Tag Archives: Nillumbik Council

A fine show of fantastic art

Photos: SANDI MILLER
Featured: Conveynor Brenda Ibels and Judge Paul McDonald Smith with Best in Show piece Ocean Might, Apollo Bay

THE SECOND Eltham Art Show 2023 (EAS) was held in early September.
Bigger, better, and across two locations, the Eltham Art Show is making strides towards becoming the fine jewel in the crown that is Nillumbik’s art heritage.
Utilising the Eltham Community and Reception Centre (ECRC) and Residents’ Gallery at Montsalvat, it showcased the best 2D and 3D works from artists within Nillumbik and those without who have been influenced by the Shire’s art heritage.
With more than 500 pieces of 2D art and around 40 3D pieces on show and for sale, the profits from the show will be reinvested into local community causes and efforts supported by Rotary International.
With the calibre of the submission so high, and the professionalism with which the works were curated and displayed; it was a joy to peruse.
Convenor of the Eltham Art Show, Brenda Ibels, opened the show by explaining the intention of its concept.

“The show has been by invitation only.
“It is selected, and it is professionally curated.
“It also provides an opportunity for the Rotary Club of Eltham to continue serving the community, as it has done for 50 years.
“It also highlights the recognition of the heritage of the local and associated art community.
“A heritage which has not only developed in Nillumbik but also spread to become foundations of institutes like the Victorian Arts Society, Twenty Melbourne Painters, and the Woodend Art Group.”

Highlights of this year’s show also included art demonstrations, “working studio” style sessions, and an en plein air challenge run in the weekend leading up to the event.
The motivation for many of the artists displaying was the prizes on offer; of the combined 540+ works on display, only a handful of winners could be picked, and these were:

  • Best in Show Greg Allen with Ocean Might, Apollo Bay — $6,000 prize
  • Best Contemporary Sheryl Lewis with Hill at Kangaroo Ground — $3,000 prize
  • Best Oil or Acrylic Fiona Bilbrough with Bumper Harvest — $3,000 prize
  • Best Watercolour Julian Bruere with Misted Snow Gums, Mt Torbreck — $3,000 prize
  • Best Sculpture Denise Keele-bedford, with Hard Baked sponsored by Meridian Sculpture — $3,000 prize
  • Neil Douglas Best Australian Landscape Portrayal Chris White with The Bridge, Beechworth — $2,000 prize
  • Best Work on Paper Linda Schneider with Evolving Reflections — A Charcoal Reverie — $1,000 prize
  • Best Printmaking Robert Hails with From a Deck Chair (series 2) — $1,000 prize
  • Best Emerging Artist Alison Tippett with Radiant Beauty — $750 prize
  • Best Decorative Arts Jeanette Dyke with Black Star Ring sponsored by Michael Wilson — $500 prize
  • Masterful Brands Agency Highly Commended $200 + Mentor session for each of the six winners: Raymond Wilson, Old River Gums, Victoria Valley Cherry Manders, Still Life Mary Hyde, Coastal View Pat Reynolds, Quarry Beach, Malacoota James Haramis, Together Sophie Bullen, Romans 13:10
  • En Plein Air Challenge Nina Volk, Watercolour — prize NGV tickets courtesy of The Victorian Artists Society
  • Hangers Prize Greg Allen with Ocean Might, Apollo Bay — Mixed dozen wines from Kings of Kangaroo Ground
  • Montsalvat “Brave Talent” Ellen Jenkins, with John — Hamper value $100
  • Best Ceramic Marlize Myburgh, with Interrelate — Best Ceramic Certificate
  • Peoples’ Choice Sarai Meyerink with Reflections — $500

 

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Winner of Best Sculpture, North Warrandyte artist Denise Keele-bedford said she was “flabbergasted” with winning the $3,000 prize.

“Thank you so much to Eltham Rotary for putting on the art show.
It has been interesting following the show.
Last year, they had the inaugural show, and I entered a 2D work.
It’s just fantastic to see that they have taken the initiative to delve into and experiment with the possibilities of a Rotary Art Show.
I congratulate all those who have been involved in putting this show together.
The hanging is superb, and the list of sponsors is amazing. It is fantastic to see all of those sponsors assisting and supporting this show to continue.
It’s great to see so many people here.
So, thank you so much, and congratulations to all the Rotarians and the really hard work that goes into putting a show like this together.
And of course, congratulations to all of the artists for participating — it’s fantastic to see.”

While Eltham Rotary is still debriefing from the event, Ms Ibels spoke to the Bulletin about how they feel the show went.

“We had close to 1,000 people through the door, and while we are still working out the final finances, we are on the right side of the ledger, which is good for the community.
We were very pleased with the show, as was the feedback from the people we spoke to and received comments from.
Including Montsalvat was a trial, and we feel a good combination for community involvement.
A massive plus was the en plein air, facilitated by the Victorian Artists Society.
It brought artists and outside interest to the area.
The group tours arranged for the local retirement villages were also very popular.”

Ms Ibels said for 2024, Rotary is planning for dates between August 11 and 19 to allow four days of viewing. Make sure you clear your diary for that week and come and see some fantastic art in the heart of Eltham.

Rainbow Golf Cup Day

YARRAMBAT Park Golf Course’s inaugural Rainbow Golf Cup Day was a huge success, completely selling out whilst bringing together LGBTQIA+ golfers and allies of all ages and abilities.
The event was held in early February and was a space where everyone was welcome to come and enjoy a day of golf, prizes, refreshments and fun. Belgravia Leisure’s National Disability and Diversity Manager, Jeff Walkley, said Belgravia Leisure proudly welcomes, supports and includes all people into the facilities, programs, services and employment it offers to communities across Australia and New Zealand.

“We do this by engaging with each community to better understand local priorities and preferences, and through collaboration and partnership, we act to welcome all to leisure and sport.
“People from the LGBTQIA+ community are actively welcomed and supported by us, as are all others,” Jeff said.

The format of the golfing day was Ambrose (nine holes), where each player hits off the tee, the best shot is selected, and all other players pick up their ball and place it alongside the best ball.
Each person then hits a second shot from the same spot.
The best shot is again selected.
This continues until the ball is in the hole.
This inclusive golfing format is perfect for complete beginners, and equipment was available upon request ensuring no one missed out on the fun.
With 72 golfers in attendance, Ali Berechree, Community Inclusion Officer at Yarrambat said the event was a hit with the local Yarrambat and surrounding community.

“The event was a big success with our two golf pros Brock Gillard and Matt Allen walking the course, giving tips and drives during the Ambrose.
“After the round, we had a Welcome to Country, speeches from partners including Proud 2 Play, Rainbow Golf and Nillumbik Shire Council.
“On behalf of the Belgravia Foundation, we put on a BBQ, tea and coffee station that everyone enjoyed,” Ali said.

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She said Belgravia Leisure supports the LGBTQIA+ communities of Australia and New Zealand and commits to embracing diversity, inclusion, acceptance, and equal opportunity for all genders and sexualities.
The event was proudly hosted by Melbourne Rainbow Golfers in partnership with Proud 2 Play, Belgravia Leisure, Golf Australia and Nillumbik Shire Council.

Eltham Gateway sculpture revealed

A BOLD SCULPTURE with intricate detailing that plays with line, light and shadow has been announced as the public artwork to feature in the revitalised Eltham Gateway.
The sculpture has been created by Nillumbik artist Maureen Faye-Chauhan and celebrates the Shire’s unique bushland and the Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people.
Wurundjeri Elders have chosen the title for the sculpture, Gunga winhanga warr bundha ba winhanga warr djurring in traditional Woi Wurrung language, meaning “Take what you need and not what you greed”.
The artwork announcement comes as landscaping works started this week on the Eltham Gateway project, which will see both sides of Main Road rehabilitated and landscaped with significant plantings of native vegetation.
The project is a collaboration between Council, Major Road Projects Victoria, Eltham MP Vicki Ward, and community group The Southern Gateway Renewal Group. Made of weathering steel and measuring more than 2 metres tall and 5 metres wide, the sculpture will be located north of Main Road between the flower stand and the Diamond Creek Bridge.
Maureen said she is passionate about the bush.

“Walking through the bush, it changes every day, you see the different forms of branches and rocks.
“It’s the exploration of form that has formed the basis of the artwork.
“The strongest idea that resonated with me for this project was working around the beautiful manna gums on site, exploring the significance of the trees for the Wurundjeri people,” she said.

The multi-dimensional twisted structure blends the shapes of the fallen twisted boughs of the manna gums, with that of a scarred tree form — created when First Nations people removed the bark for canoes, shields and other items.

“These acts did not destroy the tree, or the environment around it.
“The Wurundjeri idea that you take what you need and not what you greed is something we can all learn from,” Maureen says.

The artwork was realised through digital 3D modelling and will be made of 52 steel facets with linear cutouts allowing for a delicate play of light and shadow.
It is being fabricated at Alustain in Campbellfield, owned by another Nillumbik local, Brett Morrison. Once in place, the artwork will be illuminated at night with the opportunity to change colours for significant events.
Mayor Ben Ramcharan says the sculpture will become a contemporary landmark for the gateway to Eltham and the Green Wedge Shire.

“This unique piece really brings to life a key entrance to our Shire — public art that is easily accessible to our community is so important,” Cr Ramcharan says.
“The sculpture will provide us an opportunity to reflect on the ancient history of this land and the Traditional Owners as well as the environment that so many of us in Nillumbik hold so dear.”

Eltham MP Vicki Ward says, “The wonderful, organic, inclusive feel of this sculpture will really resonate with locals, and offers a real sense of arrival, of coming home, of being welcomed to Eltham.”
Maureen first began working with contemporary jewellery, then specialising in small sculptural forms.
This will be her biggest work yet.
Maureen’s works are in The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of South Australia, and have been included in exhibitions around the world.
ID Landscaping, formerly known as Indigenous Design Landscaping, has been engaged to complete the landscaping works.
Work has started on clearing weeds, the installation of fencing along the creek, and preparing the ground for pathways and boardwalks.
For project updates visit Nillumbik Council’s website: nillumbik.vic.gov.au/eltham-gateway.

Countdown to The Pottery Expo 2023

POTTERS AND ceramic enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting The Pottery Expo as it returns to the banks of the Yarra in Warrandyte for its 23rd year.
Ceramic artists across Victoria, New South Wales (NSW), and Western Australia (WA) have been working in their studios preparing for Australia’s biggest ceramics festival which comes to the banks of the Yarra on February 25–26.
The exhibitors will present work that uses various making and firing techniques, including hand building, wheel throwing, raku, gas and electric firing, and a range of clays from fine porcelain to stoneware, terracotta and earthenware.

New for 2023

There will be a special exhibition of guest artists from WA featuring influences from the WA coastline and local flora and fauna, with work ranging from large-scale and sculptural work to fine-detailed pieces.
Clay Connections, a three-day Pop Up exhibition by Valley Potters, will be in the Warrandyte Artspace, 168 Yarra Street, starting Friday, February 24, from 10am with the official opening Friday evening as part of the new Twilight Trail event.
The exhibition comprises works including sculptural, functional and decorative pieces.
Warrandyte Art Space Coordinator Denise Keele-bedford explains:

“Each artist derives inspiration for their work from different places, such as their surroundings, their loves, their passions, and their imagination.
As each pair of hands has different experiences and works with the malleable clay in their own way, each piece is unique and holds a piece of the artists DNA and soul within it.”

Twilight Trail Friday night will feature a new event for The Pottery Expo and be part of the walking tour and exhibition openings in Warrandyte ceramic galleries.
It begins at 5:30pm at Stonehouse Gallery, which recently celebrated 50 years, then continues to the official opening of the Clay Connections exhibition.
The final stop is Warrandyte Pottery Studio Gallery for the opening of a new exhibition by ceramic artist Josephine Cassar.
This is a free event. however, bookings are essential.
Follow The Pottery Expo on Facebook and Instagram for more booking information.
The Pottery Expo Throw Down will be held at the expo on Sunday — hosted by Northcote Pottery Supplies.
Potters are invited to get ready to show us their best on the wheel as they respond to the challenges set by the judges.
A highlight will be an installation by artist Danni Bryant, who works mainly with the ceramic medium.
For The Pottery Expo, Danni is creating a site-specific work responding to the surrounding landscape by the river.
Comprised mainly of raw, high-fired porcelain, the work is stark and bright, inviting curious viewers to look closely at its intricate nature.
Ballan ceramic artist Larissa Taylor will also feature a site-specific sculpture with suspended and hanging figures.
On Tuesday, February 28, WA Potter Bernard Kerr will be running a special one-day workshop at the Warrandyte Neighbourhood House for potters focussing on creating large pots, using coil and throwing methods with slip decoration techniques.
For more information, contact Jane Annois on 0422 942 216.

