Actors wanted

LADIES and gents of all ages are being sought for Spectrum Theatre’s first production of 2019.

Female Transport will follow the tale of six female convicts aboard a ship bound for Australia from Britain in 1807.

The drama will reveal the six-month voyage while the women are kept in a cramped cell below deck.

Co-directors Sally Forbes and Cassandra Hughes said they are looking for six women to cast as the convicts and a handful of blokes to play a surgeon, captain, cabin boy and first mate.

“People don’t need to bring anything, just themselves and a sense of humour,” Forbes said.

“Female Transport is primarily a drama but it has moments of gritty humour.”

Hughes said she performed the play 20 years ago but was keen to have her turn as director.

She said the play uses a very simple set and shows a lot of raw courage that the women develop while battling being trapped by both the boat and men.

“It’s quite a challenge,” Hughes said.

“It brings to life a really grim story.

“But I really love it; it’s interesting and it’s different, so I hope people embrace it.”

Auditions will be held at Spectrum Theatre on Proudlove Parade on January 9 at 7pm and January 12 at 1.30pm.

Rehearsals will be twice a week for at least three hours and performance dates will be between March 28 and April 14.

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Coffee double shot

AFTER losing a Goliath vs David battle against Albany’s chamber of commerce, a barista has secured 264 signatures supporting a coffee kiosk he wants to open in the city’s new visitor centre.

At a meeting on November 27, a kiosk planned by coffee van operator Chris Saurin was rejected six City councillors to five after Acting Chamber CEO Michael Clark and representatives of two nearby cafes spoke against the 14.25sqm outlet.

After being the only respondent to a council request for proposals, Mr Saurin had been named preferred operator subject to public consultation.

The kiosk was to have been called ‘Booked’, reflecting its location near the library and tourist ticketing office, and would have opened from the visitor centre onto Alison Hartman Gardens.

During public consultation, only one submission was lodged – by the Chamber. As revealed here, the Chamber asked why the council would “orchestrate” a coffee shop “in direct competition to already struggling businesses in York Street”.

In less than three weeks following the council’s narrow rejection of his planned kiosk, Mr Saurin achieved 264 signatures of support.

The vast majority of petitioners are from Albany, with Shelley Bowden from Kendenup, Vern Adams of Mount Barker and Ami Shepherd of Denmark among a handful of out-of-towners lending their signatures to the kiosk’s cause.

“Over the Christmas period, talking to a lot of people around town, they were pretty peeved [the kiosk] didn’t happen, especially people using the library,” said Mr Saurin whose moniker is number 217 on the petition.

“They said they just wanted somewhere they could get a cup of coffee without walking across [York Street] because they don’t want to leave the kids on their own.

“It would have been a popular thing in there, so I’m still persevering with it if I can, talking with councillors to see if they can get it back on the table.”

On November 27, Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks, his Frederickstown Ward colleague Rebecca Stephens, Kalgan Ward councillors Emma Doughty and Bill Hollingworth, Vancouver Ward’s Tracy Sleeman and Yakamia Ward’s Robert Sutton voted against the kiosk.

Voting for were Mayor Dennis Wellington, West Ward councillors Alison Goode and Sandie Smith, Breaksea Ward’s Ray Hammond and Vancouver Ward’s John Shanhun.

Cr Anthony Moir was not at the meeting, and Cr Paul Terry declared an interest and did not take part in debate.

Mr Saurin’s petition asks the City to reconsider its decision.

“Over Christmas, we would have opened on various days when York Street was [virtually] closed,” he said.

On presenting his petition recently, he told City councillors the only remaining argument against the kiosk was “an opposition to competition and free enterprise”.

Close to deadline yesterday, the City was asked what it planned to do with the space where the kiosk was to go.

A response could not be provided in time.

The Weekender will let you know when something comes through.

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Thai food on the go

A NEW Thai takeaway food business opened in Albany this week and owners Stuart and Fon Leckie have promised it will deliver cuisine as authentic as possible to customers.

Good Day Thai Food, located between South Coast Highway and Albany Highway opposite Bunnings, traded for the first time on Tuesday.

