Author: Liz Bell

IT’S been a life punctuated by parental and societal abandonment, cruelty and betrayal, near-death experiences and fragmented relationships, yet Mornington’s Klaas Kalma’s glass remains “half full”. Surprisingly, none of the obstacles have stopped the feisty survivor from living life to the full, and now, at 77, Kalma gives readers another glimpse into his fascinating life story in his second novel, Distant Echoes. Part auto-biographical, part fiction, the book follows on from his 2011 novel, Creeping Shadows, to tell more of the life story of Jobe, a likeable larrikin born in war-torn Holland at the start of WWII, who then faces…

THE Frankston-based Peninsula Community Legal Centre has welcomed the support of high-profile domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty in the fight to stop funding cuts that could cripple the service and the community. The legal service has helped thousands of low-income clients to access free legal advice and representation every year since opening 40 years ago, with the majority of clients seeking help with family law and domestic violence-related matters. The centre’s chief executive officer Jackie Galloway said domestic violence was a “scourge” on the Frankston community, and free legal help for those affected was essential to keep them safe, housed…

MORNINGTON Peninsula horticulturalist Lisa Brassington knows that crops and ducks sometimes don’t mix, but the crafty inventor has come up with a simple solution to the problem that leaves both unharmed. Ms Brassington, who works at Peninsula Fresh Organics in Baxter, has spent the past three years watching ducks shift from foraging for insects to organic leafy green produce as they take advantage of what she calls “the best buffet in Baxter”. Wanting a solution that would save crops without hurting the ducks, she combined her education in rural planning and physics with her love of farming to come up…

THIS year’s six-week team challenge at Mt Eliza Bowls Club attracted 26 teams, up from 10 when the competition began last year. Coordinator Gordon Sanders said residents had embraced the idea of competing in 45-minute games, which allowed friends and families to enjoy the social and competitive side of the game, even with little former experience. He said the club had recently installed two synthetic greens with lights, and started the challenge to recruit players and make the most of the warmer days and evenings while they lasted. “We got 26 teams this year, which meant more than 100 non-bowlers…

HOMEOWNERS in Mt Eliza’s prestigious Ranelagh Estate have defended their rights to embrace modern architecture in the wake of claims that new developments are changing the character of the 1920s “garden estate”. Their claims come in the wake of protests from a group opposed to what it calls “inappropriate” development. The Ranelagh Residents Association and several other property owners have appealed to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) against a planning application for a two-storey house in Rendlesham Av. The association, led by architect Victoria Grounds, is trying to retain what it says is the estate’s unique neighbourhood character.…

PRESSURE is mounting to stop demolition of the iconic building that once housed Manyung Gallery in Mt Eliza. More than 400 people signed a petition in just three days to prevent the loss of the building. Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has approved plans to turn the Nepean Highway site into a childcare centre, but demolition orders were put on hold until 31 March after the owner of  neighbouring Licciardo’s Bar and Grill, Rob Licciardo, took the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Archaeologist and Mt Eliza resident, Peter Jupp, who organised the petition, said the building should be…

LAST year’s protests which forced Mornington Peninsula Shire to scrap its plans for a concrete footpath in Somers has prompted talk of a new community supergroup to represent residents in the seaside township. While the Somers Village Community Association (SVCA)  had a minor win at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last year when the council’s case was rejected, the battle is not over, as council prepares to pursue another footpath scheme. Somers Residents Association (SRA) president Gerry Lewis, whose group supported the council’s proposal to build the concrete paths, said residents needed to “work together”. Plans to build a…

NOT too many 15-year-old girls would voluntarily shave off their hair, but for Rye teenager Jemma Tolson, the loss of her enviable long tresses is a small price to pay to help others. The year 10 Rosebud Secondary College student is raising money for the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave and will say goodbye to her mane on Thursday in front of the entire school. Jemma’s grandfather died of leukaemia two years ago, but the idea to be brave and shave was a seed planted long before that. “I have thought about it for years as a good way to…

RYE residents are being asked to help shape the future of the community and have a say on what happens to 7.2 hectares of vacant land in French St. A group of residents have set up a campaign website called the French St Project to encourage Mornington Peninsula Shire to keep the land for community use. The council has indicated initial support for reserving the land – zoned public open space – and has opened up the issue for comment with an online survey asking for suggestions. Campaigner Heidi Duell said a community meeting organised by the French St Project…

FOR Mt Martha resident, father of three and Melbourne firefighter Rob Newton, the path to becoming an author was anything but conventional. It started innocently a few years ago with a series of funny, lively and “embellished” letters about his life to his brother Chris, in Sweden. It soon spiralled into a whole lot more, as Chris and his friends became intrigued with the crazy made-up tales Rob was spinning and egged him on to send monthly “instalments”. “I was never very good at writing letters, so I just started making things up and the stories just grew and grew,”…

