Toy library books in novel location

ALBANY’S Rainbow Coast Toy Library’s capacity has nearly doubled thanks to a recent relocation.

The library moved from its smaller home on Ulster Road to its new building on Chester Pass Road last week and had its first day of trade on Saturday.

President Michelle Hassell said the former Albany Playgroup building was a great space for the library.

“It was a big leap of faith because commercial buildings are expensive, but our committee worked really, really hard to make it happen,” she said.

“We desperately needed a bigger, standalone space and now we’ve got 150 per cent more capacity.

“It’s much nicer and everyone is really excited.”

Ms Hassell said the first day in the new location was chaotic.

“It was pumping, people were everywhere!” she laughed.

“There’s a really nice, positive momentum going here which is great.”

The toy library will continue operating at its usual 10am to noon slot on Saturdays but a second trading day during the week is potentially on the cards.

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Hearing dog provides safe ears

AN ALBANY woman, who has been deaf her entire life, has been granted the gift of new ‘furry ears’ thanks to the generosity of a local fundraising group.

Cheryl Colman approached Albany South Coast Lions Club when she required help funding a new hearing dog, as her current four-legged assistance dog was getting close to retirement.

The group leapt into action, contributing money from sausage sizzles and bargain bonanzas to help.

The group supported Ms Colman through Australian Lions Hearing Dogs, which has provided sets of ‘furry ears’ to hundreds of people across the country since 1980.

Wynne the terrier met Ms Colman last week for the very first time.

“I’ve fallen in love!” Ms Colman said.

“He is a cutie and those who see him think he’s gorgeous and just can’t help themselves and want to pat him.”

Ms Colman said having a hearing dog has made all the difference to her life, supporting her to chat with people at the shops when she wouldn’t before and giving her more independence.

“People don’t know how debilitating being hearing impaired is,” she said.

“My anxiety levels aren’t as bad now because Wynne is my ears.

“I’m very pleased that Wynne is settling in well.”

Albany South Coast Lions Club Treasurer Brian Western said it was great to support a member of the community in such a way.

“The biggest thing for us is seeing how Wynne can help fulfill and enrich Cheryl’s life,” he said.

“It’s a very big thing to see how the dog works and how he can assist someone.”

Hearing Dog Trainer Bella Pearson flew with Wynne to Albany from Adelaide to personally introduce him to his new owner.

“The dogs take about six to eight months to train,” Ms Pearson said.

“The sound training we do teaches the dogs to find the source of the sound, go back to their owner and touch them and alert them, and lead them to the sound.

“In the case of a fire alarm, the dog will alert the owner and take a specific position and lead the owner out of the house.”

Ms Pearson said Wynne was a perfect fit for Ms Colman.

“He settled in really, really well,” she said.

“It’s so nice to see them get along with their new owners.”

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Laneway gets facelift

PUBLIC art is once again flourishing in Albany this week with the creation of five new laneway installations in the CBD.

The project is timed with the city’s Green Skills Sustainable Community Festival and Spring Markets this long weekend on September 25 and 26.

Artists Nat Rad, John Carberry, Jo Taylor and Serena McLauchlan will craft three laneway installations in York Street.

An additional laneway will be decorated with bunting created by the community during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Artist Cody Hulkes’ canvas is the side wall of The White Star on Stirling Terrace.

His inspiration was the story of Jumbo the elephant, who in 1929 ran away from the circus and went on an escapade through town.

Mr Hulkes has designed the mural to be interactive, encouraging people to take a photo with it instead of just a photo of it.

“I’m keeping it bright and fun, especially for the kids,” he said.

“It’s exciting to see the kids get excited about it, because it’s a nice big colourful piece.”

Mayor Dennis Wellington said the City was pleased to reactivate the various laneways.

“Having a number of local artists involved with the long weekend activation is fantastic, and the inclusion of a permanent artwork in the Jumbo mural will allow the community to continue to engage with the Stirling Terrace laneway,” he said.

“It is exciting to be able to put on a pop-up art exhibition in Albany that allows our residents and visitors to enjoy local art at no expense.”

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Mural marks 75 years

A GREAT Southern sports club, which had its very first general meeting just 17 days after World War II ended, celebrated its 75th birthday last weekend with the unveiling of a new mural.

Mount Barker Bowls and Sporting Club celebrated the anniversary on Saturday with fanfare, friends and finger food.

In addition to the party was the unveiling of the new celebratory mural, created by Mount Barker Police Sergeant-in-Charge David Johnson and local artists Andy Dolphin and George Corke.

Sgt Johnson said the original plan was to simply create a new sign to advertise the club.

“But then we were discussing the 75th and thought, why not take advantage of the mural trail that we are growing?” he said.

“We did it over a couple of weeks, but we worked on the design for 40 or 50 hours.”

Sgt Johnson said it was an honour to be asked to participate in the 75th anniversary.

Club President Fred Mentha was excited to have the new look mural completed ahead of this weekend’s bowls carnival.

“It’s great to have the mural, they’ve done a great job,” he said.

Club members Hazel Rutter and Colin Toone were also awarded life memberships during the party.

