Layla battles rare illness

The family of a little Frankston girl is hoping to raise awareness of the rare disease that has kept her in hospital for the past two months.

Six-month-old Layla suffers from biliary atresia, which affects one in 18,000 Australian newborns each year and results in bile becoming trapped in the liver, culminating in liver failure.  Layla was diagnosed with the disease at seven weeks and a week later underwent an operation to join her bowel to her liver so the bile could drain away.  However, the operation was unsuccessful and she remains in the Royal Children's Hospital awaiting a transplant.

Her father, Andrew Saxon, said Layla needed to get to 8kg so there was more chance of finding a donor.

Layla’s grandfather, Terry Saxon, said Andrew and his partner, Aleisha, had been overwhelmed by the support shown by friends, well-wishers and groups such as the Southern Districts Rugby Club, and urged people to contact DonateLife and consider becoming organ donors.  Andrew also thanked friend Meg Ward, “who has been a massive support in setting up a gofundme and also setting up a mini auction to help raise funds for Layla”.

You can follow Layla’s progress on

Back to the drawing board

Registered architects and urban designers have been invited to create their vision for the new Frankston station.

The State Government has launched a national design competition in two stages: initially, entrants will be asked to anonymously propose a “big picture” vision for the station.  Up to five entrants will then be invited to take part in stage two of the competition, each receiving $40,000 to further develop their designs.  The winner will be engaged as the project architect for the first phase of the $90 million station redevelopment. 

A judging panel “will be looking for an intelligent, sensitive and highly functional design”, the competition brief states.  “The successful design will (be) one that is both architecturally ambitious and intelligently frugal.”

Entries for stage one close on November 18; all entries will be exhibited from November 28-December 9.  Shortlisted entrants for stage two will be announced on December 13, and the winner will be announced on March 27 next year.  


Noah turns the tables on hunger

A young boy with a big heart is helping families in Frankston put fresh, healthy food on the table – for free.

Mel Hutchins and her son, Noah, had always given away any excess garden produce they grew.  But when Noah, who was 10, saw a TV news item about a Food Is Free program in Ballarat, he wanted to make things “official”.

“Whenever we’d had anything to spare we’d sit it out the front of the house in a bucket or he’d take it into school and give it to his teachers or his schoolmates.  He’s always been very sharing.  When he saw the news he said, ‘Mum, can we do that here?’  So we went and got some old pallets and banged together a couple of tables and put them out the front.”

That was about a year ago, and Noah’s little project has grown in leaps and bounds since then.  “We made a Facebook page and let everyone know it was there.  People leave comments and sometimes there’s little notes left in the letterbox, which has been really nice as well.  If we’re out there ourselves, people always stop and have a chat, and Noah loves that - he loves gardening and seeing people when they come by and either leave some of their garden produce or to pick up something kindly left by another.  He has a really big heart.”

Anyone with excess garden produce is welcome to add it to Noah’s tables.

A: 13 O'Grady Ave, Frankston


Free family fun day

From kite-making to face-painting, there’s a heap of free fun for all ages at the Community Kinders Plus family fun day at Overport Park on Sunday, October 23.

Bring your picnic rug and a basket and enjoy live music, workshops, entertainment, sporting activities, painting, a petting zoo and a whole lot more as part of the Children’s Week event from 11am-2pm.  Children can meet their heroes from the CFA, SES and police; and although entry and all the activities are free, bring along a little money for a coffee, pikelets and the sausage sizzle.

The fun day, in its second year, will showcase Frankston kindergartens and promote the importance of early learning.

Overport Park is at 159 Overport Rd, Frankston South.

Carnegie coup for Peninsula choir

From Leonard Bernstein to The Beatles, New York’s Carnegie Hall has hosted some of the biggest names in music.  In three months the Mornington Peninsula Chorale will join them.
The choir has been invited to take part in a performance of Welsh musician and composer Karl Jenkins’ Requiem on January 15 as part of Distinguished Concerts International New York City’s Concert Series.

