Vintage voilà


VANCOUVER Street will come alive on Saturday with the buzz of its annual street festival.

Live music, vintage fashion, street performances, gourmet food and plenty of tweed will be on show for this year’s event.

The Vintage Tweed Ride is one of the highlights of the day and includes the Perth chapter of the WA Historical Cycle Club.

It will feature one of the biggest collections of penny farthings and vintage bikes ever assembled in the Great Southern.

Tweed rides, or runs, are a global phenomenon which began in London in 2009.

They feature vintage bicycles and a dazzling display of vintage clothing, with tweed being the preferred option.

Both vintage and non-vintage cycles are welcome to join the ride that departs the University of WA on Stirling Terrace at 12.20pm.

Vintage cycle enthusiast Murray Gomm is a member of the Great Southern chapter of the WA Historical Cycle Club and said there was always a bit of excitement in the air when it was time to “tweed up” for the ride.

He said the club was fortunate to have received a collection of penny farthings that were made by the late Garry Clark, which would be ridden in the event.

The ride makes its way to the Vancouver Street Festival where prizes for best dressed riders will be presented.

The best time to catch the ride is on take-off at the UWA at 12.20pm and on dismount at the festival around 12.30pm.

Riders can register at the start line from 11.50am.

Other highlights of the festival include performances from musicians with Odette Mercy and her Soul Atomics headlining the program with a set of funk and soul originals.

Straight from Fairbridge Festival, the band is renowned for its great horn and rhythm sound and the huge sound of their lead vocalist.

The entertainment program also includes the rollicking songs of The Albany Shantymen, the dance beats of David Rastrick’s Electro Swing Thing and the moving sounds of Soulin Wild.

Double bass and piano accordion duo Flamacue will be playing and The Second Hand lead a line-up of roaming street artists.

New to this year’s event is the Manga Milkbar, a creative space for young people with free Wi-Fi, aerial displays, Japanese-inspired craft and space to draw.

Cosplayers are especially welcomed, with the design of the milkbar inspired by vintage anime.

The Vancouver Street Festival will also see the opening of the Story of Wool exhibition which celebrates Albany’s connection to wool production.

In another festival first, a 230m knitted scarf will be wrapped around the front of the Vancouver Arts Centre.

Children are well catered for with activities including clay sheep painting, fleece throwing and a vintage dress-up photobooth.

Festival parking will be available in Foundation Park, Parade Street, and events kick off at 11am.

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Green Skills farewells state manager

GREEN Skills has farewelled state manager Diane Evers and paid tribute to her dedication and hard work.

Ms Evers is leaving her role to pursue a career in politics as the Greens (WA) MLC elect for the South West region.

Green Skills has offices in Perth, Albany and Denmark and has been a leader in environmental and sustainability action, delivering community-based environmental and socially beneficial projects for almost 28 years.

Ms Evers has worked for the organisation since 2009 and for the past four years has held her Albany-based managerial position.

During this time she has nurtured networks across the region and metropolitan areas and encouraged strategic programs to promote sustainability and encourage innovation.

Since joining Green Skills Ms Evers managed the Albany arm of Ecojobs, an environmental personnel service, and secured contracts and tenders from government, community and business, providing many hours of work for regional people.

This included ensuring that skills and funds were directed to hands-on landcare restoration and rehabilitation work, with other grant-funded initiatives supporting community-based interactive environmental programs and opportunities.

Laura Bird has taken on the role of acting state manager  and will carry on where Ms Evers left off.

– Geoff Vivian

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Announcers sent expulsion letter


ALBANY Community Radio listeners may be surprised to learn that several of its well-known broadcasters and volunteers are due to be expelled from the organisation.

While not all of them are prepared to be interviewed, The Weekender understands as many as 11 members received identical letters last week summoning them to an “expulsion meeting” on May 8.

