Luxe getaway exclusively for you By Liz Rogers

Now this is something mega, Mornington Peninsula people. Beaches Port Douglas has put together an extraordinary getaway package just for you that involves bucket list brilliance, beachside vistas, French champagne on arrival and private return airport transfers if you travel before Easter. 

Ideal for couples who love travelling with like-minded people, this exclusive package includes five nights for four guests in a two-bedroom fully-equipped airconditioned apartment with premium facilities, including a pool, jacuzzi and free Wi-Fi — all with Four Mile Beach frontage. Then there’s the handmade chocolates!

As part of this luxe getaway for Mornington Peninsula far north holiday hunters who have time to explore, Beaches presents a 30-minute scenic helicopter flight for four over the greatest natural wonders in the region. Choose to fly over the Great Barrier Reef or Daintree Rainforest, soaking up the natural beauty with your companions as you sit back, relax and enjoy the fun. Bucket list begun!

Beaches is a multi-generational family-friendly holiday destination in the heart of gorgeous Port Douglas. Stroll along leafy, tree-lined Macrossan St and indulge your senses with award-winning restaurants, relaxing massages, and boutique shopping experiences.

Book now to indulge in this exclusive ‘travelling with friends is best’ escape offering.


A: 19 Esplanade, Port Douglas, Queensland

T: (07) 4099 4150


E: [email protected]

Let’s ride


The guys and gals are riding their bikes into town this February, so get set to see plenty of shiny motorcycles in Mornington and around the Peninsula. Named after the Greek hero Odysseus — Ulysses to the Romans — who had a long journey home after the Battle of Troy, the Ulysses Club brings motorcycle enthusiasts from across the nation together and is all about travelling with mates. Its annual rally is happening at the Mornington Racecourse from Monday, February 25, until Sunday, March 3, and is a week-long celebration of motorcycles, caravans and RVs, so there will be lots of silver and black metal for the community to look at. 

There are up to 25,000 members of this club, whose mantra is ‘grow old disgracefully’ and which prides itself on being a social club that brings like-minded people together for life. Media and PR co-ordinator Alf Dennemoser explains. “The club started in Sydney in 1984. There’s currently 130 branches across Australia with nine people on the national committee. All members are over 40 and the oldest are in their 80s. Lots of them still ride motorbikes, but for those who can’t there’s a caravan section of the club which brings them together. We’re expecting around 2000 people in February. There will be dinners with live entertainment each night and entertainment with food trucks during the day. There are also lots of local rides out in the community which give club members the chance to explore. I’ll be leading a couple of them myself.”

The Ulysses Club used to be a male-dominated club but not anymore. “It’s split pretty much right down the middle these days. Each branch also has smaller rallies throughout the year. The ladies are just as enthusiastic as the guys,” continues Alf. There’ll be a grand parade along Main St from 9-10am on Saturday, March 2, with the police at the helm too. Grab the kids to check it out for a taste of the riding life. There will also be a public open day on Thursday, February 28, so look out for notices in your area.

To find out more, log on to and get your motor running.

Ton up for Toni By Liz Rogers

Brian Davis’s mum Toni always ate right, and even though she had polio as a child growing up in Scotland, this mother of one, grandmother of three and great-grandmother of five and resident of the Village Glen in Mornington has lived an incredibly active life. 

Turning 100 on December 6, she’s just come off the back of celebrating with a continuous party running over three days and Brian says she’s keen for more. He explains. “The family organised a get-together of close friends in the boardroom of the nursing home on Thursday, catered for by Classic High Tea in Mornington, which was fit for a queen. Then we went to the Mornington Golf Club for dinner on the Saturday and then had another celebration on the Sunday. She was always very social. She played golf regularly and bridge, where she became a life master. She also did a bit of ice-skating too. Dad (Rex) is 98. They are like two budgerigars. Mum’s often sitting on Dad’s knee when I drop by.”

Toni and Rex have been married for 77 years. They’ve lived in Sydney, where Rex was born, North Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Eaglemont, North Balwyn and have been on the Peninsula near Brian for the past six years. As a centenarian, Toni received letters from the Queen, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Governor General and other MPs in recognition of this milestone.

Happy birthday from us too, Toni!  

Who’s up for a run in the sun? By Matt Davy

You’ve decided to explore one of the greatest places Australia has to offer, the beautifully dreamy Mornington Peninsula. However, today you’re not here to sample the wineries, distilleries or cheeseries; you’re here to explore something new, something that inspires you to embrace the elements and swap the taste of luscious shiraz for invigorating sea air. From a runner’s perspective, here is what I believe are the Top 5 running locations around the Peninsula.

1. Point Nepean National Park (medium)

With sweeping views across both Port Phillip Bay and the rugged coastline of Bass Strait, Point Nepean offers an experience that can only be described as an Instagrammer’s dream. A run through here offers all the ingredients to make you want to come back every weekend. With numerous trails — from the flat, gravelled Coles track that weaves its way from Quarantine Station past the remnants of the former quarantine cattle jetty, to the long, undulating Defence Road, which gives you views of Cheviot Beach, where former Australian prime minister Harold Holt disappeared in 1967, and past Fort Pearce and Fort Nepean — you’re absolutely spoilt for choice. Ensure you find some time to explore the various historical features that line your journey towards the westernmost point of the Peninsula.

2. Greens Bush (medium)

Living up to its name, Greens Bush has an enormous variety of vegetation and wildlife. There are numerous trails to run on, from Baldry’s Short (1.6km) and Long circuits (3.6km) to part of the Two Bays Trail (8.9km), which you can extend past the exhilarating descent into Bushrangers Bay and across to Cape Schanck. You’ll traverse undulating sections of what seems like remote bushland and with a keen eye may even spot a koala. If you’re looking for a calming, invigorating run then you should hit somewhere green — and there’s no better place for this than Greens Bush.

