A journey through time

WITH the sound of gentle waves lapping up against the nearby rocks and the grand Cheynes IV as their backdrop, The Albany Shantymen took audiences on a journey through time with their voices last Thursday night to commemorate the final season of whaling at Albany’s Historic Whaling Station.

The sun made a glorious afternoon appearance as concert-goers settled into their chairs or on their picnic rugs, but ducked behind the clouds just in time for the 6pm start, giving people on the far side of the makeshift venue a chance to watch the concert without shielding their eyes.

Content with their sausage sizzles, ice creams and snacks, the audience was raring to go as the Shantymen took to the stage.

Their deep, rumbling harmonies and infectious merriment made it irresistible to tap your toes and bob your head through their songs about sailing, whaling, women and beer.

The cheeky remarks thrown back and forward between songs added to the charm of the blokey band, and gave audiences a few extra giggles along the way.

Despite tackling a more sombre topic – the whaling history of Albany – The Albany Shantymen made the commemorative concert light, digestible and fun for all.

A long day at the office was worth dealing with, to be rewarded with these gents’ talented voices on the beach at sunset (well… close to the beach).

2018 marks 40 years since the last whaling season in Albany and this milestone will be celebrated throughout the year with various events and activities at Albany’s Historic Whaling Station.

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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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Eagles fly into Flinders

FLINDERS PARK students got a surprise visit from AFL legends on Tuesday as part of the West Coast Eagles’ school tour promoting wellbeing.

Ex-North Melbourne superstar-turned-Eagle Drew Petrie watched on from the sidelines of the school assembly area with a grin, as students bounced in their seats awaiting the presentation to start.

The students’ excited chirping continued as they joined West Coast Eagles community development officer Bradd Dalziell in chanting Rick the Rock’s name, to coax him out from the stage curtains and on to the stage.

Mr Dalziell led an engaging discussion on physical, emotional and social wellbeing, with Rick the Rock providing just the right amount of cheeky entertainment to keep the kids focused.

During Petrie’s question time, he confirmed that local Albany boy Declan Mountford had made a great start to his career with North Melbourne, having played alongside him for a year.

“He’s really hard working and he’s very professional,” he said of Mountford.

“He’s someone you can trust too, which is a great trait to have.”

The West Coast Eagles will face Sydney Swans at Optus Stadium for their first match of the season on March 25.

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Coffee, meal and five-star feel at Frenchies

WHETHER a $10 million boutique retreat at Frenchman Bay with cafe, kiosk and shop gets the go-ahead will be decided by a State-convened development assessment panel and not the City of Albany.

A 510-page planning application for the Frenchman Bay Retreat, prepared by Harley Dykstra Pty Ltd on behalf of land-owner MTK Ventures Pty Ltd, confirms the resort is too economically valuable to be considered by the city alone.

Earlier this year, The Weekender (‘Developers’ picnic at Frenchies’, 11/1/2018) revealed the project was back on the table after a slightly larger development was canned in 2015.

Back then, 46 letters of support had been received by the city.

But 28 objectors resisted the size of the resort, plans to include permanent housing, or arrangements for sewage treatment.

Now, plans first advertised on Tuesday show 24 two-floor villas (five fewer than originally proposed), on-site sewage treatment, and no permanent residences.

Harley Dykstra advises the retreat – on the site of the defunct Frenchman Bay Caravan Park – would benefit residents of Goode Beach, and greater Albany.

“The proposed café, kiosk and shop will provide increased convenience to the residents of nearby Goode Beach to purchase daily staples including milk and bread,” the planning firm argues.

“Improved amenity will be provided to beach users and tourists, who will be able to purchase drinks, picnic items and sun screen.

“Guests, tourists, locals and the general public will also be able to enjoy a quality coffee and meal from this exceptional location overlooking King George Sound.”

Each two-floor, 208sqm villa would have three bedrooms, a bathroom, ensuite, laundry, TV room, dining room, two lounge rooms, 40sqm double garage, and majestic views over the bay.

The gated project will include a playground, parking spaces for boats and caravans, and circular pathway connecting to an existing stairway from the elevated site down to Whalers Beach.

When contacted by The Weekender, Vancouver Ward councillors Tracy Sleeman and John Shanhun declined to comment on the plans.

The people of Albany can comment direct to the city until April 3.

After that, the city will prepare a report for the Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel.

