PENINSULA PETS Duck-dives and dress-ups By Liz Rogers


Have you ever heard of a dog duck-diving for rocks? Or a cavoodle who loves to slip on a lifesaving suit to go to the beach? You’re about to.

Brooklands of Mornington events/business manager Cassandra Birt and her family absolutely adore Claude, their six-year-old personality-fuelled cavoodle. He’s a beach dog through and through, but he doesn’t like to show up underdressed. The family, which has connections with the Mount Martha Life Saving Club, bought him a lifesaving suit that he happily jumps into when he goes to the beach, and yes, that means in the water too.

Cassandra explains. “He’s the funniest thing really. He has a very strong retrieval instinct but is not particularly interested in sticks. He likes rocks, and big rocks too! We live near Birdrock Beach and take him for a run almost every day. There he is in the water duck-diving for these ‘boulders’ in his suit. When he finds one he likes, he has to bring it home. You can’t get it off him.”

The well-loved Claude may be cute but he has his naughty side too. Last Christmas saw him scavenge some chocolate while the family was out. Cassandra knew straight away when she came home that he had done something he shouldn’t have, because he had his tail between his legs and a sheepish look on his face. “He’s so easy to read. You know when something’s up. Unfortunately, the sheepish look wasn’t the only thing that was up – chocolate really isn’t very good for dogs.

“We call him our little archaeologist, our rock collector. There’s never a time he comes home without one of them in his mouth. My two girls Zara and Annabelle love him. There’s plenty of snuggling going on all the time and he gets to choose which bed he wants to sleep on even though he has his own. What can you do?”

Next time you’re down at Birdrock Beach, watch out for Claude in his lifesaving suit bobbing up and down in the water. He won’t be hard to find – duck-diving archaeologists never are.

Hundreds respond to ‘party house’ law By Liz Rogers

More than 300 submissions have been received by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to a proposed law designed to regulate so-called ‘party houses’.

The council has decided to get tough on the occupants of short-stay rental accommodation properties on the Peninsula who disrupt neighbours’ peace and quiet with all-night parties and anti-social behaviour. Its proposed Short Stay Rental Accommodation Local Law (Draft) would create a registration system that identifies property owners and requires them to nominate an appointed agent who has to respond within two hours of a neighbour’s complaints.

Environment protection manager John Rankine said staff were currently working through the submissions in preparation for a report to the council over the next few months.

Cr Bev Colomb stressed that the majority of property owners were very responsible, but the issue of party houses demanded a tough stance by the council. “Problems reported due to short stay accommodation in residential areas include anti-social behaviour of occupants, loud noise late into the night, carparking congestion and poor rubbish disposal,” Cr Colomb said. “Frequent anti-social and rowdy behaviour from short stay rental accommodation is not acceptable in residential areas. The registration process and code of conduct will ensure respect for neighbouring properties.”

Let’s see what the result is. If the local law goes through, it will be used in conjunction with Environment Protection Act 1970, Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 and the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

Stay tuned.

Sharon builds her dreams on sand


Every year, more than 20 sand sculptors from across Australia and around the world turn 3500 tonnes of sand into incredible works of art on Frankston Waterfront.  The Sand Sculpting Australia exhibition, which draws thousands of people to our city over summer, is the brainchild of Sandstorm Events director and South Frankston resident Sharon Redmond. She talks to Mornington Peninsula Magazine about how it all started.


Where did the idea come from?

I saw a sand sculpture on the beach at Rye about 14 years ago, fell in love with the art form and thought it would be great to bring it to the Australian public in an event format. I was working for Vision Australia at the time so I developed it as a fundraising initiative for them in conjunction with a small community group called Rye Beach Action Group. After a number of years Vision Australia decided to no longer run events, so l purchased the event that l had developed for them from them and started Sandstorm Events.


How long did it take to get off the ground?

The first three to five years were very hard as the art form was not known in Australia. Fortunately, the Australian public fell in love with the art form – as l had – and Frankston City Council decided to host the event on their foreshore. We have now been running at Frankston for 11 years, and due to the popularity of this event we also hold annual events in NSW, South Australia and Queensland as well as running school holiday programs in shopping centres all throughout Australia.


Who was your biggest help/influence?