The original Mount Barker Bowling and Croquet Club was established on September 19, 1945.

It was incorporated in 1949, changed to Mount Barker Bowling Club in 1966 and renamed again in 1994 to its current name.

The club’s first bowling green was opened on February 6, 1949 and the original committee consisted of President G. Duckett, Vice Presidents J. Bavin and C. Mitchell, Secretary

and Treasurer L. Hart, Auditor K. Sweetapple, and committee members Thompson, James, Wilson and Sweetapple.

Women were invited to form a committee and be guests at the club in 1948.

The first beers poured at the club were on March 25, 1950.

In 2015, the club received a new cool room and a bar upgrade and built an internal dart board and photo wall three years later.

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Keep eagle eye over long-necks

ROAD users are being asked to take more caution while driving as Albany’s freshwater turtle hatchlings make the journey to their home ponds and lakes.

The native species, known as the western long-necked turtle, hatch between the months of August to October, and have been known to fall victim to cars as they make their way to their new destination.

Citizen Scientist Atlanta Veld has spent the past 13 years researching and assisting the turtles, who are approximately the size of a 50-cent coin when first hatched.

Ms Veld released a hatchling found at the back of the City of Albany North Road offices last week, returning the turtle to Lake Seppings.

Ms Veld said the Lake Seppings area provided a safe environment for the hatchlings to grow and develop.

“We don’t really know how many there are, but if I were to make a guestimate, I’d say there would be about 200 turtles in the lake here,” she said.

While the turtles are not endangered, Ms Veld said recent conservation efforts to maintain the population have been important to ensure the native reptiles don’t start disappearing.

“They’re near threatened, so they’re okay for the moment so to speak and they are quite adaptable, but it’s about working in with them to make sure that they have the habitat that they need,” she said.

“So, the best thing for them is the fringing area around lakes so they’ve got areas to nest.

“And that’s the biggest problem, that people want to go right up next to the lakesides and that doesn’t give these guys an opportunity to have nests near the water.

“But since the educated campaign and the signage going up, fatalities have dropped heaps. We only get a few deaths on the road per year now as opposed to so many we’ve seen in the past.”

Ms Veld urged drivers to remain aware of their surroundings to help keep the number of turtle deaths on the roads down.

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Hall restored to its former glory

THE finishing touches on a $4.1 million redevelopment of Albany’s Town Hall is nearing completion, with a soft opening planned for December.

Returning the historic site back to its former glory, restoration and upgrade works started in October will transform the Town Hall into a multi-functional venue open 364 days a year.

The Town Hall’s ground floor has been revamped into a multi-media gallery space fit for high-end exhibitions, while the upstairs theatre has been reverted back to a flat floor that allows it to be hired out for public events.

An old asbestos roof has been replaced, while original building features including wooden floors, window features and stonework have been reinstated.

It’s the first time the circa 1888 heritage building has been renovated since 1983.

Speaking to media after a tour of the construction works last week, City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington said the Town Hall had been underutilised in its previous form.

“It was getting used 48 days of the year, which is a waste of time when it’s costing you about $180,000 worth of maintenance,” he said.

“It’s been an iconic building for a long time, we have to maintain it as such, so it’s better it can be used. They’ve done a terrific job.”

Mr Wellington said the project recognised how important arts and culture is to the Albany community.

“More people went to art shows last year than went to the AFL,” he said.

“Culture and the arts is a very big, important part of what we do. We tended to neglect that a little bit. This will correct that.”

City of Albany allocated $3 million towards the upgrades in its 2019/2020 financial budget, while Lotterywest and the State Government chipped in $1 million and $100,000 respectively.

Acting Community Services Executive Director Nathan Watson said the revamped climate-controlled exhibition area would help entice notable artists to tour the port city.

“It allows the city to attract a higher quality of touring exhibitions because we have a space that meets the standards and allows us to bring some of those things to the region that otherwise might not have come here,” he said.

With an official opening planned around Easter next year, City of Albany Arts and Culture Manager Paul Nielsen said the ground floor exhibition area was booked out until April 2022.

He said the City would work with local artists to put on their own shows.

“There will be a few curated call-out windows for local artists to put up their hand to work with trained City staff to put on a quality exhibition in a quality exhibition space in the middle of town,” he said.

“We haven’t had that in the past.

“It’s important from an exhibition space to support a variety of media and performance installations, rather than just hanging things on a wall.”

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Show launches markets

THE Albany Show weekend has been reinvigorated with two new events after the main attraction was cancelled three months ago due to the threat of COVID-19.

Lisa Watson from the Albany Agricultural Society’s executive committee announced this week that the November 13 and 14 weekend would see the launch of a new weekly indoor market – the Albany Central Markets.

Two field days will also be held on the weekend, similar to the Albany Show but on a smaller scale.

Ms Watson said the Society was excited to host the events.

“When the equine section said they urgently needed to hold their normal event to qualify for state and national points, the seed was planted,” she said.

“The new committee is putting every foot forward to produce an exciting event so the region can have an overdue celebration, even though we can’t have a full-size show.”

