Pamper for poor pooches

FROM aspiring to be a vet when she grew up, to rescuing stray dogs off the streets in South Africa and finally opening up her own dog grooming business, Yvette Miles’ passion for pets of the barking variety has culminated in an award-winning performance at the recent Rescue Roundup Grooming Competition in Perth.

The competition is hosted by the Dog Groomers Association of WA and Ms Miles was tasked with grooming a rescue dog she had never met before.

“I was given a Pomeranian-Chihuahua cross to groom,” she said.

“When I heard what I was allocated I was very worried. I really hoped the dog took after the Pomeranian for its longer coat.

“Grooming dogs is all about building up trust with the dog, which you don’t have a lot of time to do in the competition.”

Despite some small issues with ticklish feet, Ms Miles managed to groom her way to success, coming home with the awards for Best Coat Preparation and Best Transformation.

“I really am so grateful to have my work acknowledged,” she said.

“To be grooming for 10 years and then win two awards like that really is amazing.”

But it almost didn’t happen – when Ms Miles realised she was going to be in Perth on the weekend of the Rescue Roundup, applications had already closed.

“I sent them an email with the hope that there may have been a space free,” she said.

“I immediately got an email back saying they were full, but they would let me know if a space became available.

“When I got the email a week before the competition asking if I was still interested, I immediately said ‘yes’.

“I wasn’t nervous, I just really wanted to do something nice for the rescue dogs since it’s for a good cause.”

Prior to emigrating to Australia from Jeffreys Bay in South Africa five years ago, Ms Miles built a reputation in her local area for rescuing and rehoming dogs.

“People would drop off strays they had found and we would get them healthy and rehome them,” she said.

“Some of them came in with quite matted coats and had skin conditions, so we would have to groom them.”

When the opportunity arose to be professionally trained to groom people’s pooches, Ms Miles didn’t hesitate.

“I’ve always loved animals and dogs in particular,” she said.

“So being given the opportunity to groom and work with dogs everyday is amazing.

“I’m living my dream.”

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Perfect pumpkins

THE heaviest and best-dressed pumpkins the Great Southern has to offer will be on display next week for the annual Lower Kalgan Community Association’s Giant Pumpkin Fair.

The Giant Pumpkin Fair will spread its roots through the Lower Kalgan Hall’s grounds on April 14 from 9am to midday, and will have many prizes up for grabs, including the heaviest and best-dressed pumpkins, best pumpkin soup and best pumpkin photos.

Young Charlie, Wesley, Louis and Marnie McGregor have worked with dad Clint to grow their pumpkins, aiming to enter into the heaviest pumpkin junior category.

They are aiming to beat their entry from last year that tipped the scales at 75kg.

“We might have beaten last years’,” Mr McGregor said, inspecting the sizeable vegetables at the bottom of his makeshift garden.

“We planted in November as it takes about four months for them to get to a good size, and I reckon this one is about 75kg at the moment.”

Mr McGregor said the necessary maintenance for the pumpkins was relatively low, using slow-release fertiliser in an old cattle yard, where he said the soil already had good poo.

And while rabbits aren’t necessarily a problem, Mr McGregor said he had enlisted the help of his young tribe to shoo other pests away.

“The kids help with the watering and shooing away the chooks and the duck,” he said.

“The only thing I have to keep an eye on is the kids walking all over the pumpkins.”

To find out more about the pumpkin competition and market stalls at the fair, you can check out the Facebook page, or contact Laura Bird on 0428 294 234 for pumpkin enquiries and Vicki Joynes for stall bookings on 0402 166 161.

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Lamp shines bright

THERE’S no such thing as a dull moment for renowned Albany author Dianne Wolfer.

If she’s not writing or editing a piece of work in her study, she’s off around the world chasing snippets of history, gathering writer’s inspiration from the comfort of a café lounge, or speaking with school students about literacy.