Fifty-one of the choir’s 100 members will spend seven days and eight nights in New York, performing at Carnegie Hall and in a church in Manhattan, in what choir convenor Judi McKee says will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The choir has performed several of Jenkins’ works in the past after seeking his permission to do so, and Judi believes he probably put the choir’s name forward for the Requiem performance.
“We received a call from DCINY inviting us to audition for the performance – Carnegie Hall is very discerning about the quality of performances.  Our audition was fantastic – we performed an excerpt from Felix Mendelsohn’s Elijah under the banner of choir director Tom Buchanan, which we sang earlier this year.  An audio-visual contractor filmed the performance, which was sent to DCINY and they were impressed.”

DCINY artistic director and principal conductor Dr Jonathan Griffith described the choir as “wonderful musicians deserving of the community’s recognition and support”.

Judi says each choir member will have to find a “bare minimum” of $4500, which includes rehearsal costs as well as travel and accommodation expenses, but it’s an experience that far outrivals anything in the choir’s 30-plus-year history.  “To walk in the steps of some of those famous singers who have performed at Carnegie Hall will be incredible.”

Karl Jenkins found fame as a member of the highly influential jazz-rock ensemble Soft Machine before releasing a string of vocalise-style albums, movie scores, and compositions for the likes of Kiri Te Kanawa and the London Symphony Orchestra.  He received the OBE in 2005 for services to music.

To donate to the choir’s expenses, visit

Experience the difference

Experience counts for a lot in business, and real estate is certainly no exception.

For the past 80 years, four generations of the Austin family have been helping buyers, sellers and renters in the Frankston and Seaford areas with all their property matters.  The original business was opened by George Austin and followed on by his son Des.  It was sold in 1977, the same year that Robert bought the Seaford office.
Robert joined the LJ Hooker franchise group in 1989 and has been trading in Seaford ever since.

Robert’s daughter Marnie has now become the officer in effective control at the Seaford office and runs the property management department.  Robert still works in the sales department and has a good strong knowledge of the area.
Anyone who is thinking of buying, selling or renting in the near future would do well to contact either Rob or Marnie for professional and friendly advice.

A: 112A Nepean Highway, Seaford
T: 9785 3888

Let’s gather in celebration

Frankston groups, businesses and residents are invited to celebrate everything that’s great about their city at The Long Lunch on Wells.

From 11.30am-4.30pm on Sunday, November 6, Wells St will come alive with buskers, clowns, magicians, children’s entertainment, and the best food, wine and beer from Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula.

The community festival is being organised by Proudly Frankston and follows the resounding success of the organisation’s Long Lazy Lunch at Frankston Park, which over three years has featured acts ranging from the Frankston High School Stage Band to James Morrison and has raised money for such charities as Menzies Caring For Kids, Peninsula Health and Frankton Homeless Support Services.

The aim of this festival, however, isn’t to make money – although Proudly Frankston will consider using any surplus from the Long Lunch on Wells to provide “street enhancements” in conjunction with Frankston City Council to liven up the city square.  According to Proudly Frankston secretary Kevin Johnson, its purpose is bringing the Frankston community together and “feeling good about where we live”.

“Our Long Lunch on Wells will replicate the long-celebrated and traditional community ‘long dinners’ around the town squares in French and other European provincial towns and cities, where patrons provide their own food,” Kevin says. “Our aim is to have 1000 citizens in our city square.”

Proudly Frankston is inviting schools, community groups, sporting and service clubs and indigenous and diverse multicultural communities to join in the Long Lunch on Wells, which as well as supporting business owners will celebrate the 50th anniversaries of Frankston being declared a city and the Frankston Football Club’s entry to the VFA/VFL. Wells St traders are being encouraged to open on the day, and Proudly Frankston is approaching Hoyts to screen selected movies for teens and ‘tweenies’.

As Kevin says: “It’s all about Frankston people enjoying their city.”

Race the wind

If sailing appeals to you but you’re not keen on getting your feet wet, land sailing could be just what you’re looking for.

Victorian Blokart Association vice-president Tim Vance says the sport is perfect for families, young or old, able-bodied or wheelchair-bound, and the association is on the lookout for new members.

