Tag Archives: Warrandyte

The value in shopping local

SUPERMARKETS have been in the news recently for the wrong reasons.
However, Warrandyte is fortunate to have an alternative to shopping with the major retailers.
Quinton’s IGA has been providing the staples of life in Warrandyte for 24 years and, in that time, has become a vital and integral part of the Warrandyte community.
Diary Editor Sandi Miller sat down with Quinton’s IGA Store Manager, Ken Barnes, and Assistant Manager, Hayley Farrugia, to discover what makes our IGA different.

Warrandyte Diary (WD): What is the Quinton’s IGA’s business model?
Ken Barnes (KB): Obviously, we’re part of the IGA family, which is part of Metcash, which, in essence, means Quinton’s IGA is part of a buying group.
This allows us, as a small family business, single entity store, to access the sort of pricing that the major supermarkets get.
But we’re not a franchise — that’s the big distinction — a lot of people will look at IGA as a franchise like a McDonald’s, but we’re not. IGA can’t come in here and specifically tell me what to do, but they give us the ability to access the bulk prices, which we can flow through to the local community.
We’re probably one of the largest single employers in Warrandyte, and we do take that with a great sense of pride, and there’s a bit of a responsibility to that, because we’re taking that generation, especially the young ones, starting them on a life journey of not only working but the bigger sense of the world.

WD: So what does that mean for local shoppers?
KB: “From our family to yours” — it’s not just a catchphrase; it’s our ethos — and we keep it local, where possible. At the moment, we have locally grown strawberries and plums.
We were getting local tomatoes until the storms came through and destroyed the hot houses — and some of the items we stock are from businesses with stalls at the Warrandyte Market, like PoppySmack and Jerry’s Burgers.
But we need to blend this with the national staples the consumer wants — like Tip Top bread and Pedigree dog food.
We go from being a small, local business to dealing with our larger suppliers, thinking “how do we think like Coles and Woolies but not act like Coles and Woolies”.

WD: Tell me about your relationship with your suppliers.
KB: With Metcash, there are things we have to do.
We have been doing a lot of work in the store over the last 12 months, which I know with some locals at times has generated some emotions, but it was about ensuring we had the right range.
The increase in the cost of living does not just impact households; it puts pressure on businesses, too. Interest rates go up for homeowners; they do for us, too.
We’ve got loans, we’ve got overdrafts, same as with rates, all that goes up, and we need to make sure we can make ends meet.
So, we either put prices up, look at ways of becoming more efficient, or negotiate with our suppliers to strengthen the relationship to get better pricing.
This could be in the way we buy stock — so volume — and means we may commit to purchasing more of one type of product to get a lower price, which we can then pass on to our customers and means we have access to products we may struggle to get if we were not part of IGA.
However, we also have upward of 100 direct suppliers — from mum and dad businesses to larger brands like Nudie Juice.
The main thing is, if a price increase comes from a supplier on a product, we see how we can minimise that through to the customer.
Unfortunately, sometimes we have no option, especially at the moment with anything wheat-related, so the bread has seen some large price rises over the last 12 months; we just have to pass that on.
But if it is things like our insurance or waste services, we will not put up the price of bananas or apples to offset that; we have to negotiate or use the IGA co-op effect to get a better deal.

WD: Tell me about the history of the supermarket and your relationship with the Warrandyte community.
Hayley Farrugia (HF): My stepdad Brian purchased the store in January 2000 — he had a big dream for the store.
When he passed away in 2008, Mum (Julie Quinton) stepped in and took over, and she wanted to carry on Brian’s dream.
But prior to stepping in and running the store, she had no retail experience, so she just wanted to come in and learn very quickly how everything operates, and she ran it from the eyes of a consumer.
I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to get customer loyalty because we look at where things are from — even when I was a kid, Mum would only buy Australian and always read the nutrition labels.
Now, we can continue to build and grow with the solid foundations she and Brian created.
KB: Supporting the community is very much the DNA of independent stores.
Being relatively new to the store, the difference between here and other independent supermarkets is why they do these things.
Supporting the community at other stores is about gaining public recognition, whereas — partly due to the influence of Brian and Julie — we do it because we want to help; it’s about a community partnership, not necessarily community kudos.
HF: Like at Christmas, we donated to the local schools so the kids could make Christmas decorations for us.
That saves us going out and buying things made overseas — and the kids love it — it just brings in that community feel, and when the kids come in, they look for their things and show their parents, and it just generates a really lovely atmosphere.

Warrandyte IGA – Store Manager Ken Barnes and Assistant Store Manager Hayley Farrugia

WD: What is your point of difference from Coles and Woolworths?
KB: It’s an interesting question because it can be quite an emotional thing.
We can sit here saying, “We deliver better customer service,” and all the standard stuff.
But for me, I’ve worked across wholesale and retail, and I had my own store, and it comes down to the four walls, the people, and everything in there that make it the difference between what’s up the road.
We have a great community sense in the store.
When you come in, and you buy that product, and it is not just a commercial decision, we don’t say, “It’s not selling, so we will pull it”, we will keep it because you are coeliac, and that is the only product that meets that need, so we will keep it.
It’s all the little things that make a difference.
But first and foremost, it is our people that make the difference.
Julie leads that at the end of the day, she’s the one that has bred the culture, and we are just the caretakers.

WD: Cost of living crisis, so how can shopping locally help the community?
KB: Shopping locally gives us better buying power; it is a chicken and egg thing.
We cannot always compete with the large chains that are a 15-minute drive away.
They are a multi-billion-dollar, national business, and we are a small, family-run supermarket.
But by shopping locally, it keeps locals employed, it allows us to invest in more people, which ultimately gives better customer service, it enables us to invest back into the business, which helps us to lower costs, and it allows us to go to our suppliers and get the next tier pricing because a lot of it is based on volume.
All of that will flow back through to the customers.
HF: And the customers make it easier for us to do our jobs. I get about four to five hugs a week — just because — and I don’t think I could ever imagine walking into a big chain supermarket and hugging one of the employees randomly.
KB: There are people who come into the store; we know them by name; you know about their kids, you know about their grandkids.
Selling baked beans or bananas is just what we do, but knowing you can have that sort of impact, no amount of money can change that or make that any better.
I want to say, on behalf of the store, the family, and the whole team, a really big thank you to the Warrandyte community just for the way they make us feel. It is just a wonderful place to work, and that is down to the Warrandyte community.

Down-to-earth business changes hands

Warrandyte’s favourite soil shop has changed hands.
It now has a new name — Wonga Garden & Building Supplies — with new owners committed to continuing to provide the service that has had locals returning to Mahoneys Court, time and again, for their landscaping supplies.
Since the site first opened in the 1980s, avid gardeners and landscapers have made use of Warrandyte’s “soil shop” on the corner of Warrandyte-Heidelberg Road and Mahoneys Court when it was time to load up on sand, soil, mulch, and stone.
It also boasted a plant nursery for a short time, but when Ron and Jan Day purchased what was then called the Soil Shop in 1992, they focused the business on garden supplies and being a community-focused business.
“We had a thriving business here for 20 years,” Jan Day told the Diary.
The Days then sold the Soil Shop to local excavator Sean Ramak, who ran the business for a short time, and it was then known as Supersoil.
In 2008, the baton was passed to Shane McMullin and Leisa Dabrowiecki, who rebranded as Riverside Sand & Soil in 2019. Shane and Leisa’s customer service has won a loyal and loving following from Warrandyte residents and customers who are further away.
That legacy is set to continue as Shane and Leisa pass on the business to a new family — albeit under a new name.
The Thompson family, Craig and Deb, and their son Ben, along with Craig’s brother Russell, who own Wonga Garden & Building Supplies in Warranwood, took over the business at the start of February.
Shane and Leisa put on an event to say farewell, and to welcome the new owners.
The event was attended by owners, past, present, and future, as well as many of Riverside’s loyal customers, where everyone enjoyed a few bevvies (with the bucket of the loader pressed into service as an esky) and some delicious Bocca pizzas.