The Weekender spoke to the Leckies ahead of their opening and the pair said they were nervous and excited to get the show on the road.

“We thought about it for a bit and we saw an opportunity,” Mr Leckie said.

“Whenever people come over for tea, everyone loves Fon’s food.

“And there’s only one other Thai food place here and it’s not open for lunch.

“So we saw an opportunity and a way to give us both work.”

The Leckies took over the old Muzz Buzz building two months ago and it’s been all go since then to meet their opening night deadline.

The Leckies bring a mixed work experience to the business, with Mr Leckie formerly a teacher and Ms Leckie a cook and previous business owner in Thailand.

Ms Leckie owned a beauty salon five years ago called Good Day; hence, the inspiration for the name of their new enterprise.

It will trade Monday to Saturday, 10am to 3pm for lunch and 5pm to 8pm for dinner.

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‘Build it on a hill’

A BUDDHIST monk who was once a mechanical designer has drafted plans for a monastery overlooking the Porongurup Range at the leafy south coast locale of Elleker.

“What we want to do is have a smaller version of Bodhinyana monastery, that’s at Serpentine in the Perth Hills, here in Albany,” Venerable Mudu told The Weekender from a 65-hectare bush block atop Grasmere Hill where the monastery is planned.

“We’re gonna have four or five monks here, which means we’re gonna have four or five monk huts – they’re called kutis,” he said.

“We had a problem up in Serpentine, we’re trying to build six new huts because we’re overflowing with monks up there, and so the boss, Venerable Ajahn Brahm, told the monks to spread their wings and if they could find another monastery to go to, then off they go.

“But no-one left because, to be honest, it’s very comfortable at Ajahn Brahm’s monastery.”

With no push factor prompting him to take up the boss’s challenge, Venerable Mudu became the only monk motivated to do so after a family connection pulled him to the south coast.

“I wanted to come down here to see my brother,” he confessed.

“He’s down here with his wife and three girls.

“He said: ‘I know the Thais down here; they’ll want you to come down, won’t they?”

Later, from her Thai Angel Hand Massage service on Stirling Terrace, prominent Thai expatriate Wasana Poonwiset says she is 100 per cent behind Venerable Mudu’s blueprints.

“There are beautiful views, and it will be very good for Albany to have a monastery,” she tells The Weekender.

“It is difficult for us because we currently have to go to Perth.

“Lots of people around here, Katanning, Denmark can go there and bring the family, and the kids can see the culture.”

Ms Poonwiset, who also owns the landmark Joop Thai Restaurant on Lockyer Avenue, says about 30 Thai families call Albany home.

“The people are very good people,” she adds.

“To have something to hang on to will be great.

“Buddha’s message is universal – that’s karma, to do good, to give before you get.”

Earlier, back at the block, Venerable Mudu said Ms Poonwiset was “the big boss” of the Thai community in Albany, and had been a driving force behind establishing the south coast’s first monastery.

“It will become an Ajahn Brahm branch monastery because he’s so well known now,” he said.

“But it’s more than that.

“To build this monastery, I’ll be riding on his back because I would never be able to get the support on my own to pay however many couple of million it’s gonna cost to develop this and build it.”

The highest part of the monastery is planned to be 110 metres above sea level, but not visible from Elleker-Grasmere Road down on the plain.

“At the lowest part of the property is where our windmill is – at the time it was put in it was the largest Southern Cross windmill in the Great Southern,” Venerable Mudu said.

“We’ve still got it down there; it’s not working.

“But I’m a car guy, I like to swing the spanners, and when we get the opportunity we’ll put it in our workshop, and when I need a break from meditation I’ll be in there fixing it up.”

Venerable Mudu said the elevated block was chosen after an extensive site selection exercise.

“This is something that Buddha instructed us to do, to live close to nature, not to destroy nature, and to be as kind to nature as possible, to live close to the living beings,” he said.

“He said that when you build your monastery, don’t build it too close to the town, but don’t build it too far away that it’s a burden for the donors to come out and support you.

“Buddha said don’t build your monastery near a swamp, in the lowlands near where the water is – he said build up on a hill.”

