN met a cheering crowd outside Grand Hotel Warrandyte on March 23, after completing a 2,043 kilometre ride around Victoria, raising money and awareness for the charities MS Australia and Outside the Locker Room.
Setting off from Lake Hume on March 9 and averaging 145km a day, Jack, along with a dedicated support crew, cycled through iconic landscapes such as the Murray River and the Great Ocean Road.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 23, he reached the final landmark of his epic journey — The Grand Hotel, Warrandyte — where a joyful crowd had gathered to toast the end of a long two weeks in the saddle.
Surpassing double his original target of $50,000, on Wednesday afternoon he had raised more than $119,000 for his chosen charities, and the Diary was there to welcome the saddle-sore Park Orchardian home, where he spoke to us about his adventure.
“It was a great adventure and I loved absolutely every minute of it.
“Obviously parts were more challenging than expected, and parts were maybe a little bit easier, and more enjoyable than I expected.
“The highlights were the time spent with family and friends around the campfire laughing, telling jokes in the night time.
“We got to ride through some of the most beautiful spots in the world.
“The Great Ocean Road, through the Otways, and we got to spend a lot of time along the mighty Murray River as well, which was really, really, special, and to share that with people I love the most made it really special.”
Jack was riding for two Charities; MS Australia and Outside the Locker Room, two charities Jack has a close personal relationship with.
“I lost my cousin to Multiple Sclerosis at a fairly young age.
He was diagnosed at 28, and from the day he was diagnosed he never worked another day in his life, and sadly passed away about four years after that.
So if I was ever going to do something, MS Australia was the one.
Moving onto the mental health side of things, I experienced some of my own mental health challenges, which a number of us have and a lot of us will do.
I was fortunate enough to have a front row seat to some of the stuff Outside the Locker Room do, so I decided they would be the charity that I also wanted to support.”
Before heading into the Grand Hotel for a well deserved pint of Stone and Wood, Jack had one final message for his supporters and sponsors.
“I would love to say thank you to everyone who has donated so far, we have had over 280 individual donors, which is mind blowing, and I would say I only know 25 per cent of them.
“So people who don’t even know me have done it out of the goodness of their heart, so I will be forever grateful.
“The guys at Port Melbourne Cycles looked after the bike, gave us a heap of hydration and energy and all that kind of stuff — advice and knowledge and wouldn’t take any money, so I would like to give them a massive shout out as well.
“I am extremely appreciative for everyone’s support.”
Since completing his ride, Jack’s Miles for Smiles fundraiser has increased to $122,600.
Jack is planning to keep the fundraising page open for a few more weeks, and will close it off once the “thank you” video that documents his journey is released.
A link to the website where you can donate to his cause can be found at www.facebook.com/Miles-for-Smiles-106216371138548

Why do smart people make dumb decisions?

WE WOULD think that anyone with a high level of intelligence would run through all the scenarios and then make the best choice, right?
Indeed, they often do, but something may have happened to them where making the right decision becomes complex, and they cannot choose the correct response at that moment, which is annoying for them and the people wanting an answer.
You can probably recall a scenario where you asked someone a simple question: do you want a cup of tea or coffee? or what do you want for dinner? or can you do this small extra project/task that must be completed within a tight deadline?
This added pressure to make another decision or do one more thing can cause a person to get into the flight, fight or freeze, get angry, storm out, cry, walk away, quit or some other irrational response.
They have no capacity left even for simple things at that moment.
Think of how many decisions you or they make in a day.
The bigger decisions may be more obvious, but do not overlook all the small ones.
On reflection, we may discover the person was in a state of overwhelm, fear, stress, or anxiety; therefore, they did not have access to the complete resources in their mind to choose wisely.
When people are in these states, the mind can experience confusion, a foggy brain, numbness, cannot interpret a simple question, and cannot think rationally or clearly.
They feel pressured as someone needs their attention and response now, which is next to impossible for them to do easily.

Living or working in a constantly stressful environment

Henry J Kahn, MD says it is easy to forget that stress is one of your body’s warning signals that tell you something is out of whack.
“If you ignore those signals, especially your emotions, you could become so accustomed to the stimulation of stress, ongoing tension and strain that stress can start to seem normal. When many people in a particular environment are stressed, they can create a climate that makes it more difficult for anyone to see his or her own stress clearly.
When you have a whole culture pushing high performance, sometimes people don’t want to admit it or address it.”
Mr Kahn notes some coping skills people use to help the mind and body cope with stressful events., which may not be beneficial in the long term such as: holding their breath; take substances such as caffeine, alcohol, tobacco; misusing medications; eating the wrong foods; or going extra hard at the gym or playing sport.
“These substances and actions may become a part of your everyday life even when not stressed because we are also creatures of habit or addiction,” he says.

Physiological stress responses

We can experience a physiological stress response by a perceived or actual threat to our safety or well-being.
We literally cannot think about anything except get to a safe place; our mind responds to the actual or perceived fear.
If a snake is in your backyard and you, your children, or pets are near it, and you have a fear of snakes, you may go into flight or fight or freeze response — an actual fear.
If you are at work and hate it there, have an enormous workload, dislike your boss, and they are ringing you, and you haven’t completed the job due to a ridiculous workload or timeline, you may go into a perceived threat for the security of your job.

Chemical responses in the body

Often, we can manage short-term stress, and some people thrive in a stressful environment; however, prolonged exposures can perpetuate cortisol dysfunction, inflammation and pain.
The body triggers the sympathetic nervous system and produces a chemical response to cope with the situation and releases cortisol to prepare for survival mode and have the safest and fastest possible outcome for you.
Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory and helps to trigger glucose reserves for energy and modulate inflammation.
It can stay in our body for up to 12 hours, just from one significant event.
Multiple events throughout the day will keep topping up the cortisol —so when will your body recover?

