Sydney-bound septet

SEVEN young Albany talents are hosting a variety show on October 28 to raise money to send themselves to Sydney for a national music summer school program.

Siblings Bonnie, Josie and Maggie Staude, along with sisters Bella and Ruby Fasolo and Hudson Bell and Jessica Turner will attend the Gondwana National Choral School in January next year at the University of New South Wales in the hope to further develop their vocal skills and advance their musical careers.

Bonnie, who has attended the Gondwana summer school program four times previously, said the septet will spend two weeks in Sydney and live on the university campus.

They will devote school hours to rehearsals with their designated choir, and spend spare time partaking in specialist projects, which range from musical theatre, to drumming, to Indonesian dancing.

“Gondwana is a great way to build connections with composers and conductors,” Bonnie said.

“The Gondwana choirs are extremely good and of a really high calibre, so it’s pretty exciting to think that little ol’ us from Albany will be singing with an international act.”

Bonnie said funds raised during the October 28 variety concert, Pure Imagination, would contribute to the group’s flights, accommodation and participation fees.

“Tickets are going well at the moment, but we would love more people to come,” she said.

“And if people can’t make the concert, we would greatly appreciate any donations.”

Bonnie said Pure Imagination will feature snippets of musical theatre, instrumental performances, classical and contemporary music, and a little bit of comedy.

Pure Imagination will be held at the Port Theatre at 4.30pm on October 28 and tickets can be purchased through Paperbark Merchants.

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Music from Manus

DENMARK songstress and human rights activist Dawn Barrington continues to blend two of her passions as she take her message to the masses.

Barrington was first properly introduced to music seven years ago when she attended a local TAFE music program.

“I went to go and do something for a bit or fun and then I guess I got a bit carried away,” she said.

“I was working with a guy called Tony King who is a brilliant teacher.

“He just continues to plant seeds around Denmark, which is great for growing local talents.”

Barrington’s music developed into a sound she was already very familiar with as part of the local bar and café music scene.

“I usually describe it as contemporary folk, folk-rock maybe,” she said.

“It’s along the lines of what I think a lot of solo acoustic acts do these days.

“If you’re not blues, you’re simply folk. I guess it’s that kind of thing.”

Barrington explained how her music and activism became more strongly connected over the years.

“I’ve always been a writer, so that’s probably the thread that got me into it,” she said.

“A lot of my stuff is activist-based; it’s about social and environmental issues.”

This was the spark for her latest collaborative project Music From Manus.

Music From Manus is a 40-minute documentary by filmmaker Tim Maisey.

It centres around Barrington’s journey to Manus Island to meet the refugees and to connect with them on a musical level.

“I guess my main goal is to let the world know that they’re just innocent people; they’re real humans like me and you.”

When asked why she chose to do this through music, Barrington told The Weekender that it was the only way she could.

“I’m not a social worker and I’m not a support worker, but I was connected with the guys working on Manus Island through music,” she said.

“When I started to learn about how bad it was and how lovely the guys there were, I knew I wanted to go there and play for them.”

She got in contact with Maisey and travelled to the island in March.

After they had arrived back in Australia and Maisey had completed the film, Dawn took to showcasing their work to as many people as possible.

“I took it all over East,” she said.

“I did screenings over there and here in WA, met loads of people through it, and got an amazing response.”

Through doing something like this on such a big scale, Barrington began to realise that she was becoming a better musician.

“It’s brought a new life to my music and songwriting,” she said.

“I guess you could say it’s my purpose.”

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Gongs for best drops

FOUR Great Southern vineyards picked up nine of 24 trophies at the prestigious Wine Show of Western Australia held in Mount Barker last week.

Denmark’s Rockcliffe, Castle Rock Estate in Porongurup, Ferngrove Frankland River Wines and Frankland River’s Alkoomi Wines won gold across the Riesling, Rosé and Pinot Noir categories and event coordinator Marie O’Dea said it was a great effort.

“We had more than 115 wineries competing,” she said.

