Students give our six-legged friends a hand

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We’re guessing you’ve noticed by now the funky little habitat garden at the front of Frankston High School. It’s called an Arthro-POD, and it was created by students for our beneficial bugs as part of a Natured Kids project to identify the important role insects such as bees, beetles, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps and ants play in our world. It’s also designed to increase the students’ knowledge of these handy helpers and the ecosystem services they provide.

Natured Kids is a Junior Landcare group run by Frankston freelance teacher Narelle Debenham, who managed the Arthro-POD project with the support of the school’s sustainability teacher, Brendan McKinnon, as well as other organisations including Frankston City Council, Port Phillip & Westernport CMA, and Flora Victoria.  “We hope that young people’s observations of the insectary garden will help them to witness first-hand the important roles that insects play in nature as predators for pest control, as pollinators and pollution controllers while discovering the complex symbiotic relationships needed for a healthy natural ecosystem,” Narelle said. 

“Certain plants attract particular butterflies. For example, common grass blue butterflies love native lilac and the common imperial blue lives only on saplings of acacias, while the larvae of skipper butterflies feed on lomandra leaves. Other native grasses like saw-sedges provide the first food for the sword grass brown butterfly.”

Before the garden was planted, students took part in the 2019 Australian Wild Pollinator Count to survey the presence of important insects. Disturbingly, only a few ants and one fly were observed. A further survey will be conducted once the garden grows in spring to assess any increase in the prevalence of insects and compare results pointing to a potential change in species and numbers. The beneficial bugs that move in will be regularly monitored by students as part of future Wild Pollinator Counts. It’s also hoped students will witness much about the lifecycle of both insects and plants via seed-saving and observing the regeneration of native grasses in their garden throughout the seasons. 

“You might ask why we need to create habitat for many of our beneficial insects,” Narelle said. “As humans, we are really good at raking up and placing in the green bin the habitat they require to survive. Scientific reports also evidence a catastrophic collapse of insects over the past decades, with dire consequences for crop pollination and our natural food chains. Forty-one per cent of our insects are declining; among those, a third are heading to extinction due to habitat loss, pollution, pesticides and fertilisers, introduced species and climate change. 

“Insects play important roles, and their loss threatens an imbalanced natural ecosystem. It is anticipated that the students’ actions to create this garden will impact local insect species, increase their numbers and (chances of) survival, and in doing so support our food system and human health.

“Our young Frankston High School people have been empowered to help create environmental change for good.  This project is amazing because it has provided the forum to turn intent into action and is a very positive way our students have contributed to providing healthy environments for arthropods. Eco students from Frankston High School encourage the whole school, wider community and all residents on the Mornington Peninsula to learn about how they can implement small changes in their home and gardens to boost and support our beneficial insects. Creating such insectaries will multiply suitable habitat on a large scale locally and positively increase provision of green urban corridors for our littlest wildlife.” 

The Arthro-POD project had many players. The construction and delivery of a wicking garden bed for the insectary was paid for by the council as part of its Love Where You Live projects. Flora Victoria supplied the grasses and wildflowers for the insects. Karen Thomas, the regional agricultural facilitator for the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA, shared her extensive knowledge of the roles of beneficial insects and advised how the project could assist them. For those interested, Karen is running upcoming Bees in the Burbs workshops in her role at PPWCMA.

Karen Retra is a native bee naturalist and works with Dr Manu Saunders to determine the native insects that contribute to pollinating crops and gardens around the country. “She says we still need to do a lot of research to identify all of the pollinator insect species, understand their ecology and how they are affected by human activities,” Narelle said. “They invite all Australians to be citizen scientists and count the wild pollinators in their local environment to help build an accurate database on wild pollinator activity.” Narelle and her Junior Landcare students encourage you all to send photos of any insects you find in your garden to the Wild Pollinator Count.

Other examples of past collaborative intergenerational Arthro-POD projects can be found in the Balcombe Creek estuary in Mount Martha, along the Kananook Creek reserve in Frankston, at Mount Eliza Secondary School, and at the Joy of the Earth community garden in Frankston.

All-abilities beaming

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Having four kids is busy. Now imagine having four kids all with some form of disability. That’s beyond super-busy!

Life in Boneo is chaotic, challenging, rewarding and non-stop for Rebekah and Thoral Fraser. Their oldest daughter, Izabella, has Down syndrome and autism. Their second child, Hudson, has high-functioning autism. Twins Tillie and Piper are both on the autism spectrum and Piper also has mild cerebral palsy, ADHD, OCD and ODD.

All this means multiple visits to multiple specialists. Four separate NDIS plans. Four different personalities that require one-to-one support around the clock. Then there’s the school refusals, sensory overloads and spontaneous behavioural difficulties to contend with. 

Rebekah is not only the mother of these four special kids, she’s also one of the founders of the not-for-profit organisation BEAM — Believe, Empower, Acceptance, Meaningful — which operates out of Bendigo. 

She explains: “We moved to Boneo in October 2017 primarily because my dad was sick and my two sisters were already living on the Mornington Peninsula. Previous to that we had been travelling around Australia in a 12m bus for a couple of years, which had its own unique set of difficulties, although it did take away the challenges of getting Izabella and Piper off to school. That’s always been difficult and some days it just doesn’t happen. There are three of us involved with BEAM, which I am hoping to bring to the Peninsula when we are a bit more settled. I apply for the grants amongst other administration jobs, occupational therapist Amy Whitten develops the physical programs and Rebecca Quinn is our all-rounder and runs the Bendigo hub for family connectedness. We started it because there wasn’t anything like it in Bendigo and surrounds. It now runs in Echuca and Heathcote and hopefully here soon.”

