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Winters Flat Primary School

A school with sustainability at its heart

Located on the western side of Castlemaine on a spacious 5-acre site, Winters Flat Primary School is setting the standard in sustainability education. An active participant in the Victorian Government’s ResourceSmart Schools program, it is one of only a handful of schools across the state to have been accredited as a 5 Star Leadership school.

“One of the things that attracted me to Winters Flat was how seriously they take sustainability’” says Principal Suzanne Kinnersly who joined the school in late 2017.

“The desire to live a sustainable life is one of the key driving forces within the school and the students take a leadership role in all sustainability programs.”

Sustainability is woven into every aspect of curriculum and school life: from the bin-free schoolyard (children bring nude food or zero wrappings), to the bathroom paper that’s shredded for the worm farm, right through to the learning theme for each semester. Students take action to minimise waste, save energy and water, promote biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Winters Flat was the Victorian Government’s 2015 ResourceSmart School of the year and the winner of the Premier’s Sustainability Award in 2016. It was also a runner-up in the ResourceSmart Schools Sustainable School of the Decade in 2017.

As a Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden School, Winters Flat also explores the connection between the environment, our plates and our health.

The school garden groans with the harvest of each season. Children tend the garden, learn the cycles, and what it takes to grow food successfully, reconnecting with food at its source. Each week, the children harvest, prepare and share the produce in the large kitchen dining area. Learning valuable life and social skills while being introduced to great tasting food (that just happens to be good for them!).

The school is currently in the throws of major developments to meet the demands of a growing and evolving community environment, with a whole new building under construction.

“We have a very committed team of parents, staff and school councillors who are looking at a master plan of how we can best use this wonderful 5-acre site,” says Suzanne. “We’re also looking at how we can further enhance our curriculum and continue to evolve our sustainability practices.”

“I’m incredibly proud of our fabulous team,” she says. “They work well together and they’re very open to new thinking.”

Like to know more? Visit www.winters-flat-ps.vic.edu.au call 03 5472 1522 or email winters.flat.ps@edumail.vic.gov.au or find them on Facebook

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Celebrating youth culture

If you’re anywhere near our region this Saturday 21 April head to Castlemaine when the 2 The Extreme Youth Festival (2TX) hits town. If you’re not, you might need to change your plans!

2TX is a huge, one-of-a kind youth festival put on by Castlemaine’s own XtremeInc Youth Projects, a leading Central Victorian Youth organisation that has been supporting young people in the region since 2009.

2TX caters to all ability levels and aims to inspire, motivate and engage young people aged between 8 and 25 – many of whom are from less advantaged backgrounds – in positive, healthy, creative activities such as sports, dance, music and food.

This year’s event will be a jam packed day celebrating youth culture with skate and scoot competitions, parkour workshops and competitions, hip hop and contemporary dance workshops, live music, young makers’ market, street art and much, much more.

One of the biggest attractions is the Skate, Scoot and Parkour competitions with special guest pro skater Ebony Bielby.

“We’re so pumped to have special guest judge and pro skater Ebony Bielby for our first all girl skate comp,” says Sarah Cook, Director XtremeInc Youth Projects.

Pro scoot rider Will Barlow will also be a guest judge.

“Will has been riding his whole life from bikes to scooters to motorbikes,” says Sarah. “He competed in the 2017 Nitro World Games in the United States against some of the best freestyle scooter riders in the world. His scoot demo is something no one should miss!”

“2TX provides employment for young artists and instructors from our region and inspiration for young rural artists,” she says.

“Many past participants have gone on to become professionals in their field.”

“We’re expecting around 1,000 young people this year making it our biggest to date and we’re thrilled to see registrations for competitions filling so fast.”

Each year 2TX attracts high profile artists and groups to perform, teach, judge and mentor young people. This year they include XFactor contestants FD3 who will feature as the headlining act and also run a dance workshop. Other bands include All That Mammoth and The Wilsons.

Entry is $10 Adults, $8 Child/Youth or $30 Family of 4. Gates and registrations open at 12 but you can pre-purchase tickets and register online at www.2thextremefestival.com

For a festival schedule head to the website www.2thextremefestival.com

Waller Realty is pleased to have been a sponsor of 2TX and XtremeInc Youth Projects for many years and to be able to continue our involvement in 2018.

Easter happiness on the Goldfields

Come celebrate Easter with us, there’s so much to see and do.