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Leisa told the Diary she and Shane were sad to go.

“I want to thank the Warrandyte community — the Cricket Club, the kindergarten, the primary school, and everyone that’s supported us — and I do really want to thank our drivers — we wouldn’t be anything without them,” she said.

Leisa reflected on the huge learning curve she had when she started 15 years ago.

“I had no idea about the industry — I had my first customer ring me on my first day, asking me for some bar chairs*, and I had no idea what they were.
“But I know everything now, and the tradies love when they walk in, and they say, ‘Where’s the man?’ and they’re quite impressed that I can drive the loader,” she said.

But Leisa said it was time for her and Shane to have a new adventure.
“We are going to have a break for the moment, and a little bit more work/life balance for us, and to be available to be there for the grandkids — I’m looking forward to being able to be a nan”.
Shane agreed that some work/life balance is needed.
“Six days a week, you have no real holidays, no weekends.
“But the business has been really good, and I have loved the people — I will miss the people — we’ve formed friendships, real friendships.
“A fellow brought me a bottle of wine on our last day, and another customer brought us a TattsLotto ticket.
“That’s what it’s like; we have friends out of it, and it’s hard to get that,” he said.
Shane said there was no question that the team at Wonga were the right fit for the business.
There was a synergy — we didn’t even advertise, Leisa just made the call and spoke to Craig, and one afternoon, they were looking at it, and we came to an agreement, and that was it — they loved it, they loved the area and are a fantastic fit,” Shane said.
Craig Thompson said his family has been running Wonga Garden & Building Supplies for over 40 years.
“I’ve been in the industry since I was 18, and it has always been something I enjoyed.
“It gives you a lot of outlets for meeting people, but I have always loved machinery, and I’ve always loved landscaping too, and I get to deal with all those products as well as dealing with people, so it’s good.
“Shane and Leisa spoke to us last year about the possibility of being interested in Riverside.
“We thought it would complement our existing business,” Craig told the Diary.
Craig said despite the name change, they are not looking at changing too much about the business.
“We’ll bring it all under the one banner, so it’ll be one business with two depots.
“But we want to keep the feel of the Warrandyte business because I think it’s really good, and the yard looks great.”
Craig said they will continue offering the same staple of products — of all the garden and building supplies — sand, cement, stone, soil, and mulches.
“But we will also probably have more, specialty pebbles and decorative stones, and so forth.
“We would love to expand our range too,” he said.
Leisa said the community can still get all the special blends that Riverside has been famous for.
“We have handed over all the secret recipes,” she said. So, drop in to say hi to the Thompsons next time you need a metre or two of sand, soil, pebbles, mulch, or even a couple of bar chairs.

*[Editor’s note — bar chairs are clips used to hold concrete reinforcing bars in place]

New carer support in Warrandyte

WARRANDYTE has a new carers support group, which commenced Term 4 2023, serving the Manningham, Nillumbik, and Maroondah areas.
MyTime is a free group for parents and carers who have children under 18 years of age with a disability, chronic medical conditions, or other additional needs, including developmental delay.
There are over 40 MyTime groups in Victoria, funded by the Federal Government.
However, until now, those living in Manningham and Nillumbik would have had to have travelled to Doreen, Rosanna, or Box Hill for their nearest group.
The advantage of MyTime is there is a Play Leader to keep the children under school age engaged while parents and carers meet.
During the planning phase of this group, MyTime was aware of the need to find a venue with well-equipped indoor and outdoor play spaces as well as a gated outdoor area so that it was suitable for parents to bring their children along.
Warrandyte Community Church was the obvious place for MyTime to meet due to its amazing facilities that meet these requirements.
MyTime sessions in Warrandyte started back in October, and the group meets fortnightly during school terms.
Parents and carers have expressed how well-suited the play area is and how much their children enjoy coming. Kate Green, the Play Leader, has put together an amazing children’s program for each session.
Her background in educational programs and environmental science means that there is a strong focus on nature-based activities.
Kate is extremely adaptable and easily changes the session’s activity to meet the children’s abilities and interests if needed.
If the children prefer to play with the vast array of toys rather than do the planned activity, which often occurs, Kate adjusts the program accordingly.
While the children play, parents and carers meet over morning tea.
The group is for parents and carers who have children at school as well as those who bring younger children along.
Each MyTime session is different and tailored to meet the group’s needs.
Making bliss balls to take home in a beautifully presented gift box was a well-received activity by the group.
Another favourite session was a talk from Julia Ryan from William Ready.
Julia has a son who is autistic.
She spoke about her journey since her son’s diagnosis and how it led to her starting her online educational and sensory resources store.
The group resonated with Julia and her journey to the point that discussions continued after the end of the session.
This year will again be packed with lots of great activities and speakers designed to support carers in gaining relevant information to help them in their role and also give them some time to do something for themselves.
The group has also allowed parents and carers to connect and share ideas with others who understand the challenges of having a child with extra needs.
MyTime Warrandyte meets on alternate Friday mornings 9:30am–11:30am during school terms.
If you want more information regarding MyTime Warrandyte, contact suzanneb@mytimevic.com.au or visit www.mytime.net.au, but note that at the time of publication, the Warrandyte group is still in the process of being added to the website.

Smashing cricket, all for a great cause

THE PINK STUMPS recently came out at Warrandyte Oval for a doubleheader of Women’s cricket.
First up, Wonga Park played St Andrews, which saw Wonga Park victorious thanks to some excellent bowling from Alisha Champion and excellent batting from opener Sherice Oliver, who led Wonga Park’s charge to surpass St Andrews after only 15 of their 20 overs.
Warrandyte then gave Ainslie Park/Croydon Ranges a lesson in big-hitting, needing only to call on four of their batting order.
The opening pair of team captain Yasemin Ziada, and Andrea Cummings, racked up a century between them before Andrea was taken out for 47, and Yasmin was compulsorily retired at 50.
This paved the way for young superstar Violet Muleta to rack up 37 off just 23 balls.
After taking the crease in the final over, Rachel Watts managed to face two balls and finish with a 1* against her name.
Warrandyte’s bowlers came out strong, with Paige Claringbold serving their opener with a golden duck.
Two catches from the captain and one from Violet Muleta sealed the visitors’ fate, as they fell short of the 156 they required at the 20-over mark.
Warrandyte Captain Yasmin Ziada told the Diary the team has now had five wins and a tie for the season.

“Everyone in the comp we’ve beaten, so with four more matches to play, we have a chance for the finals.”

After beginning as a Social Sixes fitness program, attended mainly by mums of the junior boys teams, Warrandyte’s women’s team has made incredible progress, with many of the original participants still playing.

“This is our second season in a real competition.
“We’re in D grade, which is probably well suited for us because we’re trying to make it a pathway for the younger girls.
“They come up, and they love the fielding, they come out and do some extra bowling and batting because they are mis-graded a little, and getting beaten a bit in the juniors.
“So, they come here and have some personal successes, so it’s really, really good.
“We have also seen improvements in the people that never played cricket before; they come along each week and continually improve.
“So that’s the joy to me as the captain, to see everyone improving.”

With all matches in D grade being held at Warrandyte Oval on Sunday, the club turned it into the Women’s Round and made it a Pink Stumps fundraiser. Katie Taubert, who organises Pink Stumps events for Warrandyte Cricket Club, said not only did the other teams embrace the theme and dress in pink — with only a week’s notice, but St Andrews Cricket Club donated $370 to Warrandyte’s fundraising efforts for the McGrath Foundation.

