Monday, 31 May 2010

United along a common path

At the last Progress meeting unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement was given to channel extreme effort in progressing pedestrian options around the Point.

The lack of facilities to safely navigate on foot or bike around our community was passionately discussed at the May meeting within the context of how could we locally support walk safely to school day. It raised the issue of how can we walk safely anywhere.

This has been an ongoing concern of the Association for several decades and an attempt to get some advice, outcomes and actions is once again being attempted.

This time we are calling on all interested parties to get together to discuss the issue and formulate a strategy for an effective campaign to Council.

A special meeting 6-7pm on Monday 7th June will be held at Progress Hall to bring together a group of people passionate about uniting the community with a common path. 

This fact finding session will cover issues raised from the floor as well as where are the safety ‘hotspots’, what and where are all of the pedestrian options possible, where are the priority areas and how can we make it happen?

This campaign will have a beginning and it will follow a path, let’s hope it will also lead to tangible outcomes. If you have any suggestions about how to make it happen, ideas to excite and inspire, spare time to give or informative information please come along and contribute to making our community a safer and more connected one.

If you can’t make it send an email or a letter PO Box 329, Toronto and get your thoughts recorded.

Soup and a cuppa will be available from 5.45pm for a prompt start at 6pm

Transition Film Festival

The film festival continues with the June 20th Sunday session presenting a movie marathon of almost epic proportions.

The film that put Climate Change front and centre, An Inconvenient Truth, will be shown mid afternoon, if you’ve never seen it, now’s a good time. It provides a lot of really interesting information, some memorable graphs and a personal insight into what drives some people to take on the world.

In Transition -the movie starts the session and provides a good summary of what various localities are doing around the world to reconnect their communities so that they could survive with as least impact as possible should Peak Oil deliver the ‘shock to the system’ that was experienced in Cuba during ‘the special period ‘ of the 70’s when their oil supplies were stopped almost overnight.

The Power of Community wraps up the afternoon and goes in to some detail about how Cuba’s economy and social structure shifted to sustain the population by setting up local organic agriculture close to the population and  developing alternative transport systems to move the masses.

The films will run to the outlined programme so if you want to come to a specific film you can be assured of its start and end time.

In between the movies there is time to chat and get a cuppa and get acquainted.

What’s Happening             Start    Finish
Meet and greet, 
Beverages and bites          1100    1130
In Transition                    1130    1220
Lunch (Soup and/or BYO)   1220    1300
An Inconvenient Truth     1300    1430
Beverages & Bites
Discussion                         1430    1450
Power of Community       1450    1545
Beverages & Bites
Discussion                         1545    1615

National Tree Day and Local Landcaring

National Tree Day this year on Sunday 2nd August. As with the previous few years it will be held at the Carey Bay Wetlands, expanding the Melaleuca Swamp complex. This area has been growing great gums over the past few years, cleaning the waterways and providing habitat for our feathered and furry friends.

There’ll be a Green Team day with the local landcarers in July to prepare the site for the planting pleasure.

On 3rd June a Green Team Day with Lake Mac Landcare will be held at Threlkeld Reserve. The day will be a great opportunity to learn about the local bushland and what it takes to keep it in tip-top condition. Threlkeld Reserve is the only bushland along the Coal Point Peninsula that has a Primary Conservation Zoning, so it’s rather special with great species diversity. This is a good chance to have a wander with some locals who can share their knowledge and enjoyment of the reserve.

Local happenings

  • Toronto & District Garden Club continues to meet 3rd Thursday of the month at the Scout Hall 9.30am-12.30pm, 17th June this month. All Welcome
  • At the Landcare Resource Office, Teralba 
    • Thur 10th June Biological Control of Bitou Bush Workshop 9.30am-3.30pm
    • Tue 15th June Fungi Talk with Skye Moore (CMA) 6-7.30pm
    • Sat 19th June LM Landcare Team Leader Training 1-4pm 
Contact the LRO For more details and bookings (essential) phone 49210392.

Out and About -Olstan Update and Electrickery

The Progress Association receives information about local issues from other groups and attends meetings when invited. Following are some of the activities in the last month.

