Water meets land in Walpole

ARTISTIC expressions of land and sea emerge in Petrichor Gallery’s latest exhibition at its Walpole home base.

Waterline is a combined effort between local artist and curator Elizabeth Edmonds and Mandurah-based Stephen Draper, and focuses on both the imaginary and real-life line representing where water meets land, and above and below water.

Ms Edmonds created the paintings and Mr Draper produced the sculptures.

Ms Edmonds said Mr Draper’s sculptures were made from upcycled teak, as this material is lightweight, strong and easy to sculpt.

“His work is just superb,” she said.

“His art has a beautiful, light feel and uses light colour wash, similar to the beach.

“He’s been so generous supporting art in our region and his work has been very well received by the locals.”

Ms Edmonds said her contributions to the exhibition were designed to complement Mr Draper’s, and also feature soft, beachy tones.

“We’ve had overwhelming feedback from visitors,” she said.

“It’s just been a really great experience.”

Waterline will be available for viewing every day until April 29 from 10am
to 4pm at Petrichor Gallery, located on Nockolds Street in Walpole.

All works are for sale.

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Treadly ready for festival

ALBANY’S renowned Vancouver Street Festival is getting a shake-up ahead of its planned May 12 schedule.

The famous Tweed Ride, a feature of the arts and heritage event, will invite retro cyclists to ride into town at their own pace and in their own time, rather than sticking to a specific route.

Cyclists will, however, have a window of time from 11am until noon to get their photo taken at the festival ahead of the competition judging.

In previous years, bicycles such as penny farthings have made an appearance.

WA Historical Cycling Club member Murray Gomm said there will be four categories riders can battle it out for.

“There will be most magnificent bike, most fetching lady, most dapper chap and most magnificent hair,” he said.

Mr Gomm said another new element to the street festival will be the way the retro transportation devices will be displayed.

“The penny farthings and historic bicycles will be ridden up and down Vancouver Street during the festival, which I think will be a bit of an attraction,” he said.

“There’s going to be an original penny farthing, a rare penny farthing tricycle and 20th century vintage bicycles.

“It’ll be a pretty rare opportunity to see these really ancient machines all together.”

Vancouver Arts Centre, the organising body of the event, confirmed other new features to the festival will include a Noongar choir and a focus on tree heritage.

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Half-million milestone

OUT of all the applications for funding the Albany Community Foundation has received since its inception four years ago, one sticks in the mind of founding chairman Tae Wood.

Chatting to The Weekender about the foundation reaching the half a million-dollar fundraising mark, Mr Wood revealed a story about a seven-year-old boy the foundation recently helped.

“He’s lived with his grandmother since his parents were incarcerated,” he said.

“His mother is in jail in Perth, so we help fund his visits to Perth and support his counselling.

“It resonated with me as I have children of my own, and it’s hard to see children affected by things out of their control.”

Mr Wood’s fundraising efforts, along with the 30-odd members who currently sit on the Albany Community Foundation (ACF) board, have seen many other disadvantaged individuals and families rise up from the ashes of their hardship and flourish once again.

ACF was the brain child of Mr Wood and a small group of other community members in 2013 who wanted to support local individuals and families who had fallen on hard times, and whose needs could not be met by other charities.

“We do it because we feel we live privileged lives, and it’s our responsibility to give back to the community,” Mr Wood said.

“We’ve been very lucky in that we’ve been strongly supported by the community, and the only challenge we’ve faced is trying to meet the needs of the community; we receive around 20 applications per month.”

ACF’s $500,000 – a combined kitty raised from Bogan Bingo nights, gala balls, quiz nights and $1000 per year board memberships – has helped fund extra curricula activities for disadvantaged students, PCYC’s Ice Breakers program, Albany local Kenny McGonnell’s recovery bike after he was left wheelchair bound following a motorbike accident, the Great Southern Mental Health Unit and Shalom House.

“Shalom House was our first successfully funded application,” Mr Wood said.

