Tag Archives: sammi taylor

Diary is ‘Best Newspaper’ again!

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

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

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

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

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


Best Newspaper – Winner 

Warrandyte Diary

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

Best Design and Layout – Finalist

Warrandyte Diary

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

Best editorial comment – Finalist

Warrandyte Diary – Scott Podmore

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

Best Sports Reporting – Winner

Warrandyte Diary

The winning entry stood out for a number of reasons.

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

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

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

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

Best history story – Finalist

Warrandyte Diary

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

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

Best feature story – Winner

Warrandyte Diary

‘Living with Lyme disease’ by Sammi Taylor

The winner was clear cut.

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

Best Photograph – Winner

Warrandyte Diary

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

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




Grand’s spooky secrets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Grand Hotel has stood the test of time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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