Month: April 2019

A glimpse at our libraries of the future

Book lovers: Knox mayor Adam Gill, Joseph Cullen, the Ministerial Advisory Council on Public Libraries deputy chairwoman Joanna Duncan, MAC chairman David Morris and John Mortimore discuss the future of libraries in Knox. Picture: Wayne HawkinsWHAT DO YOU THINK? SCROLL TO BELOW THIS STORY TO POST A COMMENT.
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KNOX libraries of the future could feature cafes and colourful areas for children if the council’s dreams can be realised.

The ambitious plans, tabled at last month’s Knox Council meeting, might not be looked at for some years.

Eastern Regional Libraries chief executive officer Joseph Cullen said the roll-out of the plans would be a “question of priorities, funding and timing”.

ERL commissioned an architect to design appropriate physical facilities at each Knox branch, and the cost of each development could range from between $700,000 and $2 million.

The plans for Knox library, which is within Knox shopping centre, included new wet areas for activities and new furniture.

However, the lease for the site expires in 2017 and the plans would be reconsidered once there was more certainty for the branch.

Mr Cullen said the development of the children’s areas were necessary because the libraries needed something to attract young people.

The most costly proposed upgrade would be at Boronia library, which in June last year was estimated at $1.8 million.

The plan included turning the loading dock into office accommodation, expanding the multipurpose room and building a cafe. A cafe was also suggested for Ferntree Gully library.

“Cafes at libraries are something that are happening internationally. It makes it a destination and people stay a bit longer,” Mr Cullen said.

Last week, the bipartisan Ministerial Advisory Council on Public Libraries visited Knox library to consult with ERL staff and the council.

The advisory council is undertaking a review titled ‘Tomorrow’s Library’ which looks into the current and future roles of public libraries.

Although funding won’t officially be discussed until stage two of the review, it was still a topic many were keen to discuss at the meeting.

“Funding for libraries is an issue,” Cr John Mortimore said. “Libraries deserve a better share.”

Mr Cullen said the state government needed to look at its level of funding to public libraries, because the ratio of council to state funding had been decreasing since the 1970s.

To have your say on ERL’s future plans, go to tomorrowslibrary苏州美甲培训学校.au.

Flights of fancy

Pigeon fancier John Blackney has missed the thrill of racing his birds. Picture: Lucy Di Paolo About 150 of Felice Esposito’s pigeons have been wiped out by paramyxovirus. Picture: Marco De Luca
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Pigeon fanciers have been in lockdown since hundreds of their birds were infected with a deadly virus last year. As a statewide ban on races and shows lifted last week, some owners say they are still struggling to recover. Cameron Lucadou-Wells reports.

THE natural highs of pigeon racing are “better than sex”, says racing pigeon owner John Blackney. When the first of his racing pigeons returns from King Island or another race point 1000 kilometres from his Springvale home, he says he feels his heart flutter with excitement.

“It’s the biggest thrill you can get — you sit in the backyard. You’re waiting, you’re waiting and then you see a pigeon arrive in the sky. For seven seconds, your heart flutters. When that first flier hits your loft . . .’’

The thrill makes the many hours of training and caring for his 25 birds worth it, Blackney says. Some owners pay up to $10,000 for a bird, imported from Europe or the US — “it’s a drug that sucks you in’’.

The speed and stamina of the birds, as well as their uncanny homing instincts, are phenomenal. With a tail wind, they can fly up to 10 hours at 100km/h in race conditions.

But over the past seven months Blackney, like hundreds of other pigeon racers in Victoria, is missing the thrill of the comp. Pigeon racing, like pigeon shows and sales, has been on hold due to a statewide outbreak of pigeon paramyxovirus that has killed pet and wild pigeons across the state.

At least 76 lofts have been infected and 80 contaminated feral pigeons have been found in greater Melbourne.

Last September, the Department of Primary Industries slapped a ban on pigeon activities. It lifted the ban on March 25, months before trials of a vaccine against the virus are expected to be completed.

For some hapless pigeon breeders, up to 100 per cent of their flock have been wiped out.

Many of the birds die within three days of contracting the virus. Others are reduced to ‘headwobblers’ and have to be hand-fed because they can’t hold up their heads. If they recover, it may take up to 12 months of intensive treatment and hand-rearing by their owners.

World champion show pigeon breeder Felice Esposito of Sunshine had half of his 300 pigeons — and all but one young pair of his best, selectively bred English longface tumblers — wiped out by the virus.

It has taken vigilance and a cocktail of medications to save the rest of his birds. At worst, he was losing seven pigeons a day and nursing up to 30 at a time.

“They’re some of the world’s best pigeons. I’ve spent a lot of money on them. It feels like 20 years has gone down the drain.’’