Expo favourites

Children’s clay activities return, presented by Warrandyte Pottery Studio and Clay Talk Montsalvat and supported by Northcote Pottery Supplies.
There will be live music sponsored by Warrandyte Community Bank featuring Rick Ozimo with Black Cat Bone, Neeko and Cath Rutten with Velvet Lounge.
Saturday features artist talks and presentations.
The Cups to Go stand will again offer an enormous range of cups by the potters for sale right by the coffee and food vans.

Entry to the expo is free, and visitors can enjoy delicious food by Scrumdiddely, PoppySmack, coffee, drinks and snacks from Now and Not Yet, wine, beer and more by Hops and Vine.
For more information, visit the website www.potteryexpo.com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Pottery parking

By JAMES POYNER

WARRANDYTE can often seem like the victim of its own success as hundreds of out-of-towners flock to the riverbank, cafés, and restaurants on sunny days.
Traffic frustrations are often exacerbated during “events” where the usual influx of visitors increases significantly.
In recent years, the Pottery Expo has suffered from this success, with its hundreds, possibly thousands, of visitors struggling to find somewhere to park and congesting local streets.
“While a great local event, the influx of visitors and, often, careless parking causes significant egress difficulties for locals throughout the weekend.
“This is particularly applicable for Webb Street residents,” said a nearby resident.
The Diary raised these concerns with Pottery Expo organisers.
Jane Annois provided the Diary with the following statement.

“We always work with Manningham Council to manage the parking and find the best possible solutions.
In the past, we have used signage and bollards on Mitchell Avenue and Webb Street, advising NO PARKING.
The problems have greatly decreased, and last year we received no complaints, but thanks for our efforts.
Unfortunately, the issue of an impatient parker moving a bollard is beyond our control.
This year in consultation with Manningham Council, the Pottery Expo has engaged with a local traffic management company to recommend a strategy for dealing with traffic flow over the weekend.
Their recommendations specifically target parking in the Webb Street/Mitchell Avenue area, and we will be implementing their recommendations.
We have signs indicating parking areas in Warrandyte and will have bollards and No Parking signs on Webb Street, and Mitchell Avenue will have No Parking signs.
We have formalised the use of parking at the Warrandyte Café [Police Road] specifically for Potters.
This process will be managed and will therefore ensure that upwards of 80 parking spaces will be available to the public.”

Ms Annois also advised that public transport options were listed on the Pottery Expo website and official flyers and that the organisers “have a social media/ information campaign to promote the use of the existing public transport system”.
“The system is in place and perfect for the needs of the public travelling to Warrandyte,” she said.

Giving young people a voice in Nillumbik

APPLICATIONS are now being accepted for the Nillumbik Youth Council 2023–25.
Anyone aged 15–25 who lives, works, studies, volunteers, or plays in Nillumbik is encouraged to apply.
The Nillumbik Youth Council acts as a peak advisory group to Council, a formal platform for young people to have their say on issues, needs, and aspirations important to them and impacting on young people in Nillumbik.
Members work together to develop local initiatives and projects for young people and provide advice to Council about how these issues can be addressed.
Nillumbik Mayor Ben Ramcharan said that joining the Youth Council is a great way for young people in Nillumbik to get involved and have a say.
“It’s really exciting to be able to voice your ideas and collaborate with councillors to make a difference in our local area.
“We want to hear from young people in Nillumbik, as their ideas are fresh and innovative.
“They’ve got their finger on the pulse, and it’s important to hear their perspective,” he said.
Following the success of the inaugural Nillumbik Youth Council, former Youth Council Mayor Brianne Keogh told the Diary about her experience as a representative on the Youth Council.

“It’s been a huge honour to be part of Council’s inaugural Youth Council and, in particular, serve as the Nillumbik Youth Council Mayor over the past year after being voted in by my peers in early 2022.
Being involved in the Youth Council has been an opportunity of a lifetime.
Not only have I made new friends with like-minded people, but I have also made a tangible impact on my community.
One of the highlights for the Youth Council in the past year was being part of the inaugural Youth Summit, which saw students from across the Shire come together to discuss the topics that matter most to them and come up with really great short and long-term actions we can implement.
We had 64 young people join us, including students from Catholic Ladies College, Diamond Valley College, Eltham High School, Montmorency Secondary College and St Helena Secondary College, to make recommendations to Nillumbik Shire Council on actions that can be taken to support local young people.
I was amazed by the incredible insight and enthusiasm young people had for creating change in the community and their eagerness to work with Council to make their ideas achievable.
It was an incredible opportunity to be involved in this energising project and a memory which I will look back on fondly.
During my time on Youth Council, I’ve also had the chance to co-design Nillumbik’s new Youth Strategy, emcee and host many local events, help write and produce a 16 Days of Activism campaign video, and lead my own community project, which saw more than 30 young people discover alternative career pathways within the sports industry.
These opportunities don’t come around often, and I’ve enjoyed advocating for the young people of Nillumbik in various areas of interest.
I’m so proud of what the Youth Council have achieved in two years, and I’m excited to see the legacy we leave behind for the next group of young people.
I encourage any young person aged 15–25 years old to consider applying for our next Youth Council in 2023.
You will develop your leadership skills and confidence and get the opportunity to work directly with Council to have a real impact for your community.”

For more information and to apply, visit nillumbikyouth.vic.gov.au/youth-council.
Applications close Sunday, February 12, 2023.

Pedestrian bridges to be replaced

FOLLOWING the severe weather event and subsequent flooding in October, two pedestrian bridges across Diamond Creek are scheduled to be replaced in the coming weeks as the damage sustained has been deemed too severe to repair.
Flood-damaged sections of two pedestrian bridges across the Diamond Creek in Eltham will be removed this week.
Other structural components, such as the abutments and footings, will be retained at both locations.
The bridges, next to the Susan Street Oval and near the Eltham Skate Park, were too severely damaged in the October severe weather and flooding to be repaired.
Pedestrian detours are now in place via the bridges on Bridge Street, Brougham Street, or Diamond Street.
The bridge next to the Susan Street Oval will be replaced with a bridge of similar size and materials.
To prevent further damage, it will be raised higher than the previous bridge, above the 10-year flood level provided by Melbourne Water.
Design work to reconstruct the bridge is underway.
Nillumbik Mayor Ben Ramcharan said the bridges were unsafe and needed to be removed.

“The October floods had a significant impact on our infrastructure along the Diamond Creek, including our shared paths, bridges and open spaces.
“We appreciate that the bridge closures are inconvenient and frustrating for trail users, and I want to reassure you that we will be working as quickly as possible to replace them,” he said.

Cr Ramcharan said Council would be advocating the Victorian Government to replace the second bridge near the Eltham Skate Park as part of its recent $32.8 million election commitment to build a new shared-use path along the Hurstbridge rail line from Montmorency to Eltham, to ensure it is delivered as soon as possible.

Communities dig in on National Tree Day

NATIONAL Tree Day made a triumphant return on July 31, with events all around the country hosted by a multitude of groups.
In Manningham and Nillumbik, Councils used the opportunity to include the community in some of their more ambitious planting projects at Ruffey Lake and Challenger Reserve, respectively.

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In Diamond Creek, nearly 1,200 indigenous trees and shrubs were planted.
Nillumbik Mayor Cr Frances Eyre thanked the community for “coming out and getting muddy”.
She said the planting will help to improve water quality while strengthening the habitat value of the wetland.

“A shout-out to the wonderful volunteers from Rotary Club of Eltham and Diamond Creek Men’s Shed who helped make the morning a success,” Cr Eyre said.

Wayne Green, Cub Scout Leader for 2nd Eltham Sea Scouts, attended the Nillumbik event and provided the Bulletin with this report:

“Tree Planting Day was awesome today at the Challenger Street Wetlands.
Tim and Helen and others from the Council, you were amazing.
Thanks, Men’s Shed, for putting on a great BBQ at the end and Rotary, for pointing the way.
In attendance were a ton of amazing councillors competing to plant the most number of plants.
This whole shebang started in 2003 with a $180,000 grant and is reaping huge benefits for all of us.
My family and I love this — and Scouting and Guiding also really appreciate it.
What is not to like?
Free food.
Great weather.
Interesting conversation and sore muscles.
Walking home, my 17-year-old son hugged me and said, ‘Dad, I love doing stuff with you like this’.
He is a great kid, and I am a proud dad, having the opportunity to have such free fun provided by the Council and so many great community groups.
As Helen pointed out, today’s planting will help save lizards, butterflies and small birds like wrens.
Oh, and a very big thank you to Edendale Farm.
The native plants are amazing.”

Manningham Mayor Cr Michelle Kleinert, Deputy Mayor Deirdre Diamante and Cr Anna Chen

At Ruffey Lake Park, over 400 people attended the event to help Council reach their planting target of 1,200 seedlings along the Ruffey Lake corridor, achieving their goal in under two hours.
Manningham Mayor Cr Michelle Kleinert said this year’s event exceeded their expectations.

We normally see around 200 people at this event.
“We were blown away by the turnout and thank every community member who came along to join the fun,” she said.

Council hosts the annual event, providing all volunteers with the necessary tools, equipment and plants.
Council also thanked the Rotary Club of Doncaster, who provided a free sausage sizzle.

“It’s a very wholesome event.
“It feels good to give back, get outside and be hands-on in the dirt!
“I think that’s why we always see such a diverse crowd; it’s an event that everyone can enjoy,” said Cr Kleinert.

What is 21st Century Warrandyte

RECENT DISCUSSION in the pages of the Diary has focused attention on the question: What do we want Warrandyte to be?
That is, what do we want the physical character of Warrandyte to be?
Do we want to keep it as a low-density bushland suburb, semi-rural in parts, centred on the environment, the Yarra River, and its heritage connection to the gold rush days and local rock construction?
Or is this concept of Warrandyte one we should leave behind and face up to ever-spreading suburbia: growing population with more subdivision; grander houses; less open space; sacrificing the trees for more buildings; more concrete footpaths, curb and channel guttering – in other words, is it inevitable that Warrandyte should become more like a typical Melbourne suburb?
Or is there something in the middle?
What is your view of the future of Warrandyte?
The question isn’t just an abstract one.
It comes up when Council starts to address drainage, pedestrian safety, and road treatments.
It comes up when Council considers planning permits involving vegetation removal or what constitutes acceptable outbuildings associated with a dwelling.
It comes up in discussions about traffic flows and whether roads should be widened to accommodate more traffic to reduce traffic jams.
It comes up when landowners want to clear their block.

Recent example: Taroona Avenue

The proposal to build a shared pedestrian and bike path down Taroona Avenue sparked a strong reaction from residents over how tree removal, kerb and channel, removal of gravel shoulder used for parking and extensive underground drainage would impact the area’s visual amenity.
Council listened to community views, and we believe a less intrusive option that will still meet the needs of pedestrians and cyclists is under consideration.

Recent example: planning in North Warrandyte

As other suburbs become concrete jungles with hard surfaces covering every square metre with almost no vegetation, keeping Warrandyte as a bush and garden suburb requires a constant effort to maintain the planning regulations.
For example, a recent application in North Warrandyte’s low-density residential zone sought to expand the outbuildings and hard surfaces well beyond that which could reasonably be associated with domestic housing.
This application sought the removal of significant amounts of vegetation along with commercial-sized shedding on top of an existing double garage and large shed, which was also proposed to be expanded.
Applications like this are really commercial in scale, masquerading as domestic.
The more this type of development is allowed, the more the residential neighbourhood character is progressively destroyed.

