THE Casey Council is opening its pockets for residents keen to improve local vegetation. The City of Casey’s Biodiversity Incentive Scheme Grants ar... Read More »
Friday proved to be a showstopping day, with the the monumental opening of MAMA closing traffic and stopping the Boder city in its tracks. Photographer ADAM WILSON caught the fun action that marked the opening of the long-awaited addition to Albury.
IF YOU were filling your car up in Cranbourne last month, you were getting value for money.
According to Comparethemarket.com.au Cranbourne and Frankston recorded Melbourne’s lowest petrol prices throughout September.
In its third national quarterly unleaded petrol report for September, Cranbourne sat at an average of 124.3 cents per litre (cpl).
Melbourne’s current average is 136.6cpl, which is more than 10cpl higher than its month average of 126.2cpl.
Just in time for the October long weekend the steady national average that Australia has enjoyed since June this year looks set to change with prices likely to rise according to Comparethemarket.com.au.
TWO groups of young people celebrated finishing up six months of hard work as part of the Green Army program at Birdsland Reserve in Belgrave last week.
The groups have been working on environmental management along the Puffing Billy corridor and on various Landcare properties throughout the Dandenong Ranges.
The have been working on environmental rehabilitation including weed control, re-planting native species and track maintenance.
Ellen Mitchell from Conservation Volunteers Australia said the program had been invaluable for skills development for the volunteers.
“They have leaned environmental skills, teamwork and leadership skills,” she said.
“They are mostly workplace ready through the skills they have leaned they now have responsibility and accountability for their work and for each other.”
La Trobe MP Jason Wood was on hand to present the groups with their certificates and praise their good work.
“It’s fantastic to see these young people working together as a team;” he said.
“Learning new skills for jobs and getting outdoors, it’s such a great opportunity and I’m very proud of them all.”
One third of the volunteers who participated in this round of the program have moved on to employment, while others have moved into further study.
THE Yarra Ranges and wider communities are remembering the life of Denise Garratt, who is widely known and respected among both local and international wildlife groups.
Based in Gruyere, Denise was a much-loved and highly respected friend, community member and wildlife warrior.
Sadly, after a short illness, Denise Garratt passed away on Friday, 25 September.
Denise was a dedicated volunteer who gave her time to help orphaned and injured wildlife throughout large areas of Australia.
Some of her many achievements are as follows:
* Founder and president of Help for Wildlife;
* Founding member of the RSPCA (Victoria) Wildlife Branch;
* Founder of Wildlife Care Network (now Wildlife Victoria);
* Founder and secretary of Wildlife Help on Mornington Peninsula;
* Member of Yarra Ranges Animal Welfare Working Group;
* Wildlife carer;
* An active member in so many wildlife committees throughout Victoria and in most other states;
* Held training courses for wildlife carers; and
* Nominated for the Yarra Ranges Shire 2013 Australia Day Awards.
Denise was loved and respected in so many wildlife support groups.
For many years, Denise organised wildlife speakers, conducted lectures and training courses for volunteer wildlife carers at various venues such as the Melbourne Zoo, as well as the Healesville Sanctuary.
YOU don’t meet many people like Charlie Huyskens.
Last week, Charlie celebrated 50 years of continuous service as a member of the Rotary Club of Pakenham with a dinner held in his honour. He was also presented with the Paul Harris Ruby pin to mark the special milestone.
With much of his family present, members of the club shared their experiences and thoughts on Charlie’s service, which has been nothing short of incredible.
Charlie joined the club on 6 August, 1965, and in 1967/68 served as International Chair, before becoming president in 1969.
After his term as president, Charlie’s other positions included sergeant-at-arms in 1974/75, and community service chair in 1984/1985. In 1977/78, Charlie was instrumental in the Rotarian Potato Project.
Speaking at the dinner, former president Peter Van Diemen said the Huyskens family were crucial to the success of the project.
“This project was only possible through Charlie and his family providing the land and special potato growing equipment and by Rotarians providing the labour,” he said.
“At the time I was only a new member of a couple of years and remember thinking, ‘Wow! If these guys put their minds to it, they can do anything’.”
In 1987, Charlie was presented with a Paul Harris Fellow Award and in 1990 was made the inaugural chairman of the P.B. Ronald Trust, a position he held up until 2011.
Outside of the Rotary Club, Charlie served as a shire councillor from 1971 to 1977 and was involved in a number of other local projects such as Minabel and the Kooweerup Food Protection Authority.
Ken Rook met Charlie in 1985 and shared some memories they have shared over the years.
“Charlie has served on many and varied committees and if not on the committee you can be sure he would be there helping with the project in some way,” he said.
“Charlie was Rotary Information Chairman for a while and he used to invite new members to his home after a Rotary meeting and run a very interesting session about Rotary. Great value for the new members.
“Of even greater value were the Dutch treats Anna put on for supper.”
He spoke of Rotary’s response the 2011 flooding in Queensland’s Lockyer Valley. Local livestock agents held a market to raise funds to assist the affected people, and Charlie travelled to Queensland to present a $15,000 cheque to the Rotary Club of Gratton, which was severely damaged.
Fifty years after first joining the club, Charlie’s commitment is stronger than ever. His main role now is as cashier and he helps out with the barbecue.
The Huyskens family said they were very proud of Charlie’s achievement.
“We congratulate dad on his special achievement of 50 years of service to the Pakenham Rotary Club.
We were pleased to be invited and present at this special event. It was lovely to hear all the contributions he made and still is making to the community with the support of Anna our mum.”
