Tag Archives: November 2020

Getting back on the beers

AFTER SEVEN months of lockdown, the Grand Hotel Warrandyte reopened its doors under the latest stage of COVID-19 restriction easings, on Saturday, October 31.

Manager Peter Appleby said that when they announced they would be opening, they were booked out for their first four days within 50 minutes.

“We went live on Thursday afternoon, then 50 minutes later we were fully booked for four sessions, for 70 people, and that is like that now until Monday week.”

Peter said that customer support and confidence is important.

“That people want to get back to normal living is great,” he said.

Peter said the whole lockdown was very frustrating with an uncertain roadmap out of restrictions and unviable limits put on customer caps.

“The build-up has been intense, where we got promised one thing and then had it taken away from us.”

On October 19, Premier Daniel Andrews was expected to announce the reopening of hospitality, but put a pause on the reopening when there was a surge in cases in North Western Melbourne.

This was reversed 24 hours later with a rapid reopening announced as the state reported zero cases for two days in a row, and blitzed through the targeted 14-day average daily case number of five.

Despite being able to open four days earlier, the Grand took their time getting their new outdoor space opened.

“We got 30 hours’ notice to pull it all together, it is just crazy… we have been working around the clock the last five days to be able to be open today.

“It is exciting that we can open, but the disappointing part is the capacity for inside space is quite challenging for us, where we are only allowed 10 people per room, maximum of two rooms.

“It is great that we have got 50 people in our beautiful outdoor space, but when it rains this afternoon, what are we going to do, send them all home?” he said.

Throughout the lockdown, Peter has been firm that the minimum number of patrons to be viable to open was 50, however, with a pre-COVID-19 capacity of 700, even that number is barely sufficient.

He said he was hoping for one person per four-square-meters inside.

“We are COVID Safe, we are ready to open and we can work to that — we manage people, we manage customers, we manage responsible service of alcohol — we are the heaviest regulated industry in Australia, let us manage COVID in a COVID-Safe manner.”

The pub will be using a QR Code for contact tracing, a questionnaire on arrival, as well as temperature checking.

As per the government guidelines, patrons can only consume food and drinks while seated.

The timing could not be better to launch the Grand’s newest outdoor space, a beer garden, which has replaced the drive through bottle shop.

Peter told the Diary since new management took over the pub in November 2012 they had had the idea of having an outdoor space.

“We started the job, and with COVID-19 restrictions coming into place, and with what we could open down the track, we thought let us pull the trigger and get it all ready for when we can open, because outside dining is obviously going to be around for a while.

“We are pretty happy with what the outcome is, although we are not finished,” he said.

He said they were working until 2am every night in the week leading up to the reopening to get the venue ready.

Helping with the reopening was local Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith who, as luck would have it, has an RSA qualification, so was able to pull the first beer.

“Good to see the pub back, it is a focal point for the community, and the hospitality sector has been hit really, really hard by the lockdowns.

“I think people are really keen to get out and back to seeing their friends and family and having a few drinks and socialising again, and if you are going to socialise in Warrandyte, there is no better place than the Grand Hotel,” Mr Smith told the Diary.

Peter is grateful for all the support he has received from the community since the pub closed its doors back in March.

“It has been wonderful; we have had a lot of messages of support.

“We did takeaway at the start, which was great, it was just great to see some faces, people need a pub, it is pretty important for people’s mental health — we saw a lot of people just come in for a chat, which is nice and people need that.

“As publicans we are a sounding board for a lot of people in so many ways; we reached out to a lot of our customers who perhaps needed us, just checking on them making sure they were doing ok.

“Of course the local support on social media has been fantastic, we were getting messages here and there, just random, ‘thinking of you guys’, and that just melts us you know, makes us feel wanted, needed and loved.

“Just as much as we love our community, it is nice that people love us,” he said.

Peter also reiterated the important role that the social environment the pub generates contributes to mental health.

“Getting staff back in to work has been very important for us.

“Mental health is a very important thing, and I know it is used a lot at the moment, but we have seen some people suffer, not just staff, but customers as well.

“Just to get the pub back for people to get the opportunity to come back to normal — well semi-normal — and get back some social skills, which people have sorely missed.”

The Diary spoke with some of the first customers through the doors who were all very eager to be back at their favourite local.

“We are super excited.”

“We have the first session and are back again on Tuesday as well.”

“Beautiful, can’t wait to get in there and get back on the beers.”

“Beer out of a glass, I can’t wait.”

Peter said booking for an outing to the pub was simple.

“You can book on our website, there is an easy to follow link on there.

“Also on Facebook and Instagram there is a link there as well, and it will bring up the slots that are available.

“Click on the link and put your booking in with a maximum booking size of 10.”

www.grandhotelwarrandyte.com.au

As of midnight Sunday, November 8, State Government increased the dining caps to 40 people indoors and 70 people outdoors.

 

Artists and art lovers rejoice

CONFINED TO their studios since March, local artists have not been idle.

Artists have spent their time wisely and creatively, producing a myriad of new works that they are now able to present to the public.

Many galleries are reopening and, while many home-based studios remain closed, there are several studios opening to the public.

