The Bark June 2017 - Issue 5

This newsletter is dedicated to Nick Astuto

The Candlebark community would like to extend our sympathy to Nicoletta, Brigitte, Will and Henry. We hope that you will continue to call on us for any support, little or large, that will help.

A Tribute to Nick Astuto

A good man died on the afternoon of June 17.

Nick Astuto was 53 years old, husband of Nicoletta, and father of Candlebark children Brigitte, Will and Henry. He died at his beloved farm, Ochiltree Hill, Romsey, surrounded by the people he loved, the people who loved him.

His funeral service was held in Glenroy on June 23. A huge crowd packed out the Tobin Brothers Chapel, to hear tributes from Nick's sister and niece, Maria and Isabella, his great friend Andre, his work associate Michael, two more nieces, Melissah and Bianca, and finally his daughter Brigitte and his wife Nicoletta.

Many Candlebark parents, students and teachers were there, and many tears were shed. Those present heard stories that were funny, outrageous, touching, inspiring. They heard of the loving relationship between Nick and his parents, his twilight games of cricket in the park as a young boy, his academic success and eminent 30 year career with the ANZ Bank, Nicoletta's infatuation with him and her bold declaration of love, and Nick's utter joy at the birth of Brigitte, then Will, then Henry.

They heard of Nick's delight in following cricket and footy, and his particular passion for cars and motor racing. A book by Peter Brock was on his coffin. Nick loved Top Gear, going to Bathurst, and, as a young man, driving his newly acquired hot Torana through the streets of Melbourne at terrifying speeds.

His appreciation of food – which did not however extend to Indian curries – was a recurring theme during the service, as was his strength and resilience during his long illness.

Brigitte made a beautiful and moving statement about her deep love for her father, and was followed by Nicoletta, with an inspiring, brave and loving tribute. Nicoletta described a man who presented a gruff exterior to some, but was "a big softy" at heart, and fortunate indeed were those whom he trusted, and whom he admitted to the privilege of his friendship.

Two of Nick's nieces had told the story of how Nick objected to their calling him "Uncle Nick". They had asked him what he would like to be called, and after a few moments thought he had suggested: "Oh Great One".

Nicoletta concluded her eulogy by using that phrase to describe Nick. It seemed, after all we had heard, a fitting epithet.

The service ended with the 1927 song If I Could, a particular favourite of Nick's:

"… If I could play

I'd play up a storm for you

A raging sea of passion

That you never knew

Every whispered sound

Would touch your heart

And maybe for a moment

I could be your favourite star

If I could do anything at all

If I could, I'd give you more

If I could do anything at all

I'd do it for you."

- John Marsden


  • Term Dates
  • 2017 No School Days
  • Whole School Soiree
  • Candlebark Chess Tournament
  • What's Happening At Candlebark
  • Community Notices
  • Local Advertising

Term Dates

  • Term 3 - 24 July to 28 September
  • Term 4 - 16 October 16 to 13 December 13 (Candlebark) 14 December (Alice Miller)

2017 No School Days

  • November 6 – Pupil Free Day
  • November 7 – Melbourne Cup Day
  • Total Fire Ban days in Central District

whole school soiree

Here are all the details for the Whole School Soirée:

Date: Thursday, 29th of June

Venue: Romsey Mechanics Hall, 122 Main St, Romsey

Time: Students are to arrive at 6:00pm for a 6:30pm start

Looking forward to seeing many of you there. The rehearsals are all going well; it should be a wonderful night!

If you have any questions about the soirée please email Taran directly on

Candlebark chess tournament

For the first ever interschool tournament held at Candlebark, two separate venues were used: the library hosted the top twenty-five tables, whilst the main body of tournament was in the old meeting room (now known as Cam’s, Andy’s and the “dance room”.) The tournament was split into a juniors/B division, and an A division. There were 75 competitors in the B, and 71 in the A division. The juniors/B had the Grade ones, twos and some less experienced players, while the A division had the rest. It was that simple.

The results are incomplete, due to children putting in their own today…

There’s a couple of chess boards taped up: one at the front gate (apparently outsiders haven’t worked out that Candlebark school is on the Tye Estate) and another on the Mount Eliza turn off. I’m sticking up the second when, Tim, the genial host/organiser of the Chesskid tournaments arrives in his little Chesskid van, with his ten trestle tables, and at least eighty boards, sets and clocks. Google maps had decided to take him somewhere else, but the smell of a chessboard has pulled him in. So we both have a minor stress about whether the other schools are going to find us at all. Throw in the total lack of mobile coverage and I can see past the surprised smile, to the deep strain in Tim’s eyes. A long slow drive up the lengthiest driveway in the southern hemisphere results in a quick reintroduction to the landline. A couple of phone calls and we’re reasonably sure most of them will come. Probably. I don’t have the heart to tell him that the wifi can drop in and out, jeopardising the very fabric of the tournament… Although a small curious sadist on my shoulder keeps whispering in my ear, “Tell him, tell him the whole draw might disappear and he’ll have to cope with 140 chess nerds wanting to know who they are playing next…”

Tim has brought a couple of suitably stereotypical chess teenagers with time on their hands and a need for cash towards either their start-ups, or skin cleansing products and they will help run the two venues. It’s 9.00am and we’re pretty much ready. Early morning Candlebarkians wander in and out of the venue, excitement and nerves kicking in for everyone.