Discover resilience skills to improve well-being

Breathing Techniques: Breathe in a way that triggers your parasympathetic nervous system to release all the good happy hormones to balance the body.
Slow, deep breathes into the heart or chest area
Diaphragmatic breathing techniques
Discover some great breathing technique by Heart Math Institute, Wim Hof, Patrick McKeown and James Nester.
Meditation: A variety of methods takes us into a state of mediation, such as gardening, swimming, yoga, Thai chi, sitting still, knitting, breathe work, reading a book et cetera
Self-Talk: Learn to be kind to yourself. Often people will beat themselves up for not having answers, think they are worthless and so forth.
Stretch and Exercise: Remember to include the physical body to help with the flow of blood and energy in the body.

Coherence vs Relaxation

When you are relaxed, you do not necessarily want to run a 100m sprint or have a tennis game with a strong competitor; however, being in a coherent state, it’s more of an active, calm state and perfect for a run or sports game, work environment and making smart, effective decisions.
If you find yourself not coping as well as you once did, you can download a free ebook, 12 HeartMath® Tools for Reducing Stress and Staying Balanced
www.heartmath.org/resources/downloads/12-heartmath-tools

Maree Zimny is a qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP and HeartMath®
Certified Trainer and Quantum Frequency Coach.
Specialist in Anxiety, Stress and Communications
0403 325 858
www.facebook.com/thereliefcliniconline

Will gives back to the life savers

GOOD FRIDAY is a special day on the calendar for Warrandyte CFA volunteer Firefighter Will Hodgson.
It is the day he gets to give back to the place that saved his life.
Will told the Bulletin that if it were not Paediatric Surgeon Nate Myers at the Royal Children’s Hospital, he would not be here today.
Born with a diaphragmatic hernia, Will’s initial prognosis was not good.
“It means that there were a whole heap of organs sitting in my lungs,” he said.
He said even today it is a technical operation, but in 1976 “it was a huge deal”.
Born in Box Hill Hospital, the doctors there struggled to keep Will alive.
“Every time they took me off a ventilator, I just dropped my bundle,” he said.
He said Box Hill admitted it was beyond them so, while Will’s mother Debbie stayed on the Maternity ward at Box Hill, Will’s father Ian went with him to the Mercy to try and get some answers.
The Mercy too ran out of ideas, telling Ian that Will was not going to make it.
“They asked him if I wanted to be baptised,” said Will.
Eventually, Mr Nate Myers from the Royal Children’s was called in to take a look and told Ian that he had an idea of what was wrong with his baby son.
“I went to the Children’s and, thanks to Mr Myers, I came out the other side healthy”.
Will spent the next six months at the Children’s and then next five years with follow up appointments, travelling in from North Warrandyte.
Will said that he is grateful for the life that the Children’s Hospital has given him.
“The best thing for me is to acknowledge the sun going up in the morning and going down at night, because you have been lucky enough to be given a life — through one specialist who has been able to identify it — and so now I am here.”
Will has since dedicated his life to helping others.
Following the Pound Bend Fires in 1991, at the age of just 15, Will decided to volunteer with the North Warrandyte Fire Brigade and then when he started his own family he moved across the river to Warrandyte, and transferred to Warrandyte CFA.
From the start, he made it a priority to get out to shake tins for the Good Friday Appeal, and when North Warrandyte didn’t shake tins, he went out with South Warrandyte.
“I jumped across to South Warrandyte to shake tins, with Mark Kennedy and Greg Kennedy, and I do remember us being underage, but we were shaking the tin and that is all that mattered,” he said.
Will has collected money each year since, and even last year when restrictions made it impossible to shake tins, Warrandyte CFA set up a virtual tin shake, raising around $4,500 for the RCH.
“I think the online collection was a good thing, because when Warrandyte shakes a tin, it shakes a tin in Bulleen, so we are just picking up commuters, but being online gave an opportunity for the Warrandyte community, if they wanted, to donate through the Warrandyte Fire Brigade.”
They will have the best of both worlds this year, with the virtual tin shake online while brigades will be out collecting at intersections across Manningham: Warrandyte at Bulleen and Manningham Roads, North Warrandyte at Reynolds and Blackburn Roads, and South Warrandyte at Mitcham and Springvale Roads.
So, if you are out and about on Good Friday, chip in for a great cause, and if you are not, hop online to give to “the kids”.
www.virtualtinshake.com.au

Community roadworks forum

Following the commencement of the roadworks at Eltham Roundabout, residents say there has been ongoing controversy and community concern about the Major Roads Project’s upgrade, and the associated planning and consultation processes.

Vicky  Shukuroglou, along with other “motivated residents” have organised a forum in response to strong community interest.

Vicky told the Diary that there are “huge gaps in publicly available information and the many challenges associated with Government planning processes”.

She said numerous communities right across Victoria are experiencing these issues.

“We feel there is an urgent and widespread need for change and we believe that this will only be realised through awareness raising and community empowerment.

“We invite anyone to attend to learn more and share views in respectful, factual conversation.”

The forum is to be held next  at 7pm Wednesday evening, March 31 at the Eltham Bowls Club, Susan Street Eltham.

