Global travellers flock to Peninsula

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Every year around August, flocks of critically endangered eastern curlews arrive at the Australian coastline — including our own Mornington Peninsula — after a perilous 10,000km migration through 22 countries from their breeding grounds in the Arctic.

In his new book The Eastern Curlew - The Extraordinary Life of a Migratory Bird, award-winning nature writer Harry Saddler explores how these birds have impressed themselves on the cultures of the countries they pass through, the threat to their survival posed by development, and the remarkable ways in which the eastern curlew and humankind may be entwined.

“My favourite place to see eastern curlews — and one of my favourite places in general — is French Island,” Harry says. “I once saw a flock of 70 fly past the ferry jetty at Tankerton, and with luck you might see eastern curlews at Hastings Foreshore Reserve.”

French Island is a great place to see all sorts of migratory shorebirds but you don’t have to get on a boat to enjoy them: nearly the whole of Western Port is listed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, which means that the east coast of the Mornington Peninsula has great places to see many of the other migratory shorebirds that spend summer with us before flying back to the Arctic.

“The best time to see shorebirds varies depending on the tide. So much of their life revolves around stacking on fat for their epic migratory flights, so when the tide is out they’ll be feeding on the little animals that live on mudflats,” Harry says. “Sometimes that’s in the middle of the day, sometimes the middle of the night.”

The sad fact is that habitat loss along their migration route means each year there are fewer and fewer migratory shorebirds such as eastern curlews to be seen. Already they’ve disappeared from many places where they used to be annual visitors. In 1903, William Gillies wrote a book called Nature Studies in Australia in which he described hearing an eastern curlew calling near Dromana, but if you look on either eBird or the Atlas of Living Australia — the two most commonly used citizen science portals for birdwatchers — the most recent record of eastern curlews from anywhere near Dromana is from all the way back in 1999.

“What I love most about the Mornington Peninsula is that it’s so close to my home in Melbourne, but it feels so far away,” Harry says. “I love to visit Stony Point, where on a sunny summer’s day Western Port is so blue and calm and peaceful. You can feel all the stress and noise of the city just falling off your shoulders as soon as you set eyes on the water. It’s very special.”

The Eastern Curlew - The Extraordinary Life of a Migratory Bird (Affirm Press; $29.99) is available now in bookstores and online, but for your chance to win a copy, keep an eye on our Facebook page @mornpenmag 


Crab-grabbing Crystal and the dancing seahorses By Kate Sears


Jules Casey is at it again. Actually, to be perfectly honest, she freedives nearly every day so she never really stops to take a breath. If you missed our story on Jules in our last issue, this freediver takes amazing underwater footage with her GoPro Hero 6 after taking just one breath of air. This month she let us in on three remarkable species that are gracing Blairgowrie pier at this time of year.

Spider crabs have just finished gathering at the pier to moult, shedding their hard outer shell, and divers got to experience the phenomenon over seven to 10 days in the shallows. “We thought it had finished, then we were pleasantly surprised to discover a second group appear but out much deeper,” said Jules. “It was unusual to have two groups, and the second was bigger than the first. It’s hard to estimate but there would have been anywhere between 5000 and 10,000 spider crabs.”


Now, meet Crystal. She is an extremely rare albino smooth ray. Jules captured wonderful footage of her eating spider crabs as they began moulting, sucking them up and munching on them the moment they shed their shell. This footage was passed on by her content manager, Storyful, and it made its way to National Geographic. Her dive buddy noticed Crystal while they were watching the spider crabs three years ago. She’s a shy creature who only appears at this time of year, and Jules was able to spend 30 minutes with her. At first Crystal wasn’t sure how to handle this lady with her camera watching her eat, and would swim away. But when she realised Jules wasn’t pursuing her, Crystal’s inquisitive nature — and, presumably, her appetite — got the better of her and she’d come swimming back. “She became so chilled out and relaxed,” said Jules. “She was extremely timid at the start.”

Now, we females all know and adore the baby-carrying male seahorse because he’s the most considerate partner out there, right? But did you know that the ‘love dance’ is rarely caught on camera? Jules has captured the moment not once but twice, when the male puffs out his belly to show the female that he’s the most suitable carrier of her eggs. His colouring then changes as they dance around each other. This has been photographed before, but the transfer of eggs to the male is much harder to find and capture. “I watched the seahorses for 20 minutes; my camera battery even went dead in the end but I got it,” said Jules. “When they pass the eggs they rise to the surface slowly. The male will carry the eggs to term, which is normally about three to four weeks.

Jules has recently also witnessed cuttlefish mating, Port Jackson sharks swimming near the pier, and the biggest stingrays she’s ever seen. But that’s a story for another day in the octopus’s garden under the sea.


Hot-shot coach serves ace at Ranelagh By Liz Rogers

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If you’re looking for a club to play tennis with the best, then look no further than the Ranelagh Club. It has just appointed Daniel Byrnes, who brings with him years of tennis experience including multiple award-winning credentials as new head coach.

