Author: Mike Hast

OBITUARY Kenneth Jack Spunner, 24 August 1927–18 June 2016, rabbit trapper, registered hairdresser, wool valuer, dairyman, wool grower, market gardener, shire councillor, real estate agent, land developer KEN Spunner, the descendant of a 19th century Sorrento lime burner, rose to become head of the Mornington Peninsula’s peak planning body, was a two-time mayor of the Shire of Flinders, and played a significant role in the life of the southern peninsula and Rosebud in particular. Mr Spunner, who died of pneumonia at 88 last month, was a great-grandson of Irish emigrants, John and Susan Spunner who arrived in the Port Phillip…

LOBBY group Save Tootgarook Swamp will lead the community’s case at the Victorian Civil and Administration Tribunal this week for the refusal of a 99-house infill development in Tootgarook Swamp in one of the most important environmental cases the Mornington Peninsula has seen. The land – almost 30 hectares, or 74 acres – is at 92 Elizabeth Av, Rosebud West, one of several privately held blocks in the swamp that were zoned residential by the old Shire of Flinders before environmental considerations became common in planning. The application has been knocked back by Melbourne Water, which legally obliged Mornington Peninsula…

SOUVENIRS of Dromana including old and new photos, history books, and seeds of local plants and trees have been buried in a time capsule on the foreshore to be opened in 50 years. Dromana foreshore management committee buried the time capsule beside the Bay Trail on the foreshore opposite St Mark’s Anglican Church on a windswept Saturday 30 April in front of about 30 people. Guests included Flinders MP and Environment Minister Greg Hunt (with his young son James in soccer gear) and shire mayor Cr Graham Pittock. The 100-litre, high-density plastic capsule was buried 40 centimetres deep and is…

THREE authors have started a crowdfunding campaign for funds to publish a history of Mt Eliza’s famous Ranelagh Estate. Ranelagh was designed in 1924 by world-renowned American architects, planners and designers Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahoney Griffin, who came to Australia to direct their winning international design for Canberra. During their time in Australia, the Griffins also created town plans for Eaglemont in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and Castlecrag in Sydney as well as designs for Newman College at the University of Melbourne and the Capitol Theatre in central Melbourne. Ranelagh – A Special Place has been written by Dr…

SOMERVILLE historian and author Leila Shaw has died at age 88 after a short illness. Mrs Shaw founded the Somerville, Tyabb and District Heritage Society 20 years ago and material she donated became the Leila Shaw Collection. In 1996 she wrote and self-published She’s Apples 1853–1994: A History of Fruit Tree Nurseries, Orchards & Coolstores, which detailed the district’s world renowned fruit-growing industry. This was followed two years later by The Way We Were: Adventures, Feats and Experiences of Pioneering Families of the Mornington Peninsula, also self-published. A limited hardback edition was later published by the heritage society. Mrs Shaw…

VETERAN international yachtsman John Houston Buzaglo is known around the world as “Buz” although some of his mates have taken to calling him Sir Buz after he was awarded an OAM on Australia Day. Now in his 92nd year, the Mornington resident was given a gong for “services to sailing as a yachtsman and [sailing] instructor”. Buzaglo is best known for co-founding a syndicate that built the world’s first solid-sail racing yacht – it looks like an airplane wing atop a catamaran. Sponsored by Melbourne-based Nylex Corporation, the C Class catamaran Miss Nylex was built in 1971 and defended the…

A SWEET and dainty backyard buddy on the Mornington Peninsula proves you just can’t judge a book by its cover. As breeding season kicks off for cute little fairy-wrens, so begins their long list of illicit affairs. There are nine species of fairy-wrens in Australia currently partnering for the breeding season. The most common wren in Victoria is the superb fairy-wren. “Fairy-wrens are super cute with beautiful feathers and have delightful personalities, so it’s no wonder the superb fairy-wren was voted Australia’s favourite bird,” said Susanna Bradshaw, CEO of the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife. “But behind their fluffy…