Harcourt has it

Get in on the hunt

Join in on the annual Easter Egg Hunt put on by the Harcourt Progress Association and enjoy a day filled with live music, craft activities and age based egg hunts.

Wear your very best bunny ears for the chance to win tickets to see Peter Rabbit the movie this Easter at Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal.

Normally in the Oak Forest, this year the event will be held in the lush green parkland surrounding Harcourt’s Goldfields Track Café (who’ll be serving hot cross buns and Easter donuts!). With all the extra visitors to the new mountain bike park the association has decided to take a bit more time before conducting large events in the vicinity of the park.

Book now at www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=367305&

Try our new world-class mountain bike park

Harcourt Mountain Bike Park Image: Castlemaine Rocky Riders

Easter is the perfect time to explore the new Harcourt Mountain Bike Park. La Larr Ba Gauwa opened on Labour Day and features 34kms of trails featuring stunning views and making the most of the natural features.

There are trails for all skill levels from a gentle loop for beginners right through to technically challenging rides for the most experienced riders.

www.forestsandreserves.vic.gov.au/initiatives/harcourt-mountain-bike-park

Enjoy the best in local food and wine

Head out to the Harcourt Valley Easter Festival at the Harcourt Valley Vineyard for fantastic local food, wine, beer, cider and cocktails in the sunshine with live music all day and children’s entertainment including an Easter Treasure Hunt.

Exhibitors include Boomtown Winemakers Cooperative, Sutton Grange Winery, Shed Shaker Brewing and Burnt Acre Vineyard, with food from Pizza de Wheels, Lady Sultan Turkish, Ice Cream Social and more.

Tickets on sale www.trybooking.com/UEEO

Don’t want to drive? No problem. Shuttle buses will run from Castlemaine Railway Station to event all day.

Maldon celebrates its 141st Easter Fair

The parade at the Maldon Easter Fair Image: Maldon Easter Fair

The Maldon Easter Fair started in 1877 making it one of the oldest in Australia and it’s still going strong. A special Easter tradition for locals and visitors alike, the Fair runs from 30 March to 1 April culminating in the fabulous Easter Parade on Easter Sunday with an Aussie egg toss and Chinese Lion dancers.

Enter the scone baking competition, enjoy the torchlight procession, pick up a treat at the Easter market, try your hand at the hole in one competition at the golf course ($2,000 first prize!) or visit the quilt show. The Vintage Engine Rally is an annual highlight featuring a variety of old, antique and very rare working machinery from the horse drawn and steam eras.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/maldoneasterfair

Waller Realty has been a sponsor of the Maldon Easter Fair for the last 25 years and is pleased to be able to support this wonderful community event.

Celebrate the harvest in the heart of apple country

The King and Queen of Harcourt Applefest Image: Castlemaine Mail

This Saturday 10 March is Applefest in beautiful Harcourt, an annual celebration of local produce, music, art and community.

This much-loved festival has grown and evolved over the years and welcomes an ever-increasing number of visitors each year.

There’s something for everyone including the art show, apple pie baking competition, bike parade, food, regional wines, craft beers and ciders and amazing live entertainment all day on the Applefest main stage.

If you’re bringing the kids then don’t miss the Applefest Kids Karnival with pony rides, climbing wall, miniatures trains, jumping castles and giant inflatable slide, face painting, craft activities, archery, pedal powered slot cars, roving entertainers and even a free pool party at the Harcourt Community Pool.

This year the Kids Karnival welcomes local youth arts group XtremeInc who have teamed up with parkour instructors Walk the Walls to deliver a massive Country Parkour Course right to the heart of Applefest.

The 40 metre circuit uses recycled and agricultural materials including pallets, hay bales, tractor tyres, bars and vaults and is suitable for young people of all ages – from beginner to advanced.

Try XtremeInc Country Parkour at the Kids Karnival Image: Harcourt Applefest

Enjoy our blissful early Autumn weather and make a day of it, or, if you’re keen to stay on drop by the monthly Maldon Market on Sunday and pick up something from one of the many local makers and growers.

We’re looking forward to the long weekend after another busy week of strong sales. Hope to see you at one of our Open for Inspections.

Recent sales

196-200 Barker Street, Castlemaine

Lot 14 Domain Drive, Castlemaine

4/78 Kennedy Street, Castlemaine

Lot 24 Domain Drive, Castlemaine

Lot 6/10B Palmerston Street, Newstead

55 Popeks Rd, Maldon

A night under the stars in historic Maldon

Main Street Maldon will be transformed into an open air theatre and restaurant

Enjoy the magical atmosphere this weekend at Maldon’s highlight event of the year, the Maldon Twilight Dinner.

