Tag Archives: wonga park

New hub for Wonga Park takes shape

AFTER SITTING dormant for several years, the Wonga Park Shopping Centre is coming to life with a facility that project developer Mark Etherington hopes will re-energise the community.

“It was the talk of the community about what we needed to get back in here.
“Then the opportunity arose for me to pick it up via the receivers.
“While not the development my business would normally undertake, we had a vision for it to be returned to its former glory and to be the community hub it once was,” Mark said.

He said there was “a fair bit of consultation” with Manningham Council about the undertaking — “the development application, making sure there was buy-in early, making sure there was community consultation about what was needed, or the amenities that were missing”.
He said the “full sweep of offerings” was contemplated from the outset, which includes a café, postal facility, butchers, deli, medical centre, gym, Pilates studio, and a restaurant.
He said he has worked very hard to get services that would be a good fit for the community and a good spread of complementary business that serves the community’s needs.
It is a passion project for Mark — who runs an investment group, which normally deals in large scale property investment around the country.
Being a local, he saw an opportunity to give back to the community by creating something sorely needed since the original shopping centre closed down.

“There have been a number of hurdles along the way, but we’ve never lost the vision to make sure that we delivered the community hub, and that’s where we’ve just about got to now.
“We’ve got some really good, robust tenants that understand the sense of community and that we are going local.
“Most of the tenants are locals; they’ll employ locals and be supported locally.
“They will genuinely give this the opportunity that it deserves to be successful.
“I think a longer-term vision is they’re all long-term tenants, and they understand that they’ve got some exclusivity, which allows them to genuinely get a foothold in the community going forward,” he said.

He said that with the inclusion of My Local GP, the community would get general practice doctors, pathologists, and a dentist. Other tenants are the Little Lofty Café, named after local landmark Mount Lofty; Rump Butchers, which is relocating from Tunstall Square; the Post Office, which will be relocating to the centre; and there will be a grocer or providore.
Upstairs there will be Wonga Health and Fitness Studio, and an Italian restaurant.
“At the moment, we’ve got the restaurant still for lease because we are trying to make sure we get the right operator,” he said.
During the interview, several community members took the opportunity to speak to the developer while he was on site.
One immediate neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she had concerns about the lighting that would be emitted from the centre, as well as privacy concerns with the second-storey gymnasium overlooking her property.
However, Mark attempted to assure her that the planning permit did not allow for internally illuminated signage and offered to enhance screening between the centre and her property.
She later told the Bulletin that she generally was supportive of the project to get the shops back into the community, as she had been particularly concerned about the abandoned site attracting squatters.
“It will be lovely to get a coffee shop back in the neighbourhood, but there was no need to make it two storeys,” she said.
Other community members were effusive in their praise of the centre’s redevelopment.
“Thank you — it is extraordinary,” said one woman. Mark said 99 per cent of the people of Wonga Park and the immediate area are celebrating and happy about this development and community hub coming back to life.
“Unfortunately, I can’t keep everyone happy, but I’ll certainly go to whatever reasonable means I can to help them and address their concerns,” he said.
He said during the permit process, there had been a “fair bit of backwards and forwards” with Manningham Council, including the expectation on the developer to undertake the cost of the redevelopment of community facilities.
Along with the initial pricetag of purchasing the site, and the $2.75 million cost of the redevelopment, Mark said he also agreed with Council to improve the parking at the community hall across the road, as well as a pedestrian crossing between the hall and the centre, pay for the landscaping of Launders Reserve, and put in curb and channel drainage along Launders Road.
He said the Council was meant to go to tender about a year and a half ago for someone to do the construction work on the hall carpark, but hasn’t yet.

“There’s been a number of steps along the way; we have had to go back to get some modifications with Council to extend the trading hours of the gym by half an hour — which required the full town planning application again.
“That’s just been granted, which is great, so now it’s full steam ahead,” he said.