Venerable Mudu said Buddha’s instruction to keep things simple was why the huts would be humble three-metre by four-metre structures.

“The idea is to use a lot of local companies, so once the development application is approved I’ll probably hand the details over to a local architect to see what we can do,” he said.

Venerable Mudu has discussed his self-drafted plans with senior City of Albany planners and said he would lodge a development application soon.

Photo: Venerable Mudu on site with the Porongurup Range perforating the horizon. Image: Chris Thomson

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Star shines in Barker

INTERNATIONALLY acclaimed actress Miranda Richardson will join big screen favourites Sam Neill and Michael Caton in Mount Barker for the production of feature film Rams.

Filming started in September with a cast featuring the likes of Australian sweetheart Asher Keddie, director of The Sapphires Wayne Blair, Leon Ford from The Light Between Oceans, Travis McMahon from Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Hayley McElhinney from the Aussie horror flick The Babadook.

Richardson has two Oscar nominations and multiple BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations and awards to her name in a career spanning nearly four decades on stage and screen.

Rams director Jeremy Sims said Richardson would play the role of Kat, a local veterinarian of a sheep farming town overcome by a rare ovine disease.

“I am completely thrilled that Ms Richardson is able to join us in telling our version of this beautiful saga about warring brothers,” he said.

“I’ve been a fan forever, from ‘Queenie’ in Blackadder to Stronger.

“I fought hard to bring her out here to play Kat and complement our awesome local cast.

“She is a world-class performer whose presence will bring another dimension to our production.”

Richardson has featured on both the small and silver screen with roles in popular television series including Blackadder and Absolutely Fabulous, while also having roles in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, Tim Burton’s classic Sleepy Hollow and nosy witch journalist Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

She also voice-acted for the villainous Mrs Tweedy in Chicken Run.

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Magnificent mo’s

STUDENTS at Mount Lockyer Primary School had fun comparing the impressive facial hair of their teachers throughout Movember, as a group of nine educators raised money for charity.

Year Five teacher Mark Coppack was the proud owner of a horseshoe moustache and the wrangler of the other fundraisers.

“I did it last year at a previous school,” he said while thoughtfully stroking his magnificent mo.

“I spoke to the guys and got them on board this year to raise money for men’s mental health.

“It’s something I’m really passionate about.”

Mr Coppack said the whole event was a great way to have some fun and raise money for a worthy cause.

“It’s a bit of fun and great to see how everyone looks,” he said.

“We definitely had lots of comments and the students liked to compare the teachers.”

Mr Coppack said out of the range of men bearing a majestic mo, there was one standout to the crowd.

“Dan Van Mens is the school’s gardener and definitely had the best moustache,” he quipped.

“He was a bit unsure at the start but it grew in quite nicely.”

At the last tally The Magnificent Moustaches of Mount Lockyer had raised $2416 for the Movember Foundation.

“We’ve easily surpassed our goal and it’s just fantastic,” Mr Coppack said.

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Higher duties

FATHER Randolf Subiaco will become the youngest parish priest in the Diocese of Bunbury next year after answering the call to guide the parishioners of Denmark and Mount Barker in 2019.

Father Randolf has been based in Albany for the past two-and-a-half years, serving as the assisting priest for St Joseph’s Church and the St Joseph’s College chaplain.

“I completed my studies and was told I was needed in Albany,” he said.

“It’s definitely not a standard thing to be sent to Albany.

“I’ve since become a counsellor as well, that’s recognised in Australia.”

Father Randolf said as a 32-yearold parish priest, he wanted to bring more youth-orientated programs to his parishioners as well as provide his counselling services.

And while he would provide the traditional Catholic services to the far reaches of his parish, he was also hoping to reach out to help people in need of support.

“With my counselling services I can give support for people that might be struggling with substance abuse and other issues,” he said.

“Having both spiritual support and mental support is important.”

“I’ll spend parts of my week between Mt Barker, Cranbrook, Frankland, Pardalup Prison, Denmark and Walpole.

“There will be lots of driving, that’s for sure.”

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Home among the hempcrete

DENMARK’S hempcrete housing village is now complete, bar a bit of landscaping, and you can be the last of 12 homebuyers to secure a dwelling in the $6 million grassroots project.