So where does a mum with four special needs kids and a devoted husband who gets up at 3.30am to head off to work and is in bed by 6.30pm find the time for others? Rebekah continues: “BEAM makes a real difference to the participants. Whether it’s the beginners ballet classes, the BEAM BEATS class, which involves a lot of drumming, or a tap class, the response is well worth it. We have a team of brilliant teachers and volunteers too. Look, I’ll be honest: having four children like ours can be exhausting, but when you see them making even the smallest milestones there is such a sense of accomplishment and pride. It’s the same for the BEAM participants and their families. It’s important.”

Sure is. Brilliant job, Rebekah. BEAM on.

To find out more about BEAM, go to


Get skating these school holidays

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We aren’t joking when we tell you that we have your school holidays sorted. Sk8house is offering two-for-one beginner classes for the whole school holiday period. 

“These deals are very popular,” said owner Bernadine Geary. “It’s great because you can bring a friend and it will only cost you $6 each. And there is no limit on how many times you redeem the deal. You can go to all of the classes if you want.” 

This offer can be redeemed at Sk8house’s beginner speed classes on Saturdays from 9-10am, or beginner general classes from 10-11am on Saturdays and from 6-7pm on Wednesdays. The adult classes on Monday nights also accept this offer, so stop by to try a new form of cardio from 7-8pm. Skate hire and use of the rink’s protective gear is also included. 

“It’s a great opportunity to try skating if you’ve ever been thinking about it,” said Bernadine. “Our coaches are amazing; in fact, we guarantee that we will have the beginners away from the wall that they’re using to keep themselves up within the first hour.”

You can purchase your two-for-one tickets online via the Sk8house website and Facebook. Or for those skilled skaters among us, during the school holidays you’re also looked after with an entire day of skating from 9am-4pm for just $14 plus $3 skate hire, so you can treat yourself to the $5.50 meal deal too.


A: Unit 3/2 Amayla Cres, Carrum Downs
T: 9773 6799
FB: sk8houseau

The Cat Empire’s trumpet-playing vocalist to perform at Peninsula Grammar

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Harry James Angus, the firebrand trumpet-playing vocalist from The Cat Empire, is known both for his thrilling live performances and constant musical reinvention. Expect the unexpected and assume you will be highly entertained with whatever it is Harry chooses to deliver when he appears at Peninsula Grammar’s Performing Arts Centre on Wednesday, September 18, at 7pm.

Stories little and large have played a crucial role in Harry’s life.  The born-and-bred Melburnian has been telling them, listening to them and reading them his entire life.  And when he performs, he likes to weave his own tales for his audience.

“These little stories have provided me with hours of entertainment — just me in the lounge room,” Harry said. “Sometimes my long-suffering wife will patiently listen as I stumble through an idea. But usually it’s just me — laughing at my own jokes, lip trembling at my own tragedies, watching the characters come alive — and the whole story just unfurls, eventually, like a patchwork sail.”

For Harry, music has always been a constant — from his early years as a member of the National Boys’ Choir and forced piano practice as a child to the day he picked up a trumpet as a young schoolboy (because all of the saxophones were taken) and entered the intoxicating world of jazz.

After immersing himself in performing in various school jazz troupes and sneaking into Melbourne’s best live venues, the era of playing in a cafe attached to a furniture store for $70 and free focaccias in his late teens was swiftly exchanged for rapid success in 2001. It was during that year Harry joined forces with five other jazz mates to create the multi-platinum international touring sensation The Cat Empire.

Tickets are $38 (including GST) from

For more information about the Peninsula Grammar concert series, visit

Law firm lends its talent to feature films

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The recent Melbourne International Film Festival featured seven films on which marshalls+dent+wilmoth lawyers provided production legals. 

H is for Happiness, a “delightful adaptation” of the acclaimed novel My Life as an Alphabet, endearingly explores adolescence and family heartbreak. Executively produced by MDW principal Bryce Menzies, H is for Happiness is set for an early 2020 release.

In Ride Like a Girl, director Rachel Griffiths beautifully captures the inspiring true story of Michelle Payne, who overcame all odds to become the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. This heartwarming film will open on September 26.

Little Monsters is a gory and chaotic comedy from Australian director Abe Forsyth. Lupita Nyong’o shines in her role as a brave kindergarten teacher, fighting to protect her students from a zombie apocalypse. It hits cinemas later this year and is not to be missed.

The Nightingale has taken out two 2018 Venice Film Festival awards for its unflinching depiction of colonial Tasmania. In cinemas from August 29, this film follows Irish convict Clare as she forges an alliance with an Aboriginal tracker named Billy and seeks revenge on a British lieutenant. 

Buoyancy, directed by Rodd Rathjen and executively produced by Bryce Menzies, has been awarded the Panorama Prize at the Berlin International Film Festival. It immerses viewers in a confronting story about human trafficking in the South-East Asian fishing industry. Buoyancy will open on September 26.

Measure for Measure is the Shakespearean play contemporarily reimagined against the backdrop of Melbourne’s commission flats. MDW’s Clement Dunn and Bryce Menzies executively produced this modern masterpiece that is set for an early 2020 release.

Finally, Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks gloriously documents the history of martial arts films — it’s sure to have everybody kung fu fighting!


A: L1, Suite 2, 26 McLaren Place, Mornington

T: 5973 6919


Education at Cornish is of a different kind

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When you choose Cornish College, you choose a wealth of educational experiences. From its passionate, experienced staff to its many cocurricular opportunities, Cornish offers education quite like no other.

Located on 100 acres (40ha) of natural parkland, Cornish provides Early Learning to Year 12 students the space to stretch their legs and their curiosity beyond the classroom walls and into nature’s classroom. The college’s environment is the key to its vision of educating students for a sustainable future, engaging them beyond textbooks and encouraging a different way of thinking, one which considers how their decisions affect the world around them. 