Olstan Update
You may recall the proposed Olstan Open Cut-Auger mine out at Blackalls Park that was withdrawn by Centennial Coal, and then the Private Members Bill being put forth by our intrepid State Member Greg Piper to achieve clarity in the Planning Instrument to prevent a similar proposition being put forward again, and again and again.
Here’s an update from a recent briefing session The Progress Association attended.
•    Greg Piper had to apply personally under Freedom of Information to obtain information about the Olstan Auger mine as it was not deemed ‘in the public interest’.
•    The information that was handed over was scant in content with one thing being very clear, at no time did Centennial Coal receive advice from the Government that the proposed auger mine would be prohibited by the Planning Instrument.
•    Concerns over the discrepancy between Centennial’s denial of advice and the Government purporting to give advice raise a significant issue. If the government’s stance on the mine being prohibited was certain, why didn’t it inform Centennial Coal or the hundreds of residents who asked for clarity?

Greg Piper MP has written to the Planning Minister Tony Kelly to seek support for the Private Members Bill.

Whilst in the realm of Stately things that filter back down to the hip pocket, there is a petition circulating expressing concerns about a recent ruling on electricity pricing. There are recommendations being made by the Pricing Tribunal that will see increases of 20% for Integral Energy customers, 36% for Energy Australia and 42% for Country Energy customers. These increases are in spite of the cost of energy production having decreased by 6.7% in 2009.

Several shops at the Carey Bay Shopping Village have the petitions, whilst the due date states 31st May they will be accepted the week after.

Know Your Bush Fire Risk

Lake Macquarie City Council is currently updating its Bush Fire Risk Management Plan. The Draft Lake Macquarie Bush Fire Risk Management Plan (BFRMP) 2010 is on public exhibition until Wednesday 16 June 2010.

If you live next to some bushland, and a fair few people around here do, take some time to have a squiz at the plan and provide some feedback.

The document and maps are available on LMCC’s website, at the library and at Speers Point

A brief search online shows the majority of the Coal Point peninsula has an Asset Protection Zone with a 4-(medium) risk rating .  Within the draft document it states “Areas of medium or low risk are likely to be managed by routine procedures and so do not require a specific
application of resources.”

The fire management intent of the Asset Protection Zone is to protect human life, property and highly valued public assets and values. The suppression objectives are to enable the safe use of Direct Attack suppression strategies within the zone and to minimise bush fire impacts on undefended assets.

If you’d like more information look at LMCC website or make a comment to Bush Fire Management Committee Executive Officer , PO Box 121, West Wallsend NSW 2286,

On World Environment Day I will…

The 10:10 Challenge - Reducing our impact by 10% in 2010 

If everyone in the world lived the typical Lake Macquarie lifestyle we would need 3.8 earths to survive, alas we only have one.

In 2010, LMCC is supporting working our way back to one earth, one action at a time.
You can join the challenge by pledging to carry out actions that reduce your impact by 10% in 2010.

Making a pledge is simple but rewarding in more ways than one. By becoming part of 10:10 you will be given priority in a range of initiatives and sustainable giveaways.

You can get all the details and be inspired on LMCC's website

Granted success

The Progress Association has recently been successful in two funding applications.
Hunter Water’s Landcare Assistance Fund will provide funds to boost the biodiversity at Yural and Stansfield Reserves, these projects will be our local contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity.

Lake Macquarie City Council’s Environmental Education grant will enable a brochure to produced outlining the local environmental treasures including birds, plants, reserves and access ways. This grant will also support the Transition Film festival and a local community event.

Sincerest thanks to both of these organisations for supporting our local efforts.

National Parks in the spotlight.

We are fortunate to live in an area surrounded by National Parks, The Watagans, Wallarah and Barrington Tops to name a few. They’re beautiful because they have been protected but they are now under threat.

The National Parks Association Hunter Branch President, Ian Donovan has issued an alert about The Minister for the Environment, Frank Sartor’s draft Bill called the National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Sustainable Tourism) Bill 2010.

Legal opinion by Tim Robertson SC, provided to Colong Foundation for Wilderness, provides some insight into the implications for our National Parks.