3. Lifesaving Track — 16th Beach to Sorrento Back Beach (hard)

Part of the coastal walk that runs from Cape Schanck to Point Nepean, this section of trail offers a 10km stretch of picturesque, undulating and enriching terrain. Called the Lifesaving Track and built in the 1890s, its original purpose was to give better access to the coastline to assist with any shipwrecks. This run will take you past such sights as Dimmicks Beach, Bridgewater Bay and Diamond Bay. As a detour, I suggest taking the path to Spray Point, where in the right conditions you’ll be given an absolute spectacle as the waves crash on to the rocky ledge and set off a spray up to four storeys high.

4. Devilbend Reservoir (very easy)

This is an absolute hidden gem of a run. With an amazing 16km circuit, including the addition of a loop around the Bittern Reservoir, this run takes you around the largest inland water body on the Peninsula. This run is mostly flat, but includes some slight inclines and declines. If you’re lucky you might spot some waterbirds, shorebirds or turtles while taking in the beautiful scenery.

5. Red Hill Rail Trail (easy)

A hilly 6.5km one-way run that connects Red Hill to Merricks, this run gives you nice views across to Phillip Island and the Nobbies. It mostly follows the original railway that ran from Red Hill to Bittern, but most of that land is now privately owned. The surface can get a little rough at times, consisting of dirt, gravel, grass and crushed rock. An amazing part of the Peninsula, though, this trail is definitely worth a crack.

So why not make a trip down to this incredible part of the world and experience its beauty. After the run is done, don't forget to sample some of the amazing food and drink on offer at the local cafes, wineries, breweries and restaurants. 

Matt Davy is the co-founder of online run coaching business Run2PB. Find out more at 

A Wolf in Port Phillip

CSS Shenandoah.jpg

During the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865, the southern states used armed merchant ships as raiders to attack the merchant vessels of the north. The visit of one of these ‘Wolves of the Sea’ to Melbourne was the only occasion on which Australia had a connection to the Civil War.

Built in 1863, the Shenandoah was chosen and purchased by an agent of the Confederacy because of her speed. She left the Thames supposedly on a passage to India but actually to meet another ship at Madeira. This ship carried the guns the Shenandoah would use to attack Union shipping. 

CSS Shenandoah arrived at Port Phillip on January 25, 1865, to replenish her coal supplies and to make repairs to her damaged machinery. Though strict international agreements limited the time the ship could spend in Melbourne, her captain gained the permission of the Governor to repair his ship. 

The ship and her crew received an enthusiastic welcome to Melbourne and, when opened to visitors, thousands took the opportunity to go aboard. While in Melbourne, the officers and crew members were invited to banquets in their honour, to the theatres, and seven officers accepted an invitation to visit Ballarat. The vessel was undermanned but men could not be recruited in a neutral port under international law. Forty-two stowaways, however, signed on as crew members on February 19, the morning after the ship left Port Phillip. 

During June 1865 in the northern Pacific, Shenandoah captured 25 whaling ships owned by states of the Union, having taken four more on her way north. She had previously taken nine ships before visiting Melbourne. After the war had ended, Shenandoah was sailed to Liverpool and surrendered to British authorities. 

PSS Logo G&B.jpg

A tribunal set up in Geneva in 1871 found that Britain was responsible for acts committed by the Shenandoah after she left Melbourne. The decision of the tribunal was that the colonial government had allowed greater than necessary assistance to the ship and 42 men had illegally joined her crew. Nearly $US4 million in damages was awarded against the British Government.


President, Peninsula Ship Society

T: Maurie Hutchinson 9787 5780

E: [email protected]

The Peninsula Ship Society meets at Hastings Yacht Club on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 10am. Visitors always welcome. 

Hissy’s the man of the house By Liz Rogers


Hissy’s a big boy! He’s more than 3m long and weighs 10kg. Recently, after owners Stahle and Tahlia forgot to close his tank before they went to bed, he was found curled up in the morning under paperwork in the office drawer. Just snoozing with a trail of destruction behind him. Things overturned and out of place. Hisssssss!

At nine years old, this coastal carpet python who lives in Rye is very well-loved. Given to Tahlia by her dad when she was six years old as a Christmas present, Hissy arrived in a hessian bag with “wide open eyes” and in the mood for a snuggle. Stahle explains. “At first I was horrified because we had no idea how to look after a snake and I didn’t want to look after a pet because we travelled so much, but within a few hours he’d become the love of our lives. We called him Hissy because he made all these different hissing sounds that would give us an indication of whether or not what we were doing was a good or bad thing. We did our best and muddled through. Once we got into a routine and designed a proper house for him with the right tank temperature and sourced a reliable expert to get advice from, he became more than a pet; he became the man of the house.”

For some of us the thought of having a snake in the house gives us the shudders, but this giant carpet python has given Stahle and Tahlia some of the most memorable times of their lives. “We used to take him on walks to the supermarket in Rye and I took him to work in Sorrento when he was smaller. Most people loved him although a small minority were upset. We also did annual school visits to teach children and adults how to look after snakes properly. We don’t take him out now because he is so long he can be in more than one place at a time. He still loves his walks around the house or in the garden though.”

Stahle says snakes are gentle creatures and are not to be feared. There were a few bites early on in their relationship, which Stahle says were entirely their fault, but other than that Hissy — who eats either a rabbit or extra-large rat once every six weeks — has only given them joy. He now hops on the bed and hangs on the couch with them.

“We love him so much but respect that he is a wild animal — and a big one at that! We look forward to spending the next 20 years or so with him.”

Wonder how big he’ll be then?

If the walls could speak By Liz Rogers


Did you know that the Mornington Courthouse was the first public building and permanent courthouse on the Peninsula? Or that the masonry and stone lockup on the site was home to many an overnight drunkard and larcenist?

