Veterans honoured

VETERANS, families and friends will gather at Albany Forts this weekend to honour and remember Australian soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1972.

August 18 is known as Vietnam Veterans Day after a welcome home parade was held in honour of soldiers in Sydney on that date in 1987.

It is also recognised as the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, fought in 1966.

The Albany RSL Vietnam Veteran Day service will commence at 2pm on Sunday after a march and Guard of Honour from the Convoy Lookout.

Albany RSL Services Director Michael Tugwell said everyone was welcome to attend the service, which would include a change of plans from previous years.

“In the past, after the service, RSL members would travel to Allambie Park Cemetery to pay their respects to the three young soldiers resting there,” he said.

“After RSL discussions last year, I am pleased to announce that the paying of respects to these three soldiers will be conducted as part of the service at the Forts.”

The three soldiers in question are John McQuat, Allan Duncuff and Ron Bell, all killed in action during the Vietnam War.

For Albany RSL members John Benson, Geoff McNeill and Phil Maguire, this addition to the service will have extra special meaning.

Mr Benson’s cousin, Pauline, was engaged to Mr Bell before he was killed.

Mr McNeill and Mr Maguire were called up for National Service and deployed to Vietnam alongside Mr McQuat.

However, Mr McQuat’s name is not listed on the war memorial in York Street and Mr Tugwell is on a mission to find out why.

He is working alongside City of Albany Historian Sue Lefroy in the hope that Mr McQuat is added to the memorial before the 2020 Vietnam Veterans Day service.

Mr Tugwell encourages people to contact him if they know any information.

Mr Tugwell can be reached via email –

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Bar licence for lodge

SMALL country town nightlife just got a bit groovier with a Kendenup accommodation site successfully obtaining a bar licence.

Kendenup resident Jane Robinson and her husband took over the reins of Kendenup Lodge and Cottages 18 months ago after the previous owners thought they did a better job of relief caretaker work than the employed caretaker.

Seeing their fellow townspeople driving past into Mt Barker and Albany for a meal on week- ends got the couple thinking and inspired them to revamp the lodge.

“We started cooking here on Friday and Saturday nights,” Ms Robinson said.

“We do things like chicken parmigiana, pizza, fish and chips… we’re by no means chefs but people seem to keep coming back!”

The obvious next step for the pair was to start serving alcoholic drinks.

“It used to be BYO and people would bring their drinks in and we thought, we’re missing out here,” Ms Robinson said.

“Or, they’d have a meal here and go away for drinks.

“Now we’ve got our small bar licence, people can come here for a drink and a meal.”

The bar was officially opened last fortnight but Ms Robinson said ironically it was one of their worst nights of trade.

“I think we had about three people here,” she laughed.

“But I think people didn’t know and it was bad weather – people don’t want to go out again once they’re home.

“So hopefully, now they know, they’ll come here.”

Ms Robinson said there wasn’t anything quite like being in the bar and dining area on a cool evening.

“We have the fire going and we turn down the lights and just have the lamps on, so it’s really cosy; a great atmosphere,” she said.

Coming into the warmer months, Ms Robinson hopes to host regular live bands and an outdoor cinema.

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Wood’s burning passion

WORLD leading burns specialist Fiona Wood will take to the podium at the Albany Entertainment Centre next week as part of the Great Southern Speaker Series.

The 2003 and 2004 Western Australian of the Year and 2005 Australian of the Year is best known for her work in cell-based therapy and her invention of the ‘spray-on skin’ technique known as Re-cell which greatly reduces permanent scarring in burns victims.

Professor Wood spoke with the Weekender about gender diversity in the fields of science and medicine, her career and hopes for the future and the relevance of her work for regional Australia.

“Like many things in life, if you believe you can do something you will do it,” Ms Wood began.

“As a society we need to think about facilitating people to be the best they can be and that means instead of saying girls don’t do something, encouraging them to have a go.”

The current board member of the Fiona Wood Foundation commenced her medical career at St Thomas Hospital Medical School in London where she was immediately drawn to plastic surgery.

She moved to Australia in 1987 and four years later became Director of the Burns Service of Western Australia and began training as Western Australia’s first female plastic surgeon.