“An incredible amount of money from their ‘sorry jar’ — when they make a mistake and say ‘sorry’, they have to put money in the jar because they’re all new and learning.”

Warrandyte also raised several hundred dollars with a sausage sizzle and craft stall at the match.
They will be holding a Pink Stumps morning tea at the end of February, which has already sold out.
If you have missed out on tickets and still want to support the McGrath Foundation, you can find “Pink Stumps Warrandyte Cricket Club” on Facebook or donate directly to the McGrath Foundation.
Last year, the Warrandyte Cricket Club donated $27,000 to the McGrath Foundation.
Already this year, they have raised $15,000 and are hoping to beat last year’s target.
But Katie said it is not just about fundraising; awareness is a big part of what they do, walking around town in their hot-pink outfits to make people smile and think.

“You will often find us down by the river — we’re always yelling out — ‘check your boobies’, ‘check your prostate’, and ‘get yourself down to breast screen’.
“It just makes people look at each other as they walk past, and you can see them thinking, ‘Yes, it’s been a while; maybe I should’.
“We had Pinking Up Warrandyte last October, and that was huge, and we are looking forward to doing that again this year.”

Queensland Fruit Fly found in Warrandyte

FOLLOWING a resurgence of Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) in Warrandyte and the Yarra Valley, it is important to identify and destroy this harmful pest.
In 2020, Nillumbik Council released a series of informative videos to help residents identify and manage the invasive pest, and now is timely to remind ourselves of the signs.
With the ability to lay up to 100 eggs per day and only a 14-day lifecycle from insemination to fully grown adult, an unchecked and uncontained population of QFF can have a devastating impact on fruit growers, whether they have one small tree on their balcony or are a large-scale commercial operation.
The three informative videos produced by Nillumbik Council cover how to identify, monitor, and trap QFF. Agriculture Victoria also has a comprehensive guide to managing QFF in your garden and hosted a webinar which is available to watch.
Popular, locally grown fruit which is known to host QFF includes apples, lemons, limes, strawberries and tomatoes.
The complete list of QFF host fruits is available on the Agriculture Victoria website which lists around 80 species of fruit.
The fruit flies are active in spring, when sunset temperatures exceed 16 degrees centigrade and remain active over summer and autumn.
QFF have also been known to survive winter by taking refuge in sheltered areas such as buildings and trees.
So the next few months are an important time to break the cycle, while they are dormant.
Right now, there are a number of steps anyone who grows fruit, on whatever scale, should be taking to reduce the risk of QFF:

  • Prune host plants regularly to a manageable height — so all the fruit can be easily picked and the trees can be netted with exclusion netting if need be.
  • Harvest all ripe fruit and “fruiting vegetables” from the host plants before it has a chance to fall onto the ground (fruiting vegetables includes tomatoes, chillies, capsicums, eggplants, et cetera).
    Collect fallen fruit immediately and dispose of it in the general waste (not compost).
    Suspect-infested fruit needs to be treated (cooked or frozen) before disposal.
  • Remove your unwanted or unmanaged host plants — including blackberries and unmanageable ornamental fruiting plants.
  • Carefully examine the fruit for pests and diseases before sharing and swapping fruit with friends.
    Movement of fruit from place to place is how pests and diseases are most commonly spread.
    Avoid transporting any fresh produce into the area from known QFF areas such as Northern Victoria, NSW, and QLD — this prevents new incursions.
  • Prepare and deploy (when appropriate) traps, and bait spray.
    These are available commercially or you can make your own.

As with most environmental hazards, be they fruit fly, deer or bushfire — knowledge and preparation is key.
Visit the Nillumbik website for information on how to identify and deal with Queensland Fruit Fly.
There is also contact information to report any known instances of QFF in Nillumbik. If you have found QFF in your harvest, you may put a sample in a sealed bag in the fridge and text an image of it to Council’s Land Management Officer on 0456 708 525.
Council can support you to ID the pest and provide information to assist you to eradicate it.
For more information visit: nillumbik.vic.gov.au/Environment/Pest-animals

Bravery, resilience, and quick thinking

ARE YOU ready for an exhilarating and rewarding volunteer career that makes a real difference in your community?
Warrandyte Country Fire Authority (CFA) is thrilled to announce it is now recruiting new voluntary firefighters.
With formal training beginning in May, your local brigade seeks passionate individuals eager to serve, protect, and support their local community.
This is your chance to be part of a dedicated team that responds to emergencies, saves lives, and ensures safety for all.
As a firefighter, you’ll face challenges that demand bravery, resilience, and quick thinking.
But you’ll also experience the immense satisfaction of making a positive impact every single day.
The brigade is holding an information night on Wednesday, February 14, from 7pm.

Why join us?

  • Give back to your local community, making a tangible difference.
  • Comprehensive training and resources to support your journey.
  • A tight-knit team that operates like a family.
  • All personal protection clothing, uniforms, and continual training are supplied.

Who are we looking for?

We welcome applications from diverse backgrounds, as we believe in reflecting the richness of our community.
Are you ready to embody our values of professionalism, dedication, and teamwork?
If you are passionate, committed, and eager to serve, we want you on our team as a volunteer firefighter.
Don’t miss this opportunity to become part of something truly special.
Join us at Warrandyte Fire Brigade and start your fulfilling career as a volunteer firefighter today.
For more information or to apply, visit www.cfa.vic.gov.au/volunteers-careers/volunteer-with-cfa/apply-to-volunteer.

Warm up for Run Warrandyte

CALLING ALL runners, walkers, weekend warriors, and those that like to come along for the egg and bacon rolls.
Registration for Run Warrandyte is officially open. All your favourite events will return on Sunday, March 3, 2024.
From the kids’ gallop to the five-kilometre crowd favourite and our calf burning 21km, we’ve got an event for every age and fitness level.
Run Warrandyte 2023 (RW23) saw our biggest turnout yet, with nearly 800 runners registering.
And wow — we also saw some blistering times. Steven Dineen beat the course record with a 1:16:11 in the 21km.
Personally, I don’t think he tried hard enough.
Just kidding.
We are absolutely thrilled with the growth of the event and the calibre of runners the event is attracting.
We have certainly become a must on the running calendar. Plus, what’s not to love about the event?
Run Warrandyte takes you through the beautiful, bushy State Park and along the Yarra River.
It’s challenging, with many hills, but the road home is completely downhill.
When we asked participants what they loved the most about the event, the people lining the streets cheering them on every step of the way was the cherry on top.
We are also pretty pumped that Run Warrandyte has raised over $132,480 for our local sporting clubs over the past 12 years.
We are often asked about where the profits from Run Warrandyte go. As most of you know, we split the profits between our four local sporting clubs, the Warrandyte Netball Club, Warrandyte Cricket Club, Warrandyte Football Club and Warrandyte Junior Football Club.
This year, we asked the clubs to share how they spent their donation.
We’ll discuss more about this in the near future, but from training tops with better sun protection for our future netball stars, specialised coaching for the women and girls’ cricket teams, and funding for programs, equipment and leadership development, the profits shared from Run Warrandyte have been well spent.
When you’re tackling the hills of West End and The Pound on March 3, remember that it’s because of you we can help increase the opportunities and access for people to participate in community sports.
So, everyone’s a winner.
We can’t run this event without the amazing sponsorship of community businesses and the brilliant donations we receive every year, so again, we sincerely thank you for your support.
We are thrilled to announce that our Naming Sponsor, the Community Bank Warrandyte, has made Run Warrandyte possible again for the 13th consecutive year.
Please get behind the Warrandyte Community Bank, which returns 80 per cent of its profits to the community.
We would like to thank our 2023 sponsors and hope that they will partner with us again this year for RW24: The Grand Hotel, Quinton’s IGA, Australia Online, Charlie Bins, Goldfields Family Medical Centre, Physiolife Johnstone & Reimer, Just Water, and Kwill Constructions.
Thanks to all the fantastic 2023 prize sponsors, the runner’s village, the runner’s bag, and everyone else who makes Run Warrandyte absolutely fantastic. Wellness by PP, BCreative, the Running Company Lilydale, Hopetoun Natural Therapies, Vanilla Orchid, Jellis Craig, Cygnet, Alpine Timing, Muscle Magic, Chief Nutrition, Sassafras Sweet Co, Scrumdiddely Cakes and Café, Primary Focus, R4U Coaching, Boost Health, Calla Collective, the Movement Joint, and Photobomb Productions.
We are always on the lookout for sponsorship.
RW has fantastic exposure and reach both on social media and on the day.
We will be reaching out for interest as the year progresses, so keep an eye on our socials if you want your business involved in RW24.
You can also contact us directly at sponsorship@runwarrandyte.com.
If you haven’t had a chance to Run Warrandyte or want a little taster, check out our promo video by Photobomb Productions on our website.
Make sure you follow us on Facebook @RunWarrandyte and Instagram @runwarrandyte, and sign up for newsletters via our webpage at www.runwarrandyte.com.
Let’s crack the 800 and make RW24 our biggest and best yet. We can’t wait to share the day with you again.