Cornish’s motto is Make a Difference. At the heart of this is a dedication to developing independence, compassion and personal excellence among students, ensuring they have the capacity and the desire to make a difference locally and globally. 

“I see a horizon of endless opportunities for this learning community to embrace the innovation and progressive thinking that has long been our point of difference,” said newly appointed principal Nicola Forrest, pictured. “We are developing curriculum to educate for a sustainable future with structures that mobilise the attitudes, skills, knowledge and values required for young people to become the best individuals they have the capacity to be.” 

With a culture grounded in sustainability at all levels, the recently opened Senior Studies Centre, pictured, will make a huge difference to the learning of current and future senior students. It provides an environment for powerful learning, suited to the demands for global competencies.

The VCE program provides choices that respond to student readiness, with opportunities to access VCE subjects over three years, creating space for well-being and important cocurricular opportunities.

Come and see why choosing Cornish College is the right choice for your child at its next campus tour. For more information, email [email protected] or call 9781 9000.


A: 65 Riverend Rd, Bangholme 

T: 9781 9000


FB: CornishCollege

INSTA: cornishcollege

Success strategies for small business

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Diana Cregan is a performance and productivity coach. She helps small businesses and their teams set the right goals, increase productivity and grow their mindset. Diana highlights what you can do to create the life and business you desire. She has a particular interest in the challenges of small business and how these intersect with human behaviour, self-awareness and the constancy of change.

With a background in multiple industries and disciplines, she brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the conversation.  Diana is committed to helping people realise their potential by providing them with the tools and strategies to have their best year yet. Diana runs free presentations to showcase the content she works with, and her audience is always left feeling excited and motivated.


T: 0488 042 319
FB: Diana Cregan Coaching



As we waltz into the first weeks of spring and the air and soil are beginning to warm, now is the perfect time to start getting your warm-season crops in the ground.

Although many of our cool-season crops are still going strong, having enough growing space to overlap the ‘major’ seasons becomes important at this time of year. Autumn-planted snow peas, broad beans and garlic will still have a couple of months’ life in them, so this may mean adding new garden beds to accommodate your expanding vegetable-growing repertoire.

If you haven’t already propagated your seedlings, you may want to go to the market or nursery to pick some up. But don’t skimp! It is well worth planting more than you think you’ll need because invariably something will happen to a few of your plants over the journey. And if they all make it and you end up with surplus . . . well, we’ve spoken enough about preserving and sharing in this column for you to know what to do.

Now although excess crops of tomatoes, capsicum, spuds and cucumber provide us with many options, there are a few plants you may not want to go overboard with — in particular, zucchini and corn. For those just embarking on your food-growing journey, you will only require one zucchini plant for a family of four — two at the most. Any more and you may end up vying for the Biggest Zucchini prize in your neighbourhood. Corn can also be a little problematic if you don’t intend to preserve because you will find that most of your cobs will ripen around the same time and will need to be picked within a week or so to prevent them from becoming chewy.

To get the most out of your garden this season, have a look at planting a number of successive crops of the vegetables that you want to enjoy all summer. This means plant a few now, and then in three to four weeks plant another crop. Let’s take the corn, for example. For a family of four you may want to put in six to 12 plants now (depending on your corn consumption habits) and then sow another six to 12 in four weeks to provide you with a follow-up crop. If you get your first planting in early enough you may be able to squeeze a third crop in too. 

The same goes for your salad and vegetable greens, beetroot, carrots and bush-beans, to name a few. Successive plantings is where it’s at. Taking control of what is available year-round in your garden and kitchen very much depends upon the frequency of your plantings.

So make a plan and follow it!

Drew Cooper, Edible Gardens

The Cup that stops a Village

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Beleura Village will feel more like Flemington on Thursday, October 3, when the Melbourne Cup arrives for four hours of entertainment, information and hospitality. Since it was first run in 1861, the Cup has been the ‘race that stops a nation’ — and this event won’t be an exception.

From 10am-2pm, guests will learn more about racing and the People’s Cup. Thanks to Peninsula trainer Tony Noonan, Beleura Village will host a  panel of racing industry members — a racehorse owner, social syndicate leaders, a strapper, a jockey and a trainer — who will speak about the highs and the lows of horseracing as well as their love for these equine athletes. The jockey will tell guests what it feels like to be on the back of a winning horse while the strapper will share stories about racehorses’ very different personalities.

The event will be a celebration of the field, fashion, food and fun. Guests are encouraged to enter the spirit of the occasion by dressing up in their race day finest for a Fashions on the Carpet competition, and a photographer will be on hand so they can have their photo taken with the Cup as a memento of the day.


A: 107 Bungower Rd, Mornington

T: 1800 226 020


FB: rcavillages

October’s the month for seniors to shine

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The Victorian Seniors Festival runs throughout October, with Seniors Week celebrations happening from October 6-13. So if you have an exceptional 60-plus person in your life or are one very special senior yourself, now’s the time to start thinking social, fun and friend-focused activities.

More than 2500 free or low-cost events will be running across the state next month as seniors hit the streets looking for like-minded adventurers. Free public transport for Victorian Seniors Card holders covering all metropolitan and V-Line services during Seniors Week means getting around town has never been easier, and that’s just what you’ll need to do if you want to take advantage of everything on offer. 

The Victorian Seniors Festival began in 1982 under the name Senior Citizens Week, and as the years have progressed so too has the range of exciting community-minded events. A festival hub was introduced at the Melbourne Town Hall in 2007 and more than 150,000 seniors attended events across the state in 2016. This year’s festival is shaping up to be a ‘doozy’.

