It’s good old Collingwood for Cameron

ALBANY’S Darcy Cameron has quickly understood the pecking order at the Collingwood Football Club after being traded from Sydney at the end of last season.

The 204cm ruckman is hoping to add to his one AFL game but realises he will have to play forward and help out in the ruck while Brodie Grundy plies his trade as the number one ruckman for the Pies.

Grundy is a dual All-Australian, won the Pies Fairest and Best – the Copeland Trophy – for the past two years and was the 2018 Herald Sun Player of the Year.

“I’m not going to kick Brodie out of his spot,” Cameron joked.

“But it is great learning from the best ruckman in the game and he sets incredibly high training standards.”

Cameron played at North Albany in the Great Southern Football League before heading to Claremont.

In the 2016 AFL national draft, he was taken at pick 48 by the Sydney Swans and finally made his long-awaited debut on July 21, 2018 against the Gold Coast Suns at the SCG.

When Cameron relocated from Sydney to Melbourne, he moved in with Carlton co-captain and midfield bull Patrick Cripps.

Cameron and Cripps, from Northampton, have been close friends since playing together in junior WA state sides and Cameron said he learnt a lot from the ‘ultimate professional’.

There is also an Albany connection at the Pies with former North Albany player and 227-gamer with Collingwood, Tarkyn Lockyer, who is the team’s Head Development Coach.

Cameron is 24 as he enters his fourth year in the AFL system and says he feels comfortable at Collingwood and is arguably fitter than he has ever been.

On Sunday, Cameron played a starring role in the pre-season competition against Richmond, picking up plaudits from coach Nathan Buckley.

Collingwood take on the Western Bulldogs on March 20 in round one of the AFL and Cameron will know he has done everything in his power to be at the forefront of selection.

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Friday fun day at Kendenup PS

FRIDAY is the favourite day of the week for most people but especially now for the students of Kendenup Primary School.

Principal Heather Fergie recently began a school club program which sees the 72 kindergarten to Year 6 students divided up randomly each Friday afternoon to learn new skills and participate in various activities.

When the Weekender joined in the club program last week, the student excitement in the air was infectious.

From learning how to create a beaded necklace, to cooking muesli, to learning more about papier mache, tennis and robotics, each student eagerly awaited for their name to be called out to learn which club activity they would be participating in.

Ms Fergie said the idea behind Friday Clubs was to get the community involved in the school.

“Everyone has been so supportive and the response from students and parents has been absolutely amazing,” she said.

“I really want the kids to see adults doing these skills, so they can model the skills to the students.”

Other activities on offer included gardening, learning about the bush, gymnastics, knitting, making slime, clay making, chess and painting a mural.

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Flash mob surprises Albany councillors

IT IS not often local council meetings are packed to the rafters, and even more unusual when those in attendance stand up mid-proceedings to deliver a surprise choir performance.

But that is exactly what happened during last week’s City of Albany Council meeting when local group AboutFACE choir staged a flash mob.

For those who have never witnessed a flash mob first hand, it’s a seemingly random act, such as a dance or singing performance, carried out in a public place.

AboutFACE sang a stirring rendition of Swahili song Wana Baraka, with councillors, general members of the public and media all sitting quietly in appreciation of the mesmerising tune.

Formed in 2013, AboutFACE offers vocal development and performance opportunities for young people living in the Great Southern.

City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington congratulated the group on their “fantastic” presentation.

“In my 20 years on Council that’s the first time I’ve ever seen a flash mob at Council,” he said.

“Well done, it was a terrific exercise.”

AboutFACE weren’t just there to flex their skills however, with the choir seeking funding for a July tour of Europe where they have been invited to represent Australia at the International Youth Music Festival in Bratislava.

As part of the trip, AboutFACE plans to engage with choir specialists in Vienna to develop the group’s talent.

“To best represent the City of Albany, AboutFACE needs to up skill,” Tour Development Officer Bethany Findlay said.

“We have exhausted the development opportunities here in WA.”

With About FACE’s European tour costing just over $300,000, the group asked City of Albany for a $14,000 contribution.

Ms Findlay said any support would be a worthy investment, with the choir looking to partner with the City for 2026 bicentennial celebrations.

“As the next generation of Albany citizens we are uniquely placed to be part of and potentially lead the creative components of the bicentenary,” she said.

“Consider investing in the youth of your city.”

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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@

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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

“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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