This sweet little simply-gabled slate-roofed building must have been privy to some rough and ready characters. In continuous operation since 1860 and because of its position at the end of Main St, close to the pier where much of the freight and passengers originated, this cute yet pivotal piece of bricks and mortar history has probably heard it all. Think about it. All those tourists arriving at the pier right up until 1939, until the last paddle steamer stopped operating. Civil disputes. Breaking of by-laws. Gold being discovered in other parts of the state, resulting in Mornington providing produce and supplies to the rest of Melbourne. Everyone wanting to strike it rich. 

But there haven’t been any sightings of ghosts! Yet!

Now an Information and Tourism Centre, the courthouse and lockup – which is managed by Victoria Police - are classified by the National Trust and have been included as “objects and sites of historic interest in the Mornington planning scheme and the former Shire of Mornington planning scheme”, as stated in the Northern Mornington Peninsula Tourism courthouse booklet. Built by William Vaughan & Co in 1860 and extended in 1862, the Mornington Courthouse serviced the whole of the Mornington Peninsula, while the lockup functioned as a jail from 1862 until 1882.

As noted by the Mornington & District Historical Society on its website, “the court of petty sessions was held every Saturday at 12 noon”, as written in the Gazette on January 22, 1861, in Schnapper Point — now Mornington. One of the most infamous cases involved shire president John Blackner, who in 1919 was charged with forgery. The Northern Mornington Peninsula Tourism representatives now run mock trials for students, which may result in ‘wearing a ball and chain for five minutes assembling outside the lockup, plus one week of hard labour’.

If you’ve heard any stories about what went on in the Mornington Courthouse or lockup, let us know. If only the walls could speak.

Coral lives on as Pantone’s Colour of the Year


Vibrant yet mellow, this year’s Pantone Colour of the Year is Living Coral.  It embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.

2019 looks like getting brighter, more vibrant and just a little bit tropical.

In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, people are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy. Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of Pantone Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity. Symbolising our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, Pantone Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression.  You will find fashion, homewares and artworks embracing this new colour.

Representing the fusion of modern life, Pantone Living Coral is a nurturing colour that appears in our natural surroundings and at the same time displays a lively presence within social media. Pantone Living Coral emits the desired, familiar, and energising aspects of colour found in nature. In its glorious, yet unfortunately more elusive, display beneath the sea, this vivifying and effervescent colour mesmerises the eye and mind. Lying at the centre of our naturally vivid and chromatic ecosystem, Pantone Living Coral is evocative of how coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse kaleidoscope of colour.

For 20 years, Pantone’s Colour of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design, as well as product, packaging, and graphic design.

The Colour of the Year selection process requires thoughtful consideration and trend analysis. To arrive at the selection each year, Pantone’s colour experts at the Pantone Colour Institute comb the world looking for new colour influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films in production, travelling art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design, popular travel destinations, as well as new lifestyles, playstyles, and socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures, and effects that affect colour, relevant social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention.

The Pantone Colour Institute is the business unit within Pantone that highlights top seasonal runway colours, forecasts global colour trends, and advises companies on colour for product and brand visual identity. Through seasonal trend forecasts, colour psychology, and colour consulting, the Pantone Colour Institute partners with global brands to leverage the power, psychology and emotion of colour in their design strategy.

Look out for trend-setters using this pretty new colour.

Early diagnosis vital in Bairnsdale ulcer treatment

Seaford resident Stephen Reed had just returned from Europe when his left ankle started to swell up. “I thought it must have just been due to the long flight,” Stephen says. “However, three to four days later it still wasn’t getting any better.”

Stephen sought medical treatment and was diagnosed with a Bairnsdale ulcer. 

Dr Peter Kelley says there has been a “massive” increase in Bairnsdale ulcer cases since 2015.

Dr Peter Kelley says there has been a “massive” increase in Bairnsdale ulcer cases since 2015.

“The Bairnsdale ulcer is an infection caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium ulcerans,” explains Dr Peter Kelley, Head of Infectious Diseases at Peninsula Health. “It usually presents as a small lesion and looks a bit like an insect bite. If it gets left without treatment it can get bigger and cause ulcers and larger lesions.”

Stephen didn’t contract the Bairnsdale ulcer while holiday in Scandinavia; rather, he suspects he got it while he was gardening, cleaning up possum poo in the backyard in Seaford. 

The Bairnsdale ulcer is most commonly found in the Frankston region and on the Mornington and Bellarine peninsulas. “We’ve definitely been seeing an increase in the number of cases in Victoria,” Dr Kelley says. “We first started to notice it here in 2011/12 and it was gradually increasing up until 2015, and since then there has been a massive increase in the number of cases.”

From January to October 2018 there were 295 cases, compared with 277 for the whole of 2017.

Once Stephen was diagnosed, he was referred to the Infectious Diseases Clinic at Frankston Hospital and put on antibiotics. “Often, when the ulcers are small, they can be managed with just antibiotics,” Dr Kelley says. “However, some people require surgery to cut out the infected tissue.” 

Stephen’s ulcer wasn’t getting better with just antibiotics, so he had to have surgery to remove it. “I had the ulcer debrided and cleaned up by the plastic surgeons,” he says. “The ulcer is more than two inches (5cm) wide. They got rid of all the dead tissue and now I am waiting to find out whether I will need to have a skin graft. It was quite painful early on, but it’s not now. It seems to have settled down a bit.”

It is still not clear exactly what causes the Bairnsdale ulcer, but the bacteria has been detected in mosquitoes, vegetation and possum poo. 

Dr Kelley has some simple advice on how to best protect yourself from the Bairnsdale ulcer. 

“If you are outside in the summer months, cover up as much as possible and wear insect repellent. If you are gardening and get a cut or scratch, go inside and wash the area with soap and water as soon as possible to try to wash off any of the bacteria.” 

Stephen agrees. “Wear long pants if you’re gardening; I always wore shorts but not anymore.” 

If you do get a spot on your skin that looks like a mosquito or spider bite and keeps growing bigger — potentially forming a crusty, non-healing scab or an ulcer — go straight to your doctor. “Early diagnosis is key,” Dr Kelley says. “If you have an ulcer that is not getting better you need to see your GP as soon as possible. Ask them to do a special test for the Bairnsdale ulcer. The sooner treatment is started, the better chance we have of minimising skin loss and stopping the infection without the need for surgery.” 

