Artists reflect life

CAPTURING light and memories in their respective mediums was the aim for Albany Art Group artists in the lead-up to their latest exhibition.

Upon Reflection will be on display at the Albany Town Hall from May 19 to 26 and is open from 9.30am to 5pm daily.

Albany Art Group president Suzanne Randall said the exhibition will incorporate more than 200 artworks from 28 different artists.

“It’s a revolving exhibition,” she said.

“When someone purchases a piece, that artist brings another artwork to replace it, so the exhibition is always well worth a revisit.”

Ms Randall said there will be creations made from ink pencil, acrylics, oils and watercolours, as the exhibition focuses on paintings and drawings.

To encourage young working artists to join the group, Ms Randall said Albany Art Group has classes at Vancouver Arts Centre on Saturdays from 10.30am to 12.30pm, so emerging artists can have the opportunity to join the group around their work hours.

If you are interested in joining, you can contact Ms Randall on 0400 591 916.

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Vintage vibe on Vancouver Street

DUST off your tweed jackets, straighten your bow ties and put on your best Victorian era-esque makeup before hopping on your treadly and rolling down to the annual Vancouver Street Festival this Saturday.

The arts and heritage event will kick off at 11am until 4pm and feature gourmet food, vintage bicycles and tricycles, live music, street performers, history walks and an artisan market.

The famous Tweed Ride invites retro cyclists to ride into town at their own pace and in their own time, rather than sticking to a specific route.

Cyclists will, however, have a window of time from 11am until noon to get their photo taken at the festival ahead of the competition judging.

New to this year’s celebrations will be the Noongar Song Project, an idea that stemmed from discussions between Vancouver Arts Centre and local Noongar elder Lester Coyne last year.

The song project will have three elements: a new country-rock band called The Toolbrunup Band, a dance performance from the Deadly Brother Boys, and a new community-devised song based on the ‘Kawaar’ story shared by Averil Dean, which will be sung by a mass choir and accompanied by a string ensemble.

Other live music will include the likes of The Amazing South Coast Big Band, Diggin the Jig, Katie J White, Los Car Keys, Myles Mitchell and Sneetches.

Public Programs Officer for the Museum of the Great Southern Malcolm Traill will lead a history walk between the town square and VAC to explore heritage trees in the area.

Make A Scene Artists Collective will have an exhibition set up in the main gallery of VAC featuring textiles, paintings, origami, photography, illustrations, macrame, jewellery and ceramics.

For the full program of events, visit

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The day we met Gilly

NINE-year-old cricket tragics Luke and Jesse Wilson almost missed out on the chance to meet one of their cricket heroes when he came to town last week.

Although you wouldn’t pick it from their boundless energy, the identical twins are both double liver transplant recipients – their suppressed immune system meant they were unable to risk an in-store meet and greet at Maccas with Adam Gilchrist due to the risk of catching a cold from anyone in the crowd of fellow cricket nuts.

Gilchrist was in town to headline a fundraising gig for Ronald McDonald House – a charity the Wilsons have leant on during their countless trips to Perth for the boys.

After hearing the boys’ plight and their close link with Ronald McDonald House, the world’s best ever wicket-keeper batsman had no hesitation in coming to the rescue.

He headed straight for an exclusive net session with the twins moments after touching down in Albany on Friday afternoon.

Sporting their favourite Perth Scorchers shirts and smiles that barely fit on their faces, the twins laid claim to perhaps being the only cricketers in this neck of the woods to have stood at first slip next to “Gilly”.

The cricketing legend was simply bowled over by the twins’ story as he spent time with Kylie and Jason Wilson and the twins’ sisters Ellie and Willow in between stints in the nets.

“These guys are so amazing and energetic,” Gilchrist said.

“The story of these two boys is unfortunately one of many similar stories in the [Ronald McDonald] House, but it’s looking like it’s a really positive story for them personally and as a family.

“It’s great that the House has been able to help in their journey.”

Despite a hectic nine months putting their stamp on their new franchise, McDonald’s Albany owners Darren and Tracey Tyrrell hosted the fundraising dinner at Motel Le Grande and said they were extremely grateful for the community’s support.

The event raised more than $40,000 through ticket sales and an auction of donated items.

In the nets, the twins held up their end of the cricketing bargain, each proving the perfect accomplice to Gilly at first slip, while the other flashed the shiny new Gray Nic that was yet to be knocked in, but more than ready for a prized signature.

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Water meets land in Walpole

ARTISTIC expressions of land and sea emerge in Petrichor Gallery’s latest exhibition at its Walpole home base.

