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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.

 

ComBank Closure in Macedon Square


LAST YEAR, The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) made the decision to temporarily close their branch located in Macedon Square, Lower Templestowe to address growing COVID-19 related concerns.

In a letter addressed to Manningham Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Day on January 21, 2021, CBA stated they would not re-open the Lower Templestowe branch due to a shift in customer behaviours — citing that more customers have opted to do their banking online and over the phone.

On January 28, 2021, Councillor Stephen Mayne brought the motion to the monthly Manningham Council Meeting to undertake an advocacy campaign with the CBA to delay or reverse this decision.

Councillor Mayne felt strongly that the closure of the Lower Templestowe branch would be detrimental to the community space, considering Macedon Square is a bustling hub for Manningham residents.

Increasing concerns of potential loss of foot traffic in the centre grow, as the February closure date looms ahead.

“Bank branches drive visitation to local activity centres so it is important to fight to retain the last bank in any centre,” said Cr Mayne.

“Macedon Square is the number one community meeting place in the Ruffey Ward that we are considering spending two to three million dollars on improving in the period ahead.

“I am hoping our engagement will lead to a change in decision here.

“We are publicly signalling to the bank that we are disappointed with this decision,” Cr Mayne said at the January Ordinary Council Meeting.

The council resolved by majority vote to pass the motion.

The Bulletin contacted Councillor Mayne for further comments and updates regarding the motion.

As Councillor Mayne stated in the January council meeting, the council understands that technology is changing and internet banking is becoming the norm.

However, it is still important to look after the needs and interests of everybody in the community, specifically our elderly population.

“Manningham has one of the oldest communities in Victoria so it is particularly important to look after their needs, and many of our elderly residents still like to visit bank branches,” he said.

In a letter addressed to Councillor Mayne on the February 1, 2021, a final verdict on the matter had been reached.

“CBA has written [to the council] confirming the permanent closure, blaming it on a 34 per cent drop in branch activity in recent years,” he writes.

The ATM at the Lower Templestowe Branch will only remain until 12pm on Friday, February 19, however CBA advises that there are 12 nearby ATMs within 5km of the Macedon Square branch.

Cash withdraw services are also available within nearby supermarkets, service centres as well as Australia Post, who also extend their services to deposits and bill payments.

The letter from CBA goes on to say:

“While our decision is final regarding the closure of Lower Templestowe branch, we recognise that some older customers do prefer to do their banking face to face and this is one of the reasons why CBA is proud to maintain the largest branch network in the country.”

As of February 19, the nearest bank to Macedon Square, CBA or otherwise, is located at Westfield Doncaster, The Pines East Doncaster, Tunstall Square Doncaster and Bulleen Plaza, all of which are at least 2.5km away.

Groove on the Green


After a year of lockdown and isolation, February 6 saw Warrandyte emerge to remember its Year of Wonders, at a photo exhibition and live event held at Taffy’s hut at the newly opened Lion’s Park (see page 22 for a selection of the Year of Wonders photographs).

While the exhibition was a celebration of the wonderful creativity that abounds in our photographic artists, what was discovered over the course of the evening is the amazing potential for our new Village Green as a gathering space and place for all manner of purposes.

However, this Green may be short lived, as it is planned to be incorporated into an extended playground in Stage 2 of the site development.

Yarra Ward Councillor, Carli Lange attended the event and said, “it was clear — the vision for Lions Park upgrade had come to life”.

“The new, treasured and beneficial open space in front of Taffy Jones Hut has become a connection for all — families, groups, couples, individuals, everyone!

She said the grassed area between the playground and the Lions Park extension was a “Groove on the Green” — enjoyed by everyone.

She said the green had potential to be a picnic area, a game field, a social buzz and an audience arena.

She said many locals had spoken to her to say “thank-you” for this flat grass area to host presentations, speeches, entertainment, shows, rehearsals and galleries — a much needed connection point for all.

“Many locals said ‘Please, please, keep this new grass area — just as is — please keep it open, flat, grassed’,”Ms Lange said.