“The Bill removes the legal protection of National Parks from uses which damage their ecology and landscapes, by destroying the principle that National Parks can only be used for a purpose which promotes the use of the land as a public park. It provides legal authority for the privatisation of National Parks by enabling exclusive possession rights to be given for commercial purposes to private interests under the broad rubric of sustainable tourism. Under this rubric, National Parks will be able to be used for general tourist purposes, such as tourist resorts, convention centres, shopping centres, fast food outlets, sporting activities and fun parks, at the discretion of the Minister, even where those uses do not promote the conservation of the Parks.”

Additionally the advice states “Sustainable tourism is simply tourism which will not threaten or jeopardise future tourism, whereby tourists can enjoy the same or similar experiences in the future as are enjoyed in the present. It bears no relationship to ecological sustainability, even if that was a sufficient control upon uses antipathetic to the conservation of biodiversity and landscapes which are the principal values of National Parks.”

There is hope though because Minister Sartor has said he would throw his Tourism Bill in the bin, if groups are united in their opposition. What sort of National Parks do you want for the future? We can get the world we want if we let the people who make the decisions know what we want.

Flick Frank a frank email.
The Hon Frank Sartor

Toronto Chamber of Commerce

Toronto Chamber Of Commerce is moving along in leaps and bounds. The membership is expanding at a phenomenal rate, the new & improved website is up and running and a calendar of events sorted for the rest of the year.

The first Thursday of every month will be market day in Toronto Town, the aim is to make it a  special, specials day. Christmas Carols by the Lake has been set for 10th December and Santa photos will be available locally this year at See-Saws from 6th December.

The Chamber meets on the first Wednesday of the month at the Yacht Club, at 5.30pm

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Transition Film Festival

An uplifting trio of films are on the program for the second gripping installment of the Transition Film Festival screening at Progress Hall on Saturday afternoon the 8th May. There is the option of one, two or three movies available for your viewing pleasure throughout the afternoon session. 

                                                Start    Finish
Beverages & Bites               1200    1230
In Transition                             1230    1320
Break                                        1320    1330
End Of Suburbia                        1330    1450
Beverages & Bites
Discussion                                 1450    1510
Power of Community               1510    1605
Beverages & Bites
Discussion                                 1605    1630
 The advertised program will be adhered to, to allow movie-goers to mosey on in for the film of their choice and sidle out when the time is right. Discussion and beverage breaks are included throughout the session to mingle and muse with like minded folk. Entry is by donation, the screen and sound setup have proved to be great for the Hall, if it is really chilly bring a lap rug.

In Transition-The Movie made its debut last year, showcasing the Transition Town movement. If you’re having trouble getting your head around what it is and why hundreds of communities around the world are going to such lengths to build local resilience, this 50 minute foray will have you feeling enlightened and excited about what a Transition initiative can do for your community.

End of Suburbia-Oil Depletion and the collapse of the American Dream
“With brutal honesty and a touch of irony, The End of Suburbia explores the American Way of Life and its prospects as the planet approaches a critical era, as global demand for fossil fuels begins to outstrip supply. World Oil Peak and the inevitable decline of fossil fuels are upon us now, some scientists and policy makers argue in this documentary.

The consequences of inaction in the face of this global crisis are enormous. What does Oil Peak mean for North America? As energy prices skyrocket in the coming years, how will the populations of suburbia react to the collapse of their dream? Are today's suburbs destined to become the slums of tomorrow? And what can be done NOW, individually and collectively, to avoid The End of Suburbia ?”

The Power of Community-How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
“When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba's economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This film tells of the hardships and struggles as well as the community and creativity of the Cuban people during this difficult time. It is an unusual look into the Cuban culture during this economic crisis, which they call "The Special Period." Cuba, the only country that has faced such a crisis – the massive reduction of fossil fuels – is an example of options and hope.”

Marine Discovery Talks at Council Chambers

Living on a peninsula with the lake literally a hop, skip and a jump away, would seem to mean that locals probably have some interest in the marine world.

Several opportunities are available throughout May and June to find out a bit more about what goes on in the watery depths and shallows of our Lake.

Lake Macquarie City Council is running a series of Marine Discovery talks at the Council Chambers, Speers Point.