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Short season puts squeeze on vineyards

WINEMAKERS of the Great Southern region are closing in on the arduous task of harvesting their grapes as the picking season comes to an unusually early finish.

With some wineries having already finished their harvest well before the expected end of season in late April, some producers have said this season has been the shortest in recent memory.

Albany’s Wignalls Wines are expecting to finish their harvest by the end of the week.

“So far, the season is looking like an absolute beauty with really good yields,” owner and winemaker Rob Wignall said.

“Our traditionally later varieties have ripened earlier than normal, which is causing our harvest time to be compressed and a lot of pressure put on our storage resources.”

Mr Wignall reported his grapes generally had balanced acids and a slightly higher sugar content; however, with the threat of disease and bunch rot in his crop, Mr Wignall hasn’t wasted time harvesting.

“I would say this has been the shortest and sharpest harvest season we’ve had in our history,” he said.

“It has been exhausting picking in the wee hours of the morning when it’s coolest, but we’re pretty happy overall.”

In the Mount Barker region, Galafrey Wines’ CEO Kim Tyrer said they had completed harvest for all of their white varieties.

“Our yields have been pretty mixed this year, with some varieties doing really well and others not too good,” she said.

“Our season definitely started earlier than last year’s and will be really short, with our red varieties nearly ready to come off the vine.

“I think our vintage will be over quite early. It will be interesting to see if we have anything left after the Easter break.”

“With everything coming off pretty close together we’re getting a lot of pressure on our storage,” she said.

‘It’s coming off thick and fast, that’s for sure.”

Denmark winery Rockcliffe also reported a higher threat of disease this season, with high humidity and the risk of wet weather threatening fungal blooms and mildew.

“Our volume is going to be a bit smaller this year since we’ve had to drop fruit, but I’m confident our quality is there,” Rockcliffe CEO Steve Hall said.

“We’ve had a lot of disease pressure with the weather not being kind to us.

“But we should have all our harvest done by the end of the week.”

In comparison, Porongurup vineyard Zarephath has reported longer ripening times with a slightly longer harvesting time.

Zarephath owner and winemaker Rosie Singer said yields were larger than last year’s season.

Ms Singer attributed the large yield to the late spring and early summer rain last year, which has shown promising fruit for their Pinot Noir.

“The Pinot is doing really well and is always an anticipated wine for us,” she said.

Frankland River’s Alkoomi are also taking longer to harvest their grapes, with owner and vineyard manager Rod Hallett stating that it would still be another three to four weeks until their harvest would be complete.

“We’ve had a pretty awesome season this year,” he said.

“We started a bit earlier this year, but everything is on par with its standard.”

Mr Hallett said the drier weather in Frankland River had spared the vineyard from any issues with disease this year.

“I’m sure other wineries in the Frankland region would be experiencing the same,” he said.

“Frankland is pretty reliable with its weather and its grapes.”

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City’s French connection invokes Travelgate saga

THE Travelgate scandal that saw the Corruption and Crime Commission form opinions of serious misconduct against Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi reared its head in Albany on Tuesday when a city committee agreed that ratepayers foot the bill for a $5000 trip to France for Mayor Dennis Wellington.

Toward the end of debate on the planned trip to Peronne to commemorate Australia’s World War I military presence at the Somme, Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks dubbed Albany’s inability to accept an offer from Peronne of accommodation and domestic transport “a load of rubbish”.

“It’s not as if the mayor is going to the Olympic Games … and drinking with the corporate sector,” Cr Stocks said, precipitating a muffled chortle from one of his elected colleagues.

The observation was a pointed reference to Ms Scaffidi’s acceptance of a trip to the 2008 Beijing Olympics for she and husband Joe, courtesy of BHP-Billiton.

After the CCC published opinions of serious misconduct against Ms Scaffidi in 2015, the ensuing Travelgate affair saw the State Government tighten declaration requirements for all gifts to local officials, including trips abroad.

At the Community and Corporate Services Committee meeting on Tuesday night, Alison Goode, Mayor of Albany from 1999 to 2007, said it was “a shame” Mr Wellington was “unable to accept the gift” but that such hospitality usually came at a cost.

“When the Mayor of Gallipoli came out, we footed the bill for everything,” Cr Goode recalled.

