2013 Annual General Meeting

On Thursday 28th November 2013 Friends of Banyule held its Annual General Meeting.

Guest Speakers were Graeme Speers together with Janine Rizzetti of the Heidelberg Historical Society.

The theme of the evening was: Campaigning to protect our Heritage and investment in Public Transport solutions.  Graeme and Janine provided an excellent address on the history of Banyule House, which was the subject of a recent successful campaign by Friends of Banyule, Heidelberg Historical Society and residents, together with Council, to oppose the subdivision of the Homestead, and construction of two town  houses in its grounds. The campaign culminated in a decision by VCAT to uphold Councils decision, supported by our combined groups and residents, rejecting  the proposal.      

Graeme and Janine's address provided an overview of the history of Banyule House and its significance  to the community. It is the property after which the City of Banyule is named and is greatly cherished by residents and those familiar with its imposing facade. Built in 1846 it is one of the oldest houses in Victoria and as cited in its heritage listing, as one of the few remaining examples of a pre gold rush gentleman's residence, still enjoying much of its original views and vistas. Standing in a prominent position on the Banyule Flats escarpment, it is a key feature in that landscape. This is a location where the built and natural environments intersect, coming together in a striking relationship, one complementing the other.

The campaign was significant also as an example of the community acting together to protect its heritage, whether built or natural.                      

Investment in public transport solutions is a key part of Friends of Banyule's continuing campaign to oppose the proposed North East Link through our parlkand including Banyule Flats Reserve and supporting Doncaster Rail and other more cost effective, simpler transport solutions. Ian Hundley gave a brief address on the "Public Transport not Traffic campaign" - "What Should Melbourne's Transport Future Look Like?" This project is one involving combined community groups across Melbourne and will publicise the current critical state of public transport and lack of an integrated transport  approach. It will run everyday until the state election on 29th of November 2014. The website address for this initiative is: www.PTNT.org  

Friends or Banyule's position on transport includes opposition to the proposed East West Link, which if built will include adding of additional lanes to the Eastern Freeway at Hoddle Street, thereby making the building of Doncaster Rail along the freeway reserve in future (for which it was originally designed) virtually impossible.     

Mary Merkenich talked about the forthcoming Rally organised by YCAT and other groups in opposition to East west Link on Sunday December 15th in the park on  Alexander Parade - near Corner of Napier St Fitzroy, encouraging all to attend.

Various thanks were extended to Marion for her sterling efforts as President over the past five years. Thanks went also to Kristina Bucak for her excellent work as Treasurer over recent years. Our new Treasurer Pauline Behan, was welcomed  to the Steering Committee. Pauline has been a member of Friends of Banyule since 2010.  

A special thanks was extended also to John D'Aloia, of Warringal Conservation Society. WCS have paid for hire of the Old Shire Offices where our monthly meetings and AGM's are held and continue to support Friends of Banyule in many other ways. Friends of Banyule and Warringal Conservation Society will continue their collaborative efforts on campaigns, activities and public submissions into the future.               

Thanks also go to all Friends of Banyule members, those attending our various meetings and forums and those volunteering to assist us in a range of from handing out leaflets, to letter boxing, assisting with stalls and generally providing us with a much needed helping hand. We could not do our work without you. Thank you to Alex who has done a great job with maintaining our website and social media platforms!          

A welcome was also extended to new members, Greta and Monique who have been involved in campaigning for the environment, better public transport etc as part of Transition Towns 3081.   

The next meeting of the Steering Committee will be in the last week of January in the New Year. Thanks again to all, wishing you an enjoyable and safe festive period and look forward to working with you in 2014.

Dennis O'Connell

Friends of Banyule



Campaigning to protect our heritage and parklands and investment in public transport solutions

Banyule House is a location where the built and natural environments intersect,  coming together in a striking relationship, one complementing the other. This however will all be devastated if the proposal for the North East Link tollway proceeds as is the case now with East West Link. As a community we must stand together to protect our heritage and fight for a sustainable future for Melbourne, investment in public transport solutions and not more tollways.