Nourishing connections: The Big Community Lunch at Warrandyte Neighbourhood House

THE WARRANDYTE Neighbourhood House recently hosted a delightful event that filled stomachs and warmed hearts — the Warrandyte Big Lunch.
This initiative aimed to bring residents together, fostering a sense of inclusion and camaraderie in our community by sharing a meal.
It is the second Big Community Lunch held by the Neighbourhood house in the Community Centre hall and was attended by 40 people, young and old, well mostly old, but some younger and middle-aged.
The purpose of the meal is simple and two-fold: Help prevent social isolation and provide an opportunity for the Warrandyte community to get together.
Provide a nutritious meal for members of the community who may be struggling in the current financial times.
The Big Community Lunch was more than the simple act of eating; it was a platform for conversations, laughter, renewing friendships, and making new ones.
Neighbours who might not have crossed paths in their daily routines found themselves engaged in lively discussions, sharing stories, and discovering common interests.
The event served as a reminder that Warrandyte is more than a suburb; it is a strong community built on the foundation of connections formed through shared moments of joy and support.
This was only the second lunch, but the intention is for these events to become an integral part of a strong Warrandyte community.
This year’s third and last lunch is The Big Christmas lunch, and the plan is for a spit roast followed by Lions Club Christmas Puddings.
All of Warrandyte are both invited and welcome. Come along, meet friends, and enjoy a good meal shared with others from our community.
You can just turn up, but it really helps with catering if we have a rough estimate of how many will be attending, so please get in touch with Warrandyte Neighbourhood House if you are planning to go.
The Big Christmas Lunch will be on December 11 at 12:30pm; bring an empty stomach and some good conversation to share.
Manningham Council, Warrandyte Lions Club, Rotary Club of Warrandyte Donvale, Warrandyte Riverside Market, Access Health and Community, JobCo, and Life Therapies generously support the lunches.

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Five million reasons to celebrate

WHEN THE GOING got tough, and the last bank left town, the Warrandyte locals of the early 2000s made a plan to start their own bank — and I don’t think they could have imagined that just two decades later it would result in more than $5 million invested back into the community.
This year, Community Bank Warrandyte celebrates 20 years of banking in Warrandyte; that is, 20 years of building an institution that has become a consistent funding source for our community.
While 20 years is a milestone on its own, recently, at our annual Grants and Presentation night held at the Warrandyte Sporting Club in November, Community Bank Warrandyte committed another $400,000 to local projects and initiatives, bringing the total contributions to over $5M, since the bank has been in operation.
Looking back on history, there have been some significant impacts over the 20 years, and here is how we have given back to the communities of Warrandyte, Wonga Park, and Park Orchards:

  • Arts — $520,262
  • CFAs — $574,321
  • Charities — $179,982
  • Community defibrillators — $64,812
  • Community services — $270,891
  • Education — $455,968
  • Environment — $222,654
  • Other — &890,495
  • Scholarships — $140,595
  • Seniors — $158,775
  • Sporting clubs — $1,582,269
  • Youth — $168,025

Chair of Community Bank Warrandyte, Aaron Farr, explains that banking with your local, community bank is a win for the whole community.
“Our profits come from accounts opened at the local branch.
“Then we return up to 80 per cent of these profits to the community through our grants and sponsorship program.
“It’s a win-win for everyone”.
This social enterprise model of banking not only benefits the community with funding support but keeps local retail banking in town, together with staff that you get to know by popping into the branch whenever you like.
As 2023 draws to a close, we reflect on some incredible achievements from our community investment.
This year alone, we have helped create new classrooms, playgrounds, saved heritage buildings, improved training facilities for our CFAs, provided new sporting uniforms and equipment, and continued the support of local institutions like the Festival, Art Show, and Pottery Expo — not to mention the new initiative of Pinking Up Warrandyte.
From our volunteer Board of Directors and staff, Community Bank Warrandyte wishes all our customers and community partners a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.

Warrandyte Business Directory: back in red and white

PRESIDENT of Warrandyte Cricket Club, Luke Warren said the Club was thrilled to announce the relaunch of the traditional-style Warrandyte Business Directory.
“The iconic Business Directory is a beloved resource for residents and a fantastic advertising platform for our local businesses.
“Due to overwhelming popular demand, we are bringing back the hard copy cardboard style Directory, which is set to make a triumphant return early in 2024.”
He said the Warrandyte Cricket Club played an integral role in our community; promoting sportsmanship and camaraderie among our residents.
“By choosing to be a part of the Business Directory, you not only promote your business, but also contribute to the community and growing the Warrandyte Cricket Club.”
A listing in the 2024 Warrandyte Business Directory is just $150 and the club is taking bookings from local businesses until December 1, 2023.
For any inquiries or assistance with your listing, please contact Katie Taubert at 0421 313 237.
Don’t miss this opportunity to promote your business in our community and simultaneously support the Warrandyte Cricket Club.
The Directory is delivered to Warrandyte homes, making it an invaluable resource for local residents, and your business can be at the forefront of their minds.

A dog’s life at WPS

IT IS WITH great excitement that Warrandyte Primary School (WPS) welcomed its newest staff member — Winston the school therapy dog.
He is here to make a positive difference in our students’ lives and is causing a cuteness overload.
Winston is a playful and endearing puppy who is being trained to become a therapy dog.
This four-legged addition to the school staff aims to enhance the well-being of students, staff, and the broader school community.
Winston is a Labrador/Golden Retriever cross, considered one of the best breeds for working in schools.
At WPS, we know that well-being and learning are equally important; students’ mental health is critical to their well-being, enabling them to learn effectively.
With this in mind, School Principal Nieta Manser decided that the benefits of having a therapy dog at WPS were so great that she had to organise one.
By finding ways to support our students’ well-being, we are committed to always getting the best out of our students, and Winston is just one way we can help the children at WPS achieve success.
Well-trained, confident, happy therapy dogs can be an invaluable resource for supporting students’ social and emotional learning and fostering a sense of community spirit.
As a young puppy, Winston has only just begun his training, but he has got off to an excellent start.
Nieta, as his primary handler, has started taking Winston to puppy training classes, where he receives obedience training.
After this, he will have specific training related to a variety of situations, including supporting students feeling anxious, being taught tricks to do in the classroom to build engagement, and providing support for particular issues that schools regularly face, such as school refusal or de-regulation of students.
Winston will even support our literacy program, as students can take turns reading to him to practice their fluency.
We think Winston will love hearing stories read to him each day.
We have teamed up with Service and Therapy Animals Australia to launch the PAWS in Schools program at Warrandyte Primary School.
The company is connected to Service Dogs Australia and ensures the program adheres to strict standards and that Winston’s needs are also being met.
PAWS is an acronym that is easy to remember and encompasses the key components of a successful School Therapy Dog program:

