Duo tackle Kokoda trek for charity

TWO Albany residents will join 19 other Australians in conquering Papua New Guinea’s gruelling Kokoda Trail in April to raise money for diabetes research.

Lisa Manera and Allan Faulkner – alongside David Page from Perth – will be the only Western Australians attempting the challenge alongside their fellow Aussie counterparts and have been training for a few months now.

Mr Faulkner reaches his daily 20,000 steps goal in his own backyard and surrounds in Porongurup, and Ms Manera has been training up and down the Sand Patch stairs and around the hilly areas of Albany to maintain her fitness.

The pair is participating in the challenge to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF), in honour of Ms Manera’s son Josh.

Josh was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes three years ago just after his ninth birthday and it came as quite a shock to his family.

Ms Manera and family friend Mr Faulkner have been raising money for JDRF ever since.

“The diagnosis came out of nowhere like for so many other people,” Ms Manera said.

“The Kokoda trek was always something I wanted to experience one day and when this challenge came up with the opportunity to raise funds for Type 1 diabetes research, I just had to sign up.”

The pair is hosting three more fundraisers this month before they head overseas.

This Saturday, March 7, there will be a concert at Porongurup Hall featuring the Albany Shantymen, Shantylillies and bush poet Peter Blyth.

The event kicks off at 6.30pm and tickets are available at the door for $15 per adult, children under 12 are free and it’s BYO drinks and a plate to share.

There will be a fundraising sausage sizzle at Bunnings Albany on March 15.

On March 29, there will be a fundraising bushwalk around Mt Clarence and Mt Adelaide.
The walk will take approximately three to four hours and start at the bottom carpark of Apex Drive.

An entry fee payable on the day will be donated to JDRF and get participants a barbecue lunch after the walk.

For more details or to RSVP, email asilenz15@ gmail.com

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Albany 7th best Australian town

ALBANY has been recognised as one of the top 10 best tourism towns in the Wotif 2020 Aussie Town of the Year Awards.

Starting in 2018, the awards saw Albany miss out on a ranking for the first year but score second place in 2019.

Coming in at number seven this year, Albany was described as “as close as you’ll get to a historic European city in WA – Albany is the western state’s oldest European settlement with a rich history and fantastic family appeal”.

Wotif’s Chris Milligan said WA made a “really strong” showing in this year’s awards.

“Albany and Margaret River continue to be firm favourites with Wotif customers,” he said.

“I think it’s the diverse experience you can have across the region, whether it’s food right through to the beautiful coastline.”

The Wotif Aussie Town of the Year Awards are based on a data index that recognises Australian destinations that have offered “good affordability, well-rated accommodation and increasing traveller interest” over the past 12 months on Wotif.com.

“If the results from previous years are anything to go by, we hope the awards provide a boost to this year’s finalists, in what is going to be a particularily important year for domestic travel,” Wotif Managing Director Daniel Finch added.

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Mural project combats suicide

A NEW mural along Albany Highway has been painted to add to a broader creative project aimed at raising awareness about mental health.

The Blue Tree Project started a couple of years ago as a way for a Mukinbudin family to honour their son who died from suicide.

Now, the project has prompted dozens of groups around the state to paint dead trees in regional WA blue to act as conversation starters for depression, suicide and anxiety.

Blue With A View – a support group based in Mt Barker – has created a mural on a water tank on local Glen Clode’s property to reflect The Blue Tree Project.

The mural is located a few metres before Gilberts Wines in Kendenup, on the left.

“We’ve got to get rid of that stigma,” Mr Clode said.

“Even if just one person sees the mural or the trees and helps someone prevent suicide, then we’ve achieved something.”

The mural was a combined effort by residents Lyn Hambley, Kym Stoneham and Helen Andrijasevic.

It took approximately 15 hours to paint.

“What we hope is that people will see it as they are driving, and that they will check in with the person next to them and ask, ‘Are you okay?’,” Ms Hambley said.

“Because it’s okay not to be okay.”

The Blue With A View support network can be found on Facebook for those seeking others to talk to, or for those wanting to find out more about upcoming fundraisers the group is hosting to assist organisations such as BeyondBlue.