Cr Sandie Smith asked city CEO Andrew Sharpe if the friendship agreement with Peronne was active and reciprocal, as required by the city’s Civic Affiliations Policy for an overseas trip.

Mr Sharpe said that when in Peronne Mr Wellington would discuss a return visit from French officials to commemorate the Anzacs’ departure from Albany in 1914.

“It’s a bit late for that,” Cr Smith observed.

“When was the last time there was a reciprocal visit from them, please?”

Addressing Cr Goode, and not committee chair Paul Terry, Mr Wellington said he thought it was “when you were mayor”.

“I think they were invited for 2014 but couldn’t make it,” he added.

Mr Sharpe acknowledged Cr Smith’s was “a valid question”.

“I think that’s a conversation the mayor is quite likely to have when he visits Peronne to see if there’s a desire to visit in 2019,” he said, referring to the Field of Light: Avenue of Honour installation set to commemorate the Anzacs from October 2018 to April 2019 at Mount Clarence.

Mr Wellington said that since the agreement with Peronne was signed in 2008, the city had realised its bilateral relationships were very expensive.

He said the city had said “no thanks” in the past “four or five months” to two approaches from Chinese cities.

After debate concluded, Mr Wellington left the council chambers and his 12 councillor colleagues unanimously endorsed the $5000 visit from August 31 to September 2.

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Albany’s say on end of life

ADVANCE health directives instructing medical staff not to resuscitate very ill patients have come under the microscope in Albany, the only regional centre to host hearings of the Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices to date.

At Centennial Park on March 7, Patricia Marshall, 77, told the eight-MP committee chaired by Morley MLA Amber-Jade Sanderson, that she had spoken to her GP about an advance health directive.

She said a directive would have no effect if somebody were to collapse at home where an ambulance officer, without access to the document, would be legally bound to revive the patient.

“Something has to be done about these advance health directives,” she said.

“[They] might be in the hospital in the bottom of a thick file.

“They have to be somewhere central and they have to be binding.”

After Mount Lawley MLA Simon Millman asked if Mrs Marshall was concerned the documents might be “treated as relatively fluid directives”, she said they were not being applied satisfactorily and so did not account for the wishes of patients.

She said directives were normally filed only with GPs and local hospitals, and that a central repository, accessible to all medical staff, would help.

When Baldivis ML A Reece Whitby observed there was “quite a population of retirees in Albany”, Mrs Marshall said the city’s senior citizens had been discussing the matter of euthanasia “in quite some detail”.

“So, we have come to the right place,” Mr Whitby smiled.

After The Weekender last year asked Ms Sanderson if her powerful committee planned to convene in Albany, it decided to do so.

The only other regional centre announced for hearings is Broome, where the committee will take evidence next month.

In a written submission, Virginia Jealous told the committee a ‘death care choices’ meeting of 50 people in Denmark on October 22 had supported better access to information about advance health directives.

In Perth on February 26, University of Western Australia research fellow Craig Sinclair told the committee he supported the “rights-based approach” to end-of-life choices that operated in Canada.

Dr Sinclair, who has a PhD in psychology and is based in Albany, said he would prefer an approach grounded in autonomy and equality of access to assisted dying.

Within such a framework, safeguarding the integrity of the decision-making process, rather than providing a criminal defence for medical practitioners, would be paramount.

He said that, particularly with dementia, many people chose assisted dying to maintain independence and control, rather than to avoid severe pain.

Also in Perth, on March 1, Albany-based palliative care physician Kirsten Auret told the committee her UWA medical students rarely expressed concerns about competent patients who refused life-sustaining treatments.

“The concerns that have been voiced by both our academics and our students are around how difficult it can be at times to assess competency in making very complex decisions in medically unwell patients, particularly those with delirium, dementia, and neurodegenerative diseases,” Professor Auret said.

“The issue of discomfort for our students is not the withholding or withdrawing or refusing of life-prolonging treatment; it is the issue of capacity and how do they do that safely and effectively.”

In a written submission, Harley Dekker, a Year 10 student at Albany’s John Calvin School, said euthanasia was against his Christian beliefs.

“My grandpa died of cancer after being told that he could live for another three months, but he only lasted five days,” Harley wrote.

“God states in his bible that he doesn’t like people choosing when they get to end their life.

“I am extremely worried that if euthanasia is legalised lots of old people will choose the euthanasia way.”