Aidan J Graham, a businessman in Langwarrin who owned a quarry with the special type of sand that we need. He loved what the sand artists did with the sand and for the first four events donated all the sand and - in conjunction with another local company, Maw Civil – all the haulage. Without this initial support we could not have got the event off the ground.


What’s the most rewarding part of the job?

Watching a generational family - grandparents, parents and children - all view the sculptures and each take something from it. It is an art form that reaches all age groups. Also l gain great pleasure from watching the sculptors at work, creating a three-dimensional sculpture from a simple drawing. It constantly amazes me.


Where do the theme concepts come from each year?

I draw the theme each year from our research material, where we ask our audience what they would like to see carved in the sand.


What’s been your favourite Sand Sculpture theme?

Disney - I am a Disney princess at heart!


Any other similar plans in the works?

We are looking to develop our four-month event at Frankston into an all-year-round attraction with a roof over the sculptures. This is a very exciting project in the pipeline and we hope to see it come to fruition in 2018.


Do you travel for work?

Yes, l am fortunate that we get to create sand magic all over Australia and overseas. I have travelled to the Maldives, Singapore, Cable Beach, Townsville, Esperance, Darwin … it is part of the job that is really amazing, and l count my blessings every day that l can wake up and do something that l love with a passion.


What’s your favourite thing to do on the Peninsula?

Go for long walks and dine out in our amazing restaurants across the Peninsula. 


Anything else you’d like to add?

I hope all the readers have had a chance to see the amazing sand sculptures on the Frankston Waterfront. They will be on display until the end of April. 


Making their marks By Liz Rogers

Indigenous Australians have long understood that no living thing is above or below another. That there’s no need to dominate. That there’s no need to take more than you require.


Aboriginal people have probably been making marks on trees for tens of thousands of years. The first recording of a scar or scarred tree in the Port Phillip area was from the early to mid-1800s after white settlement. There wasn’t much detailing of this phenomena at first because of the lack of desire to promote Indigenous people as having vast social systems in place. But today you can still find these history books of Indigenous culture across the region if you look hard enough. Find an old river red gum and you’ll probably find a scar on its bark. Dan Turnbull from the Bunurong Land Council reckons there could be about 100 of them left standing on the Peninsula.

Scarred trees represent the understated complexity of a culture’s keen perception on how it and the rest of the world’s living organisms are interconnected. Driven by function and the need to communicate, below is a list of what the scars left behind on these trees represent, and how they tell a story of work, play and an ancient culture’s intricate societal success. 

Sometimes a picture is worth more than a thousand words. 


SACRED BIRTHING TREES: Big trees were hollowed out for the purpose of birthing. They were hollowed out over time starting when they are only 10 or 20 years old. Each session saw a small fire placed against the base of the tree and afterwards the charcoal was removed. This was repeated many times over. We can see from paintings from the 1830s, ‘40s and ‘50s that some of the trees could have been 100m tall when you look at the scale of the Aboriginal people sitting beneath them. Indigenous men would wait outside while the women and their mothers would go in to deliver the baby. The scooped-out tree gave the new mum and baby privacy and shelter, but it wasn’t always done this way. Women would often leave together in a group and then return to the camp with a newborn. Sometimes these birthing places were such that men were not allowed. There are birthing trees still to be found on the Peninsula.


BUSH CUPBOARD TREES: Size=specific holes were made according to what people needed to store, whether that be food, tools and so on. The ground could get pretty damp in the wet season, so dry kindling was stored in a bush cupboard with other often heavier tools such as grinding stones, anvils, cores, axes and hammer-stones.


SMOKING TREES: Trees were hollowed out at the base to form a triangle-shaped cavity with just enough space to hang eels at the top above a fire beneath to cook the eel.


MARKING TREES: Symbols were carved into the bark to indicate that a certain area belonged to a particular person and their family. People recognised these marks and understood immediately. This was the system of law put into place. If you didn’t abide by it you’d get one of several possible punishments, such as a spear in the leg; at worst you could be cast out by your mob, which of course nobody wanted because everybody realised you were only as strong as the people around you.


BURIAL TREES: People were sometimes placed inside a hollow tree after passing, or the tree acted as a tombstone.