The Victorian Senior of the Year Awards, which are held in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Council on the Ageing, will be announced on October 22. The categories include the Premier’s Award for Victorian Senior of the Year; Promotion of Multiculturalism Award; Healthy and Active Living Award; Veteran Community Award, Council on the Ageing Victoria Senior Achiever Awards; and the Age-Friendly Victoria Award.  

So how do you find out more about what’s going on in your neck of the woods during this month-long festival? The Seniors Festival Program booklet, which includes everything you need to know about what’s on, where and when, plus contact details for your region’s people in the know, is available from all Coles supermarkets. You can also visit to find out more.

Get to it.


Portsea is Peninsula’s beachside gem

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A visit to Portsea on the tip of the Mornington Peninsula is sure to delight, offering something for outdoor adventurers, foodies, historians, property enthusiasts and art lovers.

Just 2km wide, the narrow Peninsula boasts rugged surf beaches along Bass Strait to the north, which is home to an active surf lifesaving club. Spectacular views along the ocean coast are a highlight, including the rocky archway known as London Bridge. 

On the southern side of the Peninsula, the tranquil waters of Port Phillip Bay play host to some 90 bottlenose dolphins, as well as the exquisite weedy sea dragon residing under the pier. For this reason, Portsea has become known as a popular diving hub. 

Extending to the extreme tip of the Peninsula is Point Nepean National Park. Visitors can discover the rich history of military tunnels and forts and can explore the Quarantine Station built in the 1800s. 

For a change of pace, head to the small commercial precinct. Take in the impressive views from the historic hotel over a relaxing meal and then visit the local gallery. Or take a walk around Shelley Beach for a glimpse of some of the most luxurious and expensive properties in Victoria. 

No matter the season, this region offers something for everyone, so be sure to put Portsea on your ‘to-do’ list.

Cool companies in Carrum Downs

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Last issue we told the story of Carrum Downs Industrial Estate, which has been transformed from paddocks to an innovative industrial precinct in just over 30 years. More than 8600 people are employed in the zone, which generates $3.65 billion a year in gross regional product. In this issue, Mike Hast takes a look at some innovative businesses in the estate.

Expanding Carrum Downs Industrial Estate is high on the agenda of the region’s business community with the last blocks of land expected to sell this year. Right in our backyard we have innovative companies producing world-leading products and employing highly skilled workers. Now there’s a call for vacant land to be rezoned to allow stellar employment growth to continue —13 times faster than the southern regional average. More land would enable existing businesses to expand, preserving and increasing jobs in our region, as well as accommodating new businesses.

Advocacy group Committee for Greater Frankston says the precinct is a vital cog in the region. Committee CEO Ginevra Hosking says expansion is essential so “our major employers remain at Carrum Downs and jobs stay in the region”.

Nutech Paint is one of many businesses supporting the expansion call. Its aim is to consolidate its nine factories, all on Keppler Circuit. Nutech has made its mark in the highly competitive paints and sealants industry with three revolutionary products: cool roof paint that reflects heat — “sunscreen for roofs”; a range of biodegradable and environmentally friendly paint strippers; and a bacteria-retarding lime-based paint for hospitals that also absorbs and traps CO2 as it dries.

AFI Branding is a world leader in making large, colourful fabric signs, banners and flags for the retail, exhibition and event sectors, all from its purpose-built, hi-tech factory in Lakewood Blvd. It was built when AFI won the signs contract for the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. It produces signs for many major events, including the Melbourne Grand Prix. AFI’s most-admired product is its patented ReFrame, a lightweight, tensioned fabric display system that can bend or curve into 3D shapes and be illuminated. Artwork can be easily changed and the whole system comes in a flat pack. AFI expects to expand again in two to three years and wants to stay in Carrum Downs, where it can continue to employ skilled staff.

Another firm making world-leading products is the award-winning MultiPanel, which created a 100 per cent waterproof, lightweight building panel that doesn’t need a membrane. It can be used for shower bases (one version sells for just $220) that can be tiled over, for walls and floors of bathrooms as well as for balconies and plinth boards for building bases. MultiPanel, started by Frankston plumber Tony Russo, would double production if it could get new land for a new factory.

Harnessing our precious trans-Tasman relationship is Hysport, which makes a range of lightweight, warm and fashionable clothing using 100 per cent Australian merino wool blended with New Zealand possum fur. Possums are a pest species in NZ but are protected in Australia. MerinoSnug brand garments were launched in 2004 and have become popular with cold Melburnians — and the factory outlet in Colemans Rd is convenient.

In the ‘home’ category is Camerons Blinds & Awnings, a classic family business success story. It started in the family garage in 1985, rapidly gained a reputation for good products — blinds, awnings, shutters and canopies — and good service, moved to a two-factory facility in the industrial estate, and moved again seven years ago to bigger premises, including arguably Melbourne’s large showroom of its type at 700 Frankston–Dandenong Rd.

The Camerons story shows why Carrum Downs needs more factories: successful businesses that start small and grow need to expand and in most cases want to remain in the precinct, where the logistics are good, they have established a reputation, and near where their employees live.

Woodtron is another niche manufacturer matching it with the world’s best. It was founded in 2008 and designs and makes computer-controlled woodworking routers. The customised machines are used for cabinet-making — kitchens etc — and shopfitting. Clients praise the quality and reliability of the machines in the exacting and highly competitive world of kitchen cabinet-making.

“Carrum Downs drives the prosperity of the whole region,” Ms Hosking said. “It is home to great commercial and industrial businesses. Having enough land for business to expand is the key to providing more jobs now and into the future.”

