Who we are

This page is a small sample of the Tecoma community opposed to McDonald’s building in their town.

Karl

I’ve tramped abroad for over 7 years in around 80 countries looking for my ideal home, but ended up finding it 30 kilometres from my birthplace. And for years I went WWOOFing at intentional communities in Australia in the belief that humans are hard-wired to live in community …. again, I’ve found that rich sense of community right here in the Hills.

I’ve lived in my modest little home in Tecoma for 29 years and, if we can together drive the scourge that is McDonald’s off the mountain, I’ll wish for nothing more. Although I’ve been hit by a menacing law suit from McDonald’s, my greatest support is not my lawyers but the strength of the support of our Hills community. Facing this onerous SLAPP suit, the irony is that I campaigned strongly for the Gunns 20 when they faced their SLAPP suit 8 years ago. But at least I met a gorgeous fellow campaigner, Andrea, back then – she’s now my wife!

Brendan

I have been living in the dandenong ranges for 11 years. My wife and young family moved to the hills to bring up our kids in a safe healthy and community conscious environment. We moved here to escape the urban neurosis of the suburbs, where people don’t know the people next door, or in their street. Both my wife and I work in the health industry and see first hand the effects of consumption of unhealthy food. Resulting in a 10 fold increase in knee replacements (ie. bones cannot cope with the waight of patients), massive increases in diabetes, and morbid obesity (ie. life threatening). The ranges is one of the centres of “The Slow Food Movements” as well as a fresh and healthy food bowl for Melbourne & Australia. I have no beef, pardon the pun, with people consuming McDs, but it is just an inappropriate development for this area.

Narelle

My family have called the Shire of Yarra Ranges home for over 100 years. My husband’s family are immigrants, arriving in Australia about 30 years ago. While I have lived in other places, and so has he, when looking for a place to raise a family we chose the Dandenong Ranges.

We chose to live here so that we could access the city for work and education, while giving our children a “country” upbringing. One where they could get grubby, climb trees and have a generous backyard to play in. One where they wouldn’t be exposed to billboards advertising viagra or “gentleman’s clubs”, where they wouldn’t grow up thinking shopping was a legitimate hobby, but would find more meaningful leisure pursuits. One where they would look up and see towering Mountain Ash reaching for the sky, not golden arches.

What we found was a very special community. One that has shared in the raising of my children, one that nurtures them and us every day. One that is diverse. One that is closeknit. We love our community.

Our community has looked after us when we’ve needed them. When a big tree sized branch fell down in our driveway a couple of years ago, 3 families just turned up with chain saws and willing hands to help us clean it up. One family were good freinds. The other two more acurately described as aquaintances at the time. Why had they come? “We were driving past and could see you needed help” they said. Another time we were overseas and our housesitter had a death in the family and had to leave. Our community stepped in again, and we could have had our dog looked after by three families per day. They made sure she was alright for two weeks until my mother returned from her own holiday and could take her. This is truly the sort of thing that happens in the hills. It’s special. That’s why when our neighbours in Tecoma looked like they needed some help, we decided to step in too. Neighbours look after one another here – so it was the least we could do.
Some “flatlander” friends don’t like it here. There are no generic shopping centres around the corner, here the stores are quirky and unique. It gets dark at night as street lights are few. You do have to travel to supermarkets and to access many suburban staples – including fast food chains. It may be unlikely that we will ever be burgled, but we live with the very real risk of bushfire every summer. There are trade offs in every decision. It’s not for everyone. But we like it just the way it is.
We wouldn’t presume to tell people from other places what their local area should be like. We truly feel violated for being forced to tolerate Mc Donalds against overwhelming community rejection. We feel very angry that the democratic process has failed in this instance.

I would often visit Mc Donalds as I commuted between schools and sports until a few months ago. I would grab a coffee, sometimes a toasted sandwich. The kids would get a filet of fish and nuggets and fries. I would access wifi while out and about. In summer, I would often drive through for a cheap icecream. No more. Never again. Ive now experienced this company’s values first hand. Some would think I’m a little slow to “wake up and smell the coffee.” Perhaps that’s true. But I’m done with Mc Donalds. They will never get another cent from me.