For more information about the Bairnsdale ulcer, go to

A hard chat with The Hammer


Carrum resident James ‘The Hammer’ Harding speaks to Kate Sears about his autobiography, Hard Cuddles, and how he turned his back on a life of drugs, violence and crime to become a mentor, public speaker and devoted dad.

What has your mentoring experience been like?

It’s tremendously humbling to be part of another human’s healing process. There is a huge amount of vulnerability involved in sharing emotional challenges with another human, so to be able to create a comfortable space for a client to share those experiences with me is amazing. Whatever is shareable is bearable, so with my mentoring process I removed all judgement a long time ago and have a tendency to look at a situation from the eyes of the person telling the story. Active listening with compassion and empathy is incredibly healing. 

Was your book challenging or cathartic to write?

A little of both. I knew instinctively when I was writing that I was healing myself and I could feel a massive amount of residual emotion being cleared as I penned down every one of the 121,000 words in the book. Situations, stories and certain people would consistently run in my head very much like I wasn’t able to let them go. There was a real sense of releasing the pain, so certain chapters in the book had me in tears as I wrote them and I felt like I was being torn apart. I remember how hard certain moments were for me and I can’t help but feel happiness at the mountain I have climbed to get here. The book was actually written for me, no one else. I had no ambition of letting it go public. My sister snuck on to the computer and read a few chapters and demanded I send it to a publisher. 

Tell us about your public speaking?

I love speaking publicly.  I have spoken and held workshops at various councils, community centres and large organisations. Corrections Victoria has recently contacted me to start organising a program for the inmates in prison. That particular presentation is something I hold very close to my heart. If things had’ve gone a bit differently for me I could very well have been listening to the presentations as one of the inmates. Ultimately, public speaking is a beautiful way of connecting with other human beings. It’s a massive energy transference. I give so much of myself and in turn receive a lot of energy back from the audience. It’s a very special feeling. 

PULL QUOTE: Ultimately, public speaking is a beautiful way of connecting with other human beings. It’s a massive energy transference. I give so much of myself and in turn receive a lot of energy back from the audience. It’s a very special feeling

What do your love about our community?

I volunteer at the Pantry 5000 and the Bonbeach Football Club as a welfare manager under the tutelage of magnificent Matty Lowe, the president and director of Lowe Constructions. Specifically, during my time of darkness I promised myself that when I found some balance and peace I would do everything in my powers to help other people. To me it makes a lot of sense to raise all of my children in a fashion that allows them to see that what their father does is normal, so in a lot of ways raising five caring and community-minded children is my greatest legacy and contribution to the universe. 

Pad up for girls’ cricket By Liz Rogers


Women’s cricket is nothing new. The Frankston Women’s Cricket Club pioneered the game on the Peninsula more than 40 years ago, there were 14 teams playing in the Mornington Peninsula Cricket Association girls’ cricket competition last year and this year the girls hit the crease again with bats blazing. Kim Jackson is a general board member of the MPCA and director of girls’ cricket and gives us the ‘goss’ on why this traditionally male-dominated sport has got girls between the ages of 10 and 15 on the go. Whether off-side or leg-side, the nine teams that begin their second season after Christmas are keen, clean and ready to strike.

She explains. “Girls’ cricket has been in full force for about three years on the Peninsula. The only reason we have nine teams participating in the competition this time is that many of the girls have gone on to play premier women’s cricket and we are in the process of recruiting. Elly Donald, from Rosebud, and Lucy Cripps, from Baden Powell, have just gone on to play in the Victorian women’s side, while bowler Natalie Plane, from Pines, has played a season on contract with the Melbourne Renegades. There are real pathways for girls to make a career out of playing the game. There are competitions happening all around Australia.”

There are currently eight clubs on the Peninsula with girls’ teams: Baxter, Carrum, Carrum Downs, Heatherhill, Long Island, Mornington, Pines and Somerville. Games are played on Tuesdays from 5-7.30pm and the clubs are always looking for more players. Kim suggests dropping by your local cricket club if you want to start a girls’ team. It only takes one inquiry to get the ball bowling. 

“Girls’ cricket has a two-fold purpose. One, we want to give girls a pathway to elite sport, and two, we want to get girls moving and making social contacts. Girls love getting together with each other and cricket is a great way of doing that. My father (Colin Bowes) used to be on the MPCA board and really pushed the girls’ cricket contingent. Now I intend to do the same.” There are many clubs and individuals working together with a very supportive MPCA board and Cricket Victoria to develop not just ‘girls playing cricket’ but ‘cricket players’.

The second season of the MPCA girls’ cricket competition runs through January, February and March. Get cracking on giving them the support they deserve and let’s hit a few sixes for girls’ cricket.

Sue exercises through MS diagnosis By Liz Rogers


Have you ever tried to make your way through the day in a world of groggy and foggy fatigue? Or felt so off balance and under the skin boiling and brain-numbing blurry that all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and stare at a blank screen?

Well, Sue Bugeja has. Living with multiple sclerosis has changed this 49-year-old Mount Martha resident’s life dramatically. First diagnosed with optical neuritis and sent along to an eye specialist where the tests were inconclusive, Sue had been feeling exhausted, off-balance and weak for some time. But there were two young children to chase, a home to look after and a job that demanded attention. Surely everyone in the same situation felt that tired. But her body and mind felt strange. Her eyes were playing funny buggers and sometimes she felt so hot she thought she’d slipped on 20 shag-pile sweaters without knowing it. She explains. 

“I thought I had an inner ear problem initially when my first child was born but didn’t think anything of it. Looking back, that was probably the first sign. I had all the symptoms of vertigo and felt so disorientated. I finally had an MRI and was diagnosed with MS in 2010. I remember holding a kids’ party for my daughter a few days after and walking around as if nothing had changed — I was in a daze — until I began having injections two to three times a week. One of the worst things about MS is losing confidence. You second guess yourself because it’s hard to make decisions and you wonder if you’ve made the right one.”

