Dive in for New Year’s Eve swim

KEEN swimmers will usher in the new year with a splash at the end of the month when they take to the sea for Albany’s annual New Year’s Eve open swim.

Around 100 people are expected to dive into the waters off Middleton Beach from 7.30am on December 31 for a series of timed races varying in length and difficulty.

Albany Surf Life Saving Club President Rob Mason said the popular event, now in its third year, was a great way to finish off 2019.

“The idea is that it’s meant to be a friendly and uncomplicated sort of swim,” he said.

“We want it to be really inclusive, so it’s open to young and old, slower and faster swimmers and elite athletes.

“Everyone’s welcome, there’s no age restriction on the short swim, and we just ask that little kids are chaperoned by a parent or guardian.”

Participants have the option of partaking in a 400m swim within Middleton Beach’s swimming enclosure, or 1.25km, 2.5km and 5km legs in open water.

Mr Mason said the different options appealed to a variety of swimmers.

“There’s a group of people that really love the short distance and love to swim within the enclosure,” he said.

“On the other end of the spectrum, there are other people that really love the more difficult 5km leg.

“Apart from the Harbour Swim down here, which is 4km long, there are really not many long distance open water swims even within a couple of hundred kilometres.”

Those interested can register at albanysurfclub.com.au

Early bird pricing cuts off on Sunday and online registrations close December 30.

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Carols to change venue

ALBANY’S annual Christmas sing-along event is back this year in a new venue and organisers are excited to get the show on the road for this weekend.

The 67th Apex Carols by Candlelight at Ellen Cove was cancelled last year due to strong winds and threatening weather, so this year will again be the 67th event.

The Carols will be held at Alison Hartman Gardens this year instead of at Ellen Cove as earthworks currently underway at Middleton Beach are taking up most of the space.

Apex Albany’s Brendon Bailey said the December 21 family-friendly event would commence at 7pm and Santa would arrive at approximately 8.15pm.

A sausage sizzle and tea and coffee will be available to people also; Mr Bailey encouraged people to come down around 6.30pm to get a spot on the grass and a bite to eat before the Carols begins.

“The Apex Club feels that this is an important tradition to keep alive as it promotes community involvement and good spirit for the Christmas period,” he said.

“We have a group of local musicians and singers, including soloists Karlie Butler and Emma Davis with Findlay Macnish on the keyboard, who has been supporting the event for more than 20 years.”

Inside Thursday’s copy of the Weekender is the special Carols by Candlelight booklet, containing all the information you need to know about the evening plus the lyrics of the carols that will be sung.

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Boat stay law onboard

THE City of Albany will apply to Governor Kim Beazley to implement a new local law that would allow people to stay in their boats at the Emu Point Boat Pens the City council voted to approve it.

On Tuesday night it was not all-smooth sailing when item CCS200 to approve the final draft of the Jetties, Bridges, Boat Pens and Swimming Enclosures Local Law and release it to public was raised.

Councillors Paul Terry and John Shanhun moved and seconded the motion.

Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks started proceedings by requesting an addendum be made to allow people to stay on their water craft at the pens for no longer than two consecutive days without written consent from the City.

Mayor Dennis Wellington said currently that the health requirements would not allow the City to allow guests to stay at the pens without written consent, as there was no potable water, ablutions or dump point for toilets on board.

“The question is if you want us to spend $100,000 on ablutions or not,” he said.

Cr Stocks said allowing people to stay at the pens for a short period of time would encourage visitors to come to Albany.

“I don’t think we should be creating ruleswhere we haven’t had problems in the past,” he said.

“If people have the facilities on their boat, why can’t they stay?”

Cr Terry said he was against the motion.

“If I was visiting Albany on a yacht, I wouldn’t stay at Emu Point,” he said.

“Most visiting yachts would stay in the town marina.”

Cr Stocks finished the debate by saying if they voted against the motion all they would have is civil disobedience.

“Let’s not create more red tape,” he said.

“Let’s not be the fun police.”

Councillors voted to approve the draft law nine to four with Mayor Dennis Wellington, Cr Terry and Yakamia councillors Chris Thomson and Alison Goode against.

Chief Executive Officer Andrew Sharpe will submit an application to the Department of Local Government to make an application to Governor Beazley to approve the new law.

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Watto’s seniors concert a smash

MEMBER for Albany Peter Watson’s annual Seniors Christmas Concert was attended by more than 100 people keen to get into the festive spirit.

This year was the 19th concert held in town by Mr Watson and he was delighted by the response from this year’s attendees.

“I started the concerts as a way of thanking our seniors for their contribution to our community and to showcase some of our fantastic local musicians and performers,” he said.

“It’s just a great way to get so many people together for a fun and entertaining day.

“I have lost count of the number of seniors over the years who say it’s one of the few times a year that they get out and about and that it’s the highlight of their year – it makes all the hard work that our volunteers put in so worthwhile.”