Infrastructure core principles for Warrandyte

In discussions with Manningham Council officers, the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) has floated a number of proposals around the question of how infrastructure works should be approached in Warrandyte.
Proposals have covered topics such as: What core principles should govern infrastructure works in Warrandyte?
How can Council engage in community consultation at the earliest possible design development stage instead of at the end of the process?
Can Council adopt a process of context-sensitive design for infrastructure works and adopt design guidelines and design treatments sensitive to neighbourhood character, environmental concerns, and historical features?
Local conservation stonemason James Charlwood and bushland expert Glenn Jameson have proposed several core principles that could be considered foundational for infrastructure works around our town.
To summarise and inspire, WCA believe new infrastructure projects in Warrandyte should: recognise, protect, and emulate Warrandyte’s historic character protect indigenous vegetation, and new planting should attempt to emulate the natural ecology, recognise that Warrandyte is the premier riverfront township and should enhance water quality, protect the banks of the river and its tributaries, and support the principle that slow water is good water, facilitate pedestrian safety and enjoyment, reduce fire risk by managing moisture and vegetation to reduce fuel load and hazard, foster storm abatement by slowing and retaining water to reduce storm impact and, foster sustainability by using natural materials instead of concrete wherever possible.
Concrete is one of the main contributors to global warming. It damages topsoil, the most fertile layer of the earth, and it creates hard surfaces, leading to runoff that can cause soil erosion, water pollution and flooding.
Natural materials reduce our carbon footprint and are reusable.
James has researched replacement stone suitable for high-stress applications such as kerbs and gutters, which is geologically and visually compatible with local Warrandyte stone.
He has a deep understanding of design and specification for the use of stone in civic applications.
Other local professionals such as retired civil engineers Maurice Burley and Doug Seymour have developed ideas around a context-sensitive design process and infrastructure treatments that are alternatives to the standard “concrete everything approach” typical of suburban infrastructure.
These will be explored in future articles.
We will also cover issues related to the health of the Yarra and how drainage treatments impact the river, creeks, and the natural environment.

We are all in this together

Warrandyte is a connected community, and if we are going to lobby government at all levels to create a 21st Century Warrandyte that genuinely represents its community, then the people that make up that community need to share their views.
The ideas presented in this opening article are just one set of ideas; whether you agree or disagree or have an alternative concept for Warrandyte, you need to tell us – so that, as the Environment League did in the 70s and 80s, the community is bound by a set of ideals that say “this is my home”.
Please get in touch with WCA via their website and send your thoughts and ideas to: editor@warrandytediary.com.au.

Will Placemaking destroy Warrandyte’s spirit of place?

By SANDI MILLER
MANNINGHAM Council has been busy around Warrandyte.
Council appears to be busily adapting our environment to a new modern aesthetic.
They call it “Placemaking”.
A new park and playground at the bridge, a newly landscaped garden behind the community centre, a new barbeque area at Warrandyte Reserve, and they proudly claim that we now have every road paved and seem to be working towards having every footpath concreted.
Wonderful, you might say.
But did they ask us?
As part of the Manningham 2040 Strategy, the council did in fact ask, and the feedback it received, and has recently endorsed, was “the key priorities/concerns for Warrandyte Village were about maintaining Warrandyte’s character, keeping it green and improving connection to the Yarra River and along Yarra Street.”
Instead, Council has rolled out infrastructure “upgrades” and “masterplans” with breathtaking regularity, sometimes giving consultation short shrift.
Even before the community consultation is completed on the Taroona Avenue shared path, they have excavated a new spoon drain installed a culvert beside the small oval, and installed a concrete barbeque area on what was once a green lawn.
At the Community Centre, at least one established eucalypt tree has been removed above and beyond the masterplan.
The footpath at the bottom of Webb Street was meant to be just that, a paved path – however, they seem to have cheekily taken the opportunity to install curb and channel gutters alongside the new path – and have conveniently forgotten to apply the promised colour treatment that was meant to allow it to blend into the surrounding landscape.
Since the last edition of the Diary went to print, the cement trucks have rolled in across the township, and there have been massive concrete pours at the Community Centre, Warrandyte Reserve, Stiggants Reserve, and wonguim wilam.
As we discuss what we want Warrandyte to be in this edition, it seems “what we are” has already been changed.
The Wurundjeri speak of tika lara, Spirit of Place.
Warrandyte has always had a strong tika lara, but Manningham Council has come in with Placemaking as if we don’t already have one. We HAVE a place – we ARE a place.
Placemaking could be the word of 2022, a high-concept bureaucratic buzzword born out of the depressing realisation – during lockdown – that Melbourne’s inner-city suburbs did not have a sense of place – or a place to be.
But does that make it a good fit for us, and is it justification to tame our Wild Warrandyte?

For additional coverage of this issue, see pages 3-7 of the August 2022 Warrandyte Diary

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Site announced for Community Hospital

THE STATE Government has again bewildered the community in its choice of a site for the Eltham Area Community Hospital.
Minister for Health Martin Foley and Member for Eltham Vicki Ward have announced that a government-owned parcel of land at 405 Ryans Road, Diamond Creek, will be home to the new multi-million-dollar facility.
While the new hospital will be a welcome asset to the community, the selection process for the site has been nothing short of contentious.
While many see a no-brainer option in the Nillumbik Council’s preferred site, the former Council Offices in Main Road Eltham, the government has dismissed the option out of hand, first attempting to acquire land in Apollo Park, at Civic Drive, Greensborough, much to the dismay of residents.
With Council agreeing with the community and blocking the land sale for Civic Drive in late 2021, the selection committee has now returned with the announcement of the Diamond Creek location.
Documents seen by M&N Bulletin obtained under FOI by Friends of Apollo Parkway note that the Ryans Road location was ranked eighth out of 12 potential sites, scoring just 53 out of 100, whereas the Main Road site scored 85.
There is concern already from the community regarding the Ryans Road site’s lack of connection to public transport and other township infrastructure, its proximity to powerlines, that it sits across a wildlife corridor, and provides a home to kangaroos and Gang Gang Cockatoos.
When asked by M&N Bulletin if Council were supportive of the announcement, a spokesperson for Nillumbik Council said:
“The Eltham Area Community Hospital is a Victorian Government project that is being undertaken by the Victorian Health Building Authority.
Nillumbik Shire Council has not been involved in the decision to locate the hospital in Diamond Creek.
We are still to gain a comprehensive understanding of the proposal and its impacts and therefore cannot comment further.
However, we will be advocating for the best possible outcome for our local community as a result of the proposed development including an efficient and safe road network, and ensuring amenity impacts are minimised.
Nillumbik Shire Council welcomes any boost to heath care services in the north-east region that will benefit our community.”
We asked Ms Ward about some of these concerns expressed, she told us a number of sites were considered against a broad criteria, with Ryans Road chosen after meeting that criteria, including its location which is close to a range of community facilities and links to
public transport.
“An ecological consultant will be undertaking a detailed survey of the Ryans Road site to provide advice on vegetation, wildlife and other ecological matters.
In response to questions about why the Main Road site was not considered, she said the old shire office site would require moving the protected Shillinglaw Trees, as well the sale of the kinder, memorial hall, and the senior citizens hall.
“There is also no guarantee Nillumbik would sell the site, as they refused to sell Apollo Parkways,” she said.
So it seems this is now a done deal.
To be operated by Austin Health, the Eltham area Community Hospital (interim name) will be a public hospital providing a range of day hospital and primary health care services, including unplanned urgent care, general medical and specialist appointments, day surgery and chronic disease management — what Ms Ward described as “a huge benefit for locals.”
She said the hospital’s strong links to specialists, community health and social support services will improve follow-up treatment and support for those requiring complex care.
Ms Ward said the Ryans Road site is close to a range of community facilities and services, including playgrounds, schools, and sporting facilities, and is serviced by several bus routes connecting to surrounding areas, including Eltham Station Greensborough, Diamond Creek and Hurstbridge.
“This location is a great outcome for our local community; it’ll mean we’ll be able to get a number of everyday health services close to home, without having to travel in traffic to the Austin or Northern Health,” Ms Ward said.
The new hospital is one of 10 new community hospitals in major growth areas, funded as part of a $675 million investment by the Labor Government.
Once complete, the 10 community hospitals will be able to treat at least 114,000 more urgent care patients and 55,000 dialysis treatments and enable more than 100,000 additional allied health sessions each year.
The Community Hospital Program will create an estimated 1,900 jobs during planning and construction and more than 1,000 healthcare jobs once completed.
Delivered by the Victorian Health Building Authority, the designs for the community hospital will be released later this year when construction begins.
The project is due for completion in late 2024.

 

Image courtety Victorian Health Building Authority

Building the path less travelled

TWO RECENT projects to construct footpaths and kerbing on Research-Warrandyte Road have been completed by Nillumbik Council. Both sections were constructed and fully funded as part of the Getting to School Safely Program, which is known by the Federal Government as the School Infrastructure Road Upgrade project. Council received $1.6 million from the Federal Government for the project, which includes 17 sites across Nillumbik. The less contentious of these works connects Danita Drive to the bottom end of Valias Street, requiring pedestrians to cross the road at the bus stops, and runs for approximately 180 metres costing approximately $90,000. But the one that has caused controversy is a short length on the north side of Research-Warrandyte Road from the traffic lights at Kangaroo Ground Road up to the junction of a service road, a distance of around 90 metres, with associated kerbing and fencing at a cost of approximately $80,000.
Shane Drieberg star ted the discussion on Facebook and described it as a “path to nowhere”. In his post, he stated:
“Is anyone else a little disappointed with the new short stretch of path on the north side of Research- Warrandyte road which only serves the small number of houses in the little lane way it leads to? This was funded from ‘Getting Kids to School Safely’ program but it has missed the mark.”
Many others complained that the money could have been better spent. Reg Byrne, who lives in that little service road posted:
“We now use that path and whilst I don’t disagree that there may be families who need a path more, someone old or young may benefit from what has been done. I hope as a community we can seek support for continued development of services.”
When asked by the Diary for comment on the rationale behind this work, a spokesperson from Nillumbik Council said council sought community feedback on the project in March–April 2018, before advocating for funding.
“We received 144 submissions from 70 respondents. “A number of submissions from the North Warrandyte community sought footpath improvements to access the existing bus stops located on Research- Warrandyte Road and Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road”. It could be argued that a benefit from the works has been to tidy up that side of Research Road following the bridge and traffic lights works, and the rebuilding of part of the culvert in the low section before the lights. Cr Ben Ramcharan had been pushing to have this footpath extended to Somers Road in the short term, and eventually all the way up to the top of the hill, but is struggling to get this up the priority list and to get the necessary funding. He has advised the Diary that Council officers are arranging a site visit at Somers Road in the coming weeks. This will give them a chance to see what the issues are there and will help inform where it sits in Council’s priority list. We asked Council for information on further footpath works in the pipeline and it advised:
“A further project planned for North Warrandyte is the design and construction of a 1.2m wide asphalt footpath along Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road, North Warrandyte between Aton St and Blooms Rd. This project is still being designed to minimise native vegetation impacts.”
There has also been community concern for the difficulty that people, especially schoolchildren, have in crossing Research-Warrandyte Road, particularly in the vicinity of Browns Road where the footpath crosses from the north side to the south side at a blind corner — this concern was put to Council.
“There is a safe pedestrian crossing of Research-Warrandyte Road at the intersection of Kangaroo Ground- Warrandyte Road. A pedestrian crossing near Browns Road has not been funded as part of this program and there are no plans or funding at this stage for such a project. As a declared State arterial road, any additional crossing locations on Research-Warrandyte Road require the consent of the Department of Transport.”