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic neurological disease and affects two to three times as many women as men. Put simply, it includes random autoimmune attacks that damage the insulating myelin sheath of the central nervous system, but Sue has found that regular exercise brings relief. She has begun working with exercise physiologist Elise Robinson at Pace Health Management in Mount Martha and the results have been impressive. “The more I do, the better I feel. You know, seven out of 10 people with MS are depressed and many consider ending their lives. Exercise has changed my outlook. It’s helped with my balance, strength, spasticity in my legs and brain fog. There are always going to be days when I feel weak and not up to it, but the exercise keeps me going and has dramatically improved my quality of life. I’ve also lost around 25 kilos.”

Elise continues. “In 12 weeks, Sue has improved cognitively, emotionally and physically. She still experiences stress triggers, which ‘bring the blanket down’, but these episodes have been happening less. Her program is aerobics-based and includes balance, resistance and circuit/strength exercise. You can exercise your way through MS.”

Sue agrees. “I also do yoga twice a week and take time out when I need to, but I have to keep going. The kids need me. I need to feel the best I can to keep moving forward. There’s no choice.”

Enough said.

Crime, skin and the future it brings By Liz Rogers


There she is. Red lips, wide smile and tattoos that splash over her milky skin, their forms moving in vibrant colours. Perched on a stool on a balcony overlooking the water, hair pulled back with a scarf wrapped around her head, Esther Yann is picture pin-up perfect. She’s 24. She’s curvaceous. She’s on her way to becoming a criminologist. And she’s tired. Working as a burlesque performer in Melbourne two nights a week, studying criminology at Deakin University and working a daytime job keeps her busy. Then there’s the love of her life, musician Jackson — her husband to be — and her cats and bearded dragon Haku to hang out with. We’ve never met before, but this beautifully fragile yet tough, determined and compassionate young woman is easy to talk with over a glass of vino. 

“I was always going to do something in the arts and performance sector. Or work with animals. The problem is I have dyscalculia. I can’t work out mathematical equations and I can’t read big numbers. I can’t even read the time. It’s the equivalent of dyslexia but instead of having problems with words, I have problems with numbers. People at school always thought I was dumb. I wanted to be a vet nurse and worked in three different vet clinics in Sydney before moving back to Melbourne, but it was too hard and I became depressed. I acted for a while — even had a big audition for a movie with Toni Collette. I got down to the last two for the role and didn’t get it. I thought, this doesn’t feel great. Maybe acting is not for me,” she explains.

Esther has a turbulent past. Growing up on the Peninsula with her sister and parents, family heartache and terror snuck into her world one day when she wasn’t looking and left its indelible mark burning through to her core. She is the daughter of Jeff Yann, whose mother was murdered in their lounge room (see July’s Mornington Peninsula Magazine). This has shaped her life and is the reason she’s set on becoming a criminologist, although she has always been interested in the psyche of serial killers and what motivates people to perpetuate and repeat crimes. 

“I’m sure what happened to Nona has been a huge motivator in choosing this path. I’m in my second year of criminology and find the criminal mind fascinating. After completing this degree I’ll do three more years of criminal psychology so I can work specifically with serial killers. I suppose it was a choice to study them rather than become one!” We both laugh a little nervously. “You know, there was a mark on the lounge room floor where she was killed and we used to play around it. You never resolve this kind of thing, but I need to find out more about what motivates these perpetrators and how the criminal justice system works or sometimes doesn’t.”

Esther left the Peninsula and headed to Sydney soon after finishing school at Bayside Christian College, and although the acting didn’t work out, she has taken her love of performance and channelled it into her burlesque stage persona Pistolina. She’s a pole dancer too. It is here she celebrates womanhood, strength, feminism and creative freedom. There’s no worries about being so exposed in front of a crowd. She continues. “Taking your clothes off on stage is a massive ego boost. Standing up there with the crowd at arm’s length waiting. Long silk gloves, pencil skirt, a 1920s fake fur coat and roses in my hair. It’s magical and empowering. I do five shows per night which are three to six minutes long. I finish at 11pm and then drive back to Dromana to Jackson — who is very supportive — and my little animal family. The people I work with come from all parts of the community and are so open and forgiving. They can adapt and are survivors.”

Watch out for this survivor’s future gig working with a correspondent from The Australian newspaper who will be presenting a podcast about her grandmother’s case. Esther will bring the family’s perspective. “I’m excited to be working on this,” she concludes. 

Dance, Pistolina, dance. The strength is within.

There was something about Ella By Liz Rogers

Ellen Marion Bromley was some kind of glamorous, outspoken, creative and brave babe. 

The running joke is that her husband, Alan McLeod McCulloch, only married her in 1947 because she had a typewriter! That’s what her daughter Susan McCulloch and granddaughter Emily McCulloch Childs say as we chuckle over the possibility. 

Ella circa 1935. Photo by Athol Shmith

Ella circa 1935. Photo by Athol Shmith

They met when both were working in the Commonwealth Bank in the 1930s. Alan became a writer for the Argus, the Australasian Post and much later an art critic for the Melbourne Herald for 30 years. In New York he crafted her wedding ring out of cigarette paper and wire, which Susan and Emily treasure. “I’d much prefer being given this instead of some huge diamond ring,” says Emily as she opens the pink velvet box where this delicate organic sculpture lies. “I just love jewellery. I mean, look at that!” We both sigh as the light drifts through the large windows into this wonderful Whistlewood space in Shoreham surrounded by books and art. The home was left to both of them by Ellen, who bought it herself. Hard to imagine when you know from where this stylish beauty came, but this smart bird had entrepreneurial instincts, the guts to pursue them and the grunt to see her vision through to fruition where others may have failed.

