Author: Stephen Taylor

IT WILL be “tickets please” from a real station when the old Cheltenham railway station building is erected at Mornington Railway Preservation Society’s base at Moorooduc. The 140-year-old timber structure was recently trucked down to Moorooduc in flat-pack form where it will be assessed in detail before being put together to join other historic pieces of railway infrastructure on the site. The preservation society’s president Andrew Swayne sees it as an “absolute landmark project” that will provide a missing link in the station’s redevelopment. “We couldn’t even get the old station from Mornington,” he said, referring to the line which…

A TRAILER equipped with CCTV cameras is helping Mornington police watch out for crime. The solar powered trailer can be parked anywhere, making it especially valuable during the warmer months while keeping an eye on schoolies and during police operation Summersafe. “It provides a great deterrent to would-be criminals and also assists us in detecting and preventing crime,” Senior Sergeant Paul Edwards said. “We have access to the footage in both real time and stored. The footage remains inside the equipment for four weeks before being overwritten.” Senior Sergeant Edwards can look through the camera while sitting at his office…

“KOALAS on the Mornington Peninsula are under threat and in order to protect them we need to understand them.” So says Kelly Smith, from Federation University, who is conducting a genetic study of the Mornington Peninsula koala population. The peninsula forms part of the Gippsland plain bioregion that extends into South Gippsland, including the Strzelecki and Wilsons Promontory bioregions, which contain a remnant koala population of special significance because of its high genetic diversity, Ms Smith said. “Prior to European settlement in the 1800s koalas were interconnected across the entire Gippsland plain, but are now separated by extensive areas of…

STAFF at vaccination centres at Rosebud and Seaford have returned the highest number of positive COVID-19 test results “since the start of the pandemic”. Dr Sally Shaw said tests at the centres recorded 11 positive cases of the virus over the past two weeks – including five on Wednesday and four on Thursday. She said no sites on the Mornington Peninsula had been added to the state government’s COVID-19 exposure site website website since 10 September, which meant possibly hundreds of exposure sites were not being listed. “We have been fairly sheltered so far on the peninsula and have all…

WILDLIFE groups are frantically seeking to save a large mob of kangaroos from being slaughtered on a Cape Schanck property. Members of Mornington Peninsula Wildlife Action Group said the kangaroos appeared to be trapped behind wildlife exclusion fencing along all boundaries of the 70-hectare property on Patterson Road. They said up to 200 animals could not escape back to neighbouring Greens Bush wildlife reserve “even if they wanted to”. The group said neighbouring landholders had told them a kangaroo cull took place on the property last year and “their concern is another cull is imminent”. Neighbours had said no other…

EFFORTS to save an historic section of Flinders pier have been reinforced with Mornington Peninsula Shire Council voting unanimously to back its retention. The decision adds impetus to the efforts of the Flinders Community Association to have the 180-metre long timber section added to the Victorian Heritage Register (“Heritage bid adds time for ageing pier” The News 7/9/21). It also acknowledges the backing of environment “royalty” Sir David Attenborough who stepped in to bat for the pier as a way of protecting the habitat of the weedy seadragon (“Attenborough supports Flinders pier” The News 12/7/21). The Save Flinders Pier group’s…

FLAMES and smoke billowing over the past week from ESSO’s Long Island Point fractionation plant occurred because a customer had shut down and was unable to take as much ethane as usual. Plant manager David McCord said a reduced quantity of the gas was being sent to plastics manufacturer Qenos and the excess was being emitted from the plant’s chimneys in short bursts of flame and smoke. Hastings-based photographer Celia Furt said yesterday (Monday) the chimney was “bleeding flames and black smoke again with a small portion of the flame breaking loose”. “Yesterday when I went out it seemed to…

THE deadline to bring former HMAS Otama submarine ashore has been pushed out to 2 October. Western Port Oberon Association says it has been given a two-week reprieve as it tries to find a way to haul the 1978 submarine out of Western Port and onto land near the Crib Point jetty as part of a marine tourist attraction. Association vice-president Keith Claughton said yesterday (Monday) that consultants were completing plans detailing the work required, timeframes and expected costs of bringing the sub ashore as part of applications for permits from Mornington Peninsula Shire and the Department of Environment Land…

A PROJECT seven years in the making and described as an “excellent example of the council, government and community coming together to deliver state-of-the-art facilities” in Mornington is awaiting state government approval. The Alexandra Park Pavilion redevelopment in Main Street will involve the co-location of allied health and medical suites from The Bays hospital into new buildings also housing existing cricket, football and netball clubs and recreation facilities. Mornington Peninsula Shire Council last week submitted a combined planning scheme amendment and planning permit application to Planning Minister Richard Wynne. “We’re looking forward to a prompt and positive response from the…