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Art stoush over VAC

ARTISTS from around town claim a proposal to relocate the Albany History Collection into the main exhibition gallery at Vancouver Arts Centre (VAC) would worsen the issue of insufficient space for visiting and resident artists and guests.

Albany Art Group member Helen Heerey learned from a meeting in October that the City of Albany proposed the history collection be moved into the main gallery and that the centre be renamed the Vancouver Arts and History Centre.

She said the main gallery exhibition space was the “only good-sized proper gallery space” at VAC and provided an affordable option for groups and individual artists.

“It is integral to the on-going activities within the VAC,” Ms Heerey told the Weekender.

“With the current and prospective future demand for community art and creative activities and programs, all the space at the VAC is needed as already there is insufficient space to meet current demand.

“This is not just about losing an important gallery space; it is about losing space in the VAC – which has been used by community artists for many years – to permanently house the history collection.”

In a letter addressed to “the arts community” sent last Friday by the City of Albany, Community Services Executive Director Susan Kay explained that City officers were in the process of working through the “detailed planning required to put an operational model for the Albany Town Hall and VAC in place”.

“The proposed operational model will give consideration to accommodating the Albany History Collection within VAC and implementing a management model for both VAC and the Town Hall that has the least change and impact on current operations,” she said.

“As we all know, the history collection has a strong link to arts and culture and is an important and valuable community resource that records and preserves our history.”

Ms Kay added that the repurposing of the Town Hall would provide the space and resources to support more artists, exhibitions, performances, workshops and “any other activities or events that involve our arts and cultural community”.

Ms Heerey agreed that the Town Hall would be a “wonderful” exhibition space.

However, she believes that it would still not address the issue of inadequate space.

“We are informed that the ground floor – which used to be available for the community to hire – will be for curated and visiting exhibitions largely with little availability for Albany community groups,” she said.

“In any event, even before the refurbishment, the Town Hall gallery was much more expensive to hire than the VAC galleries and not affordable for many artists and groups.

“The upper floor of the Town Hall, we are informed, will eventually provide space for mixed use including exhibitions, but at this stage we do not know when there will be a budget to carry out the work on the upper floor and also whether it will be affordable or suitable as an exhibition space.”

Ms Kay said improvements to the Town Hall were planned in consultation with the community through the Town Hall Community Advisory Group, which involved representatives from Albany Art Group, Art South WA, Creative Albany and eight other creative bodies.

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Dogs join reading program

ALBANY kids will now have the opportunity to cuddle up with a dog and a book as the Albany Public Library commences their Paws for Reading program again.

The uniquely furry initiative was introduced last year at the library to encourage children improve their reading skills.

The program runs in partnership with Mt Barker Dogs Boarding Kennels, with patient pooches Spottie and Faith making their way to the library on the second Tuesday of every month.

Youth Services Librarian Dora Adeline said the community has gladly accepted the program, with 30 children coming to read to Spottie and Faith last year.

“Studies showed that children who read and are read to have a much higher vocabulary and a greater understanding and empathy of different topics in their lives and the world around them,” she said.

“Unfortunately learning to read can be very difficult for some children and the Paws for Reading program can provide an opportunity for them to engage in a great experience and develop a love of reading rather than feeling worried or judged.”

Paws for Reading also has additional support for children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

“Knowing that even a small increase to daily reading can make a huge difference to children as adults is what inspired Naomi from Mt Barker Dogs Boarding Kennels and myself to introduce a reading with dogs program to Albany,” Ms Adeline said.

“The program demonstrates that reading can still be a good experience for struggling readers as well as a great opportunity for all children to spend time reading with our dogs, or their own at home.”

Due to popular demand, 15-minute sessions with Spottie and Faith must be booked in advance, and can be found on the Albany Public Library website or organised by calling 6820 3600.

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Dog fight over beach

A DISGRUNTLED group of Albany residents want to get rid of the dog exercise area at Emu Point Western Swimming Beach, arguing the dogs have ‘taken over’.

Last week the City of Albany Council received a community petition containing 301 signatures that requested the area no longer be designated as a dog-friendly zone.
The contentious dog exercise area is a small strip of about 80m, wedged between the rock wall and groyne opposite Cunningham Street.

