Smooth ride for first day

THE first day back at school went pretty smoothly for Little Grove Primary students Liesel Freebury and Darcy Griffith on Monday, once Darcy found his classroom.

The pre-primary student said he thought he was still in kindergarten and went through the wrong door.

“I thought my friend Hudson was in there but it was the wrong one,” the grinning tot said.

This year marks Darcy’s first full-time year at school, having completed kindy at Little Grove last year.

He is looking forward to playing with blocks and being with his friends.

On the other side of the school, Liesel is entering her final year of primary school and is excited for the future.

She “really likes” school and highly values her education.

“School is quite important to me,” Liesel said.

“I like to learn things because you need to know things to get around.”

Liesel was happy to see her friends again and plans to have lots of fun in her final year before embarking on her high school journey.

She thinks she’ll miss her teachers the most when she leaves, but is looking forward to extracurricular activities such as woodwork when she starts year seven.

Principal Darryn Martin said the 178-student school’s biggest cohort this year is the year six group, with 30 students.

One new teacher has joined the staff and there are seven classes in total.

Mr Martin said everything has been smooth sailing so far.

“One of our focus areas this year is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics),” he said.

“We have our STEM Club on Wednesday afternoons where the kids can learn more about things such as robotics, especially with the technology grant we received.

“We also received a CBH grant for an outdoor classroom/shelter, which we hope will be done by the end of term one.

“Darcy’s mum is an architect so she’s drawing it up, and Liesel’s mum is a landscaper, so she will be helping too.

“We’re a very family-orientated school.”

Term one will wrap up on April 12 for a two-week break before students return on April 29.

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Monumental life

WHEN Albany resident Sheryl Nostrini was ill five years ago her goal to preserve the family history was only in its infancy.

After 18 months of research, a trip or two to Italy and years spent writing, Mrs Nostrini finished her first novel Emilia and the Monument Builder: Remembering the Sacrifice detailing the lives of Emilia and Giovanni Nostrini.

Mrs Nostrini said the book was primarily about the lives of her mother and father-in-law while they were in Italy during World War II and the mark they left on Albany.

“Giovanni, or Jack as he was known in Australia, came from Somma Lombardo outside of Milan,” she said.

“And he built the Mount Clarence Desert Mounted Corps Memorial not long after he was made an Australian citizen.”

Mrs Nostrini said George Hodgson who was subcontracted by Harold Hartman gave Mr Nostrini the task of building the monument.

“The blocks came from Port Said after the 1956 Suez Crisis and were all numbered,” she said.

“Jack had to put them all in the proper order because the blocks were numbered and cut to fit the space they were needed in.

“After they were placed he went through and filled all of the joins by hand.

“There were no fancy bits of machinery back then.”

Sheryl Nostrini’s father-in-law Giovanni Nostrini guiding the blocks into position. Courtesy: Sheryl Nostrini.

The Desert Mounted Corps Memorial was originally constructed in 1932 at Port Said and was irreparably damaged during the Suez Crisis where the first bronze cast statue was destroyed.

Mrs Nostrini said Mr Nostrini had some trouble when receiving the replica statue from Milan.

“When they received the statue it was damaged and no one in Australia could repair it,” she said.

“It had to be sent back to Milan and repaired before it could go on top of the monument.”

Mrs Nostrini said Jack’s life in Italy before moving to Australia was a tumultuous one.

“Jack had an amazing life and that history should be preserved,” she said.

“He was in Montenegro when Italy capitulated to the Allies. He became an enemy of the Nazis and had to escape across the Adriatic Sea.

“He then walked from the south to the north of Italy, through a war zone and survived.

“It’s just an amazing story.”

Mrs Nostrini said the inspiration behind the title of the book lay in the lives of Giovanni and Emilia.

“Both of them sacrificed a lot to give their families a better life in Australia,” she said.

“Emilia had only ever been an hour or two outside of her village before she moved to Australia.

“In coming here they both ensured that their sons, daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and now great great-grand child, do have better lives.”

Mrs Nostrini said she would officially launch at the Albany Italian Club on February 9 from 4pm to 6.30pm.

“Anyone is welcome to come along,” she said.

The book will also be for sale at Paperbark Merchants.

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Division flagged

LESS than 24 hours after the Australia Day weekend, one councillor at a Great Southern shire called the Aboriginal flag “a minority group flag” and another argued that moves to fly it might “drive political leverage by stealth”.