FOR Mt Martha residents Tony and Leeanne O’Connor, the Mornington Peninsula’s natural environment and abundance of wildlife are the jewels in its crown. The O’Connors have rejected the lure of the development dollar and the temptation to keep up with the Jones’s to create a sustainable lifestyle and wildlife haven on their five-acre property. Since buying their bare block 17 years ago, the O’Connors have transformed it into a sustainable habitat, complete with a wetland, vegetable and fruit gardens, and nature corridors. With limited funds and a passion for sustainability and recycling, Tony built his own mud-brick, solar-passive house using…

RESIDENTS of a historically-significant “garden” suburb in Mt Eliza have launched a legal challenge to protect the character of the estate amid fears protection overlays are being watered down. The Ranelagh Residents Association has lodged an appeal with the Victorian Civil and Administrative and Tribunal over a planning application for a multi-storey house in Rendlesham Av. Houses in the tightly-held bayside Ranelagh Estate, a 1920s, 800-lot residential subdivision designed as a “seaside garden estate” by American landscape architect Walter Burley Griffin, are subject to covenants that allow one dwelling on each allotment to retain the neighbourhood character and prevent over-development.…

RED Hill artist Michael Leeworthy can’t find the time to volunteer at his local op shop so, instead, he’s donating proceeds from his next exhibition. Leeworthy will give 25 per cent of the takings from an exhibition on 18 and 19 March to the Red Hill op shop, which distributes the money to several Mornington Peninsula charities, including the Peninsula Home Hospice and CFAs. A member of the Art Red Hill committee for 20 years, Leeworthy is well known for his passion for contributing to the community. The multi-talented artist wears many hats, having started the successful all-male Men’s Book…

A FRANKSTON-based legal service that has helped thousands of low-income clients to access free legal advice and representation will be forced to turn away clients when the federal government cuts funding by 30 percent in July. Peninsula Community Legal Centre has provided legal advice to 7966 cash-strapped or vulnerable clients since opening 40 years ago, but now fears for its future and is pleading for the government to reverse its decision and restore the funding. The government has faced fierce opposition from legal centres around the country since it announced last year it would slash funding by millions from 1…

AN EXPERT panel of health and welfare professionals, including world-leading psychiatrist Professor Patrick McGorry, will head a public forum in Mornington to tackle the high rate of mental health issues in young people in the region. The forum is being run by Peninsula Voice, a not-for-profit group of community bodies, and will provide practical information on how to discuss and deal with mental health in young people and where help can be found on the peninsula. Speakers will include former Australian of the Year and world-leading researcher in early psychosis and youth mental health, Professor McGorry, psychologist Dr Diane McGreal, and…

MORNINGTON’S The Bays Hospital is the first Victorian centre and only the second in Australia to use advanced technology that is helping to revolutionise shoulder replacement surgery. Orthopaedic surgeon James Chiu carried out the first surgery on Capel Sound resident Pam Chitty on Friday using the technology, after leading the push to bring the groundbreaking GPS navigational computer system to Mornington. Mrs Chitty had surgery in 1980 when she first injured her rotator cuff, but deterioration meant full replacement was the only option when even hanging out the clothes became unbearable. Mr Chiu said patients like Mrs Chitty now had…

DOMESTIC and stray cats are running amok all over the Mornington Peninsula as many cat-owners ignore the cat curfew. Environmentalists and wildlife carers have called on Mornington Peninsula Shire to enforce its cat curfew to stop increasing numbers of cats from killing wildlife and causing a nuisance to residents. One Hastings property is being inundated with cats every night after a nearby vacant block was cleared of old cars and sheds. Renate Luhn said she complained to the shire and was told by one officer not to feed them and they would “go away”. The shire adopted a 24-hour cat…

ROSEBUD resident Nigel Edwards is “passionate” about helping people and his record of more than 76 years working in public service is proof enough. The 91-year-old JP, civil celebrant, bowls player, senior citizens register volunteer, Rye cemetery trust chair and Rosebud Probus Club committee member recently decided to “pull back” from his commitments on advice from his doctor, retiring from 10 years as document signing at the Rosebud police station. Mr Edwards was recently honoured by Victoria Police area commander Brett Coloe for his “character, humour and knowledge” and his invaluable service to the police and community, But while his…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire council is refusing to respond to concerns that a private jetty being rebuilt at Sullivan Bay, Sorrento, has contravened a planning permit requirement to build “like for like”. As reported in The News last week, (“Anger over ‘new’ pier’s beach block”) residents are upset that the large, privately-owned structure blocks public access to the beach at high tide, despite it being part of a recently upgraded historical walk from Blairgowrie to Sorrento, heavily promoted by the council’s tourism department. Despite several requests from The News, and a request directly from Parks Victoria to clarify the issue for…

AS Coolart Homestead’s first artist in residence, Somers artist Timothy Growcott feels so privileged to work in the grounds of the magnificent 19-century mansion that he gets into character, literally. “I occasionally dress in a period costume, especially if I am doing art demonstrations, because it’s such an incredible building and I like being part of the history,” he said. Since February, Growcott has used a studio at the back of the estate as a creative space several days a week, producing a range of artistic works and occasionally holding screen printing demonstrations. Growcott said the 87.5 ha estate provided…