Ellen, or Ella as she was known on stage and will be known henceforth, was born in Footscray on August 12, 1908. Both her parents were dead by the time she was 18 and she went to live with an aunt who proceeded to pilfer all her worldly goods. She began performing in her 20s and loved to sing, play the piano and act. Susan explains. “She was very serious about acting. She did Shakespeare and musicals while she worked in the Commonwealth Bank in town. She performed with the Cairns Memorial Players. She met her first husband, the US-based Tobias Moscovitz, who was a businessman, around this time. He had lost all his family in the Holocaust and she had lost hers. She was living in various places in Melbourne with her piano when she was performing.” 

Emily joins in. “She always had her piano. I think she moved around 20 times and she always took her piano with her.” Much laughter falls between us and on to the table to caress the photos full of love, laughter, bike-riding and ladies’ lunches in all their visual glory spread out before us.

“She lived in a house in Port Melbourne for a while and shared a car with 18 other people,” continues Susan. “Times were tough back then and she had very little money. I think it was called the Green Monster . . . I’m not sure, but I know they ventured down to Sorrento in that car.”

It was when Ella was performing on stage that she was ‘discovered’ and given a role in the 1934 Centenary Films black and white 56-minute film called Secret of the Skies. Filmed in the Kinglake Ranges near Melbourne and in Cinesound’s new studio in St Kilda and to be distributed by Universal, it received bad reviews. Susan continues. “It didn’t do very well, unfortunately, but when she married Toby she moved to America and did try out in Hollywood, which she later described as the ‘den of sin’.” And the laughter begins. “That’s when she realised acting wasn’t for her. She had great principles and was interested in politics, art, literature and music. When she went to the cinema and they used to play those Nazi propaganda movies, she’d stand up and state, ‘This is not on!’ and leave the cinema. She was never afraid to voice her opinions.” 

As a businesswoman, Ella worked for mentor Elizabeth Arden and set up salons across the US. She was also a Red Cross nurse. She came back to Australia for a while but returned to the States with Alan hotly pursuing her. “Dad chased after her back to America and they drove across the country together. He wrote two travelogues: the first was called Highway 40, about the trip across America, and the second was titled Trial by Tandem, which was inspired by the tandem bicycle ride they made from Paris to Positano. Mum had me in London when she was 41 years old. We came to Shoreham when I was two in 1951, but I think it was a difficult adjustment for her here — but she was saved by some great local friends who became lifelong soulmates. We also had heaps of international and Australian artists, writers, musicians, dancers and other stimulating people visiting. Dad had returned to look after his mother and Mum would listen to the ABC on the radio all day and argue out loud. She was part of the music society and had concerts in people’s houses.”

“She also loved feminist and Australian literature, which she introduced to me,” says Emily. 

“I had two sets of godparents — Dorothy and Oscar Hammerstein and war correspondent William Winter. Mum was an adventurer and had a strong belief in equality for all. She loved anything to do with culture,” Susan concludes.

The gift she’s passed on to the two remaining generations of determined McCulloch ladies making their way in the world from deep within Whistlewood.   

Better access to the beach By Liz Rogers

Surf’s up again on Saturday, January 12, and Saturday, March 16, at Point Leo for all you surfers out there who need just a little bit of help getting in and out of the water. 


The Mornington Peninsula branch of the Disabled Surfers Association is putting together its well-loved annual event where people who have a disability come together to laugh, get wet and of course surf with the help of a dedicated bunch of volunteers who bring their might, humour and good vibes with them. This year’s beach access will be better than ever with a fully-functioning wheelchair-friendly boardwalk up and ready for action. Launched last May, the 82m structure, viewing platform and ramp down to the beach is made of tough fibreglass and timber and makes life easier for DSAMP volunteers to deliver surfers back to the change rooms. This means no more navigating the dune from the beach, which puts smiles on everyone’s dials. DSAMP, the Point Leo Foreshore Committee and the Point Leo Surf Life Saving Club were involved in the project.

If you’d like to volunteer at an event that changes people’s lives, follow this team of innovative and empathetic movers and shakers on Facebook @letsgosurfing or email [email protected] to register your interest. Aiming to “provide a safe and enjoyable surfing experience for all disabled surfers and unite the local community”, DSAMP brings the best out of people helping people who need help. 

It’s been doing that since 2011.


‘The Ninja’ returns home with a vow to keep on punching By Tanya Fry

A young Hawk and his hero — Cebby meets Hawthorn legend Cyril Rioli last year.

A young Hawk and his hero — Cebby meets Hawthorn legend Cyril Rioli last year.

December 7, 2018. Cebby is sitting in a wheelchair. We are on our front porch eating my mum’s homemade meat pie left on our doorstep earlier. After 120 days in the Royal Children’s Hospital, we have just got home and I am appreciating the roses in our garden that have bloomed while we have been away. Cebby can’t see them or smell them but he can taste the meat pie and feel the breeze. “This is heaven,” he says. “It is so good to be home.”

It is good to be home. Our lives changed for ever on August 10, 2018. It was a fairly normal day. I had dropped Cebby off to school that morning. I had the flu and so was under blankets on the sofa watching the movie The Cup, about jockey Damien Oliver. In the movie Damien’s brother has just fallen and died. I am sobbing just as Cebby’s school calls. 

“There’s been an accident,” she says. “Paramedics are here. We are not sure what has happened. The principal is heading over there now.” I grab my nearest shoes and drive to the school, fast.

The elation’s obvious as Tanya and Cebby leave the Royal Children’s Hospital after 120 days.

The elation’s obvious as Tanya and Cebby leave the Royal Children’s Hospital after 120 days.

Nearing the school it is obvious where I need to go. There are fire trucks, police, paramedics and ambulances. I sprint past them all towards a big shed. When I get there I see Cebby. He is lying on the concrete shirtless. His school shoes are still on his feet and they don’t move. Paramedics are working on him. He is breathing, they say. No, I’m not allowed to hold his hand. I look up at the 6m skylight he fell through at lunchtime. It is high, really high. I worry he has broken his neck or back. A policeman drives me to the oval where a chopper is waiting. I take my seat and then Cebby is carefully placed in front of me. It is a sunny day.

