Author Archives: John Englart

Fawkner Festa 2016


Are you ready to rumba with the Bongo Brothers? Or be mesmerised by the sweet voices of the Moomba Park Primary school choir or Fawkner Community House Choir? Or watch the incredible music of Ustad Khalil Gudaz, a Master sitar player performing traditional Afghani and Indian music. Maybe you just want to do some middle eastern hip hop, or try some circus skills.

Come along for an afternoon of inclusive performance and community entertainment at this year’s Fawkner Festa.

The Fawkner Festa 2016 will take place on Sunday 6 November 2016 at CB Smith Reserve from 12 – 4 pm.
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Flax Lily & Blue-banded Bee Wild Pollinator Count


Ever wanted to be a citizen scientists? Here is your chance to help out in Fawkner.

Merri Creek Management Committee and Friends of Merri Creek invite you to participate in the Flax Lily & Blue-banded Bee Wild Pollinator Count.

What: Flax Lily & Blue-banded Bee Wild Pollinator Count
When: Sunday 13 November, 10am-12.30pm
Where: Meet in the Parklands at the east end of Jukes Rd Fawkner
(Melway 18 A2).

Visit the Lily and Blue Banded Bee project sites, place a Bee Hotel & count the wild pollinators!

Refreshments will be provided.

Phone Ray or Monica at MCMC 9380 8199. This project is funded by Victorian Government’s Threatened Species Grant and the many generous donors of a crowdfunding campaign!

Matted Flax-lily (Dianella amoena) at Bababi Djinanang native grassland Fawkner

Brunswick: Montfort Park alienation from the public realm

Fencing out the public Montfort Park, Brunswick

Fencing out the public
Montfort Park, Brunswick

The issue of open space and Montfort Park in Brunswick has been raised by the initiation of a community petition and Facebook Group. Although I live in Fawkner, I care about open space and environmental issues across the municipality. This is also a park that I used to use so there is a personal connection.

Montfort Park is at the corner of Henkel St and Wendel St in Brunswick. The park, and the old scout hall next to it, were sold to a community group by Council in 2003, but with conditions on the use of the open space land, that it’s title of Montfort Park continue and that the park and it’s facilities be developed as a basketball court or similar and remain accessible to the public.

It is now all concrete, a basketball court and open space, and surrounded by a 3 metre steel fence. Local residents argue it is seldom used and remains inaccessible for public use.
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Candidate Engagement on community issues for Moreland Council election 2016


In my article on candidates standing for NE ward I provided a matrix for what community surveys each candidate had responded to. Other people have also written candidate profiles for Moreland’s three wards:

Candidate profiles:

South Ward:

North West Ward

North East Ward

I decided to broaden my matrix on survey engagement to all candidates across the municipality. This is a relatively neutral way to assess engagement by candidates with community groups on issues, while leaving the content of their responses up to voters to investigate.

Surveys conducted by community groups included: Climate Action Moreland on climate change, sustainability and climate emergency; Moreland BUG on cycling; Bicycle Network; Pentridge Community Action Group on Pentridge Development (NE ward only); Music Victoria on support for local live music; and Alliance for Gambling Reform on Pokies reform.

I have put together this matrix so you can see at a glance who responded to each survey. Candidates are listed in the order they appear on the ballot paper. Current Councillors re-contesting having an asterisk in front of their name.
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Who is standing for NE ward of Moreland Council in 2016?


For Moreland Council North East ward, which Fawkner is a part of, 4 Councillors are to be elected, from 20 candidates standing. See VEC Moreland City Council 2016 Nominations. The following is the list of candidates as they will appear on the ballot paper. Climate Action Moreland have done a simple survey of candidates on climate and sustainability policies which are worth checking out. Two candidate forums have been organised so far for North East Ward.

The election is on Saturday 22 October.

Candidate Forums

Fawkner Community House have invited North–East Ward Council candidates to a community forum with Fawkner residents about how candidates will represent the interests of people in Fawkner if they are elected at the council election this month.
When: Sunday 9 October 2pm to 5pm
Where: 95-97 Major Road Fawkner
Details: Fawkner Community House

Save Coburg and Pentridge Action Group are organising a candidates forum to hear from candidates and ask them questions.
When: Thursday, October 13 at 7 PM – 9:30 PM
Where: Coburg Uniting Church on the corner of Louisa St & Victoria St, Coburg
Registration: Facebook Event details
Storify Report: Urban Development in spotlight at NE Ward #MorelandVotes candidates forum

Pentridge Community Action Group reported: “Show of Hands from Candidates present at the Moreland Council NE Ward Forum re question posed by Prof Hamel-Green on opposing > 4 storey development in the Pentridge Precinct. Candidates with hands raised are George Georgiou, Sue Bolton, David Nunns, Antonio Bonifazio, and Imogen Jubb. A late response was made by Francesco Timpano”.