For one night only tables will line iconic Main Street Maldon, declared Australia’s first Notable Town by the National Trust in 1965, transforming the streetscape and creating an utterly unique visual spectacle.

Share fabulous food from local providers, wine from the region and enjoy wonderful entertainment from international duo Pavarotti and the Diva and the Beatles Show Band, Rubbersoul.

Now in its 13th year, the Maldon Twilight Dinner started as a way to showcase Maldon’s cafes and producers and was originally called Tastes of Gold. Now three times the size, the dinner draws crowds from the local community and interstate.

“This year we’re bringing back the idea of showcasing local producers by providing hampers as part of the ticket price,” says Pamela Jewson, Secretary Maldon Eat Drink Events Inc.

“They’ll be packed with local delicacies including baguettes from LeSel, Harcourt cherries, chocolates from the Maldon Lolly Shop, cheese from Goldfields Farmhouse Cheese, southern fried free range chicken, beef and salads from the Spotted Cow, Miss Pritchards Pantry and The Gold Exchange Café. ”

The Twilight Dinner is historically a sell-out event but spectator tickets are still available so you don’t have to miss out on the atmosphere and entertainment. Why not book a table and have dinner at one of the town’s many restaurants, pubs and cafes?

The Maldon Twilight Dinner is on this Saturday 13 January. For more information, event tickets, or, for something extra special, a ticket to get there in style on the Victorian Goldfields Railway, call 0417 150 709.

Summer in the Goldfields: our top picks

We’re on holidays this week, spending time with friends and family and having a rest after a busy year. While we all like to travel we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to things to do over the summer right here at home.

Here are some of the ways we like to relax, cool off and have fun when we’re not busy selling houses!

On the water

Lake Cairn Curran is a great place to swim, fish, ski and sail. Image: Cairn Curran Sailing Club

Golden Point Reservoir is one of the most picturesque spots in the district (if you watched the ABC series Glitch you might just recognise this little beauty). Built in 1868 it’s a spot loved by locals for swimming, fishing, canoeing, walking, picnicking and just general lazing around and relaxing.

Turpins Falls is a little further from Castlemaine, a little trickier to access, but this deep pool with high rock wall sides is another favourite. It’s one of several waterfalls along the Campaspe River and when the falls are running there’s a great view from the lookout.

We’ve been enjoying summers on Lake Cairn Curran for generations. It’s home to the Cairn Curran Sailing Club and a super spot for water skiing, jet skiing, fishing (Golden Perch, Brown Trout, Murray Cod and Redfin) and swimming. On a balmy summer night there are few betters spots for fish and chips or a BBQ.

Like to spend your summer’s poolside? We have four Council-owned outdoor swimming pools located in Castlemaine, Harcourt, Maldon and Newstead and they’re open from December to March. Chewton also has a much-loved community-run pool open for the season.

Sharing great food and drinks

The newly re-opened Bridge Hotel in Castlemaine is a great place to spend a sunny afternoon. Image: The Bridge Hotel Castlemaine

Our many, award-winning wineries are great places to while away a summer afternoon, especially when visitors drop by. Sutton Grange, Harcourt Valley, Bress, Guildford, pick your favourite or make a weekend of it and see them all. Many also serve great food.

Summer picnics are popular, especially when there are kids around. We like to walk up Mount Alexander and enjoy a picnic with a view, settle under a tree in the Oak Forest at Harcourt or even just find a shady spot in the Botanical Gardens in Castlemaine or Maldon.

Speaking of food, there are a few new local places we’re all pretty keen to try while we have some down time. The new Ice Cream Social ice cream parlour in Castlemaine and the recently re-opened Bridge Hotel in Castlemaine and Red Hill Hotel in Chewton are high on the list.

Hopefully there’s a little inspiration here for you if you’re headed our way these holidays, but whatever you do and wherever you go we hope it’s happy, relaxing and safe. See you in 2018!

More car parks a great Christmas gift for commuters

If you’re considering a move to our region and think commuting back to the city for work will be a part of your tree change then you’d be happy to know the upgrade to the Castlemaine Railway Station has been completed in time for Christmas.

Part of the Victorian Government’s $20 million commitment to fund additional parking spaces at 16 stations on railway lines experiencing high growth in passenger numbers, Castlemaine now has 150 new commuter parking spaces, as well as new lighting, footpaths and security cameras.