Despite the issues of construction during COVID, the subsequent building supply chain issues, and the “hoops” that Council has made the project jump through, Mark said he is passionate about delivering this community hub for Wonga Park.
“Despite all the hurdles, once we start something, we’re not giving up.”
Mark estimates the final fit-out will take another eight weeks, so look for a grand opening towards the end of October.

Fireball Finale and the reincarnation

THE DANCE FLOOR was heaving, with sparkle and glitter everywhere, then add a touch of Elvis and feathers, made for the perfect Fireball finale showstopper.
On Saturday, July 29, Fireball held its fourth gala ball with almost 300 locals in attendance. Bramleigh Estate — the queen of the evening — put on her best show with delectable food, impeccable service, and the most generous sponsorship the event has ever had in donating the complete venue, staff, food, beverages, table settings, and flowers; completely free in aid of raising money for our CFA volunteer firefighters.
Viva Las Vegas, did we have a performance!
Showgirls and boys carved up the dancefloor, but the highlight was special guest dancers — our local Fireys. For several weeks now, these firefighters have been adding a new skill set to their résumé, and we don’t think they’ll ever jump out of a fire truck with so much pizzazz ever again.
And boy, did their efforts deliver.
Thanks to their fancy footwork and feather-filled booty-shaking, the sparkly red Fireball hats were passed around and raised $2,900 cash from the audience.
A $5,000 diamond was won from the Quinton’s and Grand Hotel Champagne Bar.
A wine fridge completely stocked with Boat O’Craigo wines also went home with one lucky winner.
And if you did not get the chance to win a prize, well, you had the opportunity to bid on absolutely nothing, with the successful bidder paying $2,000 just for the glory of donating to the cause.
The Fireball Committee have outdone themselves again, with a total of $60,000 raised on the evening, which will go towards purchasing a new light tanker for Wonga Park CFA.
Captain of Wonga Park CFA, Aaron Farr, said:

“To raise this amount of money, in the short time frame we had, is not possible — Fireball have made it happen in one amazing night.
“This reduces the burden for our members, who already spend significant time carrying out essential duties as volunteer firefighters.
“The efforts of the Fireball Committee cannot be overrated,” he said.

Fireball started with the groundswell from the Warrandyte community to thank the CFA volunteers following the 2014 fires in Flannery Court.
Since the inception of Fireball in 2014, the Committee have run four events, each resulting in the purchase of an appliance for each of the Greater Warrandyte CFAs:

  • 2014: Closed the final gap in fundraising for a new tanker at North Warrandyte CFA.
  • 2016: New Slip-On for Warrandyte CFA.
  • 2018: New Forward Command Vehicle (FCV) for South Warrandyte CFA.
  • 2023: New light tanker for Wonga Park CFA — coming soon.

Over the four events, Fireball has raised over $260,000 and celebrated the volunteer Fireys in a way unmatched by any other fundraising initiative for fire services in decades.
Each event has been continually supported by some major sponsors and donors that have stayed with the event time and time again.
The contributions from local businesses have been integral to the event’s success.
But the major sponsors allow the Committee to turn smaller amounts of sponsorship dollars into hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the CFA.
Special heartfelt thanks go out to Community Bank Warrandyte, The Grand Hotel, Quinton’s IGA, Warrandyte Diary, Dyason Legal, Olivigna, and the former MP Ryan Smith for consistently valuing the efforts of our local volunteer Fireys.
The 2023 event welcomed some new contributions from Moonstone Photography, Kellybrook Winery, Lions Club, and the Riverside Market Committee, who also found it in their hearts to recognise the efforts of our CFAs. And then there was the special announcement.
The Fireball Committee has been working hard to package up Fireball in a Box.
A complete suite of all their learnings, documents, and templates, ready for another community or entity to fundraise for emergency services. During the event, community member Sandi Miller announced that she would helm a new committee, using Fireball in a Box as an initiative to fundraise for Manningham SES.

“We’re going to make orange the new red with Thunderball in 2025,” she said.