Esposito can only guess how his flock caught the virus, despite never being let out to fly. “Hopefully, the one pair of my best birds can reproduce their bloodline.’’

Blackney, who is also president of Dandenong Racing Pigeon Society, says two of his club’s 25 members have lost birds to the disease. His club and other pigeon clubs have been told they can resume racing and shows if they ensure all competing birds are vaccinated.

Racers have been allowed to ‘range’ or fly around an owner’s loft in the meantime but the usual training — including ‘tossing’ out a bird kilometres from home — has ceased.

“We’ve been like a mother waiting for the past 10 months,’’ Blackney says. “It’s pretty boring.’’

There’s speculation but no proof that the virus may have landed on Victoria’s shores through a smuggled bird. The virus, prevalent worldwide for more than 20 years, had been managed with a paramyxovirus vaccine.

The vaccine has backing from the state’s Department of Primary Industries but it hasn’t been approved by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

So the department has recommended a four-week course of a vaccine used for treating Newcastle disease in poultry. The cost of a 1000-bird dose is about $200.

Inoculation is the way of the future, Blackney says. “The virus is going to be here for the rest of our days. Everyone is going to have to inoculate.’’

There is hope that shows and races in Victoria could resume if enough pigeons are vaccinated before the end of the racing season in July.

Pigeon clubs have funded a trial of the Newcastle disease vaccine as their members rush to inoculate their birds.

But vaccinations didn’t seem high on the agenda among buyers and sellers at MSK auction house in Dandenong last Tuesday.

The auction was abuzz, with more than 50 show and racing pigeons on offer as the house resumed its pigeon sales for the first time since the lifting of the ban.

One breeder and seller, ‘Billy’ of Frankston, said he hadn’t vaccinated his 20-odd show pigeons for sale — “vaccination doesn’t help. There’s nothing you can do about the virus’’.

He knew of five owners whose birds had been killed by the virus. “They got medicine injections for the birds but it doesn’t help. The pigeons just lose their interest to live.’’

One buyer who parcelled up about a dozen racing pigeons into cardboard boxes said she knew nothing about the virus.

National champion show pigeon breeder ‘Jeff’, who breeds English longface tumblers and show-pen homers at his Frankston lofts, described the market sellers who didn’t vaccinate as “clowns”.

“They will kill their own backyard-flyer tribe out. They’ve got nothing to protect their birds.’’

Jeff, a member of Dandenong Fancy Pigeon Society, has been luckier than some — his birds have been spared the virus. But the breeder culled 100 of his birds a month ago because he couldn’t sell them or even give them away under the statewide ban. Now, with his birds vaccinated and ban lifted, he can at least shift his surplus birds.

The outbreak put a halt to pigeon shows nationwide. Show organisers have opted to shut down national shows of up to 4000 entries rather than simply ban Victorian pigeons.

Jeff says he is “finished for two or three years’’ as a national show pigeon competitor. “I won’t be able to take my birds interstate until a national vaccination program happens. I will be locked down and won’t be able to move my birds.

“If there isn’t a national agreement among states to vaccinate, a lot of people will leave the industry.’’

Bird veterinarian Colin Walker says there is no need for national vaccinations, since the disease hasn’t yet escaped state borders. “Even if a bird is vaccinated, it could still carry the disease and potentially carry it out of the state. The DPI is simply trying to stop the spread of the disease.’’

Department of Primary Industries chief veterinary officer Andrew Cameron said the disease was established, endemic and continuing to spread among feral pigeons in greater Melbourne.

He said the Newcastle vaccine should ensure a return to “degree of normalcy’’ for pigeon flyers and breeders.

“We’ve evaluated that it is likely to work.

“People would be foolhardy not to vaccinate their birds because the virus won’t go away.’’

He said rather than compel sellers at markets to vaccinate, it should be a case of ‘buyer beware’.

“I’d say it’s up to the buyer — they should not buy a bird unless the seller can prove they’ve vaccinated the birds.

“If they’re buying birds that aren’t vaccinated, they should keep them isolated before they’re introduced to their other birds.’’

Love of the cold and tribute to dad

Spin away: Marion Wheatland braved the cold, spinning woollen balaclavas outside Mawson’s Hut in Antarctica. Picture: Sam StiglecANTARCTICA remains a freezing, barren continent rarely visited, but Boronia’s Marion Wheatland is one of the few who have ventured to the cold south.
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She sought to pay tribute to Australian explorer Sir Douglas Mawson, and set off to Antarctica on the 100th anniversary of his 1911 expedition.

Late last year, she took her prized possession, a wool spinning wheel, and began to make replica balaclavas of what Mawson and his team of 18 men wore, in the same icy terrain they once explored.