“That was a long time ago, we’ve got lots of plastic surgeons who are female now,” she said.

“While today you can still go into an engineering lecture and it’s predominantly male, that is changing and slowly we’ll get there.

“Surgery should be a career for people, whether you’re male or female, and it should be facilitating those who have the capacity, the interest, the skill and the intellect to do it.”

Professor Wood was thrust into the national spotlight in October 2002 when the largest numbers of survivors from the Bali bombings were transported to Royal Perth Hospital.

She would go onto save a total 28 patients, some of whom had burns covering 92 per cent of their body, deadly infections and delayed shocks.

“It’s been my focus to try and reduce the suffering [from burn injuries], not just in that painful early stage but across life.

“In the last 30 years there’s been a huge drive to shift the paradigm from survival to the quality of survival. We’ve done a lot of work in cell-based therapy, scar minimisation, and exercise as a tool to reduce the profound muscle wasting and long- term impact burn injuries can have.”

Professor Wood said she expected further significant advancements in the next 30 years and pointed to the potential of harnessing the “systems biology approach” to tailor treatment to each individual.

She said this “precision medicine route” would involve taking into account things such as a person’s genetics, past history and all of their body systems to ensure they have the best outcome.

According to Professor Wood, the field of burns medicine is particularly relevant to communities in regional Australia.

She said the great distances between towns in rural and remote areas rendered people especially vulnerable to the short-term and long-term effects of burn injuries.

“Every intervention from the point of injury will influence the scar worn for life. Therefore the first aid, what’s done in the community, sets you up for success or not,” she said.

“We understand that vulnerability and since the 1990s have focused on education and organising travelling roadshows around WA.

“We also have a very vibrant Telehealth system that involves video links [with doctors and specialists] and photograph review over time.”

City of Albany Executive Director of Community Services Susan Kay said 57 people were hospitalised with burn injuries in Albany between 2012 and 2016.

“Professor Wood’s work in advancing the treatment of burns has helped revolutionise the care of burns patients in hospitals across Australia and enabled the majority of patients to return to a normal life,” she said.

“Her spray-on skin invention has helped to treat more than 1000 patients around the world.

“We’re very pleased to be hosting Professor Wood as part of National Science Week to share some of her knowledge and experiences with the Albany community.”

Professor Wood’s special presentation will take place at Albany Entertainment Centre at 5:30pm on August 15.

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Care and repair

AFTER a successful launch last month, the Repair Cafe Albany will return to York Street this weekend to host its second monthly meet at Scots Church Hall.

Repair cafes are an international initiative aimed at reducing landfill and continuing the practice of repair skills.

It brings together volunteers with certain repair talents and people who require things to be fixed in an effort to reconnect communities and protect the environment from waste.

Albany Coordinator Indu Scott is proud to be part of one of a handful of repair cafes that have popped up across WA in the past two years.

She said repair cafes globally reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 250,000kg last year by helping to repair items instead of throwing them away – carbon dioxide emissions that fluctuate based on the number of new products that are required and created when older products are thrown away instead of fixed.

“It is so wholesome,” Ms Scott said.

“Promoting doing something for others and rekindling skills of repair… there has been such heartwarming support for us, and I’d love to see more people come down on Saturday.”

The skilled volunteers are happy to try and fix bikes, sew things, sharpen tools, repair household items and mend broken electronic and electrical devices that have AC adapters or are battery-powered.

The Repair Cafe Albany team will be at the church hall at 168 York Street from 10am to noon on August 10 and welcome all, whether you need something fixed free of charge or simply fancy a free cuppa and a peek at what’s going on.

Upon arrival at the repair cafe, visitors must register at the check-in table before they can be escorted to the appropriate repair station.

Anyone interested in volunteering as a repairer can contact Ms Scott via email –

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‘Appetite’ for pub

THE future of the state heritage-listed Imperial Hotel Broomehill which closed down three months ago could be determined at a community meeting next week.

Broomehill grain and sheep farmer Scott Thompson wants to gauge his community’s “appetite” for a pub at the August 14 meeting and hopes people will attend to voice their opinions.

The town, which recorded a population of 251 people in the 2016 Census, has now lost both its only roadhouse and only pub, and its post office is up for sale.