At our Annual General Meeting our guest speaker Graeme Speers from the Heidelberg Historical Society will explore the rich history of Banyule House further. And we will talk to about why it is of utmost importance to continue the fight for the protection of our heritage, our parklands and for investment in public transport solutions.


About our Guest Speakers

Graeme Speers



Graeme Speers
President, Heidelberg Historical Society

Graeme has been the President of the Heidelberg Historical Society since 2005. Since then Graeme and his colleagues have worked to construct a strong, efficient and effective resource for local history, one that will continue long into the future. The Society recently joined Friends of Banyule and concerned residents to save the heritage listed Banyule House from subdivision.

In his professional career Graeme was a foundation member of the RMIT University Council when RMIT gained that status in 1993. Graeme was Chief Librarian at Preston Institute of Technology becoming Associate Librarian at Philip Institute of Technology in 1982. He became a member of the governing Council of the Institute in 1984.

He is passionate about the area first living in West Heidelberg in 1954, then moving to Eltham in 1963 and returning to Heidelberg Heights in 1980. Graeme joined the Heidelberg Historical Society in 2003 after presenting a study of the history of his property in Dresden Street from the time of the first land sales in 1838. He then joined the Management Committee in 2004 and was elected President in 2005.  

To read more about the Heidelberg Historical Society, click


Janine Rizetti

Janine Rizetti
Secretary, Heidelberg Historical Society

Janine Rizzetti has lived in the Heidelberg area and surrounding suburbs since she was six, attending Heidelberg Primary School and Banyule High School.  She taught at Thornbury High School before moving to the TAFE sector where she worked in adult literacy and Koorie education.  She was a curriculum developer and educational designer at NMIT and RMIT. 

She is currently a Ph D candidate at La Trobe University.  Her thesis deals with Judge John Walpole Willis who served as Supreme Court Judge in Upper Canada, British Guiana, Sydney and Port Phillip between 1827-1843, and with the slightest encouragement she will wax lyrical about this early, controversial Heidelberg resident. She joined the management committee of Heidelberg Historical Society in 2007 and has acted as secretary since 2011.

About our recent campaign to save Banyule House

In a recent campaign by Friends of Banyule, Heidelberg Historic Society and residents, culminating in a decision by the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), the tribunal upheld Council's decision refusing a permit for subdivision of the heritage listed Banyule House (c1846) and construction of two double storey and one three storey contemporary town houses in its grounds.

This is a location where the built and natural environments intersect,  coming together in a striking relationship, one complementing the other.

On the escarpment overlooking the Banyule Flats wetlands for which Council are seeking a heritage listing, stands Banyule Homestead, one of the few remaining pre gold rush gentleman's residences, still in its original setting and largely retaining its original views and vistas to and from the Yarra River.

This is a good example of residents, community groups and Council coming together to protect our common heritage. We are fortunate in Banyule to have such a rich cultural, historic and natural heritage in terms of the built as well as the natural environment. The area along this section  the Yarra, is the birthplace of two of Australia's most significant art movements. The areas around Banyule Flats, Warringal Park and Sills Bend and various other locales where the Heidelberg School, Mc Cubbin, Conder, Streeton et al painted, while across the river at Heide Gallery at Bulleen, the Modernists, Nolan, Tucker, etc, the Australian Modernists. Nolan's original Ned Kelly series was painted there.

So we can see the significance of this area along the Middle Yarra and its importance to the community, the state and more widely, the nation's history and heritage.

This however will all be devastated if the proposal for the North East Link tollway proceeds as is the case now with East West Link. As community we must stand together to protect our heritage and fight for a sustainable future for Melbourne and investment in public transport solutions and not more tollways.

To read more about the Trains not Toll Roads Campaign, click.

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