The lure of a more relaxed country lifestyle continues to attract more people to our region and for many, a daily commute back to city is one of the trade-offs for a more relaxed and affordable way of life.

According to V/Line, more than 227,000 passenger trips were taken from Castlemaine in the 2016/17 financial year and the number of trips for the current financial year-to-date is already up five percent compared to the same period last year.

The Bendigo line remains among the top performers for punctuality and reliability on the V/Line network exceeding its reliability targets for the eighth consecutive month. And with 38 new weekly services, new trains added and now extra night coaches on the weekends, the travel options just keep getting better.

Regular commuter Marton Gross, who lives in Maldon and works in IT in Melbourne’s CBD says his 3 – 4 day a week commute fits easily into this life.

Marton carpools the 15 or so minutes between Maldon and Castlemaine with a group he’s met since moving here six years ago and says he’s found commuting a “really positive experience”.

“The service is reliable and comfortable and there are lots of options when it comes to choosing when to travel,” says Marton, who’s home for dinner with his family each night by 6.30 and says he’d never trade the joys of country living for city life again.

“You build the travel into your routine and it becomes part of it,” he says. “I’ve developed some really strong friendships with other commuters over the years and use the travel time to clear emails and tackle some work.”

“I think lots of people on the outskirts of Melbourne would have a similar daily travel time to me. The difference is they’re most likely stuck on a packed service without a seat. V/Line travel is totally different. The seats are big and comfortable and you always get one.”

There’s likely to be more good news for rail travellers in the next few months with detailed planning underway on the $91 million upgrade and improvement works on the Bendigo line as part of the Andrews Government’s Regional Rail Revival.

Visit www.vline.com.au to find out more.

 

 

Rental reforms continue to create debate

Housing affordability is a key focus at all levels of government. With one in four Victorians currently renting and pressure on the rental market likely to increase as property prices rise, the Victorian Government is reviewing the rules surrounding the rights and responsibilities of renters and landlords.

The Andrews Labor Government has announced significant reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act, which it says are designed to give renters greater powers and information.

The Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) has been vocal in its objections to many of the reforms, suggesting they lack balance and could have negative effects, including reducing landlord’s security over their investment and driving rental prices up.

“We would stress to all our landlords and tenants that these reforms are still proposed changes,” says Director of Leasing at Waller Realty, Narelle Waller.

“Obviously there is a significant drive for reform but it’s about finding the right balance between the needs of both landlords and tenants,” she says.

“We are monitoring the situation and we’re in touch with the REIV. We’re also available to speak with landlords, tenants and anyone considering an investment property in the area if they have questions.”

A full list of the proposed reforms can be found at www.vic.gov.au/rentfair

If you are a landlord or a renter there’s an option on the site for you to provide feedback on your experience and what you think the impact of the proposed changes might be on you and your family.

The Waller Realty team is dedicated to providing landlords and tenants with the best advice and care.

“At the moment it’s business as usual,” says Narelle. “The REIV will be working with the opposition and cross benchers going forward and we will make sure we keep our landlords and tenants up to date on the situation as it develops.”

 

Spring is on the menu in Castlemaine

Shake off winter and celebrate the abundance of the season at some of Castlemaine’s best (and newest) eateries.

Theatre Royal Castlemaine

The longest operating theatre on the mainland, the Theatre Royal recently opened their new restaurant, Bistro Lola, to complement their existing Espresso Bar.

Head chef Sarah Curwen-Walker describes Spring food as fresh and colourful. “Everything is lighter, brighter and more fragrant.”

A Spring menu must is the pan fried gnocchi with fresh spring vegetables like broad beans, peas, asparagus and the spectacular romanesco cauliflower and served with fresh horseradish, mint, mascarpone and garnished with beautiful pink and purple pea blossoms.

Freshness is key at this time of year so Sarah suggests making the most of our wonderful farmers markets and buying ingredients straight from the source.

Visit this Spring for pizza and wine specials, new films and exciting live music. Follow them on Instagram @bistrolola @theatreroyalcastlemaine on Facebook @theatreroyalcastlemaine or call 03 5472 1196.

Bress Wine, Cider & Produce

Crafting fine wines, ciders and produce using biodynamic practices, Bress welcome Spring each year with the re-opening of the Bress Kitchen.

Founder and Head Wine and Cider Maker, Adam Marks, describes Spring food as fresh and life affirming.