Mike Hast is a freelance writer for the Committee for Greater Frankston, and a former editor of Peninsula newspapers.

Rye’s human monkey a Ninja knockout

Charlie Robbins is on top of the world after being crowned the 2019 Australian Ninja Warrior ‘furthest and fastest’ contestant.  Photos courtesy Nine Network

Charlie Robbins is on top of the world after being crowned the 2019 Australian Ninja Warrior ‘furthest and fastest’ contestant. Photos courtesy Nine Network

Somewhere near Rye back beach there’s a human monkey just hanging around. Hanging at the beach, at a mate’s place or at the gym or down the street. You might see him jumping off the rocks at the end of St Johns Wood Rd in Blairgowrie, or a bit farther down the Peninsula in Portsea playing a round of golf with his grandpa, Taffy, or in the clubhouse when the wind whips across the course and the light grows dim.

Charlie Robbins likes climbing high and going upside-down. This 20-year-old Rye resident has just come away with 100 grand after being crowned the 2019 Australian Ninja Warrior ‘furthest and fastest’ contestant, and the smell of physical televisual success is certainly sweet. He explains: “I’ve been doing gymnastics since I was in second grade and have always loved climbing, hanging and flipping my body. I’ve played a lot of sport, including cricket, basketball and footy too. My grandparents are golfers and I began playing with them when I was about 10 years old. That’s why I wore the golf outfit for Australian Ninja Warrior.

Charlie Robbins is on top of the world after being crowned the 2019 Australian Ninja Warrior ‘furthest and fastest’ contestant.  Photos courtesy Nine Network

Charlie Robbins is on top of the world after being crowned the 2019 Australian Ninja Warrior ‘furthest and fastest’ contestant. Photos courtesy Nine Network

“I’d applied for the second season of the show and didn’t get in, but this time there were a few of us from Rye who made it. It was a bit of a long process. You start off with an online application, then you have to send a video, do a phone interview and finally go through a fitness test, which is full of push-ups and burpees. It’s gruelling. We filmed the third season of the show from mid-November for three weeks last year. It’s not like it looks like on TV, that’s for sure. I was so nervous.”

Seems Rye breeds them strong and just a little bit ninja with a twist of ‘she’ll be right mate’ swagger. Charlie is laid-back yet determined. No fuss, yet happy to be on the ‘box’. He’ll be heading off to Europe with his mate, Zac, at the end of September to spend some of that prizemoney.

He continues: “It’s crazy, really. I remember standing at the first obstacle, the steps, thinking, ‘Man, they are so big!’ When you’re on the couch at home you think they look small and it will be easy, but it’s a different story once you get there and you’ve been waiting out back for a couple of hours for your turn. We played a lot of table tennis. I was shaking when I finally got to do my run at 1.30am, but having my family on the sidelines supporting me was fantastic. The whole crowd was amazing. The salmon ladder obstacle was my favourite and the doors were definitely the hardest. You’ve got to have really strong legs and I’ve got chicken legs.

“There were five of us from the Peninsula this season and I applied in a group of four. The best part was hanging out with the other contestants. I met so many cool people but none of us made it up the mega wall in the finals. It’s over 5m tall.  I’m not sure what I’ll do with the rest of the money yet. Wait and see.”

This gymnastics coach and golfing natural — he’s the club champion at Portsea Golf Club and plays off scratch — has plenty to occupy his time upon returning from Europe. He’ll be playing in the Portsea Open before taking off and he’ll be landing in Brisbane for another Australian Ninja Warrior competition in September post-trip. The beginning of November sees him in Perth for more ninja antics.

He concludes: “I’ll probably start playing more golf, I reckon. I stopped after I finished school and had a gap year but I’m keen to get out on the course again. And I’d love to be part of the next season of Australian Ninja Warrior if they’ll have me.”

Chicken legs and monkey business aside, this young man’s set to swing and do his thing. Ninja style. Australian Ninja Warrior screens on the Nine Network.


Young Community Ambassador takes on straws

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Lily is on a mission. She’s been walking up and down Main St in Mornington since spring last year speaking to businesses about their straw use. She’s encouraging them to change to paper or metal straws, or to simply remove straws from their venues completely. There’s been such a positive response that this environmental warrior, at just 11 years old, has been named the Young Community Ambassador for the Dolphin Institute. 

Her passion originated from a day at the beach with her father and sister. Lily noticed the large amount of plastic rubbish and disliked it intensely. And just like that, she wanted to make a change. Since then, she’s been working with the Dolphin Institute behind the scenes to not only keep our Peninsula clean, but to work towards protecting the marine life from our litter pollution. You just know she’s going places when the level-headed and mature pre-teen states: “Whenever I’m down at the beach I like to pick up rubbish, and I’d really love my friends to join in.”

Lily’s mother Eileen and father Andreas could not be more proud of their daughter’s passion as she strives to make Main St straw-free and speaks at meetings held by the Dolphin Institute about her mission.

“It’s going really well,” said Lily. “More and more shops are using paper or metal straws, or even no straws at all.  We’ve just been visiting each store and talking to them about what they use. Many have been interested in changing.”

So what’s the next goal for this determined youngster? “We want all of the shops to stop using straws. And then the Dolphin Institute and I will speak to the suppliers of the straws and ask them to stop making plastic ones, and make paper straws instead. Dolphins and all marine creatures are eating plastic straws and getting sick. They are polluting the planet and we can make a difference if we just stop.”

Lily’s a water-baby through and through, and when she’s not attending Year 5 at Mornington Park Primary School in the alternative learning section, Steiner, she’s surfing, snorkelling or stand up paddle boarding. She’s always in the water, and a highlight of hers was swimming with seals and stingrays, so of course swimming with dolphins is next on the agenda. Sea Shepherd and the Dolphin Institute serve as inspiration for the budding wildlife warrior, who hopes to become a marine biologist when she grows up.

