Levingston scratches an itch

ALBANY rising star Morgan Levingston has scored a role in the upcoming children’s television series Itch two months before he planned to move to Sydney to pursue an acting career.

Mr Levingston told The Weekender he had a flight booked for April 1 but was more than happy to cancel it when he landed the role of a policeman.

Filming of Itch commenced on Tuesday at Middleton Beach and will continue across the region for two months.

Itch, penned by BBC broadcaster and author Simon Mayo, tells the story of 14-year-old Itchingham Lofte who discovers a new chemical element and has to protect it from secret corporations and government agencies.

“I don’t have too much information yet but my contract is in the mail,” Mr Levingston said.

“I’m really excited and absolutely stoked to be a part of Itch.

“It’s going to be awesome.”

The 21-year-old said he planned to visit the Itch production office tomorrow for a costume fitting and to determine his eight-week filming schedule.

The Weekender caught up with Itch pro-ducer Amanda Morrison, head of global development Melanie Halsall and director Renee Webster on Monday after a Welcome to Country ceremony at Middleton Beach.

Although she remained tight-lipped on the complete cast list, Ms Morrison said she’d found “fantastic” talent in town.

She has scouted multiple locations in Albany for filming and was pleased by the reception her cast and crew had received from the community.

“We’ve visited the University of WA Albany campus, the hospital, the entertainment centre, the town hall…” Ms Morrison said.

“There’s such beautiful variation in the architecture here and so many natural phenomenons.”

To facilitate the filming of Itch, traffic diversions will be in place along Proudlove Parade in the car park of UWA Albany on February 21 from 2 to 6pm.

Queries regarding traffic control can be directed to crystallocations@gmail.com.

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Fruit trees filched

SEVEN heritage fruit trees valued up to $1000 were stolen from Albany’s historic Strawberry Hill estate this week.

Volunteer coordinator Judy Williams discovered and reported the theft to Albany Police on Monday morning and believes the offence took place late on Sunday or in the early hours of Monday.

She said it had taken four years for the apple and pear trees to grow and it would be difficult to find replacements.

The trees had recently begun to flourish after fellow garden volunteers Frank McDonald and John Radys spent more than 30 hours replacing the clay that the trees were planted in with healthier soil.

Ms Williams estimated the trees’ value was close to $1000.

“We had 12 trees taken last year at the same time other people on Middleton Road had things taken from their gardens,” she told The Weekender.

“We received a grant to plant those ones for a heritage orchard, because part of Strawberry Hill’s aim is to capture the different time periods that people lived here in.

“We had spares to replace them when they were stolen, but we have no spares now.”

Mr Radys believes the thieves don’t understand the historic significance and value of the trees.

“Some of those fruit trees are very rare,” he said.

“I just don’t know whether we’d be able to replace them.

“Some can only be found in Tasmania or England.”

Ms Williams was both confused and disheartened with the theft.

“I think we’re so upset because they were just torn from us,” she said.

“The trees weren’t dug out, they were just ripped.

“And why would someone pull up trees in sum-mer?

“That’s just crazy.

“They aren’t likely to have any success with them.”

Albany Police Senior Sergeant Grant Pollard said there was no forensic evidence left at the scene or any CCTV footage.

He encouraged anyone with information about the incident to call Albany Police on 9892 9300.

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Friend focus

LOVE is in the air today but instead of fantasising about diamond rings and roses, Flinders Park Primary year one students are focusing on friendship.

Students from Room 2.3 created Valentine’s Day cards yesterday and today will be using them as a way to learn more about each other.

Teacher Linda Fielding said as part of the history curriculum, students learned about past and present family life.

As family traditions are part of family history, she uses Valentine’s Day as a way to talk about friendship, inclusivity and to reiterate anti-bullying messages.

“When we talk about Valentine’s Day, I get my students to talk about themselves and the things they like,” Mrs Fielding said.

“For example, they might say they enjoy playing football or playing in the playground, and by sharing this, they can find other students who enjoy the same things.

“We are in week two at the moment, so students are still getting to know each other.

“This is a great way to encourage new friendships and inclusivity, linking with our school programs.”

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Dolls bring comfort

IN AN attempt to bring comfort and support to children affected by physical and emotional abuse in parts of South Africa, more than 30 Albany women spend a few hours each fortnight knitting and crocheting toy dolls.

It is done in the name of the Uthando Project, which has sent handmade dolls to children in Kwazulu-Natal since 2004.

Albany group coordinator and doll maker Julie Fletcher said the dolls are a “vital” aspect in children’s counseling and education.

The Albany group has sent more than 7500 dolls overseas in eight years.

“The dolls are important because they bring comfort; the children can talk to them and cuddle them,” Ms Fletcher said.

“And they help the children play too, as well as help to teach grandparents how to play.”

Some of the group’s members have been involved in the project and similar projects for decades.