Kerri

I work in the healthcare industry, I have worked out that my husband and myself have lived in Upwey for over 20 years. We love it up here in the hills, it is a beautiful place. The suburbs in the hills are unique, so different to the suburbs elsewhere in Melbourne, it has character and a free feeling, I love it here.

Funny to think that when my husband first suggested that we live permanently in the hills, I told told him no as it was too cold for me….LOl.

What a sad day to think that Mcdonalds has invaded our hills to put in a 24/7 store, I’m a big believer in Karma, and all this negative publicity may have changed people’s opinion on Mcdonalds being community minded, because they are not.

I never had a problem with Mcdonalds until now, I have even eaten in their stores, but now I will never step foot into another McDonalds again, and I’m hoping others will feel the same way. I know that the majority of people did not want the store, so McDonalds does not care about the community, only how much money it can make.

The problem for me is Mcdonalds does not fit into the way of life up here, it does not matter how the building looks, it is about the hills and the restaurants and take away places already here, these places will still get my business, and I’m hoping the McDonalds store will closed down and not be profitable.

The rubbish and the noise from a 24/7 store is also going to be a big problem.

Kate

Here is My Story:

I am American-Australian, a mother of two kids, 9 and 5, I am a Family Therapist and business owner. I lived in Melbourne for 14 years and our family moved to Brisbane last year after many happy years in Upwey. We still own our much loved 1920s character cottage which is walking distance to the ‘McSite’ and we are holding onto it with the thought of moving back to our true home one day.

We consider the Tecoma village part of our neighbourhood and used to take the kids and dog on walks up to the shops. Of course like most folks we would go to the Saffron Cottage, DVD Destination, the milk bar, the lovely Thai restaurant, etc. When we first heard about the development proposal, we thought WTF? A MCDONALDS IN THE DANDENONGS?!

We fought off the development from day 1, writing letters to council, VCAT, politicians, the Planning Minister Mathew Guy, anyone and everyone we could. We joined the FB pages, the boycott, anything that was put out there. After moving last year, I was so busy creating a new life here and settling the kids, but I kept an ear out for how things were going with the campaign. I had so much faith in the amazing, intelligent, resourceful, creative, tenacious and diverse community, I thought: if there is any community around the world who stands a chance to beat Maccas, it isTHIS COMMUNITY!

When “The Tecoma 8″ were taken to court, my husband and I were outraged at the injustice, disgusted with McGreedy’s tactics, and I thought, “I may not be there, but I am going to fight with everything I’ve got”! So I did what I could from afar and hit the internet. So you are all probably tired of all my posts and may wonder, “who is this sticky beak from Brisbane” constantly putting her two cents in? Well, I consider myself Hills Folk, like you, and consider the hills my home.

When we were getting ready to move last year, I was in tears having meltdowns at school for weeks, singing the Selby PS school song at assembly was the worst. The line: “it’s the place that we belong” always killed me, I had to leave if not armed with tons of tissues! The thing is, this is the place we all belong, The HIlls. Some people don’t get what “The Hills” is, what it means, and wonder why are these people so passionate about keeping McDonalds out?

The Hills is what the locals call their home in the Dandenongs, it is more than what the tourists see when they visit: the national parks, the “Storybook villages linked by fairytale train” as visitmelbourne.com describes.
There is a lot more to the Dandenongs than most tourists and visitors realise. They probably don’t see what we see when they drive through Tecoma.

Some pro Maccas people criticise Tecoma for being run down and argue a McDonalds would somehow ‘improve’ Tecoma! It may be a bit run down in comparison to the “storybook villages” Sassafras or Olinda, but it is not a tourist destination, it is a locals’ village. It has shops and services for locals, not tourists. And there is a lot more to Tecoma than you see.

Tecoma is part of a unique network of small villages that we call The Hills and is unlike any other. Where people within this network of villages have countless inter-connections and relationships and cross paths in their daily lives in a multitude of ways. We have stuck together facing bush fires and know how to lookout for each other. We have a strong sense of a much larger community, larger than any one village. A place where the sum of its parts are greater than the whole. A place where we all belong. A home.