Daniel’s a five-time and current Victorian grass court champion, three-time Victorian hardcourt champion and two-time clay court champion. And if that’s not enough to get you booking lessons, he’s coached alongside some of the best, including Jason Stoltenberg, John McCurdy and Nicole Pratt, and has just returned from Wimbledon supporting 16th seed Ashleigh Barty. 

Daniel is an integral member of Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club and has played for it in the premier league, having won the club championship on two occasions. He is passionate about the game and delivering professional coaching to a new generation of tennis stars and everyone who wants to improve their game — and you don’t even have to be a Ranelagh Club member! His father, Garry, who is a multiple Victorian title winner, will be assisting.

Call the Ranelagh Club today to secure your place to get ahead of the game or to play and socialise outdoors. Daniel’s credibility in Australian tennis is hard to beat, and the club will be offering Hot Shots, adult, junior and group coaching (including schools), squad training and Nitro Tennis Academy. Ace!


A: 3 Rosserdale Cres, Mount Eliza

T: 9787 0265

M: 0422 411 895 or 0411 221 736 tennis direct


FB: RanelaghClub

INSTA: ranelaghclubmounteliza


Open Day at Peninsula Grammar reveals a world of possibilities


‘Quod Bonum Tenete: Hold fast that which is good.’ This timeless motto sits proudly on our school crest to remind students and families to consider not only the past but to also strive for personal excellence now and into the future. At Peninsula Grammar we provide the highest quality teachers to nurture and inspire our students to be their very best.

Our Open Day on August 15 from 9-11am is student-led and provides a great opportunity for visitors to experience our vibrant co-educational school environment. As soon as you enter our school gates you will be able to feel our community spirit, see our collaborative and creative classrooms and be able to enjoy our innovative facilities and green landscape. 

We are a value-driven school and our academic excellence is complemented by a wide array of co-curricular activities tailored to enable students to learn, grow and flourish. We invest in students’ personal growth and well-being and we encourage each student to diligently pursue their passions. Our teachers and students are active members of our community, embracing and engaging in 21st century education.

Our positive learning environment and engaging personalised programs are spread across four key learning areas: Junior Years (3YO Kindergarten-Year 4), Middle Years (Years 5-8), Pre Senior Year (Year 9) and Senior Years (Years 10-12).  Proudly co-educational, we also offer day and boarding facilities for local and international students.

We look forward to welcoming you to see ‘that which is good’ at Peninsula Grammar. To experience our Open Day, bookings are preferred, so please register your interest via our website at or call us on 9788 7702.

PETER FORD - Acting Principal


Exhibitions honour pioneers of art and design

 Image attributed to Sue Ford, Untitled, location unknown, c1965-70. Archive of late Gordon Ford.

Image attributed to Sue Ford, Untitled, location unknown, c1965-70. Archive of late Gordon Ford.

Two exhibitions that pay tribute to important figures in the fields of painting and landscape design are on show at McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery in Langwarrin.

Sanné Mestrom: Black Paintings features works made from free-standing steel frames and undyed wool. Sanné’s installations are commentaries on the broad nature of current painting and sculptural practice and reference US artist Frank Stella's iconic 1960s Black Paintings, which made important breakthroughs in the way painters thought about surface and the 'object quality' in their work. These impressive installations will be complemented by a suite of delicate gouache paintings.

Atlas of Memory: (re)visualising Gordon Ford’s natural Australian garden is an exhibition of research by Annette Warner, from the Melbourne School of Design at the University of Melbourne. It presents diverse archive material relating to the influential practice of mid‐to-late 20th century landscape designer Gordon Ford. Ford was recently recognised as a person of National Significance for his contribution to an Australian naturalistic approach to landscape design. Historically he is linked to the development of the Eltham creative movement and significant figures such as the architect Alistair Knox, photographer Sue Ford and other well‐known artists, writers and designers of this time.

Both exhibitions continue until November 11. The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am-5pm and is closed on Mondays and some public holidays. Phone 9789 1671 for details.


A: 390 McClelland Drive, Langwarrin

T: 9789 1671


FB: McClellandSculpturePark+Gallery

INSTA: mcclellandgallery


Financial advice you can count on

As a financial planning business, Dunsford Financial feels it is important to talk to you about what you have been observing in the media. The Royal Commission has called into question many common practices, and first and foremost is whether there is misconduct in banks and major financial institutions, and whether change is required to business models that are vertically integrated.


This temptation to cross-sell their own product into their own client networks is not always in the client’s best interest.  Unfortunately it will now take the Royal Commission to investigate such revelations which equates to approximately 88 per cent of the industry owned by the big four banks and AMP.

Dunsford Financial is not one of those businesses. Everyone at Dunsford Financial feels a mixture of sadness, anger and bewilderment that such appalling business practices have occurred at the big end of town and have gone unchanged for so long. 

The team at Dunsford Financial love what they do and take enormous pride in helping people get their financial lives in order.  They have been advising people on the Mornington Peninsula for more than 35 years.

If you would like a second opinion on your current financial position, whether it be Superannuation, Aged Care, Life Insurance, Pensions or Wills, the team at Dunsford look forward to helping you.


