Wishes come true

FOR Make a Wish Albany president Ellie Gregory and vice president Sherri Willock, it’s all about seeing the smile light up on a sick child’s face that makes the long hours fundraising worthwhile.

From building cubby houses and buying state- of-the-art computers, to sending families on holidays and creating special baby hampers, the pair have seen and done it all in the name of giving sick children from the Great Southern a break from hospitals and needles.

Ms Gregory said Make a Wish Albany’s next fundraiser, to be held this Saturday, will take a different form from the usual quiz night and bake sale to create a more inclusive style of event.

“We felt like stuff was missing for young kids,” she said.

“So this is the first time we are doing a kid-focused fundraiser.

“We just want to do something to benefit the community.”

A range of kids’ activities will be held from 9am to noon on October 6 at the Albany Town Square and for $4 per child, kids can dance with Happy Feet Fitness, play games with Jamie the Clown, buy a treat from the bake sale and go in the running to win a raffle prize.

All money raised will go directly to Make a Wish to help grant wishes, of which the Albany branch has granted 15 in 10 years and one was completed as recently as May.

Albany’s own Taj Stubber, now 16, was one of the 15 children who had his wish granted in the past and said having a wish become reality helped alleviate the stress of his medical battle.

Taj was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when he was four years old and living in Borden.

He spent three years receiving treatment in Perth and staying at Ronald McDonald House with his mum, and missed time at home with his dad and two older brothers.

It was when Taj was seven years old and back at home that some of his secret wishes came true.

“I got told I was doing a grocery run in town,” Taj recalled.

“When I got back, there was a West Coast Eagles-themed pool party and David Hall, my favourite sprint car driver, was there.

“Then I found out I was going to the Gold Coast for a week with Mum, Dad, Bodhi and Logan.”

Taj said he got to meet Nitro, one of the hosts from TV series The Shak and went to all the different theme park ‘worlds’.

The smile on his face when reflecting on the trip eight years on showed how much of a difference the holiday made for Taj and his family.

“It was a pretty tough time,” Taj said about the toll his cancer battle took on his loved ones.

“So it was good to get away and have time to hang out together.”

Ms Gregory revealed the Albany Make a Wish group is about to start working on a new wish for a child living in the Great Southern, and said she encouraged people to attend Saturday’s event to help raise money for the charity.

Young Taj said he still receives annual health check-ups and planned to have one this week in Perth, which he hopes will be the last one in Perth before receiving them annually in Albany.

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Tale of happiness

HOT on the heels of Albany-bred author Tim Winton’s book-to-film adaption of Breath being filmed in Denmark and the announcement of new movie Rams to be filmed in Mount Barker until December, Albany will have its time to shine with a new feature film commencing shooting in town next month.

H is for Happiness will tell the story of Candice Phee, a 12-year-old girl determined to bring happiness and joy back to her family following a tragedy.

The tale will follow Candice and a new friend she meets on their joint quest to find happiness, and has been described as a “very sweet, family drama comedy” by director John Sheedy.

Mr Sheedy remained tight-lipped on the final cast list when talking to The Weekender, but revealed the movie will be filmed entirely in Albany from the second week of November and feature many iconic Albany locations.

He said Albany will keep its name in the film and feature in the opening line of the movie – “A is for Albany”.

“I love the bottom part of Albany; it has this old-world sense,” Mr Sheedy said.

“It’s very charming and quirky, and the coastal landscapes are beautiful.”

Mr Sheedy said the windfarm, the old yacht club, the “Lady Gaga mansion” – Maitraya Private Retreat – York Street and Albany Senior High School are among the locations to be used for the film.

He’s excited to see what the Albany landscape can offer, explore its uniqueness and work alongside locals.

“There’s something very special about WA,” Mr Sheedy said.

“There’s a lot of character and charm, great views, it’s not flat and there are so many talented artists here.

“There must be something in the water.”

Head of production and development for ScreenWest Matt Horrocks said he is excited to get WA back into the spotlight with H is for Happiness.