SHIELDS, COOLAMONS (BOWLS), CANOE TREES:  Every fella had an array of wooden weapons such as shields or clubs, and every woman would have had a selection of bowls. All were made from wood or bark, and one person might scar many trees throughout their lifetime. For a bark tool such as a canoe or coolamon, only the exact amount of bark (down to the cambium layer) was taken for each utensil so the tree was left healthy and thriving. Women had a range of bowls from smaller vessels up to 76cm that were sometimes used as cradles for their babies. The long ends of the bowls were left open and they could be rocked. These intricately carved and patterned large bowls were also taken in the river and floated alongside a person as they collected reeds, berries and such.


TOE HOLE TREES: Small marks were made to fit a person’s toes, so a tree could be climbed with the purpose of collecting honey or catching possums.


Once upon a time there could have been tens of thousands of scar trees on Bunurong land. If you keep your eyes open while travelling around this sacred region, absorb what you can from these incredible living history records and leave them as you found them so the story goes on.


Earth Dogs are go

And now for a little bit of Chinese astrology.


Each zodiac year in Chinese astrology is related to an animal sign and one of five elements - metal (gold), wood, water, fire and earth. According to the Chinese zodiac, which has 12 signs in all, 2018 is the year of the Earth Dog, which symbolises loyalty and honesty. Remind you of anyone?

The Chinese New Year begins on February 16 when Earth Dogs come out to play. People born in 1958 (February 18 to February 7, 1959) or 2018 (February 16 to February 4 next year) are members of the Earth Dog crew, as stated by They have an artistic spirit and are committed to work and the friendships they have cultivated. They also like to take their own path towards success and are the most humanitarian of all the zodiac signs.’s Chinese horoscope says 2018 is going to be a good time for lifestyle changes and the beginning of new business ventures if you are an Earth Dog. It also states that Earth Dogs will have great satisfaction in the projects undertaken in the previous year, which was the Year of the Rooster. There will be stability throughout the year which will allow the organisation of personal life too.

So, 2018 doesn’t look too bad for all the Earth Dogs out there. If you know one, keep them close because they are loyal and trustworthy – just like our four-legged canine friends.


Pocket learning with Biobrain By Liz Rogers

Peninsula educational consultant Caroline Cotton has had a passion for studying living organisms ever since she can remember. Biology “helps us to understand the world around us and learn about ourselves”, she says.

Caroline is the technology savvy developer of Biobrain, an app that helps students from Year 7 onwards get a grip of biology in an accessible and teenager-friendly way. It was launched last May through Apple’s App Store and is shaping up to be the go-to biology learning tool that can move from pocket to desk to bed (sorry guys!) in the blink of an eye.


Caroline talks. “I’ve always been involved in education. Before I began developing Biobrain about a year ago, I was a biology teacher and text book author, but I wanted to offer a contemporary portable biology learning tool that was easy for kids to navigate and would keep them engaged. There was a lot of research to be done. Apps have changed greatly and many of the ones relating to biology were almost like PowerPoint presentations. That just wouldn’t work for secondary students who demand more of technology. Biobrain has been designed to cover the content of VCE Biology and IB Biology, although younger students can benefit from using it as well. Monash University has been a great supporter and will be using it with their first-year students during 2018. In addition to this, they are currently helping me develop Biobrain Chemistry to be released this year.”

This Honours in Science recipient (she did her Honours at the Peter MacCallum Institute where she researched breast cancer), revision lecturer for VCE Biology exams, and mentor for new biology teachers, has set her sights on Biobrain being the No.1 tool helping VCE students get excited about life and all its wonders. It’s easy to navigate, includes accurate biological diagrams, multiple choice questions and you can review your answers. Basically, it’s like a biology exam but with real technological grunt. The Biobrain app is ideal for last-minute revision and for students who misplace their class notes too. Smart hey? Your child will be feeling very clever too because they are in control of their learning. Makes sense?

Welcome to the world of the truly modern-day student. Caroline’s interest in life formation and her thirst for sharing knowledge to empower future generations are at the forefront of this exciting app. Tap into her portable pocket learning tool today - just in time for the beginning of the school year. Find it at the Apple store and Google Play.


Christmas has landed at Bayside

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Santa Claus is coming to town … and this year he’s got a brand new and magical Gingerbread House to call home!  Complete with giant candy canes, lollies, a lit-up tree and of course some cheeky gingerbread men, Santa’s new home is the perfect backdrop for that special Santa photo.