Places are limited, so register your attendance at: roundaboutforum@fastmail.com

Macedon Square Streetscape Upgrade

MACEDON Square has remained a vibrant hub for Manningham residents for over 50 years — now it is time for an overdue makeover.
In August 2020, Manningham Council released two concept designs for an upgrade to the Macedon Square Streetscape, one including an open space concept (Option B) and one without (Option A).
The upgrade seeks to improve the public realm and rejuvenate the centre by addressing existing issues associated with aging infrastructure.
Both concept designs aim to address safety concerns within the centre by employing a new angled bay parking layout, as well as ensuring cars exit on Macedon Road in one direction.
Both options will also bring new paving, flora and outdoor spaces — however, Option B takes these changes to the next level by adding spaces suited for public gatherings, picnic tables and open lawns to draw in more community engagement.
After the extended consultation period concluded on November 15, 2020, a total of 108 responses were collected.
61 per cent were in favour of Option B, 26 per cent in favour of Option A and 13 per cent did not express preference.
Although the majority ruled for Option B, traders in Macedon Square expressed concern for both options and the potential detriment the upgrade could cause to the community space.
The Bulletin spoke to Gary Cyganek, owner of Egon’s Bakery, who is passionate about putting forth an “Option C”.

“We’re putting forward our Option C to say we reject both of these options — we have the support of 29 out of 32 shops in the centre,” he said.

Mr Cyganek went on to say traders in the centre feel as though safety concerns are not being properly addressed, particularly regarding the proposed new car park.

“Safety is most paramount.”

The Bulletin reached out to Manningham Council for additional information regarding this matter.
Manningham Director of City Planning and Community, Angelo Kourambas said the proposed concept plans have been designed with visitors in mind, including people of all ages and abilities.
Businesses have expressed concerns regarding how delivery vehicles will fit into these new parking spaces and the potential overhang of these vehicles causing accidents.
Mr Cyganek stresses the need for delivery accessibility from the front and rear, as some businesses are not suited to take deliveries from rear loading docks — including Australia Post.

“Only some shops are set up to take deliveries from the rear; this is a priority for the whole community.
“The proposed car parking aisle widths for angled parking within the centre are wider than the recommended Australian Standard for this style of shopping centre.
“Larger delivery vehicles will not be permitted to park in the angled parking bays along Macedon Road,” he said.

Mr Kourambas said Council would consider providing spaces within the main car park for regular delivery vans.
Council’s plan to realign the roadway, creating a single directional flow of traffic through the centre, aims to reduce traffic congestion and issues with vehicles attempting to access the same car space from opposite directions.
With a narrower roadway, business owners are anxious about potential collisions due to visibility issues, in the event multiple cars are trying to back out at once.
According to traders, accidents within the centre are common — particularly among elderly patrons.

Parking pains

Parking availability for traders in the centre has been a sore point for several years.
Currently, there are 133 car spaces in the centre — Option A would result in a loss of four car spaces while Option B would incur a loss of six.
For business owners, 133 car spaces has simply never been enough to cater for the needs of traders and customers alike.
In an independent traffic and car park study undertaken in 2017, it was reported that the perception of low parking availability within Macedon Square is a factor of uneven parking distributions, citing that certain areas are operating at full occupancy whilst others are operating at less than half.
Council suggests that areas such as the ALDI basement car park, off street parking near McGahy Street, and parking area to the rear of Woolworths Lower Templestowe should host ample room for shoppers to park.

“It is considered that a loss of between four to six spaces could reasonably be offset by higher utilisation of other parking areas” Mr Kourambas said.

For traders and shoppers who wish to use services provided in the square alone, parking in these further off-site locations can prove to be inconvenient.
Extra parking in the square itself would be a welcomed addition for many.
Mr Cyganek wants Council and the traffic engineers to come up with a more functional solution.

“We want the traffic engineers to sit down with them [the council] to see how we can actually maximise our parking possibilities.
“We want them to use the abundant open space we already do have, to put spaces for people to sit,” said Mr Cyganek.

Consultation closes at 5pm on Thursday, April 8, 2021 — in the meantime, Council is encouraging community members to get involved and have their say.

“Council is currently seeking community input on the proposed concept plans.
“Based on feedback received, Council will consider further suggestions from the community as part of its detailed design process,” said Mr Kourambas

Feature Image artist impression Option B courtesy Manningham Council

Community members are invited to attend a drop-in session with Councillors and council officers on Saturday, March 27, 2021, from 10am to 12pm at Macedon Square, Lower Templestowe.
Additionally, you can have your say at:
yoursay.manningham.vic.gov.au/macedon-square-streetscape-upgrade

Majesty by the side of the road

WELCOME TO Meeting with Remarkable Trees.

I have borrowed the title from Thomas Pakenham’s book that reflects on the character of the old, the sacred, the mysterious and the poetic through 60 of his favourite trees.

Unbeknown to many, trees serve us way beyond the comfort of shade on a hot day or ascetically pleasing additions to a garden.

Through 17 products derived from trees, they provide for over 5,000 of our daily commodities from mobile phone screens (cellulose acetate) to strengthening concrete (lignin).

Because of this, mono-culture plantations are a massive global industry predominantly operated by multinationals in collaboration with governments.

Our world forests are under threat and with the climate in crisis, attention is due.

On the flip side, much is now being discovered about the importance of diversity in old-growth forest and how trees communicate via a vast underground network.

Interest is growing, and trees, just like us, are becoming recognised as deeply fascinating individuals wholly reliant on their environment for survival.

In my experience, fostering a relationship with the trees based on curiosity and connection has been a necessary step towards creating personal climate-crisis solutions rather than being overwhelmed by the bigger picture.

I want to share this journey with you by seeking out and presenting the bold, the beautiful, the humble and the dignified in the Manningham’s community.

Do you have a tree favourite tree in your own garden or a tree you are fond of in your area?

Please email me at the address below.

I’d love to connect with you and hear your story.

There is no set criteria.

Large, small, young or old, character is all that matters.

Let’s celebrate Manningham’s forest.

By way of introduction then, meet March’s beauty.