And the bottom line is, McDonalds DOES NOT BELONG! And this is OUR HOME, so WE should be the ones to decide, not a few unelected officials at VCAT who are biased towards big development. People who obviously don’t care about litter in the national park, traffic in our neighbourhood, danger to school children, loss of revenue to local businesses, noise at all hours of the night, a complete assault on the character of the hills, and the values of the community.

I am so homesick for The Hills, for the people and the place. You are all so lucky to be living there. Where we live now in Brisbane is so similar in landscape but there is nothing in comparison from a community point of view. I feel like a stranger in a strange land. It is a conservative area, it is void of character, diversity and like-minded people. These are really not my people. You are my people.

And this is everyone’s fight to protect our national treasure, The Dandenongs, from a greedy corporation with an insatiable appetite wanting to play ‘Monopoly’ with the world we all live in.

Tamara

Tamara Griffiths
Belgrave

I have lived in the Hills this time since 2010, but I’ve lived here on and off since 1997; my parents have been in Upwey all that time.

Occupation: Permaculture teacher, School garden teacher, Permaculture designer and installation, gardener, community garden creator and coordinator, ex-Historian and Heritage consultant.

I do not want McDonalds in the Dandenong Ranges because this is a place which has “Cultural Significance” in accordance with the Burra Charter 1999.

In the Burra Charter cultural significance means “aesthetic, historic, scientific or social value for past, present or future generations”.

The Dandenong National Park (2km from Tecoma) and the Tecoma area have Aesthetic, Historic, scientific and social values for past, present and future generations.

These cultural heritage values need to be protected from unsuitable and unsustainable development, which I believe McDonalds to be.

Many of these are covered in the attached document:
http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/313264/Dandenong-Ranges-National-Park-Management-Plan.pdf

The Burra Charter can be downloaded from http://australia.icomos.org/wp-content/uploads/BURRA_CHARTER.pdf

In addition, I do not think that a McDonalds should be situated so very near a preschool and a primary school.

Jan

Peter and I moved from Canberra 13 years ago Peter taking up an executive position in a research company, and me working at my home based business.

We wanted to live in the hills and had a choice between the Macedon or Dandenong Ranges. We were fortunate to find a beautiful bush residential property backing onto Ferny Creek in Upwey.

We are ever so blessed to have both of our children and our three grandchildren living in Tecoma and Selby.

There is something magical when you reach the top of the mad mile and the feeling of the pressures of the day just melt away. No in your face advertising, just the quiet streets of our precious hills.

For McDonalds to disregard and have no respect for the wishes of our community and our Council, it is just so totally unforgivable. However, no matter what happens, this situation with McDonalds have given us the opportunity to meet some inspiring and wonderful members of our Hills community.

Kylie

I am a mother of 2 kids, 7 & 5, my eldest goes to Tecoma Primary and my daughter currently attends Tecoma Pre-School. She’s looking forward to starting at school with her big brother next year. I DO have a job. I am a Superannuation administrator and work in the city. I hate it, the commute is terrible. My husband grew up in the hills, spending a large part of his childhood in Kallista. I, on the other hand, grew up in Springvale South and Dingley where my mum still lives. My husband bought our house in Belgrave in 96, just before the fires that swept through the Dandenongs, devastating so many. I moved up here in 2003 and have loved every single part of the peace, tranquillity and community spirit ever since. Growing up in the suburbs, I never thought I would move up here. The Dandenongs were just a place to visit on a Sunday drive with my mum, a single parent. When I met my husband, I fell in love with the area and never want to leave. The beauty of this place, and the fact that it is like no other. No big fast food joints on every corner like you get in other areas. My children are born and bred in the hills, and they wouldn’t have it any other way. The fact that we are not overlooked by our neighbours, adds to the appeal. I have family members that don’t understand why I am against Maccas, they don’t want to hear it and like to shit stir just to get a reaction out of me. I have been called a shitty, feral, hippy bogan, and that’s just by my sister in law! That’s just a brief rundown of little old me, what you see is what you get, no airs or graces. I have met so many great people among the protestors. This is a very supportive community. We don’t need to be nasty.

Christine

I have lived and worked in these hills for around 15 years now, the lack of fast food chains, and the presence of small bakeries and cafes is one of the things I love about the place I live. I love good food, local produce and local businesses – these things McDonalds does not support, our children learn to support and gain support from the local community, we shop at the farm front, and love it. Our businesses, our people, said no to such a chain opening in our hills, and it is very important to me that these wishes be respected.