Warrandyte Resident Doreen Burge noted how well the new Green was utilised during the event, and said the extension of the playground, “seems very short-sighted given the possibilities for this lovely lawn and its proximity to the natural stage of Taffy’s Hut”.

Warrandyte Historical Society made a submission to Council in December, saying the Stage 2 upgrade would: “result in an overdeveloped Park with insufficient space for simple activities, such as sitting or playing on an open grassed area”.

“We feel that an extension to the playground is unnecessary given the many new features of Stage 1 that can be utilised by older children.

“We are concerned that the open views to and across the river will be compromised by the addition of more play equipment.

“We feel the current grassed area is an asset to this new park and would be well-utilised by families and all age groups if it were to become a permanent feature.

“It would be disappointing to see this area covered with play equipment.”

Karen Mew who coordinates Pottery Co, which backs onto the space told the Diary they are planning a series of events in the area, including Indigenous talks and music events.

This grass area will be the start and part of many community events of Taffy’s Hut, but to do that we need to keep our green.

Ways to stay connected


THE BRAWL between the Australian Media and digital platforms, moderated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) through the News Media Bargaining Code turned an ugly corner this morning as Facebook pulled all Australian news content from their platform.

All content deemed “news” both domestically and internationally has been pulled from Australia and has also impacted pages such as Bureau of Meterology (BOM).

While mainstream media platforms have the budget and personnel to weather the storm and find alternative ways to connect to their audiences, small community publisher – such as the Warrandyte Diary are less fortunate.

For many, who have been adapting to an increasingly digital landscape, Facebook’s action sends them back to the dark ages.

Maybe this is a good thing.

Maybe this is a chance to get away from the dancing cat memes and incessant trolling, but Facebook’s action caught everyone off guard and media companies across Australia and now pivoting to reconnect with their audience.

Warrandyte Diary and WD Bulletin are still here and now has even more ways to keep you engaged, informed and up to date.

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We are actively working on more ways to connect digitally, so watch this space for exciting new announcements about ways to catch up on local content.

Life in the times of COVID-19


RUNNING FROM February 5 to April 5, Montsalvat will be host to an exhibition titled Art in the Time of COVID-19.
The Exhibition consists of over 40 local and national artists, all of whom have been commissioned to share their artwork that responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The exhibition features works in the Local category from Elisabeth Bromley-Kulugitago, Michelle Caithness, Clive Murray-White, Jonathan Crowther, Karena Goldfinch, Lana de Jager, Carl de Jager, Siri Hayes, Emmy Mavroidis, James McMurtrie, Angela Nagel, Mandy Ord, Camilla Tadich, Ronak Taher, Melisa Savickas, Tara Stubley, Jennifer Dellaportas, Peter Wegner, and Gali Weiss.
Open category works from Dale Collier, Jane Crappsley, Fan Dongwang, Minna Gilligan, Tyler Grace, Michelle Hamer, Spencer Harrison, Paul Kalemba, Robbie
Karmel, Deb Mcfadzean, Anna McDermott, Valentina Palonen, Jenny Pollak, Zorica Purlija, Greer Townshend, Luigi Vescio, James Voller, Joel Zika, Liz Walker, and Yu Fang Chi.
The arts community, like many others, has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
Nillumbik Mayor Peter Perkins said Council was proud to support the Shire’s vibrant arts community through such an important project.
“History has shown that adversity brings out the very best in communities and this response from the arts community has been no different.
“The pandemic has touched us all in one way or another and these works are a reflection and reminder of life during 2020 and the struggles, challenges and uncertainties we all continue to face,” said Cr Perkins.
The works are a mixture of both reflective and experimental pieces, presented in a variety of mediums including painting, printmaking, photography, drawing, mixed media, sculpture, installation, textile and video.
The Diary spoke with local artist Siri Hayes, an artist who specialises in photography, video, and textiles, particularly botanical dyes.
Siri, like many people, used the 2020 lockdowns as an opportunity to take on “COVID projects”.
“Something they have always wanted to do but have not had the time for,” she said.
With the free time Siri said it meant that she could investigate indigo dying, which she says is probably the most complicated of the botanical dyes to make.
“It is quite scientific; it requires all the conditions to be right.”
The fruits of this labour will be on display at the Art in the Time of Covid-19 exhibition in the form of a three-metre-long weaving of yarn titled Wurundjeri country, Chux Blue.
The weaving was made using her indigo dye made from the native plant Indigofera australis.
Aside from being used to make dye, Siri told me the Wurundjeri people would crush the leaves and add them to water which would stun or kill fish and eels.
Her weaving was originally meant to be, essentially, “a really enlarged Chux cloth”
“I actually found one on the ground all covered in clay and a photo of that is also going to be in the show as well, so there’s a relationship between the cloth that I have made and then there is also the photo next to it.”
The Warrandyte Diary was given access to the gallery and those involved prior to the exhibitions opening.
To hear more about what the exhibition means to those involved and arts in Nillumbik generally, see our video on the Warrandyte Diary website.
Art in the Time of COVID-19 is presented in conjunction with Nillumbik Shire Council and on at Montsalvat in the Barn Gallery, The Skipper Studio and the Montsalvat Grounds until April 5.
Due to COVID restrictions, tickets must be pre-purchased.
Bookings and more information at www.montsalvat.com.au