Topsy Pratt joined the Uthando cause a few years ago.

“I was doing stuff for Joseph’s Coat [charity] for about 20 years before they closed,” she said.

“I made clothing for children and rugs, and they went all over the world.

“So when that ended, I wanted to find something to do and I found this.”

Fellow doll maker Norma Lyons said the multi-faceted approach to the project intrigued her.

“I got caught on to the enthusiasm,” she said.

“And then, I coerced my neighbour Hazel into it!

“There’s just so many aspects…knitting, making wigs, the bags, spare sets of clothes, embroiding faces…”

Ms Fletcher said the Albany group’s most successful year was last year.

“We made 1743 dolls,” she said.

“That’s been our biggest year so far.

“Our last shipment was in November and it’s just arrived [in Kwazulu-Natal], as it takes three months to get there – just in time for the start of the school year.

“When some of the children come on the first day a bit anxious, they’re given a doll.”

Ms Fletcher said the group would be focusing on ‘family dolls’ at their group meet this week.

The dolls come in pre-determined sets of parents, siblings and extended family to help children explain situations during counseling sessions, and in their classroom work.

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Dogs hit the spot

ALBANY entrepreneur Brad Hopperton has added to the dining landscape of the CBD by opening a food van at Albany Waterfront Marina.

Mr Hopperton said he had been eyeing off the ‘pop-up’ market for some time after opening Crusty Crab Fish and Chips Cafe with his partner, Kerry and working at Hybla Tavern.

He sought something simplistic and decided upon selling hot dogs.

Mr Hopperton’s first day of trading with Dogelicious was January 18.

“It was originally going to be in a sea container but it got a bit complicated with the developers of the block,” he told The Weekender.

“The van was a compromise.

“But, having a pop-up gives you more flexibility than a bricks and mortar store, so we can operate for nine months of the year and then pack up and move.”

Mr Hopperton said the business has a weekend focus and is trading on Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm to 8pm, and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 8pm.

He is currently trialling his allotted area at the end of the Due South car park on Toll Place while exploring a few other potential locations.

“The feedback we’ve had so far is that now people know we’re here, they will come back and eat here,” Mr Hopperton said.

“You see people come down here to eat anyway – with their Hungry Jacks – so here’s where it’s at.

“We’re trying to offer something out of the norm.”

Mr Hopperton’s desire for a simple menu stemmed from working for years in the hospitality sector.

“I’ve managed restaurants and pubs before and it gets so complicated.

This is user-friendly,” he said.

In the next week or two, Mr Hopperton said he might add loaded fries to the menu, and potentially offer a ‘gourmet dog’.

He confirmed that he does indeed have EFTPOS facilities.

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Dogoceros rock

MONDAY morning saw everybody’s favourite Albany landmark crowned with a witch’s hat.

Perhaps it was The Weekender’s active imagination, perhaps parallax, but we reckon who ever the wag was that added the orange appendage gave the region’s best-known canine a decidedly rhinoceros-ish air.

Strolling beneath the rock’s nose on Monday afternoon, blissfully unaware of the witch’s hat were Hayley (10), Tracey, and Lauren (9) Williams.

“It’s cool!” Lauren exclaimed when told of the ephemeral artwork.

Tracey said she and the kids had recently moved to Albany from Tenterden.

“We’re just pretending we’re townies, walking into town,” she said.

“The weirdest thing we’ve seen up the top of the rock is, the other week, there was somebody flossing up there.”

‘Oh, yeah!” Lauren recalled.

Unaccustomed to the vernacular employed by Tracey, The Weekender’s chief news writer hit urbandictionary.com to learn that ‘flossing’ is “a dance in which you move your hips from side to side while simultaneously moving your hands through the air in the opposite direction”.

Lauren said she reckoned the witch’s hat depositor had bolted up the top of the rock from Middleton Road.

Image: Dog Rock sans flossers. Photo: Chris Thomson

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Vollie lauded

ALBANY Junior Cricket Association volunteer Amanda Thompson said she is still getting over the shock of being named the Female Country Volunteer of the Year by the Western Australian Cricket Association.

Every year the WACA recognises the hours of dedication that volunteers put into cricket associations and teams across the state.

AJCA president Jackie Boyce was also named a finalist in the awards.

“To be frank, I’m a bit embarrassed to have won the award,” Ms Thompson said.

“Jackie is an integral part of junior cricket in Albany and I really think that without her we wouldn’t have junior cricket.”

Ms Thompson said she joined the association nearly four years ago after her youngest son Matthew started playing cricket.

“My eldest son (Angus) was playing cricket and my younger son had started up and I decided it was time to give back,” she said.

“So I went along to a committee meeting and the unspoken rule of committees is that if you’re on one you are always given a job to do.”

Ms Thompson said when she started volunteering she didn’t know a single thing about cricket.

“I started off logging in the stats for players under the guidance of Mike Moriarty,” she said.