Personally I am a vegetarian, hence McDonalds you never get my money, nor my health, so I cannot boycott you any more than I already do, but my senses do not wish to see your golden arches on the edge of my home, nor the the effect your presence will have on the community of Tecoma – the closing of small food outlets, the potential of rubbish on our streets and in our national parks, the loss of our uniqueness.

I request that you let us enjoy what we have, and you enjoy what you already have without disrespect to our desires for our home.

Cyndi

I grew up in Upwey 1975-1985 and my mother lived here until her death in 2005. I lived in the city and I lived in London but I bought my kids & husband back here to Belgrave live 4 years ago and we LOVE it here. We plan to buy here. My husband runs a mountain bike workshop in Lysterfield Park. I work part time as a 000 police call-taker (weekends) and a trainee (first year) solicitor, 3 days per week. I have been around the protest against Maccas in Tecoma since the beginning. My children have always been passionately opposed, and we continue to go down the site and wave signs around and get us some honks. I have met some wonderful people and made life long friends. I adore this community and the way we all keep on fighting. I really believe we will win.

Gaby

I grew up in Kilsyth with the hills at my back door. I’ve lived in the Yarra Ranges for around 25 years. My husband, 2 kids & I moved Upwey just over 2 years ago and it’s been the best decision ever.

I work in admin for a small company & my boss grew up in Upwey.
I don’t want Maccas in Tecoma because this is my home. I’ve never felt at home in all the places I’ve lived until I moved to Upwey. I don’t want them because I want to protect my kids from a commercialised future.

Cath

I live in Kallista with my husband and 2 kids. I moved here permanently about 10 years ago, first in Upwey then Kallista. I work locally as a music therapist in early childhood development, early intervention and education.

My connection with the hills goes back way further- my great grandparents had a little corrugated iron shack weekender on 20 acres in Monbulk from the 1930s, and generations of my family would come up to the hills to stay. I have vivid memories of the Dandenong Ranges as the place I always wanted to live, from when I was a small child first watching an echidna out by the water tank. Into my teens it was where I brought my friends. As an adult it was where I came to write songs and experience spirit of place

Nowadays we are lucky enough to live on 10 acres in Kallista and the lyrebirds, wallabies, wombats and owls who live here with us still connect us to the spirit of the hills. We feel responsible for protecting the environment of hills for future generations to love as much as we do.

Sandra

My husband and I moved to Cockatoo just over a year ago now from Boronia. For my whole life since being a child, I have always wanted to live in the Dandenongs. It’s such a stunning place, who wouldn’t want to. My husband moved over to Melbourne from Perth and since moving and me having taken him up there, he has wanted it too. After being so fed up with the suburbs and the social issues and troublesome people in the area, we made the change and haven’t looked back! Life is just so different up here and the sense of community we have witnessed is nothing short of amazing! My husband works as a welder and doesn’t mind traveling to his job, the drive is worth it alone. I am currently not working due to injury however I worked in age care. We moved here, to start a different life and journey than in suburbia. If we wanted the convince of fast food and huge shopping centres and that mattered to us, then we wouldn’t have moved here! We moved here to GET AWAY FROM THAT! We don’t want McDonnalds in the hills, we moved away from that to get back to nature, a relaxed life of a small community and local shops and cafes. NOT HUGE corporations taking over for greedy profits! The way Maccas are treating this is disgraceful, they just have no shame! LEAVE US ALONE!

Christine

I have lived in the hills for 37 years and am a local farmer producing quality food for sale at weekly farmers markets, local cafes and restaurants. My children and now grandchildren went to school at Sherbrooke, Coonara (FTG), Macclesfield and Emerald. The reasons I am against this development is many and varied. I came here to be in an area that was different to the ‘burbs’. Where I could grow food and raise animals, where there were small local business’s and a community that was connected. I am passionate about good healthy food and the associated lifestyle. I am concerned that when a large corporation selling fast food moves into an area, it limits the money available for tourists to spend with the locals. Fast food has been proven to be harmful to people and especially to children who are influenced by the colourful advertising and cartoon-like personalities. The hills are unique and should remain a place of difference where people can connect with nature and find out where their food really comes from. There are many other places where fast food can be obtained and we don’t need it in the hills.
I have taken my children to McDonalds and even had their birthday parties there. I was never against them per say but after this behaviour I will never set food there again. There are other fast food places to go if I ever desire to do so.