In February last year, The Weekender revealed that Minang man Mark Colbung – who grew up near Mount Barker – had asked Shire of Plantagenet councillors why there was no Aboriginal flag flown outside their chambers, as there is in Albany where he now lives.

“Everywhere [else] you go, there’s an Aboriginal flag flown 24/7,” Mr Colbung told Plantagenet councillors at the time.

“Is there a problem?”

Fast forward 11 months and, at a Plantagenet council meeting on Tuesday afternoon, councillors voted 7-2 to fly the Aboriginal flag outside the chambers.

After Cr Len Handasyde moved that the flag be approved, Cr Brett Bell read from a prepared statement that said differential treatment of Aboriginal people had caused problems in the past.

“I know that this could be a sensitive issue,” he said, adding that differential treatment needed to stop.

He said he supported the Australian flag only outside the chambers because it represented “us all”, as opposed to a “minority group flag”.

He added that most Plantagenet ratepayers would not support the Shire hoisting the Aboriginal flag.

Cr Bell’s statements came one day after the Australia Day weekend when many Aboriginal people around the nation protested colonisation.

Also reading from prepared notes, Cr Jeff Moir said flying “an alternate flag” was “contrary to the values of our democracy”.

“The Australian flag is everybody’s flag and has been since Federation in 1901,” he said.

Cr Moir said that Australia’s first peoples needed to be acknowledged and respected but so too did every other Australian.

He said he suspected the “true motive” of seeking approval to fly the “alternate flag” was “to drive political leverage by stealth”.

“The result will be divisive,” he said.

Former Shire President Ken Clements said he was “neither one way or the other on this” but added he would prefer the Western Australian flag be flown out front rather than the Australian one.

“Technically [the Shire is] a product of the State, not the Federation,” he said.

The last word belonged to Cr Handasyde.

“Yes, we are a nation under one flag,” he summed up.

“And that will take precedence.

“Whilst we look back in the past, we can learn from that and we have to have our eyes firmly on the future.”

Two flag poles to carry the Aboriginal and Plantagenet flags will now be added to existing poles that support the Australian and Western Australian flags.

The Aboriginal, Australian, Western Australian and Plantagenet flags already co-exist inside the council chambers, behind the chair of Shire President Chris Pavlovich.

IMAGE: The Aboriginal flag will join the Australian and Western Australian ones outside the Plantagenet shire offices in Mount Barker. Photo: Chris Thomson

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‘And then there were three’

SOUTHWEST MLC Steve Thomas says a bid by Albany, Denmark and Plantagenet is probably the only one from the Great Southern or Southwest to have been shortlisted in the race to host an $18 million bushfire centre of excellence.

Dr Thomas said he understood Serpentine-Jarrahdale in metropolitan Perth and Pinjarra in the adjoining Peel Region were the only other places left in the running.

“When [Emergency Services] Minister [Fran Logan] is down in Albany next week would be a prime time to announce the successful proposal given it is now almost a year since the centre and Rural Fire Division were announced,” the Liberals’ Emergency Services spokesman said.

“The Minister has had long enough.

“He’s been back at work [after the Christmas break] for nearly a month.”

On April 13, Mr Logan announced the centre would be built – in line with a recommendation of the January 2016 Waroona Bushfire Special Inquiry.

The deadline for proposals was October 24, and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services has forwarded a shortlist of contenders to the Government for determination.

Mr Logan told The Weekender the location of the centre was to be con- sidered by Cabinet and therefore confidential.

“I said previously that the announcement about the new centre, which will be a first of its kind, needs to be considered carefully and won’t be announced during the peak of this bushfire season,” he explained.

“This centre is about harnessing the best in bushfire management knowledge and experience, and has the potential to become an international centre of learning.

“I would hope that instead of continually making mischief around this important centre devised by the McGowan Labor Government, and bushfire management, Dr Thomas would get on board to support this record investment in bushfire management rather than continually attempt to detract from it.”

But, with most Cabinet Ministers set to hit Albany next week, Dr Thomas said now would be the best time to make the centre’s location public.

“This is an opportunity for the Minister to be courageous and make the courageous decision to announce the centre will be going into a regional area and not into metropolitan Perth,” he said.

The metropolitan municipality of Serpentine- Jarrahdale sits in the Darling Range electorate won by the Liberals after Labor’s Barry Urban resigned following the fake qualifications fiasco.

Pinjarra is in the Labor electorate of Robyn Clarke.

Albany has long been held by Labor’s Peter Watson, while Denmark and Plantagenet are in Warren-Blackwood held by the Nationals’ Terry Redman.

