Celebs test market

COOKING celebrities Justine Schofield and Anna Gare popped into Denmark’s Rockcliffe Winery Night Market on Friday to show off their culinary skills as part of their Taste Great Southern tour.

Before taking to the stage, the talented ladies caught up with The Weekender for a glass of wine and a giggle or two.

The TV personalities are no stranger to Taste Great Southern; Ms Schofield took part a few years ago and couldn’t resist coming back, and Ms Gare has already participated in the 2018 trail, demonstrating at the Porongurup Wine Festival on the long weekend.

“I absolutely adored it,” Ms Gare said of the recent wine festival.

“It’s a beautiful start to the Taste Great Southern.”

Ms Gare said she was eager to get around to the other Taste events, and get her hands on some of the region’s local produce, including Denmark grass-fed lamb, Peaceful Bay seafood, marron and fresh produce from the Albany Farmer’s Market.

“That’s what I love about the festival, there are so many satellite events,” she said.

“That’s the beauty of the Great Southern; you’re always exploring new places and finding hidden gems.”

Ms Schofield had a busy weekend planned, heading to the Albany Farmer’s Market on Saturday and The Lake House Denmark on Sunday for the cooking and sundowner by the lake events.

“I love this festival,” she said.

“I can really immerse myself in what this place has to offer.”

One of the major events next on the Taste Great Southern menu is the Albany Wine and Food Festival at Eyre Park this Saturday from 11.30am to 5.30pm.

There’s plenty on before and well after this festival, so be sure to check out tastegreatsouthern.com. au to see what’s next.

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Seasonal focus for tasty showcase

A CLOUD of tantalising aromas has settled over the Great Southern.

It’s the aftermath of the Porongurup Wine Festival and a preview of what’s to come on the IGA Taste Great Southern agenda.

So, get your palates cleansed and your best wine glass out, because the masters of food and beverage are coming and you don’t want to miss out.

The IGA Taste Great Southern festival officially began on the weekend, but not to worry; there is still plenty on the menu for you to try.

Demonstrations from the likes of Marco Pierre White, Justine Schofield, Anna Gare and Chandra Yudasswara will take the event to a new level, as the event calendar already includes long table dinners, food and wine festivals, cook-offs and banquets right across the Great Southern.

Event coordinator, Richard Campbell, of CMS Events, said the thing he loves most about the festival and its location is its seasonality.

“I genuinely believe the Great Southern has the best produce in the state,” he said.

“There’s world-class wine and high-quality produce.”

Mr Campbell revealed the In The Raw event for March 11 had a slight change of plan after one of the selected produce became unavailable due to the season ending.

“We’ve brought in marron instead,” he said.

“At first, I was a bit disappointed, but that’s the beauty of the whole thing – we are keeping with what’s in season.”

However, Mr Campbell remained tight-lipped on the much-anticipated Secret Affair Journey dinner planned for March 22.

“It’s a great location,” he said.

“The presentation will be quite different; we are telling people to roll up their sleeves for a night out.

“It’s going to be fantastic.”

Mr Campbell encouraged people to join in the festival and try something different.

“There’s a natural, unique attraction to the South Coast; people know they will be spoiled,” he said.

“We do have a few events already sold out, so people need to make sure they book in as soon as they can.”

You can view the full event schedule and ticket costs at tastegreatsouthern.com.au.

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Queen’s Baton arrives in Albany

THE Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton touched down for its first leg in Western Australia last week, and an opening ceremony was held on Mount Clarence in Albany.

Crowds followed the 27 batonbearers through Albany, with a congregation of school kids and spectators meeting briefly at Albany’s Town Square.

Albany’s leg finished with Michael Berg receiving the baton before heading to Denmark for the next stop.

Once the baton reaches the Gold Coast on April 4, the baton would have travelled around the Commonwealth for 388 days, with 310 Western Australians and approximately 3,800 Australians carrying the baton.

The Queen’s message is held in the baton, and will be read aloud during the opening ceremony of the games.

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A dash of colour

COLLINGWOOD Park, usually a venue for footy and cricket, was awash with colour on Sunday as the Albany Colour Dash kicked off from 2.30pm.

Kids and adults above the age of 10 dressed in expendable clobber to tackle the 1200-metre obstacle course and see who could get most colourful by the end of the day.

After the dash, participants were rewarded with a free-form rainbow splash in a specially arranged mosh-pit of technicolour powder.

The first Colour Run was originally held in Phoenix, Arizona in 2011 with 6000 participants.

Since then it has been held in some form in more than 50 cities worldwide to raise money for a plethora of charities.

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Hats off

DON’T be surprised to see dozens of women dressed in red hats and purple outfits converging on Albany next week.

More than 150 members of the Red Hat Society will arrive from all over the state, as well as from the eastern states, to take part in the Amazing Albany Red Hat Adventure.

They will be joined by red hatters from the two local chapters, who have organised the event.

The Red Hat Society was formed in America nearly 20 years ago and is aptly described as “a playgroup for women, created to connect like-minded women, make new friends and enrich lives through the power of friendship”.

Membership is primarily for women over 50 who still have lots to give and whose ethos is to meet and have fun with women from all walks of life.