“Our Singaporean judge, Lim Hwee Peng was quite impressed…it’s an indication of the strength of the Great Southern.”

Rockcliffe won best Rosé of show with its 2018 Third Reef Rosé and Rockcliffe owner Steve Hall said it was a “very special” wine.

“At last year’s show, I purposely went through the rosés with Antony [winemaker] and the winners were very dry and grey, and I thought that was a French style,” he said.

“I said to Antony, ‘I need this, it’s a fabulous wine’ and so a lot of hassle, debate and work went into it.

“I thought Antony should make it, and he did, because he is from Provence and we made it in true Provence style.”

Mr Hall said Rockcliffe also won the Neale Warneford Trophy for best red blend with the Ironcloud Wines 2017 Rock of Solitude Purple Patch GSM, as Rockcliffe also makes Ironcloud products.

“Winning a trophy is the pinnacle, really,” he said.

“We’ve effectively made the best Rosé in WA.

“It’s a massive accolade for us.”

Castle Rock Estate won the Winequip Trophy for most successful exhibitor processing under 250 tonnes, best Great Southern white and best Riesling with the 2018 Porongurup Riesling, and best Pinot Noir with the 2017 Porongurup Pinot Noir.

Winemaker and owner Rob Diletti said the vineyard had competed in the wine show since 1986 and winning kept the Castle Rock name fresh in people’s minds.

“We’ve done well in Perth and other capital city shows, so it’s a continual indication showing how our whites are going,” he said.

“For Riesling and Pinot Noir, Porongurup is up there creating the best in Australia.

“It’s amazing to get it [trophies].”

Mr Diletti said the location of the vineyard at the base of the Porongurup – which has a good balance between being not too rigorous and not too lean in its soil – the elevation of the land, and the easterly sea breeze from the Great Australian Bight all contributed to creating the ideal growing conditions for his grapes.

Ferngrove Frankland River Wines won the title of best Great Southern red and best red varietal for its 2017 Black Label Malbec and vineyard manager Chris Zur said it was earned by a big team effort.

“It’s always good news to be recognised for hard work,” he said.

“We’ve been a champion for Malbec in the region for a long time, and it’s because of a lot of work from the whole team.”

Mr Zur said despite Frankland River being “probably” the most isolated of the five sub-regions in the Great Southern, its low disease pressure, Mediterranean climate and the cooling influence of the Southern Ocean in the afternoon were desirable for making Malbec.

Alkoomi Wines won best aged Riesling for their 2010 Black Label Riesling.

Owner Sandy Hallett said the vineyard had supported the Wine Show for many years, with Ms Hallett’s father being one of the founding members of the prominent event.

“This [trophy] shows that Riesling from our region, whilst delicious young, also has tremendous ageing potential,” she said.

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Guiding light brings story home

THE LAUNCH of Albany’s Field of Light: Avenue of Honour artwork at the Mount Clarence war memorial last week sparked vivid memories of Afghanistan for State Veteran Issues Minister Peter Tinley, a onetime member of the crack SAS regiment.

“Those lights, when I stood back and got a good space-and-depth look at them, reminded me of flying in the Middle East and coming into towns in Afghanistan where there was a smattering of lights,” Mr Tinley reflected in an unguarded interview with The Weekender on Friday.

“And it brought back memories of … trepidation and fear of what we might find down there on the ground.”

In 1990, Mr Tinley graduated first in class and was Queens Medallist at the Royal Military College Duntroon.

For 17 of his 25 years in the Army he served with the Special Air Service regiment, which is based in Perth.

“It’s really good to be part of this continuous and unbroken story of Albany’s connection to the Anzacs,” he said.

“Actually, I thought the rain made last night’s opening even more poignant.

“It just added to that sense of place that was so important to the Anzac story and will continue to be important.”

Mr Tinley was the first member in the history of the SAS to advance from Trooper to Squadron Commander.

“One of the things that’s really good about Field of Light is the inclusion of the ‘A’ and the ‘NZ’, in the changing colour of the lights to the Kwhai, the national flower of New Zealand, and the wattle,” he said.