ALMOST 75 years ago, a young Mornington lad and then 18-year-old army enlistee experienced an event that rocked Australia – the unthinkable enemy attack on Darwin. Next week, the now 95-year-old World War II veteran will fly north again, this time for the anniversary of the bombing of Darwin. Alan Day, who still lives in Mornington and is president of the Darwin Defenders Melbourne committee, was there in 1942 when the Japanese flew 64 raids on Darwin and 33 raids on other targets in Northern Australia. The RAAF medical orderly watched in horror as aircraft darkened the skies above Darwin…

THIS year is proving to be a great one for the recognition of women in sport, and Mornington Pirates Baseball Club is hoping to get in on the action. With the winter baseball season starting in April, Mornington Pirates Baseball Club is moving with the times and hopes to enter a team into the Dandenong Baseball Association’s women’s competition for the first time in its 42-year history. The club already has several female players who play with the men’s teams, but needs to recruit more to make up an all-girls’ team. Club vice-president Myles Dowsett said the closure of women’s…

SORRENTO residents fear their access to a popular beach has been blocked because a private jetty being built to replace a former structure does not conform to the same specifications. The jetty being built at Sullivan’s Bay is one of three jetties that have been at the beach for around 40 or 50 years. But residents are angry that it is being replaced with a bigger one that now prevents access unless the tide is out. Leanne Austin said she was upset that the Mornington Peninsula Shire had not enforced regulations that required replacement jetties to be the same size.…

MELBOURNE Water has confirmed it made several unsuccessful attempts to sell a 5.6 hectare piece of prime Rosebud land to the Mornington Peninsula Shire for community use, before applying to have the land rezoned for development. Melbourne Water has declared the three lots of land in and around Jetty Rd as surplus to its needs and wants to rezone it under the controversial Fast Track Amendment scheme from public use zone 1 to general residential zone 1, potentially pocketing tens of millions of dollars from developers. Under the Fast Track process, agencies that want to sell public land must offer…

A DIAGNOSIS of terminal cancer was the last thing Mt Eliza father of two Geoff Nyssen was expecting three weeks after turning 40. Life was on track in 2014 for the corporate high-flyer who lived a “normal” life, focussing on success and “getting ahead”. That was until a diagnosis of terminal blood cancer turned his life upside down. Inspirational in so many ways, Mr Nyssen has met the challenge head on and is re-directing his energies into raising money for Myeloma Australia to support the carers and families of multiple myeloma patients. In between working part time as an environmental…

WILDLIFE carer Brenda Marmion wants property owners to use the “three-level” system when leaving water out for wildlife, to ensure easy access for all animals. Ms Marmion, of Crystal Ocean Wildlife Shelter, Rye, has rescued, cared for, rehabilitated and released thousands of animals on the Mornington Peninsula for about 24 years, and has seen the devastating effects of extreme heat on wildlife. She said people could relieve the suffering of animals on hot days by ensuring there was accessible water in appropriate containers. “Sometimes wildlife can’t get to the water because it’s in containers they can’t access, or in worse…

WHEN quietly-spoken Hastings builder Garry Moncrieff found out he was one 12 Victorian emergency service workers to make the 2017 Australia Day Honours List, his immediate feelings were of being “embarrassed” and humbled. Embarrassed, because anyone who knows Mr Moncrieff, also knows that he volunteers for the Hastings and Mornington Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) out of a sense of commitment to the community, and humbled because he is not one to blow his own trumpet. Few would argue that 36 years of unwavering commitment to the rescue service is worthy of recognition. Mr Moncrieff was a founding member of the…

ONE of the Mornington Peninsula’s busiest volunteers and community contributors has been recognised with the inaugural ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ in the shire’s Australia Day awards. Barry Irving, right  received the honour after more than 50 years of volunteer work. He has worked with the Salvation Army Boys Legion as a leader, helped with the Inaugural Nippers project at Gunnamatta Life Saving Club, been a crewman for Southern Peninsula Rescue Squad, elected president three times for the Rye Rotary Club, cooks for the police on New Year’s Eve, and has dressed as Santa to raise money for Cotton Wool Babies, as…

BLAIRGOWRIE resident Denis Baguley, above, will be a familiar name to many in Greater Melbourne for his contributions to the revival of the Shrine of Remembrance. The former Melburnian, who moved to the Mornington Peninsula after retiring a couple of years ago, received an AM in the Australia Day Awards for his service to public administration in Victoria through infrastructure project management, and to veterans and their families. As chief executive officer of the Shrine 2000-2015, and project manager, 2000-2003, Mr Baguley was instrumental in many of the changes in policy, programs and public access that saw the number of…

ROSEBUD resident Heath Davidson was awarded an OAM for service to sport as a gold medallist at the 2016 Paralympic Games at Rio. Davidson, 29, contracted the virus transverse myelitis at five months, but it wasn’t long before he showed what a fighting spirit and a love of sport could do for someone in a wheelchair. In 2001, at the Australian Disabled Games in Queensland, won a bronze medal in wheelchair tennis and two silver medals for table tennis. In 2016, after a brief break from the sport, he returned to wheelchair tennis and teamed with Dylan Alcott to win…