Waterline is a combined effort between local artist and curator Elizabeth Edmonds and Mandurah-based Stephen Draper, and focuses on both the imaginary and real-life line representing where water meets land, and above and below water.

Ms Edmonds created the paintings and Mr Draper produced the sculptures.

Ms Edmonds said Mr Draper’s sculptures were made from upcycled teak, as this material is lightweight, strong and easy to sculpt.

“His work is just superb,” she said.

“His art has a beautiful, light feel and uses light colour wash, similar to the beach.

“He’s been so generous supporting art in our region and his work has been very well received by the locals.”

Ms Edmonds said her contributions to the exhibition were designed to complement Mr Draper’s, and also feature soft, beachy tones.

“We’ve had overwhelming feedback from visitors,” she said.

“It’s just been a really great experience.”

Waterline will be available for viewing every day until April 29 from 10am
to 4pm at Petrichor Gallery, located on Nockolds Street in Walpole.

All works are for sale.

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Treadly ready for festival

ALBANY’S renowned Vancouver Street Festival is getting a shake-up ahead of its planned May 12 schedule.

The famous Tweed Ride, a feature of the arts and heritage event, will invite retro cyclists to ride into town at their own pace and in their own time, rather than sticking to a specific route.

Cyclists will, however, have a window of time from 11am until noon to get their photo taken at the festival ahead of the competition judging.

In previous years, bicycles such as penny farthings have made an appearance.

WA Historical Cycling Club member Murray Gomm said there will be four categories riders can battle it out for.

“There will be most magnificent bike, most fetching lady, most dapper chap and most magnificent hair,” he said.

Mr Gomm said another new element to the street festival will be the way the retro transportation devices will be displayed.

“The penny farthings and historic bicycles will be ridden up and down Vancouver Street during the festival, which I think will be a bit of an attraction,” he said.

“There’s going to be an original penny farthing, a rare penny farthing tricycle and 20th century vintage bicycles.

“It’ll be a pretty rare opportunity to see these really ancient machines all together.”

Vancouver Arts Centre, the organising body of the event, confirmed other new features to the festival will include a Noongar choir and a focus on tree heritage.

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Half-million milestone

OUT of all the applications for funding the Albany Community Foundation has received since its inception four years ago, one sticks in the mind of founding chairman Tae Wood.

Chatting to The Weekender about the foundation reaching the half a million-dollar fundraising mark, Mr Wood revealed a story about a seven-year-old boy the foundation recently helped.

“He’s lived with his grandmother since his parents were incarcerated,” he said.

“His mother is in jail in Perth, so we help fund his visits to Perth and support his counselling.

“It resonated with me as I have children of my own, and it’s hard to see children affected by things out of their control.”

Mr Wood’s fundraising efforts, along with the 30-odd members who currently sit on the Albany Community Foundation (ACF) board, have seen many other disadvantaged individuals and families rise up from the ashes of their hardship and flourish once again.

ACF was the brain child of Mr Wood and a small group of other community members in 2013 who wanted to support local individuals and families who had fallen on hard times, and whose needs could not be met by other charities.

“We do it because we feel we live privileged lives, and it’s our responsibility to give back to the community,” Mr Wood said.

“We’ve been very lucky in that we’ve been strongly supported by the community, and the only challenge we’ve faced is trying to meet the needs of the community; we receive around 20 applications per month.”

ACF’s $500,000 – a combined kitty raised from Bogan Bingo nights, gala balls, quiz nights and $1000 per year board memberships – has helped fund extra curricula activities for disadvantaged students, PCYC’s Ice Breakers program, Albany local Kenny McGonnell’s recovery bike after he was left wheelchair bound following a motorbike accident, the Great Southern Mental Health Unit and Shalom House.

“Shalom House was our first successfully funded application,” Mr Wood said.

“It was absolutely amazing; it’s a very worthy cause and we were very proud to give away our first dollars to them.”

Mr Wood said ACF was proud of reaching its recent $500,000 milestone and would continue its fundraising efforts well into the future, with the aim of becoming the South West’s leading organisation promoting philanthropy.

If you would like to donate to ACF or find out more about becoming a board member, email [email protected].

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Conundrum of love

SPECTRUM Theatre’s latest showcase of local talent took its opening night audience on an interesting journey of love and betrayal last Friday.

The intimate seating of the theatre brought the audience both physically and emotionally closer to the play, touching on themes not uncommon in today’s world.