“The reason for your proposed expulsion is that you acted detrimentally to the interests of Albany Community Radio (ACR),” the letter reads. “ACR Rules of Association expect that you do not bring into disrepute the operations, management, staff or other volunteers of ACR.”

The letter also invites the recipients to explain why they think they should not be expelled.

Foundation member June Humphries said Albany Community Radio made several attempts to hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) last year which were not legally constituted.

“After some volunteer members of Albany Community Radio including myself appealed  to State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) to demand a  properly constituted AGM we have been summonsed to a meeting on May 8 to be expelled,” she said.

“If we are expelled it means that we are unable to vote (or stand for office or committee) at the AGM.”

According to SAT records the members taking the action are Brian Humphries, Donna Moss, Ian Rayson, June Humphries, Ken Ewers-Verge, Mara Nedela, Marianne Chester, Maxwell Chester, Peter Moss, Sandra Sullivan and Valerie Green.

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Aboriginal artefacts returned


ARTEFACTS from the landmark Yurlman: Mokare Mia Boodja exhibition were packed up for the long journey back to Britain this week.

The exhibition has been hailed a success with around 23,000 visitors viewing the display of 14 rare artefacts that includes stone axes, spears, spear throwers and knives, which date back to the 1830s.

Lissant Bolton from the British Museum was in Albany to oversee the process of re-packaging and took part in a formal ceremony at the WA Museum of the Great Southern to recognise the departure of objects.

While there were hopes the collection might remain on Country, she said all the parties involved in bringing the display to Albany acknowledged that they were on loan.

Ms Bolton said the British Museum was thrilled with the response from the community and the success of the collaboration.

“We’re pleased to have lent them.

“They’re (the British Museum) absolutely delighted in London,” she said. Ms Bolton said the museum had a history of working with communities to share information and the success of the collaboration strengthened the case for similar projects in future.

The exhibition provided the opportunity for Albany’s Shona Coyne and Lindsay Dean to fulfil the roles of emerging curators where they gained invaluable experience including training at the National Museum in Canberra.

Ms Coyne said while she was grateful for the opportunities that arose from the exhibition, it was the benefit for the community that was most satisfying.

“When you see a few of the local toolmakers come in and compare their work, it really emphasises the craftsmanship and how important the artefacts are,” she said.

“They’re learning from them, so there’s that continual sharing of culture which is beautiful to see.”

Ms Coyne said she had mixed emotions about the artefacts returning to Britain.

“I thought I’d be upset to see them go. They’re not just objects,” she said. “When they come back onto country we feel something for them.

“But the exhibition has put Albany on the map. It has put the Menang people on the map and stirred something really good down here.

“If they go forward and continue to share our story, not just Menang people, but everybody’s shared history, then I’m OK with that.”

Ms Coyne said the challenge was now to keep the story of the artefacts and the Menang people alive and build on the success of the exhibition.

The ceremony at the WA Museum of the Great Southern last Friday featured a moving address from Noongar Elder Avril Dean, as well as Ms Bolton, Ms Coyne and Mr Dean.

The Tidswell Twins and The Deadly Brother Boys also gave stirring performances to mark the significance of the event.

The artefacts will be carried to Britain by a courier for a specialist art handling company, with a member of the British Museum travelling with them for the entire journey.

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Early Albany aviation

OFFICIAL Anzac Day Commemorations occur on April 25 each year, but there is nothing to stop us making the most of our local links to the Anzac legend by visiting the many facets of the Albany Heritage Park.

Apart from spending time at the award winning National Anzac Centre, it is always well worth calling in to The Forts main barracks to check out the museum of military memorabilia, and also discover all sorts of interesting facts and figures about Albany’s role in the two world wars.

The current Warbirds exhibition, in the adjoining main gallery, is due to finish on April 30 and well worth a visit if you haven’t been there yet.

The kids will love it.

The collection of 90 WWII model aircraft were donated to the museum by John Wilson from Kendenup in 2011, each of which took hours to complete and paint.