Just down from the corner of Park Road and Feversham Avenue in Park Orchards, resides a tall and elegant eucalypt, who has taken an approximate 150 years to reach maturity.

At a distance she is well-balanced, neither thick in canopy nor thin, but just enough to see her graceful arms reaching up.

As I approach, a delightful mess of shredded skin crunches underfoot.

Her girth is furrowed with age-old protective layers, and looking up, her formidable branches carry the elegance and colour typical of early Victorian paintings: dark shadows highlighted with soft, silvery greys.

Creamy smoothness that merges into the blue-green tone of the canopy.

There are cavities emerging from some of her branches; a borer making a home, or larger hollows resulting from a branch felled by stormy weather.

Residing in deep time, it will be decades before any such borers outdo the tree.

Meanwhile,larger hollows provide nesting sites for our native parrots, cockatoos, and owls.

(On that note, if you need to trim or remove a tree, consider the possibility of providing a nesting site.

The hollows take decades to develop and a good arborist can advise and trim your tree accordingly).

In all, this Faversham resident presents a lovely impression of the many unique characteristics of Australia’s eucalypts.

As I watch and listen, I ponder what the breeze would do without long, slithery greenery to play with.

How would our days be without wind in the trees, and what would stories be without the touch of leafy whispers?

To share your favourite tree, email jennahmrose@outlook.com.

Jennah is captivated by the quiet, unassuming presence and of trees.

She is currently training to facilitate Forest Therapy and working towards a PhD about how we relate to the natural world.

Celebrating 10 Years of Run Warrandyte

A SOLD OUT Run Warrandyte set the pace for community events in Warrandyte in 2021.
On the last day of summer, 500 runners and walkers toed the line to celebrate 10 years of the annual community fun run.
Event organisers stuck to the now-familiar course, taking in the West End residential area and Pound Bend, but to add some spice, introduced a 21km version — four laps of the course.Although lapped courses are often less attractive, participants jumped at the opportunity for a Warrandyte half marathon, 69 runners took to the course on Sunday morning — including me, Warrandyte Diary’s very own “running reporter”.
A gloriously cool and misty morning made for optimal running conditions and runners, walkers and marshals enjoyed being immersed in our bush setting.For those who are curious, the Run Warrandyte course has just the right amount of hill to keep it interesting — and the runners “honest” — and some wonderfully runnable downs and flats which, if managed properly, makes for a fast course.
The fastest 5km event runners clocked 20-minute times, a trend which continued all the way through the running categories with Brynton Ashton — fastest male overall in the 21km distance setting a course record of 1:19:43, and Jessica Barbara setting the female course record at 1:38:42.

Brynton is a regular Run Warrandyte participant and in 2018 won the 15km event with a time of 1:02:50.In 2020, the 15km course record was set by Luke Walker at 59:29.
With Brynton managing a similar pace in 2021, with consistent sub-four-minute kms, while gaining (according to Strava) 400 metres of elevation over four laps — it is quick!
But while we can pour over stats and splits, Run Warrandyte is about celebrating our community, and exploring our bush environment.
The participants were diverse in background and ability but “the vibe on the run” was that everyone was glad to be back out in the open, with other people.
As always, the volunteers and the organising committee did a stellar job in keeping people safe and on course and I thank the marshals and organisers for putting on a wonderful community event.
Local MP Ryan Smith normally takes on MC duties at the event, but with the COVID changes, this was off the cards, so he took the opportunity to run the 5km course.
The popularity of Run Warrandyte is growing and as well as representatives from groups such as Victorian Ultra Runners (VUR), Westerfoldians and Generation Run; there were also runners using Run Warrandyte to achieve their 2021 running goals — such as Daniel Cole who is running 20 x 21km runs in 2021, with an official result from Run Warrandyte making this run number three.
The Diary spoke with Daniel about his challenge.
“I am 73 years old and prior to having my left hip begin to wear out, I was regularly running marathons and ultra-marathons, including the Boston Marathon, the Marathon du Medoc in France and the legendary Comrades race between Durban and Pieter Maritzburg in South Africa.
“I had a new hip in 2018 and ran one marathon in 2019, then not a lot of running events over 2020.
“So I decided that the perfect challenge for 2021 was to run 20 x 21s.”
Daniel went on to talk about his impressions of Warrandyte’s annual fun run.
“I was more than impressed with the organisation and conduct of the event.“Everything went smoothly, from acceptance of my late entry to my rather well towards the tail of the field finish, and the showbag at the end.
“The course is scenic, with challenging ascents and descents, pleasant views of the Yarra for those slow enough like me, to take it in, and cheerful encouraging volunteers along the way.“A really nice touch was the individual announcement of runners as they finished.
“Congratulations to all involved.”
On the day, water was supplied by Just Water, in containers made out of a plant based material which kept the litter to a minimum.
After running the three-lap version for a couple of years, the fourth lap — to bring it up to a half-marathon — felt like a gamble.
But it was a surprisingly enjoyable experience.
I am looking forward to seeing what the event committee have in store for 2022, especially when (one hopes) both the spectators and event village will be able to feature once again.