We have loved every minute of our journey as a committee — the laughs, the tears, the awe in generosity, the pride we feel to support the original vision of Julie Quinton, and the support of our wonderful community to make such a difference to our local brigades; will stay with us forever.
But for now, this is Fireball signing off: “Over and out”.

Photos: SANDI MILLER

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jumping Creek Road plan endorsed by Council

MANNINGHAM Council adopted the Jumping Creek Road Design Proposal at its April Ordinary Council Meeting.
The design proposal outlines how the Jumping Creek Road upgrade project will be constructed.
Yarra Ward Councillor Carli Lange told the meeting that the proposal successfully balances the priorities of safe road usage and the need to preserve the unique visual amenity of the local area.

“What came out [of community consultation] as the main concerns were wildlife protection, enhancing the vegetation, the footpath network, the Homestead Road intersection and the safety concerns there, and speeding along the road.
“All of these have been addressed when preparing the preferred option.
“I ask my fellow councillors to support the great work that officers have done,” Cr Lange told the meeting.

The $17.9 million Jumping Creek Road upgrade project is a major project to reconstruct the entire length of Jumping Creek Road from Ringwood-Warrandyte Road in Warrandyte to Homestead Road in Wonga Park.
Council endorsed the Jumping Creek Road Development Framework in 2016 after serious safety risks were identified on the stretch of road.
A study conducted at the time identified that between January 2009 and December 2013, 17 crashes resulting in casualties were reported at Jumping Creek Road, including one fatal crash.
It was also identified that Jumping Creek Road is an essential local link road that carries more than 8,100 vehicles per day, with the traffic volume expected to double to 15,000 cars per day by 2035.
In 2013, a Community Reference Panel was established to consult on the project with members of the community, Ward Councillors, and project officers, providing invaluable input on the road upgrade plan.
Cr Andrew Conlon was one of the original Councillors that worked with the reference panel.

“One of the great outcomes for the reference panel was the significant shift in recognising the wildlife and doing what we could to accommodate the wildlife crossing.
“I think that was one of those points of tension — I remember from the very start — and I do not think we really committed to the solution until relatively recently,” he said at the Council meeting.

Manningham Mayor Cr Michelle Kleinert said that the endorsement of the design proposal signifies the start of the next chapter for this project.

“We know how passionate our community is about the safety of its members and preserving the beautiful natural environment we all enjoy.
“This concept plan has done a wonderful job of considering these two key elements.
“With a lot of constructive input from our community, we know this upgrade will add value to the everyday lives of those who use Jumping Creek Road,” Cr Kleinert said.

The concept plan is designed to improve safety for all users.
Jumping Creek Road’s original construction standard has resulted in limited locations for pedestrians to walk along the road safely.
With over 11 years of community engagement on this project, the final design reflects the community’s views that have been considered at each step of the process.
Works on the Jumping Creek Road upgrade project are expected to begin in early 2023, with an early works package commencing in late 2022.
For more information about the project, visit
yoursay.manningham.vic.gov.au/jumping-creek-road-upgrade.

Gooligulch reopening

Photo: BILL McAULEY

THE REFURBISHMENT of the much loved Wonga Park playspace, based on Graeme Base’s book, My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch, is now complete with an official opening scheduled for 4pm, Wednesday, December 15.
Children can once again ride kangaroos, befriend wombats, emus and other characters under the watchful eye of Grandma at the refurbished Gooligulch Playspace in Wonga Park.
Mayor Cr Michelle Kleinert said the refurbishment was a successful collaboration between Council, author Graeme Base and the original Gooligulch creative team, featuring artists, fabricators and suppliers.

“We listened to the community and worked together to preserve the park’s distinctly Australian theme, inspired by the book.
“The refurbished park will ensure new generations of children can experience this unique story and iconic playspace for years to come,” she said.