Though the night was full of accolades for an exemplary Rotarian, it was perhaps Ken Rook who put it most succinctly, with help from the Rotary International President.
“The RI President’s theme for this year is ‘Be a Gift to the World’,” he said.
“Charlie, you are a gift to the world.”
SHERATON Noosa Resort and Spa has been named as the winner of Tourism Noosa’s sponsorship offer for a 2016 food event, but Jim Berardo said the announcement won’t change his plans to re-launch the International Food and Wine Festival next May.
Tourism Noosa chairman Steve McPharlin said the Tourism Noosa board had offered Noosa Pacific Hotel, which owns Sheraton Noosa, sponsorship for a culinary event to be held in May 2016 that will showcases the region’s culinary and produce offerings.
Only last month restaurateur and former director of the International Food and Wine Festival Jim Berardo announced he would re-launch the failed food festival in May 2016.
In a statement to media, Mr Berardo said while the announcement from Tourism Noosa is “disheartening” he confirmed he will host the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival under Berardo Festival Management in May 2016.
“It is disheartening to hear of the decision by Tourism Noosa and the Tourism Noosa board of directors to allocate tourism levy funding to another food and wine event proposal by the Sheraton, the minimal funding is one of many contributions towards the overall budget of running the event and will have little impact on the festival program,” he said.
Mr Berardo said it was “disappointing” to hear the “local tourism body was not interested to support the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival after 12 years of proven benefit to the region and the local economy, but would work with other partners to continue to strive for successful outcomes for the nation’s premier food, wine and lifestyle event”.
Mr Berardo said his application to Tourism Noosa was supported by many letters of support from the local business community, including creditors from the 2015 event, backing his application of a future event and recognising his “invaluable experience and contribution” to Noosa over the past 12 years.
The media statement said Mr Berardo was “confident” and remained “hopeful” negotiations with the Queensland State Government (Tourism Events Queensland) would be successful, and said his negotiations with corporate partners were “nearing final stages”.
Mr Berardo said he also “continues his plan to repay creditors from personal funds while the negotiations run due process”.
Mr McPharlin said while Tourism Noosa offers sponsorship to the Sheraton Noosa for the coming festival as well as sponsorship to 12 other events throughout the year, the new sponsorship deal places no restriction on individuals or organisations to conduct other events.
“Tourism Noosa looks forward to working with Noosa Pacific Hotel along with all stakeholders to help ensure the success of this event for the region,” Mr McPharlin said.
Sheraton Noosa Resort and Spa were contacted for comment but were unable to response by deadline.
FOODASSIST Warwick is calling on the community for donations of seeds, soil, fertiliser or anything else used for gardening as they become self-sufficient in fresh produce.
FoodAssist Warwick supervisor Esther Spicer said the garden was growing but it still needed help.
“I can’t wait till we can put our own grown food in the hampers,” she said.
“All the seeds have been donated, and people have been dropping in coupons but at this point we’ve run out of soil. We need more soil and pots.”
“We have people coming in and saying we only heard about this morning. We still want to get the word out.”
“We’ve got a very loyal customer base who do spread the word for us.”
Soon they will be growing strawberries and they hope to one day grow watermelons.
Councillor Glyn Rees stopped by the operation, at 38 Percy Street, to have a look for himself and said the council may be able to help in the future.
“There’s always something the council may be able to help with,” he said.
“It’s about getting together a list of the primary needs. From a furnishing point of view, if there’s something within council properties we’re not using a great deal, we could look at donating. Regardless of what it is, it would be useful here anyway.
“We could it put out to the council or the community. I will talk to the Men’s Shed.
“If a lot more community groups and people are aware, I’m sure they’d support it, knowing the service they provide to the community.”
FoodAssist Warwick is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm.
COME Remembrance Day this year, a group of three veterans plan to mark their respects at the northern-most tip of Australia.
Shane Dixon, Mathew Keene and Chris May – all members of the group Young Veterans – by that stage would have stopped at 30 towns between Wilson’s Promontory and Cape York in six weeks.
They would have spoken at schools, groups and RSL branches to spread awareness on the often-overlooked plight of the young, modern veteran.
“Kids are often shocked to know me and (brother) Scott are veterans of the war,” Mr May said.
“They picture veterans as old guys with jackets.”
Most of Australia’s returned veterans are now in their mid-twenties to thirties.
Some return with disabilities, mental health issues and some simply struggle to cope with “fitting in” to civilian home life.
Young Veterans has been the conduit for many of them, making initial contact via social media.
It has helped many newly-returned servicepeople – and anyone who put on “the uniform” – to get help, counselling and housing.
On weekends, the group organised camping trips to stir some veterans “out of the woodwork”.
On 1 October, just prior to embarking on its 40-day cross-country odyssey, the group made a brief visit to Dandenong RSL – its major sponsor who donated three ex-military Land Rovers to the cause.
General manager Greg Betros said the group had “opened our eyes” to what young veterans endured.
“We’re happy to support them. We think it’s more than beneficial.”
Chris May remembers spending his 20th birthday in a rocket shelter in Afghanistan after his party was “rocketed”.
He and his companions shared a birthday fruitcake cooked by his mother and lit with 20 candles.
“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” he says now of that experience.
Such treats like that cake also “mean the world” to our servicepeople, Mr May says.
Soberingly, he returned home after being wounded when his armoured vehicle drove over a roadside bomb.
To keep up to date with the trek, follow the Young Veterans site on Facebook.