Each chapter is headed by a queen, and the dress code of red and purple reflects a boldness of spirit and a desire to enjoy life to the fullest.

Red hat chapters meet on a regular basis, dressed to the nines and keen to make a splash wherever they go.

Large gatherings, cruises and conventions are also frequently organised, encouraging members to have fun with new friends and enjoy different experiences.

The official Amazing Albany Red Hat Adventure program takes place from March 9-11, and the Dog Rock Motel and Function Centre will be hosting activities throughout the weekend.

Bus trips and a river cruise have been arranged for the visitors, with many red hatters extending their sojourn in Albany so they can explore everything the city has to offer.

Local business operators have also come to the party and shown enthusiastic support for Albany’s inaugural RHS adventure.

Participating shops and cafés will decorate their windows in red and purple with welcoming posters adding to the vibrancy and colour of the weekend.

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A balcony fit for Juliet

THE first balcony at the Albany Club on which a woman member is allowed to stand was officially launched on Monday.

And like the decision almost 30 years ago to open the then exclusively gentlemen’s club up to women, the opening of the balcony door to a gentle easterly was an understated but liberat- ing affair.

Optometrist Alison Steer, whose father Geoff is a long-term member, said that in 1990 when she became the club’s first woman member, there was no- where else in town appropriate for informal business meetings.

“This was a nice, secluded place to bring business people and reps,” she said.

“I guess I got a bit of inside knowledge about the club from Dad feeding me bits about what was going on.

“I knew all the members anyway; they were family friends.”

Graham Wroth and Alison Steer at the balcony launch.

In the lead-up to Ms Steer’s membership, renovations were hastily arranged for the 1887-built clubhouse, which had no women’s toilets.

“I’ve heard the story that in the club constitution, when it was first written, that because there was no dream that women would even be involved, it just listed ‘member’,” she said.

“So there was no constitutional change needed, and there was very little excuse for them not to let me in.”

Ms Steer said there were lots of behind-the-scenes whispers about her signing up that she heard “bits and pieces of”, but once members “got their heads around it, it really was a non- issue for me when I first rocked up”.

“At first they wanted me to stay in the front bar, but no-one else was there, so I said ‘that’s not going to happen’ , and quickly walked into the main billiard room, and everyone said ‘hello’,” she added.

She said the new balcony, overlooking Aberdeen Street, was “unbelievably fantastic”.

“There used to be a door up there that led nowhere, but now it leads on to the balcony, and the building looks complete,” she said.

Club President Daphne Cotton and Mayor Dennis Wellington at the balcony launch.

At the launch, Mayor Dennis Wellington unveiled a plaque.

He recalled that in the 1980s, when he was a real estate agent and club member, he tried to have a business meeting with a woman sales manager from Skywest Airlines at the venue, because it was the nicest spot in town.

“There were a few coronaries in the pool room, and I was told it was totally unacceptable,” he said.

There have now been three women club presidents, including current president Daphne Cotton. The club’s next project is to revive a spindly 110-year-old rose bush out the front that’s seen far better days.

Photos: Chris Thomson

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Weed warrior named Denmark’s top citizen

THERE was a lot of love at Denmark council chambers on Tuesday afternoon as weed warrior Diane Harwood was named citizen of the year.

Outside the chambers after receiving the shire’s top gong, Ms Harwood, a passionate member of the Denmark Weed Action Group, said she was “very surprised” to have been honoured.

“It means, to me, that people out in the community really care for the bush the way I do,” she said.

“There’s a lot of people out there who agree with the way the group works in the bush, which is a very gentle way.

“We don’t go in with a machine, but do hand-weeding and it looks as if nothing’s happened.”

Minutes earlier, from her shire president’s chair, Ceinwen Gearon had said Ms Harwood was well-known for doing “lots of work on the ground”.

“Diane is passionate about our bushland and we’re grateful to her for all the work she has done,” Cr Gearon said.

Denmark local Andrew Dickinson then stepped to a lectern and, in the direction of Cr Gearon and her dormant gavel, was moved to bush verse:

This town has a hero, the bush has a friend, a champion there to protect

our natural environment so rich and so wild, the places to which we connect.

One of a small band of women so strong, quietly chipping away,

tipping the balance to favour the bush, removing the weeds that held sway.

Releasing the natives has been her life’s work. Though comrades have fallen aside,

her focus stayed strong and she knew right from wrong. She’d carry this flame ‘til she died.

Now she has a band protecting this land from the beautiful escapees,

for her passion inspires, her strength we admire. What a gutsy woman is she!

Over so many years and in so many ways she has tried to educate us.

But despair she has known, for the bush that she loved faced a death of a thousand cuts.

In performing her tasks she has mastered her craft, refining bush re-gen techniques.

So pay attention you fellas and lend her your ear and listen whenever she speaks.

This town has a hero who has worked long and hard.

To her we should take off our hat.

She is truly a gem, a national treasure

and citizen of the year at that.

A spontaneous round of applause erupted from the packed public gallery.