Ms Wheatland spoke about her trip to an eager group of locals at The Basin Community House, detailing her adventures.

She said she felt inspired to go to Antarctica after her father, a former history teacher at Boronia High School, died five years ago.

“My father gave me a love of history. I wanted to do something that he would approve of, to honour him.”

Ms Wheatland, a Canadian now living in what she calls her “adopted country” of Australia” has a natural love of the cold – “I have ice in my blood from Canada”.

Training for the trip included taking her spinning wheel to the top of Victoria’s Mt Hotham, and spinning woollen balaclavas that she now sells to fund the Mawson’s Huts Foundation, which each year sends a team of restorers, carpenters and other maintenance workers to preserve the huts.

“The Mawson’s Huts are archaeological sites, so their preservation is very important,” Ms Wheatland said.

She has been guest speaking for the past 12 months, and donates any money from this to the foundation, as well as money raised from the sale of the balaclavas.

She has donated more than $2000 to the foundation, which she handed over in a ceremony attended by Governor-General Quentin Bryce last December.

Play the macarena

Musical holidays: Jon Madin will bring his quirky instruments to the Knox Community Arts Centre these school holidays.CELLOS that echo, bicycles that play music and a 1.8-metre-long xylophone lookalike are all part of Jon Madin’s musical workshop next Tuesday.
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The school holiday program will be held at Knox Community Arts Centre and participants don’t need to have any musical talent.

“It’s about having fun. A lot of people think that when you play music it’s about getting it right,” Madin says. “But there’s no getting it wrong in this class.”

The musical guru will bring along some of his echo cellos, marimbas and other unusual instruments. Children will play the marimbas in groups of three and the musical notes are written on the keys. There will be popular songs like We Will Rock You and Macarena to play, plus some of his quirky, original tunes.

Many children, and even adults, who come along to the workshop fall in love with music, Madin says. “They’re often inspired to take up a musical instrument after the class because they have so much fun.”

If you’re intrigued by what it’s all about, type Madin’s name into YouTube and take a look at his videos.

During the school holidays, KCAC is also hosting a workshop called Go Loopy at which children can create their own digital music.

Digital Learning Hub manager Peter Wakefield says children will enter the “travelling lab” and choose their own style, like hip-hop or classical, then select, layer and manipulate loops at different speeds to create a song.

Adults are also encouraged to join in. Wakefield says he often sees families working together to make the big musical decisions.

The marimba workshop is at KCAC next Tuesday, with hour-long sessions at 9.30am, 11am and 1pm. The Go Loopy workshop is at KCAC on Thursday, April 12 with the same session times available. Details: knox.vic.gov.au/theatretix.

SEABL: Knox Raiders in big comeback

KNOX Raiders men conjured another memorable comeback in a win over rivals Kilsyth Cobras at Knox Stadium in the SEABL men’s competition on Saturday night
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The Cobras held a 34-19 quarter-time lead over the Raiders and maintained a double-figure advantage at half-time before the Raiders stormed back in the second half, taking a late lead behind the play of CJ Massingale (27 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and John Phillip (21 points, 10 rebounds).

The Raiders tied the game at 62-62 at three-quarter-time before taking their first lead with Lester Strong basket early in the final term.

From that point, the game see-sawed before a running-jump shot from Massingale with 50 seconds to go gave the Raiders the lead for good.

The Cobras did get one final chance to put the game into overtime as Garfield Blair (18 points) had a three-point shot that missed, followed up Tim Lang (22 points, 10 rebounds), whose desperate three-pointer was also wide.

Phillip said the Raiders had stuck to the task in the second half following a half-time “rev up” from coach Graham Longstaff. “We are a veteran team and we know what each player can do, especially in late game situations,” he said.

The win was even more impressive for the Raiders as star guard Mick Hill was held out of the match due to a calf injury.

Hill warmed up but was deemed not fit enough to play as emerging guard Justin Aver (13 points, five rebounds) took his place in the starting line-up and made several key plays. One was an offensive rebound in the final minutes that all but killed off the Cobras’ comeback hopes.

“Justin was amazing out there,” Phillip said. “He took some big rebounds. We don’t see that too much at training so he must have brought it out special for this game. He stepped up and took his opportunity.”

Cobras guard Zach Malvik (13 points) said his side was disappointed to drop the match after such a good start.

“We went away from what we were doing in the first quarter,” he said. “We are disappointed but we will look to the next few games to get some more wins.”

The Raiders women also beat their Cobras counterparts 69-54 in the SEABL competition on Saturday night.

Raiders star Odette Andrew continued her great start to the season with a game-high 16 points. The Cobras were led by Hayley Moffatt (14 points) and Chantella Perera (12points).

The Raiders also won the Cystic Fibrosis Cup, an annual trophy played between the two clubs.