A: 41 Lathams Rd, Carrum Downs

T: 9788 5788

E: [email protected]


FB: dunsfordfinancialplanning


The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser.

Dunsford Financial Planning Pty Ltd is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Synchron AFS Licence No. 243313



LAURENCE AND OLIVIA GUDE IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people by Liz Rogers


How did The Personalised Gift Shop come about? came about when I was looking for a gift to surprise my little sister Olivia. Working away at the time, online was the only solution and it quickly became apparent that finding a gift that was unique, personal and full of meaning was difficult and limited.

Where did the business start and how fast has it grown?
After a lot of research, a few overseas excursions, countless late nights and endless cups of coffee I started the business in 2014, taking over my parents’ garage in Tasmania. Shortly after, my little sister Olivia came on board. Since then The Personalised Gift Shop has grown immensely. We set up our main fulfillment centre here on the Mornington Peninsula in 2016.

You are both in your early 20s — where did your entrepreneurial instincts come from?
We have both been exceptionally lucky and have been involved in numerous family businesses from the day we were born. Our grandfather built a leading wetsuit factory in the UK, and we have been hands on with our parents in restaurants, signs and graphics and river cruise companies to name a few. I think our instincts and ways of thinking have derived from all this. We don’t really know any different.

What are your professional backgrounds?
Olivia has a degree and studied architecture; I dropped out of university and went into the maritime industry.


What kinds of gifts can be found on your website?
We offer gifts for all recipients and all occasions. Our range is very broad and we are always adding new products. To highlight a few, personalised items such as mugs, cheeseboards, beer glasses, jewellery boxes, hip flasks and compendiums can all be found on our website.

What’s the process from ordering through to personalisation to receiving the perfect gift from The Personalised Gift Shop?
The process is very straightforward. You simply jump on to our website (, select a product to personalise, use our innovative live preview feature to see what your gift will look like and then add it to your cart. This can be done within minutes. Our team of ‘personalities’ lovingly personalise each order and we are proud to be the only company in our field in Australia that can dispatch within 24 hours

What makes The Personalised Gift Shop unique?
We only specialise in personalised products; everything on our site can be personalised. We have an innovative preview feature, a fast 24-hour dispatch time and everything comes gift-wrapped as a standard service.

And finally, what’s the best part of owning/operating a business on the Peninsula?
We have lived in many places and we think the Peninsula offers the perfect work/life balance. We are fortunate to have all this on our doorstep. We are able to walk our dogs, keep active in fresh air and open space, dine at quality restaurants and relax in tranquil surroundings. What more could we want?


The talk we all must have by Kate Sears

Eight years ago, filmmaker David M. Raynor was spending Christmas Day with his sister, a school counsellor, when she received a phone call: one of her students was in intensive care after attempting suicide, and eight others were on suicide watch.

That was the catalyst for We Need To Talk, David’s screenplay and movie designed to raise awareness of teenage mental health and suicide.  Last May, Bad Hat Film Publishing launched a book adaptation of the film — a collaboration between David and Balnarring author Sally-Anne Ward.

“We thought a book was something solid that could be kept and re-read,” Sally-Anne said. “Books are sometimes like friends that you chance upon and didn't know you needed until they appeared. This is what we hope will happen with this book.”

The novel We Need To Talk is aimed at young adults — specifically, years 10 to 12. In it we meet Bree, a typical teenager who appears to have it all together. Shockingly, it turns out she’s the victim of relentless bullying, face to face and on social media. The taunts send her spiralling into depression, and she takes her own life. Sally-Anne then explores the ripple effect that Bree’s suicide creates. Her family and friends become the main characters, and she watches them from her place in the spirit world.

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“We have handled the topic with delicacy, utmost respect and with love,” Sally-Anne said. “Our motto for We Need To Talk is ‘We need to love and take care of each other, share our love and care with those around us’. I believe and have learnt that sometimes you just need someone to be kind to you at the right time, and that kindness in itself has the ability to turn a life around.”

Sally-Anne took a year to write We Need To Talk, carefully choosing every word for clarity and understanding for the intended age group — she spent six hours rewriting one paragraph alone until she was completely happy with it — and spoke to those affected by suicide and mental illness. “I noticed along the way that everyone spoke from love, whether they were a suicide attempt survivor or a family member or friend of someone who has mental illness. At the core of every story was love — that was quite an ‘aha’ moment because society paints suicide and mental health issues with negativity, which I feel comes from misunderstanding.

“We want readers of the book to keep the thought in their minds that no matter how bad or dark life can be at times, we want them to remember to hold on, choose to stay, that nothing would be the same if they didn't exist, that life does and will change, but most importantly to always choose to stay in life. Even when it feels like they're holding on by a thread, staying is worth it.”

We Need To Talk is available from Amazon, or visit

FOOTNOTE: Parts of this novel are confronting, so both Sally-Anne and David urge any reader who might be upset to reach out for support. Phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyondblue on 1300 224 636, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.