The refurbishment includes a renovated house for Grandma, refurbished play units for children, and reinstated art panels, improved seating, landscaping, picnic areas and signage for everyone.
The official opening will include storytelling, hearing from the original creative team and Christmas decoration for Grandma’s house.
The upgrade is part of Manningham’s Parks Improvement Program.

“Thank you to our community for their patience over the last few months as we complete the refurbishment,” Cr Kleinert said.

Country Club in crosshairs over kangaroo cull

OUTRAGE and immediate action from the local community and local wildlife protection groups brought about a stay-of-execution for the kangaroos at Heritage Golf and Country Club, on Tuesday, April 27.
With mere hours’ notice, owners of properties adjacent to the golf club on the edge of Wonga Park were informed a kangaroo cull would take place on the grounds that evening.
This information was immediately shared on various community group and wildlife protection social media pages.
The information was shared widely, Warrandyte Diary has recorded 221 comments across 27 shares of its post with many comments expressing distaste at the advertised action, there was also some debate around the issues of dealing with wildlife populations, as Melbourne’s suburban growth continues to place settlements in wildlife territory or push populations into green wedge areas.
The Heritage Golf and Country Club’s own Facebook page received 838 comments on their most recent post with people protesting the kangaroo cull.
Local wildlife protection group Save the Kinley Kangas (STKK) mounted an on-site protest, on the evening of Tuesday, April 27 and through combined community action were able to postpone the cull.
A further demonstration was scheduled for Wednesday, April 28 but this was called off at the last minute when demonstrators were able to get assurances the cull would be postponed for the time being.
STKK is a team of highly skilled veterinary and wildlife experts that mobilised with the community in response to a proposed cull of the kangaroo mob on the Kinley development in Lilydale.
The Diary spoke with STKK representative Alyssa Wormald.
“We worked collaboratively with the developer to produce a high-level relocation proposal for the Kinley kangaroos, based on proven best-practice methodology,” she said.
Ms Wormald told the Diary they had heard about the Heritage Golf Course cull, via social media, at 2pm that afternoon and that the cull was a financial decision and not about population control.
Ms Wormald also informs the Diary that while the cull is temporarily postponed, the kangaroos are still at risk.
“Our understanding is that this is a poorly considered financial move to sell the carcasses for pet food.
“According to long term residents and staff, the kangaroos cause no trouble and are beloved by locals and guests alike.”
7 News reported the General Manager of the Club intends to go ahead with the cull as soon as they can.
“We hope to convince them that it would be a great PR move to cancel the cull and show they are a club that respects wildlife and the community by working with us to resolve any genuine issues with the kangaroos,” she said.
The Diary also asked the group about how the response would have played out if notice had been days or even weeks in advance.
“It’s deeply concerning that culls are allowed to go ahead with so little notice and no community consultation.
“It is extremely distressing to the many people who care about these local mobs.
“If we had known about it in advance, we could have reached out to the club to provide our assistance pro-bono.
“We could have worked together towards a really positive outcome for all involved.
“As it is, we have offered our services to the club but we have had no response, possibly because they have been bombarded with communications from concerned community members.
“It is essential that wildlife be considered in future planning, preserving habitat and green corridors wherever possible.”
The Diary then asked Alyssa about how we manage wildlife in the face of suburban development.
“If wildlife cannot be adequately accommodated, relocation must be the next step.
“The State Government has an outdated resistance to the relocation of kangaroos based on flawed research.
“We know experts like ours can safely and humanely relocate kangaroos and this should always be the first option.
“The government makes it extremely difficult to gain approval to move native macropods yet there are no restrictions on moving introduced farm animals that are environmentally damaging.
“It is non-sensical,” she said.
The Diary also reached out to Heritage Golf and Country Club for comment but are yet to receive a response.
STKK report that they have negotiated a cease-fire while talks take place to find a solution.
The Diary continues to monitor the situation.

Slow progress on Jumping Creek Road Upgrade

IN JULY 2016, Manningham Council endorsed the Jumping Creek Road Development Framework, a major project costing (then) $17.9M with a construction period of six years scheduled to begin in 2018.