Positive interactions
Assess, adapt, achieve
Working together
Social inclusion

Winston is adapting well to school life and enjoys spending time with the staff, who have bonded with him quickly.
As expected, the children have been extremely excited to meet Winston, too, patiently waiting for their turn.
Students in Prep first had a glimpse of Winston through Nieta’s office window; not wanting to overwhelm him, teachers took the children to wave and admire from a distance.
It wasn’t long before Winston was brave enough to visit the Prep classroom and even came for a training session while students were engaged in their inquiry maths lesson.
The sight of children giggling as Winston eagerly wags his tail when they visit the school office and the quiet moments when he sits alongside a student who needs a comforting presence have already become regular occurrences at Warrandyte Primary School.
In Winston, the school has found a loyal companion dedicated to fostering well-being, resilience, and happiness in its students.
Ella in Prep agrees. “I love having Winston at school.
“He is my favourite breed of dog.
“I can’t take my eyes off him!”
Jarrah, in Grade 5, is also smitten.
“I love having Winston at school because when I see his little face, I want to hug him.
“He is adorable, and he loves his toy llama.
“I think he will be really good at helping students when they are sad, as well as encouraging us with our learning.”
It is easy to see how Winston will be able to positively impact the lives of the students at WPS, and we are excited to explore how proven animal-assisted learning strategies and techniques can be incorporated into our existing well-being and intervention programs.
Therapy dogs in schools can also help children build social connections, develop a sense of belonging, and create a context for instilling whole-school values such as empathy, kindness, gratitude, and respect, among other benefits.
The program will be funded partially through fundraising by our Friends of Warrandyte Primary School committee and partially through the Mental Health Fund the school will receive as part of a departmental program to support students’ mental health across all ages.
Grade 3 teacher James loves having Winston around.
“It’s like having an extra staff member who is everyone’s best friend.
“We can already see the benefits for our students and the positive impact Winston is having.”
Winston’s journey towards becoming a certified therapy dog continues, and he is already making a difference in the lives of those he touches.
The students and staff of Warrandyte Primary School eagerly await the day when Winston can officially wear his therapy dog vest and embark on his mission to provide comfort, companionship, and joy to all.

Managing visitors on Extreme days

MANNINGHAM Council has published its plans to help keep locals and visitors safe this summer with a series of road closures that will come into effect on Extreme and Catastrophic days. Parks Victoria has stated that on Extreme Fire Danger days, Pound Bend Reserve, Jumping Creek Reserve, Koornong Reserve, and Normans Reserve will be closed.
On Catastrophic days, the entire Warrandyte State Park will be closed to the public.
To ensure the safety of locals and visitors and in support of Parks Victoria, Council will instigate soft-road closures on the roads surrounding Pound Road on Extreme and Catastrophic Fire Danger days.
Manningham Mayor Deirdre Diamante said the closures were agreed upon by the Manningham Municipal Fire Management Planning Committee — which includes representatives from Manningham Council, Victoria Police, Forest Fire Management Victoria, Country Fire Authority, and Fire and Rescue Victoria — as a reaction to the increase in visitors to Warrandyte and Pound Bend on hot, summer days.
“Visitors share our love of Warrandyte State Park. “Pound Bend, in particular, has become an increasingly popular place to cool down on hot days.
“Unfortunately, this popularity has posed safety risks during fire season.
“Having a large volume of cars parked along the narrow roads and near the fire track access gate has made it especially difficult for emergency services and visitors to get in and out.
“By making this change, we are working together to protect our community and visitors to the area,” Cr Diamante said.
On extreme and catastrophic fire danger days, a soft closure will be in place for access roads to Pound Bend, including Taroona Avenue, Everard Drive, and Pound Bend Road.
Parking will also be unavailable at the car park at the entrance to Pound Bend during this time.
This means Council will place temporary signage on the roads to indicate they are closed in the most visible way possible, and issue parking fines to motorists parking illegally.
Residents on affected roads and their visitors will still be able to access their properties. More information can be found at www.manningham.vic.gov.au/news/warrandyte-state-park-fire-danger-road-closures.

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Celebrating two years of NaNY Gallery

IT IS HARD to believe that NaNY Gallery has only been a part of the Warrandyte community for two years.
It came into being during the end of the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2021.
In the true community spirit he is well known for, Now and Not Yet Café’s Derek Bradshaw offered to provide the space when I was looking for somewhere to host my exhibition.
Then came the idea to start exhibiting local artists’ work every two months.
A grant from the Bendigo Bank allowed for a gallery hanging system to be installed, and NaNY Gallery was officially founded.
I then invited local artist Jacinta Payne to have the first show.
Jacinta’s Bushscapes and Moonlight exhibition featured her atmospheric abstract landscapes and included some pieces made on reclaimed denim, with many works snapped up by local art lovers on opening night.
We hit it off, and Jacinta joined the team.
My award-winning show Can You See The Beauty In It? was exhibited next, and I also found many new collectors during my show, proving the idea of a gallery wall in a café in the heart of town was one that the community would embrace.
Relaxed and accessible, the opening nights have become highly anticipated by regulars.
With no shortage of local talent, the calendar quickly filled up into the following year.
NaNY Gallery has supported many first-time exhibiting artists, such as Kim Charbonneau, who discovered her photographic talents during lockdown and has gone on to contribute to many group shows.
Wildlife illustrator Sarai Meyerink has a YouTube channel and offers online drawing courses.
As well as an exhibition of his natural ochre paintings, established artist Gary Upfield also offered up two very interesting ochre workshops in the space.
Bron Elmore’s bird & bloom exhibition was incredibly successful, selling many pieces and cultivating her growing following.
This year started with the nearly sold-out show of Warrandyte-born Michaela Bumpstead with her beautiful bush and riverscapes.
David Hewitt also had great success with his first show.
We did a Salon hang for oil and watercolour painter Leanne Savory with over 50 pieces on the wall.
She has joined the stable at Tacit Gallery in Collingwood.
Local living legend Bill McAuley filled our walls with portraits from his fantastic career as a photojournalist.
NaNY also held its first book launch with Bill McAuley’s Portraits of the Soul, which was a huge evening.
The October/November show features established ceramic artists Chris and Mary-Lou Pittard, Jane Annois, and prints from Angela Nagel, gracing the wall in their combined show What Feeds Me.
Finally, our last show for 2023 is an open-call group show — from December 3 to February 3.
We have put together an exhibition of 30 artists, which we feel will captivate the NaNY crowd — we received over 79 submissions by artists from all around Melbourne.
Once again, the Bendigo Bank has generously donated money to help us with some proper gallery lighting, which will be installed soon.
Jacinta and I are very proud of what NaNY Gallery has become and the calibre of artists we have attracted. It is so sought after that we have decided to go monthly with our exhibitions next year to give more artists a chance to show their work.
Our exhibition opening nights will be held on the first Sunday of every month in 2024.
Come along, have a glass of wine and some nibbles, and meet our exhibiting artists.
We cannot wait to see how NaNY Gallery will flourish into the future with exciting artists such as Tim Read, Ant Owen, Deb Mawdsley, and touring motorbiking artist Christine Keeble, to name a few for 2024.
Watch this space!

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NaNY Gallery is volunteer-run, and Now and Not Yet Café is a not-for-profit community organisation.
If you would like to donate to the Now and Not Yet organisation, contact them via their website www.nowandnotyet.com.au. For artwork enquiries, contact nanygallery@gmail.com.

Do you know this urn?