ALTHOUGH humans rely on soil for food, clean water, fuel and natural fibre production, nutrient cycling, animal feed and more, it is an under-appreciated resource, says peninsula Landcare Network officer Jacqueline Salter. “This year is International Year of Soils and to celebrate, Mornington Peninsula Landcare Network is inviting landholders to learn more about their soils and how to protect them at a Farm Planning 101 workshop,” she said. “Experienced soil officer Lindsay Hyde will guide small property owners through basic introductory soils training and hands-on activities to help participants understand healthy soil function and productivity.” Deborah Jobson has done Mr…

SHIRE councillors have agreed to spend up to $19,000 to survey residents about changing the name of Rosebud West to Capel Sound. The change was proposed in July by a group of Rosebud West residents who said there was a disconnection between the name and the area’s real character “and the impact this has on the pride we feel about our place”. Spokesman Terry Wright said changing the name was not the sole solution to improving the town but it would “bring a new identity, a new character; we hope it builds on what was done during the [2007-13 Rosebud…

YACHT clubs on council-managed land are paying vastly different rents with Rosebud paying almost five times more than Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club. The disparity was revealed when Mornington Peninsula Shire was asked for new leases by Rye Yacht Club and the Sorrento club. Sorrento has been paying an annual rent of $572 for its 4633 square metres prime foreshore site between Holyrood Ave and Calcutta St. It has 3500 members. Rosebud has been paying $2466 but this will be cut to $1000 after the council introduced a new formula for rents. Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club’s rent will increase to…

YOU know the Christmas season is close when you see Santas on motorbikes. Vic Trikers and Ulysses Bikers are holding the 15th annual Peninsula Toy Run from Frankston to Rosebud on Saturday. Riders will assemble in the car park at Frankston pier from 7.30am and depart in convoy at 9.30 sharp. The run heads down the Nepean Highway to Rosebud via Mornington and Dromana, picking up donations on the way. Organiser Phil Matthews of Ulysses Club’s Mornington Wanderers branch said the ride was open to all motorcyclists who enjoy travelling in convoy and want to put a smile on the…

MORNINGTON fisherman Neville Hutchins was in a sombre mood last week when he found out legislation to ban commercial netting in Port Phillip had been passed in the Parliament. “We knew it was coming but Dalton [his brother and fishing business partner] and I are very disappointed. Our customers are ropeable and I don’t think many of them will vote Labor in future.” More than 2500 people have signed his petition in the past year calling on the government to reverse its decision. The brothers are fourth generation peninsula fishermen with George Hutchins arriving at Mt Martha in the 1850s…

THE story about the new audio tour of Mornington’s historic buildings generated comment from readers lamenting the loss of the railway and its historic station. (‘Main St history on a smartphone’, The News, 10/11/15) included an early 20th century photo of the station at the end of Blake St with both cars and horse-drawn carriages parked out front, and people of all ages walking out of the entrance after the arrival of a train. The audio tour has been produced by Mornington and District Historical Society. QR codes are on signs near 18 historic places and scanning one with a…

THREE wildlife experts have rejected a claim that ringtail possums are largely the cause of gum trees dying in Mt Eliza and Mt Martha. Ecologist Jeff Yugovic told Balcombe Estuary Reserves Group’s recent annual meeting that possums were damaging and killing eucalypts, especially swamp gum and narrow-leaf peppermint. He said the answer to the problem was to clear dense understorey where possums live, forcing them to the ground so they can be taken by foxes, their major remaining predator (“Fox seen as answer to possum problem”, The News, 17/11/15). Six native predators that controlled ringtails in the past were now…

MORNINGTON Yacht Club skipper Graeme Taylor has given the club Australian bragging rights after finishing third at the 47th annual World Etchells Championships in Hong Kong. Taylor and crewmen Grant Simmer and Steve Jarvin fought off several challengers for third place during an exciting last race. Next best Aussie was a yacht skippered by Matthew Chew of Queensland who finished seventh. Taylor’s points also gave him top spot in the masters category. Etchell skippers from the United States took first and second spots in the series run by Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club. After the final race, Taylor said…