2018 is a busy year for Wolfer, who is releasing two new books, speaking at multiple schools and groups across the state about her books, organising her packed-out school schedule for Book Week, and launching her latest historical fiction, In the Lamplight, in both WA and in Harefield, England – In the Lamplight’s primary location.

She took a moment from her busy agenda to speak with The Weekender about her third and final instalment of the historical fiction saga Albanians have come to know and love her for.

While on a trip with her husband Peter to Peronne, France in 2003, Wolfer said the pair stopped over in London.

She said she was keen to visit Harefield, a small village north-west of London, as it housed the site of the first Australian World War I auxiliary hospital.

“It was a village that was completely changed by WWI, and I was really interested in that,” she said.

And so, In the Lamplight was born.

The first two books in her historical fiction series, Lighthouse Girl and Light Horse Boy, travel through time from the beginning of WWI and its major events.

Wolfer said it was only natural to complete the trilogy with In the Lamplight’s plot ending in 1919.

“The war changed Australia forever,” she said.

“We often look at what happened during the war, but not always at what happened afterwards, when all these men were coming home damaged.”

When closing in on her final manuscript last year, Wolfer said she was aware of the possible timing her book launch could have – April 2018 coinciding with the centenary of the end of WWI.

“It was a three-year project, because the research was so time-consuming,” she said.

“Each little fact had to be cross-referenced, and I’d often get carried away with the excitement of it all.

“So, I knew that if I wanted it to hit the shelves in April, I had to have it to the printers by October.

“We were working around the clock.”

Wolfer explored historical war resources in Albany, Perth, Canberra and Harefield to create the beautifully-presented, Australian-English perspective on the first world war that is In the Lamplight.

She is excited to officially launch the book at Carlyles Function Centre on April 9 and in Harefield in May.

“It’s all go!” she said.

For more information on the launch or to get your hands on a copy of In the Lamplight, visit or Paperbark Merchants on York Street.

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Malleefowl love nest

RARE birds after which the Shire of Gnowangerup is named are breeding like billyo out Ongerup way.

Manager of Yongergnow Australian Malleefowl Centre Rebecca Brady says that malleefowls Maggie, aged four, and Drei, two, have produced 19 chicks since late last year, and show no signs of stopping.

“After the Christmas break, when we came back we spotted three little chicks in the small aviary, and since then they’ve just been hatching and hatching, and every time we go out there’s been more and more, so the count now is 19,” she says.

“The last time our biologist, Vicki, checked the mound was before the last six chicks hatched. There were five eggs in it and we haven’t checked since then – so there could be more.”

Ms Brady says the 19 feathered newbies were the first chicks produced by their prolific parents.

“Maggie is about four years old,” she says.

“She’s been here a while, and Drei was a chick from the 2015/16 breeding season.

“He’s only two, so we didn’t think it was possible just yet.”

Roughly translated from the local Noongar language, ‘Gnowangerup’, the name of the shire in which the Ongerup-based centre sits, means ‘Place of the malleefowl’.

According to Birdlife Australia, the malleefowl – which ranges from Victoria and South Australia, up to the Northern Territory and through to Western Australia – is vulnerable nationally, and rare and likely to become extinct in WA.

“In the wild, the chick survival rate is only two per cent because they have no parental control or anything,” Ms Brady explains.

“Once their mum lays the eggs, that’s her job done.

“The father then adds dirt or removes dirt to keep the temperature in the mound between 32 and 34 degrees, and when they hatch they need to work their way out of the mound, which could be 1.5m high, all by themselves.”

Ms Brady says that when the chicks hatch they have to walk up to a metre from the mound, making them vulnerable to foxes and feral cats.

It is partly for that reason that an annual fox shoot that has been arranged for the night of April 7 by the local Community Resource Centre, which Ms Brady also manages, is so important.

“We feel like the local farmers are really helpful in realising that foxes are major predators, not just of livestock, but also of malleefowl,” she says.

Yongergnow plans to release malleefowl currently at the centre into mallee country in Gnowangerup Shire and beyond.