Roos to be locked out of golf course

Cull cancelled but questions remain

AFTER A HUGE community outcry, the Heritage Golf and Country Club has decided not to proceed with a planned cull of kangaroos on its two courses, instead installing fencing to lock the roos out of the fairways. The Club put out a press release in July announcing that they had listened to community concerns and decided to cancel the “Council approved cull”. Local Councils came out swinging as Heritage Golf Club attempted to implicate them in approval of the now aborted kangaroo cull at the club. In a strongly worded statement, both Yarra Ranges and Nillumbik Councils refute the claim in their press release that the cull was “Council approved”.
Yarra Ranges statement said:“Council wishes to advise it was not involved in any decision to approve the culling of kangaroos at the Heritage Golf and Country Club. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) not Council, is responsible for managing wildlife in Victoria. Council understands the management of kangaroos is a sensitive topic that is of great concern to our community. We will be contacting Heritage Golf and Country Club to ask them to correct their media release.”
Nillumbik Shire Council also issued a statement to “correct unequivocally for the record, inaccuracies contained in this statement”.
The land owned by the proprietors of the Heritage Golf and Country Club encompasses three separate Local Government Areas — Nillumbik Shire Council, as well as Yarra Ranges and Manningham. Councils, however, do not have the authority to make decisions on the culling of native wildlife. Permission to do so can only be sought and obtained through the appropriate State Government agencies – the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) or the Game Management Authority. A key consideration in this matter is that the area in which the club is situated is a significant protective corridor for native wildlife and any use of the land must therefore take this status into account. Our community places a high value on the protection of native wildlife and the environment in which they live, and Council makes it a priority to act in the community’s interests on this issue. At its Planning and Consultation Committee Meeting on 8 June 2021, Council resolved, unanimously, to express its concern over initial reports of a planned kangaroo cull and subsequently wrote to the club to inform it of this resolution. Council also requested that the club consider alternative (nonlethal) approaches to managing the kangaroo population, should there be an absolute need to control the numbers on its property. In light of recent developments, Nillumbik Shire Council also wishes to express its deep concern at reports from the community — including from animal rescue service Wildlife Victoria — of the killing of kangaroos in the area.”
Heritage’s Press Release went on to say there was a meeting on May 6 where interested parties including Wildlife Victoria, Club management and residents met and discussed plans to cull kangaroos at the Heritage Golf and Country Club property. Club management claim their plans to cull the kangaroos was due to a “tripling of the population in 12 months due to a breeding surge during the drought and the advantages of easy access to a carpet of grass on golfing fairways”.
However, Wildlife Victoria CEO Lisa Palma said a tripling of a kangaroo population in 12 months is “simply biologically impossible and absolutely ludicrous”.
“Female kangaroos commonly have one young annually, with the mortality rate in the wild for joeys typically at 70 per cent in the first year of life,” she said.
New club Managing Director Dr Cher Coad has blamed Parks Victoria for not managing the population in neighbouring Warrandyte State Park.
“If the Victorian State government was doing its job, in terms of managing the land bordering the Heritage Golf and Country Club, then we wouldn’t have this problem,” she said.
She says the lack of golfers during the recent COVID lockdown has provided kangaroos with unlimited access to the Heritage Golf and Country Club and they are reluctant to move, with management raising fears of the bigger male kangaroos becoming aggressive towards people.
“While the risk of this happening is quite small, the responsibility of the HGCC is to club members, visiting golfers, residents and their families and young children,” said Dr Coad.
“We have excessive numbers of kangaroos on our fairways and grounds, and they are powerful and potentially dangerous.
“The last thing we want is for a large grey kangaroo to cause harm to a golfer or children visiting their grandparents,” she said.
Ms Palma said she absolutely refuted the notion that the kangaroo population is dangerous with Wildlife Victoria receiving no reports kangaroo aggression towards people at the site.
“Some of the larger male kangaroos are known by the locals to be peaceful creatures, who enjoy the natural habitat of the local landscape.
“Indeed, the big fellow known as Scar Face is beloved by many in the community,” said Ms Palma.
“In direct contrast to Heritage’s statement, Wildlife Victoria has received an inordinate number of calls from concerned members of the public, residents, golfers and staff who are terribly worried for the safety and wellbeing of the kangaroo population on site.
Dr Coad said while the treatment of kangaroos is fraught with regulatory and ethical difficulties, the Heritage Golf and Country Club recognises the need for golfers and kangaroos to co-exist. Growing evidence leans towards the idea that the kangaroo population must be managed via more humane means. Ms Palma said that since the meeting of May 6, no further discussion had taken place between those parties.
“Instead, we have witnessed the result of stealthy cruel and violent attacks on the kangaroo population night after night at the site — this has been ongoing for months now!”
The recent spate of kangaroo deaths at the Club is currently subject to a multi-agency investigation. Ms Palma said to date, Wildlife Victoria has seen a significant number of cases of kangaroos that have been savaged by dogs, shot, dismembered and driven over by vehicles.
“We have taken many calls and received letters from members of the public who are too afraid to walk on or near the grounds for fear of the dogs turning on the locals,” Ms Palma said. DELWP issued a statement, saying the Conservation Regulator is “continuing its investigation into alleged fatal and harmful dog attacks on kangaroos at Heritage Golf and Country Club in Chirnside Park”. The statement said Victoria Police and local councils are assisting the Conservation Regulator with the investigation and Conservation Regulator Authorised Officers are conducting patrols in the area. Dr Coad said the task to oversee the management and protection of kangaroos lies with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). She said the “kangaroos will be relocated back into the Warrandyte State Forrest [sic] and the property will be fenced”. Ms Palma said it is outrageous, unacceptable and illegal for the Heritage Golf and Country Club to relocate the kangaroos without the required authorisation from the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning. Despite this, Ms Palma said Wildlife Victoria remains hopeful that Heritage Management will consult with the group to achieve a positive outcome for the remaining kangaroos on the site.
Anyone with information about the alleged dog attacks or other cases of wildlife crime should contact Crime Stoppers Victoria on 1800 333 000.
The Diary will continue to follow this story over the coming months and hopes to speak further with Club management and Wildlife Victoria in time for the September edition.

(UPDATE) This story was originally in the July Bulletin and has been updated for the August Diary.

Melbourne locked-down once again

METROPOLITAN Melbourne braced for bad news on Wednesday, June 2 when the inevitable announcement came that they would have to endure another seven-days of lockdown.
The highly infectious “Kappa” variant of COVID-19 arrived in Melbourne via a hotel quarantine breach in South Australia, in early May.
In in the last week of May, the outbreak reached 60 cases, encompassing exposure sites numbering more than 350 across Melbourne and Regional Victoria.
Locally, there have been no reported cases in Warrandyte, although a burger bar in Doncaster Shoppingtown and a popular petrol station in East Doncaster were listed as exposure sites as part of the outbreak.
Following the announcement, Acting Premier James Merlino highlighted just how frighteningly contagious the Kappa is.
“To date, the approach has been to track the spread through friends, family and workmates.
“People spending time together for minutes and hours — not seconds.
“What we’re seeing now is something else — something even more serious. “At least one in 10 current cases have caught this virus from a stranger. “People brushing against each other in a small shop.
“Getting a take-away coffee from the same cafe.
“Being in the same place, at the same time for mere moments.
“Just walking past someone you’ve never met can mean the virus is jumping to a whole new network.
“And when you don’t know someone — you don’t know their name or where they live — you’re looking for one person in 6.6 million,” he said.
Local businesses, such as Warrandyte IGA and Grand Hotel Warrandyte were both impacted by the 2020 lockdowns, both financially and emotionally.
This latest lockdown is throwing new challenges at Melburnians on a daily basis, as we go to press, there are more than 70 active cases related to this latest outbreak and recent news that the Delta variant of COVID-19 — which is also highly infectious — has also been detected.
As we enter the final five days of the extended lockdown, health authorities race to link mystery cases in this outbreak.
For the local Warrandyte economy, lockdown is particularly hard.
Our bustling restaurant and café strewn high street is eerily quiet and new rules around the mandatory requirement to check in with the Government QR code system is causing additional queues at cafes and supermarket entrances.
It is now mandatory for all customer facing retail businesses to record whoever enters their premises, even if it is only for a few minutes — businesses can take paper records if a customer is unable to use the QR code system, and businesses who are found in breach of following the new mandatory QR code tracking rules could face a fine.

Five reasons to leave home

Under the new lockdown rules, locals have to, once again, adhere to:

  • 10 kilometre radius
  • Some school students on remote learning
  • Limits on weddings and funerals
  • Playcentres, gyms, entertainment venues, hair and beauty and tourism closed.
  • Community sport cancelled
  • Restaurants and cafes restricted to take away service
  • Visitor restrictions on aged care facilities and hospitals

There are now five reasons to leave home; essential shopping, exercise (two hours maximum per day with one other person), care and caregiving, authorised work, and vaccination.
As of Friday, June 4, the lockdown of late May changed slightly — once again Melbourne and Regional Victoria (RV) were separated by rules and although the “ring of steel” has not been reinstated, retail businesses close to Melbourne are being asked to check IDs of all their customers to ensure people aren’t, effectively, breeching Melbourne quarantine.
Checking into the Government’s QR code system will now also be mandatory anyone who enters any retail premises for any duration, even if it is less than 15 minutes.
The Acting Premier acknowledged this was going to be tough, but stated it was necessary.
“No one wants to be here.
“And I know this news is tough for every Victorian, every family and every business in this state.
“But the Chief Health Officer has no choice but to give this advice.
“And the Government has no choice but to follow it.
“If we don’t, this thing will get away from us and people will die.
“No one wants to repeat last winter.
“To stop that from happening, we need every Victorian to follow the rules, to get tested and to get vaccinated when it’s your turn.
“We can do this, but we need to do it together,” he said.

Some good news

While we settle into the second week of lockdown, Years 11 and 12, as well as any student taking a Unit 3 / 4 VCE or VCAL subject have returned to the classroom at this most crucial time and some outdoor businesses, such as landscaping, gardening, painting, et cetera have been reclassified as “authorised” businesses for the extended lockdown.
The State Government has also added an additional $209 million to its business support package, raising the funding to nearly $450 million to support businesses impacted by the lockdown in the form of a series of grants.

New support package for businesses
The aptly named Circuit Breaker Business Support Package aims to help up to 90,000 businesses affected by the current lockdown.
However, there is a catch, one of the requirements for accessing the Business Costs Assistance Program funds is that the business must be registered for GST, as of May 27, 2021. As many businesses know, if your annual turnover is below $75,000 then registering for GST is optional.
Not-for-profits which have an annual turnover between $75,000 and $150,000 and meet the other grant requirements can also apply for the Business Costs Assistance Program. The package is divided into three initiatives:

  • Business Costs Assistance Program •
  • Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund
  • Support for events operators

In its original form, the package would see $190M funnelled into a second round of the Business Costs Assistance Program, offering grants of $2,500 for eligible businesses directly affected by the lockdown’s industry restrictions; this includes restaurants and cafes, event suppliers, accommodation providers, and non- essential retail.
A new round of the Licenced Hospitality Venue Fund will see $40.7M provided to businesses with a liquor license and food certificate, distributed in grants of $3,500 per premises.
With the extension of the lockdown and an additional $209M package, eligible businesses, who find themselves in a second week of lockdown will have access to additional funds.
Businesses which are still unable to open will be able to apply for a $5,000 grant while licenced hospitality venues applying for the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund, who find themselves still unable to operate, will be able to apply for $7,000 per premises.
It is important to note, if you were unable to open for the first week of lockdown but are now able to operate, you will still be able to claim a share of the business support package, but only for the original amount.
For operators in the events industry who have been impacted financially by the lockdown, they will have access to a share of a $20M support scheme.
At the announcement, Mr Merlino said this new package will help businesses stay open in the long term. “The circuit-breaker action will keep Victorians safe and protect businesses and jobs — but we know it’s not easy shutting your doors and putting your plans on hold.
“This support will help businesses pay the bills and maintain their workforce as best they can, as we work together to get through this challenge,” he said.
Minister for Small Business, Jaala Pulford added: “small businesses are crucial to our economy and beyond dollar and cents, important contributors to local communities — we’re proud to stand with them and their workers.”

Emergency essentials in Warrandyte

Warrandyte Neighbourhood House is launching its new food relief service on Wednesday, June 9.
Any locals who are struggling to keep food on the table during the pandemic can collect an essentials hamper on Wednesdays, at Warrandyte Neighbourhood House, Webb Street, from June 9.
See story Page 14 for further details.

Eligible businesses can visit business.vic.gov.au/grants-and- programs/circuit-breaker-business- support-package for further information and to register for a share of the package — most grants opened for application on Thursday, June 3, and are open for three weeks.