THE Environment Protection Authority has started testing water quality at Port Phillip beaches a month earlier than planned after a warmer than usual spring. The authority checks if the water is suitable for swimming ever week at 36 beaches including 10 on the Mornington Peninsula – Canadian Bay (Mt Eliza), Mills Beach (Mornington), Mt Martha, Safety Beach, Dromana, Rosebud, Rye, Blairgowrie, Sorrento and Portsea. It puts water quality updates on its Beach Report website and via Twitter twice a day. Reports started on 31 October and will be done until April, a month later than usual. The warning system has…

PROFESSORS, politicians, presenters, Olympians, comedians, footballers and one of the nation’s top “spies” were among 38 people inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame of the Peninsula School on Saturday last week. The hall of fame has been created by the alumni association of the school in Mt Eliza, The Old Peninsula School Association, TOPSA. More than 120 people packed the H A Macdonald Pavilion at the school in Wooralla Drive to celebrate. They included three of the four principals who have led the school since it opened in 1961 – Harry Macdonald, Ray Hille and Stuart Johnston. Founding principal…

MT Eliza’s peak environmental group has resigned from a committee formed to deal with the clearing of land at Mt Eliza Secondary College for soccer pitches. The destruction of about 0.8 hectares (two acres) of grassy woodland fronting Mt Eliza Way in May 2013 triggered widespread community dismay as well as investigations by Mornington Peninsula Shire and Victoria’s education and environment departments, none of which censured the school or the contractor who bulldozed the site and burnt manna gums, tea tree, grasses, sedges and precious greenhood orchids. The Department of Environment and Primary Industries investigated if the clearing was illegal…

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire council could remove up to 161 trees and shrubs from either side of Mt Eliza Way as part of a widening and resurfacing project. It has applied to chop down 47 trees that will be “directly impacted” by the “Mt Eliza Way road widening project” but if tree root protection zones cannot be achieved, all 161 plants could go, according to an arborist working for the shire’s outdoor contractor Transfield (which changed its name to Broadspectrum in late October). Arborist Jarrad Miller, in a report to the shire, said 99 of the 161 trees and shrubs had…

IT took gamblers just one year to lose more than $79 million on the Mornington Peninsula’s 858 poker machines at 17 venues. Figures for the past financial year released by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation in its 2014-15 annual report, tabled in state Parliament last Tuesday show Victorians gambled away $5.8 billion, 7.7 per cent up from the previous year, including almost $2.6 billion on pokies. The state government pocketed $1.6 billion from gambling revenue in 2014-15, $400 million more than predicted by gambling opponents two years ago. Victorians lost more money on every form of gambling…

SOME of the peninsula’s longest-serving community volunteers have been recognised with Flinders Seniors Awards. The awards were started six years ago by Flinders MP Greg Hunt who told a gathering at Rosebud RSL late last month that his awards recognised “the significant contribution our older residents make in the community”. “In my electorate I am privileged to have many older residents who dedicate an inordinate amount of their own time to assisting others in the community,” he said. “These volunteers are the backbone of our community, unsung heroes who dedicate countless hours to helping others without expecting anything in return.”…

MCCRAE Homestead has reopened after a short hiatus following the resignation in August of part-time manager Sharon Bowen and nine of its 10 volunteers. The National Trust property in Beverley Rd, McCrae, will be run by members of the trust’s peninsula branch until the Australia Day long weekend when it is hoped sufficient volunteers will have been recruited. The resignations were triggered by a change in management style following the appointment earlier this year of a Mornington Peninsula regional manager, Cara-Ann Simpson. In October, then branch president Judy Walsh said the trust was “doing things differently nowadays with more attention…