Mr Watson said the junior and senior school choirs from St Joseph’s College “absolutely wowed” the audience and that AboutFACE choir was another great highlight.

He called the Albany City Wind Ensemble “a world class outfit”.

“I’m really looking forward to the milestone 20th seniors concert next year,” Mr Watson said.

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Tess’ message is to clean up the mess

CONVEYING an environmental message through her craft is an element of art Albany resident Tess Bryant takes pride in.

She hopes people will reconsider where their food waste goes and how it is used when it is thrown away after viewing her latest exhibition Afterlife, on display at Vancouver Arts Centre from January 9-27.

“Much of my interest comes from a sustainability perspective as I try to reduce waste in all areas of my life,” Bryant said of her textile and fibre art.

“Natural dyeing is a great synergy between my creative and sustainable sides.”

Bryant practises traditional crafts, an art form she says tends to be fairly cost-friendly and sustainable in terms of materials.

According to her, if people could utilise these methods before electricity and factories, then it must be good.

“As part of my anthropology degree, we discussed the Anthropocene – the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment,” she said.

“As the political climate starts to acknowledge the massive impact recent human activity has on the earth, I want to discuss this in a creative way.

“Food waste in landfill is a big contributor to greenhouse gases and I have found some food waste can be so useful; what a waste to let it go to landfill.”

Bryant prefers natural dyes over industrial as she says the latter is a major polluter and uses a lot of water.

She can source natural dyes from her own kitchen and backyard.

“So, the exhibition theme, afterlife, refers to the ‘after-life’ of things – giving food waste a second use, as well as alluding to the broader theme of after the ‘Anthropocene’ and climate change,” Bryant said.

There will be a special exhibition opening of Afterlife at Vancouver Arts Centre commencing at 6pm on January 8

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Serial offender jailed

SHEARER Wayde Alan Hambley will spend the next seven months in prison after he was sentenced for driving with a cancelled licence in Albany Magistrates Court last Thursday.

The 49-year-old had his licence disqualified for life on January 15, 2003 but was caught behind the wheel of a Ford Territory station wagon in Cranbrook shortly after 9pm on September 26.

Prosecuting Sergeant Dave Loverock said this was the fourth offence Mr Hambley had committed since the permanent disqualification.

He said the accused recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.12 when he was stopped, exceeding Western Australia’s legal limit of 0.05.

The court was told Mr Hambley was working as a shearer with his partner and stepson at the time the offence was committed.

His defence counsel Liz Hamilton said her client had been drinking and intended to drive the car a short distance from Cranbrook Hotel to their accommodation because he did not want to leave expensive shearing tools in the vehicle.

“The vehicle wasn’t lockable,” she said.

Magistrate Raelene Johnston said Mr Hambley had not learned from a suspended imprisonment order served to him previously.

“When people continue to drive while under suspension, they are wilfully defying the law. People do not significantly appreciate that that’s a jail-able offence,” she said.

“It’s not just a case of you driving while under suspension. You were intoxicated and you chose to drive.

“You thought the safety of the tools in your vehicle was more valuable than the safety of individuals on the road.

“An immediate term of imprisonment is appropriate.”

Mr Hambley was served further disqualifications and fined $1700 for the drink driving offence.

He waved to his mother in the back of the court as he was taken into custody.

“See-ya mum, love you,” he called.

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Share the Christmas spirit at a free lunch

SEVEN months of preparation and countless volunteer hours is what makes the annual Community Christmas Luncheon possible.

The annual event, first brought to Albany in 2005 by Pastor Steve Marshall and his wife Karen, invites people who do not have anyone to share Christmas with to have a free Christmas lunch with other members of the community.

It will again be held at Albany PCYC on Sanford Road and commence at noon on December 25.

“It’s open to everyone,” Mr Marshall said.

“People make new friends and for one day, everyone puts aside their differences and becomes one big family.

“It’s a really fun atmosphere.”

Mr Marshall said several local businesses had contributed donations to the event and offered up the use of their kitchens for volunteers to cook the Christmas lunch in.

More than 400 people attended the luncheon last year.

“I’ve done this for 45 years – in Rockingham before Albany – and I have to say, I think Albany is one of the most generous communities,” he said.

“Lots of people come together for the cause, and that’s significant.”

Mr Marshall said there was still time for people to register to attend the free luncheon.

Simply call Mr Marshall on 0412 850 105 or 9844 4550, Member for Albany Peter Watson’s office on 9841 8799 or register online at christmasluncheon.org

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Tender awarded for artificial surf reef

THE City of Albany has awarded a tender for the detailed design of an artificial surf reef at Middleton Beach to a company with proven experience in artificial reef structures.

Bluecoast Consulting Engineers Pty Ltd specialise in coastal engineering, monitoring and management, modelling and design, and climate change resistance.

Their previous involvement in the feasibility study for the reef project, and the Emu Point to Middleton Beach Coastal Adaptation work in 2017, has given them experience working with Albany’s conditions.