Project manager Paul Llewellyn, a former GreensWA MLC for South West, says the village arose from an extensive scoping exercise.

“We wanted land that was within 500m of town, which was solar reflective – this is about 90 per cent solar reflective – with a stream, Millar’s Creek is right there, and we’re about 150m from Mrs Jones (Cafe) and the arts precinct,” he says.

“We used the model of collaborative or Co-Housing, which was developed in the real Denmark.

“It is a model for delivering friendly neighbourhoods, and the design of the neighbourhood gives rise to the community.”

The DecoHousing Denmark project has four four-bedroom family homes, eight two-bedroom homes, a den for teenagers, and a common house complete with kitchen and games/movie room.

Social worker Pam Rumble, the project’s community development practitioner, says the home-grown company behind the project received no favours from Denmark Shire.

“We had to widen Wattle Way, cede the land either side of the creek, and give a three-metre-wide pedestrian strip,” she says.

In addition, the company had to cede 27 per cent of its 6500sqm block to the Shire.

“History shows that if you do anything outside the box, a commune, a Green Title, the banks don’t like it, the shires don’t like it, so we decided to set up a company, get organised and do it by the book,” Ms Rumble explains.

“We were very fortunate; we had a couple of town planners, facilitators, environmental scientists, an accountant, people in business, so we had a very good team.”

Mr Llewellyn says the block was parcelled in strict accordance with Western Australia’s Strata Act.

“We wanted to use the Act to its maximum potential, to use the rules and liveable neighbourhood frameworks to give expression to this vision to have a well-organised, friendly neighbourhood,” he says.

“It’s hard to do because you have to get around so many tick-a-box rules.

“The structures are built out of industrial hemp … a high-performance, environmentally sound material.”

Mr Llewellyn says the project is the largest hempcrete one in Australia, and probably the Southern Hemisphere.

With landscaping not yet complete, the project is already exporting power to the grid.

“There’s no heating or cooling,” he says.

“We may put a fire in the common house.

“We have an amazing power system; we’ve collectivised the energy and communalised the water supply.”

The development’s youngest resident is seven months old, and the eldest an octogenarian.

Albany-based H+H Architects managed the project contract.

“They stuck with us in being responsive to what we needed, but not too responsive, because it was like herding cats,” Mr Llewellyn says.

“We had eight or nine households involved in the preliminary design, and some people came and went.

“It’s affordable, high quality housing, not just affordable housing.”

For Ms Rumble, the project is all about “the sharing, the connection”.

“Everyone’s kitchen window looks out into the commons,” she says.

“That’s the Co-housing design, so that you can be at your sink and see something happening out there and if you would like to join in, or are feeling lonely or whatever, you go out there and chat and share with what’s happening.”

And for anyone “having a bad hair day”, Mr Llewellyn says each house has a private courtyard, and a second entrance that does not open to the undulating common area.

More than 20 people now call the project home. If you’re interested in snapping up the last house – a two-floor, two bathroom, four-bedroom one – call Ms Rumble on 0428 482 015.

Photo: Pam Rumble and Paul Llewellyn tend to their emerging garden. Image: Chris Thomson

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Language barrier dropped

FOUR tiny primary schools in the Great Southern have escaped having to pay for language teaching delivered from Perth, with the State scrapping plans to charge them $7000-a-class from next year.

In Parliament on November 6, Education Minister Sue Ellery told Shadow Minister Donna Faragher that primary schools with 60 students or fewer would not be charged.

Ms Faragher had asked if fees for language courses provided by the School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE) had changed.

Ms Ellery said they had, but that the planned introduction in 2019 of a price-per-class charge had been canned.

Internal sources, who cannot be named, have said the charge per class originally communicated to schools was about $7000-a-year.

Some regional and remote schools offer up to three language classes.

With four affected Great Southern schools ranging in total enrolments from just 22 to 38 students, the sources considered the per class charge – which would have been the same regardless of school size – to be regressive.

Bremer Bay (student population 27), Borden (22), Gairdner (38) and Ongerup (22) are among seven schools in the South West education region – which includes much of the Great Southern – with students enrolled in the language classes.