Tim, from Langwarrin, had been sailing Hobie catamarans for more than 25 years when illness forced him in 2010 to turn to land sailing.  He found the New Zealand-designed blokart – lightweight, manoeuvrable, perfect for urban areas – ideal, and with former Frankston resident Russ Whitehouse and Brian Campbell, of Mt Dandenong, they established the VBA.

“We have had family members come along and have such great times.  Parents find it amazing to sail alongside the children and have fun chasing one another.  The kids love beating mum or dad around the track, and both the parents’ and kids’ faces say it all.

“The blokart is also open to people who are wheelchair-bound, giving them the opportunity to sail a land yacht and race against able-bodied people on an even level.”

The blokart packs down into a suitcase-size bag and weighs less than 36kg fully rigged.  There are two classes: Production, which is straight out of the box, and Performance, which includes extras such as a carbon-fibre mast.  A Production-class blokart starts at $3900.

With the majority of its members living in the southeastern suburbs, the association has been keen to find land to establish a local track – but despite approaches to Frankston, Casey, Kingston and Mornington Peninsula Shire councils, it has been frustrated.  Finally it turned to the western suburbs, and Melton Council came to the party with the offer of a parcel of land at its MacPherson Park sports ground.  Now the VBA can concentrate on events such as the 2016 Victorian State Championships, which it will host at Melton, and growing its membership.  As Tim says: “The future of blokart is just taking off.”

If you’d like to give land sailing a go, the VBA has blokarts for hire at its Melton track.  Visit  or

All roads lead to street food festival

Lovers of fine food will be in piggy heaven next month when Frankston’s Waterfront comes alive for the Seaside Street Food Festival.

From October 12-16, a rotating roster of gourmet cuisine, craft beer, cider and wine and live entertainment will feature at the festival, part of Frankston City Council’s inaugural Tourism Event Attraction Program. 

A highlight of the festival will be the Food Truck Park, the home of Melbourne street food.  An initiative to help grow the mobile food industry, the Food Truck Park is managed by the Australian Mobile Food Vendors Group and includes a host of food trucks to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.

Director Frank Rusitovski said he was “delighted” to bring the Food Truck Park to a new destination and expected it would be a huge success for the community as well as tourism in the region.

Frankston Mayor James Dooley said the festival and the Tourism Event Attraction Program would strengthen Frankston’s reputation for hosting successful major events that enhance the lifestyle of residents and attract visitors from across the state. “These new events are set to bring Frankston City alive, further enhancing Frankston’s status as a must-see destination for tourism and events on the Mornington Peninsula and within Victoria.”

The festival opens on Wednesday, October 12, from 5-10pm, and continues from Thursday, October 13, to Sunday, October 16, from 11am-10pm.  Entry is free.

Beach cleaners on patrol

3199 Frankston Beach Patrol is holding a series of beach clean-ups over the next two months. 

On Saturday, September 17, from 10am, members will meet at Wells St beach near Waves On The Beach to pick up rubbish between Palm Court and Kananook Creek.  On Saturday, October 15, at 10am, the focus will be Long Island beach (follow the path to the beach near Long Island Tennis Club), and on Saturday, November 19, at 10am, they will meet at the southern end of the Olivers Hill boat ramp carpark.

To register for the clean-ups, go to and complete your details. This ensures you are covered by insurance and enables you to be kept informed of future events.  After the clean-up, members are invited to unwind at the Dharma Hub, opposite Frankston Hi-Fi on the Nepean Highway.

Bring gloves, a bottle of water and reusable shopping bags to collect the rubbish, and wear sturdy footwear.  Children under 16 are welcome but must remain under adult supervision at all times.

When you gotta go

For scores of families making the long trek from Melbourne to the Peninsula in the 1950s and ‘60s, the sight of Frankston’s comfort station was a huge relief. 

It marked the midway point between the city and the holiday towns of Sorrento and Portsea, so it was an ideal stopping point whether heading south or north.

“In those days you’d often have a packed lunch with you in the car, and where the carpark is now used to be all grass, so that’s where you’d sit to have your lunch,” Frankston Historical Society president Glenda Viner recalls.  “There also used to be a burger shop and ice cream shop near the comfort station, and an ice cream is what you got if you’d been good in the car.”