Broad beans are a favourite ingredient. Delicious raw, lightly blanched or cooked in the pod and a perfect match for another Spring staple, the Bress Kitchen overnight wood fire roasted 2 tooth lamb shoulder, which is served on a bed of broad beans sautéed in the lamb jus.

“I love lamb and with all the fresh grass about Spring lamb, and particularly 2-tooth lamb, has great flavour,” says Adam.

Join Adam for lunch on the last weekend of each month from October, starting with their fabulous spit roasted pork.

Follow them on Instagram @bresswinecider on Facebook @bresswinecider or call 03 5474 2262.

Fig Cafe

Each day the enticing display cabinet at Fig is filled with mouth watering, freshly baked cakes and pastries, platters laden with salads of seasonal vegetables and grains, and savoury delights.

Fresh is everything and the influences are broad, reflective of modern eating. Julia Bandelli, who co-owns the business with her mother Victoria Falconer, says as the season changes their menu moves away from roasted dishes to lighter foods like salads and raw foods.

The edame tartine, a charred sourdough base topped with vibrant green Japanese peas and drizzled with fresh olive oil screams Spring and raw or lightly pickled vegetable like zucchini and cauliflower deliver great flavour and texture.

“With the start of Spring comes the promise of delicious things like tomatoes, basil and stone fruit,” says Julia. “That’s the great thing about seasonal eating.”

Follow them on Instagram @figcastlemaine on Facebook @figcastlemaine or call 03 5472 5311.

 

Togs Place & Mulberrys Delicatessen

Known for great coffee and homemade food Togs Place is a family-friendly café with a roof top deck that’s one of the best spots in town on a sunny Spring morning.

The menu changes daily and in Spring it’s out with casseroles and in with dishes like pasta prima vera, light Spring minestrone soup and zingy Vietnamese chicken salad.

Next door is Mulberrys Delicatessen, stocking Australian and European cheeses, meats, house made products like chutneys and biscuits and eclectic gifts.

Manager Cas Davey’s pick for Spring is local soft goat cheese from small producers like Holy Goat in Sutton Grange.

“The goats have just kidded so the milk is abundant, sweet and light and this makes for a really delicious cheese,” she says. “Try pairing it with our smoked Harris Gravlax and New Zealand Oat Crackers for your next Spring party.”

Follow them on Instagram @mulberrysdeli on Facebook @togsplacecafe call Togs Place on 5470 5490 or Mulberrys on 5472 1652.

Cadillac Shack

Spring has brought a new American-inspired family-friendly eatery to Castlemaine. Cadillac Shack is the vision of Castlemaine locals, Graeme and Gilda Ayerst, who have transformed the Mostyn Street premises into a 100-seat diner.

Featuring burgers, ribs, fries, salads, sundaes, shakes and a range of freak-shakes (extreme milk shakes) as well as a more extensive international menu. The range of burgers on the menu was voted the best in Melbourne by The Age Good Food Guide 2014/15.

“One of our business partners runs a very successful restaurant in outer Melbourne and their award-winning burger range has been included on our menu,” says Graeme.

We can’t wait to try.

Follow them on Instagram @cadillac_shack on Facebook @cadillacshack or call 03 5416 1486.

 

Innovative small farming model developed in Harcourt

Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards meets with members of the Harcourt Organic Farming Alliance at the Finlay family farm in Harcourt.

Small-scale organic farming in the region received a boost last month with news that the Victorian Government would back development of a unique, collaborative farming model.

Hugh and Katie Finlay of Mount Alexander Fruit Gardens have a plan. They want to establish an alliance of small organic farmers on their Harcourt property, all running different, but complementary, enterprises.

Katie describes it as the “perfect collision of a range of problems”.

“Small-scale organic farming is risky,” she says. “With all the risk and the expenses usually carried by a single family.”

“We’ve often wondered whether there’s a better way we could farm that would share the risks, but also make better use of the resources. There are lots of dedicated, passionate people out there who want to run their own farming business, but the barriers, especially buying land, are prohibitive.”

The Finlays also have a succession issue to solve. They want to keep their orchard in production but take a much less active role. Their children don’t want to come home and run the farm but they don’t want to sell.

The Harcourt Organic Farming Alliance would give small organic farmers the opportunity to lease acreage on the Finlay’s Harcourt property. The Finlays hope that will include someone to lease their orchard so they can step back, oversee the alliance and give more of their energy to their online teaching business, Grow Great Fruit.