Thanks to their low enrolments, none of the four schools will be charged under the recently revised model.

In Parliament, Ms Ellery said the new model had been communicated to schools on October 24.

“As a result of feedback that a price per class may not be sustainable for small primary schools, the per-class pricing model was revised for 2019,” she told Ms Faragher.

“From 2019, the price for accessing a primary languages program through SIDE will be calculated on a cost-recovery model, which uses a sliding scale based on student population.

“The price per student for SIDE languages programs will range from a maximum of $701 per student for schools with a primary student population of 200 or more and will reduce [to zero] for schools with small student populations.”

Ms Ellery told The Weekender the full cost recovery figure is $7010 per class.

She said the cost for schools with enrolments of 200 or more would range from a maximum of $701-a-student, reduced for schools with fewer students.

“Every child should have the chance to learn a second language and this is why we made it a priority to make it more affordable for schools with fewer students,” she said.

Last year, Western Australia’s School Curriculum and Standards Authority mandated that from 2018 all Year 3 students would need to study a second language.

By 2023 all students from Years 3 to 8 will be required to learn a second language.

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Cook comes to table

AFTER critique of his estimated costing and timing for radiotherapy equipment, Health Minister Roger Cook says he will meet with GenesisCare “soon” to discuss “the oncology landscape and range of services currently offered” in the Great Southern.

Last week, Federal Member for O’ Connor Rick Wilson challenged Mr Cook’s $14 million funding estimate for a bunker to house the much-anticipated equipment (‘Cancer cost counted’, 15 November).

Mr Cook’s estimate was based on the cost in 2009 to instal a bunker at Bunbury (‘Cancer cash raincheck’, 8 November).

But Mr Wilson said the Bunbury bunker housed two radiotherapy machines, whereas $6.6 million of funding he recently announced through The Weekender (‘Cancer funding coup’, 13 September) was for one machine only.

He said national company GenesisCare, which installed the Bunbury machines and plans to provide one in Albany, told him a bunker could be built at Albany Health campus for about $3 million.

He said requests from GenesisCare, and from him on the company’s behalf, to meet Mr Cook had fallen on deaf ears.

After deadline last week, Mr Cook revealed the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) had begun a feasibility study, “which will be complete in the course of next year”, into the machine.

“The study will need to include broader master planning considerations for the Albany Health Campus site,” he said.

“It’s important to appreciate that the feasibility study will not only consider the cost of the bunker, but also the supporting infrastructure and associated service costs, with detailed costings required for the full operation of such a service.

“Projects of this scale and complexity rightfully demand appropriate financial due diligence to be observed and, as such, communication is ongoing with the Federal government and the WA Country Health Service.”

Last week, General Manager of GenesisCare WA Michael Davis did not respond to a Weekender request for confirmation of the costing advice relayed by Mr Wilson.

Mr Cook said the Federal funding was welcome, but a bit like giving someone furniture when they do not have a home.

“I’m not going to be hurried into signing a blank cheque to suit Rick Wilson’s Federal election timeframes,” he said.

“In the interim, the Great Southern region currently offers a comprehensive cancer service including visiting medical specialists, specialist cancer nursing services, a day chemotherapy unit, and a complementary therapies unit at the Albany Hospital.”

Until Mr Wilson announced the grant, WACHS had repeatedly said radiotherapy equipment was off the table for the Great Southern until at least 2024.

At last week’s Albany Show, NationalsWA Leader Mia Davies said Mr Cook had unnecessarily politicised provision of the machine.

“The Minister [has] made it about an election, and what we’re talking about is something that is potentially life-saving equipment for not just the people of Albany but for the entire Great Southern,” she said.

“We’ve met with [radiotherapy machine advocate] Mary [Williams] from Denmark who is so passionate about it, and it’s mystifying to me why when you’ve got enormous community support and support coming from the Federal Government that the response from the State Government is that: ‘Oh well, we’ll need to look into it, we’ll need to do the business case’.

“I’m not saying those things don’t need to be done but there doesn’t seem to be any urgency in relation to this, and it’s not a new issue.”

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