“Around northern Ongerup there have been sightings of malleefowl, including a male who had a mound,” Ms Brady says.

“He was unfortunately hit by a car so we’d like to think if we could put another male out there that male could then work on that mound again.”

Ongerup locals looking to participate in the April 7 fox shoot, and free brekky early the next day, can call 9828 2326 for more details.

Photo: Rebecca Brady with Maggie, Drei and the mound where the 19 chicks were born. Credit: Chris Thomson

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Ahoy to public art

PUBLIC art is popping up all over Albany at the moment, and it seems everyone is getting on board with the newest fad.

A grinning pirate, his treasure chest, his parrot and a curious octopus have appeared on the entry wall at Trailblazers on Albany Highway, and it’s the most recent project for Albany graphic artist and The Weekender’s own Cody Hulkes.

The modest talent said it took him just over 20 hours to paint the image, which he worked on at home and installed on the Trailblazers wall in three sections.

Mr Hulkes produced the oceanic feature wall for his big sister, Chantel Lawson, who owns the tackle and camping store.

“We love it, it’s absolutely wonderful,” Ms Lawson said.

“It’s something fun and something we think the kids will like.”

Mr Hulkes said the pirate graphic was the first large-scale project he has ever completed, and the first time he’s dealt with paints, being a graphic designer by trade.

He said it was interesting to learn about the different paints and wield a paint brush, rather than his usual computer mouse or stylus.

“It was great fun to do and a great opportunity,” he said.

“It’s the biggest thing I’ve done and it was a bit of a challenge, but the next wall will be even bigger and a bit more of a challenge.”

The wall Mr Hulkes is referring to is the side wall of Trailblazers, visible from Albany Highway as you head towards town.

The design for this wall is being kept tightly under wraps, but what we do know is that it will keep with the underwater theme.

“Watch this space,” Ms Lawson said.

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Celebs test market

COOKING celebrities Justine Schofield and Anna Gare popped into Denmark’s Rockcliffe Winery Night Market on Friday to show off their culinary skills as part of their Taste Great Southern tour.

Before taking to the stage, the talented ladies caught up with The Weekender for a glass of wine and a giggle or two.

The TV personalities are no stranger to Taste Great Southern; Ms Schofield took part a few years ago and couldn’t resist coming back, and Ms Gare has already participated in the 2018 trail, demonstrating at the Porongurup Wine Festival on the long weekend.

“I absolutely adored it,” Ms Gare said of the recent wine festival.

“It’s a beautiful start to the Taste Great Southern.”

Ms Gare said she was eager to get around to the other Taste events, and get her hands on some of the region’s local produce, including Denmark grass-fed lamb, Peaceful Bay seafood, marron and fresh produce from the Albany Farmer’s Market.

“That’s what I love about the festival, there are so many satellite events,” she said.

“That’s the beauty of the Great Southern; you’re always exploring new places and finding hidden gems.”

Ms Schofield had a busy weekend planned, heading to the Albany Farmer’s Market on Saturday and The Lake House Denmark on Sunday for the cooking and sundowner by the lake events.

“I love this festival,” she said.

“I can really immerse myself in what this place has to offer.”

One of the major events next on the Taste Great Southern menu is the Albany Wine and Food Festival at Eyre Park this Saturday from 11.30am to 5.30pm.

There’s plenty on before and well after this festival, so be sure to check out au to see what’s next.

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Seasonal focus for tasty showcase

A CLOUD of tantalising aromas has settled over the Great Southern.

It’s the aftermath of the Porongurup Wine Festival and a preview of what’s to come on the IGA Taste Great Southern agenda.

So, get your palates cleansed and your best wine glass out, because the masters of food and beverage are coming and you don’t want to miss out.

The IGA Taste Great Southern festival officially began on the weekend, but not to worry; there is still plenty on the menu for you to try.