Over the next thirty or forty minutes the various schools arrive. Mount Blowhard (no idea) arrive with their three maroon clothed kids first. Then the sombre navy, and sky blue trim of Winters Flat. A second later, and the blue of Braemar arrive in their smart blazers and crisp white shirts. New Gisborne are next, their sunshine yellow shirts set off by every child’s favourite colour, navy blue. The Bacchus Marsh bus driver has got lost between the Alice Miller drop off and Candlebark, and so it’s not until ten minutes into the first round that a group of pale-yellow shirted kids with, not quite navy… more of a dark, dark green blazer I think (I tried to find it online, but only got a link to the school uniform price list), arrive. One of the group clutching a sick bag, either inspired by Clive Palmer whilst daydreaming of next week’s end of term cruise, or perhaps simply sick of the sight of insipid yellow shirts and an as yet unidentified colour. Obviously our children are all wearing joyous clashing colours and running up to the strangers to welcome them to our humble abode. It’s great to see all our kids settled easily on their home turf, not having to shake off the hour and a half journey through rush hour, and happily playing chess.

Tim gives the welcome speech, John speaks a few words and throws some books in as incentive for place-getters, and I get to tell the visitors that they’re not to go on anything with wheels as their parents haven’t signed the necessary disclaimers. (New Gisborne had to resend all the permission slips out again to be re-signed, when we changed the venue from Alice Miller to Candlebark!)

The games have begun, and I’m trying to keep on top of results while they come in, plus watch a little and encourage eating, drinking, and pretend to listen to every child’s move by move analysis of their last game. I’m not succeeding, and so the kids will be entering their scores on the laptop as they come in…..hands washed.

Organised chaos, and I’m not too sure why I’m trying to write a report about this… So I won’t write a round by round, or even mention the odd match. I will take photos, comfort the distressed and calm the overexcited.

Lovely mix of excitement and nerves as we get into round two. Clancy, my old fast playing friend, finishes a game in 40 seconds. Which included a pawn promotion….

Loving the excitement the visitors have about finishing a game then going outside to play basketball, downball, illegal ripsticking, trampolining, rolling massive reels down a muddy hill. The supervising teachers have found Fiona and so are oxymoronically drinking their coffees and starting to relax. That said, one of them has perhaps had too many coffees and is getting a little frantic trying to find three lost souls who have wandered out of sight… Luckily, Oliver T and Mitchell G, our two hulking teenage oddjob men are able to go looking for them, but the teacher seems almost more upset by that….

Another teacher is enthusiastically asking how often jobs pop up at the school. I have to make an instant judgement call, and reply not very often. It’s harsh, but he was wearing a tie.

The kids are all mixing wonderfully. There are always such characters at these get-togethers: verbal thinkers, twitchers, double thinkers, no thinkers, facial gurners, bossy-know-it-alls, lost souls, cocky-winners, bad losers, elevators (always on the way up or down), predictors, “I’m going to win 6 today”. But all of them are focussed on the one outcome.

At the start of the tournament there is a wide range of players, and you can’t be too sure of who you might be playing against. As the day goes on, generally you fall or rise to the expected position and therefore play players of a similar ability. There can be long stretches of beginning to doubt yourself and waiting patiently for a first win. Conversely, the player may be on a winning streak, and as the results continue to go their way, the standard and pressure begin to get cranked up… Then there is learning to play to a clock, which is a skill in itself. Having to make a decision, and stick with it (touch move, touch take) whilst being watched closely by at least one other person, is an excellent skill to develop. The ability to live with a decision and not lose time rebuking yourself for a mistake; to swallow your annoyance and get on with the game, or keep your nerves in check and finish it. Winning from a winning position can still be incredibly nerve-wracking, especially with a clock pushing you along. Nothing hurts more than losing from a winning position, especially in front of a crowd.

My personal highlights of the tournament.

Second round, and a young player of the future runs up to tell me some exciting news: he’s just had his first ever win. Lots of kids have had this feeling today at their first ever competitive go at chess, but this one’s a prep! Young Rory Connell has turned up, been surrounded by giants, and poked one in the eye for a famous victory! Fantastic!

Top of the sixth round. A familiar face, but with a new story. Each round Tristan has been checking in with me, quietly letting me know that he’s just won his last game. After four out of four, I’m beginning to sense something new, it’s certainly his best start to a tournament. Round five, and it’s a massive game against his classmate Ewan. I’ve deliberately split our strength into two teams in the interests of a closer tournament, and also because I’ve been aching to see our kids play against each other in competition. After an incredibly tense match, Tristan has got to five out of five, and I think this victory over one of our strongest players has given him the belief he may previously have been lacking. Cam and I get to watch Tristan play on table number 1 against a very strong player from Mount Blowhard. I catch the very end, where Tristan’s very direct, very confident play is rewarded with an upset, and he checkmates the kid who has previously beaten Oscar and Henry. It’s a massive scalp, and Cam and I are blown away, and giving the poor boy a lot of man hugs! It really is so exciting to see kids reach levels never seen before, to see how belief and confidence can transform a person. Now we just need to add consistency.