A third candidates forum organised at Merlynston.
When: Tuesday 18 October 7.30pm to 9pm
Details: Facebook event

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Merri Creek: From wasteland to parklands exhibition

Inspecting the grasslands

Inspecting the grasslands

For October 2016 Fawkner Library features a unique exhibition of photographs showing the Merri Creek Valley before and during it’s transformation over the last 40 years.

Pop in to the library to enjoy this free exhibition and appreciate the work of so many people, many volunteers to make Merri Creek an important natural ecosystem refuge in our urban environment.

The photographic exhibition is by the Merri Creek Management Committee and the Friends of Merri Creek.

Featuring ‘before and after’ photographs illustrating the transformation of Merri Creek from a drain and dumping ground to a waterway and a much-loved bushland corridor, the exhibition celebrates the ongoing collaborative efforts by community volunteers, local Councils, government agencies and others. While there is still much to be done, the creek continues to improve.

Event: Monday 03 October 2016 to Friday 28 October 2016 during Fawkner Library Open hours
Cost: Free

Opening hours

Monday and Thursday 11 am – 5.30 pm
Tuesday 11 am – 8 pm
Wednesday and Friday 11 am – 5 pm
Saturday 10 am – 1 pm
Sunday closed

Level Crossing Removal at Camp Road Campbellfield should incorporate Upfield path extension

Sydney RD and M80 intersection. Photo from Western Ring Rd path

Sydney RD and M80 intersection. Photo from Western Ring Rd path

I understand the the Victorian Government has brought forward 11 level crossing removals, two of which – Buckley Street in Essendon and Camp Road in Campbellfield – will be fast-tracked with work commencing next year and complete by 2019.

Camp Rd railway level crossing is just 300 metres along the road from the Campbellfield shopping centre. It is this Level Crossing upgrade which concerns me the most here.

The 11 level crossings have been split into two packages with both now out to tender, according to this report in Urban Melbourne. My check of the Level Crossings removal website shows the Upfield line crossing removals as at 27 September, 2016 are currently under tender.

The “North Western” package has five sites. As well as the two fast-tracked projects, the package includes Glenroy Road in Glenroy, Bell Street in Coburg and Moreland Road in Brunswick.

The Upfield shared bike path parallels the Upfield railway line. It provides a relatively safe off-street bike path running down the spine of the municipality of Moreland. It connects people in Moreland with local schools, shops and businesses, and links with the Capital City trail in the south and routes into the Melbourne CBD.

But the problem in the north is the gap connecting shared bike paths: the Upfield path stops at Box Forest Road and does not connect to the Western Ring Road Path that borders the northern boundary of the municipality.

For those Fawkner residents wanting to shop by bicycle at Campbellfield there are presently two options: attempting to brave the horror of the Sydney Rd and Western Ring Road intersection, or the pedestrian bridge over the Western Ring Road a 100 metres east of this intersection. If you take the Pedestrian bridge, then once across Mahoney’s Rd at the Pedestrian lights there is a problem of lack of a path to cycle to the Campbellfield Plaza.

Upgrading level crossings at Moreland Road, Bell Street and Camp Road is an opportunity to also clear bottlenecks and give priority to the increase in cycling in the municipality.

I believe the Munro Street crossing may be included when the Bell Street Crossing is upgraded. (This needs to be verified)

The level crossing at Camp Road especially, needs to incorporate facility for cyclists to cross, and have the shared path extended down to Box Forest Road. This is important as the intersection of Sydney Road and Western Ring Road is simply not safe for cyclists to navigate across. VicRoads have provided no on-road or off-road facility for cycling through this intersection.

Extending the Upfield shared Bike path could connect with a path to the Campbellfield shops providing a safe route to cycle north for people from Hadfield and Fawkner and further afield.

The railway bridge across the Western Ring Road was built with a capacity to take a second railway line and also with enough space for a shared path to extend the Upfield Bike path further north.

But it is imperative that level crossing removal at Camp Street should also include works incorporating a cycle crossing.

Now is also the time the State Government should join City of Moreland and City of Hume in extending the Upfield shared bike path at least up to Camp road with a vision of extending it further north and incorporate a short path to the Campbellfield shopping plaza.

Providing off-road cycling facilities is a sure way to get more people cycling more often. It makes our communities more sustainable, and more climate friendly, while providing health benefits to individuals and society as a whole.

Outer suburbs like Fawkner, Hadfield and Campbellfield need cycle friendly infrastructure just as much as inner suburbs. Indeed, because there is more of a culture built around roads and the car, it can be argued more cycling infrastructure might be needed in these suburbs to get people transitioning to lower emission transport and to change transport behaviours.

There are other problems for cyclists from Fawkner, especially in the northern end around Anderson Rd, in finding a safe route to access the existing Upfield Path. These perhaps need to be considered in depth at Council and Vicroads level for resolution. For middle Fawkner the footpath on the western side of Sydney Rd next to the cenetery really needs to be declared a shared path, as Sydney Road has a speed limit of 70km per hour and is unsafe to cycle on, to access the Upfield path.