Nillumbik unveils pandemic recovery plan

 By SUSAN FOREMAN

AS WE ALL stand together during the ongoing battle with COVID-19, Nillumbik Shire Council has released a critical new “roadmap” to support the community in its recovery from the pandemic.
The Nillumbik Community Pandemic Recovery Plan 2021-22 was endorsed at last week’s Council meeting, just prior to the Shire going into its fourth lockdown in a bid to contain the latest outbreak of the virus.
The plan outlines Council’s initial response, along with the actions it will take to ensure the Nillumbik community can recover as restrictions continue to evolve and life shifts to a “COVID normal”.
The plan is based on four main themes which guide the recovery process:

  • Inclusion
  • Healthy Environments
  • Healthy Behaviours
  • Employment and Education

The plan’s actions span across several areas of Council, and will be supported by State and Federal Government initiatives, and those delivered by community organisations and local partners.
While this plan addresses the short to medium term approach to recovery, Council says it recognises there will be longer term pandemic impacts, which will be addressed through the Council Plan and Municipal Health & Wellbeing Plan.
Nillumbik Mayor Peter Perkins said Council’s approach throughout the pandemic had been comprehensive and collaborative, and would continue to be so.
“Collaboration is a key principle of any work we do, and is especially the case for pandemic recovery,” Cr Perkins said.
He said Council’s approach is reflected in this plan, which highlights
Council’s critical role in service delivery and in advocating to other levels of government on behalf of our community.
“It will be a critical roadmap as we, alongside our community, navigate what continues to be a highly volatile and unpredictable environment.”
Cr Perkins acknowledged the resilience and resourcefulness of the Nillumbik community, which has come to the fore on many occasions over the years, whether in the face of fire, flood or now, pandemic.
“Nevertheless, the challenges of the past 18 months have been like nothing we’ve previously experienced and have, not surprisingly, taken their toll,” he said.
“Council recognises that pandemic response, relief and recovery are all dynamic.
“Therefore, Council is committed to shift and adjust its approach where required, based on local need and the direction of the State Government.”
The plan was largely developed based on the survey results from the Together in Nillumbik survey, conducted last year with healthAbility, an independent, community health organisation.
To view the plan visit nillumbik.vic. gov.au/pandemic-recovery-plan

Keeping our community safe

By STEPHEN BENDLE

WE HAVE ALL heard a lot about vaccines lately.
They have been around since the late 18th century when used to fight smallpox.
There is a pretty strong push for all Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they can.
Some in our community might choose not to; but to avoid future lockdowns, protect the vulnerable among us, ease the stress on our health system and enjoy the wonders of international travel again, we are being encouraged to line up and get the jab.
There are a million websites to review, but the Diary thought we would go straight to those in our community who know best, our doctors, starting with Dr Garth Cooze, GP at Warrandyte Medical Centre, just prior to the latest outbreak.
“It is understandable that some people are apprehensive about a vaccine which has not been around for a long time.
“It is important to note, when making decisions about COVID-19 vaccination, that the risks posed by the vaccinations are infinitesimally small and are by far outweighed by their inherent benefits.
“Vaccinations have been hailed by infectious disease experts as one of the safest forms of medicine.
“As we are heading into the winter months, we face a significant and very real threat in this country, as we have seen across Europe, of virus surge in the community again.
“This virus, as with most respiratory viruses, thrives during the colder months.
“In light of this, it is important not to be complacent — this pandemic, is still very real and we remain in a precarious position (notwithstanding Australia’s clear successes).
“Our principal exit strategy remains en-masse vaccination.
“I would urge people not to delay or be complacent with this.
“We encourage members of the community to get vaccinated, to protect ourselves, our families and also the wider community.
“This will pave the way to some sustainable semblance of normality.”
Dr Paul Proimos from Goldfields Family Medical Centre told the Diary their practice is proud to be part of the biggest vaccination rollout in Australian history.
He encouraged all locals to be vaccinated as soon as they can.
“Goldfields Medical Centre commenced their COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics in April and are currently working through our waiting list.”
The Diary also asked one of Warrandyte’s most celebrated scientists, Professor Doug Hilton AO, who is the Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne and Head of the Department of Medical Biology at the University of Melbourne.
Coincidentally, when we spoke to him, he had just received his first vaccine.
“For me, growing up in Warrandyte meant being looked after by the whole community, which was such a privilege.
“In 2021, by the far the best way we can look after everyone in our community is to get vaccinated.
“The vaccines against Sars-Cov-2 are among the safest and most effective vaccines ever developed.
“The side-effects that have been reported so prominently in the media are incredibly rare — much rarer than the side-effects of medicines we use routinely.
“Please get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible — through your GP or at a mass vaccination centre.
“Both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines will reduce your likelihood of getting infected by Sars-Cov-2 and they will reduce the severity of illness if you are infected.
“A single dose of either vaccine is more than 80 per cent effective at preventing admission to hospital and preventing death from COVID-19.
“The second booster dose will greatly increase this protection.
“In addition, both vaccines greatly reduce the chance of passing the virus on to someone else.
“Vaccination is a win for you and a win for the community,” said Doug.
For further information about vaccines, where to get tested or current exposure sites, visit: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au

A symbol of community spirit and optimism

By JAMES POYNER

JOAN DENISION’S fence post Iso Chooks have returned to the streets of Eltham, Warrandyte, St Kilda, and beyond, as a symbol of community spirit.
Last year, Joan, who has a passion for art and fashion, began painting chicken characters on old fence palings.
These cheerful Iso Chooks became an overnight success and what started as a distraction for her street soon saw Joan painting thousands of Iso Chooks which now adorn gardens and shop fronts all over Eltham.
The Diary asked owners of Iso Chooks to send in pictures of their proudly placed pictoral poultry.
Marg and Michael Weston’s “Three Tenors” from the Woodridge area of Eltham told us a little about the journey their three Iso Chooks have been on.
“We are a very theatrical and musical family and love working in and attending the Opera.
We couldn’t resist calling our chooks The Three Tenors (they cost $10 each). Each of our four adult kids have an Iso Chook, so they are bringing smiles in St Kilda, East Malvern, Ivanhoe and Elizabeth Bay NSW.
Another was gifted to a dear friend in Windermere, Tasmania and is greatly loved down there!”
Joans Chooks are also being given to new Australian Citizens at Nillumbik Citizenship ceremonies.

Best of contemporary art on show

THE BARN GALLERY at Montsalvat is once again the setting for the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Art.
The 17th iteration of the prestigious art competition saw 323 entries, responding to the theme “Return”, with the 40 shortlisted finalists currently on show.
Emily Wubben, Exhibition Curator and Collections Management Officer for Nillumbik Council, said there was a good mix of local and national entries.
“The finalist exhibition is a good representation of the entries we received, both locally and nationally, with eight local artists among the 40 finalists.”
The contemporary biennial acquisitive art prize open to artists working in any medium in Australia.
The winner was announced at the exhibition opening on May 6, and for the first time, the Prize has been awarded to a digital artist.
James Nguyen, of Murumbeena, was presented the $20,000 prize in the Open Category for his moving image, The Camelia Economy.
The 20-minute, 29 second video tells the story of a handful of seeds given to the artist by his late grandmother on his return to Vietnam.
In Australia, his family grew the seeds into tea plants which they use to trade and swap with the community, symbolising the preservation of their culture of storytelling, care and entrepreneurship that has survived war and political exile.
Georgia Cribb, Director of Bunjil Place Gallery and one of the three prize judges, said it had been immensely challenging to determine a winner from a strong field across a range of media.
“We are delighted to learn that this is the first time that the prize has been awarded to an artist working in a digital medium,” she said.
The $10,000 local prize was won by Eltham artist Nusra Latif Qureshi for Remnant Blessings-I, an acrylic, graphite, gouache and gold on illustration board.
Nusra told the Diary the award means a lot to her on a personal level, as it is representative of the inclusiveness of the community.
She moved to Eltham about five years ago and says she has found it is a “very nurturing community”.
“I am finding that I am part of the community in a very interesting way, and I know that Eltham has always been a place where artists love to live and make it home.”
Nillumbik Mayor Peter Perkins said this year marked the 17th anniversary of the prize, which was highly regarded around Australia.
“This is a prestigious exhibition for artists to showcase excellence in contemporary art and is a celebration of Nillumbik’s rich artistic and cultural community,” Cr Perkins said.
“Council prides itself on being a strong supporter of the arts on all levels.
“Congratulations to the winners and all the finalists for their impressive and inspiring works.”
Sculptor Clive Murray-White, an artist-in-residence at the Dunmoochin art collective, took out the $500 Mayor’s Award for his work, Assisted Suiseki No: 9.
Cr Perkins said, “This striking piece can be viewed from any angle and immediately caught my eye as it is both contemporary and timeless.”
The open and local prizes are acquisitive, and the winning works will be included in the Nillumbik Shire Art Collection.
Emily said the calibre of the works was extremely high and there was a wonderful cross-section of works in all different media.
She said “Return” has been interpreted in a variety of different ways by the artists.
“These have included an exploration of returning to a sense of ones-self, of true identity — also stories of migration and connections to or memories of home as well as ideas of what returning to normal might be in the COVID context as well as an exploration of retuning to different techniques and methods.
“So there has been a very diverse range of very insightful and creative responses to the one theme,” Emily said.
The biennial prize was judged by Miriam Kelly, Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art; Georgia Cribb, Director of Bunjil Place Gallery and Victoria Lynn, Director of TarraWarra Museum of Art.
The finalists were shortlisted by an independent panel of industry experts: Francis E. Parker, Curator of Exhibitions at Monash University Museum of Art, Jade Bitar, Visual Arts Officer at the City of Stonnington and Helen Walpole, independent art and museum curator.
The Finalist Exhibition is now open at Montsalvat until July 1, 2021.
Entry is free.
Montsalvat is currently open Thursday to Sunday, 10am–4pm.
Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favourite artwork in the People’s Choice Award, which will be announced on July 15, 2021.
For more information about the Nillumbik Prize for Contemporary Art, go to nillumbik.vic.gov.au/npca

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Council facilities during COVID restrictions

MANNINGHAM and Nillumbik Councils have advised a series of closures of council facilities, following the Victorian Government’s announcementof the return of Stage 4 COVID-19.
Essential services will continue, but the following council facilities will close to the public for the duration of the lockdown period unless otherwise specified:

Council Offices
Shire Offices in Civic Drive, Greensborough, and Manningham Civic Centre in Doncaster will be closed to the public.
However, both councils will be operating call centres during usual business hours.

Waste Disposal
Nillumbik’s The Recycling and Recovery Centre will be closed on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 February but will reopen on Monday February 15 for essential workers.
The Reuse Shop will be closed for the entire lockdown.
Manningham’s Green Waste Centre has been closed indefinitely, but Green Waste Drop Off sessions planned for next weekend is still set to proceed.
Waste collection services including kerbside landfill, recycling and green waste collections will continue as normal as well as booked hard waste collections.

Sport and Leisure
All sports stadiums including Aquarina Aquatic and Leisure Centre, Eltham Leisure Centre, Mullum Mullum Stadium as well as outdoor basketball and netball courts, tennis and lawnbowls facilities golf courses, BMX tracks, and mini-golf courses are closed.
The Diamond Valley Sports and Fitness Centre is already closed for redevelopment.
Playgrounds, skate parks, ovals, fields and parkland will remain open, including the Tom Kelly Athletics Track.
All community sport is cancelled for both training and competition.

Arts and Community Facilities
Edendale Community Environment Farm, but essential workers will continue to care for our animals.
Library branches including the mobile library and return chutes.
Members can continue to borrow from the eLibrary collection and place holds.
Facilities such as Manningham Art Gallery, Manningham Art Studios, Eltham Community Reception Centre, council operated halls, libraries and venues for hire, council buildings leased to community groups, are closed.
Eltham and Panton Hill Playhouses, except for children of essential workers.

Health Services
Maternal and Child Health Services will operate as usual, with the exception of first-time parent groups who will have a telehealth option.
Immunisations will continue with COVID-safe practices in place.
Services for older and vulnerable residents continue to operate.
Community transport will operate for medical and health-related appointment only.