Communities should be able to decide what they want in their area. Just because a large corporation has money doesn’t mean they should be able to bully their way in without consultation. It should be enough that the community and the Council voted against it. We fight against bullies in the workplace and schools and large business’s should also play their part by setting an example. What does this say to young people? If you have money, you can use scare tactics to get what you want and to stop the legal right to protest? No means no and the locals have spoken.

Jules

I moved to Emerald in 2004 and I live here with my kids 5 and 2 years old and I have just completed certificate 3 in children’s services. I don’t want a Maccas in Tecoma because the residents and local business voted against it and the council didn’t approve the building. McDonalds went to vcat to have the decision overturned and are suing people and placing injunctions on them to prevent further protest against it. This is Australia! Not a corporate dictatorship where those with the money have all the power and those mostly affected have no voice. I am protesting for our country’s future. It’s not about burgers for me!

Shakti

I have lived in Upwey and now Belgrave for over 15 years. I love the “Hills”. I love its trees, its air, its wildlife and its ramshackle buildings. When my children were teenagers they would say “see you tonight” if I went to the shops as they knew it would take me all day to shop as well as catch up with my community. No fast shopping up here! I always shop local and wont go “off the mountain” to do so. I love the organic shops here and the little stores and cafes that are just so different from the “flatlands” all the same fast mentality. My sons have moved with their families to be close to work in the CBD but love to visit. Number one son and his fiancée came on the last march and was enchanted by the feeling and people who attended. They can’t wait to buy a house up here despite the 60 mins it will take to get home each night. My soul would die if I had to live in the suburbs or away from my place I call home. I work fulltime 3 days at Monash health Community as a Community Health Nurse and Family Therapist and2 days for my own business Heartmovements as a Dru Yoga Teacher. 7 years ago a friend and I started the Belgrave Lantern Parade and it is still going strong. I fought for the success of the Cameo by supporting a local Hills Film group and love supporting local groups and markets. I dislike everything that McFatties stand for, they do not belong in the Hills, they do not treat the planet, animals or people well I will do whatever I can to stop there push to take over the beautiful Blue Dandenongs.

Anon

My partner and I have lived in the Dandenong Ranges for 26 years, I have a Bachelor degree and I am currently completing studies in Sustainability. I am involved in local community groups, I am a Mum and I support elderly parents, as well as assisting to maintain my fathers farm, I grow 75% of vegetables and raise chickens/eggs for our family locally. I love the hills and the hills community. I think Mcdonalds is an inappropriate development for anywhere in the Dandenong Ranges. I am in total admiration for the people of Tecoma and those who have put them selves on the line to protect their home. The campaign is well organsied, creative and peaceful. As a resident of the hills I feel a responsibility to protect the hills for locals and for visitors, so what is special here is preserved, for now and future generations. What we have here on the mountain is unique, is diverse, Mcdonalds is not, it can be had anywhere off the mountain.
Having a 24 hr Drive though will create dangerous traffic as local roads become race tracks, I fear more accidents/deaths. I think local councils and communities should have a say in shaping their local community, I think VCAT is flawed and companies like Mcdonalds should not be able to use corporate might to push and bully their way in when the local council and community have voted against it. I am also supporting the right to protest peacefully.

Holly

I lived in the hills and raised two children here for 17 years. I worked in most of the Community houses in some capacity and helped to develop the LETS system. I work as a community worker for Hanover, and am trying to establish myself in my art work. After a brief hiatus I returned 4 years ago to the hills to a community I love, and a forest I adore. My children live in China and Cairns at present and are horrified about the possibility of the hills being infiltrated by this ugly & soulless corporation. My heart aches at the thought of this happening, and my heart is also lifted with joy at the courage, intelligence and tenacity of this community I have chosen to live within. Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou.

Lizzie

I grew up in belgrave south and kallista and now live in the northern suburbs. I have two kids and have fostered many many teens.