“It was absolutely amazing; it’s a very worthy cause and we were very proud to give away our first dollars to them.”

Mr Wood said ACF was proud of reaching its recent $500,000 milestone and would continue its fundraising efforts well into the future, with the aim of becoming the South West’s leading organisation promoting philanthropy.

If you would like to donate to ACF or find out more about becoming a board member, email donate@acfwa.com.au.

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Conundrum of love

SPECTRUM Theatre’s latest showcase of local talent took its opening night audience on an interesting journey of love and betrayal last Friday.

The intimate seating of the theatre brought the audience both physically and emotionally closer to the play, touching on themes not uncommon in today’s world.

Divorce Me, Darling follows the story of career-driven divorce attorney Amelia Conway, who has just marked 15 years of marriage with husband Jonathan Bentley.

Despite never forgetting gifts for every big occasion, Jonathan’s roving eye has not gone unnoticed by his wife.

Arriving on Amelia’s office doorstep the same day is young bimbo Tina, who asks for an annulment so she can marry a married man.

As Amelia discovers the young woman intends to marry her very own husband, the humourous turmoil kicks off.

Rising talent Morgan Levingston convincingly portrayed Jonathan, a character at least 20 years his senior, and maintained character throughout the entire performance.

Spectrum regular Darian Mercuri was consistent in his quirky character’s tics and twitches – a skill which often drops off when an actor thinks no one is watching.

Sinead Charles’ excitement and enthusiasm for the play was evident in her brilliant smile and her confidence on stage.

Tickets for the April 13, 14, 15, 20 and 21 performances are still available and can be purchased via Paperbark Merchants.

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Youth celebrated across region

THE Great Southern will celebrate its young whippersnappers next weekend with three big festivals in Albany, Denmark and Katanning.

Albany’s YouthFest Music Festival will be held at the town square on April 21 and City of Albany Youth Development Officer Lesley Yates said visitors, restricted to ages 12 to 25, can expect a line-up of fantastic local talent and awesome music.

“We want young people to feel like Albany is somewhere they would like to continue to live, work, play and study and that they are valued for their diversity and talents,” she said.

“Youth services and agencies will engage with young people at key locations throughout the event through positive and fun activities.

“It is ultimately a celebration of young people.”

Ms Yates said the event was put together with the help of Albany’s Youth Advisory Council, and that there would be dancing, lawn games, face painting, an InstaBooth, Wi-Fi, phone charging ports and food vendors at the event, opening at 5pm and closing at 9pm.

Katanning’s Great Southern Youth Festival will also be on April 21, at the Katanning Leisure Centre.

From 2pm to 5pm, attendees – restricted to ages 11 to 25 – will be able to enjoy free entry, food stalls, live music, bubble soccer, a dunk tank, a rock climbing wall, sumo suits and sporting activities.

The 4Youth Denmark Fest will keep the party spirit going all weekend, scheduled for April 22 at McLean Oval.

From 11am to 4.30pm, there will be skateboarding clinics, demonstrations and a competition, a silent disco, art workshops, henna and glitter tattoos, Thai massage, bubble soccer, free Wi- Fi and food.

The Denmark event welcomes the whole family, particularly with the concert at 1.30pm featuring talent from Denmark and surrounds.

To find out more about the Great Southern’s youth festival events, check out the respective shire or city websites.

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Mayhem on the move

PLANTAGENET Players will christen their new home next month with a variety show to rival all others from the acting group’s repertoire.

The newly refurbished Plantagenet District Hall is now sparkling with nearly $1 million worth of fix-ups, including retractable tiered seating and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment.

Plantagenet Players media liaison Kristy Kempton said the first show for the hall, 100% Comedy – Caution: may contain traces of nuts, will feature two hours of skits, musical and dance numbers, short plays and poems.

“Plantagenet Players shows are notoriously cheeky and hilarious,” she said.

