More than meets the eye

ROBOTS have taken over Vancouver Arts Centre, but the kids of Albany will be in control.

Artist Sandy O’Doherty said Robots – Cool Fun would see local ankle-biters create their own transformers, droids or automatons from recycled materials.

“We’ll be using polystyrene foam, plastics, a little bit of metal and wood, and predominantly screwing or hot-gluing the pieces and components together to create little robot animals, robots themselves or robot wall hangings,” she said.

“There is such a range of materials to choose from, it will really be up to each kid’s imagination and how bold they can go with their robot.”

The activity is inspired by the several ‘bots made from bric-a-brac that feature in Neil Elliot’s Creations from the Man Cave exhibition that runs at the centre until January 27.

“It’s a great idea for the kids to have a look at the exhibition before they start,” O’Doherty said.

“If they haven’t, I might send them down to have a quick look because it’s really fantastic for inspiration.

“With all the kooky variety of animals and robots and morphed types of objects, the kids will be really inspired and have something to work from.”

The robot workspace will be open from 9am to 4pm on January 12, 16 and 19, with workshops running from 10am to noon on those days for children aged 8 and 12.

Call the centre on 6820 3740 to book a workshop spot.

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Real stories reveal true colours

THE chance to expand on her one-liners inspired Perth comedian and ABC radio presenter Andrea Gibbs to fly halfway across the world to be coached by some of the industry’s best.

The product of that trip, Barefaced Stories, is coming to Albany on January 19 and will give people the opportunity to have a sneak peek into real people’s life stories.

Barefaced Stories is the love child of Gibbs and her best friend, Kerry O’Sullivan, and creates an evening of entertainment via live storytelling.

The Albany edition of Barefaced Stories, set to hit the Albany Entertainment Centre stage in just over a week’s time, will feature special guests and Albany locals – all of whom will break down their barriers and tell true stories from their lives.

Gibbs said Barefaced Stories is a chance for people to come together and show their true colours.

“Humans are natural storytellers, but we rarely really open up to each other and reveal the full picture,” she said.

“Our anecdotes sometimes have an Instagram filter on them, but Barefaced is all about stripping that down and revealing the reality of life.

“Stories, whether they are happy or sad – if they are told well – have the power to bring us all together, which helps everyone feel a little less alone in the world.”

Prior to the Albany performance, Gibbs will host two workshops at the Vancouver Arts Centre this weekend to help people ‘find their story’ and learn how to craft it for presentation.

The Saturday ‘Find Your Story’ workshop will go from 10.30am to 2.30pm, and Sunday’s ‘Craft Your Story’ workshop will be from 1.30pm to 5.30pm.

“The workshops are open to everyone that is willing to answer some questions about their lives and be honest with their answers,” Gibbs said.

“I spend day one mining people’s lives for stories that are worth sharing, and then on day two we try to share them.

“The workshops are a blast – interesting, funny and challenging.

“We learn a lot about each other and have a whole lot of laughs along the way.”

Tickets to the What’s Your Story? Workshop can be booked via and tickets for the AEC performance of Barefaced Stories can be purchased from the AEC Box Office or online via Ticketek.

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Curtain’s country calling

ENTERTAINER from the outback and true blue Aussie Tom Curtain will head down to Mt Barker and Albany this weekend for three big nights of country music and live demonstrations of cattle station life.

Queensland-born Curtain moved to the Northern Territory in 2001 to work at Mount Sanford Station, and was inspired to write songs about life in the red-dirt state.

This eventuated into the creation of his current business, the Katherine Outback Experience, which includes Curtain breaking-in a wild horse, watching how working dogs are trained, meeting trick horses and a live performance from Curtain himself.

His massive success, including charting at number one on the iTunes Country Album Chart in November, has led to his Katherine Outback Experience show tour stretching across regional WA.

Curtain and his show will visit Mt Barker tomorrow at Frost Park Pavilion at 6pm.

The country party will continue at the Kalgan Stampede on Saturday and at North Albany Football Club at 3pm on Sunday.

Curtain is touring with his new album, Territory Time, and is keen to travel the country.

“I’m really enjoying hitting the road and touring the Territory Time album throughout regional WA and Queensland, to towns and communities who wouldn’t usually get these sorts of events visiting their doorstep,” he said.

“People love the show because it’s raw and real.

“There are no flashing lights or production sets.

“We provide real horse breaking and working dog demonstrations – something the general public wouldn’t usually see.”

Curtain kicked off his tour in early November in Katherine, and has moved through Kununurra, Broome, Karratha, Tom Price, Geraldton, Tamworth and Queensland, and will finish off his country spell in south-west WA.