“Recent community consultation highlighted that there is a want for a service like the roadhouse,” Mr Thompson said.

“The pub closed down in May due to just bad management and I know we’ve been busy seeding, but it’s time to flesh it out and at least get an idea of what the community wants.”

Mr Thompson wondered if Broomehill could follow in the footsteps of Nyabing, a wheat and sheep town 78km up the road that had its pub reopened in March after the community purchased it.

A similar turn of events occurred in Ongerup in 2014 when residents purchased the town’s general store to allow grocery shopping to be completed in Ongerup instead of in Katanning, Gnowangerup or Albany.

Mr Thompson is trying to organise members of the Nyabing community who were instrumental in their pub’s reopening to discuss their strategy at the meeting.

“This won’t be the last meeting about this,” he said.

“My gut feeling is everyone will say yes, we want a pub, so the next thing will be well, if you want it, you’ve got to do something about it.”

The August 14 meeting will commence at 6pm at the Broomehill Recreational Complex.

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Event to support RSL

AN EXCLUSIVE screening of new Australian film Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan is planned for next weekend at Orana Cinemas to financially support the Albany RSL branch and national charity Cam’s Cause.

The movie will begin at 3pm on August 17 and tickets will cost $25 per person. This includes entry, a drink, popcorn and a raffle ticket to go in the draw to win a Battle of Long Tan framed picture.

Fifth-generation military man and memorabilia framer Tony Banner organised the Albany event as he holds both the RSL and Cam’s Cause dear.

Cam’s Cause was established in honour of Australian Corporal Cameron Baird VC MG who died fighting on the front line with the 2nd Commando Regiment in Afghanistan six years ago.

Baird was awarded the Victoria Cross for Australia, Medal of Gallantry, Australian Active Service Medal, Afghanistan Medal, Iraq Medal, Australian Service Medal, Australian Defence Medal, United Nations Medal, NATO Meritorious Service Medal and NATO Medal for the Non-Article 5 ISAF Operation in Afghanistan.

Tickets to the movie can be purchased from the Weekender’s office at 107 Stead Road, by texting Mr Banner on 0409 680 294 or emailing him at

Veterans are encouraged to wear their medals and awards to the movie.

Further to the Battle of Long Tan cinema commemorations, a memorial service will be held at the South East Asia Memorial at the Forts on August 18 commencing at 2pm.

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History mystery

A mystery is unfolding in Broomehill and staff and students from the town’s primary school are asking for the public’s help in solving it.

Broomehill Primary School Year 3 student Harrison Woithe was walking through the school yard recently when the school bell caught his eye.

The bell had hung there for as long as he could remember but he suddenly wondered where it came from and how long it had been with the school.

Part-time historian Ms Guazzelli made it her mission to answer Harrison’s question about the bell’s origins.

She believes the bell has been in use at the school for at least seven decades.

“We know that it was made by F Metters & Co in Perth, who were bell makers in the early 1900s,” Ms Guazzelli said.

“I don’t know if it was an old church bell or school bell, but I reckon it’s been used here for about 70 years – it’s been hung off a tree, a post and now, a building.”

Broomehill Primary School was established in 1893, received a revamp in the 1960s, and currently has 50 students enrolled.

Anyone who thinks they might be able to help Harrison, Isadora and Ms Guazzelli on their quest to discover the origins of the school bell are encouraged to contact Ms Guazzelli via email – apg681@ – or by calling the school on 9824 1250.

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Engaging the past

STUDENTS from Bethel Christian School took a step back in time last week when their World War One exhibition came together after seven weeks of researching and crafting.

Legacy of Sacrifice is the fourth biennial war-related exhibition the school has held, and the project has become a tradition for Year 9 and 10 students.

Students paired up to create displays based on different aspects of the war and got creative making realistic models of war items and war zones, dressing up in costumes and constructing timelines.

Humanities and Social Sciences teacher Heather Jefferies said she already had Year 8 students checking they would be able to take part when they reached senior school.

“One of the things we ask students to do is consider how to engage the younger kids,” she said.

“So, they’ve created activities like making their own socks and ID tags, and one of the students made a life-size trench.

“It gives kids an understanding of what it looked and felt and sounded like to be in the war time.”