More information
Residents and businesses can find more informaition regading council services and facilities via your Council’s websites nillumbik.vic.gov.au, or manningham.vic.gov.au.
For up-to-date information about the Victorian Government restrictions, go to the DHHS website.

Deer session provides information but no solution

NILLUMBIK COUNCIL hosted a two-hour online webinar Deer Information Session on September 12 to address the continuing problem of wild Sambar deer causing considerable destruction in the shire.

A Council spokesperson has told the Diary “198 people booked a place at the deer webinar, with 270 people tuning in”.

This is a surprisingly high number, particularly as other household members not counted may have been watching as well, and perhaps indicates the seriousness of the deer problem in the Shire.

Kirsten Reedy and Michelle Hanslow from Nillumbik’s environment team provided a wealth of information on the origins, distribution and impacts of the various species of deer, but locals focussed on the Sambar species as being the ones causing most of the destruction in the Warrandyte area.

On hand were representatives from professional and sporting shooters to explain their positions, although none would be drawn on the costs involved or the local requirements for engaging them.

Increasing populations of deer in Nillumbik, in rural and suburban areas, are causing understandable concern for many residents.

These introduced animals are now widely regarded as pests, come into Nillumbik from the north and are heading south into the Warrandyte State Park.

The river is no barrier to them and they will happily swim across it.

The Diary has been following the problems these beasts are causing, and the subject was comprehensively covered by James Poyner in our June edition last year and covered the ongoing dissatisfaction with the State’s Draft Victorian Deer Management Strategy.

Nillumbik Shire Council has recently been successful in receiving two, one-year grants from the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Communities Environment Program to build the capacity of the local community to engage in targeted local area deer control options via delivery of educational programs related to deer management.

This webinar was one of the resulting initiatives; the other is the Collaborative Community Deer Action across Nillumbik project, details of which you can find on the Council website.

The latter project will involve a collaborative approach which might include; field days, workshops, practical demonstrations, citizen science activities, and site inspections.

Our attention was drawn to the Deer Scan website, which can be found at www.feralscan.org.au/deerscan/ which encourages residents to log deer sightings and has a downloadable app.

Feedback from North Warrandyte residents was that the session was full of good and useful information for those with little knowledge of the problems, but that those who had been battling the problems for a while found little practical advice on how to handle it.

Fencing to exclude deer is very expensive and causes problems to the natural flow of other native fauna particularly kangaroos and wallabies.

One North Warrandyte resident on a two-hectare block had tried to engage sporting shooters but fell foul of getting approval from police and agreement from some neighbours for them to operate on his property.

As he said “It only takes one person in five within earshot of a gun to refuse to agree and you can’t cull them; and in Warrandyte that pretty much means no shooting”.

His approach to professional shooters found that they were expensive, and it was not worth their while to look for one or two deer on a smaller block when they could cull tens of deer at a time on a larger rural farm block.

Another resident on a block over three hectares had engaged a professional shooter at a fee and he had culled four deer.

Certainly, it was clear that Council at this time is happy to provide advice, but not to financially subsidise any culling operations.

Fire service shake up begins in July

CHANGES ARE afoot for our fire services, with paid members of the Country Fire Authority (CFA) to merge with the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) to form Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) as of July 1.

FRV brings together all career firefighters — MFB and CFA staff — to serve Melbourne and major regional centres.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville said: “Our career and volunteer firefighters are the best in the world and our reforms are providing a more modern career firefighting organisation alongside a strengthened, community-based volunteer organisation.”

Member for Eastern Metropolitan, Sonja Terpstra told the Diary nothing is changing for Volunteer brigades, who will remain with the CFA.

She said the Government is “giving CFA the support it needs to continue to develop and build its proud and passionate volunteer base”.

FRV will cover the existing metropolitan fire area and has been expanded to include additional suburban areas and regional cities, until now, covered by the CFA’s 38 integrated stations.

Locally, South Warrandyte and Eltham are both integrated stations, who have both paid and volunteer firefighters, who work together with neighbouring CFA brigades to respond to emergencies.

Captain of Warrandyte Fire Brigade, Adrian Mullens told the Diary that at this stage, there has been little operational change information released.

“However, our members continue to remain positive and 100 per cent committed to our community.

“Our volunteers have been as active as ever with expanded efforts in online training, participating in community initiatives as well as maintaining station and vehicle maintenance schedules,” said Captain Mullens.

He said Warrandyte CFA have an “extremely successful working relationship with CFA career staff and MFB, we don’t believe this will change”.

Captain Mullens assured the Diary the Warrandyte community need not worry.

“In the event of an emergency, the community will still receive the same standards of excellence in response from Warrandyte CFA in conjunction with Fire Rescue Victoria.

“Our volunteers are ready and waiting to respond to the pager.”

Lieutenant Peter Cahill of Noth Warrandyte CFA said his brigade does not envisage any significant changes to the way they do business.

“We have always maintained a high level of community engagement, assistance and response and this will [continue to] be delivered,” he said.

Volunteers from the integrated station at South Warrandyte declined to comment on the changes, saying it is too early to tell what impact the largest changes in the history of the CFA will bring for volunteers, except to say that it will be operating as “business as usual” and to reassure the community that they will still be there when needed.

Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith called on the Government to guarantee that “volunteers at integrated stations are treated and valued as an integral part of the Brigade”.

However, Mr Smith said concerns were raised that the changes to the fire service would result in a reduction of volunteers.

“Over the past five years there has been a reduction of 5,000 in the number of CFA volunteers,” he said.

However, Government figures suggest that as at June 2019, CFA had over 54,000 volunteer members, encompassing operational and support.

More than 34,000 of these volunteers are operational, and the number of these that are active — available to turn out and fight fires — has remained stable at approximately 20,000 volunteers for any of the past five years

Lt Cahill said North Warrandyte is currently in the process of recruiting new members and says the enthusiastic response and applicant quality has been outstanding.

“In fact, this year will probably be the highest recruit intake for our Brigade in more than 10 years,” he said.

He said the brigade’s current surge capacity is strong, recently proven by a significant commitment of members deploying on Strike Teams both in regional Victoria and interstate.

“During the last fire season we were able to fill both deployment requirements and local commitments with excellent results,” Lt Cahill said.

This may not continue, as a CFA member told the Diary that processing recruits has been difficult during the COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite a surge in volunteer inquiries following the recent bushfires, applications are not being processed as head office staff work from home, and recruit training has been put on hold.

He said that could be “catastrophic” for the future of many volunteer brigades.

Ryan Smith is also concerned that the training for volunteers could be compromised.

“[Volunteer training] has been an issue for the last few years and, with control of the training passing to FRV, it is vitally important that all firefighters are trained to the highest standard,” he said.

Ms Neville stated the changes recognise the changing nature of population growth across Victoria.

FRV will cover existing MFB boundaries and serve metropolitan Melbourne, outer urban areas and larger regional centres across Victoria.

Boundaries will be altered to reflect population growth across the State — the current boundaries have been in place for more than 60 years.

Lt Cahill said FRV reforms will allow CFA to become a stand-alone, truly volunteer organisation.

“This will give us more autonomy, control and the direction of our service,” he said

Fire Service Levy changes

The Fire Services Property Levy rate will be reduced on residential properties across the state as part of an overhaul that will make the charge simpler and more consistent — and reflect the establishment of Fire Rescue Victoria.

As part of Coronavirus measures, the Victorian Government froze the Fire Services Property Levy (FSPL) collection levels.

The levy will be frozen at this year’s collection level for next financial year as a measure designed to support Victorians affected by the crisis.

The Government also announced it will create a consistent, state-wide FSPL.

Member for Eastern Metropolitan Melbourne, Sonja Terpstra said this is a common-sense change that recognises fire touches all Victorians — and that we all benefit from a well-resourced fire service.

“Longer and hotter summers and more intense fires are the new normal in Victoria.

“We’re making sure the men and women who keep us safe from these fires have the resources they need,” she said.

State Treasurer, Tim Pallas, said under the new streamlined system, property owners will no longer pay higher contributions depending on the location of their property.

From July, all residential properties in Victoria will see a fall in their FSPL rate, while all other properties — such as industrial or commercial properties — in the old CFA district will either see no increase, or a decrease in their rate.

The fixed levy will be indexed in accordance with the legislation.

Ms Terpstra said the vast majority of property owners will see a decrease in their rate, while for others, the change will be very modest.

The total FSPL levy charge will remain around $150 for a typical metropolitan residence, while a family home in regional Victoria will see a small fall in the FSPL, from around $141 to $137.

Non-residential properties in the old MFB area will see a modest increase in the levy — with an extra $1 per week for a typical small business, through to around an extra $15.50 per week ($806 per year) for a $10 million commercial property.

Mr Smith said many businesses are already struggling due to Coronavirus.

“With businesses largely and adversely impacted from the current pandemic, any additional cost will be very difficult to bear, including a rise in the Fire Services Levy”.

 

Prepare now to reduce bushfire risk

By DAVID HOGG

THE BRIDGE widening has been completed, but does that mean authorities think they have solved Warrandyte’s fire danger situation?

We hope not.

With winter approaching and all available resources consumed with tackling COVID-19, perhaps fire danger is not high on anybody’s radar.

But surly now is the time to be preparing in advance of the next fire season?

However, the Fire Danger Rating sign stands silently at the north end of the bridge, still out of operation, and if works are not commenced soon it will again fail to advise us of the danger levels come next fire season.

Meanwhile, the “No Burning Off” Fire Danger Period sign remains on display, even as we move into winter, a forgotten memento of summer.

After weeks of being told in November last year that Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) were awaiting a part to repair the electronic Fire Danger Rating sign, we were finally advised in January that the sign could not be repaired at its current location due to safety issues with an overhead high-voltage cable and that EMV were working with Nillumbik council to determine a new location for the sign.

The Diary has followed up with EMV and with Nillumbik to see what has been decided.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp tells us “EMV is committed to operationalising the Fire Danger Rating sign at Warrandyte and continues to meet with Nillumbik Council and CFA to seek agreement on an alternative location before the next fire season.”

Carl Cowie, Chief Executive Officer Nillumbik Council, tells the Diary “Council, along with the CFA and Emergency Management Victoria are working to resolve this issue as a priority.

“At present contractors cannot access and fix the sign due to safety issues following the bridge widening but Council, the CFA and EMV are writing to the Department of Transport requesting a solution as soon as possible.”

So it is incumbent on us to ensure we have multiple sources of information.

The sign is a great resource when it works, so it is best for all that we agitate for its repair, but there are other ways to find out: use the Vic Emergency App, radio, or internet sources (the Diary’s website displays the current fire danger rating during fire season, as does Be Ready Warrandyte).

One of the criticisms that has been levelled at the current fire danger ratings system, both on social media and in letters to the Diary, is that the Central District is far too large and that these signs can often show a far higher rating than is applicable locally.

This has led to a few people leaving Warrandyte on Severe days in summer when in fact the conditions locally were at a much lower rating.

This could lead to complacency, and a lack of trust in the warnings, when local weather fails to live up to the forecasts.

We put this concern to EMV and Commissioner Crisp advised: “Victoria is supporting a review into the National Fire Danger Rating System along with the Commonwealth and all States and Territories.

“A key stage of the National Fire Danger Rating project has focused on reviewing the science and models behind fire danger ratings to help us to more accurately predict fire danger.

“To contribute to this review, a nation-wide community research piece was completed recently to help us to better understand how the community understands and responds to fire danger ratings and warnings provided by the emergency services.

“We will continue to work with our partner agencies across Australia to consider how we can use the evidence and models arising from this work in Victoria in due course; and are committed to using the best evidence and approaches available to keep Victorians safe.”

If there was consultation, we are yet to find anyone who has been consulted.

Dick Davies, chair of Be Ready Warrandyte (BRW) told the Diary: “we are not aware of any ‘nationwide community research’ and BRW has not made a submission.”

BRW have had a highly active community education program with forums and scenarios encouraging residents to be fire-aware and have a plan, so hopefully Warrandyte is better informed than other parts of the state.

A 2018 survey commissioned by the CFA, reported on by The Guardian in May 2020, found that before last year’s catastrophic fire season, some Victorians at ‘extreme’ risk had unrealistic expectations of help.

