Volunteer reaches milestone

ALBANY Heritage Park volunteer Eric Corrigan has celebrated 30 years at his post this week and plans to continue working there for as long as he can.

The 90-year-old found himself volunteering at the Heritage Park in 1990 to cover a shift for his cousin, who had a softball game to get to.

Mr Corrigan ended up taking over the position permanently and never left.

For a few years, Mr Corrigan was volunteering at the Heritage Park seven days a week but has now reduced his workload to just Sundays.

He said his wife threatened to bring his bed up to the Park because he was there so much.

“I love my wife but coming up here on Sundays gives her space,” Mr Corrigan laughed.

He reminisced on some of his favourite memories made at the Heritage Park. One in particular was while touring with a group of visitors through the underground magazine, he released a surprise party popper and got a huge reaction from the group.

“I would wait until it was completely silent and a little bit eerie then I’d pull the party popper,” Mr Corrigan laughed.

“It was always the highlight of my tour and added an element of surprise which the visitors enjoyed afterwards, and of course we made sure there were no existing medical conditions!”

City of Albany CEO Andrew Sharpe said Mr Corrigan’s dedication to the Albany Heritage Park could not be faulted.

“His knowledge of Australian military history means visitors that have been fortunate enough to tour the site with him are left with a deeper understanding of the site’s significance,” he said.

“Eric’s friendly demeanor and approachability has made him a go-to for training new volunteers, a source of captivating stories and a local treasure among our Albany community.”

Mr Corrigan’s 30-year volunteer service will be celebrated with a small ceremony at the Princess Royal Fortress next week.

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Magnificent sunrise for cash cow winner

AN ALBANY woman has taken out a national prize with the Sunrise Cash Cow competition, winning $10,000 before breakfast.

Amy Roggio has been entering the competition on and off for the past few years, but never imagined that she would be the one to receive the winning call.

“I’ve been home so much lately because of all the drama in the world so I’ve been seeing the code words coming up more over the past few weeks, but I never thought I would win,” she said.

“They give you a call and you have to answer within three rings.

“For WA people it’s usually pretty early in the morning so I’d just woken up to my phone flashing with a Sydney number, and I thought it was either them or probably Telstra telling me to pay my bill.”

The win couldn’t have come at a better time.

Like many Australians, Ms Roggio had lost her casual job due to the pandemic.

“I felt amazing when they called me, I didn’t quite believe, I thought I was dreaming,” she said.

“I’m a uni student and I lost my casual job at the start of all of this so it will definitely help me out.

“It’s come at the perfect time.”

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Hard grind for skaters

ALBANY teenagers say they’ve been left behind by Phase 1 and 2 of the State Government’s plan to relax restrictions, with one of their main hangout spots still out of bounds.

Unlike most other states, WA went against Federal Government recommendations to open skate parks and playgrounds in the first stage of Australia’s COVID-19 recovery.

Skate parks and BMX tracks will reopen in Queensland and New South Wales on Friday, despite having some of the highest case numbers of COVID-19 in the nation.

Pubs and restaurants can open up on Monday in WA, but board riders might have to wait a month to get back in the bowl when the State Government moves to Phase 3 of its recovery plan.

Premier Mark McGowan said Government considered opening hospitality venues a safer option than allowing skate parks to be used again.

“The thing about skate parks and playgrounds is there is very sparse cleaning, if any, and you don’t know who’s been there before you,” he said.

“Whereas in a cafe or restaurant you can trace who will be there because you’ll be required, if you’re going to go and have a meal, that you write your name and phone number so we can trace that.”

But Albany skater Rylie Owens said it was ridiculous to open pubs but not skate parks where there is minimal, if any, contact between riders as everyone had their own equipment.

While skate parks remain shut, Mr Owens said it affected his mental health.

“It’s a happy place,” he said.

“People look at us as a bunch of delinquents who use drugs and cause trouble, but that’s just not right.

“We hang out and do what adults do. It’s just about catching up, just in a different way.”

BMX rider Cheyenne Ashton said she felt like teenagers had been left out of the conversation of which restrictions should be relaxed.

“We don’t have a voice,” she said.

“They’ve cancelled a lot of our options to go outside.”

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Building on Lego creativity

LEGO continues to be a favourite among the youngsters of our community and eight-year-old Billie Wheeler is no exception.