The road currently carries over 8,000 vehicles per day, a number which is expected to double by 2035, and has had over 20 recorded vehicle crashes in the past five years.

An important link road between Warrandyte and the Yarra Valley, the road also gives access to the only river crossing within 10 kilometres for Wonga Park and the surrounding area.

A Jumping Creek Road Community Reference Panel was formed in 2017 and this consists of nine people comprising residents, businesses and community groups which are directly affected by Jumping Creek Road.

The works will include roadway realignment, emergency vehicle stopping bays and a shared pedestrian/cycling path which will run the entire length of Jumping Creek Road between Wonga Park and Warrandyte.

Roundabouts are to be constructed at the Warrandyte State Park Entrance, Hooper Road, Hartley Road and Yarra Road.

We ran a detailed description of this project in our July 2017 issue.

However, since then progress has been very slow and not a lot has happened.

The Diary asked Manningham Council for an update.

“Works to relocate water, gas and telecommunications lines between Ringwood-Warrandyte Road and Nelson Drive are progressing as part of stage 1A of the Jumping Creek Road upgrade,” said Grant Jack, Acting Director City Services.

“These works started in November 2018; over summer some electrical relocation works were delayed due to warm weather.

“While the relocation works are underway, Council is finalising the design of stage 1A of the road upgrade.

“This will include a planning permit process, which is anticipated to be advertised for public comment during April/May.

“The schedule of construction works for stage 1A will be set once the design is finalised.

“It is anticipated works will commence later in 2019.

“The upgrade is proposed to be constructed across a number of stages over an eight year period,” he said.

Manningham’s Yoursay website has a comprehensive map of the upgrade works.

However the website, and the responses from Manningham Council refer to various stages by number, but it is hard to determine which features are included in which stage and we have asked for further clarification of this and a mud map of the stage process with dates.

A further meeting of the Reference Panel has now been convened for Thursday, April 11 and we have been promised an update following this.

The Diary will keep you informed.

For more information and updates on the Jumping Creek Road upgrade, visit: www.yoursaymanningham.com.au/jumping-creek-road-upgrade

 

New hope for Wonga Park shopping centre

THERE IS A NEW wave of optimism that the Wonga Park Village shops will be given a new lease of life.

The “For Lease” sign that has stood as a sentinel outside the derelict shopping strip for over a year was given the addition of an “Under New Ownership” sign in late February, and has been joined by some cyclone fencing around the perimeter of the centre.

On contacting the leasing agent, Lewis Waddell of Fitzroys Real Estate, it was confirmed that the site has been purchased by a developer who would like to remain anonymous at this time.

Mr Waddell told the Dairy that the new owner has submitted plans to redevelop and refurbish the site to “bring it back to life”.

The owner has plans for what, in his words, will be a “community revitalisation”, and is hoping to attract tenants for a variety of retail, medical and dining spaces.

“Depending on how the permit application goes the owner hopes [tenants will be able to move in] within the next three to six months,” said Mr Waddell.

Tenants were evicted from the shopping centre by the former owner three years ago.

Hairdresser, Lynn Munro received notice to vacate her Yarra Road salon just before Christmas of 2015.

“I received a letter on December 17, 2015 to say I had to vacate within four weeks,” she said.

Since then the shops in the precinct have remained empty, much to the frustration of Wonga Park locals.

“The owner was a local person, but she moved to Sydney and stopped renewing leases on all the shops, even the Post Office couldn’t continue to operate,” she said.

When the centre was put up for lease again last year there were hopes for activity at the site, but despite numerous enquiries from potential tenants, none of the shops were let.

“The shops were the heart and soul of Wonga Park, with everyone living on such big blocks it was a place for everyone to meet.

“When I was the last shop there, people would come in and say, ‘where can we get a coffee?’, but there was nowhere,” Ms Munro said.

