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Businesses in Docklands - December 2013 - January 2014

05 Dec 2013

Now this job is a bit different…

For Tereza Todd, going to work each day means coming face-to-face with a 750 kg crocodile.

Tereza is lead aquarist at the SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium and is one the croc keepers taking care of new addition, saltwater crocodile Pinjarra.

At over five-metres long, Pinjarra is one of the largest crocodiles on display in the world and has been living at the aquarium since September.

According to Tereza, working as a croc keeper involves a range of different tasks.

“My daily croc duties generally involve checking the water quality and exhibit temperature twice daily, hosing Pinjarra down with fresh water to stimulate him, plus chatting to him so he gets used to our voices,” Tereza said.

Tereza said other duties included feeding attempts twice a week, exhibit cleaning and speaking with staff about Pinjarra’s behaviour alongside tending to other aquatic animals.

Tereza has worked at the aquarium since 2008 and has worked with crocodiles both at the aquarium and in previous roles.

Apparently not getting enough of crododiles at work, Tereza also keeps them as pets.  “I’ve kept crocodiles at home for years and currently own a pet freshwater crocodile named Victor,” she said.

But working with a large crocodile such as Pinjarra required some extra training.

Tereza said earlier this year she and four other aquarium staff members attended “croc college” in Queensland where they learnt the finer details involved in caring for one of the world’s most feared predators.

“The curriculum was pretty intense but when you’re dealing with such a large and powerful creature you definitely don’t want to leave anything out,” Tereza said.

Given his size you’d think Pinjarra would have a massive appetite but according to Tereza, large animals like Pinjarra can take a few months to settle into new homes.

“We’ve been closely monitoring his behaviour each day since his arrival and can see he’s gradually regaining his appetite. Each day he is exploring his new surroundings a little more and lapping up the attention from all his visitors,” Tereza said.

“Once he is completely settled we expect he will eat a couple of chicken portions every day.”

Pinjarra, who is believed to be around 50 years old, was relocated to the aquarium from a crocodile farm near Rockhampton in Queensland where he has lived for the past 20 years.

According to Tereza, because saltwater crocodiles are one of the world’s most feared predators, many people don’t understand why it’s important to preserve the species.

“If we wish to protect them for years to come, it’s imperative to help educate the public and that’s what we hope to do working with Pinjarra at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium.”

Apart from seeing Pinjarra at Croc Lair, visitors can see a range of underwater creatures at the aquarium, from penguins, to sharks, turtles, and tropical fish.

The SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium is located on the corner of Flinders St and King St and is open every day of the year from 9.30am until 6pm.

It’s “all good” at Va Bene

With views across the water and a cosy communal atmosphere, the Italian restaurant has been a favourite with many Docklanders, who have grown to become regulars over its five year history.

According to managing director Anthony Jaye, marking five years of business feels like quite a milestone.

He said the restaurant would mark the occasion with a gathering of current and former staff, including a special few who have been with the business from day one.

When asked why he originally chose to open the restaurant in Docklands, Mr Jaye said the main drawcard was the waterfront.

Both he and business partner/executive chef Marisa Travain are from Italian backgrounds and connect Italian food with boats and the waterfront.

“There’s a certain connection between sitting on the water and enjoying food and wine,” Mr Jaye said.

“During daylight savings begins we have some beautiful sunsets across the water, it’s a beautiful place to be and very Italian.”

Mr Jaye said for him the highlight of the past five years in Docklands had been the strong connections forged with local people.

“It’s very rewarding to have people walk in and greet you by your first name,” Mr Jaye said.

The cultivation of a family feeling around the restaurant connects perfectly with its ethos of sharing great food and wine around a table and its name, which translates to “all good”.

So what’s next for Va Bene?

Mr Jay said he was looking forward to New Year’s Eve when the restaurant provide a front row seat to the midnight fireworks.

Head chef Daniel Miletic has tailored a menu especially for the occasion, featuring many  of the year’s most popular specials.

Mr Jaye said the restaurant was still taking last minute bookings for Christmas functions and New Year’s Eve.

You can find Va Bene at Central Pier, 161 Harbour Esplanade and can contact the restaurant on 8623 9690.

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