Year 9 students Eh Bar Lay Paw and Lilly Driscoll chose to focus on tent hospitals and treatment for their exhibition as they have a keen interest in pursuing nursing when they leave school.

The pair constructed a tent hospital, medical tools and a large pictorial and word display describing what nurses and patients dealt with during the Great War.

“I never actually realised how bad it was,” Eh Bar Lay said.

“It wasn’t just gunshot wounds that they had.”

Lilly said one of the most rewarding parts of the project was seeing all of their hard work come together.

“It’s a way to experience what it was like and we learned more about the different sicknesses and injuries,” she said.

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Bandstand to fall

DENMARK councillors voted to endorse the removal of the John Clark Memorial Bandstand on Tuesday night despite a number of impassioned pleas from the public to keep the historical structure.

Earlier this year the Shire conducted an independent assessment of the bandstand after a routine inspection deemed the building to be structurally unsafe.

Director of Assets and Sustainable Development David King said the bandstand’s girders were completely rusted out, the structure’s integrity was compromised and it was “probably not reparable” in its current condition.

Members of the gallery audibly gasped when Deputy Shire President Peter Caron announced he would move an amended recommendation to remove the bandstand, opposed to the original item that would have had councillors vote to go to public comment on the future of the structure.

“It’s with deep regret that I make this recommendation,” he said.

“The bandstand is in a terrible state and it would cost more than $100,000, which we can’t afford.

“There will be a negative response to this but it would be wasteful to look at options that are not feasible.

“I have consulted with the Denmark Historical Society to salvage parts of the bandstand to be preserved.”

Cr Ian Osborne seconded the motion and said it was a reality they would have to face that it was not possible to repair the structure.

Cr Rob Whooley successfully moved to include another amendment that would have council investigate means of replacing the structure with a similar design.

“It’s not denying that the bandstand isn’t structurally sound,” he said.

“We’re giving indication to the community that it’s not just council’s desire to demolish, but to also rebuild.”

Cr Jan Lewis spoke against the amended motion and said the community should be allowed to emotionally and financially support a project.

The motion was carried four to three with Cr Janine Phillips, President Gearon and Cr Gibson against.

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Castaway horror

The Weekender Editor Ian Beeck and his partner Jo Forrest got stranded on Rottnest Island recently when the ferries were grounded for a recordbreaking three full days. Here he recounts his adventure.

IT HAD all the ingredients of a Z-grade horror movie.

Two people trapped on a deserted island with no sign of life except for small furry animals with a craving for human flesh and brains.

Everyone’s biggest fear had become a reality – the quokka apocalypse was upon us.

Well that’s what it felt like being stranded on Rottnest Island for an extra three nights due to massive swells grounding all ferry crossings.

This was actually history in the making, confirmed by Rottnest authorities, that this was the longest ferry cancellation since the Dockers won a flag.

So yeah, since time began.

This meant that venturing out at selected times to avoid the brutal weather often meant you didn’t see another living soul … except for the quokkas which had taken on an evil incarnation.

It was surreal.

A walk out to Kingston Barracks, already a hotspot for ghosts and paranormal activity, now seemed life-threatening with doors and gates clanging, lights flickering on and off, eerie whistling noises that may or may not have been screams and quokkas darting with purpose from shelter-to-shelter out of the corner of your eyes.

At one stage my companion went into an unlocked area on the other side of the barracks and as that room suddenly went from bathed in light to pitch black, I was expecting a blood-curdling scream.

The only question was, which way to run?

But these fears were later erased in the warmth and comfort of the pub and the fortification of merlot.

Finally, after trivia nights, card games and other mutually-enjoyable activities, the ferries were given the all clear and it was back to the mainland.

Back to children, work and responsible decisions where previously which merlot to quaff had been the only question of the day.

A flat tyre back at the ferry carpark, and sourcing another rare tyre make, had us reaching Albany late on Wednesday night, as opposed to our previous ETA of the preceding Sunday afternoon.

That which doesn’t break us makes us stronger so after surviving the quokka apocalypse, we are already planning our next adventure.

Brazil’s Ilha da Queimada Grande, better known as Snake Island, Chillingham Castle or the Bermuda Triangle are the current top selections.

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