Over the last three years, all attempts of contacting the now-former Sydney-based owner of the property have proven futile as Council, media and residents have had letters unanswered, phone calls cut off, and many questions left unanswered.

While the centre has been languishing unoccupied, the town has been resolute in maintaining their community spirit.

Wonga Park Farmers Market has been established in an attempt to reinvigorate the community, but this does not solve the village’s day-to-day needs, which, until the property is tenanted, are still unmet.

Angelo Kourambas, Director City Planning and Community at Manningham City Council said it was too early for Council to comment on the owner’s ideas for the site.

However, he said the Council welcomes the potential rejuvenation of the centre.

“Council is keen to see the Wonga Park Village Centre restored to a viable and vibrant local shopping and community precinct for the local community to enjoy,” he said.

Anyone interested in leasing space from the new owner can contact Lewis Waddell at Fitzroys Real Estate 0431 107 275.

 

Five houses unite under one roof

Manningham’s five Neighbourhood Houses have formed a new strategic alliance, which will improve access to adult education for the municipality’s residents.

Under the banner “Manningham Learns” the Neighbourhood Houses of Warrandyte, Park Orchards, Wonga Park, The Pines Learning and Living and Learning at Ajani can to pool their resources and aggregate each centre’s courses and activities into one place, making it easier for adults to access courses and activities across the municipality.

Outgoing Mayor of Manningham Cr Michelle Kleinert told the Diary having all of Manningham’s Neighbourhood Houses united will grant residents with more options when exploring their adult education needs.

“When you consider you have Warrandyte, Park Orchards, Wonga Park they are all offering different things, if someone is living in an area and they only know Warrandyte they are missing out and Park Orchards is not that far; so it gives us better access for our community to feel they have better access to more tools,” she said.

In 2016 10,500 people enrolled in activities at Neighbourhood Houses across the municipality, according to data from the 2016 Census, that would indicate between 10 and 12 per cent of the residents of Manningham who are beyond compulsory schooling age are involved in some form of activity or course run by Neighbourhood Houses.

At the Manningham Learns launch, Cr Kleinert spoke on the importance of this alliance in promoting education within the municipality.

“For young people who are struggling with learning, with education; when they see their parents and grandparents still learning — it is a very powerful message for us to give back to the next generation,” she said.

There are around 300 organisations in Victoria who are eligible for funding under the capacity and innovations fund, the money helps organisations evolve the way they engage with the community to provide education, but there is only so much money to go around and often strategic alliances are a more attractive way to fund enhancements, but alliances between independent organisations are tricky, especially in the adult education sector.

The Manningham Learns project has taken 18 months to get from planning to launch and has meant the five Neighbourhood Houses have had to change their view of each other, they have had to become collaborators instead of competitors, a task not easy to achieve and one which Julie Hebert, Manager of Training and Participation Regional Support for north eastern Victoria Region praised.

“There are about 300 [community education organisations] in the State and if every single entity tries to do it by themselves in this modern context, it is a big risk — it is working together that saves everybody in the end.

“It isn’t an easy task to get five organisations who are vastly different to agree on a course of action to do the same thing, it is a very, very, very hard task.

“It is a very, very great outcome, what you’ve done, you should be very proud,” she said at the launch of Manningham Learns.

This new alliance has received accolades from all levels of government and the managers of the five Neighbourhood Houses have worked hard to make this happen, under the umbrella of Manningham Learns they will be able to make their administration more efficient which means each manager can focus on providing a better education service, as Pauline Fyffe, manager of Park Orchards Community House explained.

“Initially we still have a lot of work to do in determining how the alliance will operate and the benefits we will see, the project has been about bringing us together, we have come a long way on that journey but there is still quite a lot to do in terms of how we will operate, how we will make our lives easier, this is the beginning,” she said.

Emma Edmond, of Warrandyte Neighbourhood House added: “because we know each other a lot better now and there is a high level of trust amongst us we will be able to just put our hand up to do something I can do instead of all of us having to do the same thing individually”.