Photo: Chris Thomson

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Wind farm tests tax laws

ON THE eve of its fifth birthday, the Denmark community wind farm has lost a test case in the Federal Court where it challenged the inclusion in its assessable tax income of more than $2 million spent on its two landmark wind turbines.

In a written judgement delivered last week, the Full Bench of the Federal Court dismissed the wind farm’s appeal against a 2017 judgment disallowing deductions it had claimed in 2013 and 2014 respectively for amounts of $747,045 and $1,271,380.

After the Commissioner for Taxation decided the amounts were assessable income, the wind farm objected, but the Commissioner disallowed the objection.

Denmark Community Windfarm Ltd Chairman Craig Chappelle told The Weekender he was disap- pointed with the appeal decision, but it was no more than a “blip on the radar” for the company.

“It means that what tax we have paid we’ve lost, it’s gone,” he said.

“The reason that we raised the case was to test the advice given to us by our tax professionals, an accountancy firm and a tax lawyer about the ambiguity of certain sections with the [Taxation Administration] Act.

“The interpretation that we got from our professional advisors was that we should not have had to pay tax on the grant that we received from the Federal Government.”

In 2011, the wind farm received a $2,487,800 grant from the Feds to fund up to 50 per cent of the cost of the farm’s two turbines. The wind farm powers 2000 homes, amounting to 55 per cent of Denmark’s annual domestic electricity demand.

“It was an argument on a technicality and we ended up losing,” Mr Chappelle said of the Federal Court ruling.

“The ATO recognised that this was a grey area that we were entering, to the extent that they helped to fund our case.

“They gave us some of the money that we claimed against costs for preparing our case, because they wanted an answer too.”

The case turned on whether the grant money was deemed to have been received by way of indemnity, in which case the Act mandated the deductions could not be made. The wind farm argued, unsuccessfully, that it was not. The Commissioner argued, successfully, that it was.

The Full Bench agreed with the primary judge that an indemnity may include money paid in respect of an outgoing in- curred by a taxpayer, and that the $2,487,800 Commonwealth grant was received as compensation for an expense incurred by the wind farm.

The wind farm, which turns five on Tuesday, was ordered to pay the Commissioner’s costs in the appeal case.

Mr Chappelle said it was possible the wind farm would have gotten status to appeal the ruling in the High Court, but the company did not intend to appeal further.

Photo: Simon Neville

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Barker roundabout action

THE looks of the main roundabout into Mount Barker, dubbed “a disgrace” by a Plantagenet shire councillor, will be the subject of a community workshop to be held in March.

At last week’s shire council meeting, Cr Brett Bell noted councillors had been talking about beautifying the roundabout “for a couple of years”.

“Slowly it’s been showing wear and tear,” he said of the circular intersection at the corner of Albany and Muir highways.

The roundabout is decorated with poles carrying flags of different colours.

After The Weekender revealed recently that Cr Bell had dubbed the intersection’s aesthetics “a disgrace”, its vegetation was cut back.

“We need to flash it up,” Cr Bell told his shire colleagues last week.

He said the roundabout needed a new visual treatment to “highlight the entrance to Plantagenet shire and the town of Mt Barker”.

Shire councillors unanimously agreed with Cr Bell that a community workshop be arranged to seek ideas on the design of an aesthetically re-vamped roundabout.

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One hell of a shell

A 700KG concrete snail has emerged at Bremer Bay to celebrate an under-appreciated native snail.

Bremer-based landscape ecologist Nathan McQuoid, co-ordinating the project as contractor to the Fitzgerald Biosphere Group, said the sculpture was of a South Coast Land Snail, or Bothriembryon Melo.

“One of the most common things you see along the trail here is these snail shells, and they’re actually a native land snail of which there’s many species,” he said.

“They’re often overlooked and people don’t realise they’re a native and they’re a key part of the invertebrate ecology.

“So we thought we’d trumpet them a bit, give them a platform, give them some profile and make a super-sized snail sculpture.”

Mr McQuoid said the snail was very common around Bremer’s bushlands.

“You very rarely see them alive, but if it’s drizzly or humid or moist, you’ll see them out and about, cruising around,” he said.

“People already love the sculpture.

“Just the comments from people who were walking the trail while we were putting it in were wonderful.”

The 2.6m-long snail is about halfway along a 3.5km nature trail between Bremer’s town and caravan park.

It’s on a high point overlooking Doubtful Islands Bay Peninsula, and about 1000 times the size of a real snail.

“This is not a big prawn or a big banana,” Mr McQuoid said.

“It’s to invite and interest people in a part of nature that is often small or overlooked by making something that’s the size of a person or bigger.”

The snail’s creator, Northcliffe-based artist Peter Hill, said the sheer size of the snail and Bremer’s ocean breeze posed challenges.

“I did it at home as much as possible so I could control the drying of the concrete more,” he said.

Hill said a jaw or two dropped as he drove the all-but-complete 700kg snail across the Great Southern on the back of a light truck.

“I came through Mount Barker just before school started and all these kids going to school were looking at me going, like ‘whoooo!’,” he recalled.

“It basically looked like this big snail truck driving along.”

The snail materialised with support from Lotterywest, the Great Southern Development Commission and Jerramungup shire.

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