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The superpowers of CFA women

HELD ANNUALLY on March 8, International Women’s Day has been celebrated for over a century, with the event’s website claiming the first gatherings were held back in 1911.
The issues of the time were women’s right to work, vote and ending discrimination.
110 years on, while we still continue the fight for gender equality, there is much improvement to be celebrated…and the women of Warrandyte CFA are no exception.
Often referred to as a “bit of a boys’ club”, in fact CFA focuses on being inclusive, no matter the gender.
Currently, Warrandyte CFA has 10 female volunteers, the majority of whom regularly respond to emergency pages day-and-night, or provide active support in other ways.
Women bring the same firefighting and rescue skills as men, with some of Warrandyte’s female members taking on years of specialist training, qualifying them to manage a broader scope of roles during an emergency.
The brigade’s support roles are open to both men and women, and it is not the stereotypical mix you would expect, in fact our current secretary is a man.
The skill set women hold is expansive, with roles in training, recruitment, community education and officer positions.
A few are also CFA staff supporting other volunteer brigades around the state and can be called upon to perform extra duties during large-scale bushfire events and managing emergency warnings from the Incident Control Centres.
Warrandyte CFA recruited its first female firefighter in 1981 when the station moved to its current location on Harris Gully Road.
Prior to that, women who attempted to apply were rejected by the captain of the time; the cited reason being the old station had no female facilities.
According to former Captain, now Deputy Group Officer Shane Murphy, the introduction of women into the brigade promoted positive cultural changes.
“Member’s self-check behaviours and language evolved with female presence”, he said “as a result, more respectful attitudes were adopted towards everyone, not just the women”.
Reminiscing over his first house fire call in the early 80’s he said: “It was a female who was first through the door”.
1996 saw Warrandyte CFA elect its first female Lieutenant.
Kate Murphy, still a current member, was elected by her male and female peers and reflected on the time as “of complete support” and that “equality and diversity was encouraged”.
Since then, and still to this day, women have held several leadership roles at Warrandyte CFA, both in officer positions and within the Brigade Management Team.
It is not uncommon nowadays for women to be captain.
Females are afforded every opportunity within CFA, and it falls to the leadership to ensure members are seen for their capabilities, not their gender.
So, when will Warrandyte see its first female captain?
Mr Murphy said: “On the fireground, it is non-gendered — it is a team operating with a common focus — but if you’re looking for it, you see females everywhere”.
The path has been paved, but women must still demonstrate to our future generations, the importance of “she can be anything she wants”.
The women of Warrandyte CFA are doing this every day.
They strive to protect our community and we recognise the value they offer the brigade.
Volunteer firefighter, Louise Leone said: “I love it when you’re driving past in the truck or getting out at a job — and a little girl sees you.
“You watch her eyes open wide and she’s like ‘hey, she’s a girl like me!’
“It’s the best feeling!”
And therein lies the superpower of the women of Warrandyte CFA.

Pottery Expo celebrates 21 years by the river

THE 21ST POTTERY Expo was held on the riverbank on the last weekend of February, with ceramic artists from around Australia showcasing their work to, what organisers say, was the biggest crowd ever.
With live music, 70 stands filled with spectacular creations, demonstrations, talks and a weekend of sunshine and minimal restrictions, it was “a buzz”.
“These are the biggest crowds we have ever seen and I’m anticipating more sales than I’ve ever seen also,” says event coordinator Jane Annois.
“This is great for the local businesses too; the cafes and shops have also benefitted this weekend.”
Along Yarra St the cafes and restaurants were brimming, and Andi from Calla Collective said: “There is a good energy here this weekend, it has certainly lifted the atmosphere around the place.
“There is more excitement in the conversations, there is a buzz, and we need a bit of a buzz.”
There seemed to be a giddiness amongst the crowd, perhaps it was the mixture of sunshine and the opportunity to just be out, somewhere beautiful, amongst lots of people, and feel safe.
As a passer-by bumped into me and apologised profusely, she laughed and said, “I think I need to learn how to do crowds again.”
Perhaps she is right, I walked into people and lost track of my companion several times.
Minna Graham, from Daylesford, is an Expo stalwart and says the weekend was “crazy, busy and fun!”
“It has been amazing,” she said, as she continued wrapping items in tissue paper.
“Everyone is just happy to be out.
“Maybe it’s that and that there is a new appreciation for ceramics.
“Over the last few years people are loving and appreciating ceramics more.”
As Minna ties a package carefully with her trademark black ribbon, a customer smiles, and says,
“It really is good to be out and about, and the works here are just beautiful.”
Adam Cox (South Gippsland) has been exhibiting at the Expo for over ten years and says the weekend has been fantastic.
“People are keen to come out and do something out of lockdown,
“It is always a good weekend and a great opportunity to meet other potters.”
Sunday lunchtime, and his stall is almost empty, so Adam strategically places the few remaining items for sale a little further apart to fill the space.
“I’m almost cleaned out,” he said happily.
“It’s months’ worth of work, it’s the biggest event of the year and I have been keeping my nicest pieces for this.”
Special guests this year were Australian members of the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC).
The Academy is the principal organisation representing the interests of ceramics worldwide.
Based in Geneva, the IAC is an official partner with UNESCO in the cultural sector.
Jane Annois has been a member of the Academy for two years and is honoured to be part of such a global community of ceramic artists that focus on networking, education and raising the standards of excellence within the art.
Jane is thrilled to have an exhibition of such high-end ceramics from many of the Australian members of the Academy at the Expo.
“There are 12 Australian IAC member artists represented here this weekend and it is very exciting.
“Collectors have been here, buying this weekend, and it has lifted the profile of the Expo.
“It has also been very inspiring for the potters to see these works, which are rarely seen together, in one exhibition.”
Sally Wise, from Preston, is also a member of the IAC and has been a ceramist since she was 17 years old.
Her journey started when an influential teacher in high school introduced her to the art.
She went on to study a four-year ceramics degree, and says, “it’s been my passion and obsession ever since”.
“It is exciting to have higher end ceramics at the Expo,” said Sally, “and nice to see collectors here, buying.”