He revealed the new movie will be one of many programs to be filmed in and around the Great Southern in the coming months.

ScreenWest is one of the companies involved in H is for Happiness’ production investment.

“WA is the busiest state in the country at the moment,” Mr Horrocks said.

“There’s been projects in the Kimberley, Busselton and Denmark, and now Albany will be the star of the show.

“We are really thrilled that a series of TV shows and films for around the South West and down your way [Albany] will be announced in the next few weeks.

“The Great Southern has some of the most extraordinary locations, of which some can be hard to get to for shooting, so we are trying to activate those extraordinary locations.”

Mr Horrocks said he is “very keen” on H is for Happiness and believes people from all over Australia will love it.

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Feds push State to back cancer care

DESPITE unwavering Federal and local support, the State Government says it needs to put “more consideration” into backing a radiotherapy facility in Albany to enable Great Southern cancer patients to receive treatment closer to home.

In the wake of a $6.6 million funding announcement by Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson to aid the purchase of radiotherapy equipment for a private facility at Albany Day Hospital, State health minister Roger Cook said further thought and planning was required before the State could throw its full support behind the project.

“The WA Government welcomes the Commonwealth funding commitment towards the purchase of oncology equipment,” he said.

“More consideration needs to be given to the project and communication is ongoing with the Federal Government and the WA Country Health Service.”

Federal health minister Greg Hunt made a whirlwind trip to Albany on Tuesday in a show of support for the project and further insisted the State come to the party.

Mr Hunt said the likely remaining cost for the radiotherapy facility would be $6 million, of which the State’s contribution could potentially be half.

He said Genesis Cancer Care, the private provider awarded the license for the facility, would contribute “significantly” and split the remaining cost “50/50” with the State.

“This [facility] is in WA’s interest, it’s in Albany’s interest and we would like the State to do what other states are doing and provide this basic facility,” Mr Hunt said.

“It’s about moving quickly now.

“This is in the top 100 projects in the country.

“The Commonwealth has assessed need and viability, and determined that Albany has high need and high viability.

“I don’t think the State can ignore this finding by the Commonwealth.

“It is innovative, where you have private and public and community com- ing together, and the only missing part now is the State.”

Genesis Cancer Care general manager Michael Davis said although he would not guarantee the facility would be operational by the June 30, 2019 date as suggested by Mr Wilson previously, he said it would not be a long process once the wheels started turning.

“There are many requirements to be considered prior to commencing a service,” he said.

“The first step is to agree on a service model that will benefit all patients in the region.

“Then, a site is required and further capital raised to build the facility.

“There are still a number of unknowns, but once these are agreed, the service can come together quickly.”

WA Country Health Service regional director for the Great Southern David Naughton, who stated in March that the WA Health Clinical Services Framework for 2014 to 2024 did not include a dedicated radiation oncology treatment service for the Great Southern, would not speculate on the role WACHS would play in a radiotherapy facility.

“In other parts of Western Australia, some public radio oncology treatment services are delivered by the private sector and organisations such as Genesis Care,” he said.

“However, as there has been no formal assessment of the capital cost of an Albany facility, it would be remiss of the WA Country Health Service to speculate on the role it would play in the development and operation of this technology.”

Mr Naughton said patients in the Great Southern currently have access to a range of specialised outpatient cancer treatments in Albany and are supported to access radiotherapy in Bunbury and Perth.

In instances where travel is required, Mr Naughton said eligible patients are able to apply for financial support in the form of the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme.

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‘Truckload of trouble’

A PUSH by grain exporter CBH to introduce 42-metre triple road trains to South Coast Highway between Albany and Jacup has been slammed by the City’s Deputy Mayor.

“I am violently opposed to the idea,” Greg Stocks said in a candid interview with The Weekender.

“Until South Coast Highway is upgraded properly, if you’ve ever driven to Jerramungup behind a B-double, you add another five-and-a-half metres to it, nobody’s ever going to get past these things.