It would cost a penny to use the toilets (older readers might remember the phrase “spend a penny”) and there was a woman who worked there at weekends and collected the money.  But the comfort station served more than just the most obvious purpose – it was a meeting place too.

“It was the centre of town and a place where boys met girls, especially if you were going to the beach because it was the only toilet,” Glenda says.  “But you weren’t allowed to wear bikinis on the main street, so if Rex the (beach) patroller caught you, he made you go back to the beach and cover up.”

The historical society fought successfully to save the comfort station as Frankston grew around it, and now it serves as a functioning reminder of days gone by.

Peninsula rules, says Johanna - By Liz Rogers

Johanna Griggs loves the water.  She grew up on Freshwater Beach, 17km from Sydney’s centre, received a bronze medal at the 1990 Commonwealth Games for backstroke and frequently films such shows as Channel 7’s Better Homes and Gardens and House Rules near waterways.  That’s where we come in, because the Mornington Peninsula is one of Johanna’s favourite surf, sand and wide open spaces places.

“The beaches on the south coast are much more spacious,” she says. “Sydney is so built up. Peninsula people seem very relaxed. They make eye contact and are ready for a chat. The locals in Tootgarook (House Rules with Claire and Hagan) were so friendly. They were incredibly welcoming and kept mum about the show until it was ready to air. The food was fantastic too.

“We’ve showcased the most beautiful architecture on the Peninsula in Better Homes and Gardens. The top three that come to mind are The Letterbox House at Blairgowrie and The Klein Bottle House by Mcbride Charles Ryan and the St Andrews Beach House by Sean Godsell.”

Johanna is one busy lady. Between her sports commentating commitments (the Rio Olympics and Paralympics), Better Homes and Gardens, House Rules and writing articles for New Idea and the Better Homes and Gardens magazines, she also runs a construction company with her husband, Todd.  “It’s great because I get ideas from the shows and can also visualise what the contestants in House Rules need to do because of my experience in construction.  I love what I do so it doesn’t feel like work, but I do need some downtime sometimes.

“We have a cattle farm (in the Lower Hunter Valley) where we escape to. I can just wander off and talk to the cows - they are excellent listeners!”

Mt Eliza mum vies for The Bachelor’s heart

Alex Nation is a young mum from Mt Eliza, a model and venue manager at Benitos Restaurant Bar & Reception in Mt Eliza. She’s also a Bachelorette.

The secret is officially out. On July 27 the bubbly 24-year-old was introduced to the nation as a contestant on season four of Network Ten’s top rating reality show ‘The Bachelor Australia’. By now, fans would recognise her as the venue manager from the Mornington Peninsula in the sparkling green gown on Episode One. Many fans are already speculating that she is in with a red hot chance to win Richie Strahan’s heart.

Frankly Frankston interviewed Alex ahead of the July 27 premiere and while she couldn’t talk about the outcome, she shared some insights into why she nominated and how the 22 girls, aged between 23 and 34, got along in the mansion.

For the record, viewers can expect some “crazy dynamics between the girls” that’s worth tuning in for in its own right. “It’s a house full of girls who have so many different personalities and we’re all different,” Alex explains. “For the most part, I got along with nearly everyone. When it came to the drama, I tried to stay out of it as much as possible.”

Richie takes centre stage as the bachelor looking for love, after last year starring on ‘The Bachelorette Australia’ where he failed to win Sam Frost’s heart in the emotional penultimate episode and left the mansion without a rose.

Enter Alex, mother to Elijah, 5, who has always followed her head and has decided it is now time to follow her heart. She is looking for a down-to-earth man who can

make her laugh and doesn’t take life too seriously. And, although it’s hard to believe, she had never watched an episode of The Bachelor until she signed up!

“I’d never seen The Bachelor or The Bachelorette because I don’t watch much telly. My girlfriends love the show. I went in pretty blind,” she said. An advertisement for the show popped up on her screen while she was checking out news on Network Ten online: “It was a spontaneous decision!” she said.

Alex is keeping her cards close, but describes her experience on the show as a positive one. “It’s interesting dating someone along with 21 other girls,” she said. “I absolutely loved the experience.” Season four of The Bachelor airs on Channel 10 at 7.30pm Wednesdays and Thursdays.