“As Veteran’s Minister I go around always and acknowledge there is an ‘NZ’ in ‘Anzac’, because in major missions in Afghanistan and Iraq and everywhere in between our Kiwi brothers and sisters have been there with us.

“They’re two siblings that don’t mind going each other, from Rugby to under-arm bowling, but the relationship is still very strong.”

During his final appointment as Chief Operations Officer from 2001 to 2004 Mr Tinley was principal planner for operations worldwide including East Timor, Christmas Island (Tampa), Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The challenge for us in Government is to make sure all of Australia knows what’s going on in Albany so people can have a fair opportunity to get here,” the Labor Member for Willagee said.

“And it’s on until April.

“My eight-year-old daughter has committed me to a road-trip to get to it again so she can see it.”

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Casting the net

GREAT Southerners have the chance to be in Albany film H is for Happiness if they can make it to casting sessions tomorrow and Saturday.

H is for Happiness follows the story of 12-year-old Candice Phee, who is on a mission to find happiness for her family following a tragedy.

The family movie will be filmed in Albany during November and December this year.

Extras, stand-ins and doubles are being sought of all ages, shapes, sizes and cultural backgrounds and will be chosen from the people who attend the casting sessions at Albany Entertainment Centre tomorrow, October 12 from 1.30pm to 5pm and Saturday, October 13 from 9am to 3pm.

One role to be filled is for a 12 or 13-year-old female student with red hair, Caucasian skin with freckles and who is approximately 154cm tall.

Another is for a 32 to 42-year-old male with brown hair, Caucasian skin and who is approximately 188cm tall.

Other roles include an elderly ladies walking group, couples, paramedics, nurses, orderlies, bands, a six-month-old red-haired female, six to 13-year-old children, teenagers, dog owners and dogs, families and a six-year-old red-haired female.

To register your interest and have your photo taken, email Rachael Karotkin at happinessfilm.casting@

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Rex defends delays

EXTENDED delays to Rex’s Albany flights have raised the ire of MLA Peter Watson, who says he will raise the matter with his State Labor colleague Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“I’m going to catch up with Rita to find out what the benchmarks are, because of the amount of complaints I’m getting,” Mr Watson said on Monday night after belatedly arriving in Perth.

That morning, his scheduled 6:30am flight did not depart Albany until 11.25am.

“It just happens all the time,” he told The Weekender.

“It’s a weekly occurrence.”

The parliamentarian said he took between 30 and 40 return flights to Perth a year, and Rex offered a wide range of reasons for delays.

“Sometimes, they say: ‘Oh, we can’t get the pilots’,” he lamented.

“They’re also putting people off planes because it’s too heavy.

“I was at Perth Airport a couple of weeks ago, and they said they needed two people to volunteer, otherwise they could not take off because it was bad weather in Albany.”

Mr Watson said he checked the weather on his phone and Albany seemed all clear, and when he finally touched down the weather was okay at Drome.

He said a fellow passenger, recently diagnosed with cancer, who missed a 9.45am specialist’s appointment in Perth thanks to Monday’s long delay, had emailed him.

“I didn’t receive a text message and did not find out about the cancelled flight until I arrived at the airport at 5.45[am],” the woman wrote.

“Had I received a message about the flight last night, I could have driven to Perth and made the appointment.

“I have to spend the night in Perth now, which I do not want to [as it] will incur extra charges.”

Mr Watson said that over the past 12 months, delays and cancellations had got “worse and worse”.

“Their name is ‘Regional Express’, but as someone said at the airport this morning, they may as well take the ‘express’ off because they’re never on time,” he said.

“They seem to think: ‘Oh, it’s a business, take what you get, we’ve got the [monopoly] rights [to run the service]’.

A Rex spokeswoman said Mr Watson’s flight was delayed due to “crew rest requirements as specified by Civil Aviation Orders”.

“The inbound flight from the previous night was delayed, resulting in an extended rest requirement for flight crew,” she said.