Bayside is also proud to announce the return of Sensitive Santa this Christmas, providing a safe and quiet environment for children with special needs.  Sensitive Santa will here from 7-9am for the first three Saturdays in December.  Bookings are essential.

Got a four-legged friend who loves a photo? Santa + Pet Photography is back! After a sell-out success last year, you can capture spirit of Christmas with your best fur-friend – but places are limited so book quickly. 

Bayside is your one-stop shop for all things Christmas. Find the perfect gift, turn your home into a Christmas wonderland with festive decorations and grab all you need for the perfect feast. Whatever your Christmas looks like, Bayside is the place to find all you need under the one roof.

Want to know more? Head to for details.


A: 28 Beach St, Frankston

T: 9771 1700


Book in some ‘you’ time


Attention mums - we’ve found a way for you to finally finish that book you’ve had sitting around for too long. Simply tell the family that you’ve got “hours of errands to run”, and hide away at The Book Hub before completing the grocery shop in record time. 

For 18 months, Karingal Hub’s The Book Hub has been delighting bookworms of all ages. It’s a pop-up community book swap where customers are invited to exchange their preloved books for a new story, or alternatively treat it as a library and take a seat in the book nook to be transported to another world. 

With an overwhelming response from many shoppers, The Book Hub has turned the page by creating a quiet retreat within the shopping centre. It’s also encouraging new readers to discover the world of books. 

Customers are donating countless books and are genuinely excited about the space. Langwarrin resident Claude Littlechild, pictured with his wife, Gail, said: “It’s one of the best around. I come every other day and help stack the shelves while my wife waits. I would highly recommend it.” And Helen Howlings, of Frankston, said: “It’s a fantastic idea, and people bring books they’ve read back, which is great.”

Karingal Hub is proud to provide the community with this space to share and enjoy the pleasure of reading.  If you’d like to donate any pre-loved books, simply add them to the shelves or leave them with centre management. 

You’ll find this little oasis opposite Soul Pattinson at Karingal Hub, 330 Cranbourne Rd, Karingal. It’s open daily from 10am-4pm.


Dogs die in boiling cars By Liz Rogers

Now this is something serious. We all know that children should never be left alone in hot cars. Well, the same goes for dogs too.

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The heat inside a car can reach hazardous levels on a Mornington Peninsula summer’s day. The RSPCA says it takes just six minutes or less for a dog to suffer severe heat exhaustion and die in a vehicle because they can’t regulate their body temperature. 

Leaving the windows down or parking your car in the shade makes little difference when the air surrounding a dog is hot and there is no access to water. Dogs don’t sweat other than minimally from their paw pads, and while they pant in an effort to exchange warm air for cool, if the air temperature is close to their own body temperature this technique isn’t very effective. This is when heatstroke can occur, and symptoms include increased heart rate and salivation, excessive panting, red tongue, red or pale gums, thick sticky saliva, weakness, dizziness, vomiting or diarrhoea. If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, get them to a vet quickly.

Experts advise it’s always better to leave your dog at home where there’s plenty of water and shade during extreme heat episodes. 

This summer, think smart - think heat, cars and dogs don’t mix. 


Come and pay tribute to a legend

When Johnny Famechon’s statue is unveiled in Frankston this month, Gary Luscombe hopes the crowd will be every bit as enthusiastic as the 200,000 people who lined Swanston St in 1969 to welcome home the newly crowned WBC world featherweight champion.

“Johnny is a Frankston and Australian sporting legend,” says Gary, a supporter of the Johnny Famechon Statue Project, which helped the Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame raise $128,000 for the 2.1m bronze statue of ‘Fammo’.

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The statue will be unveiled in Ballam Park at 11am on Sunday, January 21 – the anniversary of Johnny’s 1969 title fight in London when he beat Cuba’s Jose Legra to earn his place in sporting history – and Gary hopes everyone will get along to honour the former King of Moomba and inductee into the Australia Sport Hall of Fame, World Boxing Hall of Fame, Frankston Hall of Fame and Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame.