Ona Henderson and Syd Tunn have kept with the Nillumbik Artists Open Studios tradition and are holding an “Open Studio by appointment”.

Ona told the Diary that, as they are classed as private retail their Creek House Studios is able to operate under COVID-19 guidelines.

“We are already having visitors in our afternoons and making times up until Christmas,” she said.

This will mark Syd and Ona’s 37th year holding an Open Studio.

Their original open studio concept, first held in 1983, grew into what became the Nillumbik Artists Open Studios program, which they hope will return next year.

Syd and Ona’s Creek House Studios, at the Corner of Henley and Oxley Roads, Bend Of Islands, is a cornucopia of artistic delights.

The couple produce a range of paintings drawings prints and art cards, using a range of media.

Bookings can be made by phoning 9712 0393 after 10am.

While it would normally be time for the rest of Nillumbik Artists Open Studios to open their doors, the home based artists have decided to create a gallery exhibition, as well as show their works on an online gallery site.

Program coordinator Annette Nobes said the committee decided “having thousands of people visiting dozens of studios across Nillumbik was not responsible”.

So they have cancelled this year’s event.

You can visit their expanded website to visit a virtual shop plus up-to-date information on studio happenings, events and opening times at artistsopenstudios.com.au

 

Nillumbik Artists at Gallery 7 six 5

Nillumbik Artists have combined for a rolling exhibition at Gallery 7 six 5.

Located at 765d Eltham-Yarra Glen Road, Watsons Creek, the new gallery run by artists Lisa Ferrari and Benny Archer opened its doors just as Coronavirus hit.

“We opened on June 6 and were open for five weeks before the Stage 4 Lockdown, which was devastating,” Benny told the Diary.

However, they are back with a vengeance and reopened to the public on October 30 with an exhibition of Benny’s works.

This has been followed by an exhibition of the Nillumbik Artists Open Studio.

Each weekend for six weekends, starting from November 6, they are showcasing the works of one of the Open Studio Zones.

“We set this gallery up to support local artists, there is such incredible talent in the Artisan Hills,” Benny said.

The first fortnight November 6—15 is dedicated to Zone A artists, focussing on artists from Eltham and Research, this includes potter Mary-Lou Pittard, painter Claire Dunstan, glass artist Jacquie Hacansson and horticultural potter Jack Latti.

November 20—29 will feature Zone B, centred on artists from Christmas Hills, St Andrews and Kangaroo Ground, including sculptor Tim Read, artists Syd and Ona, Nerina Lascelles, and Robyn Koiker, and the printmakers from Baldessen Press.

December 4—13 will feature Zone C artists from the Hurstbridge area such as metal sculptor Mel Rayski-Mati, artist Harry Z Hughes and artists from the Dunmoochin foundation.

Benny’s studio sits within the gallery space, so you can watch the artist at work as you browse the collections.

With the Dark Horse Café next door, it makes the perfect destination to explore your extended bubble and support local art.

 

Art on Yarra Street

Warrandyte township is also seeing a resumption of artistic spaces as well as a new pottery space.

Stonehouse Gallery reopened its doors to the public in late October.

Jenny Johns told the Diary they leapt into action as soon as the Premier announced the changes to opening dates.

“We opened last Tuesday [27 October] with all the new rules and regulations in place to keep our visitors and members safe,” Jenny said.

She said during the second closure their team worked hard behind the scenes keeping up with all the general requirements so that they would be ready to open.

“Members and our many talented consignment artists have been making good use of the time out and have created many new and exciting works for the gallery.

“With Christmas in a few weeks we are hoping that all our visitors will find a special hand-crafted gift for friends and family,” Jenny said.

The Stonehouse Gallery is open six days from 10:30am to 5pm, closed Mondays.

A new pop up pottery market is opening each weekend of November and December below the Sassafras Sweet Shop, in the space formerly occupied by Ratty and Moles.

Jane Annois said the pop-up gallery is a forerunner for a permanent gallery and pottery school which is planned to open in 2021.

Jane said she is also participating this month in the Australian Ceramics Open Studio program, an annual nationwide event that celebrates clay, community and creativity.

Hosted by The Australian Ceramics Association, made up of over 100 ceramics studios, potters open their doors to offer insight, practical demonstrations and the chance to take home a handmade piece.

Jane’s pottery studio will be open at 109 Kangaroo Ground Road from 10am – 5pm on November 20 – 21.

 

Great expectations

Looking to the future, there is a plethora of art coming our way, assuming we keep COVID-19 at bay.

February is looking like a busy time on the art scene with a major photography exhibition (see Page 19) as well as the Mechanics Institute Arts Association hosting an Arts Expo.

“Since March, the hall has been ‘silent’ and so we thought an Arts Expo would help Warrandyte celebrate the lifting of lockdown restrictions and a return to something approaching normal life,” said WMIAA Vice Chair, Ian Craig.

They are planning to host a weekend of artistic activities, promoting local artists, groups, and bands.

The event will include concerts, visual arts and pottery workshops, a community choir event, and the popular Repair Cafe workshop.

“The emphasis will be on the promotion of Warrandyte Arts and ‘getting involved’ in the free activities.”

Ian said subject to Government restrictions, they are aiming to run the Expo on February 19–21.