You can purchase tickets to Curtain’s WA performances online at

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Ballroom blitz for twirling trio

A SILVER medal and two call-backs have left three emerging Albany ballroom dancers with smiles on their faces after returning from a Perth competition in early December.

Albany Ballroom Dance Studio students Grace Franzinelli, Lorna Ings and Kara Ings participated in the Dance Masters International Australia Christmas Pageant on December 3 at the South Perth

Civic Centre, and their studio principal Donna Foster couldn’t be happier with the girls’ results.

Ten-year-old Grace participated in the bronze star and bronze standard grades, performing the waltz, quickstep, samba and jive.

She placed second in her waltz and quickstep sections.

Twin eight-year-olds Lorna and Kara performed in the grade two slow rhythm, evening three-step and jive sections, receiving a call-back for their talented moves.

The three youngsters were among more than 100 people from across the state vying for gold in the popular Dance Masters competition.

“It was a really long day, but the girls stuck to it and they danced beautifully,” studio principal Donna Foster said.

“I am very proud of Grace’s medal and Lorna and Kara’s call-back. They were all amazing.”

Ms Foster said Dance Masters competitions were held about six times a year, but the smaller group of students and long-distance travel often restricted the dance studio to visiting Perth only once a year.

“I’d love for more people to join us, so we can take more students up there,” Ms Foster said of the Perth competitions.

For those interested in learning a few new moves, Ms Foster at Albany Ballroom Dance Studio can be contacted on 0407 980 010.

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Masters of the dance floor

ALBANY ballroom power couple Jim Watmore and Helen Gee have twirled and dipped their way into the dancing hall of fame after triumphing at the Australian Dancesport Championship in Melbourne.

Mr Watmore and Ms Gee are now the current Australian Masters 3 Dancesport champions in C-grade New Vogue dance style, and in B-grade Latin dance.

The pair, both in their early 60s, also achieved fifth in the B-grade standard class, fourth in the open Latin class and made it through the first round of the open new vogue and standard classes.

They were ecstatic with their wins and are already gearing up for next year’s competition.

“Helen and I couldn’t be any happier with our performance,” Mr Watmore said.

“Becoming master champions hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”

The performance at Hisense Arena was the couple’s first competitive visit to Melbourne, and they are keen to return next year to continue their gold streak.

“With approximately 40 couples in the Masters 3 field alone, the competition was fierce right from the word go,” Mr Watmore said.

“Helen and I were the only Masters 3 competitors from WA, with a high concentration of couples coming from Victoria and New South Wales.

“It was invaluable experience to be competing against so many couples from other parts of Australia and we relish the challenge of going back next year to defend our titles.”

After just one week’s rest, the seasoned dancers were right back into training with their coach, Joy Hearn, to whom they dedicated their fantastic result.

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Collective crafts by harbour

ALBANY is again being spoiled for choice this Christmas with a pop-up gift gallery appearing at the Albany Entertainment Centre.

Make A Scene Artists Collective has brought together a variety of Great Southern artisans to give them the opportunity to showcase and sell their art, in a scheme known as The Harbourside Project.

Photography, crafts, ceramics and glass art are among the diverse range of gifts in the gallery, and they have arrived in town just in time for Christmas.

Borden artist Jill O’Meehan is an installation artist and is responsible for the colourful jellyfish hanging above the pop-up gallery under the AEC main stairwell, near the View restaurant.

She is selling her jewellery, prints and crochet Christmas decorations as part of The Harbourside Project.

“The pop-up gallery is great, because it creates intense interest over a short period of time,” Ms O’Meehan said.

“It’s a good atmosphere here, especially as it’s somewhere different.

“It gives people the chance to support local artists and buy original artwork for a gift.”

The Harbourside Project will be open until January 7, keeping the hours of 10am to 3pm, Tuesday to Sunday, and will be closed from December 24 to 27.

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Fiery crack for new year welcome

THE new year will kick off with a bang in Albany this year with an array of family-friendly activities planned, as well as a busy schedule of nightlife fun for those wanting to welcome in the new year in town.

From 4pm, the Anzac Peace Park will be busy with live entertainment and performances from local talents, including aerial performers Natural Wings and Jamie the Clown.

Food vendors will also be at the Anzac Peace Park to encourage families to come down for a picnic.

The family fireworks will commence at 9pm and the traditional fireworks will see in the new year at midnight.

Vantage points for the fireworks include the Anzac Peace Park, Stirling Terrace and the town footbridge.