There is also plenty of interesting information about Albany’s aviation history and links to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), which may come as a surprise.

In late 1930, Albany’s first aerodrome was initially set up by a local farmer Mr W Green, with the first five planes landing on February 21, 1931 to a cheering local crowd.

In 1935 Albany’s first airline service was established.

In 1939 at the outbreak of WWII, Albany was high on the list as being vital for the defence of Australia.

Upgrades and extensions to the aerodrome were funded and completed by the Federal Government and in 1940 the RAAF took control.

The Albany aerodrome was used as an Advanced Operational Base supplying fuel and service to heavy and medium bombers and reconnaissance and fighter planes.

Albany was also important in the protection of shipping routes to the East Indian Ocean.

In 1945 after hostilities ceased, the RAAF left and civilian aviation took over the airport. 

– Anne Simpson

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Albany community supports war effort

THE Anzac legend began in Albany when the First Fleet departed en masse on November 1, 1914 for the Middle East.

The mustering of this expeditionary force had a major effect on the Albany community and throughout the war many ships visited Albany for repairs and maintenance.

This provided a steady flow of work for local tradesmen.

From November 1914 to May 1919, 243 Australian and New Zealand troop and hospital ships moored at Albany on their outward and home-bound journeys.

Sick soldiers were treated at Albany Hospital and an unfortunate few were buried at the Memorial Park Cemetery in Middleton Road.

In September 1915, the Governor’s residence, The Rocks, became an Australian Red Cross convalescent home for returning soldiers before repatriation.

For those left at home there were plenty of opportunities to support their gallant troops, with busy bees held to maintain the Australian Red Cross centre.

Women and schoolchildren knitted socks and made food to include in soldiers’ parcels, and concerts were held to raise funds to cover the costs of personal items and baked goods sent in packages. Although remote from the battlefields of Europe, Albany remained heavily involved in the war effort.

– Anne Simpson

Extract taken from “Albany at the Dawn of the Anzac Legend,” designed and produced by Bonser Design, 2014.

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Plenty to sea

THE Festival of the Sea proved a hit with the crowds at the Albany Boat Shed on Saturday.

With a busy list of activities rostered throughout the day, the festival had broad appeal, but the bid for boat-building supremacy attracted the largest concentration of spectators.

Three groups of keen builders put their skills to the test, applying a combination of carefully planned boat design and time-poor methods as they raced the clock to create a craft from set materials that could survive a quick lap of Albany’s inner harbour.

At the end of the five-hour building allotment the three boats were scrutineered by the crowd, with assistance from none less than America’s Cup winning builder Steve Ward.

Under instruction from locally sanctioned racing official John Doust and with international yachting greatness on board the rescue boat, the three distinctly unique craft initially floundered from the start as they came to terms with basic operation of their DIY dinghies.

After rounding the top mark, the results became a foregone conclusion as the crew on board Mississinking battled the challenge of their boat living up to its name.

Despite the sound propulsion methods of the quasi paddle-steamer and a swift looking sculler, it was the superior power-to-weight ratio of the young crew of Ben and Luke Griffiths that finished the course first in their slick kayaking craft, drawing applause from the amused crowd.

At the other end of the boat building spectrum, the two St Ayles skiffs that were available for rowing demonstrations drew plenty of interest.

Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club’s John Longley said he hoped to raise enough interest for a skiff to be built locally for community use.

Among the land-based attractions at the festival was chef Peter Manifis who slaved away in the purpose-built kitchen, working with fresh local ingredients including Australian Salmon in his cooking demonstrations.

Festival coordinator Jenny Rickerby was delighted with the attendance, considering it was one of the busiest weekends in Albany.

Funds raised from the event will go towards restoring an historic fishing vessel Wildflower.

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Games have run course

THE WA State Masters Games (WASMG) are looking to end with organisers choosing to wind up the entity due to a lack of interest.