Residents in Victorian towns at highest risk of bushfire went into the most recent bushfire season — which was unprecedented in intensity and devastation — with many believing firefighting aircraft and vehicles would save them if their lives and property were under threat.

The emergency services will always do their utmost to protect lives and property, but when all worst-case scenarios are surpassed, there is no certainty they can be everywhere at once.

The best advice is to plan on not being there when the fire comes — leave early — and always, always, have a Plan B.

Even though it is now winter, this is the time to be planning for the next fire season and to be getting the necessary signage and advice in place.

 

 

Jumping Creek Road works commence

TRAVELLERS between Wonga Park and Warrandyte now have an extra 10km added to their journey times as the first stage of construction of the road upgrade has now commenced.

Work started on April 21 with a 350 metre stretch of road between Potters Cottage and Nelson Drive closed to through traffic, and diversions will remain in place until complete, which is currently scheduled for end of August.

The diversion route is lengthy, and involves a 10km detour along Ringwood-Warrandyte, Croydon, Wonga, Brysons and Yarra Roads.

There will be access through the works for emergency vehicles at all times, and access for residents within the work zone will be allowed for most of the time.

This is a continuation of Stage 1A of this massive project which will eventually rebuild the entire length of Jumping Creek Road from Ringwood-Warrandyte Road through to Homestead Road.

Stage 1A commenced over a year ago with some minor works including the relocation of electricity, gas and water lines.

These works will involve removing the existing road pavement in order to significantly lower part of the road to improve sightlines for road users, new drainage infrastructure including pits, pipes, kerb and channel, retaining walls, safety barriers, a pedestrian path and landscaping.

But those living along the diversion route have expressed their concern on Facebook about the extra traffic and the speed with which it travels.

Leanne Torpey, who lives on a bend in Brysons Rd close to a blind corner posted a video showing the new traffic problems and received over a hundred comments and replies.

Most of these were supportive but, as is typical with Facebook, a few were abusive with one respondent suggesting “You’ve clearly bought on a blind corner, therefore it’s your issue” missing the fact that some of these people have been there for 25 or more years and the traffic was not an issue when they bought.

Kerrie Reid posted “Sadly the last 48 hours has seen a HUGE increase in the amount of traffic on Brysons Road upon the closure of Jumping Creek Rd.

“It’s like the Monaco GP has been relocated to Brysons Rd — not just for the day, but for months!”

Fiona Jane agreed, “Totally ridiculous that all the traffic is being diverted down Brysons which is narrow and winding with broken edges.

“Traffic should be going down Yarra Rd — wider, straighter and can carry the traffic load.”

A number of people have commented on the fact that Brysons Rd has a number of horse properties and there have been a few near misses with fast cars trying to overtake slow horse floats.

Leanne Torpey spoke to the Diary and told us that residents had received advice about the diversions from Manningham Council only a couple of weeks in advance, which was too late for residents to make submissions to the next council meeting.

“Cyclists are now riding along the footpath because the road is too dangerous” she told us.

She has been trying to get the speed limit on Brysons Rd changed from 60 km/h to 50 km/h for the duration of the diversions.

However the Department of Transport has told her that they can’t change the speed limit as that requires the approval of Manningham Council.

Manningham Council has told us that it “has not proposed any changes to speed limits along the detour routes and any proposed speed limit changes would require Department of Transport approval.”

The original Jumping Creek Road Development Framework was endorsed by Manningham Council in 2016 and arose because between January 2009 and December 2013, a total of 17 crashes resulting in casualties were reported at Jumping Creek Road, including one fatal crash.

Rachelle Quattrocchi, Director City Services at Manningham Council, told the Diary, “The Jumping Creek Road project aims to improve safety for all road users and upgrade the infrastructure of the road in a way that that supports the local area.

“The works underway between Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and Nelson Drive form part of stage 1 of the project and are the first step of the upgrade of this important local road in Manningham.

“The design for future stages is currently in development with further consultation planned in early 2021.”

 

Safety push for Research-Warrandyte Road

By DAVID HOGG

AS MENTIONED in our February edition, Ben Ramcharan, Australian Greens candidate for Warrandyte, together with local residents Renee Peta and Simone Mariani had written to VicRoads, State MPs and MLCs, and local councillors and mayors calling for improved road safety for local residents, road users and pedestrians following a number of serious accidents on the road.

In mid-April, Mr Ramcharan posted on Facebook that they had just heard that the Department of Transport (DoT) will continue to work with both Nillumbik Council and Victoria Police to determine the need to implement road safety improvements in the area.

“This is a great win for our community but it’s important to keep the pressure up.

“What we’ve had now is an acknowledgement from the department that they’ve heard us.

“Let’s keep pushing; our community deserves to be safe and I know this is something that can be achieved,” he said.

The post has resulted in over 30 varied and differing comments.

Matthew Magilton was sceptical.

“I think the DoT borrowed from one of Utopia’s scripts; promising substantially nothing but using warm and glowing terms.”

Cathie Joy wanted to see the speed limit on Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road lowered, whereas Robyn Galley suggested that returning the speed limit to 80 km/h on Research-Warrandyte Road would be a start.

Another correspondent wanted to know how they proposed to make improvements, and was concerned that the move might result in ugly railing being put up everywhere.

Jillian Garvey was keen to ensure that any changes to Research-Warrandyte Road do not result in trucks using Kangaroo Ground-Warrandyte Road instead.

Sharron Weight believes that the North East Link is the only way to stop the trucks driving through Warrandyte, and we should mention that there has been speculation in the press over the past few weeks that in view of the Coronavirus costs, the North East Link project may be in doubt.

Ryan Smith, State Member for Warrandyte, wrote to Benita Quine whose family were victims of the oil tanker rollover in January, advising “It seems some measures will be taken to slow vehicles down on that road which is a good outcome, given yours is not the only accident I am aware of on that stretch.

“I have raised the matter of these local truck movements and the inexperience of some heavy vehicle drivers with the Victorian Transport Association.

“They are currently in discussion with the government about increased training requirements for new drivers, and I hope this will, in time, lead to our roads being that much safer.”

So the views expressed are all very varied.

One thing is certain in that whilst almost everyone agrees that something needs to be done, there is absolutely no detail as to what should be done and locals will have some very firm views once the details are released.

Hopefully the DoT, Nillumbik Council and Victoria Police will get their heads together and come up with some specific proposals and advice.

 

 

Bushfire Scenario shocks community

By DAVID HOGG
ABOUT 200 people attended a very clever Bushfire Scenario evening at North Warrandyte Family Centre on November 27, presented by Be Ready Warrandyte, a branch of the Warrandyte Community Association.
The evening was intended to inform the community as to what would actually happen in a serious bushfire scenario, rather than give specific detailed advice as to how people should act or how they should write their individual bushfire plans.
It certainly succeeded. Steve Pascoe, Emergency Management and Bushfire Safety Consultant and a survivor of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires at Strathewan, together with Joff Manders, Commander Emergency Management Liaison at Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade, took us on a simulated journey of what will actually happen if and when a serious bushfire hits our region.
Set on the lines of a Geoffrey Robinson Hypothetical, with brilliant and disturbing graphics, photographs, and map simulations on a big screen, these two eminent experts took us step-by-step through each stage of the disaster, from time-to-time calling other experts in their field — police, CFA, local authorities — to the microphone to provide additional clarification.

3 dead, 10 missing, many in hospital, 50 homes gone, many more damaged.

It is Terrible Thursday, February 13, 2020.
This is the second of two very hot spells of weather so far this year, temperature is 39°, wind is a strong south-westerly, Forest Fire Danger  Index is 60 so the fire danger level is at Severe and so those who were going to evacuate on Extreme or Code Red days have not done so.
At 9am a bushfire is reported in Beauty Point Road, Research; trucks are dispatched and on arrival call for more assistance as the fire spreads quickly west and 000 receive calls of further spot fires.
Emergency Services issue a “Watch and Act” for North Warrandyte, Warrandyte, South Warrandyte and Park Orchards, and many people start to leave North Warrandyte by car.
By noon the Watch and Act is upgraded to an Emergency Warning stating: “It is now too late to leave”.
Power is off to the whole district and the water supply is reduced to a trickle.
By 12:30pm the temperature is 40°, humidity is 12 per cent, there is smoke everywhere; Research Road and Kangaroo Ground Road are jammed with cars trying to go south across the bridge.
Others are trying to get north across the bridge to join their families who are trapped on the north side but they are being turned around by Police at the roundabout.
A 4WD with horse float has jackknifed on Research Road.
The north-westerly wind change comes through and the flank of the fire now becomes a wide fire front which the wind pushes as a huge storm towards North Warrandyte.

The fire has quickly doubled in size and embers are spotting up to 10km ahead of the front.
Firefighters have now been pulled back as the fire roars into North Warrandyte.
It is evening: 2,350 hectares have been burned, three bodies have been pulled from cars, 10 people are missing possibly in the remains of their homes, 50 houses have been lost and hundreds are damaged.The area will be locked down for at least a week, possibly a month as there are trees and powerlines across roads and embers still burning.
Resident s cannot access the fireground, and any who have survived and decide to leave the area will not be allowed to return. 
Councils will provide emergency relief centres in due course, possibly at Diamond Creek Stadium and Eltham Leisure Centre, and at Manningham DISC and the Pines Shopping Centre, where victims can obtain assistance, advice, comfort, and some food.
Power may not be restored for weeks and emergency crews will be busy removing fallen trees, erecting new powerlines, dousing burning embers, removing any dangerous trees from roadsides and removing the remains of many cars.

The presentation was very informative and made most residents more aware of what could happen.
The photos were, at times, disturbing.
The evening finished with snacks and drinks outside, and the emergency services and council personnel were available to answer any further question.
Well done Be Ready Warrandyte, and congratulations to all involved with this very professional and informative scenario session.

 

Images by Jock Macneish

Nillumbik adopts Green Wedge Plan

FOLLOWING extensive community consultation, Nillumbik Shire Council adopted its Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP) at the Council meeting on November 26 by four votes to three, but not without controversy as the meeting was interrupted by a group of eight protesters.
The new plan will provide direction for the management of the Green Wedge over the next decade.
It includes a vision, principles, goals, objectives and key actions and has been informed by extensive community engagement over the past 18 months, including an independent panel to provide recommendations to Council.
Council received 746 submissions in response to the draft GWMP during the six-week community consultation period in July and August and their Future Nillumbik Committee also heard 80 verbal submissions in September.
The plan was further revised in response to the feedback received from the community.
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan said Council appreciated the feedback and had listened to what the community had to say.
“While there have been divergent views on how the Green Wedge should be managed, one thing is clear — our community is passionate about this unique landscape in which we live, work and visit,” Cr Egan said.
Nillumbik’s Green Wedge is one of 12 across Melbourne and covers 91 per cent of the Shire.
Land uses include conservation, agriculture, rural living and tourism.
Now that the GWMP has been adopted, annual implementation plans will be prepared.
Max Parsons of the Nillumbik Proactive Landowners Group (PALs) told the Diary “PALs fully supports the new GWMP as adopted at the Council meeting on November 26.
“ The new GWMP provides a comprehensive strategy for the future of the Green Wedge that represents an appropriate balance of all the factors that contribute to living in the landscape.
“Acknowledgement of the role that landowners play in a successful green wedge has been long overdue and was sadly lacking in the previous plan.
“This has been achieved whilst simultaneously balancing the importance of biodiversity and significant important vegetation with a landowners’ right to live and thrive within the same green wedge.”
Don Macrae from the Wedge Tales blog — which is sponsored by the Warrandyte Community Association, the Friends of Nillumbik and the Green Wedge Protection Group tells us that “the most positive outcome of the entire program has been community involvement in the plan” and gives it tacit approval but awards no cigar.
“To spend in the vicinity of $500,000 on this project was outrageous.”
Following up with Mr Macrae, he has confirmed this figure is a “conservative” educated guess based on Council approving consultation fees of $345,000 in 2017 and factoring in the costs of running the community panel.
A spokesperson for the protestors told us “Council disregarded the results of their own community consultation process, wasting over $300,000 of ratepayers’ money.”
We reproduce Green Wedge Plan Adopted by Council, no cigar by Don Macrae — which has been edited for print publication and an account from the Green Wedge protest group in attendance at the November 26 council meeting.