“My message is that if we started it, we can end it. If everyone picks up just one piece of rubbish off the beach, it would make a difference. It’d be amazing. Every little bit counts.” 


Lawyer has a passion for social justice

Laura Elliott has just made the leap from the Mornington Peninsula to Sydney to continue her pro bono legal work. The 28-year-old studied at Toorak College and holds a Bachelor of Business (Management/Information Systems) and a Juris Doctor degree. Laura’s worked as a lawyer at DLA Piper for two and a half years before switching to a pro bono role in Sydney at the same firm. She spoke to Kate Sears during her teaching role at a university in Fiji.

How did you feel when you heard you’d been announced as one of the 10 finalists in the Lawyers’ Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards in the pro bono category? 

I was very shocked and extremely humbled. The awards are very competitive, so even to be considered was amazing — and especially in this category, which gave me a chance to share my message and form new connections in this field.

What has the journey to this moment entailed? 

I have always been passionate about social justice and human rights, even before beginning working as a lawyer. Whilst at university I volunteered at a legal clinic that provides advocacy and advice for people with disabilities who have faced discrimination in employment and education. I also undertook a substantial amount of research and had a paper published on the sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities in Australia, a practice that still occurs today. I became pretty heavily involved in pro bono work almost as soon as I began practising as a lawyer and haven't really stopped. Being able to use my skills to help others in the community is incredibly fulfilling and gives meaning to my work.

Did you always want to be a lawyer and work as a pro bono lawyer? 

Growing up I actually wanted to be a vet, but my tendency to pass out at the sight of blood was kind of a hindrance to that. I became interested in the law during my later high school years but honestly didn't have the confidence to jump straight into a law course at university. It took me a couple of years to work up the courage to apply for the LSAT but it is the best choice I ever made. I have definitely found my calling.

You’ve just moved to Sydney for a pro bono position. 

Yes, I am lucky enough to have moved from our Melbourne office, where I was practising in the intellectual property and technology field, to Sydney, where I have taken a role in our pro bono team full-time for a year. I'm so excited to further my skills and knowledge of this area of law and to do what I'm truly passionate about full-time. Moving to Sydney has been an overwhelming experience but also a great one — it feels like a new adventure, and also kind of like I'm on holidays all the time. I'm sure that will wear off eventually but I'm looking forward to exploring all Sydney has to offer.

What will you miss about the Mornington Peninsula? 

My family, the food, the wine and the lifestyle. 

What’s been your most rewarding experience so far? 

I was part of a team that assisted the Human Rights Law Centre in preparing submissions to intervene as amicus curiae in the High Court matter of Clubb v Edwards, regarding the constitutional validity of safe zone laws for abortion clinics. The High Court decision supported the validity of these laws, which prevent the intimidation and harassment of women outside abortion clinics. It was really fulfilling to help the team advocate such an important human rights issue, which has the potential to lead to widespread change.

What’s your five-year plan? 

To own a sausage dog. That's as far as I've got.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add? 

To anyone who is scared to take the leap, do it. Be brave and do it. Do what you are passionate about and the rest will work itself out.

Welcome to Rye’s World

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Kate Walker and her team reached out to us with this very heart-warming mission — to help create a beautiful world for Rye Johnson and his family. The KWD team is working with Peninsula residents Brooke and Rhys Johnson and their children Rye, Jed and newborn Bowie Bel to build their forever home. However, throughout the design process they’ve had to be mindful in making considerations for the Johnsons’ very special boy Rye. At just eight years old, he’s battling cerebral palsy and undiagnosed regression. He’s such a special soul, and unfortunately his condition has no diagnosis and therefore at the moment there is no cure. 

The local community and KWD have closely followed Rye’s life through his Instagram, @ryesworld_. KWD decided to join forces with the beautiful family to help them design a space that will cater to the whole family’s needs. So far, they’ve designed a separate wing that’s designated purely for Rye and his carers. In addition, it has wheelchair access and of course enough room for their growing family. And just like that, KWD is helping to bring all of the design elements together. 

KWD’s donation of design services has been supported by Carpet World, which has joined in as the supply partner to help make this house a wonderful sanctuary for the family, who ultimately spend a lot of time at home. KWD has been thrilled by the number of people approaching them and offering their services, including labour, products and advice free of charge. This got the design team thinking. It takes a village to raise a child, right? Especially one with special needs. So it also takes a village to build a home. So they’ve decided to put it out into the amazing Mornington Peninsula community and call for anyone who can add anything to support this family in achieving their dream. The house is currently nearing its plaster stage, so it’s the finishing touches that they require assistance with. So if there are any good Samaritans in the painting, decorating, furniture, soft furniture, paint supply or landscaping world who are moved by this story, please contact the KWD office, which will co-ordinate the trades. If you wish, your business can be shared on their social pages as well. 

KWD hopes to turn this house, where the budget has run out for things like furniture, artwork and a garden, into a finished home for the family. They look forward to helping the Johnson family realise their dream of building a safe, comfortable and beautiful home, and they’re thrilled to create an inspiring environment for Rye and his siblings. 

Mornington Peninsula Magazine and Erica McPherson have just announced that the named charity for their inaugural Glamorlicious event will be Rye’s World. The event will be held on Thursday, October 3, and everyone’s invited to glam up for a delicious lunch at the iconic Ranelagh Club in Mount Eliza. From noon until 4pm, the focus will be on glamour.  Expect some great raffles that will support Rye’s World. This fun day will be filled with heavily laden goodie bags and loads of prizes to be won and given away from our generous supporters.  Adrian Dickens from Circa Ad Jewels will present Diana, Princess of Wales – The Jewels Of A Modern-Day Princess. Grab the girls and get in quick to book your table because seats are limited to this event. There will also be top class entertainment from the inimitable Lady Fox. For tickets, please visit

A pool is the ultimate goal both for Rye’s therapy and enjoyment, so let’s rise to the challenge as a community and come together for this very special endeavour to help make this family’s home the best it can be.