THE chance sighting of a missing item poster near the beach at Canadian Bay set off a train of events that ended with a happy ending for a Mount Eliza couple. On the poster were photographs of a lost wedding band that had slipped off its owner’s finger while he was out paddling in front of the boat ramp, Wednesday 8 September. The man, who is not being named as he is suffering serious health issues, was distraught at the loss and his wife set about printing the posters in the hope the ring would be found. Enter Mount Eliza…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has adopted a $2 million COVID-19 grant scheme as part of its $10 million recovery package adopted earlier this year. The offer of money aims to ease the pain of more than 200 days of lockdown resulting in ongoing financial stress and impacts on wellbeing.  The direct payments will be available from next month to eligible businesses, community groups, creatives (individuals and organisations), not for profits and environmental groups. “Council is seriously committed to helping our community recover from COVID-19,” the mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said. “These grants are just one of the many things we are…

A PROSTATE cancer campaigner is urging men on the Mornington Peninsula to find out their prostate cancer risk as data shows the region has the highest rate in the state and the second highest in the country. The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s Stargate portal reveals the peninsula’s rate of 216 per 100,000 men compares poorly with the state’s average of 139 and the national average of 150. Winston Trood, 80, who convenes the Peninsula Prostate Cancer Support Group, says more men need to be aware of the disease. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014 aged 74 after…

THE mental health and wellbeing of community gardeners on the Mornington Peninsula is being tested by the continuous COVID-19 lockdowns. Members of the 17 shire-run community gardens, who may also be socially isolated, like nothing better than to potter around picking vegetables, weeding, composting and pruning – all joys put on hold by the restrictions. Shire officers told members at the start of lockdown that, under state government COVID-19 restrictions, their gardens would be closed until further notice. Some even had their locks changed to stop entry. Several members, who asked not to be named, told The News it was…

MOONLIT Sanctuary, Pearcedale, celebrates its 20th anniversary this week, and what better way to celebrate a birthday than with cake? With lockdown in place, it is the animals’ turn to celebrate on Friday, 17 September. Keepers will be serving up “cakes” for koalas, dingoes, wombats and emu to mark two decades of bringing people and wildlife together. “The animals are in for a real treat”, life sciences manager Lisa Tuthill said. “Whether made of sweet potato, meat or insects, birthday cakes can serve as a great source of nutritional and behavioural enrichment.” Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park grew from the…

HASTINGS has been named Australia’s most sustainable community in this year’s Australian Sustainable Communities – Tidy Towns Awards. Beginning in 1990 as a way of recognising pride, cohesion and action by members of the community, the awards now focus on sustainability to reflect the growing importance of community-led environmental action. As well as the top award, Hastings also won four of the nine individual categories in the awards held Friday 3 September. The Dame Phyllis Frost Litter Prevention award went to two Hastings entries: The I Sea I Care Marine Ambassador Program and the A Team. Both programs empower young…

PLANS to expand Eco Park, Mount Martha, will be brought back to Mornington Peninsula Shire Council for approval before tenders are called for its construction, despite the project being in the pipeline for 10 years. A $5000 to $10,000 sound impact study on noise emanating from the park will be completed and brought back to the council detailing possible sound mitigation techniques after the active recreation hub has been built. At the council’s 30 August meeting Cr Steve Holland spoke in support of nearby residents who asked for noise barriers to be installed at the $700,000 Eco Park project, which…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council will extend its financial hardship policy until at least 28 February 2022. The policy, moved at its 7 September meeting, will apply to all rateable properties and debtors who apply for relief. The council also agreed not to raise interest on any outstanding balances for ratepayers and debtors until that date. Officers will then report back to council which will decide whether or not to extend the relief period. Revenue business support coordinator Ros Humphrey told councillors that having regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Victorian Ombudsman’s report, the rates hardship policy had been reviewed…

THE Mornington Peninsula and Frankston are considered self-harm “hot spots” with some of the highest suicide rates in Melbourne. The startling finding was revealed in the recent Royal Mental Health Commission report which highlighted the two local government areas as being “in particular need of mental health assistance, support and consideration”. World Suicide Prevention Day was Saturday 11 September. Free counselling service for young people Left and Right Counselling CEO Daniel Lennon said one in four Australians aged 12-25 reportedly struggled with mental health problems. “Throughout the pandemic, demand for mental health support among young people has reached an all-time…

A PETITION presented to the Victorian Legislative Council on Tuesday 7 September by Victorian Greens leader Dr Samantha Ratnam aiming to protect eastern grey kangaroos coincided with National Threatened Species Day. Founder of the Peninsula Kangaroos group Craig Thompson said talking about potential local extinctions was “society’s best chance at stopping a species from becoming threatened”. “I know many people will not associate the eastern grey kangaroo with being threatened, but there are a number of points to consider,” Mr Thompson said, adding that all threatened species had one thing in common at one point: they were once common or…

A DROMANA school was last week declared a COVID-19 Tier 1 exposure site and closed for deep cleaning. It is believed a contractor who visited Peninsula Specialist College, in Old White Hill Road, introduced the virus, Wednesday 8 September. The mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said schools – especially special schools – were always at risk: “These are vulnerable kids, and their teachers can’t always wear masks because of the [children’s] disabilities. Hopefully no other cases will erupt.” Other recent Tier 1 sites on the peninsula were BM Hall Kitchens and Cabinets, Progress Street, Mornington and Alpass and Associates in Suffolk…