City of Albany CEO Andrew Sharpe said he had received “no formal response” from the State on whether the Albany/ Denmark/Plantagenet bid had been shortlisted.

“We understand submissions are still being considered via a comprehensive process…,” he added.

The $18 million centre of excellence will see volunteers show other volunteers how to fight bushfires, and help develop new bushfire management principles.

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Denmark finalist

A DENMARK woman has been named one of four finalists in the 2019 AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award for Western Australia.

Juliet Grist works across regional Western Australia in professional roles including executive officer of Regional Development Australia Wheatbelt, business consultant to the agricultural sector and in banking and finance.

She was nominated for her project Thrive Wheatbelt and Great Southern, as the award acknowledges women’s roles in rural industries, businesses and communities.

“Working in regional development, I’ve seen a real lack of support for well-being,” Ms Grist told The Weekender.

“So, I’m hoping to gather stakeholders to create a backbone support structure for the Wheatbelt and Great Southern.

“We are a really wealthy country but there is a growing divide…we are all neighbours and we have a responsibility to each other.”

Joining Ms Grist as finalists are Belinda Lay of Esperance, Leah Boucher of Kambaldah and Tanya Kitto of Geraldton.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Director General Ralph Addis congratulated the four finalists for their passion and commitment to regional industries and communities.

“This award provides opportunities to further women’s leadership, make a difference and inspire others,” he said.

The WA winner will receive $10,000 to help develop their project and will compete in the national awards.

She will follow in the footsteps of 2018 WA award winner Darrylin Gordon, a Jaru woman from Lamboo Station in the Kimberley, who is focused on development of a holistic on-station community training and empowerment program for land management and cattle production.

The WA winner of the national awards will be announced at a ceremony in Perth on March 7.

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Plans downsized

RYDE BUILDING COMPANY is finalising plans for an apartment block much smaller than a six-floor one refused in 2005 for the former Retravision site on Earl Street.

In recent months, scaffolding and a ladder allowing a second- floor view over Princess Royal Harbour have been seen at the 2900sqm vacant site opposite Albany City Holden.

The scaffolding has been taken down. But a Ryde spokesperson has told The Weekender the firm is finalising plans for the project that will probably be submitted to the City next week.

The spokesperson said nearby residents had been consulted and, to Ryde’s knowledge, nobody had objected.

Retravision site plans Albany
The 2005 proposal rejected by Albany council and the State Administrative Tribunal. Render: L.Marchesani & Associates.

Ryde’s proposal is for 13 two- floor units – far smaller than a six-floor, 46-unit block proposed for the site in 2005 by Ridgecity Holdings.

Those plans attracted 271 public submissions, most of them objections.

The objections cited the apartment block’s height, appearance, and loss of views for residents occupying houses on sharply rising land to the north.

Concerns were also raised over the apartments’ impact on the Mount Clarence heritage area.

Some submissions supported the apartment block, arguing it would improve the site’s appearance, and energise the edge of Albany’s business district.

A scaled-down block of 39 apartments was later refused by the City. In 2006, Ridgecity Holdings lost its appeal of that decision in the powerful State Administrative Tribunal.

The grassy site, across and down the street from the Earl of Spencer Hotel, has remained vacant ever since.

Current render at top of page: Powerhouse Architectural Drafting

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Boatshed benefit

A BENEFIT concert will be held at Albany’s Boat Shed Market on Sunday in memory of its founding chairperson.

Graeme Waugh brought fresh produce to sell every Sunday ever since the market doors first opened 10 years ago.

His sudden death from heart failure in October rocked the market community.

He was 63.

To acknowledge his contribution to the establishment of the market, a group of Albany musicians will perform for free to help raise money for heart health.

The concert will began at 9am and continue until 3pm with Hugh Milne, Terry MacKintosh, Lez Karski, Steve Pinner and Steve Dougherty taking to the stage.

The market will operate as usual with food, crafts and produce for sale.

A memorial plaque will be unveiled and placed next to the market bell in honour of Mr Waugh at 12.30pm.

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More filming

A VACANT building on Albany’s Stead Road has been transformed into a production office for London film production company Komixx Entertainment.

On Tuesday, cast and crew were at the building for a read-through of the 10-part live-action children series Itch.

They have occupied the building since early this month.

Itch, written for print by UK author and radio presenter Simon Mayo, follows the story of science-obsessed Itchingham Lofte who discovers a new element in the periodic table and is forced to go on the run to protect it.

The project was awarded a share of $7.5 million from Screen Australia last Monday.

Itch will air in 10 24-minute episodes.