Every kid has a story, either of the day, or of a match, or of a kid they played against. And I can’t keep on top of the 75 who played today! Most of them shared at least one with me, some more. And there was excitement and passion in their voices, pride in themselves and connectedness with the team. We all love the game: it makes us think; it lets us play anyone of any age; it can reward imagination; it can punish cockiness; and it’s almost always different. Same pieces, sixty four squares yet different games, time after time after time. Simple, yet brilliantly complicated!

Ask your kid their story! The individual results can be found on Press them for details, ask them for their feelings, and you’ll get a sense of how much is going on during those intense minutes at the board.

And so the final standings. Our extremely young B division teams came within a point of winning their division, and received silver medals for their efforts. It’s not an excuse to say that their strength was shared across two teams, and it was so great to see so many of our younger players getting wonderful results. To get five or six out of seven is incredibly outstanding. To get more than three points is a really decent result, particularly for some of our players who haven’t played as often under tournament conditions. Will Astuto and Phoenix Marsden both scoring six!

In the A division, our A and B teams fought it out for first or second place. A testimony to the strength in depth at this school, which entered over half of its students! More sixes were scored, and the really standout performances came from the grade 4 players, three of them (Ewan, Tristan and Cosimo) all scoring six! And Oscar became the solo grade 6 performer to score a six.

A great day, capped off with news that Alice Miller had also come through to win their parallel tournament, where our grade 7s and 8 had gone across to join in the fun. We have gained a lot more places for the State finals in October, where the heat is really on to get the best possible team going…

Click on photos if you want to see them individually.

What's Happening at Candlebark

firewood for sale
Photo not an actual representation of Candlebark wood (just a fancy Internet photo for effect)

Candlebark has firewood for sale!! Cost is $90 per trailer, if you collect yourself from school, or $120 delivered. Email Michelle if you're interested -

kitchen garden

Do you love to eat and experience flavours?

Do you consider cooking as a simple pleasure and relaxation?

Would you like to share some preparation techniques?

Are you passionate about fresh whole food?

If you answer yes to one of those question, congratulations you are hired!

Indeed, I’m now recruiting volunteers for our Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program for term 3. This term, our adventurous grade 3s will join the SAKG program for the first time at Candlebark.

To facilitate their journey in the kitchen, we need the support of volunteers to guide and help them to be successful. We want them to feel excited and empowered in their relationship with food.

There are many aspects of the philosophy of the SAKG program. We hope to engage the curiosity of the students and to help them learn how to grow the very best food in the very best way, how to care for it in the garden, how to recognize when it is ripe and at its best, how to prepare it easily and enjoyably and how to develop an expanding culinary palate.

You don't have to be a green thumb or a naked chef; you just have to love growing food, eating food and being with children

As usual, we will run the Kitchen Garden program every Friday.

If you would like to volunteer in the kitchen garden, please add your name to the roster.

To do so, press the button below, click in the empty time slot(s) that you want, type in your name and press enter. Your name is automatically saved!

Looking forward to seeing you in the kitchen and the garden!

Steve and the students.

Tutoring Service - Glenda Earle (Support Teacher, Candlebark).

Glenda has a Masters of Special Education and is a support teacher at Candlebark School. Specialist areas for tutoring include reading and spelling intervention. Available also for Mathematics remediation sessions.

Availability - MONDAY and THURSDAY afternoons after 3.30pm.

Please contact Glenda directly on Email: or Mobile: 0407453632

community notices

media release - Kyneton 4 Schools
Child Support Legal Service Schedule - September to December 2017

Teneha Greco, wonderful vocal teacher at Candlebark and passionate gardener, is mentoring a great new local community project: turning a local resident's back yard into a 'Farmlette'.

The program will run every Sunday starting July 23rd as a partnership between the Riddells Creek Neighbourhood House and The Field Trip. But what is a Farmlette?A Farmlette is basically the lawn of someone’s front or back yard converted into a food-producing plot, a lush elaborate veggie patch brimming with awesome edible produce. Farmlettes are home to a wide variety of veggies, but the main crops grown are an assortment of baby greens, from Siberian Kale to Bibb lettuce and everything in between. Wherever there is grass, sun and water, be it residential or commercial yards, there is a future Farmlette!

You can read more about the project here, an interview done with Melbourne's Permablitz:

And sign up for the program here:

Wheeler centre goes regional


aussie hoops basketball for girls & boys
School holidays soccer camp
ice hockey - melbourne mustangs

local advertising


Created with images by ChrisDag - "Satisfying chore"

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