So how about better bike facilities and extending the Upfield bike path further as part of the Camp Road Level Crossing Removal, Frank Maguire (Facebook), Member for Broadmeadows, and Lizzie Blandthorn (facebook), Member for Pascoe Vale?

Horror intersection for cyclists

Horror intersection for cyclists

Wills Candidates sign Australian Conservation Foundation pledge


Three of the ten candidates standing for the Wills Federal electorate have signed the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) pledge: Samantha Ratnam (The Greens), Camille Sydow (Animal Justice Party) and Zane Alcorn (Socialist Alliance). This pledge is an undertaking that if elected they will:

  • Support Clean Energy. Transitioning Australia to 100 percent clean energy.
  • Cut Pollution. Moving to zero net climate pollution before 2050 and closing dirty coal burning power stations.
  • Protect our reefs, rivers, forests and wildlife. Supporting a strong set of laws and institutions to improve biodiversity and regulate pollution.

Other candidates have taken away the pledge card to consider but have not yet committed. These include: Peter Khalil (Labor), Will Fulgenzi (Socialist Equality), Tristram Chellow (Sex Party).

This is an important pledge as it contains commitments to phase out polluting coal and increase renewable energy to 100 percent, to transition to a zero carbon economy before 2050, and to protect our forests, rivers and reefs. All these are essential if we are to meet out international climate commitments of the Paris Agreement.

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Fawkner candidates meeting for Wills2016 Federal Election

Fawkner candidates meeting for Wills2016 at Fawkner Community House on Major Rd

Fawkner candidates meeting for Wills2016 at Fawkner Community House on Major Rd

The second meet the candidates forum for the inner northern Melbourne electorate of Wills was organised by the Fawkner community house. The main contest is between Labor and the Greens, but 10 candidates are standing. An apology was received from the Liberal candidate.

John Englart from Sustainable Fawkner asked the first question.
Question: It is World Environment Day today. How many of you have visited the Bababi Djininang grasslands at the end of Jukes Road in Fawkner? How many of you realise we have an endangered species in that grasslands area?

Response: Only Samantha Ratnam and Zane Alcorn had indicated they had visited or passed Bababi Djininang, and no one was aware we have endangered species right here in Fawkner.

The Matted Flax-lily (Dianella amoena) is a nationally endangered species found along the embankment of Merri Creek. Further up Merri Creek (outside of Wills) the endangered Golden Sun Moth and Growling grass frog can also be found.

Read an account here including questions and candidate responses:

The ten Candidates in the order listed on the Wills ballot paper:

Kyung Moo (Kevin) HONG (Liberal Party of Australia) Facebook
Ashley BLACKWELL (Drug Law Reform Party) Facebook, Drug Law Reform website
Tristram CHELLEW (Australian Sex Party) Facebook
Samantha RATNAM (The Greens) website | Facebook
Dougal GILLMAN (Renewable Energy Party) Renewable Energy Party Facebook
William FULGENZI (Socialist Equality Party) SEP Facebook
Zane ALCORN (Socialist Alliance) Facebook
Camille SYDOW (Animal Justice Party) Facebook
Francesco TIMPANO (Independent) Facebook
Peter KHALIL (Australian Labor Party) website | Facebook

When you vote I urge you to take into account the environment and climate policies of the candidates, as well as their social and economic policies.


See also the ABC Promise Tracker: How does the Coalition’s record stack up as the nation heads to a new election? and

Abbott/Turnbull Government record on environment and climate action

Don’t forget the Federal election sausage sizzle map:
not too late for schools to do some sizzling fund raising at polling booths.

Fawkner candidates meeting for Wills2016: Zane Alcorn, Samantha Ratnam and Peter Khalil

Fawkner candidates meeting for Wills2016: Zane Alcorn, Samantha Ratnam and Peter Khalil

Plans for Upfield train line reopening to Craigieburn

Upfield train approaching Gowrie Station
It seems the Upfield service is in for an upgrade under the Andrews Labor Government, to service suburbs further north and join up with Craigieburn. This will make the line more efficient.

Some nice reporting by Adam Carey in the Age on June 5, 2016: Not the end of the line: How people power saved the Upfield rail line. At the end of the article news of reopening the extension to Craigieburn.

Buried in the detail of the 2016-17 state budget is $5 million towards reopening the line north of Upfield through industrial Somerton, to connect it to the Craigieburn line.

That stretch of the line was shut in 1956 but will be reopened within five to 10 years so V/Line’s Seymour trains, which currently run on the congested Craigieburn line, can use the Upfield line instead.
Reopening the line will pave the way for Seymour line commuters to get a train every 20 minutes in the peak. Public Transport Victoria’s rail plans are that eventually the Upfield line will be electrified all the way to Wallan, just beyond the city limits.

It’s a long-term plan that gives Mr Dow immense satisfaction to see.

The community campaign to save the Upfield line put four key proposals to government, one of which was to extend electric trains to Craigieburn via Upfield.

Now we just need the Number 19 tram extended along Sydney Road up to Campbellfield like we have argued for.