Divorce Me, Darling follows the story of career-driven divorce attorney Amelia Conway, who has just marked 15 years of marriage with husband Jonathan Bentley.

Despite never forgetting gifts for every big occasion, Jonathan’s roving eye has not gone unnoticed by his wife.

Arriving on Amelia’s office doorstep the same day is young bimbo Tina, who asks for an annulment so she can marry a married man.

As Amelia discovers the young woman intends to marry her very own husband, the humourous turmoil kicks off.

Rising talent Morgan Levingston convincingly portrayed Jonathan, a character at least 20 years his senior, and maintained character throughout the entire performance.

Spectrum regular Darian Mercuri was consistent in his quirky character’s tics and twitches – a skill which often drops off when an actor thinks no one is watching.

Sinead Charles’ excitement and enthusiasm for the play was evident in her brilliant smile and her confidence on stage.

Tickets for the April 13, 14, 15, 20 and 21 performances are still available and can be purchased via Paperbark Merchants.

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Youth celebrated across region

THE Great Southern will celebrate its young whippersnappers next weekend with three big festivals in Albany, Denmark and Katanning.

Albany’s YouthFest Music Festival will be held at the town square on April 21 and City of Albany Youth Development Officer Lesley Yates said visitors, restricted to ages 12 to 25, can expect a line-up of fantastic local talent and awesome music.

“We want young people to feel like Albany is somewhere they would like to continue to live, work, play and study and that they are valued for their diversity and talents,” she said.

“Youth services and agencies will engage with young people at key locations throughout the event through positive and fun activities.

“It is ultimately a celebration of young people.”

Ms Yates said the event was put together with the help of Albany’s Youth Advisory Council, and that there would be dancing, lawn games, face painting, an InstaBooth, Wi-Fi, phone charging ports and food vendors at the event, opening at 5pm and closing at 9pm.

Katanning’s Great Southern Youth Festival will also be on April 21, at the Katanning Leisure Centre.

From 2pm to 5pm, attendees – restricted to ages 11 to 25 – will be able to enjoy free entry, food stalls, live music, bubble soccer, a dunk tank, a rock climbing wall, sumo suits and sporting activities.

The 4Youth Denmark Fest will keep the party spirit going all weekend, scheduled for April 22 at McLean Oval.

From 11am to 4.30pm, there will be skateboarding clinics, demonstrations and a competition, a silent disco, art workshops, henna and glitter tattoos, Thai massage, bubble soccer, free Wi- Fi and food.

The Denmark event welcomes the whole family, particularly with the concert at 1.30pm featuring talent from Denmark and surrounds.

To find out more about the Great Southern’s youth festival events, check out the respective shire or city websites.

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Mayhem on the move

PLANTAGENET Players will christen their new home next month with a variety show to rival all others from the acting group’s repertoire.

The newly refurbished Plantagenet District Hall is now sparkling with nearly $1 million worth of fix-ups, including retractable tiered seating and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment.

Plantagenet Players media liaison Kristy Kempton said the first show for the hall, 100% Comedy – Caution: may contain traces of nuts, will feature two hours of skits, musical and dance numbers, short plays and poems.

“Plantagenet Players shows are notoriously cheeky and hilarious,” she said.

“The actors are all volunteers, including The Weekender’s own Andy Dolphin, and almost all content is written in-house.”

Co-producer of 100% Comedy Charmaine Gadenne said the show is guaranteed to tickle the cockles of your funny bones.

“It’s a lively variety show full of humour, wit and a touch of mayhem,” she said.

“We have created some very unique pieces in the usual style of Plantagenet Players that may cause you to laugh so hard, you’ll have tears running down your legs.

“The cast are having a ‘cracking’ good time at rehearsals, adding their own delightful personalities to their characters on stage as they explore our new theatre, whilst the crew have been playing with all the new equipment and creating costumes that will be a treat for the eyes.”

Tickets for the May 11, 12, 18 and 19 shows are on sale now and can be purchased at Mt Barker Scrap Shak.

Tickets cost $17 for adults, $12 for seniors and children, and a light supper is included.

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‘Ten top threatened’

FROM a furry staple of Albany’s suburbs to a trap-door spider that inhabits a single gully in the Stirling Range, the state biodiversity department has compiled a list of 10 priority terrestrial animals threatened across the Great Southern Region.

“The region is a biodiversity hotspot within a hotspot,” Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions ecologist Sarah Comer tells The Weekender.

Even on the leafy fringes of the Great Southern’s only city, one critically endangered species is commonly seen and heard.

“For the Western ringtail possum, Albany is one of three main population areas,” Ms Comer says.