Council’s Green Wedge Plan falls short of community expectations

By DON MACRAE
WEDGE TALES BLOG
AMID SCENES of protest, at its November meeting Nillumbik Council “adopted” a new Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP).
The gallery was packed and the Council divided, but the motion to “adopt” the GWMP was passed along the now familiar 4–3 lines.
Nillumbik’s first GWMP was adopted in 2010 and was intended to serve as a basis until 2025.
For reasons never explained the current Nillumbik Council decided to prepare a replacement, which after a year-long project has now been formally adopted by Council.
This new GWMP shifts focus away from the natural environment and towards the expectations of resident landowners, as expressed in the phrase “Living in the Landscape”, the title of the current Council Plan.
The best that can be said about it is that it is unlikely to do much harm.
It is a document of only 26 pages which is more like notes towards a plan rather than an actual plan.
As a pamphlet or discussion document it is better than the published draft, but it is insubstantial.
A reference to “buffer zones”, a concept that featured in the draft, designed to allow more subdivision in the vicinity of the urban growth boundary and which attracted massive community criticism, has been removed — a distinct improvement.
But, the idea that some areas of the Shire zoned Rural Conservation should be rezoned remains, although it really does not look like becoming a serious proposal.
The document suggests that there is “land dotted throughout the RCZ that is already cleared for agriculture”,  and which should be rezoned Green Wedge Zone (GWZ) so that land owners can engage in agriculture without getting a permit.
To create a rezoning proposal would require significant effort but there does not appear to be any intention to embark on such a project.
Furthermore, if the intention is to allow agriculture to proceed on suitable land it is entirely within the Council’s control to expedite permit assessments.
Sustaining agriculture on agricultural land in green wedges is a challenging issue, but this rezoning idea probably has more to do with satisfying the “less regulation” constituency than with promoting agriculture.
The Green Wedge townships are important elements in the Shire and need to work as attractive gateways to the Green Wedge for visitors as well as providing amenity for residents.
The GWMP recognises also that [the townships] will need to be the focus of additional ageing-in-place facilities for Shire residents, as well as for increasing population.
The State Government mandates that green wedge councils must  prepare a Green Wedge Management Plan.
But this GWMP appears to have been planned as a public relations exercise.
The focus of the project was a community consultation program culminating in a “Community Panel”, which made recommendations to Council.
Then came the publication of a draft and the hearing of community submissions on the draft.
The total cost of the project has not been made public, but if all internal costs as well as consultant charges are included it is probably approaching $500,000.
As was pointed out in several of the submissions on the draft, the State Government’s Planning Practice Note 31: Preparing a Green Wedge Management Plan was not followed, contrary to Cr Clarke’s claim at the council meeting.
No Steering Committee was established and no formal collaboration with relevant bodies was embraced.
Management of the program appears to have been overseen by an external consultant without a planning background, and in the face of the loss of long term Council planning staff.
One clear outcome of the community consultation program was to confirm that the Shire overwhelmingly values the environment and in principle supports the planning scheme.
Only a very few survey respondents complained of too much regulation, so it was surprising that the draft GWMP  contained significant elements which did not respect this.
The adopted GWMP is less offensive.
But, at the conclusion of the project, what have we got for all that expense and effort?
This has been a council intent on change.
Its cavalier treatment of two development applications in 2017 and its apparent attack on its own organisation makes this plain.
It is believed that council staff turnover in 2017/18 exceeded 25 per cent, and eventually included all Senior Managers.
To replace the substantial, previous GWMP with this brief document has the appearance of a political act.
The most positive outcome of the entire program has been community involvement.
There were 688 responses to an online survey and 181 people attended community workshops.
There was a total of 746 submissions in response to the draft, mostly critical.
Many Shire residents have an increased understanding of how our Green Wedge works.
But to spend in the vicinity of $500,000 on this project was outrageous.

Environment protesters disrupt Council meeting

By HANNAH GRAHAM
AT THE NILLUMBIK Council meeting on November 26, a group of eight protesters interrupted Councillors before they voted to pass their draft Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP).
Eight people, dressed in cloaks eco-printed with local native plants, walked into the meeting when the Green Wedge Management Plan agenda item was announced.
They broke into song; singing about saving the Green Wedge, and asking why the majority of the community were ignored during the consultation process in regards to this plan’s review.
Both Mayor Karen Egan and Cr Jane Ashton promptly left the room when the protesters walked in.
There was both support and disapproval amongst the audience in the gallery.
Some joined in on the singing, as lyric sheets seem to have been circulated.
The protesters then silently turned their backs on the councillors whilst standing in a line.
They wore signs on their backs which read, “Don’t turn your back on community”.
Signs on their front read , “$300k+ Community Consultation”, “Community Panel Ignored”, “80% of Submissions Ignored”, “You speak for us not just your pals”, “Next Election: October 2020”.
After standing for a couple minutes, the protesters were warned to leave the room by Mayor Karen Egan — who had since returned.
An agitated man in the gallery attempted to shove protesters apart and the protesters proceeded to walk out of the gallery in silent procession.
One of the protesters had this to say about the disruption.
“We don’t want to upset the peace by going against the council meeting process, but we feel that the councillors have left us no other choice.
“They disregarded the results of their own community consultation process, wasting over $300,000 of ratepayers’ money.
“The majority of the community objected to the draft plan which seemed intent on looking at the Green Wedge as capital for a minority of private landholders, rather than vital native habitat, and a carbon sink.
“At this time of mass extinction and an unsafe climate the revised Green Wedge Management Plan was an opportunity for Council to prioritise the environment for the safety of all Victorians.
“That’s what the community wanted, but they ignored us.
“We disrupted the councillors in this way because we knew they couldn’t ignore us”.

Recycling crisis hits Nillumbik

Update: 14/8/19

ON AUGUST 13, Council released an update regarding the recycling situation in Nillumbik:

Council is working with the State Government’s Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) to find an alternative for the Shire’s recycling. Council has a contract with SKM through the MWRRG. SKM’s closure affects several councils and about half of Victoria’s recycling.

The broader, long-term issue requires a response from all levels of government. At this stage SKM, while temporarily closed, has indicated that it is working to recommence receiving recycling.

Council will continue to collect recycling bins as normal and encourages residents to continue their recycling efforts until this is resolved, it’s important we keep working together to meet the current challenges.

Unfortunately we expect this week’s recycling will be sent to landfill.

The capacity of alternative facilities in the north of Melbourne is limited and the MWRRG is working to find alternative arrangements.

FAQs

Why can’t Council follow Boroondara’s lead and use Visy or another provider for its new recycle facility?

Nillumbik Shire Council is one of five Councils that has a contract with SKM Industries Pty Ltd through the Metropolitan Waste Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG). A separate company, SKM Corporate Pty Ltd, was recently placed into liquidation. SKM Recycling have advised that SKM Industries Pty Ltd is still able to trade.

Notwithstanding current contractual arrangements, the biggest hurdle for alternatives to processing recyclables appears to be the lack of excess capacity in the northern region to be able to process the kerbside recycle materials.  Other Councils appear to be taking advantage of capacity in other regions. The additional transport costs associated with processing outside the northern region is currently being quantified to help assess the value of any alternative arrangements.

Not a single Councillor, staff member or community member wants to put recycling to landfill, it goes against everything we stand for, so you can be assured we are doing everything we can to get through this.

What does council recommend for residents and how can residents help?

Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre at 290 Yan Yean Road Plenty accepts recycling paper and cardboard, metals (cans, aluminium foil, pots and pans) and e-waste free of charge.

These source-separated materials are sent to dedicated recycling facilities not affected by the SKM closure.

Residents can also help by avoiding and reducing the amount of waste generated in the first place, only placing the recycling bin out for collection once it’s full and taking soft plastics to Coles/Woolworths for recycling through REDcycle.

What are Council’s next steps?

In the immediate term, Council has no choice but to send kerbside recyclables to the landfill.

In order to understand and manage the contract risk, Council is currently having daily interactions with MWRRG given the situation with SKM is fluid.

In the medium term, the best outcome is that the recycling infrastructure currently owned and operated by SKM continues to operate to process municipal kerbside recycling, whether the operator is SKM or another party. This infrastructure is capable of sorting to the level required by markets both locally and overseas.

In the longer term, Nillumbik is participating in process initiated by MWRRG to explore a collaborative contract for recycling.

*******

ON AUGUST 2, the Supreme Court ordered recycling processing business SMK Recycling is now to be liquidated.
This followed a July 25 announcement that the firm would cease accepting Council recycling waste from 33 municipalities, including Nillumbik.
As a result, Nillumbik Council, which has been sending all its material from household recycling bins to SKM, may have to divert this material to landfill until a new solution is found.
Moments after news of SKM’s imminent demise was made public, Nillumbik issued a press release, advising residents of the situation.
The Council have continued to collect recycling bins as normal and encourage residents to continue their recycling efforts.
After the courts announcement, Nillumbik Mayor, Karen Eagan said residents can help by reducing the amount of waste they generate whether its recycling, food or general waste.
“Every effort is being made by Council to find short term, interim and long term solutions, including finding alternative recycling options.
“Like several other councils that are also affected, we’re very concerned about how we’re being forced to send recycling to landfill this week”, she said.
Cr Egan said Council will continue to work with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group and other councils to create sustainable solutions for managing waste.
Nillumbik has been in a long-term collaborative contract with Wyndham, Brimbank, Melbourne and Port Phillip Councils, with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group as contract principal — this contract was not due to expire until 2026.
Cr Egan said the state’s recycling service is a state-wide and long term issue that “requires a stronger response and commitment from all levels of government”.
Apart from the obvious concern of all environmentally-conscious residents that recyclable material is once again going to landfill, there are serious financial aspects to this fiasco which will undoubtedly have a significant effect on Council rates in future years.
Sending this material to landfill comes at a cost, as all Councils have to pay a State Government levy for every tonne of material deposited in landfill — an extra expense that has not been budgeted for.
Additionally, any contract with an alternative collector would come at a significantly higher price than that agreed with SKM.
More worrying is that although we do not know what advance payments, if any, have been made to SKM, we do know that at the last Council meeting on June 25 the existing contract was amended to change the price.
That item on the agenda was held in camera, and despite our enquiries to Council as to whether additional sums over and above the original contract agreement had been paid to SKM in the last month, we are told that “the detail remains confidential”.

The bigger picture

Earlier this year, SKM was ordered to stop receiving waste at its Coolaroo and Laverton North sites after they failed a waste audit and SKM was fined $16,000 for failing to get its facilities back within regulation within the prescribed timeframe.
SKM has been in an insolvency hearing at the Supreme Court, facing liquidation from creditors, with debts reported to be in the millions.
The recycling company — who has contracts with 33 Councils in Victoria — had warned 400,000 tonnes of recyclables would be sent to landfill each year if the company was to permanently close.
There is genuine concern that this will become the reality.
As the recycling situation has deteriorated during the last month there has been no shortage of blame in the mainstream press.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio recently labelled SKM as a “rogue operator”.
Victorian Waste Management Association’s Chief Executive Peter Anderson criticised councils for continuing to send recyclables to SKM and of being irresponsible in maintaining their contracts with the company.
SKM pointed the finger at households for contaminating the recyclable rubbish.

Impacted Councils

There are a total of 79 Local Councils in Victoria.
33 Councils across Victoria had contracts with SKM to collect and process their waste.
The other 46 used Visy or similar waste and recycling contractors.

The 33 Councils which have been impacted by the liquidation of SKM are:

  • Melbourne, Port Phillip, Darebin, Nillumbik, Hume, Whittlesea
  • Wyndham, Brimbank, Moonee Valley, Hobsons Bay, Cardinia
  • Booroondara, Stonnington, Knox, Casey, Kingston
  • Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Colac, Otway, Queenscliff, Surf Coast
  • Ballarat, Macedon, Hepburn, Golden Plains, Mildura, West Wimmera,
  • Yarriambiack, Buloke, Hindmarsh, Pyrenees, Glenelg.

At this point in time, all other Councils in Victoria are still able to collect and properly process recycling.