“You put a bigger vehicle and more weight on the road-base of South Coast Highway, which is probably nearly 60 years old, you start putting bigger, stronger, heavier, longer vehicles on those roads, it’s gonna tear ‘em up.”

Councillor Stocks said he learned of the CBH application during a recent harvest sundowner at the Wellstead CRC.

“It was a grain grower who said: ‘The triple [trailer] means cheaper freight for me, but I absolutely don’t want it, it’s just not safe enough, so do something about it’,” he explained.

“No-one wants it there, so that’s a farming community and the people who will supposedly benefit from it saying: ‘Do what we can to stop it’.”

A Main Roads spokesperson said CBH’s planned 42m A-triple road trains were at the early stages of a rigorous approval process.

“This process involves the vehicles being specifically designed, constructed and certified to meet stringent safety performance standards,” the spokesperson said.

“The … standards are higher than those of conventional 36.5m road trains which are already operating on South Coast Highway.”

South Coast Highway is already an approved route for three-trailer 36.5m B-triple and two-trailer 36.5m B-double road trains.

The CBH application for the 42m A-triples covers the 215km stretch of highway from Albany through Manypeaks, Boxwood Hill, Gairdner and Jerramungup to Jacup.

The spokesperson said the highway from Albany to Esperance had for the past three years been approved for the 42m trucks and a small number of A-triples were already operating under that approval.

“There are no specific [highway] upgrades planned as a result of [CBH’s] recent application,” the spokesperson said.

“The State Government has previously approved $30 million over the period 2018 to 2022 for Main Roads to improve a number of sections of South Coast Highway between Albany and Jerramungup.

“The improvements include widening sections of the road, reconstructing sections of pavement and construction of additional passing lanes.”

The spokesperson said A-triples “are considered to be safer than conventional road trains, as they are assessed on their safety performance, as opposed to prescriptive dimension limits”.

“While they are slightly longer than conventional road trains (i.e. 5.5m in this case) they are specifically designed to meet stringent safety standards and are equipped with additional safety features, including electronic braking systems with rollover stability systems and are monitored via in-vehicle telematics systems to ensure compliance with route and speed requirements,” the spokesperson said.

“If CBH is able to develop a suitable design for the … 42m … triples and it is economically viable then Main Roads will work with CBH to en- able their proposal to be discussed in more detail with stakeholders.”

A CBH spokesperson said if the A-triples were approved, the number of grain trucks on the highway would be reduced, with several replaced by the newer, safer ones.

“As the WA grain industry has not previously investigated [these] truck operations, CBH is in the engineering design phase,” the spokesperson added.

“As the application progresses, we will keep key stakeholders informed.”

The spokesperson declined to reveal how many A-triples CBH plans to run along the highway.

An Austroads report published in 2014 found that if more freight were carried by A-triples, there would be significantly fewer truck crashes.

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Open to inspiration

IMPROVISATION violinist Rupert Guenther will star in the annual Albany Festival of Strings next month and he promises to deliver a program of music reflective of the Great Southern.

Guenther will host a public lecture at UWA Albany Centre on October 18, star in a concert for the Albany Fine Music Series at Albany Uniting Church on October 19, be part of the Albany String Festival at Albany Senior High School on October 20 and host two workshops at ASHS on October 21.

The works presented will showcase the evolution of Guenther’s music from classical to original, and prove to audiences how he went from being the “sideman to the stars” to the main act.

“I started getting into music when I was eight years old,” he said.

“I had a keen interest in violin during school and had a few interesting experiences with musicians along the way.”

Guenther said his parents were patrons of the arts in his hometown of Melbourne and often had visiting artists come by for dinner.

He said this set him on a “wonderful pathway” and encouraged him to pursue a musical university degree and work alongside orchestras and operas in Austria and Vienna.

Guenther has even rubbed shoulders with the likes of Olivia Newton-John, John Farnham and The Beatles record producer Sir George Martin during his career.