Photo exhibition captures Manningham during lockdown

THE LIGHTS are on and everybody’s home.
Manningham Art Gallery’s first exhibition of the year, Empty Streets and Stacked Chairs, documents life in the final two weeks of Australia’s first COVID-19 lockdown in May 2020.
Photographers Bill McAuley and David Wadelton captured this historic moment in a series of poignant images featuring deserted shopping centres, desolated streets, closed schools and masked baristas.
Manningham Mayor, Cr Andrew Conlon said the exhibition has allowed us to document a shared experience from the pandemic and tells many stories of our community and how we have been affected in different ways.
“The exhibition tells a tale of the perseverance of the human spirit during an unprecedented time, and explores fear and adaptation with a glimmer
of hope shining through,” he said.
“It provides a portrait of Manningham and a snapshot of the different experiences our community has gone through, whether sad or heart-warming.”
The exhibition is open now until Saturday, March 27 at Manningham Art Gallery, 687 Doncaster Road, Doncaster.
In person and online artist talks with photojournalists Bill McAuley and David Wadelton are also scheduled during February.
Booking is essential.
Bill McAuley Artist Talk Tuesday, 16 February 11am to 12:30pm
manningham.vic.gov.au/artist-talk-with-bill-mcauley
David Wadelton Artist Talk Tuesday, 23 February 11am to 12:30pm
manningham.vic.gov.au/artist-talk-with-david-wadelton
For more information about the exhibition, visit
manningham.vic.gov.au/empty-streets-and-stacked-chairs

 

Photos below by Bill McAuley

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Photos below by David Wadelton

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Community notice: Come join the Lions Club of Warrandyte


The Lions Club of Warrandyte would like to invite any interested member of the wider community to our first meeting for 2021.
At the moment we have 10 vacancies in our Community Lions Club for people with an interest in helping others and raising money for not only local persons in need of support, but any where assistance is needed through our magnificent OpShop.
For those of you who have been watching the redevelopment of Lions Park down near the bridge, you may have noticed the installation of four exercise work out equipment installed by Council and paid for to the tune of $45,000 donated by the Lions Club Of Warrandyte, from the op shop and the support of the Warrandyte Community Market.

So if you think you like to help your community and be able to attend a meeting for a couple of hours a month, and participate in Club activities including the Op Shop you would be made most welcome.
Our next meeting will be held at Bocca Italian Restaurant near IGA on Tuesday, February 9 at 7:30pm.

RSVP by Monday, February 8 by contacting Mr Denis Robertshaw Club Membership Coordinator on 0407-533-342

 

Construction to commence on Fitzsimons Lane intersections


DESPITE COMMUNITY objection, work is about to commence on redevelopment of the “Eltham Gateway”, the intersection of Fitzsimons Lane with Main Road in Eltham and Porter Street in Templestowe.
Contractors BMD Construction are setting up to begin construction on the Fitzsimons Lane Major Roads project.
The project will upgrade key intersections along Fitzsimons Lane to reduce congestion, improve safety and provide better walking and cycling connections for the 60,000 people who use it every day.
A statement from Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) said that the roundabouts cause delays, which can create risks for all road users.