The efficient running of an organisation like Neighbourhood House is vital if it is to evolve the service it provides the community and a lot of the changes in policy which Manningham Learns has initiated will not be seen by most.

What will be seen is the ability to see, in one place, what all five Neighbourhood Houses have on offer, which will give those members of the community who are seeking to educate themselves further a more convenient picture of what courses and activities are available, and where.

“The biggest benefit is that all our services are now in one place, so they can access the website and download a course procure — it is a one stop shop for learning,” said Ms Fyffe.

Visit their new site

Major upgrade for Jumping Creek Road

AFTER 17 RECORDED vehicle crashes in four years, Manningham Council began the process for a major upgrade to Jumping Creek Road in July 2016.

At an estimated cost of $17.9M and a construction period of six years, works are scheduled to begin in 2018, after the next fire danger period has ended and assuming the necessary permits have been issued.

An important link road between Warrandyte and the Yarra Valley, the road also gives access to the only river crossing with 10 kilometres for Wonga Park and the surrounding area.

Manningham Council estimates Jumping Creek Road currently carries more than 8000 vehicles per day, a number which is expected to of doubled by 2035.

Taking into account the number of accidents on this important artery, Manningham believe the road, which is already failing to keep drivers safe will be unable to accommodate a major increase in traffic without an upgrade.

The works will include roadway realignment, roundabouts, emergency vehicle stopping bays and a shared pedestrian/cycling path which will run the entire length of Jumping Creek Road between Wonga Park and Warrandyte.

This last adjustment will deliver greater accessibility to the Wonga Park community as well as improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

As part of the development process, Manningham Council have formed the Jumping Creek Road Community Reference Panel, a panel which consists of residents, businesses and community groups which are directly affected by Jumping Creek Road.

Mr Leigh Harrison, Director of Assets and Engineering for Manningham Council spoke to the Diary, explaining the role the panel will play in the forthcoming upgrade.

“The Jumping Creek Road Community Reference Panel will provide an important and long term opportunity for the community to highlight issues, queries and provide feedback on proposals to upgrade Jumping Creek Road.

“[The panel] will also help guide the materials and finishes, path widths, replanting opportunities, fauna crossings, street lighting, pedestrian crossing locations, non-regulatory signage, roadside aesthetics, emergency stopping bay locations, the Dudley Road/Yarra Road/Jumping Creek Road intersection surface treatment and the extent and nature of equestrian treatments,” he said.

Residents will get the opportunity to express their thoughts on the road upgrade via the Community Reference Panel, as well as via the Manningham “Your Say” page.

However, one major concern will be traffic congestion.

The Diary asked Mr Harrison what steps have been taken to minimise further congestion to an already heavily congested area.

“The key objectives of this project are to improve safety for all users, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, and to accommodate the forecasted increase in traffic volumes — which is expected to double to 15,000 vehicles per day by 2035.

“During our consultation process, concerns were raised about traffic congestion at the Jumping Creek Road and Homestead Road intersection — located on the municipal boundary between the Shire of Yarra Ranges and the City of Manningham.

“Council is working with the Shire of Yarra Ranges to address resident concerns regarding this intersection.

“Some traffic disruption during works of this scale is unavoidable,” he said.

Jumping Creek Road Upgrade plan courtesy of the Manningham “YourSay” page

Wild about our animals

THE towering Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 killed 173 people and led to an outpouring of grief among Australians.

But for Wonga Park firefighter Adrian Trigt, they had special meaning that added to the tragedy.

“I visited Kinglake after Black Saturday and the place looked like a warzone,” Mr Trigt said. “I opened an email from Wildlife Victoria and I saw that they needed more wildlife rescuers and so I jumped on board because saving wildlife is important: it does make a difference.”

Mr Trigt has since devoted his time to rescuing and transporting injured kangaroos to wildlife shelters for rehabilitation.

His work is highly specialised, with few people trained in how to rescue kangaroos.