But it all changed 15 years ago.

“I was always the side-man to the stars and terribly dissatisfied with my performances,” Guenther said.

“My stage fright had been endemic since I first started performing…

“But in 2003, I realised I’d had a year without stage fright.

“Twenty years of unnecessary fear had come to an end.

“And I had a breakthrough; I could improvise my own classical music with my own inspirations.”

Guenther’s solo career took off from there and saw him gain international recognition for his creativity.

He held masterclasses at international music conferences and European conservatoriums, including the European String Teachers Association in Austria and Sweden, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and the WA Academy of Performing Arts in Perth.

“It doesn’t get much better than this,” Guenther reflected on his solo career.

“And it’s so much more than just the music; it’s about how people inspire me and how we as artists can affect people’s lives.”

The Albany Festival of Strings concert will mark Guenther’s first visit to Albany, and he is excited to explore the town and gain inspiration for the music he will perform during the festival.

“The concert will be a representation of my experiences while I’m here,” Guenther said.

“All my concerts are inspired by the landscape, history and energy of the land, like an exhibition of paintings, so these concerts will be all about the Great Southern.”

To find out more information about the Albany Festival of Strings or to purchase tickets, visit austa.asn.au.

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Long time in the making

CENTENARY commemorations for the end of World War I will extend into the theatre this November with Albany Light Opera and Theatre Company’s production It’s Been a Long, Long Time.

Director Susie McIntosh said the musical tribute review will showcase the songs that “boosted morale” during the first and second world wars, as well as bookend a previous production the company produced.

ALOTCo performed Sing As We Go in 2015 as part of the initial centenary commemorations in memory of the Anzacs, and McIntosh said It’s Been a Long, Long Time had been in the pipeline since then.

“We always spoke about a follow-up production,” she said.

“But it has evolved since we first started talking about it.”

It’s Been a Long, Long Time will feature songs, visual presentations, poetry, dance and audience participation to celebrate the end of war time, but also reflect on the circumstances people found themselves in once guns were laid down.

Artistic director Findlay MacNish reflected on how it wasn’t all smiles come Armistice Day.

“After the initial ‘hooray, the war is over’, people realised that things weren’t fantastic,” he said.

“The end of the war didn’t mean the end of pain.

“Everyone still needed jollity to keep them going, so this show is about the music that boosted morale in that time.”

McIntosh said the production had been specifically worked on for the past five to six months and has included the efforts of a cast of 30 people, ranging from ages 16 to 91.

“This is our third week of rehearsals,” he said.

“We are rehearsing songs at the moment and it’s sounding really lovely.”

Other than rehearsals, the cast and crew are busy organising country flags and poppies, of which a sea of them will be strewn across the theatre.

And of course, making sure there will be enough tea and Anzac biscuits to go around.

It’s Been A Long, Long Time will play on November 3, 4, 9and 10and tickets are available now from Paperbark Merchants.

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Roundabout no-go

AFTER receiving “outstanding” ideas for a sculpture and clearing several garden gnomes from Mount Barker’s main roundabout, Plantagenet shire has decided to do nothing much there for the time being.

Addressing the Shire’s council recently, works and services manager David Lynch thanked all people who made a submission on aesthetics of the town’s northern roundabout on Albany Highway.

Mr Lynch noted a roundabout was mainly for getting vehicles across an intersection safely and in a timely manner.

“Nothing within the roundabout area should be overly distracting to the motorist, so items such as signage are not encouraged,” he advised.

“Some of the sculptural ideas were outstanding but the concern was that they either would be too distracting to motorists or would attract pedestrians onto the roundabout to take photos.

“In light of the above, none of the ideas fitted the criteria and the roundabout will therefore remain in its current state for the time being.”

Mr Lynch said the matter of improving and upgrading Mt Barker’s entry statements remained open for discussion.

“This includes not only the roundabout, but also approaches to the south, east and west, including signage,” he said.