Jean-Pierre Famechon was born in Paris in 1945 and grew up in Melbourne.  He won 56 of his 67 featherweight bouts and drew six.  “I don’t like draws. You want to win,” he told our sister publication, Frankly Frankston, in August 2016.

“I knew boxing was for me when I punched the bag for the first time at 16. The first fight is the biggest.  There are no more nerves after that. You’ve got to knock them out before they get you.”

In 1991 Fammo was hit by a car while jogging in Sydney. It took him seven years to recover with the help of his wife, Glenys, and clinical counsellor Ragnar Purjie. He’s also written two autobiographies - Fammo and The Method.

Somerville Egg Farm gets in the fight By Liz Rogers

This is where it starts. First there’s a phone call early in 2017 from someone representing Channel 9’s Family Food Fight. Linda, her mum Maria and her auntie Tina from Somerville Egg Farm are asked to be part of an episode that will showcase farmers. Of course, as producers of farm-fresh eggs on the Mornington Peninsula they say yes, and are thrilled to be involved in a show that supports local growers and promotes a wide range of Australian agriculture.  

So here’s how it went. Linda explains.

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“The episode we were in aired in November (last year), but we filmed in winter at the Melbourne Showgrounds in Flemington, next to the Flemington Racecourse. The day started at 8.30am in our own green room and being introduced to other farmers. It was great meeting producers from as far away as Mildura, but we also had the chance to meet other Mornington Peninsula locals like Gazzola Farms in Somerville and Hawkes Vegetable and Farm Gate in Boneo who we’d never met before. The theme for the episode was vegetarian and all the families were cooking (Greek, Italian, Turkish and Aussie). Filming started at around 10am and we were introduced to Matt Moran, who was very friendly. We went back to the green room where we chatted with other farmers, played cards, and sampled some home-grown wine until the families had finished their cooks. Then we got to eat and it was delicious! We had ricotta gnocchi, eggplant moussaka, brussels sprout salad and crispy kale chips, which were fantastic. The Italian ricotta cannelloni for dessert was sensational. The whole day was an adventure and it was nice to be recognised for all our hard work and to highlight where we get our food from. The Shahrouk family from NSW were the winners of the first season.”

So there you have it - three local ladies from Somerville Egg Farm having the time of their lives on a competitive cooking series where multi-generational families cook off until they can cook no more. And the ingredients? Supplied by our very own Somerville Egg Farm (among others) and served up on a dish of determination and home-grown fighting spirit. 


Sun, sand, surf … and sharks

With summer here at long last, many of us will be looking forward to spending time at our fabulous beaches.  But fun in the surf carries with it certain risks, one of which is sharks.  And while many more Australians drown every year than are killed or injured by sharks, it’s still well worth taking all the measures we can to minimise an attack - however unlikely one might be.

Lindsay Lyon is the chief executive of Shark Shield, the Australian manufacturer of what it describes as the world’s only scientifically proven electrical shark deterrent, and has put together the following tips to reduce our chances of an unwanted encounter with the ocean’s magnificent apex predator.

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Stay out of the water at night, dawn or dusk: sharks are most active at these times and are well equipped to locate prey even when visibility is poor. 

Don't wear high-contrast clothing or light-reflecting jewellery: sharks see contrast very well and light-reflecting objects may appear to be fish scales. 

Swim, surf or dive with other people: sharks most often attack lone individuals. 

Swim in patrolled beaches if possible: surf lifesavers look for sharks and will alert beach-goers if there is a sighting. 

Don't wander too far from shore: this will isolate you and decrease the likelihood of you receiving any assistance. 

Don't enter the water if you’re bleeding: sharks have an excellent sense of smell and taste and can trace blood to its source. 

Avoid areas where animal, human or fish waste enters the water: sewage attracts baitfish, which in turn attract sharks. 

Avoid murky water, harbour entrances, channels and steep drop-offs: sharks frequently swim around these areas. 

If fish or turtles start to act frantically, leave the water: they may be behaving this way because there is a shark nearby. 

Refrain from excessive splashing, and if you are diving and are approached by a shark, stay as still as possible: unpredictable movements can attract sharks, and if you are diving and carrying fish, release the catch and carefully leave the area.

Wear a Shark Shield safety product for water activities: these are the world’s only scientifically proven electrical shark deterrent; nothing is more effective.