“I learned a lot and then learned how to score cricket and how to live score so people at home could watch the Country Week matches from Albany.”

Ms Thompson said the AJCA would not be able to operate without the volunteers it has on the sidelines scoring matches, organising registrations and booking fields.

“Jackie and I see this award as a win for Albany junior cricket,” she said.

“It really shows how hard and well our volunteers work together.

“We don’t volunteer for the accolades, we volunteer for the kids.”

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Rex airfare hike

REX plans to raise the price of its $128.91 community fare between Albany and Perth by $10 from March 1 – 16 months earlier than it agreed it would.

The regional airline has approached the City of Albany requesting approval of a new $139 fare, and City governance and risk manager Stuart Jamieson has recommended his political masters approve the new fare.

Mr Jamieson’s recommendation comes after Rex told the City it could not sustain the current fare, set for three years on July 1, 2017.

Mr Jamieson advises that an alternative option would be for councillors to “reject” Rex’s request “noting the City … entered in to a three- year agreement …”.

“The City entered this agreement in good faith and in collaboration both parties agreed to include the requirement to provide a community fare on the Albany route at the set price,” Mr Jamieson continued.

“As part of the current agreement, the City also agreed to fix the Rex Airport fees and charges (with CPI indexation) for the duration of the contract period.”

In 2017/18, Rex transported 29,144 passengers from Perth to Albany, and carried 29,362 people the other way. The 58,506 passengers carried was up on the three financial years prior.

Rex’s planned fare rise will be considered by a City committee on February 12.

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City sends lime pit message

A COMMUNICATIONS strategy has been developed to sell the City of Albany’s response to the contentious approval by a powerful tribunal of a lime pit at Nullaki Peninsula.

A briefing note to City councillors seen by The Weekender says the strategy was developed ahead of a media statement released on January 14 by Acting Mayor Greg Stocks, and promotion of the City’s position on social media.

A letter was also sent to residents around the peninsula and the lime pit’s planned haulage route, people who made a submission on the pit, seven community groups and the Elleker General Store.

The letter, from City CEO Andrew Sharpe, says the City “is extremely surprised and disappointed” the State Administrative Tribunal decided to overturn the Council’s earlier unanimous refusal of the lime pit.

“… especially how an extractive industry was found to be consistent with orderly and proper planning, in particular meeting the objectives and provisions of the Conservation zoning,” the letter, dated January 21, continued.

The letter explains that the City separately progressed a scheme amendment that would have prohibited the lime pit, but the amendment was not endorsed by the Minister for Planning in time and so was given little weight in the Tribunal’s deliberations.

The briefing note, drafted by town planner Alex Bott, says all further correspondence with the public will accord with the communications strategy.

The lime pit approval was hailed by developer Graeme Robertson as a “win-win” for Great Southern farmers and for the environment with a maximum three hectares to be “temporarily” cleared instead of the 21 hectares he had originally planned.

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Two shades of Grey

A CITY of Albany committee has been recommended to endorse concept plans which would see a one-way section of Grey Street East in Albany’s CBD be converted to two-way.

The plans released on Monday suggest the section of Grey Street East between the Premier Hotel and the Aberdeen Street roundabout be changed to allow traffic to enter York Street from the east and west.

The construction work was scheduled and budgeted for the City of Albany’s 2018/2019 financial year as a solution to relieve traffic congestion at “alternate west-east routes such as Peels Place”.

“Travelling west to east through the CBD from Grey Street is simple and the busy York Street can be avoided by use of the current one-way system through Grey Street East to Aberdeen Street,” the planning document reads.

“For the same traveller return journey, the one way system results in a limited number of return options which inevitably results in increased congestion at west-east route such as Peels Place.

“Ultimately, by reinstating the two-way traffic flow, west-east permeability is improved and with it a reduction in congestion.”

The origin of the one-way section of Grey Street is believed to be linked to the design of the Premier Hotel.

As revealed in The Weekender, the hotel is set to undergo a major facelift to include a new alfresco area facing Grey Street.

“Although information is vague, it is understood that the one-way system currently on Grey Street East was implemented to facilitate the extended alfresco area previously occupied by the Premier Hotel,” the planning document states.

“Works need to be carried out in conjunction with the Premier Hotel development to facilitate the new verandah and alfresco dining.

“The allocation in the budget for the Grey Street East works was done in order to meet the timeframes for the much needed building development.”

A site meeting was held on September 4 last year and three members of the public attended.

The main concern raised was the reduction of parking bays, which is expected to be 14.

The City has said it is working with the Premier Hotel developer to secure a lease over the rear portion of the property for parking use.

“This would have the provision of an additional 40 bays once finalised,” the document states.

“The proposed term of this lease is 20 years but subject to negotiation with the developer.”

The Development and Infrastructure Services Committee will meet on February 13 to make its decision ahead of a full council meeting.

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