The intersection will get a facelift soon with its coloured stones being refreshed.

Also, four ‘Tupelo’ (Nyssa sylvatica) trees have been planted at the roundabout.

The facelift comes after Councillor Brett Bell dubbed the intersection’s looks “a disgrace” (‘Barker roundabout action’, 8 February) and the Shire removed a collection of garden gnomes from the roundabout (‘Barker gnomes rehomed’, 19 April).

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Watson holds firm for love of Pies

AHEAD of Saturday’s AFL Grand Final, the Speaker of Western Australia’s Parliament has eschewed all local hype surrounding the West Coast Eagles, choosing to back his beloved black-and-whites instead.

With magpie season in full swing atop Mount Clarence on Tuesday, Albany MLA Peter Watson said the time was ripe for Collingwood to swoop and snatch the nation’s most coveted flag for the sixteenth time.

“After the Eagles beat Collingwood in the qualifying final, I copped a lot of flack,” winked the Legislative Assembly Speaker, who this week donned the black and white for his daily constitutional down, then up, Mount Clarence with pet pooch Harry.

“But I’ve kept all the emails and all the text messages just in case we happen to win at the weekend, and then I’ll reply to them.

“And if we lose, nothing else will be said.”

Mr Watson said his all-time favourite Pie is 2011 Brownlow medallist Dane Swan, “because he’s different”.

“He was his own man, a brilliant footballer, won a medal,” he reflected on the champion midfielder who retired in 2016.

Not far behind in Mr Watson’s esteem are current player Steele Sidebottom, and Macedonian Marvel Peter Daicos, who played his first footy in the Melbourne suburb of Preston where Mr Watson was born.

“They’d be the three, but Swanny is number one,” he expanded.

“He’s a real Collingwood person, rough around the edges, tatts all over him, but by gee he could play footy and he’s a great entertainer.”

Mr Watson, 71, grew up in Thornbury, just south of Preston.

“The guy across the road used to deliver the wood and the ice and he used to wear a Collingwood guernsey year in, year out with a beanie and he’d get me in my high chair and he’d grab me on the cheek and he’d say: ‘Don’t you barrack for Carlton’,” he recalled.

“Everyone else in my family barracked for Carlton.

“But he bought me a Collingwood guernsey when I was two and I’ve been a Collingwood supporter ever since.”

Mr Watson, who represented Australia as a middle distance runner at the 1968 Olympics, played junior footy and a scratch match or two in the Colts for Claremont before running took over.

“I wasn’t much of a footballer,” he confided.

“I wanted to be a footballer.

“All I wanted to do was play for Claremont and Collingwood, but I had to find something that I was good at, not what I wanted to be good at.”

He said he just hoped Saturday’s grand final would be a good game.

“I think it’s two teams who at the start of the year no-one thought would do well, so it’s a good luck story for one of the teams and it’s also a good luck story for the other team that got there,” he added philosophically.

No magpies or eagles were harmed in the production of this story.

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Fire centre boost

COMPETITION to host a multi-million dollar State bushfire centre of excellence is heating up, with The Weekender able to reveal a shortlist of possible locations that includes the Great Southern centres of Albany, Mount Barker, Denmark and Katanning.

A Government tender document released in the past week says the only possible regional location for the centre will be a site within 60km of Albany, Bunbury, Busselton, Mandurah or Geraldton; or the townsites of Katanning, Manjimup, Margaret River, Collie, Boddington, Northam, Morawa or Jurien Bay.

Also on the shortlist are outer metropolitan Perth shires that abut a rural area.

Asked whether his administration would make a bid for the centre, City of Albany CEO Andrew Sharpe kept his cards close to his chest.

“The City welcomes the opportunity extended to local governments to make a bid to be the base of the new bushfire centre of excellence, and will consider the benefits of making a case for Albany over coming weeks,” he said.

At a meeting on Tuesday night, Vancouver Ward Councillor John Shanhun, a member of the South Coast Volunteer Bushfire Brigade, was more expansive.