Albany Boardriders Club President Dave Beeck said having an artificial surf reef was finally coming to fruition after nearly 30 years of petitioning local government and members of parliament.

“There is nice, clean swell at Middleton Beach in winter, but no breaks,” he said.

“If you’re a kid that doesn’t have parents that surf, there’s no where to go that’s close by.

“Having a reef that is surfable for beginners will be great.”

Mr Beeck said creating surf at Middleton Beach would not just be positive for the surfers.

“Wherever there is surf break, the property price skyrockets,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer Andrew Sharpe said the Bluecoast team is recognised for their innovative approach to employing cutting-edge technology and research in their work.

“They have proven experience in artificial reef structures and the challenges a project like this presents, having recently completed the successful Palm Beach artificial reef on the Gold Coast,” he said.

“Our major projects team will work closely with Bluecoast on this detailed design phase to get a better picture of what structure design will work and what it will cost to build.”

Regular users of Middleton Beach and key stakeholders will be consulted as part of the detailed design, with a Project Steering and Working Group already established and a community forum planned for early next year.

The City is also partnering with the Wave Energy Research Centre based at Albany’s UWA Campus to peer review the design process and strengthen confidence in the design.

Mr Sharpe said the centre had already made a significant contribution to the work to date.

“The Wave Energy Research Centre has expertise in waves and coastal processes, along with Albany-based research infrastructure that will be invaluable support to the detailed design process,” he said.

The State Government committed $5 million towards the Albany Artificial Surf Reef at the last state election, allowing the detailed design phase to progress.

The detailed design process is expected to be complete in mid-2020 and will allow further funding to be leveraged to build the reef, which is currently estimated to cost $9 million.

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Crew on deck for famous race

AN Albany trio will jet over east in the coming days to test their sailing mettle at the world-renowned Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Owner of Southern Ocean Sailing Mark McRae, his colleague Corrina Ridgway and local GP Stephen Lee will join four sailors from Victoria for the 1170km race, which begins in Sydney on Boxing Day.

They will compete against 170 other yachts for the event’s 75th anniversary and are expected to spend more than three days at sea aboard Melbourne-based Joanne Harpur’s 36ft Spirit of Freya.

“The Sydney to Hobart is considered one of the great ocean races in the world and it’s a pretty tough one,” Mr McRae told the Weekender on Tuesday.

“I’m hoping we get weather that suits our boat and blows us down the coast. Arriving in Hobart, we’ll all have a lump in our throats, and it’ll be amazing.”

Mr McRae got his first taste for sailing as a child when he used to fashion together empty drums with bits of bamboo and string and take them down Wimmera River in Horsham, Victoria.

He has since been all over the world, commandeering yachts of up to 100ft in size through ice fields in Antarctica, around Cape Horn, to the Falkland Islands and through the Caribbean.

“I reckon if I don’t get my feet wet everyday with saltwater, I get withdrawal symptoms a bit like smoking cigarettes,” he said.

“It’s an addiction and it’s a terrific one. It’s such a glorious thing to do.”

While Mr McRae has previously delivered yachts to Sydney for the annual race, this year’s run marks his first personal attempt at it.

The 62-year-old will be the crew’s lead navigator and will be tasked with reading the wind, weather conditions and ocean currents to ensure a fast and safe run to the Tasmanian capital.

“Beyond that, there’s a lot of luck in sailing,” he said.

“People scramble and fight and scratch and spit and punch for the start line, but really it’s just a gust of wind at the other end that could get you across the line.

“With this race it’s probably about sailing at 85 to 90 per cent capacity.

“Once we go over that, we’re putting a lot of pressure on the boat and the crew and we don’t want accidents or to break the boat. We want to get to Hobart in one piece.”

Although the Sydney to Hobart has been a relatively straightforward challenge in recent years, it has had its share of mishaps.

In 1998, five boats sank and six people were killed when a severe storm struck as participating yachts entered the Bass Strait.

The event was first held in 1945 and has since become one of the most widely known yacht races in the world.

Star yacht Wild Oats XI has won line honours on nine different occasions, first in 2005 and most recently in 2018.

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Jingle all the way

A FAMILY in Albany has made it their mission to bring extra smiles and joy to others this festive season.

The Stewart family, comprised of Adrian, Sheila, Keeran, Hayden and Bryson, moved to Albany two years ago after living in Geraldton.

It was in Geraldton that they began the Christmas car tradition, which involved dressing up their Mitsubishi Pajero with tinsel, lights, flags and a sleigh, and blasting Christmas carols and songs out of speakers.

They would drive the streets of town upon request from the public and have now brought that tradition to Albany.

Dozens of people have requested the car take a trip past their house in the lead-up to Christmas.

“We just want to spread some Christmas cheer and bring people together,” Ms Stewart said.

“It warms people’s hearts.”

Mr and Ms Stewart’s son Keeran, pictured, said seeing the smiles on children’s faces was his favourite part of being involved in his family’s tradition.

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