It’s not unusual for someone to inadvertently donate something of significant value to an Op Shop.
However in Warrandyte last week, an unknown person donated a number of items, one being an urn with someone’s ashes.
Warrandyte Police have made a number of enquiries to reunite the original custodians of the urn with their former loved one, with no success.
If you know of someone who may have misplaced someone, please call Warrandyte Police on 9844 3231.

Gathering Circle takes shape at wonguim wilam

VISITORS TO wonguim wilam will notice a stunning new installation, with the completion of a Gathering Circle as the first part of an Indigenous art installation at the riverside park.
The work, by prominent Melbourne-based fine artist, muralist and creative, Simone Thomson, will be installed this year and includes an entrance sculpture and Gathering Circle.
This new addition highlights the significance of the area to Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people and reflects the preservation of culture.
“The Gathering Circle is a place where community comes to connect with one another.
“This is how our oral history has been passed on for thousands of generations,” said Simone.
The gathering circle takes advantage of sightline across to the Birrarung and is three metres in diameter, to invite the community to come together.
Edged by stone seating the gathering circle is organic in form and features Simone’s intricate design in stone and paint, mirroring the natural palette of the surrounding environment and reflecting on themes of country, culture and community.
A sculpture will be installed during the summer months, making up the second part of Simone’s artwork at wonguim wilam.
Simone is a Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Yorta-Yorta Traditional Owner through her mother, and her art is inspired by her, “spiritual connection to Country and the rich colours and textures of the earth and sky”.
Simone said, “In the Aboriginal way, the Gathering Circle or meeting place is a place where community comes to connect with one another, to sit down and discuss cultural business and family matters and to learn and share stories.”
“This is how our oral history has been passed on for thousands of generations — by facing one another with respect and hearing our songlines and men’s and women’s business from our Elders, our knowledge holders and leaders who are our teachers.”
Simone added that the Gathering Circle would represent the importance of community and the preservation of cultural practices significant to the oldest continuous culture on Earth.
“It will be a place of reflection on country and offer a peaceful connection to the lands and waterways in which it sits along the beautiful Birrarung, the river of mist and shadows.”
Manningham Mayor, Cr Deirdre Diamante, touched on the significance of stories to public art.
“When it comes to public art, it’s so important that we consider the works’ appearance within the context of what inspired it and the story it is telling.
“Through the Gathering Circle, Simone is extending the whole community an open invitation to come together, connect and reflect on the incredible cultural significance of Warrandyte.
“This art is also functional and immersive, providing a special place for residents and visitors to do just that,” the Mayor added.
The entrance sculpture will be in the form of a boomerang to be installed in the coming months.
It will be situated at the entrance of the park and standing tall from hand carved cedar pine, the boomerang sculpture will welcome all visitors to wonguim wilam while also acting as an invitation to return as visitors depart.

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Council conducted the commission in consultation with Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.
Find out more about the work at www.manningham.vic.gov.au/news/wonguim-wilam-public-art-commission.

Liberals retain seat of Warrandyte

A WEEK after the Warrandyte byelection, the final result has been declared.
On Friday, September 1, the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) officially declared Liberal candidate Nicole Werner as the new Member for Warrandyte in the Victorian Legislative Council. Ms Werner told the Diary the campaign from pre-selection to this point was an “incredible journey.”

“I am humbled and deeply grateful for the trust and support I received from our community.
“Throughout my professional life, I’ve dedicated myself to service, particularly in the community and not-for-profit sectors.
“This campaign was an extension of that commitment — a chance to listen to and give back to our local community.”

The middle of August saw 12 candidates, comprised of Liberals, Greens, minor parties, and a handful of independents, vying for a vote from the 50,986 enrolled voters in the District.
Early in the byelection cycle, Labor had stated it would not contest the Warrandyte byelection, which is in line with party policy around byelections in “Liberal safe seats”.
Of the 50,986 enrolled, 38,664 were marked off the roll by 6pm on August 26, a turn out of 75.83 per cent, consistent with historical data regarding byelections, noting there are still postal votes to be counted.
Following rechecks, Ms Werner took 57.27 per cent of the primary vote, while the Greens Tomas Lightbody took 18.66 per cent, giving Ms Werner an outright victory without having to conduct a preference count.
The indicative two candidate preferred count saw Ms Werner’s majority at 71.10 per cent, with Mr Lightbody at 28.90 per cent.
With no Labor candidate and current Manningham Deputy Mayor Tomas Lightbody running as the Greens candidate, community perception was that the Greens might have a chance of taking the seat.
While the Greens gained a significant swing in this byelection, and Mr Lightbody performed well in the booth of Warrandyte, however, those gains were not replicated across the other booths, culminating in a Liberal landslide victory.
The Diary asked Ms Werner what the victory meant to her and the Liberal Party.

“I’m honoured by the strong support and vote of confidence from the people of Warrandyte.
“We campaigned on the local issues that matter most to our community, and it’s a sign that we are ready for positive change, a fresh approach to addressing local issues, and a commitment to protecting what makes our community special.
“The result is a testament to the faith the voters have placed in me, and I take that responsibility seriously.
“This result was significant for me personally as it represents the realisation of my parents’ choice to immigrate to Australia in 1988, all in pursuit of a better future for our family.
“For the Liberal Party, this result signifies that we are on the right path and are connecting with Victorians.
“I believe this result demonstrates that the Liberal Party can offer change and that we can continue to be a strong voice for Warrandyte and Victoria,” she said.

The Legislative Council is due to sit again on October 3; the Diary asked Ms Werner what her representation will look like in the last half of the calendar year.

“In the coming months, my focus is on fighting for and serving the people of the seat of Warrandyte.
“My top priorities include addressing the pressing issue of the deadly Five-Ways intersection, tackling the rising cost of living, safeguarding our precious Green Wedge, and advocating on behalf of the recently devastated Heatherwood School in Donvale.
“I am committed to working tirelessly to fulfil these promises and to ensure the concerns of our community are heard in the state parliament.
“I am deeply honoured to represent this community, one in which I grew up and attended school in.
“My roots in Warrandyte run deep, and I’m here to serve, to listen, and to stand up for the interests and wellbeing of our community.
|“You have my commitment; I will give my all every day to serve you as your member of Parliament.”

The voter experience

With this being the only byelection running in the State at that time, the major and minor parties were able to throw more resources at their respective campaigns as there were significantly fewer voting centres (compared to a full State election).
Voters have been critical of party representatives’ behaviour, especially during early voting at the Warrandyte Scout Hall.
The number of party representatives outside the Scout Hall frequently made the centre look busier than it was, and there has been criticism regarding this on social media. Warrandyte local Don Hughes, who is also involved in Warrandyte Scouts and Warrandyte Men’s Shed, spoke to the Diary about voters “running the gauntlet” during voting.

“Despite being well organised, the topography of the site channelled voters down a narrow driveway to the polling station.
“With so many candidates, each having at least one or more supporters handing out how-to-vote literature, the experience for many was like running a gauntlet.
“The narrow driveway had a funnelling effect. “Particularly with enthusiastic supporters thrusting literature at voters and enthusiastically trying to engage in political rhetoric, many felt anxious and even threatened.
“Several people I spoke to around the township decided not to attempt to run the gauntlet and went home to organise a postal vote,” he said.

How an election is run is managed by the VEC, but the legislation that defines what can and cannot happen is defined by the Electoral Act 2002.
The only people who can enact changes to the Electoral Act are those who we vote in to represent us.
Everything from how an election is conducted, what is needed to identify any material related to an election, what party workers can and cannot do, and where, to what a how-to-vote card looks like are all defined by the Act.
To its credit, the VEC trialled low sensory (quiet hours) voting for one day during early voting, which aimed to provide neurodiverse and voters with hidden disabilities with an opportunity to vote without being confronted by excessive noise. The Diary spoke with a voter who attended the special session, she said she was disappointed with the behaviour of most of the candidates, who had been asked to not approach voters on their way into the centre, however she understands there is nothing in the legislation to make the candidates comply with the VEC’s request.
“Once I got into the centre, the VEC staff were great, allowing me to vote in a quiet space at my own pace, but to get into the centre was still challenging as I was still confronted by multiple people with how-to-vote-cards,” she said.
With the community now experienced with two elections within six months of each other, now is our best time to voice what worked and what can be done better next time.