The Albany Central Markets will be held weekly on weekends and include local fresh produce sellers, businesses and artisan vendors.

The field days will look similar to the Albany Show with sideshow alley, livestock, horticultural and craft displays, an equestrian section and vintage tractors and machinery.

Entry into the field days has been reduced to a gold coin donation.

Vendors interested in joining the Albany Central Markets can find more information online at

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Live sheep trade ‘vital’ to farmers

SUPPORTERS of the live sheep trade gathered in several regional towns last week for the second of Federal O’Connor MP Rick Wilson’s Live Export Update tour in his electorate.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Mr Wilson toured the Wheatbelt with Dr Holly Ludeman and Managing Director of the Livestock Collective Dr Chris Back to discuss the future of the Live Animal Export (LAE) and the challenges being faced by local farmers.

Mr Wilson said the meetings, which were held in Kojonup, Brookton, Wickepin, Lake Grace and Darkan, were essential to keep WA farmers informed of the state of LAE trade.

“Australia has the highest standard of animal welfare in the world,” he said.

“The industry has worked cooperatively with Government to address community concerns and continues to implement measures which increase those welfare standards.”

More than 150 farmers attended the meetings to engage in discussion of LAE trade and other agricultural matters.

Mr Wilson said completing ceasing LAE would be detrimental to farmers and Australia’s trading partners around the world.

“These measures [the industry introduced] included a voluntary moratorium on trade during the northern summer implemented by the Live Animal Export industry,” he said.

“Earlier this year the Mecardo report, commissioned by Meat & Livestock Australia, outlined the real economic impact of three-month disruption to the trade since May 2018.

“2020 and the outbreak of covid brought their own challenges as our major trading partners in the Middle East experienced significant food shortages as a result of grounded passenger planes no longer providing frozen freight.

“Australia’s Live Animal Export industry is vital to families across O’Connor, to our state and national economic future and to sure up food security across the world.”

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Byass fired-up for volunteering

WHEN Gary Byass gets involved in a community organisation he’s generally in it for the long haul.

The 67-year-old was recently awarded life membership for 40 years with the Albany Rifle Club and last month received the National Medal for his 50-years of service with the Albany Volunteer Fire and Rescue Brigade.

Fighting fires is in Mr Byass’ DNA.

His father Jack was captain of the Northam Volunteer Fire Brigade and became heavily involved with the Albany chapter when the family moved in 1969.

Mr Byass shared the same passion for being part of a volunteer organisation and relished the opportunity to compete in fire fighting competitions.

Every Easter the Albany team would travel to Perth by train to battle it out at the state championships.

Mr Byass held a WA record for the ‘1 Man Y’ event for 15 years and was champion fireman for the Great Southern zone from 1978-1984.

These days competitions are few and far between, according to Mr Byass, with many organisations across the state not bothering to get involved anymore.

“It is a dying out sport,” he said.

“There used about 74 teams at one stage, but now it is just dying off.”

Mr Byass captained the Albany Fire Brigade in 1985, served as Foreman for 11 years and was made a life member in 2006.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner Paul Ryan specially came down from Perth to present Mr Byass his 50-year service medal at an annual awards night in July.

“It gives me great pride,” he said.

“It’s a great mob of people here. I love the comradeship; we are one big happy family.

While Mr Byass doesn’t fight fires anymore, he still stays incredibly active with the organisation and helps out wherever he can with fundraising and social events.

He doesn’t plan on hanging up the boots anytime soon either, hoping to
reach 60-years of service.

“That’s the main one,” he said.
“That is the Queen’s medal. I hope the health holds out, I want to keep going as far as I can.”

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Flying sky high for sun safety

THE Albany Kite Fiesta is back for its eighth consecutive year this weekend promoting sun safety and healthy lifestyle habits.

Traditionally part of the South Coast Festival for Birds and Biodiversity, the Kite Fiesta was held back until August 23 due to coronavirus restrictions.

But Green Skills Festival Coordinator Basil Schur said he hoped the free event would receive a good turnout this weekend.

“It’s run with Michael and Jan Alvares from Kite Kinetics. They have a fabulous range of giant kites including a blue whale and a whale shark and so they’ll be flying those down at the Peace Park on Sunday,” he said.

“It’s a family-friendly event so parents and children are welcome.

“There will be small kite kits available for sale for people to make their own kites and join in, or they can just be a part of the fun of watching lots of giant kites fill the air.”

The Healthway sponsored event aims to educate participants on staying sun smart and encourage spending time being active outdoors.

“Skin cancer is a real problem in Australia, and people need to take precautions,” Mr Schur said.

“Healthway is promoting the range of ways that people can take simple precautions when they are outdoors.

“It’s very important to make sure that we do everything we can to stop from getting skin cancer later in life to avoid the consequent problems that relate to that.”

Artist and eco-educator Kristi McMullan will also be running workshops for adults and children on weaving with natural materials to make creations to attach to the giant kites.

Albany’s Kite Fiesta runs from 10am to 4pm at the Anzac Peace Park this Sunday.

For any enquiries, contact Basil Schur on 0429 481 019.

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