I am fighting this fight because the hills are one of the few places left to go that have not been destroyed by advertising and fast food outlets, and I do not wish to see that change at all, people need somewhere to go where they can get away from people trying to sell them stuff, and for me, thats the hills.

I am also fighting because maccas attitude disgusts and scares me and VCAT is a disgusting remnant of jeff kennet and I would like to see that changed.

Jane

Lived in the Dandenong Ranges for 45 years, my children were born in Tremont 43 years ago, went to Mt District Christian School and the Sherbrooke Community School – then I shared later in Sassafras, then bought in Olinda and then when it burned down in 2000 moved out to Hoddles Creek …

The hills are my home, a friend’s ‘psychic’ friend standing in my Olinda garden one time said ‘this used to be a sacred site – it was called Gurulanda’ – something like that – that made it all the more special for me … the hills community & ‘being’ is understated, low key and unique, we really do not need some great brash US bully to come and wipe us out – we really do not. Their bombing the Great Barrier Reef is quite enough

Robyn

My husband, my two children and I moved to Tecoma in 1997. We chose the area because it was close to the clean air and pristine beauty of the national park. We knew we were sacrificing ”convenience” with our move, but the fact there were no fast food restaurants or huge shopping centres was a bonus as far as we were concerned. I work as an assistant manager at a Retirement Village and my husband is a commercial manager. Both children are educated and employed and all of us hate the idea of McDonalds in Tecoma. None of us have ever been involved with protest groups before, but experiencing the community spirit the anti McDonalds protest has engendered, I will be more prepared to stand up for my beliefs in the future.

Kerry

Lived in Cockatoo in the Dandenong Ranges for 5 1/2 years. Writer and other things. I do not want McDonald’s in the Dandenong ranges or anywhere with the community does not want them, because a) communities should have the right to decide what is appropriate development in their area. The community and the council followed all the correct processes and unequivocally said no to McDonald’s in Tecoma! b) I do not believe that this kind of corporate fast food chain is appropriate for the Dandenong ranges, c) I believe if anything like this is needed it should be locally owned, sourcing local produce and services and adding something real to the local economy, d) I believe that local community areas and townships belong to the local communities, and that businesses do not have an automatic right to locate themselves there if a community does not want them, e) The culture and lifestyles of communities are important and should be determined by the community and not by outsiders, f) Maccas is unhealthy rubbish that I refuse to call food. This corporation markets directly to children in a completely inappropriate way, and I believe has absolutely no place near schools or kindergartens.

Nick

I’m from the US but have now made Tecoma, VIC, Australia my home. My wife and I looked at properties all over the CBD and eastern suburbs, over a period of nearly three years, before we found and bought our home in the Hills. One of the reasons we chose Tecoma was that it struck us as a place that had remained largely unchanged for a very long time and didn’t look to change much anytime soon. The notion that anyone would try to put a large, drive-through fast-food place, here, seemed not just foreign, but stupid and ill-advised.

We could simply sell our place, and move further out, but we will not. For one thing, it’s hard to find good neighbors and ours aren’t just good; they’re amazing! Same goes for the community of Tecoma and the life and life-style of the Hills.

More important, however, is that this effort by McDonalds has shed light on a much larger problem: VCAT’s complete disregard for the will of the people and our right — OUR RIGHT — to determine the character and composition of our own communities. VCAT is an unelected, unaccountable, and I would go as far as TYRANNICAL body that effectively strips the people of this right. This must be FIXED. Keeping McDonalds OUT of Tecoma is just the first step, and it’s a step I’m here to stay and take with my neighbors and friends in the Hills, in Tecoma.

BurgerOFF, clown!

Christina

I have lived in Belgrave for 15 years. I work for Yarra Ranges Council as a Family Day Care Resource Officer and run a local not-for-profit Community group called HillsTribe. I am involved in Transition Sherbrooke and other local environmental and permaculture groups. I am a founding parent of the local Steiner School and Co-ordinated the Sherbrooke Children’s Centre. I have looked after many children in the local area and belong to many local groups.

I do not want McDonalds anywhere in the Dandenong Ranges as this is a unique area and many people moved here to experience a certain lifestyle. I have chosen to escape the suburban life and do not want it impacting on our unique area. There are plenty of other places for that. We need to keep some places free from the ‘suburban’ feel.

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