“They’re spread from Cheynes Beach, around Waychinicup, across to Denmark, but there’s a real concentration of animals around the urban Albany area.”

Ms Comer says the Western ringtail has done “fairly well” in Albany, “with really high densities on the mounts”, but that its proximity to humans masks a marked contraction in possum populations.

“Then you have species like the critically endangered Gilbert’s Potoroo that was hanging on at Two Peoples Bay and has been translocated to Bald Island. We’ve got a fenced enclosure over at Manypeaks, but they’re very restricted in range,” she says.

“The Western ground parrot, also critically endangered with less than 150 left in the wild, is interesting, because when I started work here in 1999 they were found at Two Peoples Bay, Cheynes Beach, Fitzgerald River National Park and Cape Arid National Park, but now the core population has contracted back to Cape Arid.

“So they’re in a fair bit of strife.”

The possum, potoroo and parrot are on a threatened terrestrial species list Ms Comer developed with DBCA colleagues exclusively for The Weekender.

“At Little Beach, at Two Peoples Bay, if you stand there and look across the bay, that’s pretty much the global distribution of the potoroo and endangered noisy scrub-bird,” she explains of the incredibly small distribution of some creatures on the list.

“Two Peoples Bay was actually earmarked as a satellite town of Albany. Then in 1961 a local school teacher rediscovered the scrub-bird, which had for 70-odd years been thought extinct.”

The scrub-bird illustrates just how quickly some species can be pushed to the brink.

“With them, the early collections occurred around Torbay; there were heaps of collections in the 1800s, so they would have been right through this landscape,” Ms Comer says.

“They don’t fly, so they need long, unburnt vegetation for cover but also for the leaf vertebrates they eat.

“So, when they were rediscovered, they were in these moist gullies on Mount Gardner that had managed to escape fire.”

The potoroo, thought to have been extinct for more than a century, was only rediscovered in 1994 after marsupial researcher Dr Elizabeth Sinclair “caught a weird quokka” at the Little Beach reserve that had been protected from development after the scrub-bird was rediscovered.

“There’s this concept of short-range endemism, these species that have unbelievably restricted distributions based on microclimate, specific habitat parameters and where they end up left in the environment, and a lot of the invertebrates fall in there,” Ms Comer explains.

“The ones on this list are the Toolbrunup pygmy trapdoor spider, Sarah’s peacock spider, and the Stirling Range rhytidid snail.

“The trapdoor spider is literally only known from one south-facing gully microhabitat in the Stirling Range.

“The snail is carnivorous, and we only know of it in two locations in humid, shaded gullies under rocks on the south side of the range, east of Chester Pass Road, despite lots of searching.”

All three invertebrates are critically endangered in Western Australia, slightly better off than the impossibly cute dibbler.

“The dibbler’s just a gorgeous 80 to 90 gram carnivorous marsupial, and they were rediscovered over near Cheynes Beach,” Ms Comer says.

“They’re no longer there, but there’s a really important population in the Fitzgerald River National Park and also on the islands off Jurien Bay.”

Then there’s the Australasian bittern, a bird that is widely distributed but whose habitat is on the decline.

“They’re found in the eastern states and New Zealand and New Caledonia, but are really threatened by the loss of habitat,” Ms Comer says.

“The South Coast’s got some good bittern habitat around Cheynes, Manypeaks and then over toward Esperance.”

Rounding out the list is the freshwater Western trout minnow that inhabits the Goodga, Angove and Kent rivers.

“They’re only little fish,” Ms Comer says of the endangered minnow.

“Almost 20 years ago they put in a fish ladder for it because there were issues with the minnow moving up and down a weir that was put in [the Goodga River].”

She says local ecologists focus on caring for “landscapes and patches” of bushland, rather than on each species in isolation.

“That approach helps us get more bang for our buck when prioritising management practices,” she says.

“There’s loads of opportunities to volunteer for our recovery programs, and we rely heavily on people to report sightings of threatened species.”

And that goes even for the much seen and heard ringtail possum, sightings of which, like all threatened species, can be reported at

Ms Comer says the ‘Top 10’ list is not exhaustive, but a spread of some of the Great Southern’s remarkable threatened species.

“What’s fabulous about the South Coast is that we still have really quite viable populations of all of those species here,” she explains.

“We’re so lucky to have all this diversity, and these animals that are on the edge make the Great Southern a remarkable place to live.”

Photo: Ms Comer near a good patch of Western ringtail possum habitat at Albany’s Mount Clarence.

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