Prize-winners

Winner of the Warrandyte Lions Best Presented Stand was Tian You, from Tian Ceramics, Footscray.
Tian says, “It is always the best event of the year.
“It takes months to prepare and this is the grand opening of my new work.
“It was very well received, there were lots of customers first thing on Saturday morning, determined to get in early.”
The Potters Prize is the peer favourite, voted by the potters, and this year’s winner is Arnaud Barraud, from Kalorama.
Arnaud’s prize is a piece from last year’s winner, and he in turn will donate a piece for next year’s winner.
Su Hanna (Bendigo) and Marina Pribaz (Daylesford) shared the Michael Hallam INCA Award for innovative contemporary ceramics, presented by the Warrandyte Riverside Market.
Su is one of a small group of wood-fire ceramists represented at the Expo, with fellow guest artists Sandy Lockwood, Rob Barron and Jann Kesby.
Wood firing is ceramics at a whole other level, it is earthy and rough.
Someone explained to me that wood firers see “the beauty in the natural colours of ‘brown’ and in the complexity of ‘rough’”.
Many wood-fired ceramists design and build their own kilns and after the backbreaking work of collecting, carrying and splitting wood, are known to have a moment of ceremony as they light the match.
Su says, “You have to be a bit crazy to be a wood-firer.”
“Just splitting the wood is a lot of work, and we are limited with the fire season.
“We have to time it and try and get it done before it hits.
Su and her husband take it in shifts, day, and night, stoking the fire, keeping it to temperature for four days.
“It’s a lot of work,” she repeats, and pauses, “and a lot of wood prep”.
Another pause.
I sense that the work of the firing stays with her long after the fire has gone, and as she looks at the piece in front of her, she says quietly, “but you can’t get the random surfaces, and those colours that I love any other way.
“It’s worth it.”
As I leave her stall, I realise making art is hard, and I have a fresh appreciation for both the art and the artist.
Once again, The Pottery Expo was a huge success, and the riverbank was alive with music and colour and stalls and people.
Quite simply, it was pure fun, and the people were visibly happy.

Photos: BILL McAULEY
 

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Protecting our green wedges

GREEN EDGE
WarrandyteCAN

SOMETIMES I THINK of Melbourne as a vast living organism, growing ever larger, slowly spreading across the surrounding countryside and devouring everything in its path.
No one can stop Melbourne growing, and the best that governments can do is to control its growth and try to ensure that it is sustainable.
Melbourne’s 12 green wedges, including the Manningham and Nillumbik Green Wedges, are a good case in point.
These are non-urban areas lying outside Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary that have been designated for the protection of natural and rural values.
They contain a mix of low-density uses including farms, parks, water catchments, cultural heritage sites, and residential land on large allotments.
The policy of protecting green wedges from inappropriate development is set out in all planning schemes covering metropolitan Melbourne.
Green wedges are a product of the great foresight of people like Rupert Hamer, Minister for Local Government in the late 1960s and later Premier of Victoria.
According to Hamer, in planning for the growth of Melbourne:
“Nobody could happily contemplate a future metropolis of seemingly endless suburbia spreading out to infinity.”
“The future planning of Melbourne should take account of the surrounding countryside as a vital part of the metropolitan environment.”
Hamer’s vision for containing Melbourne’s urban sprawl was reflected in the 1971 report entitled Planning Policies for the Melbourne Metropolitan Region, which supported the establishment of urban growth corridors separated by “green wedges of open country protected from urban development”.
Fast forward to 2021, and the need for green wedges is stronger than ever in the face of climate change and rising average temperatures.
Green wedges, along with increased greening of areas within the Urban Growth Boundary, serve to absorb carbon and to mitigate the urban heat island effect.
Moreover, as the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, has noted, the importance of these areas will only increase in the future as climate change impacts where crops are grown and the green wedge and peri-urban areas are relied upon more to grow food.
Green wedges also provide vital recreational resources for Melbourne’s population and greatly contribute to our quality of life — a refuge from the concrete, asphalt and traffic of suburbia.
It is not surprising, however, that over the decades since they were established, Melbourne’s green wedges have faced significant threats from those eager to open up these areas for development.
In recent years, the Manningham Green Wedge faced such a threat by way of the Manningham Council’s proposed amendment to the Manningham Planning Scheme known as Amendment C117.
That proposal involved (among other things) changes to the Scheme that would have allowed more commercial and tourist development in the Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ), which covers most privately-owned land within the Manningham Green Wedge.
However, an independent panel appointed by the State Government recommended against those changes and instead put forward its own version of Amendment C117 aimed at preserving the status quo.
As the Diary reported in February 2019, the Panel concluded that “the broader policy position to support more tourism in the Green Wedge is contrary to sound planning and runs counter to the purposes of the RCZ.”
In September that year, the Planning Minister decided to accept the panel’s recommendations and adopt its version of the amendment rather than Council’s.
The State Government is currently undertaking a project aimed at deciding how it can best protect Melbourne’s green wedges.
At this stage, it is considering submissions received from stakeholders and community members, and is due to provide a report about this in mid-2021.
WarrandyteCAN strongly supports the protection and preservation of our green wedges, especially as they represent an important part of our response to climate change and are vital for Melbourne’s sustainable future.

Breaking ground on trail extension

WORKS BEGAN ON Stage 2 of the Diamond Creek Trail extension following a ground-breaking ceremony on February 6.
Stage 2 of the trail extension will link Wattle Glen to Hurstbridge.
Once the Diamond Creek Trail is fully extended to Hurstbridge, the 5.5-kilometre trail extension will complete a 55-kilometre continuous trail from Hurstbridge to the CBD, incorporating the Main Yarra Trail from Eltham Lower Park.
The trail extension is primarily funded by the Victorian Government with $4M for Stage 1 through VicRoads’ Towards Zero initiative and Stage 2 utilising $5.1M from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s (DELWP) Suburban Parks Program.
Nillumbik Shire Council also contributed approximately $5M to the project through land acquisition for the 14.4 hectares of land the trail is built on.
Once completed, the trail extension will have a concrete-paved path for pedestrians and cyclists and a separate, parallel natural-surface trail for horse riders.
In attendance at the ground-breaking were members of the community, Nillumbik Shire councillors, Member for Eltham Vicky Ward, Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green, and Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.
Nillumbik Shire Mayor, Peter Perkins commended the efforts of all those involved in the trail project.