“The actors are all volunteers, including The Weekender’s own Andy Dolphin, and almost all content is written in-house.”

Co-producer of 100% Comedy Charmaine Gadenne said the show is guaranteed to tickle the cockles of your funny bones.

“It’s a lively variety show full of humour, wit and a touch of mayhem,” she said.

“We have created some very unique pieces in the usual style of Plantagenet Players that may cause you to laugh so hard, you’ll have tears running down your legs.

“The cast are having a ‘cracking’ good time at rehearsals, adding their own delightful personalities to their characters on stage as they explore our new theatre, whilst the crew have been playing with all the new equipment and creating costumes that will be a treat for the eyes.”

Tickets for the May 11, 12, 18 and 19 shows are on sale now and can be purchased at Mt Barker Scrap Shak.

Tickets cost $17 for adults, $12 for seniors and children, and a light supper is included.

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‘Ten top threatened’

FROM a furry staple of Albany’s suburbs to a trap-door spider that inhabits a single gully in the Stirling Range, the state biodiversity department has compiled a list of 10 priority terrestrial animals threatened across the Great Southern Region.

“The region is a biodiversity hotspot within a hotspot,” Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions ecologist Sarah Comer tells The Weekender.

Even on the leafy fringes of the Great Southern’s only city, one critically endangered species is commonly seen and heard.

“For the Western ringtail possum, Albany is one of three main population areas,” Ms Comer says.

“They’re spread from Cheynes Beach, around Waychinicup, across to Denmark, but there’s a real concentration of animals around the urban Albany area.”

Ms Comer says the Western ringtail has done “fairly well” in Albany, “with really high densities on the mounts”, but that its proximity to humans masks a marked contraction in possum populations.

“Then you have species like the critically endangered Gilbert’s Potoroo that was hanging on at Two Peoples Bay and has been translocated to Bald Island. We’ve got a fenced enclosure over at Manypeaks, but they’re very restricted in range,” she says.

“The Western ground parrot, also critically endangered with less than 150 left in the wild, is interesting, because when I started work here in 1999 they were found at Two Peoples Bay, Cheynes Beach, Fitzgerald River National Park and Cape Arid National Park, but now the core population has contracted back to Cape Arid.

“So they’re in a fair bit of strife.”

The possum, potoroo and parrot are on a threatened terrestrial species list Ms Comer developed with DBCA colleagues exclusively for The Weekender.

“At Little Beach, at Two Peoples Bay, if you stand there and look across the bay, that’s pretty much the global distribution of the potoroo and endangered noisy scrub-bird,” she explains of the incredibly small distribution of some creatures on the list.

“Two Peoples Bay was actually earmarked as a satellite town of Albany. Then in 1961 a local school teacher rediscovered the scrub-bird, which had for 70-odd years been thought extinct.”

The scrub-bird illustrates just how quickly some species can be pushed to the brink.

“With them, the early collections occurred around Torbay; there were heaps of collections in the 1800s, so they would have been right through this landscape,” Ms Comer says.

“They don’t fly, so they need long, unburnt vegetation for cover but also for the leaf vertebrates they eat.

“So, when they were rediscovered, they were in these moist gullies on Mount Gardner that had managed to escape fire.”

The potoroo, thought to have been extinct for more than a century, was only rediscovered in 1994 after marsupial researcher Dr Elizabeth Sinclair “caught a weird quokka” at the Little Beach reserve that had been protected from development after the scrub-bird was rediscovered.

“There’s this concept of short-range endemism, these species that have unbelievably restricted distributions based on microclimate, specific habitat parameters and where they end up left in the environment, and a lot of the invertebrates fall in there,” Ms Comer explains.

“The ones on this list are the Toolbrunup pygmy trapdoor spider, Sarah’s peacock spider, and the Stirling Range rhytidid snail.

“The trapdoor spider is literally only known from one south-facing gully microhabitat in the Stirling Range.