Follow the journey on Instagram @ryesworld_ and you can also contact Kate and her team at or phone 5974 1800.

Cataraqui tragedy was Australia’s Titanic

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Many believe that the sinking of the Titanic was the greatest maritime disaster of all time. In fact there have been almost 50 maritime disasters resulting in greater losses of life. Many of these were during wartime, but even in peacetime the loss of life when the Titanic sank was exceeded in at least four other disasters.

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Fortunately, the worst maritime disaster in Australian waters does not compare to the Titanic. While the Loch Ard tragedy is quite well known to Victorians, few have ever heard of the Cataraqui, which was wrecked some 30 years earlier when almost at the end of its passage to Melbourne. 

The Cataraqui was the last emigrant ship chartered to bring settlers to the Colony of Victoria under the bounty system, which paid a bonus for every person landed safely. She departed from Liverpool on April 20, 1845, with 362 emigrants. After an uneventful passage of 106 days, the vessel was approaching the Victorian coast. Strong winds and incessant rain was usual for a winter crossing of the Southern Ocean, but heavy clouds over the previous four days had made it impossible for the captain to fix his position using the sun or stars. By his calculations, on August 3 the Cataraqui was about 60 miles (96km) to the west of King Island and on a course to pass it safely to the north. In fact, he was much closer and headed for its southwest coast. 

About 7 o’clock that evening the captain prudently ordered his ship to be hove-to until dawn but was persuaded by the surgeon that the ship should reach Melbourne as soon as possible to gain the bounty for landing healthy passengers. Sail was therefore set again at 3am, but just an hour and a half later, in total darkness and ahead of a howling gale, the ship drove on to a reef. By dawn, 200 had died either by drowning or against the cruel rocks of the reef, and by the time the vessel disappeared under the waves late on the following day, a further 200 had perished. There were only nine survivors.

By Maurie Hutchinson

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.

Genghis can get a little bit cocky

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Genghis rules the roost, and he likes it that way. He’s a rising star, and at 19 there’s no stopping him now. No, really, sulphur-crested cockatoos can live to be 100 or so years old. His recent acting gig was in the XXXX beer commercial promoting Queensland Maroons State of Origin limited-edition cans. The comical advertisement included Maroons players training 10,000 sulphur-crested cockatoos to fly over NSW screeching: “Maroons!” 

On the day of filming, Genghis had to be quickly crate-trained because this diva was not getting on too well with his cast. This cheeky cockatoo likes to play games, and his cast mates were simply too professional to have fun with him on set. Between breaks in his dressing room, this defiant lad chose to ignore the bird trainer on set, so owners Sam and Chris Symons had to step in.

“He doesn’t know how to fly point to point on command yet, but he does like to play a game with Chris where he’ll swoop his head playfully,” said Sam. “So that’s how we got him doing what the director was after. The shot looks great, but Chris’s head didn’t fare too well.” 

The couple have had Genghis since he was a chick, and he was the first bird they owned together. Now at The Funky Farm in Hastings they’ve got about 250 animals — yes, they aren’t 100 per cent sure of the current head count. And can you blame them? They’ve got their hands full feeding, caring, training and housing all of their animals and keeping the cheeky Genghis under control. He’s cage-free and roams around the farm helping himself to copper wiring, which sends their electrician crazy and forces him to think of inventive ways in which to hide all of the wiring on site. The celebrity cockatoo’s human sister Ziva is a little cautious of the mischievous birdy yet is happy to play with the farm’s dingoes, so that shows you just how naughty this one can be.  Genghis’s diet consists of almonds, with no greens in sight, and hot chips when he can steal them. 

“He recognises the McDonald’s bag the minute you get out of the car,” said Sam. “You’ve got to get inside quickly. He generally has a flavour of the month to chew on, whether it’s a fence paling or a half wine barrel garden pot. He’s always destroying something.”

Not to be too cocky, but he’s also hung out with all of the celebrities at the Melbourne Cup a few years ago, and got a photo with Marcia Hines and Todd McKenney. When we last spoke to the minds behind The Funky Farm in 2017, we were told they’d be opening soon. However, the demands of Hollywood just keep getting in the way. The pair even spent three months filming Ride Like a Girl, so zoo life got a little hectic. They’ve just announced group bookings of a minimum of 10 people to get up close and personal with their zoo animals. For $40 per adult, $25 for under-16s, and free entry for those kiddies under three, you can have endless animal encounters and photo opportunities for birthday parties, school events and special needs groups. 

See Fluffy the crocodile, Hamish the highland cow, as well as pythons, dingoes, macaws and other Australian animals on Instagram and Facebook @thefunkyfarm. For further information and to meet the celebrity Genghis himself, visit or call 1300 FUNKYF.


Ollie draws it all

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Drawing was something that Ollie Mori was known for at primary school. In his words, he’s been avidly drawing since he was a “little lad”. From here he just continued drawing. He creates masterpieces under the name Seizure Art.

“I’m an epileptic. I can’t drive, and screens interfere with me as well. So drawing has always been a hobby of mine. I don’t think I’d draw as much if I didn’t have epilepsy. But I’m thankful for it at the same time. It’s a sick irony,” said Ollie. “So I sparingly use screen time. I scan my drawings and then play with them digitally as well.”