Demonstrations from the likes of Marco Pierre White, Justine Schofield, Anna Gare and Chandra Yudasswara will take the event to a new level, as the event calendar already includes long table dinners, food and wine festivals, cook-offs and banquets right across the Great Southern.

Event coordinator, Richard Campbell, of CMS Events, said the thing he loves most about the festival and its location is its seasonality.

“I genuinely believe the Great Southern has the best produce in the state,” he said.

“There’s world-class wine and high-quality produce.”

Mr Campbell revealed the In The Raw event for March 11 had a slight change of plan after one of the selected produce became unavailable due to the season ending.

“We’ve brought in marron instead,” he said.

“At first, I was a bit disappointed, but that’s the beauty of the whole thing – we are keeping with what’s in season.”

However, Mr Campbell remained tight-lipped on the much-anticipated Secret Affair Journey dinner planned for March 22.

“It’s a great location,” he said.

“The presentation will be quite different; we are telling people to roll up their sleeves for a night out.

“It’s going to be fantastic.”

Mr Campbell encouraged people to join in the festival and try something different.

“There’s a natural, unique attraction to the South Coast; people know they will be spoiled,” he said.

“We do have a few events already sold out, so people need to make sure they book in as soon as they can.”

You can view the full event schedule and ticket costs at

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Queen’s Baton arrives in Albany

THE Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton touched down for its first leg in Western Australia last week, and an opening ceremony was held on Mount Clarence in Albany.

Crowds followed the 27 batonbearers through Albany, with a congregation of school kids and spectators meeting briefly at Albany’s Town Square.

Albany’s leg finished with Michael Berg receiving the baton before heading to Denmark for the next stop.

Once the baton reaches the Gold Coast on April 4, the baton would have travelled around the Commonwealth for 388 days, with 310 Western Australians and approximately 3,800 Australians carrying the baton.

The Queen’s message is held in the baton, and will be read aloud during the opening ceremony of the games.

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A dash of colour

COLLINGWOOD Park, usually a venue for footy and cricket, was awash with colour on Sunday as the Albany Colour Dash kicked off from 2.30pm.

Kids and adults above the age of 10 dressed in expendable clobber to tackle the 1200-metre obstacle course and see who could get most colourful by the end of the day.

After the dash, participants were rewarded with a free-form rainbow splash in a specially arranged mosh-pit of technicolour powder.

The first Colour Run was originally held in Phoenix, Arizona in 2011 with 6000 participants.

Since then it has been held in some form in more than 50 cities worldwide to raise money for a plethora of charities.

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Hats off

DON’T be surprised to see dozens of women dressed in red hats and purple outfits converging on Albany next week.

More than 150 members of the Red Hat Society will arrive from all over the state, as well as from the eastern states, to take part in the Amazing Albany Red Hat Adventure.

They will be joined by red hatters from the two local chapters, who have organised the event.

The Red Hat Society was formed in America nearly 20 years ago and is aptly described as “a playgroup for women, created to connect like-minded women, make new friends and enrich lives through the power of friendship”.

Membership is primarily for women over 50 who still have lots to give and whose ethos is to meet and have fun with women from all walks of life.

Each chapter is headed by a queen, and the dress code of red and purple reflects a boldness of spirit and a desire to enjoy life to the fullest.

Red hat chapters meet on a regular basis, dressed to the nines and keen to make a splash wherever they go.

Large gatherings, cruises and conventions are also frequently organised, encouraging members to have fun with new friends and enjoy different experiences.

The official Amazing Albany Red Hat Adventure program takes place from March 9-11, and the Dog Rock Motel and Function Centre will be hosting activities throughout the weekend.

Bus trips and a river cruise have been arranged for the visitors, with many red hatters extending their sojourn in Albany so they can explore everything the city has to offer.

Local business operators have also come to the party and shown enthusiastic support for Albany’s inaugural RHS adventure.

Participating shops and cafés will decorate their windows in red and purple with welcoming posters adding to the vibrancy and colour of the weekend.

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