“People travelling along Fitzsimons Lane will benefit from better and safer journeys travelling through these upgraded intersections.”

Local activists, Eltham Community Action Group (ECAG) have been vocal in their objection to the project.
The group has tied red ribbons around each of the trees earmarked for destruction.
They presented the State Government with a 2,900-signature petition against the project, calling the works an unnecessary overkill, which will see “hundreds” of trees removed in the process.

“A massive, signalised intersection (the three roads having 10, 8 and 8 lanes at the lights) will form an area of bitumen and concrete roughly the size of the MCG oval and destroy forever our iconic entrance to the Green Wedge Shire,” they said in a statement.

ECAG said they commissioned and presented their own alternative design that would keep the roundabout and many of the trees, but despite agreeing it was as effective as the official designs, MRPV rejected the compromise.
The statement from MRPV said following community consultation last year it removed two traffic lanes from the Eltham approach.

“We have also removed the bus priority lanes from all approaches to reduce the footprint of the Main Road and Fitzsimons Lane intersection.
“This change has reduced the number of trees that will be impacted, whilst ensuring the community and road users will still benefit from reduced congestion and improved safety.”

A construction worker who is working on the project told the WD Bulletin that he is concerned that lack of communications with the public by MRPV will see construction workers potentially come into conflict with protesters when tree removal begins.
ECAG is urging anyone with concerns about the project to visit elthamaction.org.au and write to their local member.
More information about the project plans from MRPV can be found at roadprojects.vic.gov.au/projects/fitzsimons-lane-upgrade

Recycling goes up in smoke


RESIDENTS of Research received a lesson in the dangers of not properly disposing of their waste and recycling when they witnessed a small fire outside Research CFA Station.
On Wednesday morning, January 13 the driver of a garbage truck, collecting recycling, noticed his load had caught fire, and proceeded to drive to, and dump its load in the Research CFA carpark.
WD Bulletin spoke with Jarrad Bradley, 5th Lieutenant, Research CFA about the incident, he provided this statement, and picture.

“On Wednesday, January 13, at 07:36, the Research CFA brigade received an emergency fire call for a truck fire at the Research Fire Station.
Upon arrival at the station, members discovered that there was a large pile of rubbish on-fire in the middle of the station carpark.
It was quickly ascertained that a local rubbish truck, full of recycling refuse, had experienced a small fire in the load and had deposited the load into the station car park to save the truck and to allow for complete extinguishment.
Members safely entered the station and immediately deployed the Brigade’s tanker so that the fire could be delt with.
Several members used BA [Breathing Apparatus] to ensure that the smoke and any possible hazards where not a risk.
The fire was soon extinguished and the task of pulling the pile apart commenced.
This was to ensure that any embers or smouldering debris were out.
The remaining pile was later transferred to a dumpster via a bobcat and the rubbish contractor completed the disposal and the car park was washed clean.”

Smoke was visible around Research and triggered a warning via the VIC Emergency app.
The statement goes on to say.

“While a specific cause of this fire was not apparent, these types of fires are usually caused by the incorrect disposal of dangerous items in household rubbish bins.
Please ensure you check what can and cannot be put in your bins.
Particularly dangerous items include hot embers and ashes, gas cylinders — including small camping type Butane cylinders, and modern rechargeable batteries — especially Lithium, phone, laptop and LiPo batteries.
Please remember to check what goes into your bins, especially the correct disposal of batteries.”

Thanks to the quick thinking of the garbage truck driver, and the professionalism of the Research CFA volunteers, the events of Wednesday morning were quickly contained.
For information on how to properly dispose of e-waste, visit your local council’s website.