We came across Ollie at his first Oz Comic Con this year, where he had a stall to sell his sensational creations. From Avengers, Harry Potter, X-Men and Aladdin to Frozen, Star Wars, Dragon Ball Z, Aquaman, Alice in Wonderland and Spider-Man — he’s got nearly all of the fandoms covered.  It was his second stall at such an event, after a successful stall at Supanova earlier this year. His folders of original pieces consisting of digital and traditional art had fans of anime and pop culture ecstatic and the artwork hung up on display had customers in awe of his talent. 

“Art is a part of you, so I don’t like to compare myself to others and get down,” said Ollie. “I’ve got heaps of styles under my belt and that’s what I’m proud of. I can do Disney, concept, comic, anime and more. I haven’t found my main style yet, but it’s fun to draw in different genres and styles. I like to draw what’s popular and experiment with new styles.”

Constantly connecting with like-minded people is what Ollie gets out of social media. He’s met so many great people through Instagram, Facebook groups, and conventions as well. The art community is where Ollie feels at home. He’s recently been approached by a business to be the head designer of its wands, an opportunity that Ollie has grabbed with both hands. So he’s taking a short break from his traditional Japanese calligraphy style anime and kung-fu drawings to create plenty of wands that are inspired by water. 

This Crib Point artist, illustrator and drawer previously completed a Bachelor of Illustration and Design at Chisholm and completes commissions as well. He’s working part-time and running a blog on YouTube too. Golly Ollie, you sure are busy! 

“You’ve got your style so embrace it; it’s individual to you,” said Ollie. “If you persist, you’ll improve.”

View his artwork on Instagram @seizure_art and watch his amazing time-lapses of his drawings on YouTube at Seizure Art.


Nat gives more and more

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Nat Amoore has come a long way since her time on her parents’ farm in Merricks North and school days at Toorak College in Mount Eliza — a surreal fact we’re sure hit home when she recently revisited Toorak College as part of her book tour for her first middle-grade novel Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire, published by Penguin Random House in June, with a second book due in 2020. The Sydney-based writer is passionate about encouraging kids to read, write and explore their own imaginations without boundaries. 

Nat’s career path is diverse and full of adventures. She is an accomplished entertainer and presenter for children as well, and it all began just three days after turning 18. She travelled to Indonesia for a trial period as a trapeze artist. There she was accepted, and stayed on as a trapeze artist and circus performer. This in a way fulfilled her childhood dream of joining the circus that she’d had during her time at Red Hill Primary School. She literally ran away and joined the circus. Thankfully, she had a natural talent for trapeze due to her water-ski pastime as a kid, so her time at the international resort chain Club Med lasted nine years. It was almost a decade-long gap year that saw her become the entertainment manager where she would write for stage performances, which ultimately ignited her storytelling career.

Back in Australia, Nat moved to Sydney to study film and TV production, but found writing for film and television in Australia frustrating and restrictive. She yearned for freedom without budget restraints. When she wrote, she could include anything she created without inflating costs, from fire-breathing dragons to elaborate action scenes with explosions and helicopters. 

In February 2018, Nat added a podcast to her extensive resume, called One More Page. With fellow writers Kate Simpson and Liz Ledden, she reviewed, interviewed and ultimately encouraged kids to get excited about books. They’ve reached 30,000 downloads and were even a finalist in the Best Newcomer category for the 2018 Australian Podcast Awards. The kid-lit podcast team were exhilarated to discover that kids were listening to their podcast in classrooms, both here and overseas. 

While Nat believes her internal age is 10, she successfully holds workshops, appears at events as a speaker and describes herself as an “all-round bucket of fun”. She’s even worked for Sony for five years, where she spent invaluable time with the likes of Delta Goodrem, Jessica Mauboy and Guy Sebastian. Here she added to her remarkable skillset by doing a bit of everything, including filming, directing, lighting and editing. She sees editing as a type of visual storytelling, and we think she’s spot-on. When we spoke, she’d just arrived in Queensland for the Children and Young Adult conference, where she was presenting. At this event in 2016, her debut middle-grade manuscript was awarded third place, and in 2017 she placed first and second in the Picture Book category and second in Chapter Books for younger readers. 

Her inspiration for her first novel came from a story she’d heard years ago about an American child being found with $20,000 in her locker. It was a concept that sat with her for a while. Nat first pitched the idea as a film script, but it didn’t get any funding. It just stuck with her. The character kept talking to her.  

“I really wanted to talk about the idea. It was fun and filled with excitement. I wanted to touch on the idea that kids can do the wrong thing but still be good people,” said Nat. “No one is defined by their mistakes. Don’t let mistakes get you down. I know that kids put a lot of pressure on themselves so I made the main character heavily flawed and likeable. She’s really a lot like me as a kid; I made so many errors. I just wanted to give everything a go.” 

Nat’s in the busy lane for now, with more school visits and workshops ahead of her. But she is also a proud role model for Books In Homes Australia, which provide books of choice to children living in remote, disadvantaged and low socio-economic circumstances. 

“I want kids to get excited about books and reading. I like to see the joy when they choose three books that will be their very own. From reading they increase their literacy skills, grow their emotional intelligence and gain empathy. I’m excited to be contributing and that I’m able to help.” 

That’s not the end of the story yet. Nat was also the recipient of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Maurice Saxby Creative Development Program for 2018 and has completed multiple courses at the AWC and NSWWC. And finally, let’s add more to her resume. She was on Australian reality television show The Mole and played Fuzz the blue monster in the kids’ film Out From Under The Bed, which is now being developed into a TV series proposal — but that’s a story for the next chapter. 

“I’m meant to be telling stories, whatever it may be,” said Nat.


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