Hugh and Katie already have a successful lease arrangement in place with a market garden (where the idea of the Harcourt Organic Farming Alliance first began), and have now been joined by a micro-dairy and vermouth producer as they begin work on a Business Development Plan with backing from a $10,000 Regional Development Victoria grant.

They’ll use the funding and this development phase to lay the groundwork and establish the structure of the alliance. Investigating co-marketing opportunities, new products and how they can share resources to keep the cost of farming as low as possible.

“While there are lots of people share farming we don’t know of any arrangements with that extra layer of partnership agreement over the top,” says Katie.

“I’m a big believer in people owning their own business. I think you get much better buy in and people take it more seriously.”

Depending on the outcome of the development phase they hope to opt in to more funding for implementation and gain more partners.

“The environment is really changing,” says Katie. “The shift to alliances, collaborations and cooperatives is happening everywhere and both the State and Federal Governments have an appetite for funding these projects,” she says.

The business development plan will be completed by the end of the year and we look forward to seeing where it takes them.

 

Retro revival

Injecting older homes with a whole lot of style Part 3

Updating a home from the 70s, 80s or 90s might not sound as romantic as stripping back a little post-war weatherboard charmer, but there are lots of advantages, not the least of which is cost.

These homes offer excellent value for money. They’re less likely to need the big jobs like re-wiring or re-stumping and with their more modern open floor plans, simple, cosmetic upgrades can achieve big results.

For this story we’re lucky enough to be able to show you more of the transformation of a 1970s Castlemaine home purchased from Waller Realty in 2015. The house was in pretty bad shape when the owners bought it but as you can see, what they’ve been able to achieve is pretty spectacular.

Ask the experts

In the first two parts of this story we looked at using landscaping to modernise and soften exteriors, opening up the floor plan and using simple materials like paint to bring in more light and things to consider when it comes to the electrics. This time, Lynne Mewett, Interior Designer and Principal at Creative Ambience shares her ideas.

“Homes from these eras don’t generally have any task lighting,” says Lynne. “This is a real focus in modern homes so it’s a great place to start, especially in the kitchen.”

Ambient or general lighting provides overall illumination while task lighting, as the name suggests, helps you perform specific tasks like cooking and food preparation, reading, working, etc.

“Adding recessed, pendant or under cabinet lighting over work surfaces can provide an instant lift,” says Lynne

Task lighting has been used to great effect in the Castlemaine home. Work surfaces are suddenly brighter and more inviting to use, even with the addition of extra overhead cupboards.

Speaking of cupboards, Lynne suggests keeping a kitchen intact, if the carcass is good, and updating by painting or replacing door and drawer fronts, changing splashbacks from tile to glass and adding new bench tops.

“Updating a dark, laminate bench top to a light stone will not only provide a beautiful work surface it will also bring in more light, especially if you add glass splash back and task lighting,” she says.

The owners at Castlemaine have gone for a combination of approaches, replacing door fronts, adding some new cabinetry, changing tiles and giving everything a fresh coat of paint. What a difference!

Changing window furnishings is another trick Lynne relies on to make a big difference without a big price tag.

“The tendency in these eras was to have drapes, which, while fabulous insulators, add volume and can make a room appear smaller,” she says. “These days most people prefer blinds or shutters.”

What’s needed depends on the room. You want as much light as possible in living areas, while for bedrooms and bathrooms privacy is the top priority. Thankfully, there are blinds to suit pretty much any specification.

Holland or Roller blinds are both space and cost effective. The images below show the difference replacing drapes with these blinds can make.

“The great thing about these houses is that most of them have good bones,” says Lynne. “They’re open plan, they have things like alfresco areas and ensuites and these are exactly what people want in a modern home today.”

We agree Lynne! So, don’t be daunted by first appearances. See beyond the dated fittings and daggy finishes and visualise these homes as they could be. With a little ingenuity and some hard work you might just uncover the home of your dreams.

Take a look at our current listings and see if you can find one for yourself.

Follow up with Part 1 and Part 2 of this story here.

Maldon Primary: balancing academics and wellbeing

Maldon Primary grade prep/one students working on some fun maths games in class. Image supplied by Maldon Primary School.

Deciding where to send your kids to school can be agonising, especially if you’re moving to a new town. In the Mount Alexander Shire we offer everything from state to Steiner education and from tiny one class schools to large contemporary colleges.

We thought we’d drop in and ask the schools to share what makes them unique. First up, Maldon Primary.