The chopper lands at the Royal Children’s Hospital and we make our arrival through the roof. Nurses and surgeons are yelling, running, rushing, kind of like on TV. I’m ushered to a small room and a tiny woman — the brain surgeon who will operate — talks calmly. She says what has happened to Cebby and what they will do in the operation and what might happen. I hear words like “severe”, “bleeding in the brain”, “he might not survive”. She is calm and emotionless while talking. I am not calm. I can tell I am not calm because people are holding down my arms. Someone is making weird, loud noises and I realise it’s me. Then a social worker who talks too fast takes me to a room where I wait for hours.

Cebby is swollen beyond recognition. There are tubes in his mouth, up his nose, in his arms. His head has a bandage on it that says “no bone”. The room is full of machinery all attached to Ceb. I learn quickly what each machine does and what each alarm sounds like. There is a Codman in his brain that measures brain swelling. The monitor that detects the swelling levels dominates my days for weeks. A nurse gives me a date and says if he reaches this day he should survive. “You look like a puffer fish, Ceb,” she says gently. The nurses tell me it’s 5am and I should get some sleep. I look at them like they are insane. But eventually I go, and then come back at 6am.

“You are in hell right now,” a nurse tells me. I appreciate her honesty and imagine a doormat at the ward entry that says, “Welcome to hell”. Five days later Cebby turns 14 while he is in a coma. At 7am I imagine him unwrapping his present at home — a beautiful blue surfboard. 

The days go fast and slow at the same time. Mel, one of his ICU nurses, calls Cebby “miracle boy”.  But most call him “the ninja” because he constantly pulls off his ECG dots, IV drip and nasal gastric tube. His hands are bandaged but this doesn’t stop him. He uses his teeth to unravel the bandages. A pile of bandages is often left on his chest within seconds. The bandages look like boxing wraps and in his half-sleep he knows this and constantly spars the air above him.

Cebby still plans to ride the surfboard he got for his 14th birthday.

Cebby still plans to ride the surfboard he got for his 14th birthday.

We need to wake him up; he’s been under too long, they say. They prepare me for an ugly wake-up scene. He will be a different boy, they say. His breathing tubes are taken out and he coughs. “Good cough, Cebby,” I say. “Thank you,” he says. “Love you. My head hurts.” I see the head doctor from the corner of my eye throw up her arms in shock and say, “I’ll never believe another MRI again.”

A week later he has his second operation to fix the many fractures in his face and eye socket and put his skull back on. “Cebby can’t see,” he said to me one day.

There has been no crying or anger. There have been milestones fought and won. He is learning to navigate the world in the dark and is doing so with his typical humour and wisdom. There are many battles ahead to be fought but the one thing I know is Cebby will keep on punching.

Thank you to our wonderful community that has shown kindness and love. Special thanks to Mornington Peninsula Foundation, Bahas in Rye and Karen Catalucci Boxing for holding fundraisers; Jodie Hornsby for setting up the Go Fund Me page even when I said no; Cheryl Beattie from the Music Industry for writing a song about Cebby and giving the gift of a music scholarship; Jasmine Murray for checking in daily on our bird, Keats; the students at Dromana Secondary College who busked and baked to raise money for Ceb; my parents for looking after Early, our beloved kelpie; my brother for his love and support; our wonderful neighbours, Geoff and Linda, and my dear friend Tammy whose many visits to the hospital kept me nourished and sane. 

Birte brings green scene down south By Liz Rogers

If Birte Moliere was a colour, she would be green, or perhaps blue. Growing up in Germany and now residing in Frankston South, this conservationist, tourism professional, sustainability coach and mother of two boys is “determined to leave the planet in the best shape possible for generations to come”. That’s why she’s the founder of beach cleans, zero-waste and sustainable business initiatives. She explains.

Birte Moliere with her husband, Darryl, and their two children, Max and Henri.

Birte Moliere with her husband, Darryl, and their two children, Max and Henri.

“I am passionate about connecting young people with nature and motivating environmental stewardship. Growing up in Germany near the border of Holland in an old university town, it was always considered just a part of life to recycle, to bring your own bag when you go shopping and to ride your bike everywhere. We never knew any different. I’ve just started working with the sustainability team at Kunyung Primary School, which focuses on things like energy usage, waste, vegie gardens, chooks and composting so that the kids can take the message home to the parents. This is where to start. Getting the kids involved in the bigger picture stuff from early on works.”

Birte, her husband Darryl and their two children Max and Henri are outdoors people. Hiking. Biking. Beaching. Living their lives as sustainably as possible. Birte brings years of experience and education to the environmental  platform. She has a Masters in Sustainable Destination Management and Majors in geography, marketing, development, market research and business from the University of Paderborn, Germany. She also has a Bachelor of Technology with first class honours in Ecotourism from Flinders University, Adelaide — so she’s got the knowledge to bring about true environmental change on a local level. She continues. 

“I discovered my ‘why’ early on. I remember going to a seal rescue station in the Northern Seas in Germany at about 10 years old. There had been an oil spill and I saw the effects first-hand. The seals and birds were covered with oil. That was it really. I started writing to the German Chancellor about the importance of protecting our marine life. I have always been connected to the sea and have turned my passion into a career, freelancing with a number of organisations to develop sustainable business practises and engage customers through meaningful experiences. When I first came to Australia about 20 years ago after meeting my now husband, we lived and worked in Adelaide, then I took a job as ecotourism specialist with Tourism Queensland and later as manager of events and visitor attraction at Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service in Queensland.” 

Back on the Peninsula, Birte oversees Mount Eliza beach cleans under the Beach Patrol Australia umbrella on the last Sunday of each month. “It has been well-received since we began in 2018. We have around 400 active members on our social media platforms and people from all walks of life including many families come and help at different times. It doesn’t take long and makes a real difference,” she continues. Check out Mt Eliza Plastic Free at mtelizaplasticfree on Facebook to become part of a community forum that ‘encourages, educates and celebrates improved resource use and works toward zero single plastic bag use’. 