SKYLIFT head Simon McKeon has called on the shire council to develop a better process to deal with changes made during the building of the ride and its associated infrastructure including top and bottom stations. His call follows the council late last month knocking back an application by Skylift to alter the type of retaining wall to be built at the bottom station. Last December, the state planning tribunal VCAT confirmed the council’s mid-2014 approval of the project and stated the shire could deal with the 71 conditions of the application, which cover elements such as heritage protection, tree removal,…

THE co-founder of Kunyung Residents Group, formed to lobby for South East Water’s decommissioned Mt Eliza reservoir to be turned into a reserve, has started an online petition. The blurb accompanying Rebecca Taylor’s change.org petition is an impassioned letter to Premier Daniel Andrews, planning minister Richard Wynne, South East Water, and Mornington Peninsula Shire requesting the land become a wildlife reserve instead of a 24-lot housing estate. It is headed “South East Water customers, would you give up a $6 savings on your bill to save a frog?” The dam was decommissioned in 1999 and has become a haven for…

CITIZENS of 19th century Mornington would be astonished at the latest technology that guides tourists and locals through the history of Main St. No more guide books, pamphlets or humans leading a group – it’s an audio tour (or podcast) with 18 recordings that can be downloaded by scanning a QR code on plaques placed near historic buildings on Main St and the Esplanade. The tour complements a revised heritage walk brochure produced by Mornington and District Historical Society and the chamber of commerce for the town’s 150th in 2011. The project also saw the replacement of historic signs installed…

RESIDENTS wanting to help shape the way the shire council spends its income can have a say about the 2016-17 annual budget. Mornington Peninsula Shire is again inviting input from ratepayers as it develops a budget, which this time will be affected by the state government’s new rate capping rules. Victoria councils are facing the prospect of lower rate income, and will have to show “special circumstances” to increase rates by more than the cost of inflation. Rate capping will be introduced for the 2016-17 financial year, and the shire will have to find new sources of revenue to maintain…

CONSTRUCTION of long-awaited traffic lights in Mt Eliza where Tower Rd and Volitans Ave join the Nepean Hwy is set to start next week. The $500,000 project is a win for safety campaigners who have been lobbying for lights or turning restrictions since 2008 at the acknowledged black spot. The federal government will contribute $400,000 and Mornington Peninsula Shire $100,000. Construction will be managed by state government authority VicRoads. The project, due to be completed in December, will include a pedestrian-operated crossing north of the intersection, cycling lanes, moving of the southbound bus stop, and a concrete footpath. Vehicle-activated, under-road…

COMMUNITY lobby group Save Tootgarook Swamp has filed an application in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to carry out native revegetation works in a part of the swamp that VCAT ordered developer Watermark Villages to carry out in April 2011. Watermark owns 92 Elizabeth Ave, 6.2 hectares on the edge of the wetlands, which it wants to develop as a retirement village with 99 dwellings. The site was cleared of native grasses in 2008. VCAT ordered that it be restored and a revegetation plan was supposed to be submitted to the shire within 120 days but this did not…

THE owner of Tully’s Corner Produce Store on the Moorooduc Highway, Moorooduc, was not a happy man when he left the council chamber in Rosebud on Monday last week. Frank Brancatisano wanted the council to approve his application to sell in his store bottled wine produced by three nearby wineries – Barmah Park Vineyard and Stumpy Gully Vineyard in Moorooduc, and Massoni Vineyard in Mt Eliza. He’d spent a motza on reports from town planner Ratio Consultants and was confident that green wedge zone changes made by Coalition planning minister Matthew Guy, before the Napthine government was rolled by Labor,…

MONEY left over when Rye Senior Citizens Club disbanded 10 years ago will likely go to Rye Beach Community Centre. The existence of a big pot of money, about $60,000, was revealed in late 2012 when Nepean Ward councillor Tim Rodgers was showing his newly elected colleague Hugh Fraser around their patch. The pair inspected the former senior citizens hall in Napier St, Rye, and heard that money left in the bank when the seniors’ club disbanded in 2005 was never redistributed. The seniors’ club was formed in the 1960s and disbanded a decade ago, possibly because Rye RSL expanded…