The competitive sporting event for seniors has been held in Albany every two years since its inception in 1990, but has dwindled steadily over the past few events with only three sports taking part.

The committee tried to hold its annual general meeting on April 11 but was unable to reach the quorum of seven members.

It then held a general meeting and passed a resolution that the WASMG Inc be wound up under Department of Commerce guidelines at a future extraordinary meeting.

The entity has no debts and will seek to disperse its remaining funds and property to the three remaining sports involved being the Albany Athletics Club, Albany Rowing Club and the Gomm Park Croquet Club.

WASMG representative Carey Dickason said she was sad to see the games go, but the current committee could only do so much.

“When you’re battling to get a committee together, it gives you an indication that there’s a lack of interest,” she said.

“There has been no in-fighting or anything like that.

“The support from the volunteers has been wonderful.

“We are all just a bit battle-weary.”

The games were introduced to provide sporting opportunities for veteran athletes and competition was typically held

in the off-peak winter months so the influx of visitors could be accommodated.

There were 786 registered participants across 22 sports in the first games held in May, 1990 with sports ranging from lawn bowls to weight lifting.

Albany MLA Peter Watson competed in the games and had fond memories of racing in the 1500m.

“It is disappointing that the games have come to an end. I know for a long period of time the volunteers have been working very hard to keep it going,” he said.

“It’s a lot harder to attract the sorts of numbers to town now than it was 10 years ago.”

“There’s just so much more on offer now, not just locally, but state-wide and even nationally.”

Ms Dickason said external funding had dried up in later years, making it more difficult to gain interest in the event.

“The department (of Sport and Recreation) were right behind it, and it was well supported by the City of Albany,” she said.

“But it’s not just a problem with funding. There is just a general lack of interest.”

Department of Sport and Recreation regional manager Great Southern Chris Thompson said while it was sad to see the games fold, he was pleased with the participation rate for seniors in sport locally.

“It’s always sad to see these things come to an end. Hats off to the volunteers who enabled it to run as long as it has,” he said.

“We’ve still got a healthy population of older athletes. You only need to walk through Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre on any given day to see the number of programs there are.

“There is probably a need for structured sport for veterans to evolve.

“Like any product, it’s cyclical.”

The WASMG Inc will hold its extraordinary meeting on April 26 to vote on the resolution to voluntarily cancel the association’s incorporation and disperse its remaining funds and property.

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High seas achiever


ALBANY Sea Rescue stalwart Chris Johns has received one of Australia’s top awards for emergency services workers.

The distinguished Emergency Services Medal is issued by the Governor General and entitles Mr Johns to attach the initials ESM to his name, but it is more likely he will stick with “Johnsy” and a firm handshake for now.

Receiving the award is remarkable for the 58-year-old Albany Sea Rescue Squad life member when you consider it has a strict quota and is open to full-time emergency services personnel and that Mr Johns is an unpaid part-time volunteer.

But it’s hardly surprising when you consider the job Mr Johns has done both on and off the Southern Ocean during 16 years to lift the standard of sea rescue operations along the South Coast and across WA.

Off the water, he has literally written the book on fast-response rescue and boat-handling techniques and trained more than 200 sea rescue volunteers.

He’s also played a pivotal role in developing and introducing the NAIAD fast-response vessels into service, which have been implemented in sea rescue squads throughout the state for their ability to help reduce critical-response times.

The regard for his understanding of the ocean and the methods he employs has been recognised internationally and saw him land in Sweden several years ago where he had his feet under the table with some of the world’s best sea-rescue minds.

On the water as boat captain and operations coordinator for Albany Sea Rescue, Mr Johns often works in the most treacherous conditions and often against the rising tide of bureaucracy to do a difficult job.

He cannot speak highly enough of his fellow volunteers and acknowledges their level of commitment, whether they are manning radios at the squad’s Emu Point headquarters or are out on the water with him getting smashed in six-metre swells.