She said Rex’s on-time performance was “well above” the benchmark stipulated in the airline’s agreement with the State to operate the monopoly Albany service.

“In Financial Year 2018, Rex operated more than 2300 flights between Albany and Perth with 88 per cent operating on time and we expect a similar result in the full Financial Year 2019,” she said.

“There have been slightly more delays between Albany and Perth during the winter months of July and August.

“However, we are already seeing a significant improvement post winter.”

The Weekender asked questions of Ms Saffioti and received no reply.

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Searching for soul

ANCIENT Irish archaeological sites and the Baltics are on the list of places to visit for Albany sculptor Kevin Draper following his win of a $30,000 art scholarship.

Draper is one of three artists to receive the Helen Lempriere Scholarship, an award designed to enable artists to further their artistic development through travel, study and the purchase of new equipment.

The money is also to be used to support the artists’ inclusion in Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi which begins on October 14.

Draper won the scholarship as a mid-career artist, alongside emerging artist Britt Mikkelsen and senior artist Hossein Valamanesh.

Draper began the year with his black-and-white 16-branch tree sculpture Configuration featuring in the Cottesloe Sculpture by the Sea, so being part of the Bondi exhibition for the sixth time and winning the scholarship has added more excitement to his year.

“It’s a very artist-friendly scholarship,” Draper said of the grant.

“My first thought was, well, I could buy new art materials, but it should be used for something special and a bit different.

“Travel is always a good option.”

Draper said he is normally only able to stay for the installation period at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, so has decided part of the scholarship will go towards a longer stay in Sydney.

He plans to stay for the entire period of the sculpture show with his partner, Indra before travelling up and down the east coast visiting regional art centres.

“We’ve never had time to do that before,” Draper said.

But the travelling art research won’t stop there.

Come June next year, Draper plans to whisk himself and Indra away to Ireland, the Baltic states, the top of Scotland and potentially Berlin.

He also hopes to travel through Sweden and Norway to explore a few outdoor sculpture parks.

“I’m of Irish descent on my mum’s side, and her family’s original farm is still in Northern Ireland,” Draper said.

“There’s some ancient archaeological sites on the edge of Ireland too, and it all influences my work – how farmers use the landscape and my heritage.

“So, that will be a starting point…I’m not sure what I’ll find.”

Draper said he finds the symbology and language of Northern Europe interesting and is keen to visit a number of European art galleries.

“I’ve always been influenced by where I live and have travelled to,” he said.

“There’s just something about ancestry and the thousands of years of history that I don’t have over here [in Australia].”

Draper’s sculpture installation Configuration can be viewed at Bondi Beach from October 18 until November 4.

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Wishes come true

FOR Make a Wish Albany president Ellie Gregory and vice president Sherri Willock, it’s all about seeing the smile light up on a sick child’s face that makes the long hours fundraising worthwhile.

From building cubby houses and buying state- of-the-art computers, to sending families on holidays and creating special baby hampers, the pair have seen and done it all in the name of giving sick children from the Great Southern a break from hospitals and needles.

Ms Gregory said Make a Wish Albany’s next fundraiser, to be held this Saturday, will take a different form from the usual quiz night and bake sale to create a more inclusive style of event.

“We felt like stuff was missing for young kids,” she said.

“So this is the first time we are doing a kid-focused fundraiser.

“We just want to do something to benefit the community.”

A range of kids’ activities will be held from 9am to noon on October 6 at the Albany Town Square and for $4 per child, kids can dance with Happy Feet Fitness, play games with Jamie the Clown, buy a treat from the bake sale and go in the running to win a raffle prize.

All money raised will go directly to Make a Wish to help grant wishes, of which the Albany branch has granted 15 in 10 years and one was completed as recently as May.

Albany’s own Taj Stubber, now 16, was one of the 15 children who had his wish granted in the past and said having a wish become reality helped alleviate the stress of his medical battle.

Taj was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when he was four years old and living in Borden.