“Maldon Primary is a warm and friendly place to send your child,” says Principal, Jodie Mengler.

Jodie has been at Maldon for 19 years, five as principal, and says the school, which currently has enrolments of 94 students, is strong in both academics and student wellbeing.

In 2016 Maldon was named in the top five most improved primary schools in Australia based on data shared on the Federal Government’s, My Schools website.

“We’ve been on a huge improvement journey over the last three years implementing programs to ensure every child is able to reach their full potential and thrive,” she says.

The Kids as Catalyst Program, an innovative, child-led social change program for grades 4 – 6 children, is one she’s particularly proud of.

“The kids work like mini philanthropists, developing partnerships with community groups, working out what they need and implementing a project,” she says.

“Children often find it hard to step into the shoes of others,” Jodie adds. “With Catalyst they identify and solve real problems and learn how rewarding giving back can be.”

The school has recently worked with the Maldon Men’s Shed, Maldon Pre-School and the local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). A group this year is working with Maldon Hospital to introduce animals for therapy.

Maldon Primary School main building

When you visit the school you can’t help but be wowed by the grounds. Whether it’s AFL, soccer, playing in sand, in the music garden, feeding the chooks or the fish, working in the vegie garden (where the children regularly harvest and cook meals to share), using the fitness equipment or just dragging branches to build cubbies, the opportunities for play are vast.

The school buildings reflect the heritage and history of the town (Australia’s first Notable Town) but look inside and you’ll discover thoroughly contemporary learning spaces thanks to over half a million dollars of building upgrades which have just been completed.

“It’s all about creating an environment where the children love coming to school and where parents know their children will be happy and safe,” says Jodie.

“The partnerships we have with parents and the wider community are so important to us. We want families to be part of the school community and know that we value their input into their child’s education.”

Like to know more? Visit Maldon Primary School, call 03 5475 1484 or email maldon.ps@edumail.vic.gov.au

 

 

Census 2016: our region is growing and the way we live is changing

The 2016 Census has been released, providing the latest data on Australia’s population – who we are, where we live, how we live and much, much more. So what does this snapshot of the nation reveal about those of us who live in the Mount Alexander Shire and how have we changed since the last census in 2011?

There are more of us

More people still live in our capital cities, which are growing twice as fast as the rest of the country, but regional areas are also experiencing rapid growth.

The number of people in the Mount Alexander Shire has grown by nearly 7 per cent since 2011, from 17,591 to 18,761.

That’s a similar rate to our neighbours in the popular Hepburn Shire, but outstrips the growth in places like the LaTrobe, Yarra Ranges and Colac Shires, all comparable distances from Melbourne, by several per cent.

Affordability is still high

Housing affordability is a hot topic across the country. High buyer demand and limited supply continues to drive prices upward and most people are feeling the pinch, particularly if they’re living in a capital city.

In 2016 people in our region spent an average of $1,300 a month on their mortgage.

That’s more than $400 less than the state average of $1,728 and significantly lower than the average monthly mortgage in popular Melbourne suburbs such as Northcote, Coburg, Prahran and Essendon, which range from $2,000 – $2,167.

 If you’re looking to buy property in one of the towns in our region such as Castlemaine or Maldon this is good news.

 The way we live is changing

While the majority of homes in the shire are still separate houses the 2016 Census shows an increase in other types of dwellings such as semi-detached homes and townhouses.

The number of semi-detached, terrace or townhouses in the shire has more than doubled in the last five years.

“The trend towards more concentrated, medium density living in towns like Castlemaine and Maldon reflects changes we are seeing all over the country,” says Waller Realty Agent, Tom Robertson.

“More people in our region are choosing to build and live in smaller homes for reasons of convenience, for cost and, in many cases, to reduce their environmental impact. We expect to see this shift in thinking continue to grow in the next few years.”

Additional details from the Census are due to be released in October 2017. This includes information on employment and income.

Maldon goes plastic bag free

It’s estimated one trillion plastic bags are used and discarded every year worldwide. The Maldon community is taking a stand against waste, joining 30 other towns in the Loddon Mallee region to become a Plastic Bag Free Town.

Australians use over 10 million new plastic bags every day. Each bag can take up to 1,000 years to break down, meaning that every plastic bag ever produced is still in a landfill. Those that are blown away, dumped or littered end up in water systems and, ultimately, in the ocean where they are thought to be responsible for killing more than one million seabirds and 100,000 mammals every year.