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Warm welcome for The Waifs

THE Waifs were welcomed back to the place where it all started with open arms last weekend, wrapping up their 25th anniversary tour with two near sell-out shows in Albany.

Rusted-on Waifs fans would concede there were no big surprises in their solid two hour set that was equal parts banter and music, apart, maybe, from the cover of House of the Rising Sun.

But the realisation that it was an international act on the Albany Entertainment Centre stage, and not just some home-grown talent done good, was too hard to ignore.

In an interview with The Weekender prior to The Waifs’ two-night stand at AEC, guitarist Josh Cunningham was on the money when it came to the choice of venue.

The band seemed to relish the controlled environment of the indoor sit-down venue, rather than the usual open-air let-your-hair-down affair.

After the harmonies from ‘the Simpson sisters’ were hung out and dried, you could have heard a pin drop as the final chords hung in the air on any number of Waifs favourites, except for the noisy chatter from the latecomers somewhere near row C – we’ll cutthem some slack, heaven forbid they were probably just trying to have a good time together.

Self-confessed “set-list Nazi”, Vikki, got it spot-on too, delivering what the audience wanted and when they wanted it.

The band announced themselves all present and correct with opener Lighthouse and interspersed crowd favourites among a few select covers and the endearing pre-song banter throughout the set.

The chatter in row C obviously turned to tears as Waif Donna revealed she hadn’t really been in London all that long when she wrote London Still – but the singalong was great.

When The Waifs walked off stage the first time, the audience might have suspected an encore was coming because the band hadn’t played Take It In.

They made us wait, but the final three songs were worth it.

The duet with Cunningham and Waif Vikki was a lesson in restraint – Cunningham is one of the best in the business.

Finally, with the whole band on stage, including the unsung backline of Ben Franz and Dave MacDonald, Take It In…and we did.

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Get your thrills and chills

DON’T make the wrong move.

Check over your shoulder.

And don’t trust the wrong person.

The latest in horror house-spec practices is coming to Albany on December 15 and 16, and horror lovers are sure to get a thrill and certainly a few chills.

Wrecked, an interactive ghost story presented by theatre company Hunted Interactive Experience, is a very hush-hush event, with the secret Albany location tightly kept under wraps and a limit of 20 participants per audience.

This gripping story is strictly for people aged 15 and over, and is a walk-around experience, in which audiences will encounter actors throughout the performance area and have the story constructed around them.

Your ticket to Wrecked will reveal a map and ticket pack, which will lead you to a mysterious place to begin your unique horror journey.

As you follow an old map in search of artefacts, you will find yourself haunted by the dead passengers of the Timber Wolf, a merchant ship that sank off the coast in the 16th century.

The survivors of this wreckage made their way on a life raft in search of rescue, but what happened to them next was simply unspeakable.

The same could happen to you, the audience, if you don’t make the right choices and trust the wrong people.

Wrecked writer Emma Humphreys has had the perfect secret Albany location in mind for some time, and is keen to bring her dream team of actors down to the Great Southern.

“Wrecked is a classical ghost story in the maritime tradition, where bitter spirits seek to have wrongs they endured in life righted, and treasures they sought granted to them,” she said.

“It’s a lot of fun, very interactive and a completely unique experience.”

Tickets to Wrecked will sell out fast, so be sure to get your hands on some at

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Get your groove on for summer

TO CELEBRATE the beginning of summer, the folk at Great Southern Personnel are dusting off their dance shoes and donning their best frocks for a summertime dance event this Friday night.

The dance will commence at 6.30pm tomorrow night at the Albany Bowling Club in Orana and everyone is invited to come down and socialise for an evening of fun, food and frivolity.

The December 1 event has been timed well, with the annual Disability Awareness Week commencing this Sunday, and the International Day of People with Disability, also this Sunday.

“It’s a great opportunity for people with a disability and their friends and family to meet and get to know each other,” employment coordinator Siobhain Scanlon said.

“Disability Awareness Week is about acknowledging people with a disability and understanding the range of disabilities there are.

“Some people don’t understand that it’s not just people in a wheelchair who can have a disability.

“Disability Awareness Week and the summertime dance is all about inclusion.”

A City of Albany grant and the organisational skills of Great Southern Personnel’s Anne Corey made the event possible, funding the room hire and food, and arranging music and the grand door prize.

“The dance is a free event, but to be eligible for the fantastic door prize, people have to get a ticket,” employment coordinator Michaela Stolban said.

“Tickets are available from our office and at the door on the evening.”

The dress code is smart casual, finger food will be provided and the bowling club bar will be open.

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