End of an era

THE STONEHOUSE Gallery and Shop closed on August 31, 2023.
The Makers’ Gallery, which has been operating for 51 years, operated by a collective of local artists, has found it increasingly difficult to run the gallery in recent years due to a diminishing membership.
“It was a heartbreaking decision,” said painter and ceramicist Jenny John.
“It had become increasingly difficult for the small number involved to be both artists and run the gallery.
“Despite sustained efforts to attract new members, we were not successful,” she said.
While the Warrandyte arts scene has made a significant comeback in recent years with spaces such as the Now & Not Yet Café’s NaNY Gallery and the regular Pop-Up Exhibitions hosted by Warrandyte Community Association and Warrandyte Artisans, Stonehouse Gallery and Shop was the only dedicated gallery space in Warrandyte.
Yarra Ward representative Councillor Carli Lange said she was “heartbroken to hear the Stonehouse Gallery is closing”.
She told the Diary she was unaware of the future of the building:

“Planning permission would be required for any change to the use of the land from a shop or alterations to the existing building.
I wish all the talented artists who display and sell their work from the Stonehouse Gallery all the very best with their arts and culture careers, and may they know their talented work will be very much missed.”

Established by eight like-minded potters in 1972, the Stonehouse Gallery has been the heart and soul of creative Warrandyte.
This collective of passionate and diverse artists and craftspeople has been an amazing supporter of the broader and upcoming arts community.
Owned and run by member artists, the Stonehouse Gallery showcased and sold quality Australian fine arts and crafts. Originally located at the eastern end of town, at the old Selby’s Store, now the Yarra Store, on the corner of Tills Drive, the gallery moved to its home, the old Gospel Chapel at 103 Yarra Street in 2005.
Over the years, member artists and consignees represented a wide array of creative arts and craft disciplines.
They supported and inspired each other.
The Stonehouse Gallery has influenced and changed many lives.
At the celebration of the arts collective’s 50th anniversary, former member, Marg Perry, encapsulated the essence of Stonehouse.

“We have supported one another through family joy and happiness, tragedy and heart ache, illness and celebration. We have shared our successes and our failures.
Some members have moved on quickly, others have stayed longer…. each person leaving their imprint on our lives and hearts.
Our gratitude is endless to those eight women who had the courage and the foresight to take the risk and place their hopes and ideals on the line, to make a name for themselves and for us, for the pottery world and all the wonderful creative arts people whose work is on display, worn, admired and loved by our customers and supporters.
Some of us wondered how long we would stay — whether twenty or forty years, it seemed like half a lifetime or the blink of an eye, depending on where you are looking from.”

Like the clay that has passed with care through the hands of its many talented cooperative members, Stonehouse craft has evolved as each generation has picked up where the previous one left off.
Times and place may have changed in the past fifty years, but the spirit of Stonehouse continues: a group of creative women dedicated to making fine Australian Art and Craft, determined to directly connect the maker with the collector.
This journey was chronicled in the book Stonehouse Gallery celebrating 50 years (2022, Focus Printing) by Cliff Harding. Staffed by the member artists, a visit to the gallery was not only an opportunity to peruse and purchase beautifully crafted jewellery, textiles, glass, ceramics, and paintings but also a chance to interact with the makers directly.
From the early days, the Gallery hosted monthly exhibitions by local and member artists.
Many were embellished with magically evoking titles such as: All Smoke and No Mirrors; Celebrating our First Christmas; Journey to India; The Carpet Bus; Planes Trains and Elephants; Arabian Nights; Tuscany Re-visited; and Birds of a Feather.
Since 2017, the Gallery has also hosted the Melbourne Teapot Exhibition.
The Stonehouse Gallery rescued this quirky and enchanting annual exhibition from its creators, Studio@Flinders, when that gallery was forced to close in 2016.
The property was sold in late 2022.
And while the Stonehouse Gallery artists may no longer use the space, there are hopes, the building will continue to operate as a gallery.

Significant changes to Warrandyte Festival

AS ANNOUNCED on social media in August, the Warrandyte Festival is moving in 2024.
Next year, celebrations will take place in April instead of March, and a format change will see the event take place on Friday, April 19, and Saturday, April 20 only.
Most of your usual favourites will be back, with some enjoying a new time of day or location.
Activities will start at 5pm on Friday.
Enjoy the Billy Cart Derby under lights, kids’ activities, Silent Disco, and lots of food options.
From 7pm, the Warrandyte Film Feast will feature live musicians, short films, and fabulous food.
The Warrandyte Donvale Rotary Art Show has also indicated it will follow the Festival, with 2024 taking place on April 19,20 and 21.
On Saturday, enjoy community stalls, the Dodgeball Comp, Open Mic, Silent Disco, Duck Race, Battle of the Bands, Pet Parade, and much more. As always, there will be lots of homemade food, market stalls, and live music until 10pm.
Festival President Dwayne Schuyler spoke about the decision to change the date and format.

“After months of careful consideration, the Warrandyte Festival Committee have chosen to host a two-day celebration in April.
As locals would know, we all had a hard couple of years.
The Festival Committee worked tirelessly over COVID-19 to have the right protocols to safely run the event, only to have it cancelled two years running.
This took a huge toll on our volunteers and finances.
We’ve also had a few individual Festival days cancelled over recent years, including in March 2023, due to the Fire Danger Rating.
It was absolutely necessary but also heartbreaking for the community and the volunteer organisers.
“It makes more sense to schedule the Festival slightly later in the year.
“We look forward to taking advantage of the autumnal atmosphere and mixing things up.

The most significant change to the program is the Street Parade, which has been relocated and reimagined.

“We won’t be closing off Yarra Street for an hour and a half in 2024, meaning less pressure on the bus lines and emergency services and more access to street parking.
“Instead, a walking Parade will see participants follow the river along the walking path, starting near Webb Street and ending in Stiggant Reserve.
“The reimagined parade will be a great opportunity to showcase the river.
“We can’t wait to see everyone dressed up and enjoying themselves,” said Mr Schuyler.

A complete program of activities and entertainment will be released in early 2024.
If you want to get involved, expressions of interest for food and market stalls will open in November or December, and other application forms will open in February 2024.
The Warrandyte Festival is run entirely by volunteers.
The Committee meets once a month and welcomes new members with new ideas.
Anyone interested in joining the committee should email: contact@warrandytefestival.org.
“The Festival will always be a highlight in the Warrandyte calendar.
“We look forward to April when we will, once again, celebrate our wonderful town and showcase lots of talented locals,” said Mr Schuyler.

What do you think of the new-look festival, let the Diary know: editor@warrandytediary.com.au

Supporting young artists

A CELEBRATION of the next generation of artistic talent saw friends and family gather recently at the Warrandyte Community Centre for the 2023 Warrandyte Arts & Education Trust’s Youth Arts Award.
This biennial event is a chance for the Trust to support an aspiring artist with a significant financial contribution of $10,000.
The money for this award was funded solely with profits from Warrandyte Diary’s newspapers (Warrandyte Diary and Manningham & Nillumbik Bulletin), which means advertising in the Warrandyte Diary and Manningham & Nillumbik Bulletin, by extension, supports a young Warrandyte artist.
The evening’s guest speaker was Yarra Ward Councillor and teacher Carli Lange, who spoke about Warrandyte as “the home of the artist” and the importance of nurturing artistic endeavours in today’s youth.