The Loddon Mallee Waste and Resource Recovery Group (LMWRRG) and Maldon Inc have been working with stores throughout Maldon to help them become plastic bag free. The group says owners, managers and the general public have been hugely supportive throughout the transition process.

“We strongly encourage all Maldon residents to support the town traders and remember to take their reusable bags,” says Karen Fazzani, Executive Officer LMWRRG.

“Every effort in this regard helps protect the environment from damage plastic bags can cause especially when they take such a long time to break down.”

Stores that previously supplied plastic bags have been provided with a recycled paper alternative and re-usable calico bags will be available throughout the town. Boomerang Bags have also recently become available.

It’s hoped that as time goes on people will start to bring their own re-usable bags when they shop, removing the need for retailers to supply a bag altogether. To get everyone in the swing of things, throughout July people can enter the draw to win a hamper worth $250 every time they shop in Maldon with their re-usable bags.

“One of the actions in our Council Plan is to support Maldon and other communities to be plastic bag free, says Sharon Telford, Mayor of Mount Alexander Shire. “As a Maldon local, it’s fantastic for us to be the first plastic bag free town in Mount Alexander Shire.”

“Reusable bags are a simple and effective way that we can all reduce our impact on the environment. It’s small decisions that have a lasting impact and I’m very proud of our community for taking this step.”

The team at the Waller Realty office in Maldon are extremely supportive of the initiative and praised local traders for their commitment to protecting the environment.

“Becoming a Plastic Bag Free Town will make Maldon an even more appealing place to live and we congratulate everyone involved,” says Waller Realty’s Leah Panos.

From 70s relic to contemporary stunner

Injecting older homes with a whole lot of style Part 2

Do you dream of turning a rambling farmhouse into the quintessential country retreat or dragging a creaking Victorian into the present day with a sleek, modern makeover?

When we think of renovating it’s often these homes that come to mind. Highly sought after (with a price tag to match), with ageing wiring, stumps and dated layouts, costs for these fixer-uppers can skyrocket before anyone’s even started swinging a hammer.

So what about tackling a home from a less popular era like the 70s, 80s or 90s? Could there be one tucked just around the corner from that dreamy California Bungalow crying out to be updated?

While they might not have the initial street appeal these homes can really shine with a little love and offer excellent value for money.

Ask the experts

In Part 1 of this story we heard from Wayne Zantuck of Wayne Zantuck Design and Landscape Construction. Now, Dugald Campbell from Edifice Construction and Adrian Kowal from Kowelec share their ideas.

We’re also lucky enough to be able to show you the transformation of a 1970s Castlemaine home purchased from Waller Realty in 2015. From 70s relic to sleek, contemporary home.

“I think the best place to start with homes of these eras is by opening up the floor plan,” says Dugald. “This will bring in more light and create living spaces more in line with current trends.”

“One of the great thing about these homes is that the trusses usually extend to the external walls so removing internal walls isn’t an issue, ” he adds.

Dugald also suggests using skylights and solar tubes to bring in more light and one of the simplest renovation options of all – paint!

For our 70s transformation everything from the walls and lintels to door jambs has been given a coat of bright white and the change is striking.

Princess st Dining

Electrics can be a significant cost when renovating. Adrian says cabling in these homes is generally in good condition and won’t require re-wiring.

“We tend to find most fittings are compliant and safe and if switchboards do need to be upgraded it’s a pretty easy job,” he says.

Both Adrian and Dugald recommend checking how much power is at the property as mains may need to be upgraded if renovations include adding swimming pools or large air conditioning units.

Bathrooms are often a sticking point in houses of this era. Dated and dingy, gutting them is often seen as the only option. But with some simple changes like new tiles and taps, a bit of re-grouting and paint they can be brought back to life.

See the transformation above. New vanity, taps and toilet and suddenly this dated relic is looking right on trend.

When it comes to bathrooms no one likes to share. Homes of this era are more likely to have an ensuite than your ageing Edwardian and, while it might not be the one of your dreams, Dugald says this can be a real advantage.

“Cosmetic changes like replacing old style shower bases and screens with modern walk-in showers and updating tired tiles and vanities can all be done for a lot less than the cost of adding a new bathroom,” he says. “When it comes to managing a budget this can be a real advantage.”

Next time, local interior decorator, Lynne Mewett from Creative Ambience shares some ideas for simple upgrades in the kitchen and living areas.

Renovation images by @lynchmobmedia