It’s difficult to find volunteers who are willing to regularly spend several hours attempting to save an injured kangaroo, let alone buy the expensive equipment needed to rescue such large and speedy animals.

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death for native animals such as kangaroos and much of Adrian’s work involves removing dead roos from roads and marking them with a white “X” so passersby know a rescuer has already attended.

“Unfortunately, most animals don’t usually survive car accidents,” Mr Trigt said. “If a kangaroo is lying there with two broken legs and it’s dying, I want to help put the animal out of its misery. You can’t just leave an animal there to suffer.”

Unfortunately, that’s how the overwhelming majority of wildlife injuries end.

Wildlife Victoria, a non-profit emergency response service for wildlife, sent volunteers to help injured animals on about 40,000 call outs last year.

The organisation’s relationship manager, Amy Amato, estimates 80 to 90 per cent of cases resulted in the animal being put down or dying before volunteers arrived at the scene.

“It’s pretty hard on our volunteers and sometimes they go weeks without being able to rescue a single animal,” Ms Amato says. “That’s when our job becomes about ending the animal’s suffering. Nearly every wildlife death or injury is directly or indirectly human-related, whether it’s a road accident, a kangaroo caught on a fence, a pet attack or a bird that has ingested plastic and needs surgery.”

Those animals with a chance of survival end up in the care of one of the organisation’s 500 active wildlife carers, such as Wonga Park’s Adriana Simmonds, who is a biologist and environmental educator from Columbia.

She has nursed around 2000 native Australian animals back to health and released them into the wild over the past 15 years.

Her immense love for Australia’s wildlife is evident to those around her, who haven’t seen her take a proper holiday in 15 years because her shelter always has animals needing her care.

Hello possum: Adriana Simmonds is passionate about her animal rescue work.

Running her wildlife shelter from her home is a 24-hour job, with baby animals requiring feeding throughout the night. It can also be heartbreaking work – sometimes all she can do is ease their suffering as they die from horrific injuries.

Yet Mrs Simmonds says she wouldn’t have her life any other way.

“You sacrifice yourself and at the end of the day you let them go and it’s like you’re letting go of your own child. It’s pure love,” she said.

“When they’re babies I’m a mum to them – I’m affectionate, I kiss them and hug them but as they start growing up I start the process of detachment. When I release them into the wild they are completely dehumanised so they don’t remember me. They need to be completely wild to survive on their own.”

During spring and summer, carers face an influx of orphaned babies, whose mothers have often been hit by cars as they migrate or they’re often attacked by cats whose owners don’t keep them indoors at night.

Mrs Simmonds says global warming is also making natural events such as bushfires more extreme and deadly for wildlife. But she says cutting down forests to make way for developments such as roads and houses have the greatest impact on wildlife, affecting the entire ecosystem.

“You’re limiting their source of food and shelter and the rate at which we destroy is never the same as the rate at which we restore habitat,” Mrs Simmonds said.

“Then animals can die trying to find other shelter. People often view possums in their roofs as pests and yet those possums are there because the trees they would usually live in have been cut down, but people don’t often make the connection.”

Wildlife advocates say many wildlife deaths could be prevented if the Victorian government established more wildlife corridors so native animals could migrate safely through Melbourne’s outer-suburbs such as Warrandyte and Wonga Park.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning spokesman Ewan Cook says a guide for wildlife corridors is being developed, which will be followed by a plan.

Meanwhile, Mrs Simmonds is busy looking after the animals in her care and visiting schools and community groups with her business Human Seeds, which educates people on wildlife issues while helping her fund the costs of running her shelter.

“I truly believe education is the only hope we have for the future and I teach people how to incorporate simple changes into their daily lives, which make a big difference to our wildlife,” she said.

“Probably the best thing people can do is plant native vegetation in their backyards – that way people are creating their own wildlife corridors.”

To report injured wildlife, call Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535 or visit www.wildlifevictoria.org.au