“We are here, this evening, supporting young artists through this community arts award.
“We are actively encouraging young artists in their endeavours while experiencing the enjoyment of their art from a young person’s perspective, and that is one of the best perspectives to have.
“You have made an incredible success, and you are incredible, every one of you.
“You took the courage to nominate yourselves to go through and express your ideas and your heart through an expressive and creative art form.
“With joy, we say what an outstanding achievement you have made in the expressive field you have chosen.
“You are an incredible example to young artists in our community, and tonight is a tribute to each one of you.
“Youth community arts awards like this one provide a vital role in providing opportunities for young people to engage with the arts and develop their skills and talents.
“I am honoured to be here tonight, I can see the work, the journey, of young, professional artists, and I am honoured to be celebrating, joining in, and embracing their wonderful sense of the world, because we are all the better for it.
“You, as young people, as young artists, are vital to our community’s longevity and sustainability and to the arts, and with joy, I say congratulations,” said Cr Lange.

Award recipients Agnieshka and Bridie with Youth Arts Award Committee members David Tynan, Mary Ann Gibson, and Jock Macniesh

Since 1989, the award has helped talented artists such as Bridgett Liddell, Gabrielle Davidson, Peter Daverington, Loughlan Prior, and Ruby Martin. Now, we can add and celebrate Bridie Frances and Agnieshka Markwell to this list of recipients. Bridie and Agnieshka shared the $10,000 prize, taking home $5,000 each.
Bridie and Agnieshka were two of five finalists who were met and assessed by up to three talented experts in the young artists’ discipline.
Bridie, a singer/songwriter who listed amongst her influences Ruby Fields, Jack River, Missy Higgins, Gang of Youths, Slowly Slowly, and Spacey Jane, met with her musical mentors Heather Jamieson, Cath Rutten, and Lisa Young for her assessments.
Bridie’s assessors said:

“Bridie has a strong sense of the sound and artistic qualities that she is aiming for.
Despite her age, she is, in the truest sense, an artist moving very authentically towards her own sound.
Her dedication and love of all aspects of music is commendable.
Her volunteer work, songwriting, and singing show her experience and creativity.
Bridie is a warm and passionate young musician, committed to recording and performing her original works and working in other music industry roles.”

Agnieshka is an opera singer and listed Amy Manford, an Australian-American soprano singer, among her influences.
Her assessors, Carrie Barr, Jamie Moffat, and Nina Korbe, described her passion as:

“Agnieshka’s voice is very lovely, with her technique developing well. I was impressed with the vocal maturity in one so young.
She showed musicality in expression and connection to the text, good range, extensions, nice stagecraft and facial expressions communicating her character.
I am confident that Agnieshka has great potential, and if her training and career are correctly guided, she will emerge as a very fine singer.
She has an unusually strong connection with the music she sings, which is rare for someone so young, and I am impressed by her musical intelligence.
Agnieshka has a sweet, warm, youthful tone with a good sense of line and poise.
Her natural musical instincts and diverse experience in her career so far have served her well.”

After the award presentation, the Diary spoke with both Bridie and Agnieshka about what winning the award means to them.
Both recipients spoke about the excellent opportunity to meet with and be mentored by talented artists and experts in their preferred artistic discipline.
“Just talking with them, asking for advice about my future, and getting their advice on my performance was just incredible — that process alone was enough,” said Agnieshka.
Agnieshka will use the $5,000 prize to help give her a chance to study at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
“The whole thing is just awesome,” said Bridie.
“Even this event, just being able to meet all the other finalists.
“There are so many people in the music and arts community in Warrandyte, and they all have so much talent and knowledge to give, so it is just amazing to be able to recognise that as well.”
Bridie went on to say she would use her share of the prize to book some studio time and record an EP. The Diary would also like to congratulate the other finalists, Isabel Khong (painting — abstract, contemporary and surreal), Eddie O’Rourke (monochromatic figure drawing), and Ariel Price (painting — nature, buildings, people), for going through the assessment process.
The Warrandyte Arts & Education Trust Youth Arts Award will return in 2025.

Public art to be installed at wonguim wilam

WORKS WILL soon commence in wonguim wilam as Manningham Council prepares to install a gathering circle and an entrance sculpture between now and December 2023.
Council says when people visit a significant site, such as wonguim wilam on the Birrarung (Yarra River) in Warrandyte, they will apply their own meaning to the place, depending on their memories and experiences.
The beauty of public art is that it provides a prompt and opportunity for people to take in histories and reflect on how those stories intersect with their own.
This creates shared meaning and new connections to place.
The work comprises two parts that strongly embrace the themes of culture, community, and country, and Council has commissioned Simone Thomson, a prominent Melbourne-based fine artist, muralist and creative, and a Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and Yorta-Yorta Traditional Owner through her mother.
Simone said her art is inspired by her “spiritual connection to Country and the rich colours and textures of the earth and sky”.
Manningham Mayor, Cr Deirdre Diamante, touched on the significance of stories to public art.

“When it comes to public art, it’s so important that we consider the works’ appearance within the context of what inspired it and the story it is telling.
“Through the Gathering Circle, Simone is extending to the whole community an open invitation to come together, connect and reflect on the incredible cultural significance of Warrandyte.
“This art is also functional and immersive, providing a special place for residents and visitors to do just that.
“The entrance sculpture which will welcome people to this special place represents a boomerang, which ties in beautifully with our place name, wonguim wilam or boomerang place,” she said.

Manningham Council conducted the commission in consultation with Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.
It will be the first permanent public artwork delivered as part of Manningham Council’s Public Art Policy.
Simone said:

“In the Aboriginal way, the Gathering Circle or meeting place is a place where community comes to connect with one another, to sit down and discuss cultural business and family matters and to learn and share stories.
“This is how our oral history has been passed on for thousands of generations — by facing one another with respect and hearing our songlines and men’s and women’s business from our Elders, our knowledge holders and leaders who are our teachers.”

Simone added that the gathering circle would represent the importance of community and the preservation of cultural practices significant to the oldest continuous culture on Earth.
“It will be a place of reflection on country and offer a peaceful connection to the lands and waterways in which it sits along the beautiful Birrarung, the river of mist and shadows.”
Stage 1 of the works will be the installation of the gathering circle.
The gathering circle takes advantage of sightline across to the Birrarung and will be three metres in diameter to invite the community to come together.
Edged by stone seating, the gathering circle is organic in form and features Simone’s intricate design in stone and paint, mirroring the natural palette of the surrounding environment and reflecting on themes of country, culture, and community.
Works will include:

  • The designed gathering circle will be paved and approximately three metres in diameter.
  • It will have stone boulder seats around the edge of the circle and incorporate Aboriginal symbols to reference people gathering around the meeting place representing the Warrandyte community.
  • The colours will be neutral and ochre-toned pebbles, rust-red oxide mortar mix, patterned concrete and random stone slate mosaic to fit harmoniously with the natural environment and tones of the site.

Stage 1 is expected to be completed by September.
Stage 2 will be the installation of a sculpture situated at the park entrance and standing tall from hand-carved cedar pine; the boomerang sculpture will welcome all visitors to wonguim wilam while also acting as an invitation to return as visitors depart.
Works will include:

  • The horizontal boomerang sculpture will be 4.9m wide x 2.95m high, laminated and carved from cypress pine timber.
  • It will be positioned at the entry of the parking area, amongst vegetation with high visibility from Yarra Street.
  • The carved design will be painted and stained in the grooves to create contrast against the stained timber.
  • The artwork will complement the natural surroundings.

Works on Stage 2 are expected to take place between September and December.
Manningham Council notes the specifications are subject to change as the public artwork will evolve to suit the landscape and the artist’s vision.