AN epic experience on this year’s Great Vic Bike Ride is just what Dromana cyclist Rose Benton needs as she eases back into the sport after a break. Benton is tackling her first Great Vic Ride: the nine-day Ride the Art Silos and the Grampians, Saturday 27 November to Sunday 5 December. The 537-kilometre route is being billed as an “exceptional mix of scenery, art on a grand scale, wildlife, wineries and the awe-inspiring Grampians National Park”. The 37th ride will start in Rainbow and progress through Rainbow, Brim, Horsham for two nights, Halls Gap for two nights, Dunkeld…

THE historic timber section of Flinders pier may yet be saved from demolition after Heritage Victoria accepted a nomination to include it on the Victorian Heritage Register. Heritage Victoria will now undertake a statutory assessment to determine whether the whole foreshore precinct “demonstrates state-level significance”. The pier’s nomination, by Flinders District Historical Society, seems to have had an immediate – and welcoming – effect. Save The Pier Campaign organisers say it will “at the very least ensure an independent evaluation of the significance of the pier by heritage council and delay any action/decision on demolition”. Parks Victoria, which had previously…

A GROUP of Balnarring residents is fighting hard to save a huge manna gum from the chainsaw. Members met with Mornington Peninsula Shire Council earlier this year to discuss saving the tree on Balnarring Beach Road leading into the township and on a school bus route. Concerned resident Belinda Eden said the to-ing and fro-ing had gone on and on … “The residents have put up reasonable suggestions and alternatives as opposed to the complete removal of this tree, none of which have been accepted,” she said. “Habitat/tree loss is an important issue in this area and this could be…

MORNINGTON’S Afghan Marcopolo Restaurant last week had an “overwhelming” response and raised $8680 to help those in desperate need in Afghanistan. Proprietor Nadir Shakoor said customers had jumped on board the campaign after he explained that due to the war-like conditions in the country, many people had been displaced from their homes and had little to eat. “As Afghan Australians my family took refuge in Australia after going through a lot of difficulty getting here and I cannot imagine what the Afghan people would be going through right now,” he said later. He asked customers to place their orders as…

A SOLICITOR’S office in Suffolk Street, Rosebud, was declared a Tier 1 COVID-19 hot spot last week after being visited by a suspected active case. The Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton advised that anyone who attended Alpass & Associates, 10am-4.30pm, Thursday 26 August, immediately get tested and quarantine for 14 days. Meanwhile, Mornington Peninsula Shire is urging residents to “get the jab as soon as you can”. “Once 70 per cent of Victorians have had at least one vaccine dose the state government has said it will look at easing restrictions,” it said in a statement last week. Vaccination reportedly…

DINING out on the footpath and car park spaces turned into “parklets” will again be part of summer trading on the Mornington Peninsula. Mornington’s Main Street, from the Esplanade to Barkly Street, will be closed to traffic from 17 December to 1 February, with restaurants and cafes being able to extend outdoors. “Restaurants and cafes were [earlier this year] thrilled to be able to serve more people while still complying with regulations after months of being closed,” the mayor Cr Despi O’Connor said. “We surveyed all businesses in Main Street and 67 per cent voted to close Main Street again,”…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire is contesting Ryman Healthcare’s Supreme Court appeal against aspects of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s decision to refuse a permit for an aged care centre in Mount Eliza. The appeal relates to whether VCAT correctly interpreted relevant sections of the shire’s planning scheme, including provisions of the special use zone and the inter-urban break, when assessing the development in Kunyung Road. Ryman last month said the appeal would review how a point of planning law was interpreted by VCAT (“Ryman redraws plans for second permit bid” The News 9/8/21). Victoria development manager David Laing said at…

THE Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association can “dream bigger now” after Mornington Peninsula Shire Council last week adopted a $5.7 million master plan. The plan will see the Willum Warrain Gathering Place at Hastings transformed with a new entrance building, gathering place, community auditorium, dedicated elders’ area and a community hub with cafe. The shire is proposing to extend the Pound Road site to 2.4 hectares and commit to a 30-year lease. “We are absolutely thrilled – we’ve known it was coming, but to get this concession is a complete validation of everything we’ve been doing here for seven years”, men’s…

RYE resident Nikki Wood could relax and breathe a sigh of relief late last week after she received belated permission to bring her dad down from NSW on compassionate grounds as he recovers from surgery. Ms Wood had been frantic pandemic “red tape” would scuttle her attempts to relocate and care for Robert Wood, 77, who recently had his prostate and bladder removed and is anticipating further surgery on a bad hip. “We applied to get an exemption to Victoria for him so my sister and I could take care of him until he got back on his feet,” Nikki…

A MOUNT Eliza woman struggling to come to grips with the death of her dog after it ate contaminated meat is focused on “ensuring it never happens again”. Molly Patton, 28, lost her “best friend” Scarlett to the effects of the indospicine toxin in meat believed to have been sourced from the Northern Territory and bought locally. Ms Patton said she had been unaware that the “kangaroo” meat she had thought she was buying from her regular wholesaler had been mixed with beef and horse meat contaminated by indospicine, which is highly toxic to dogs. Scarlett and Ms Patton’s parents’…