The Lego master has been participating in virtual Albany Lego Club Challenges over the past few weeks and recently created a treehouse, an ‘R’ for recycling and a flying beetle for the latest challenge.

The club regularly invites kids of the Great Southern to get creative by building something from scratch and embracing a design theme.

Kids interested in getting in on the action can submit photos of their designs to library@albany.wa.gov.au.

Creations they will be featured on the Albany Public Library Facebook page and the Albany Public Library Kids At Home webpage.

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Spotlight on roo safety

KANGAROOS and cars unfortunately don’t mix.

A dead roo lying still on the side of the road is a common sight in Australia.

And as we enter the colder months, when the risk of kangaroo collision is highest, a wildlife carer is urging motorists to have more care for our native animals out on the road.

Maggie Van Santen from the Amaris Wildlife Sanctuary in Tenterden calls this time of year ‘Pinkie Season’, which is when kangaroos carry furless, pink joeys in their pouch.

When there’s a crash involving a female roo, Ms Van Santen wants drivers to check whether there’s a joey still alive in the pouch and call for help.

“The sooner we can get to the joey, the more chance we have of successfully keeping it alive,” she said.

For Ms Van Santen, it’s heartbreaking to find a baby roo freezing to death in its mum’s pouch.

“When they are that age and really cold, it’s hard to keep them alive because their organs start shutting down,” she said.

“In the last week four joeys have been found that way, and they’ve all died because they’ve been left for too long.”

If you spot a pink joey on the side of the road, Ms Van Santen advised to put them in a warm bag and call a licensed rescue organisation.

In the Great Southern, Ms Van Santen recommended phoning Healing Hands Wildlife Care on 0475 442 202 or Born Free on 0427 772 312.

According to insurance company Budget Direct, kangaroo car accidents are most likely to occur between 5pm and 10pm.

The RAC recommends if you spot an animal near a road, attempt to break, but don’t swerve as this can endanger yourself or your passengers.

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Happy Feet’s return brightens souls

AS A group of tiny tots danced and jumped about with glee alongside their favourite dance and fitness instructor, all of the worry of the new COVID-19 world seemed to wash away, even if it was only for 10 minutes.

Children from Albany Regional Daycare had been missing out on their regular Happy Feet Fitness classes with Tertia le Roux recently and they had all expressed their sadness about this.

Ms le Roux, already feeling withdrawal from not spending time with her students, was more than happy to host a short version of her usual class at a distance.

She set herself up on the sidewalk outside the daycare as the children eagerly awaited the familiar tunes of their favourite dancing songs.

Ms le Roux visited both Albany Regional Daycare and Goodstart Early Learning Centre last Thursday.

“I’ve been really missing the kids,” she said.

“Normally, they would steamroll me over to give me a hug so it’s been hard, but I’m excited to see them today.”

Ms le Roux said participating in the classes, even though they were shorter than usual, was keeping with the Happy Feet Fitness motto of never stopping to be happy, healthy and active.

Happy Feet Fitness classes have also moved to an online platform.

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Poppies for precinct

CONTINUING Albany’s Anzac legacy and maintaining residents’ connection to the Anzac legend, the City of Albany is calling on community members to crochet or knit red and purple poppies to decorate Albany Heritage Park.

The Poppy Art at the Heritage Park project is open to everyone and simply invites people to contribute their handmade poppies.

Albany Regional Day Care is sharing alternative ways to make poppies out of old egg cartons and craft supplies which allow the whole family to get involved.

National Anzac Centre Team Leader Tanja Colby said while Albany Heritage Park is closed, it is important to give residents the opportunity to preserve their connection to the site and the Anzac spirit.

“There are numerous benefits to projects like Poppy Art at the Heritage Park such as retaining community connection, reflection on the importance of our history and what significance this period of time will mean in the future,” she said.

“The project offers a platform for participants to engage with something positive, that will benefit their mental health and give them something to look forward to being a part of when their artwork is on display.”

Poppies made by communities from outside the Great Southern region are more than welcome.

People can donate and deliver as many poppies as they wish to the front of the Forts Store or post them to the National Anzac Centre, PO Box 484, Albany WA 6331.

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New nature playground to stimulate creativity

LOCKYER Community Kindergarten students certainly had something to report at Show and Tell this week, with a brand-new nature playground waiting for them after the school holidays.

The three-week construction by South Coast Nature Play was completed last week and builder James McLean said the design had been determined by the existing trees in the play area.