Within designated dog exercise areas, pooches can roam freely without being on a leash.

Speaking to Council on behalf of the concerned locals, Spencer Park resident Sue Buckingham said dogs and beachgoers were battling for space.

“We consider this beach totally inappropriate as a dog exercise area,” she said.

“It further reduces the number of areas where swimmers can go without dogs taking over.”

The section of beach was changed to a dog exercise area in November 2018 after community requests for a sheltered beach area where less mobile residents and families with small children could take their dogs.

In December 2019, residents started taking their dogs down to the area more regularly after the City installed additional signage that made it clear furry friends were welcome.

Ms Buckingham argued there were plenty of other places close by for dog owners to take their loyal companions.

Under City of Albany’s Dog Exercise, Prohibited and Rural Leashing Areas Policy, there are currently 15 areas/reserves within city limits where dogs don’t need to be on a leash, but must be controlled at all times.

These include a long strip of Middleton Beach from Surfers Beach to Firth Street and a section of Emu Point Marina Beach between Hunter Street and Swarbrick Street.

When the Weekender visited Emu Point Western Swimming Beach on two separate
occasions, there wasn’t a furry friend in sight, but Ms Buckingham told council swimmers have been side-stepping dog faeces all summer.

“It seems there is a total disregard for health and safety issues at this public area of western swimming beach,” she said.

At a Development and Infrastructure Services Committee meeting this Wednesday, City of Albany will review a number of strategies that could resolve the issue, including installing a barrier between beaches to deter dogs or restricting use based on season and times.

Since a spike in complaints, rangers have been visiting the area daily to educate users of appropriate dog management behaviour, according to the City.

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No MRI until mid-March

ALBANY’S first and only MRI machine is currently on lockdown after an internal water leak at Albany Health Campus.

All appointments have been cancelled and rescheduled, with patients either being sent to receive a CT scan in its place, or being asked to travel to Perth for a bulk- billed MRI.

Great Southern Radiology CEO Glen Marshall said he was alerted to the issue on Saturday.

“I just got the phone call on Saturday morning to say that there was water in our MRI room which is quite strange,” he said.

“Our technicians flew down on Sunday from Perth, they’ve been here up until lunch time today and they’ve checked out the machine.

“The [MRI] is fully operational, so that’s a fantastic outcome for the machine.”

Despite the good news for the expensive piece of tech, it’s structural damage to the room itself that has halted all use of the MRI.

“Because it’s such a technical piece of equipment it actually lives inside a copper room,” Mr Marshall said.

“So now what we need to do is to test the integrity of that copper room, because what’s happened is the water has flooded and effected the floorboards, they’ve stretched and that’s stretched the copper casing, and we now need to make sure it hasn’t separated anywhere.”

The copper casing is an essential aspect of the room as it prevents an excessive amount of electromagnetic radiation from distorting the MR signal.

It also stops the electromagnetic radiation generated by the MR scanner from causing interference in other nearby medical devices.

Great Southern Radiology conducts approximately 10 to 12 MRI scans per day, with around 100 appointments expected to be impacted.

A spokeswoman for WA Country Health Service confirmed the water leak, and advised that the equipment will be examined.

“In line with the WA Country Health Service’s (WACHS) unwavering commitment to patient safety, all technology housed within the area will now undergo a safety review,” she said.

“This includes the facility’s MRI machine.

“In the interim, WACHS is providing alternative imaging pathways for patients and working with Great Southern Radiology where appropriate noting there are currently no urgent cases waitlisted for an MRI.”

While all appointments are being diverted and rescheduled, the loss of the machine comes after years of campaigning, petitioning and bipartisan and community support to get the device to Albany in the first place.

Mr Marshall said the installation of the machine in 2014 was a step in the right direction for health in the Great Southern.

“It was a real win for Albany,” he said.

But as a $2m piece of machinery, it’s likely to be the only MRI in Albany for a while yet.

“It’s the unfortunate problem of living in a regional town.

“Occasionally equipment is affected and we need to make best use of what we’ve got.

“We’ve had no major issues before this at all.”