In their submission, Gerald and Carolyn den Boer, who last year moved from Albany to Byford, also opposed euthanasia.

“The main reason for doing so is simply because we believe the Bible to be the Word of God, and it is His Word that God forbids all murder and assisted suicide,” they explained.

“It is of great concern to us that if euthanasia is legalised it will have bad ramifications down the track.

“Already in Europe there are cases when people are euthanised when their families desire it for selfish reasons.”

In his submission, Albany resident Andrew Vermeulen said his father-in-law had died in September after a 12-year struggle with dementia.

He stressed that his father-in-law’s life had purpose until the day he died, even though for the past eight years he was unable to speak and had lost control of bodily functions.

“Legalising euthanasia will result in less compassion in society,” Mr Vermeulen argued.

“I’d plead with the government to support good palliative care facilities so that our loved ones can die in good, caring and loving environments.”

On March 2 in Perth, neurologist Robert Edis told the committee that palliative care services in Albany, Esperance, Bunbury, Geraldton and Broome were good.

“In our experience of the country areas, they all muck in together,” Dr Edis said.

“If they live in a farming community, they may go to Katanning Hospital or something, and there will be a palliative care component to their beds.”

The committee is halfway through its inquiry, with calls for written submissions now closed, and hearings expected to wrap up in Perth in April.

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Spinning discs for forty years

MAKING the music flow has been one of Albany radio personality Warren Mead’s favourite aspects of his job.

He certainly could be considered an expert on music flow, considering on-air time has been his gig for the past four decades.

The 1611AM Gold MX voice celebrated 40 years in the business late last year and remains ever so humble about his great achievements.

Mr Mead started his career in the late 1970s at the ABC in Albany, where he dabbled in disc jockeying, on-air broadcasting and copywriting advertisements.

“I had to use a typewriter back then,” he laughed.

After a stint in Perth with 6PM, he married his wife Kira and moved back to Albany and joined 6VA.

For the next decade, Mr Mead went to and from stations across WA, adding to his now expansive CV of experience.

He went from Albany breakfast shows to Bridgetown, back to Perth with 6IX and then back to Albany with 6VA.

It was after this round-trip of WA that Mr Mead decided to set up his own shop in his hometown.

“We had 87.8 Farm FM in 1993 and then acquired 88FM in 1995, and that was an easy-listening station,” he said.

“They were hugely popular with the older folks in town.

“They were hugely loyal listeners, so we gave our Farm FM CDs away to them in a competition when we stopped that station.”

The next cab off the rank was 1611AM Gold MX, once known for country music but now playing ‘good times and great classic hits’ from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

This station became unique when Mr Mead converted it to commercial in 1998 after its launch in 1997.

“The 1611AM frequency was granted a section 40 commercial license, the first 1611 in Australia to do so,” he said.

“The official AM band goes to 1602AM and we were operating on 1611AM, so we decided to go commercial and have a broader reach.”

Mr Mead’s list of achievements grew again with 88 Fly FM in 2006; the new face of 88FM now played the current chart-toppers.

After a brief pause in his radio career – selling Gold MX and Fly FM to The Great Southern Weekender in 2014 – Mr Mead made his comeback a couple of years later.

“We needed to have a rest, but I missed it,” he said of his return to the airwaves.

“Making the music flow; that’s always been my favourite part.”

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Edwardian London comes to Albany

WE ALL know the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain.

But did you know that My Fair Lady is coming to Albany?

Weeks of preparation and rehearsals now leave students from Great Southern Grammar just eight days away from the first night of their interpretation of the 1964 musical film, and musical director Emma Luxton said students are excited to get the show on the road.

“They are really looking forward to the next stage of rehearsals being on the big stage,” she said.

“They really enjoy the excitement of the lights, headset microphones, more sets, detail on the stage and knowing the shows are only in a few days.

“They are always very excited in the final week and it is lovely to work with them.”

Ms Luxton said My Fair Lady was selected for the biennial middle and senior school production as she believed the group of students involved would really bring the characters to life.

“It is a show that talks about class divide and has a strong female lead, and we love the story and music,” she said.

Ms Luxton also said students had developed cross-year group friendships by producing the play, and are all now proficient waltzers.

Tickets are still on sale for the March 16 and 17 shows at the Albany Entertainment Centre, and can be purchased online at Ticketek or via the AEC Box Office.

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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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