The new playground includes a lookout, tree fort, a rope and pulley system, talking tubes on interconnected decks and a pirate ship.

“It’s based on a circuit – kids love doing laps,” Mr McLean said.

“We deliberately use, for example, uneven branches for the ladders, which helps kids make healthy risk assessments.

“It’s amazing to watch the kids – they are more mindful of their play and use their imaginations, which leads to building common sense.”

Mr McLean said adventure and nature play was relevant now more than ever, with a lot of children stuck inside and at home during social isolation.

“A lot of common sense in children is sadly lacking,” he said.

“It isn’t something formally taught and it’s drained by screens.

“Hopefully, this will get the kids back outside when they can.”

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Community garden’s new splash of colour

DENMARK’S Community Garden has remained productive throughout isolation restrictions, proving community spirit is still alive.

The garden, which is run in partnership by Denmark GreenSkills and the Denmark Community Resource Centre, has received a new shade-house and hut-house, as well as being decorated with new artworks.

The upgrades come with assistance from a recent Department of Communities grant to help sustain the community venue as well as adding a splash of colour.

Denmark GreenSkills Project Manager Basil Schur said that the project is an important part of the south coast community.

“The community gardens have been going for just over a year now, and we’ve had over 120 people participate in gardening workshops, learning the skills of growing one’s own organic food,” he said.

But Mr Schur said that the garden and other GreenSkills projects mean much more than that.

“We have charity status, therefore our objectives are to alleviate disadvantaged people, as well as help our communities move towards sustainability,” he said.

“Our projects often involve supporting disadvantaged sectors of our community, whether they are rural, unemployed youth and other minority groups to be more included in worthwhile community and employment programs.”

The new artworks were designed and painted by local artists Karlee Bertola and Tessa Moncrieff.

“The two coordinated the installation of the art projects at the garden, which serve as both an inspirational and educational function,” Mr Schur said.

“Because of the current restrictions, we’ve not been able to run these partner projects as public art events, however the benefits of the art will be ongoing for a long time to come.”

Mr Schur said he was looking forward to the community’s response to the gardens new look when everyone can be back together again.

“In this time of closure, community groups such as GreenSkills are using the time productively for when we do come back and reopen, so that our venues will be upgraded, brighter than ever and ready to offer the types of services that we’ve done in the past,” he said.

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Artist has whale of time

LITTLE Grove might become the Great Southern’s best spot for whale watching, thanks to some new artwork at the community hall.

Artist Ruby Cabarrus was asked to add some life to new water tanks being installed outside the South Coast Progress Association, so she decided on something tied closely to Albany’s history and her own.

“There was no structure or plan, but we wanted to make it something that people in Albany could relate to, and I think that humpback whales are a part of our very rich history here,” she said.

“I’ve always felt deeply connected to the ocean and I believe that we all are.

“It’s always been a big part of my life, and the past three years I’ve been living and working in the Ningaloo Reef up in Coral Bay so I’ve been lucky enough to have a job where I got to take people out and snorkel with turtles, manta rays, whale sharks and humpbacks.”

The project has been community driven from the beginning, with Ms Cabarrus reaching out online for donations of paint and supplies.

However, Ms Cabarrus ended up with more paint than she would need when Bunnings Community Funding and Projects Manager Lisa Gungore caught wind of the new mural.

“[She] contacted me through Facebook, I wasn’t sure what to expect but she said to come down to Bunnings and pick whatever I’d need in terms of paint and supplies,” Ms Cabarrus said.

“It wouldn’t be what it is now without all of that because I was able to get everything that I needed and I’m so grateful to them.”

While the artwork is still about a fortnight away from completion, Ms Cabarrus said the community feedback has already been positive.

“The response has been super cool,” she said.

“We get a lot of people coming by on the road nearby and I’ve had a lot of comments from cyclists and families who are going on their daily walks, a few people yelling out to say that it’s looking nice and colourful.”

The whales and pod of dolphins that have found their home on the water tanks at Little Grove also hold a deeper message.

“It’s so important that we acknowledge and protect our marine life. It’s something that’s super important to me and hopefully something people can take away from this is that compassion for all living beings not just humans is a big thing,” Ms Cabarrus said.

“Taking small steps and changing little things about our lives will benefit the amazing marine life that live and visit our area, and we really want to keep it that way.”

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