Appointments with Great Southern Radiology are estimated to be running again in mid-March.

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Museum unveils mask exhibition

MUSEUM visitors have the chance to learn more about what happens behind and in front of the masks of Torres Strait culture at a new exhibition at the Museum of the Great Southern.

Evolution: Torres Strait Masks opened last weekend and will remain in Albany until May 3.

The Weekender caught up with artists Milton Savage and Kapua Gutchen Snr while they were in town for the grand opening to learn more about the significance of the masks and mask making within the Zenadh Kes Torres Strait culture.

“This is a replica of an ancestral mask that would have been worn for a seasonal performance,” Savage explained.

“They would dance over four days with the westerly wind … about survival and understanding the natural world.

“It’s quite a heartfelt thing; I wish my grandfather could have taught it to me.”

Savage said these types of rituals have almost been completely lost within his community, as European colonisers forbade they be performed after British administrative control began in the Torres Strait in the mid 1800s.

He said making these masks gave him the opportunity to connect with his ancestors and gave him their strength and knowledge.

At first, Savage felt confusion regarding how to craft the masks and when to make them – he was trying to make them during the day.

After connecting with his ancestors, he learned that 3am was the best time to make them and from there, everything “fell together”.

“To embrace culture is a gift,” Savage added.

Cygnet Repu from the Torres Strait Regional Authority said Evolution: Torres Strait Masks was important in closing the gap between different people and cultures, where language could not.

“It links outsiders to insiders,” he said.

“For so long, people have thought these masks were worn in only times of war, but they are also worn for love – there’s a lot more explanation with this exhibition.

“It lets us tell two stories – from behind the mask, and from the outside, looking at the mask.”

The exhibition is free to enter.

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Moscow Ballet to perform

ALBANY is the fourth stop on The Moscow Ballet’s Australian tour of fairytale classic Sleeping Beauty.

The internationally acclaimed company will first stop in Perth, Bunbury and Geraldton before heading to the Albany Entertainment Centre on March 13.

Moscow Ballet Choreographer and former Principal Dancer Andrey Lyapin told the Weekender that Sleeping Beauty was not an easy ballet to prepare, but when it was done well, it was very successful.

“It’s one of the best stories for kids and one of the best options for classical ballet,” he said.

“It is a light story, will make you laugh, and the music is very beautiful.

“It’s very beautiful too with many decorations and costumes.”

Lyapin joined the Moscow Ballet after graduating the Uzbek Ballet School in 1996.

He performed as a leading soloist in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Coppelia and Romeo and Juliet.

Tickets to the Albany performance of The Moscow Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty are on sale now and can be purchased online at albanyentertainment.com. au or at the AEC’s box office on Toll Place.

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New gallery welcomes exhibitors

A NEW gallery space designed for abstract artists and performers to showcase their skills and work in is now open in Mount Barker.

Resident artists and coordinators of the venue Barry Mackie, Joanne Francis and Melaine McQuillan opened the doors to 26/2 a couple of weeks ago.

The aim of 26/2 is to provide artists who do not practise traditional art forms the opportunity to exhibit their creations with other likeminded artists.

Mackie said as long as the artist’s work fit the contemporary art bill, it was welcome at 26/2.

“There are lots of galleries for more traditional art, and we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but we just think there is ample room for something different,” he said.

“We want to encourage the conversation that it doesn’t have to be traditional, real life or representational art.”

A group of Perth artists has already secured the venue – which is divided into three galleries – to exhibit at Easter.

Mackie and McQuillan are eager for more artists to approach them about hiring the venue.

“We are particularly interested in art that tells a narrative,” McQuillan added.

“And we are very keen for installation art, musicians, performing arts, workshops and art talks.”

The works of Duncan Moon, Mackie, Judith Clarke, Trevor Woodward, Christine Baker, Michelle Stanley, McQuillan, Wayne Coleman, Francis and Linda Morrison are currently on show at 26/2 until the end of the month.

If you are interested in exhibiting at the new venue on Langton Road, you can reach the coordinators through the Facebook page – 26/2 Contemporary Exhibition Venue – or by emailing [email protected]

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