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Images courtesy: Jarrad Bradley, 5th Lieutenant, Research CFA

Chock-full of chooks


FOR THE LAST six months, Eltham local, Joan Denison has been using her passion for art to spread joy throughout her community, creating Iso Chook paintings on old fence palings.
WD Bulletin previously featured Joan and her quirky cartoon-like chooks at the beginning of her Iso Chook journey in our September 2020 issue.
Since then, demand for her Iso Chooks has grown and her paling paintings are now proudly on display through Eltham and surrounding communities.
Joan’s love for illustration began when she studied fashion design at RMIT, and later had a long career working for fashion houses.
Joan now frequents groups such as the Nillumbik U3A, who usually gather and paint together weekly.

“I’ve always been painting and drawing,” she says.

Joan was saddened to see her neighbours’ spirits dampened during the trialling times of the pandemic, so to spread a bit of joy, she painted a small group of chickens for her garden, so onlookers could have a smile.

“We noticed that people were stopping and taking photos of them, and so we painted some more.
“We put a sign outside our house and people started helping themselves,” Joan told WD Bulletin.

Joan and her husband had set up a stall every Saturday to give away free chook palings to the community, which received a fantastic response from families, especially those with small children.

“The line was all the way down the hill!” says Joan.

Enthused about the chooks taking Eltham gardens by storm, Joan’s neighbours and community members offered her free fencing to continue her crazy chook journey and during one of the most testing times for Victorian’s in recent history, Joan’s chooks became a symbol of hope and community cohesiveness.

“In the one hour we were allowed out for exercise, my husband and I went around putting chooks in peoples’ letter boxes just to surprise them — like Father Christmas!” Joan laughs.

To date, Joan has painted over 1,000 Iso Chooks and with demand still out there, she is showing no sign of stopping and is now taking commissions from community organisations.

“I’ve given to lots of hospitals, nursing homes, and five schools.
“It’s been a very interesting journey I tell you — it takes a lot of work,” she says.
“I’ve slowed down a bit, since Christmas.
“People are a lot busier now, we’re not seeing many people walking past our house anymore,” she says.

In decades to come, many will look back on 2020 and only see crisis, but for residents of Eltham, they will remember hope, joy and a connected community, symbolised by Joan’s Iso Chooks.

If you would like to contact Joan for a commissioned piece, she can be contacted through Facebook Messenger.
https://www.facebook.com/joan.denison.52

Running into 2021

Photo: Gavid D Andrew Photographer

WARRANDYTE’S celebrated community running event, Run Warrandyte, is toeing the line for a celebration of sport, health, and community as the event committee makes final preparations for its 10th anniversary run.
Preparation for this event is a year-long process and the uncertainty of Coronavirus restrictions has made planning for 2021 trickier than usual, but the Run Warrandyte Committee has sculpted an event to allow walkers, joggers and runners, of all abilities, to celebrate Warrandyte’s bush setting and the spirit of community in a COVID-Safe way.
Run Warrandyte committee representative, Michelle Bean, spoke to WD Bulletin about the challenges and changes to this year’s event.

“COVID created a challenge to our committee this year, as we had to come up with an event that would fit in with restrictions and also be flexible and adjustable to any potential lockdowns we might be back in on the February 28.
“We feel we have created something that fits those requirements,” she said.

Currently set to occur on Sunday, February 28, the event will be capped at 500 participants with an option to switch to a 30-day virtual option if Melbourne or Victoria is forced into another lockdown.
Michelle also notes a number of other, significant changes which will ensure this year’s event remains COVID-Safe:

  • No on the day registrations.
  • Separate start and finish lines.
  • Staggered start times (every 15 minutes).
  • No event village
  • No spectators

COVID-Safe measures such as hand sanitising stations, COVID Marshalls and face masks will also be a feature of the 2021 event, but Michelle says this will not take away from the fun of the day.

“We still plan to create a fun, community event, where our runners can run their favourite distances and receive their free 10-year celebration medal and backpack.
“We will also have spot prizes and goodies provided by some great local businesses and as always appreciate our sponsors: Charlie Bins, Warrandyte Ringwood Osteo’s, IGA, Harding Swift Caravan Services, The Grand Hotel and Project Clothing.
“We are excited to also announce a new 21km event and interest in this has been strong.
“This is alongside the regular 2.2km, 5km, 10km and 15km distances,” she said.