“The snail is carnivorous, and we only know of it in two locations in humid, shaded gullies under rocks on the south side of the range, east of Chester Pass Road, despite lots of searching.”

All three invertebrates are critically endangered in Western Australia, slightly better off than the impossibly cute dibbler.

“The dibbler’s just a gorgeous 80 to 90 gram carnivorous marsupial, and they were rediscovered over near Cheynes Beach,” Ms Comer says.

“They’re no longer there, but there’s a really important population in the Fitzgerald River National Park and also on the islands off Jurien Bay.”

Then there’s the Australasian bittern, a bird that is widely distributed but whose habitat is on the decline.

“They’re found in the eastern states and New Zealand and New Caledonia, but are really threatened by the loss of habitat,” Ms Comer says.

“The South Coast’s got some good bittern habitat around Cheynes, Manypeaks and then over toward Esperance.”

Rounding out the list is the freshwater Western trout minnow that inhabits the Goodga, Angove and Kent rivers.

“They’re only little fish,” Ms Comer says of the endangered minnow.

“Almost 20 years ago they put in a fish ladder for it because there were issues with the minnow moving up and down a weir that was put in [the Goodga River].”

She says local ecologists focus on caring for “landscapes and patches” of bushland, rather than on each species in isolation.

“That approach helps us get more bang for our buck when prioritising management practices,” she says.

“There’s loads of opportunities to volunteer for our recovery programs, and we rely heavily on people to report sightings of threatened species.”

And that goes even for the much seen and heard ringtail possum, sightings of which, like all threatened species, can be reported at https://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/plants-and-animals/threatened-species-and-communities/threatened-animals.

Ms Comer says the ‘Top 10’ list is not exhaustive, but a spread of some of the Great Southern’s remarkable threatened species.

“What’s fabulous about the South Coast is that we still have really quite viable populations of all of those species here,” she explains.

“We’re so lucky to have all this diversity, and these animals that are on the edge make the Great Southern a remarkable place to live.”

Photo: Ms Comer near a good patch of Western ringtail possum habitat at Albany’s Mount Clarence.

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Pamper for poor pooches

FROM aspiring to be a vet when she grew up, to rescuing stray dogs off the streets in South Africa and finally opening up her own dog grooming business, Yvette Miles’ passion for pets of the barking variety has culminated in an award-winning performance at the recent Rescue Roundup Grooming Competition in Perth.

The competition is hosted by the Dog Groomers Association of WA and Ms Miles was tasked with grooming a rescue dog she had never met before.

“I was given a Pomeranian-Chihuahua cross to groom,” she said.

“When I heard what I was allocated I was very worried. I really hoped the dog took after the Pomeranian for its longer coat.

“Grooming dogs is all about building up trust with the dog, which you don’t have a lot of time to do in the competition.”

Despite some small issues with ticklish feet, Ms Miles managed to groom her way to success, coming home with the awards for Best Coat Preparation and Best Transformation.

“I really am so grateful to have my work acknowledged,” she said.

“To be grooming for 10 years and then win two awards like that really is amazing.”

But it almost didn’t happen – when Ms Miles realised she was going to be in Perth on the weekend of the Rescue Roundup, applications had already closed.

“I sent them an email with the hope that there may have been a space free,” she said.

“I immediately got an email back saying they were full, but they would let me know if a space became available.

“When I got the email a week before the competition asking if I was still interested, I immediately said ‘yes’.

“I wasn’t nervous, I just really wanted to do something nice for the rescue dogs since it’s for a good cause.”

Prior to emigrating to Australia from Jeffreys Bay in South Africa five years ago, Ms Miles built a reputation in her local area for rescuing and rehoming dogs.

“People would drop off strays they had found and we would get them healthy and rehome them,” she said.

“Some of them came in with quite matted coats and had skin conditions, so we would have to groom them.”

When the opportunity arose to be professionally trained to groom people’s pooches, Ms Miles didn’t hesitate.

“I’ve always loved animals and dogs in particular,” she said.