“That the Diamond Creek Trail project is now well on the way to completion is a great result for our community and a credit to the efforts of others on their behalf – including the Victorian Government, Danielle Green MP the Member for Yan Yean, and Vicki Ward MP the Member for Eltham.
“Our community, in particular the efforts of our Regional Trails Advisory Group and Trailblazers Inc. are also to be commended.
“Their tireless advocacy and passion for this project has been integral to bringing us to where we are today.
“The trail is an important community asset, providing a fantastic outlet for physical activity and a safe transport connection between the urban parts of the Shire and our rural townships.
“Also critical, is that it will attract more visitors to our Shire, boosting our local tourism industry and other businesses,” he said.

Bunjil Ward Councillor Karen Egan said the commencement of Stage 2 works was a major development for not only the townships, but the Shire’s rural community.

“I’m very pleased that work is starting on the final stage of an infrastructure project that is of such critical importance to many sectors of our community, being a shared trail open to all,” said Cr Egan.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio spoke about the benefits to the local economy and the improved quality of life the trail will bring to the area.

“In the past year, many of us have rediscovered the simple pleasure of going for a walk, run or bike ride.
“Through projects like the Diamond Creek Trail extension, we’re giving people more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
“Construction of the trail extension will create as many as 100 jobs over 12 months and boost the local economy by attracting visitors to the trail and surrounding communities.”

Stage 1 of the trail extension, linking Diamond Creek to Wattle Glen is due to be completed and opened to the public in October 2021.

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Market under threat

THE ELTHAM Craft and Produce Market has been a staple of the Eltham community for 44 years but its future is now under threat.
Founded in 1978 along the driveway of the Living and Learning Centre on Main Road, the Eltham Craft and Produce Market has served as an outlet for locally and homemade crafts and produce.
I remember going to the market as a young boy, buying heat packs at the start of every winter with my parents and sister.
We would walk from home to the market and as you entered Alistair Knox Park, the aromas of the food trucks would draw you in.
Soon, aromas mixed with music, conversation and laughter — the sound of a happy and connected community.
These are memories that I hold dear to my heart, and now, it may all come to an end.
On Sunday, February 21, 2021, possibly the last Eltham Craft and Produce Market took place.
Following conversations with the Market organisers Bianca and Di, and Wingrove Ward Councillor, Geoff Paine, I learned the market is under threat of discontinuing due to the complicated process of obtaining licenses and the grounds to continue hosting the market.
The main issue revolves around having a committee properly in place and obtaining a permit to use the area behind Eltham Library.
The market has been using the location between Panther Place and Library Place since October of 2004, an area with great parking and easy accessibility for anyone to visit.
Both stall holders and market goers expressed their sadness over the potential discontinuation of the market and its end will have a long-lasting impact in the Eltham community.
Market organisers are asking Eltham residents and market goers to lobby the local community and market regulars to let Nillumbik Shire Council know that they want the market to stay.
The Warrandyte Diary and WD Bulletin will have further updates on this story as it develops.

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Price of progress

Eltham residents have come out of lockdown to discover that hundreds of trees that graced the Eltham Gateway roundabout have been removed.
Under cover of COVID, Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) moved in on February 15 to clearfell the intersection of Main Road and Fitzsimons Lane, and then removed the large Lemon Scented Gums from the Porter Street intersection on February 16.
Resident Vicky Shukuroglou described the scene as residents who had left their home for the four reasons and came across the Main Road demolition site.

“People started pulling over and parking their cars and were in shock, complete shock,” she said.

Consultation deficit

Community groups are outraged that there had not been extensive community consultation around the project, with many residents unaware of the impending works until Eltham Community Action Group placed red ribbons around the doomed trees in early 2020.
MRPV said they had 300 responses to their community consultation, but admitted to ECAG that less than 100 of them had come from Eltham residents.
In contrast ECAG had received over 3,000 signatures from locals on its petition.
ECAG have spent around two years negotiating with MRPV to compromise on the project to retain the treed gateway intersection.
Secretary of ECAG, Sue Dyet, said the group had first been made aware of the plans when they were told by local member Vicky Ward some months after the plans were put out for consultation.

“She showed us some plans and we went away looking at them and the enormity of the situation sunk in.”

The group managed to hold some meetings with MRPV but, Ms Dyet said the group feel they have been “managed”.

“They listened to us, they gave us time, but when we asked particular questions, and asked for information it was not always forthcoming,” she said.

Nillumbik Council passed a resolution in December 2020 to request MRPV conduct further community consultation, but this did not occur.
Ms Shukuroglou had organised a protest rally for February 13, which had to be cancelled due to the COVID lockdown.
However, the lockdown did not deter the construction workers who brought out the chainsaws, which was seen as a massive slap in the face to the community.

“Even it had been planned for six months, it was in bad taste,” said Ms Dyet.

Major Road Projects Victoria Program Director Dipal Sorathian defended the works occurring during lockdown.

“This project is essential work, like many other projects that have commenced and continued through various stages of COVID-19 restrictions over the past year,” he said.

Overkill

The project will see the intersection widened substantially, with eight lanes (four lanes each way) on the Main Road, eight lanes on Lower Plenty Road and eleven lanes in total on Fitzsimons Lane.
Although Mayor of Nillumbik, Peter Perkins notes that this was reduced from the original plans.