Staying hydrated and COVID-Safe

One of the biggest challenges for event organisers, and event caterers is how to provide food and drink in a convenient but COVID-Safe way.
Staying hydrated while exercising is important, and with high temperatures a distinct possibility for February 28, ensuring participants have access to water is vital.
The simplest method is to provide disposable, sealed containers, like bottled water, but this adds unnecessary waste to the environment and goes against Run Warrandyte’s mission to be as eco-friendly as possible.
Michelle told WD Bulletin Run Warrandyte has secured a partnership deal with a Victorian based company, who will provide water in containers made from plants.

“We are excited to announce our event partnership with the eco-friendly company Just Water.
“Just Water takes Spring Water that is sourced from Mt Warranheip in Ballarat, Victoria and packages it in plant based, eco-friendly cartons, made by Tetra Pak.
“The packaging materials and processes result in 75 per cent less harmful emissions, primarily C02, compared to a standard PET plastic bottle.
“The design of the carton was created to remain flat until it is filled with water, meaning Tetra Pak use only one truck to transport the cartons, compared to the same number of plastic bottles needing 13 trucks.
“Just Water and Tetra Pak will be providing water on course and at the finish line in 2021 to keep our event COVID-Safe for our runners.
“Being an eco-friendly event is super important to us and with this in mind, we feel Just Water and Run Warrandyte are a great fit,” she said.

Visit the Run Warrandyte website for more event details and to enter the 2021 event.

Soul food: Josh Teskey and Ash Grunwald new collaborative project


DIARY REPORTER STEPHANIE CARAGLANIS recently sat down with Josh Teskey to discuss his new 8-Track Blues project with Ash Grunwald.
Titled Push The Blues Away, the album features raw blues instrumentation, combined with soulful and reflective lyricism.
Read on as Steph and Josh talk roots, inspiration and Josh’s pie of choice from the Warrandyte Bakery.
The Teskey Brothers are proud Warrandyte boys, so how did growing up in Warrandyte inspire you creatively?
Well, I think a big part of growing up in Warrandyte that inspired us was probably the music community around us.
I mean that was one of the biggest things, people like Chris Wilson and local Blues musicians, we were surrounded by Blues.
They have a thing for it in this area, it has influenced our music massively.

How would you describe the sound of Push The Blues Away to both new listeners and existing Teskey Brothers fans?

What we were doing growing up, prior to the release of the Teskey Brothers albums, in a live setting — it was more in that soul realm, a more raw sort of Blues thing.
We have always been very influenced by that and played a lot of that.
This project is a lot more along those lines, it is really back to basics Blues and there is nothing complicated about it.
There is not even really a rhythm section, it is just me and Ash on guitars, a bit of harmonica, stomp boxes — it is raw and almost a bit rough around the edges.
We just wanted to have some fun with it, so we did not want to get too complicated.
We did not spend heaps of time fixing little things up, you hear a little bit of laughing in the background, or there might not be the most perfect little vocal takes, sometimes.
We wanted it that way, it is almost kind of live sounding.
A lot of what we recorded was basically live in the room, every one of these tracks is just Ash and I playing through the song, what we put down that was it.
It is really raw, that is the way I would describe it.

I think that is a bit of a hidden gem, a lot of people do not really know there is a Blues scene hidden in Warrandyte.

That is right!
There are a lot of artists who live in and around here, more than we realise.
It is a special little thing.

I definitely noticed that!
Especially on Thinking ‘Bout Myself, you guys have the harmonicas, the claps which is really stripped down and different from what the Teskey Brothers usually produce, can we expect this stripped back instrumentation throughout the entire album?

Absolutely!
There are no drums, there is no bass guitar.
I just finished an album with the Teskey Brothers when we started this project, where we did a lot of production, strings sections and horns.
So this was really fun for us, we did not want to do a lot of production on this one, just made to be really fun and really easy. 

So you and Ash have collaborated previously on his track Ain’t My Problem, why did you decide to go all the way and collaborate on a full album together?