On the crew list is producers Amanda Morrison and Tania Chambers, and writers Ron Elliot, Heather Wilson, Roger Monk, Jessica Brookman and Craig Irvin.

The announcement of Itch being filmed in the South Coast follows Komixx Entertainment opening an office in Perth in June 2017.

Komixx Entertainment is responsible for films such as The Kissing Booth, which premiered on Netflix last year.

The Stead Road building occupied by the film production company is the same that was used by Cyan Films for the production of H is for Happiness, which was shot around Albany late last year.

The production of Itch follows a run of screen productions that have set up in the Great Southern including the film adaptation of author Tim Winton’s book Breath and Rams, which was based in Mount Barker and starred Michael Caton and Sam Neill.

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Big move for Boston

INNER PERTH is salivating at the prospect of Denmark’s Boston Brewing Co opening a boutique outlet on Albany Highway in Victoria Park.

Victoria Park Councillor Brian Oliver told The Weekender he looked forward to the venue opening soon.

The new micro-brewery is located on the north-west side of a distinctive kidney-shaped roundabout at the corner of Kent Street.

“The fact we’re going to have a new venue to attract visitors to the area will be good,” Cr Oliver said.

“We have so many pubs along the strip so it cements us as a great strip to go for a variety of venues and drinking places.”

His councillor colleague Bronwyn Ife said the Victoria Park community was “pretty excited” about the brewery.

Boston will occupy the corner, ground floor shop-front of a new 106-apartment building slated for completion in August.

Tom Letherbarrow, project architect for Hillam Architects, which designed the building, said Boston was “keen to make headway in Perth”.

He said he believed a boutique brewery on the corner would be “very successful”.

Renders for the building clearly show the Boston logo on a sign out front.

On Monday, on Boston’s Facebook Page, a photograph of the building under construction was posted above the question: “Who is looking forward to seeing us in Vic Park later in the year?”.

Close to The Weekender’s deadline, Boston General Manager Glen Daniel was contacted for comment.

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Alive and well

RETIREMENT holds no allure for Wakes Music and Sewing Centre owner Eric Wake, despite being in the industry for more than half a century and having two close encounters with death.

Mr Wake opened the doors to his music store on Albany Highway in July 1967 but said he was operating a business well before then.

He said he helped his father run a BP service station in Katanning from age 12 and was in charge of ordering fuel, chocolates and cigarettes.

“I’d get on the train to Albany and pick up the order,” the Albany business stalwart told The Weekender.

“I’d go and have a milkshake and share the chocolates with some of the other passengers on the train.”

When an apprenticeship opportunity arose at a Katanning electronics shop, teenage Wake jumped at the chance to gain more work experience.

“It was called TS Young and Co and we sold everything,” he said.

“Records, electronics, guns, lawnmowers…

“Then one day, a rep’ from Elna came in and asked if we sold sewing machines, so my boss asked me to do demonstrations.”

Mr Wake surprised himself and said he found sewing “quite interesting.”

So much so that he decided to take it upon himself to open an Elna store in Albany when the Elna represesntative expressed interest in migrating the brand down south.

“They really needed someone in Albany, so I moved down and started selling LPs and sewing machines,” Mr Wake said.

“One day, I got a letter with a plane ticket to Switzerland to visit the Elna factory.

“Switzerland’s beautiful.”

Mr Wake continued to run his Albany store in conjunction with an East Perth music shop and a Katanning sewing shop in the 1970s.

But committing to three stores – and the associated travel up and down the highway– nearly ended in disaster for him in the early 1980s.

“I was spreading myself too thin,” he said.

“And I didn’t like the travel.

“I had a head-on collision near Mount Barker where the other driver came onto the wrong side of the road.

“Then a couple of years later, I was involved in another crash and the bones in the lower half of my body were all broken.”

Mr Wake was told he’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life and would never walk again.

“I actually died on the table,” he said.

“I felt myself leave my body.”

Three years of rehabilitation got Mr Wake back on his feet.

“I was in a wheelchair but I didn’t like that, so I was on crutches for a while and then I was hobbling around on a cane,” he said.

“I gave Poptronics [the Katanning store] to my brother and closed the Perth shop.”

But nothing was, or is, going to stand between Mr Wake and his beloved Albany shop.

“If I retire, I’d only talk to the dog and do the gardening,” he said.

“I’d miss the wonderful relationships with the lovely people who come here.

“The older I get, the more I want to help people, so when people come here as a stress reliever, it gives me a buzz.

“Music is love, warmth and friendship.”

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