Book your place by calling Council on 02 4921 0113.
  • The Secret World of Sex Changing Wrasse and Discover the Rich Variety of Birdlife in Lake Macquarie, Wednesday 19 May, 6.30pm – 8.30pm
  • The Amazing Variety of Fish in Lake Macquarie, Wednesday 16 June, 6.30pm – 8.00pm
  • Microscopic Marine Plankton in 3D and Canyons and Landslides Offshore of Newcastle , Tuesday 29 June, 6.00pm – 8.00pm

Toronto Garden Club Events

The next club meetings are as follows:
  • Thursday, May 20: 9.30am -12.30pm, in the Toronto Scout Hall, 74 Excelsior Parade. Speaker is Janet White, from Wangi, a retired horticulturalist TAFE teacher who will talk about Soil and Soil Preparation.
  • The May 27 outing from 10am to noon will be to Wallsend Nursery at Lake Rd Wallsend, to hear the guru David Peterson speak on Propagation and beyond. BYO morning tea and put a chair in the car in case they run out, if you can.
  • For the June 17 meeting at the hall we are lucky to have Doug Twentyman, TAFE teacher at Kurri who will talk on Crop Rotation.
  • The June 24 visit will be to Wyee Nursery for a tour and morning tea in the award winning cafe, „Lilly Pond‟. They can do a scone and coffee for $5.50. Glazed pots will be half price by then and the roses may be in. You can join their free garden club which has some benefits.
  • The July 15 meeting at the hall will be the AGM with our guru Michelle Garvey, telling us about winter planting for all interests.
  • The July 22 visit will be to The Propagators, Protea Farm and Nursery at Brandy Hill when proteas will be in bloom. Some protea plants may be available.

Landcare Workshops and Activities for Volunteer Week 10-16 May

Celebrate Volunteer Week by learning something new at the Landcare Resource Office, Toronto Rd Teralba. Morning Tea, Afternoon Tea, and a BBQ Lunch will be provided. Bookings are essential as places are limited. Phone 49210392 or email
Monday 10th - Friday 14th  10am to 12pm Planting at Argenton Creek with Bush Regenerators. Transport from LRO. FREE BBQ Lunch at LRO on completion.
  • Monday 10th - 1pm to 4pm Team Leader Training
  • Tuesday 11th - 1pm to 3pm  Improving the effectiveness of your Volunteer Group  "Maximising  Media Releases and Promotion", " Writing Grants" & " Organising Donations through the Landcare Network"
  •  Wednesday 12th -
    •   9.30am to 12.30pm  Waterwatch 
    •   1.30pm to 2.30pm Plant Identification
  • Thursday 13th -  9.30am to 3pm. Ann Loughran's Native plant or Weed- Pick the Difference Workshop 
  • Friday 14th - LRO OPEN DAY 9am to 2pm

The AGM & Annual Plans

The AGM was a reasonably efficient affair with a new Committee seamlessly sliding into the well-sat seats around the Progress table. 
The new Committee sees the return of some seasoned members and some fresh blood to keep things interesting. The full committee is posted on the top of the Chronicle.  
The AGM was an opportunity to reflect on the year past and plan for the future. Some of the actions to anticipate over the coming year include an active social program at the Hall, a fundraiser such as the Trash & Treasure or Art & Craft Show.  There was interest to investigate setting the Hall up as a model of sustainability, with water and energy use minimisation and perhaps even a vege-patch.