For more check out FB (, Instagram (@TheBachelorAU), Twitter (@TheBachelorAU) and

Statue tribute to fabulous Fammo

There are people who keep fighting even when the odds are against them, and then there are those who give up. Frankston resident and former world featherweight boxing title-holder Johnny Famechon is part of the former group.

This King of Moomba and inductee into the Australia Sport Hall of Fame, World Boxing Hall of Fame, Frankston Hall of Fame and Legend Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame just keeps going.

“The first fight is the biggest,” he explains. “There are no more nerves after that. You’ve got to knock them out before they get you.

“I knew boxing was for me when I punched the bag for the first time at 16.  Ambrose Palmer (trainer) got me ready.”

Jean-Pierre Famechon was born in Paris in 1945 and grew up in Melbourne.  He won 56 of his 67 featherweight bouts and drew six.  “I don’t like draws. You want to win,” he insists.

Then he got hit by a car while jogging in Sydney in 1991. It took him seven years to recover with the help of wife Glenys and clinical counsellor Ragnar Purjie. He’s also written two autobiographies (Fammo and The Method).

Gary Luscombe, a supporter of the Johnny Famechon Statue Project, which is assisting the Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame to raise $128,000 to complete and erect a 2.1m bronze statue of Johnny in Ballam Park Frankston, says: “Johnny is a Frankston and Australian sporting legend.”

Log on to to donate directly or find out more by calling Gary on 0433 712 323.  They need $42,700 to seal the deal.

Lots of love for livability

Frankston residents have given their city the tick of approval in Local Government Victoria’s annual Community Satisfaction Survey.

The 400 residents chosen at random for the 2016 survey rated Frankston 90 out of 100 for livability, down from 92 last year but up from 80 in 2012.

And they rated Frankston 58 for safety, continuing an upward trend from 52 in 2012.

Frankston City Council’s overall performance was rated 61 out of 100, compared with the state average of 59, while its overall direction was rated 57, well above the state average of 51. Community consultation and engagement remained consistent at 57, advocacy scored 56, making community decisions was rated 58 and sealed local roads scored 63 - all higher than the state average.

Mayor James Dooley said the most pleasing result from the survey was the council’s score of 71 for customer service; the state average was 69. “The results are welcome indicators of how the Frankston community perceives the work that council is doing across seven major areas. (They) are an important reminder that we must continue to improve council’s service to the residents and ratepayers.”

Cr Dooley said the council had been actively lobbying the state and federal governments for improvements to the city’s infrastructure, and this was delivering results for Frankston. “As a council, we very conscious that effective advocacy to improve our local infrastructure is vital for economic prosperity.”

Foreshore warrior

In seven years of campaigning for measures to protect the Carrum foreshore, Cameron Howe has never seen erosion as bad as in the past six months.

“On multiple occasions the northern section of Carrum Beach has been completely inundated by the incoming tide, which has resulted in infrastructure being undermined, including the foundations of a now removed timber ramp and the sea wall itself,” Cameron says.

“The images of the tide lapping at the base of the sea wall are a timely reminder that, like Portsea, Carrum too requires a beach renourishment management plan to continually address the constant battle against nature.”

Cameron says Kingston City Council’s foreshore co-ordinator, Adam Ryan, described Carrum as “one of the most dynamic beaches he oversees” when the pair met to discuss the problem of erosion on the foreshore.  “The fragile dune system is what ultimately protects the beach and reduces sand movement, and while the City of Kingston has been active with revegetation programs, the constant wave action caused by prevailing westerly winds can quickly undo these efforts. 

“The nearby Patterson River requires regular dredging to maintain a safe entrance, and fortunately this also allows the City of Kingston to collaborate with Parks Victoria to strategically place the dredged sand, which is often pumped on to either Bonbeach or Carrum.”

Recently Cameron and the Carrum and Patterson Lakes Forum sought to raise the issue through local media, councillors and MPs, and six months ago the State Government announced $4.8 million to renourish beaches including Carrum, Frankston South and Sorrento West on top of annual monitoring.