Landfill in Australia is very high per capita compared with many European nations. One of Birte’s goals is to reduce the reliance on single-use plastics here, which includes introducing a container deposit scheme that’s already in operation in other states. It may be a long way to the top of the ever-growing pile of waste accumulating in our waterways, but Birte has hope. “Small steps can make a huge difference and everyone plays an important part. Think global. Act local.”

If you would like advice on how to further your sustainability journey in 2019, give Birte a call on 0478 597 373 to see how you can colour your world with green. Or blue.

Christmas in our community 

BSL mural.jpg

The largest shopping centre on the Mornington Peninsula, Bayside Centre attracts an average of 1.5 million people each December alone. This year, members of the community have been invited to spread the spirit of Christmas in the centre through the use of art therapy.

A bespoke piece of artwork, created by students from the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Transition to Work program, will be on display in the centre throughout December. Students have begun work at Kindred Art Space in Frankston, a unique art space and centre dedicated to mental health and well-being. The process invites collaboration and encourages students to take part in art therapy sessions where creativity is allowed to be exercised freely in a nurturing environment.  

The artwork will reflect the students’ creative ideas and perception of Christmas in our community and will be on display on Level 2 of the centre. To stay up to date with the installation, visit the centre’s webpage, Facebook page or Instagram.


A: 28 Beach St, Frankston

T: 9771 1700


FB: baysidecentrevic

INSTA: baysidecentre

Peter Pan in sand is simply amazing


There’s Never-Never been a better time to visit Boneo Maze — the new home of Sand Sculpting Australia on the Peninsula — with the summer opening of Peter Pan. The classic tale of the little boy who never grew up is being reimagined in 3500 tonnes of sand by 15 award-winning Australian and international sand sculptors along the wetlands and garden pathways of Boneo Maze.

With several sculptures standing up to 4m high, Peter Pan will be flanked by Captain Hook and Mr Smee, the Lost Boys of Never-Never Land, Tinkerbell, Indians, mermaids and the tick-tock crocodile, with secret hideouts, swashbuckling adventures and feisty fairies bringing this children’s favourite to life. One of the sculptors, Joris Kivits from the Netherlands, estimates it will take 5000 hours to create the artworks. 

The move to Boneo Maze is a return home to the southern Peninsula for Sand Sculpting Australia, which was launched in Rye 11 years ago by the Wittingslow family. Since 2004, Sand Sculpting Australia has gone on to present 19 major sand sculpting events enjoyed by more than 2.2 million people across Australia. 

“There’s something truly magical about seeing these characters we have grown up with come to life in giant sand sculptures before our eyes,” said Boneo Maze events director Evie Wittingslow. “Everyone loves the story of the boy who could fly and doesn’t grow up, and it’s fitting that we’re welcoming Peter Pan and his friends into our enchanting gardens here at Boneo Maze.” 

Sand Sculpting Australia at Boneo Maze opens on Saturday, December 15, from 10am-5pm then daily from 10am-6pm until Monday, January 28 (closed Christmas Day). For ticket prices and more information, visit or phone 5988 6385.


A: 698 Limestone Rd, Fingal


FB: BoneoMazeMiniGolf

INSTA: boneo_maze

Sarsha surfs the line By Liz Rogers


I met Sarsha Pancic a while back when covering a story on the Hurley surf clinic at Gunnamatta for Mornington Peninsula Magazine. The breaks were fierce that day as this tiny Blairgowrie bombshell lunged and squatted head-first into the eye of the churning waves without fear. Fast-forward and our paths have crossed again as this self-described “salty-haired grom” continues to grow and get better at what she loves to do most — surf. 

With dreams of becoming a pro surfer like Sally Fitzgibbons or Stephanie Gilmore and travelling the world to “awesome places like the World Surfing League surf ranch in the States, France, Fiji and the Maldives”, this svelte 12-year-old has the surfing world at her strong and capable feet. She’s ready. Just watch her flow.

“I grew up surfing in Western Port Bay and Point Leo with my family. Now I love surfing at local breaks and Jan Juc on the west coast. I’m a member of the Torquay Boardriders Club and was under-12 girls’ champion last year. I also do gymnastics. I want to qualify for the Victorian Junior Surfing team and represent Victoria at the Australian Junior Surfing Titles,” she explains. Why not? She already competes in the national Rip Curl Grom Search, which is a series of events designed to find the most talented surfing grommets across the globe. This competition runs in 10 countries and has more than 5000 competitors worldwide. In 2018 Sarsha gained impressive results across three of the five events held so far, coming third twice and winning the event on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia in the 12 and under girls. This means she’s secured a spot at the national final, which will be held in January near Wollongong. 

She continues. “I love connecting to nature and surfing with my family and friends. I want to keep learning and improving and am lucky to have the support from people who are close to me, like my dad, brother, uncle and grandfather.” Torquay Boardriders Club president and Surfing Victoria high-performance coaching director Cahill-Bell Warren, Bass Surfboards owner Craig Watson, Balin Surfers Hardware owner Jon Wilson and surfer Nick Wallace are all on board too, making sure she gets the direction she needs to achieve her dreams.

From jumping on a board at three years of age to participating in the Torquay Boardriders Club competitions, Victorian junior surfing titles and the Woolworths Surfer Groms Comp, as well as the Rip Curl GromSearch in 2019, this Padua College Year 7 student who was awarded St Joseph’s Primary School’s highest school sporting award in 2017 — The John McCarthy Memorial Award — is beach and water-crazy. “It’s where I like to be most. I was awarded the role of Dolphin Research Institute I Sea, I Care ambassador last year too.”

Watch this space. This hot chip-loving tween who reckons it would be ace to be a bird is ready to spread her wings and surf the line.

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