“Council has advocated on behalf of the community since the announcement of this project.
“These efforts have helped to influence MRPV to revise its design, including the reduction of the proposed intersection from 11 to eight lanes, saving more than 200 trees along the corridor.
“Fitzsimons Lane is a key gateway to the Shire and is of significant aesthetic, environmental and economic value to the community.
“Council supports the government’s efforts to minimise traffic congestion while at all times seeking to ensure that the community’s voice is heard and appropriately acted upon,” said Cr Perkins.

Ms Shukuroglou said that with the massive changes in the way people are working and moving around the city the plan should have been reconsidered.
She said the project also does not take the road use changes projected by the North East Link.

“MRPV made their case by using figures that were not really all that accurate, because their traffic modelling and numbers were based on 2027, and then 2028 is estimated for the NEL opening, which suggests traffic will drop by quite a large percentage.
“Then we also need to contemplate there is also a current ban on immigration and the trend of working from home, and that it most likely to be the thing that remains.
“Once the pandemic is abated, people will start getting back on the trains and will be working from home — these things have not been taken into account,” she said.

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Photos: VICKY SHUKUROGLOU

Alternatives ignored

Ms Shukuroglou  went on to say: “We realised as a bunch of volunteers on community planning issues we needed to get hold of some people who knew more about this game than we did.

“So we subsequently got three experts in the field, one a retired VicRoads person, one transport manager from AECOM in London, a huge international firm, and more recently someone who is an expert on roundabouts.

The group had their experts draw up alternative plans in attempt to reduce the footprint of the works and to retain the roundabout, and therefore the trees, but despite being told their plans were as affective as the official plans they would not be considered.
Mr Sorathia told WD Bulletin as part of the development process, “a number of designs options were investigated”, and he said it was found that upgrading to a signalised intersection was the best option to make the road safer and less congested.

“Compared to signals, a roundabout solution will be less safe, increase congestion and travel times, and will not alleviate the traffic queues,” he said.

Objectors to the roadworks were resigned to the fact that the project would go ahead no matter what their objections, but Ms Dyet said she felt that MRPV played lip-service to community consultation.

“I would say that they feel that they ticked all the boxes,” she said.

Enough is enough

Ms Shukuroglou said MRPV has been asking the wrong questions.

“They went in and said, ‘well there is a traffic problem how are we going to solve the traffic problem’.
“As opposed to ‘there is a traffic problem, how can we solve this while respecting the community, the area, and all the values that are within this place’,” she said.

She said she wants to see a dynamic change in how major projects such as this are managed.

“It seems to us very clearly, is the greatest needs of society, which is social and environmental health, which are not just boxes to be ticked and they ought to underpin all decisions, and infrastructure ought to serve purposes in response to these things,” said Ms Shukologlou.
“It starts creeping inwards, it is the thin edge of the wedge, this is where we can slowly chip away and say ‘now that road is there, we are going to have to do this duplication, we are going to have to add extra roads’.
“At what point do we say, ‘actually, enough is enough’?”

She said the community has learnt from this “absolutely horrendous” process and the “devastating” outcome.

“The one thing we need to do is maintain hope for what we can achieve for anything that is happening in the future.
“There are a lot of demoralised, tired people, there are people who feel like they have there is no point in attempting to have a go.
“But that, in all sorts of ways, the system is working in that way.
“It would be much easier if we all sat down and said nothing, there would be a lot less hiccups, work could be done a lot more efficiently.
“But we are not just going to sit down and accept this — we will organise the protest again to say, this must change, this is not an appropriate example of community consultation.
“This is not a good example of how things must be.”

Replanting plan

“We have heard from the local community that they appreciate the natural environment, which is why we are planting more trees than we remove on the Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade,” said Mr Sorathian.

Local member Vicky Ward has announced that 5,000 trees will be planted around Eltham to offset the trees that have been removed.
In a statement, she said approximately six new trees will be planted for every tree removed as part of the project.
This calculation makes the tally of trees lost at approximately 830.

“This program will leave an important legacy that all participants and the wider community will enjoy for years to come,” she said.

Ms Ward’s announcement stated local secondary school students will also be involved in a propagating project to create a new supply of native plants and trees, which will be planted and grown in the local area.
However, Ms Shoukoglou said even 5,000 trees, will not replace what has been lost.

“One of the main issues is there are very few hollow bearing trees left, and it is a serious problem.
“So planting a one-year-old, or five-year-old tree is nothing like it.
“Even if you have 5,000 of them, it is nothing like one mature tree that has lived for 50, 60, 100, 200 years.
“You are never going to regain that,” she said.

Cr Perkins said Council and the community lament the recent destruction of so many trees at this key gateway.

“We look forward to the completion of the project when the benefits will be realised and landscaping completed,” he said.

Display of grief

On Saturday, 20 February, locals gathered for a demonstration at the intersection, gathering in small groups to place “letters of love and loss”.
Ms Shukuroglou told WD Bulletin due to COVID restrictions the community was unable to protest in the traditional sense.
To ensure the event was conducted safely the organisers opted for a multi-site staged gathering over the course of the day.

“It was an independent demonstration, a COVID-safe solution, and an opportunity for people to express their grief, which is immense and rippling through the community”.

She said people came on their own mournful walk, delivered letters, had conversations, and shared their feelings of dismay, anxiety, shock.

“People’s worlds have been rocked — how can that be allowed in our system which is touted as fair?
“Others said their anxiety is through the roof… so much more,” she said.

What now for the future?

Protest organisers are asking concerned citizens to visit their website, to send messages, and keep updated on future actions.
elthamroundabout.wixsite.com/my-site
The WD Bulletin and Warrandyte Diary will continue to follow this developing story.