“I’m just pumped, because I believe surely Albany, if it is serious about this, has a fantastic chance,” he told City officials and The Weekender.

“If the City gets behind this it would be fantastic for Albany.”

Cr Shanhun said the Albany-based brigade had 16 bases that stretched east to Esperance and north to Narrogin.

But competition will be hot, with the metropolitan Shire of Serpentine-Jarrahdale saying it wants the centre, and will seek $5 million of Federal cash to top up the $18 million already promised by Premier Mark McGowan. Darlington in the metropolitan Shire of Mundaring is also reportedly in the mix.

In May, Mr McGowan said the centre would improve bushfire management practices across the State, providing a facility for volunteers to train other volunteers to fight bushfires.

South West Region Liberal MLC Steve Thomas, the Opposition spokesperson for Emergency Services, said building the centre in a metropolitan area such as Darlington would not be appropriate.

“I think it’s absolutely critical that they go through a full and proper process and find the best regional area,” said Dr Thomas, who has pushed hard for the centre to be based somewhere in the Great Southern or Southwest.

He said officials from Albany, Manjimup, Bunbury, Busselton, Collie, Mandurah and Pinjarra had told him they would likely throw their hats in the ring.

“It will be a major asset for a country town somewhere,” he added.

“The South West Land Division is, in my view, the only really appropriate place for the centre to go because that’s where the forest meets the population.”

Shire of Plantagenet CEO Rob Stewart said “good reasons” existed to base the centre in the Great Southern, including the “diverse range of fire environments, old growth forest, broadacre farming, large tracts of natural bush and national parks”.

“Also, the Great Southern is easy to get to with daily air services from Perth and only a four-hour drive from the metropolitan area,” he said.

“However, we do not yet have a formal position on this issue and [it] is possibly something that should be discussed at [a regional] alliance level.”

Shire of Denmark CEO Bill Parker said his municipality’s position on the Government shortlist “has certainly got our attention”.

“We will discuss it over the coming days with our councillors and Alliance partners,” he said.

The State tender document says the centre will need to incorporate Aboriginal people’s multi-millennia knowledge and experience managing fire.

Municipalities in the South West Land Division have until 11am on October 24 to lodge an expression of interest with the State.

Shire of Katanning CEO Julian Murphy and Shire of Manjimup Acting CEO Brian Robinson failed to respond by the Weekender’s deadline.

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Dance invokes reflection

THE second instalment of Denmark choreographer Annette Carmichael’s The Beauty Index will be performed next month following part one’s finalist listing in the 2018 Australian Dance Awards.

A Light Shade of Red will take centre stage at the Albany Entertainment Centre on October 19 and 20 and feature dancers aged 16 to 26 from the Great Southern.

It will explore a palette of emotions evoked by Armistice Day to tie in with the centenary celebrations which will commence in Albany in November.

Carmichael said the production took two years to develop and is similar to being in a dream, where “layers upon layers of images wash over you”.

“There is no single story, but the intent and commitment of the performers is to lead you through the experience,” she said.

“My War? [the previous production] was for the centenary of Anzac Day and it felt right that we created another performance for the centenary of Armistice Day.”

A Light Shade of Red was selected as the title name by Carmichael to evoke the dawning of the sun, which she said is an important time of day for reflection.

“The colour red means so much, from anger and violence to hope and joy,” she said.

“That moment between night and day when we are filled with the potential of what is to come… that seemed a good fit for the feeling of Armistice.

“What is the potential of humanity when we lay down our guns?”

The Beauty Index saga will continue with Carmichael’s third instalment, Chorus now underway.

Chorus is currently in production and will be a dance project for 200 women to perform in 2020.

Carmichael said a number of women of all ages and experiences have already joined in the project, but if anyone is interested, they can subscribe to her e-news via annettecarmichael.com.au.

Tickets for A Light Shade of Red can be purchased via the AEC Box Office or online via tickets.ptt.wa.gov.au.

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