“So being given the opportunity to groom and work with dogs everyday is amazing.

“I’m living my dream.”

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Perfect pumpkins

THE heaviest and best-dressed pumpkins the Great Southern has to offer will be on display next week for the annual Lower Kalgan Community Association’s Giant Pumpkin Fair.

The Giant Pumpkin Fair will spread its roots through the Lower Kalgan Hall’s grounds on April 14 from 9am to midday, and will have many prizes up for grabs, including the heaviest and best-dressed pumpkins, best pumpkin soup and best pumpkin photos.

Young Charlie, Wesley, Louis and Marnie McGregor have worked with dad Clint to grow their pumpkins, aiming to enter into the heaviest pumpkin junior category.

They are aiming to beat their entry from last year that tipped the scales at 75kg.

“We might have beaten last years’,” Mr McGregor said, inspecting the sizeable vegetables at the bottom of his makeshift garden.

“We planted in November as it takes about four months for them to get to a good size, and I reckon this one is about 75kg at the moment.”

Mr McGregor said the necessary maintenance for the pumpkins was relatively low, using slow-release fertiliser in an old cattle yard, where he said the soil already had good poo.

And while rabbits aren’t necessarily a problem, Mr McGregor said he had enlisted the help of his young tribe to shoo other pests away.

“The kids help with the watering and shooing away the chooks and the duck,” he said.

“The only thing I have to keep an eye on is the kids walking all over the pumpkins.”

To find out more about the pumpkin competition and market stalls at the fair, you can check out the Facebook page, or contact Laura Bird on 0428 294 234 for pumpkin enquiries and Vicki Joynes for stall bookings on 0402 166 161.

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Lamp shines bright

THERE’S no such thing as a dull moment for renowned Albany author Dianne Wolfer.

If she’s not writing or editing a piece of work in her study, she’s off around the world chasing snippets of history, gathering writer’s inspiration from the comfort of a café lounge, or speaking with school students about literacy.

2018 is a busy year for Wolfer, who is releasing two new books, speaking at multiple schools and groups across the state about her books, organising her packed-out school schedule for Book Week, and launching her latest historical fiction, In the Lamplight, in both WA and in Harefield, England – In the Lamplight’s primary location.

She took a moment from her busy agenda to speak with The Weekender about her third and final instalment of the historical fiction saga Albanians have come to know and love her for.

While on a trip with her husband Peter to Peronne, France in 2003, Wolfer said the pair stopped over in London.

She said she was keen to visit Harefield, a small village north-west of London, as it housed the site of the first Australian World War I auxiliary hospital.

“It was a village that was completely changed by WWI, and I was really interested in that,” she said.

And so, In the Lamplight was born.

The first two books in her historical fiction series, Lighthouse Girl and Light Horse Boy, travel through time from the beginning of WWI and its major events.

Wolfer said it was only natural to complete the trilogy with In the Lamplight’s plot ending in 1919.

“The war changed Australia forever,” she said.

“We often look at what happened during the war, but not always at what happened afterwards, when all these men were coming home damaged.”

When closing in on her final manuscript last year, Wolfer said she was aware of the possible timing her book launch could have – April 2018 coinciding with the centenary of the end of WWI.

“It was a three-year project, because the research was so time-consuming,” she said.

“Each little fact had to be cross-referenced, and I’d often get carried away with the excitement of it all.

“So, I knew that if I wanted it to hit the shelves in April, I had to have it to the printers by October.

“We were working around the clock.”

Wolfer explored historical war resources in Albany, Perth, Canberra and Harefield to create the beautifully-presented, Australian-English perspective on the first world war that is In the Lamplight.

She is excited to officially launch the book at Carlyles Function Centre on April 9 and in Harefield in May.

“It’s all go!” she said.

For more information on the launch or to get your hands on a copy of In the Lamplight, visit spydus.albanylibrary.com.au/events or Paperbark Merchants on York Street.

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