Following is an abridged version of the Annual Reports presented at the AGM.
President’s Report - Suzanne Pritchard
After a hiatus in 2008, 2009 was anything but light on. It’s been an exciting year with new projects starting and old projects completed.
The Transition Town project, building local resilience and connecting members of the community sits very comfortably within the objectives of the Association and I’m very keen to see where it goes and how the community responds. As a waterfront community vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise and also as a community where a significant proportion of the population has the economic capacity to adopt sustainable behaviours, it will be interesting to see what the community perceives will be the consequences of peak oil and climate change.
A community vision and a community action plan are on the horizon, the process will be as interesting as the products.
The Progress Association has taken an active role in raising awareness about community impacting proposal.
  • The Trinity Point proposal was reaching its climax in 2009 and the Association contributed to comprehensive submission on the impacts of the proposal. Unfortunately the proposal went ahead.
  • The Olstan Auger mine proposal captured the local attention and once again the Association supported actions to halt the mine, hosting a sign writing workshop and providing local media
  • Towards the end of the year Toronto’s Fig trees became a topic of local conversation, especially within the business community and Department of Housing purchased some land for 6 six units on Excelsior Pde.
  • Another development application which received late notification was the 120 place Childcare Centre on Excelsior Pde.
  • Discussions were had regarding the relocation of the Leash free area from Birriban to Gurranba reserve and how to respond to spontaneous massed youth.
Keeping abreast of the development applications within the community is always a challenge. It would be good to have this as a standard discussion point at meetings.
This year saw the formal establishment of two subcommittees.
The Transition Town model was investigated and a very keen sub-committee formed, met monthly and commenced the planning for the awareness raising campaign. There has been considerable interest within the surrounding communities and considerable discussion within the group about how to respond to the interest outside the local community.
Social activities included the Bushfire Bush dance and the historical film night, both well attended and highly enjoyable events.
As always a big thank you to the keen, hard core, committed committee that make themselves available to consider the community and keep the Progress Association afloat. There are a cast of many … thankyou to the Chronicle Deliverers, the Landcarers, the Transition Towners, the Social Committee, the Hall Helpers and all the active people that have given their time and enthusiasm to the Association over the past year.
The Association is a local institution with a credible history. Some of the practices of the past have slipped under the radar recently and it is with pleasure and pride that the issuing of some new Life memberships and Committee badges will happen this year.
Life Membership is being awarded to
  • Margaret Vero for her ongoing commitment to organising the Hall bookings. Margaret has been undertaking this role for more than 15 years. A behind the scenes member whose contribution has been invaluable and truly appreciated.
  • Tony Dynon has been in and out of Executive positions since 2001, his first stint as Treasurer, Tony has been a huge asset to the Committee with words of wisdom and thoughtful contributions.
  • Suzanne Pritchard has been presiding over the organisation for 15 years.  “I thank you for supporting me and allowing me to indulge my passion for trying to protect the environment and acting locally for the greater global good.”
Treasurer’s Report- Tony Dynon
2009 has been a good year for the Association. For the first time in 5 years we have finished with a small surplus. The major changes from 2008 are:
  • Hall hire up mostly due to the Yoga classes.
  • Sponsorship up due to Chronicles going out each month and a few new sponsors.
  • Social functions show a large income but this is offset by costs on the other side of the ledger.
The only major change is the increase in operating costs. This is due to printing costs for Chronicles, which is more than offset by the revenue from Sponsors.
Landcare Report- Robyn Gill
By our work and by searching out all the available free resources we can access, a small group of Landcarers manages to make a difference in the spectacular reserves of the Coal Point peninsular.
These areas which remain available for community use and for the possibility of boosting biodiversity are very precious. Our aim is to rescue them from being the basic mown patches which the advent of the motor mower reduced them to in many cases, or the weed infested “ no man’s land” patches with no healthy native cover in others. Grass for picnicking and playing is maintained where appropriate but planting of local species as a backdrop restores so much of their quality and beauty.
The small group of volunteers who work on our reserves has reported for duty on 94 days in the past year. The National Tree Day effort nested 150 seedlings into prepared holes after a major clearing effort followed up by watering for a short time.
The LANDCARE RESOURCE OFFICE “sponsored” by the Lake Macquarie Council is a backbone for us providing plants, professional knowledge and advice, community workshops to increase awareness and some labour provided by experienced volunteers with a professional leader. These services are shared through the whole council area and we access as much as we can.
The Council LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE TEAM  for our area has become, in recent years, a great ally in areas that fit the guidelines they work with and by being creative and willing in accessing materials that work for us. This has made a great difference in some reserves and to what we can achieve in the remaining bushland areas that are so precious.
As landcarers we are constantly amazed at what nature provides in the way of native growth when given a chance. We also review the research on ways to manage weeds and sometimes “use” them to promote long-term objectives – e.g. leaving them in place as a form of mulch for growing canopy that will become weed suppressing.
Grants are sought but often do not cover the aspect that we need most – labour.
It is a pleasure to look up from the ground where we are working and appreciate the magic outlook as well as to enjoy the company of likeminded enthusiasts.