He spent three years receiving treatment in Perth and staying at Ronald McDonald House with his mum, and missed time at home with his dad and two older brothers.

It was when Taj was seven years old and back at home that some of his secret wishes came true.

“I got told I was doing a grocery run in town,” Taj recalled.

“When I got back, there was a West Coast Eagles-themed pool party and David Hall, my favourite sprint car driver, was there.

“Then I found out I was going to the Gold Coast for a week with Mum, Dad, Bodhi and Logan.”

Taj said he got to meet Nitro, one of the hosts from TV series The Shak and went to all the different theme park ‘worlds’.

The smile on his face when reflecting on the trip eight years on showed how much of a difference the holiday made for Taj and his family.

“It was a pretty tough time,” Taj said about the toll his cancer battle took on his loved ones.

“So it was good to get away and have time to hang out together.”

Ms Gregory revealed the Albany Make a Wish group is about to start working on a new wish for a child living in the Great Southern, and said she encouraged people to attend Saturday’s event to help raise money for the charity.

Young Taj said he still receives annual health check-ups and planned to have one this week in Perth, which he hopes will be the last one in Perth before receiving them annually in Albany.

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Albany has lowest sex ratio

HETEROSEXUAL men in Albany may have cause for celebration as the city has the lowest ratio of males to females in regional Western Australia.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Thursday show there are only 87.1 males per 100 females in the South Coast’s only city.

This is the lowest sex ratio of any statistical area in regional WA.

The Albany sex ratio is the second lowest in the State, behind only the leafy Perth enclave of Mosman Park/Peppermint Grove that had 85.6 males for every 100 females.

At the other end of the scale, the mining areas of East Pilbara (274.7) and Ashburton (245.9) had the State’s highest male to female sex ratios.

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Tale of happiness

HOT on the heels of Albany-bred author Tim Winton’s book-to-film adaption of Breath being filmed in Denmark and the announcement of new movie Rams to be filmed in Mount Barker until December, Albany will have its time to shine with a new feature film commencing shooting in town next month.

H is for Happiness will tell the story of Candice Phee, a 12-year-old girl determined to bring happiness and joy back to her family following a tragedy.

The tale will follow Candice and a new friend she meets on their joint quest to find happiness, and has been described as a “very sweet, family drama comedy” by director John Sheedy.

Mr Sheedy remained tight-lipped on the final cast list when talking to The Weekender, but revealed the movie will be filmed entirely in Albany from the second week of November and feature many iconic Albany locations.

He said Albany will keep its name in the film and feature in the opening line of the movie – “A is for Albany”.

“I love the bottom part of Albany; it has this old-world sense,” Mr Sheedy said.

“It’s very charming and quirky, and the coastal landscapes are beautiful.”

Mr Sheedy said the windfarm, the old yacht club, the “Lady Gaga mansion” – Maitraya Private Retreat – York Street and Albany Senior High School are among the locations to be used for the film.

He’s excited to see what the Albany landscape can offer, explore its uniqueness and work alongside locals.

“There’s something very special about WA,” Mr Sheedy said.

“There’s a lot of character and charm, great views, it’s not flat and there are so many talented artists here.

“There must be something in the water.”

Head of production and development for ScreenWest Matt Horrocks said he is excited to get WA back into the spotlight with H is for Happiness.

He revealed the new movie will be one of many programs to be filmed in and around the Great Southern in the coming months.

ScreenWest is one of the companies involved in H is for Happiness’ production investment.

“WA is the busiest state in the country at the moment,” Mr Horrocks said.

“There’s been projects in the Kimberley, Busselton and Denmark, and now Albany will be the star of the show.

“We are really thrilled that a series of TV shows and films for around the South West and down your way [Albany] will be announced in the next few weeks.

“The Great Southern has some of the most extraordinary locations, of which some can be hard to get to for shooting, so we are trying to activate those extraordinary locations.”

Mr Horrocks said he is “very keen” on H is for Happiness and believes people from all over Australia will love it.

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