But he sings the loudest praise for his wife Debbie.

“This award is half Debbie’s,” he said.

‘There should really be a part A and B for an award like this.

“Volunteering is an impost emotionally and financially and without their (spouse) support you cannot volunteer.”

Mr Johns will receive his medal at a ceremony at Government House.

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Motorplex shifts up a gear


A LOCAL motorsports and driver training entrepreneur said people should not have to wait much longer for an Albany motorplex as plans are well advanced.

Kim Ledger said he paid $35,000 for an option to buy a 470 acre (190ha) property opposite the chip mill in Down Road and had progressed two possible options for developing it as a motorplex.

“The property should vest eventually with the City of Albany,” he said.

“The property then would be leased on a peppercorn rental basis for a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.

“That’s also provided that it’s developed under the guidelines of the Department of Sport and Recreation and in-line with peak Australian sporting body regulations.”

Mr Ledger said this future company, which would be owned by various motor sporting bodies, would manage and develop the facility.

The shareholders in the company would therefore be groups or clubs representing 10 or 15 different sports.

Should this not be possible, Mr Ledger said he had a second business plan whereby private enterprise would own and run the motorplex.

He envisaged four or five people buying the property jointly and contributing up to $25 million over five years to develop it.

This would almost certainly lead to higher costs for the groups using the facility, which would be passed on to spectators and participants.

“We have to show how we can make return for those people over that period,” he said.

“The cost would have to be higher than what it is if we don’t have to capitalise the land into it.”

The WA Nationals and Labor parties have each promised to provide $6 million towards a motorplex if either of them win government at the March 11 State Election.

Mr Ledger said this money could be given to the City of Albany, which could re-imburse him for his deposit, pay the $950,000 asking price to purchase the land and commence development.

Under his preferred model it should start generating an income within 12 months, which would then fund further development.

“Once the initial grants go in it should not cost anybody any money,” he said.

He envisaged the motorplex would eventually be a home to mountain biking, a 4WD training and rally car track, a drag strip and possible future speedway and go-kart circuits.

It would also include a 3km multi-use track.

“Our intention is to try to build a circuit which is FIA Level 2 approved that’s 12 to 16 metres wide for motorcars and cycles,” he said.

“In the middle of that we will have drifting roads – it’s a different class of motor sport which is a very popular and growing form of motorsport.

“We’ll also have a criterion pushbike track. Currently there isn’t one in Western Australia.”

Mr Ledger chose the Down Road block three years ago because it had all the characteristics needed for a variety of motorsports.

“It’s well serviced by Down Road which will become a main trucking track road,” he said.

“And it’s tree-lined on two sides so you can’t actually see it from the road but when you get through that you can look across this beautiful property.”

He said the property was bordered by Down Road west and Down Road.

“The Down Road West side is one of the highest points of the property and it’s at that end that we would probably have our driving centre and administration,” he said.

Mr Ledger said he had been involved in WA motorsport for 45 years and had a passion for driver training.

This had led his company to develop MC Motorsports, a multi-use facility at Perth airport that allowed driver training for trucks, cars, motorcycles, forklift, first aid and defensive driver training.

“We were the only quality-assured driving centre in the southern hemisphere.”

“It was also a low-level motorsport facility. MC Motorsport became the place for getting young people or old revheads off the road and into a low-level safe environment to compete with whatever car they have,” he said.

The RAC bought the facility seven or eight years ago. Mr Ledger is also instrumental in bringing the Racewars event to Albany in March which will use the Albany runway’s 1.8km surface as a drag strip.

He said this would show Albany people the potential that a quality motorsport event had to stimulate tourism

“That’s potentially going to bring 5,000 people in. It’s certainly booked everything out in Albany,” he said.

“People will go anywhere to try and find somewhere that’s safety-surveyed, run to a control, and running in a competitive yet safe situation.”


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