Well, it just kind of escalated you know?
One thing sort of led to another.
It began when he did that track with the Teskey Brothers, he sent us the song and we became the rhythm section on that tune he sent us.
A few months later he came out to our studio in Warrandyte to do a film clip, we were going to film a little thing of me and Ash having a jam together — I just had a harmonica and he had a guitar.
When you are filming things like this there is a lot of waiting around.
So we were waiting around, having a jam in the room, and got to talking, saying “ah wouldn’t it be great just to do an album like that one day?, just a guitar and a harmonica in a room and do some of that stuff we have always loved.”
Ash being the hustler that he is, gives me a call a couple of weeks later and says:
“Hey! Do you have any time? We should just do this!”
We did not really know what was going to come of it, it began by being together in the studio, I did not know if we were going to release it or just have a bit of a jam.
But he came out for a week and my brother, Sam, came out to the studio here.
Sam set up all the stuff, he also produced and recorded this thing as well, so he has been very involved in a lot of ways too.
As we got into it, I came in with a couple of songs I put together just a couple of days before.
Ash had a couple of songs he put together, then we thought of a couple of covers we were into, a couple of old Blues standards — and before we knew it, we had eight or nine songs sitting there ready to go.
And we were like “Man there is a whole album’s worth here”.
Before we knew it, Sam mixed it all together and our label, Ivy League Records said: “Yeah! We should release this.”
It was a very cruisy process and now we have got a whole album.

I really liked the music video you guys produced for Hungry Heart just that very cosy homemade video, it was very cute and organic.

It was really fun for us.
It was an appropriate video to do during isolation.It was more about working out what we could do, film a bit of our lives — as that is all we can do at the moment.
I think my favourite thing I have heard someone say about you is “When I close my eyes I hear Otis Redding and when I open them I see Thor”.
How do you feel about being compared a Marvel hero?
I love it!
People have been telling me I look like Chris Hemsworth for many years.
It was such a funny thing, Chris discovers our music, next thing I know I find myself at the Avengers premiere walking down with Liam and Chris.
It was very bizarre seeing how the Hollywood crew do it.

Do you and Ash share any musical influences and how did that influence this new project?

Well I think it is really appropriate for the Warrandyte Diary here.
Ash actually grew up in the same area as well, you know he was close by.
I actually grew up watching Ash!
When I was about 13/14, I used to watch Ash play sets out of the St Andrews pub.
I would be busking at the market with Sam; we would come up after the market, get some food over at the hotel there and Ash was always playing a set.
So I grew up watching Ash play Blues.
He was one of those influences in the area, which was really cool, alongside people like Geoff Achison and Chris Wilson.
About five years later, I am watching him play the Main Stage at Falls Festival.
In a big way he has influenced our music as well.
I tell him now we used to grow up watching him, because he discovered us independently.
We even did a gig in Northcote where we supported him, he did not remember that.
The Teskey Brothers were a support for him, and then when Ash found us to do a bit of work on his album he could not believe we into his music back in the day.
We are very closely connected in many ways.

That is a wholesome story.

He is a beautiful character, he is a lovely guy, and it has been a really nice fun project just to work with him and get to know him, he has a really great soul.

I feel like this is my most imperative question of the whole interview, what is your order at the famous Warrandyte Bakery?

Very nice!
Okay, I have been going down for years and I just love getting some croissants.
I usually get about five croissants on a Sunday.
If I am not doing that and I am just a bit hungry, and I want to get something, I love the veggie pie down there which is delicious!
I think it is far superior to the veggie pasty.
I also normally get a cheeky caramel slice, so a veggie pie and a caramel slice would be my first choice, ha ha!

A little bit of an unpopular opinion hey?

I feel like everyone goes for the beef pie and the vanilla slice.

That is a bit of a classic, I do love the classic beef as well.
But there is something about that veggie pie, and not a lot of people know about it!
It is a bit of an inside secret.

I love it, you are putting the veggie pie on the map single-handedly.

Absolutely!
Try it out Warrandyte, try it out.