Black dog ride to red centre

MORE than 100 Great Southern motorbike riders will join upward of 6000 others across the country to raise awareness for depression and suicide prevention next month.

The Black Dog Ride 1 Dayer will take place on Sunday, March 15 and see Great Southerners depart from Denmark’s Koorabup Park and ride through Mt Barker, Porongurup, along the Kalgan River, through to Marine Drive at Middleton Beach, along York Street, Albany Highway and back out along Lower Denmark Road.

1 Dayers will take place across the country on the same day along various routes.

Denmark Coordinator Rob Woods said the Black Dog Ride brought many people together to reduce the stigma around mental health.

He said a second larger ride would see motorbike groups from across Australia ride together in August.

“We start in Busselton and ride to Hyden, Norseman, along the Nullarbor to Ceduna, we all meet in Port Augusta then ride together to Coober Pedy and then to Alice Springs,” Mr Woods said.

“It’s about starting conversations about depression and suicide prevention and getting people talking about it.”

Bev Seeney, who has had her own experiences with depression and suicide, has participated in the ride with husband Roger for the past eight years.

She said the Black Dog Ride often brought back the same people every year, creating a second family of support for her.

“I feel very supported by Roger and everyone,” Ms Seeney said.

“It’s a lot of fun, there’s plenty of camaraderie in the group and they really are like an extended family.”

“I’ve seen the knock-on effects of suicide and depression,” Mr Seeney added.

“This is a way of helping, getting people talk- ing, and reminding peo- ple that it is an illness – not a stigma.”

Those interested in participating in the Denmark Black Dog Ride can sign up at

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Love conquers all

AN EVENING at square dancing in Victoria was where the love story of Albany retirees Allan and Doris Brown began nearly 70 years ago.

The couple has seen more of history than most people, born at the end of World War I and during the golden decade of the “roaring” 1920s.

After 18 months together, they decided to marry in Rochester, Victoria in 1954.

Doris, now 102 years old, and 96-year-old Allan reflected fondly and cheekily on their 66 years of marriage with the Weekender.

“We were going to be married in the Presbyterian church, but the minister had a heart attack the night before,” Mr Brown said.

“So we ended up getting married in the Methodist church.

“I remember it was a wet day, very wet – they threw confetti on our car, it was a Dodge car, and it was so wet that the confetti stained the car!

“When we sold it years later, it had coloured stripes on it.”

After 14 years of marriage, the Browns decided to move their young family to Albany to live and started farming.

Now, with their children in their 60s and with not quite enough energy to maintain a working farm, Mr and Mrs Brown call Clarence Estate in Spencer Park home.

They don’t have any plans for Valentine’s Day this year – in fact, when asked whether they would celebrate it, Mrs Brown’s eyeroll was quite amusing – as they have never really made a big deal out of the event.

They are more than happy to spend tomorrow like any other day – Mr Brown tending to the gardens and looking after the birds, and Mrs Brown relaxing in her favourite armchair.

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More toys for us

THOUSANDS of dollars worth of new toys are now ready and waiting for children and their families to ‘check out’ from the revamped Rainbow Coast Toy Library.

Now located at the former kindergarten rooms at St Joseph’s College, the toy library, which allows families to borrow six toys for three weeks at a time, is raring to go and welcomes new members.

It recently celebrated its 30th birthday and with that, secured the upgraded facility and additional grants to now have a toy library worth at least $20,000.

President Michelle Hassell said there was more than enough toys to share around.

“We really want to promote stopping unnecessary expenditure and reusing, instead of sending old toys to landfill,” she said.

“Studies have shown children get bored of toys after about one and a half weeks, so why not borrow different toys all the time?”

Ms Hassell said educational resources were also available at the toy library to assist children with school readiness.

The volunteer-based organisation is open 10am to noon every Saturday and has more than 50 families already utilising its products.

Ms Hassell hopes now that the new library is fully operational, more families will sign up for a membership.

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Girl power skates on

TEENAGE girls with dreams of roller derby stardom will be well supported in Albany this year, with the town’s popular Skate Like a Girl program set to enter its third rendition next week.

More than 160 youngsters from Albany, Denmark, Mount Barker and Tambellup have participated in the skating, mental health and physical wellbeing program since it was first launched by Albany Roller Derby League two years ago.

This year it will expand to include roller derby specific skills and low to moderate contact derby drills with the view of preparing those keen to join a junior roller derby team or age up into the adult team in the future.

Albany Roller Derby League coach Julie “Stax” Byrne-King said she had been “blown away by the skill progression” of participants in previous terms.

“They learn so much faster than adults and new skills and drills each week keep them entertained,” she said.

“We had them learning jump transition, where they skate forward, jump and turn 180 degrees and land it to keep skating … and this is a skill many of the adults don’t manage for six months at least.”

Skate Like a Girl made headlines last June when it become one of only two groups around the world selected to receive a grant worth thousands.

Healthway funding for the program was due to expire at the end of 2019 before United States skating organisation Girls on Track Foundation (GOTF) chose to support the program from a list of more than 40 applicants.

GOTF’s Carla Smith said at the time the league was one of the strongest and most likely to have a wide impact.

“Their successful Skate Like a Girl program and their aspirations to grow it and reach lower income families fit with our organisation’s goals of expanding awareness of and access to roller derby for teenage girls,” she said.

The program will run for girls aged 12 to 17 from 5 – 6.30pm every Thursday, commencing February 13.

Registration details can be found online at

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100,000 reasons to smile

AN ALBANY shopper is now nearly $100,000 richer thanks to Saturday’s Super66 Division One Draw.

Lotterywest announced on Monday that a ticket sold at Clarks Newsagency on York Street had won $99,134.

Owner of Clarks Newsagency Greg Hopkins said he was delighted to see another win come from his store.

“I’ve been here for around 20 years and, in that time, our store has sold more than 20 Division One prizes,” he said.

“Although we’ve had a few Division One wins over the year, the feeling you get when you discover you have sold another one never gets old.”

Lotterywest spokesperson James Mooney said WA’s good fortune was spreading throughout the state.

“2020 has been very kind to WA players, with eight Division One games sold throughout the early stages of this year,” he said.

“Most of these games were sold north of Perth, so to see a Division One prize from Mandurah and Albany this time is proof a life-changing prize can be sold anywhere.

“On top of our run of winners, it’s also good to know by simply playing Lotterywest games you’re supporting hundreds of community groups.”

Albany has had more than a handful of lotto winners in recent years.

In 2018, a syndicate of 22 friends won $10 million on Oz Lotto and a married couple won $100,000 on a scratchie.

In 2017, a retired couple from the Great Southern won $420,000 on Saturday lotto and an Albany family won $670,000 on Saturday lotto.

In 2016, a workplace syndicate of 16 won $2.1 million on a Saturday Superdraw and a family won $300,000 on a scratchie.

In 2015, a couple from the Great Southern region won $3 million on Powerball, a person won $750,000 on Saturday Lotto and a couple won $100,000 on a scratchie.

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Possum pouches a perfect re-purpose

MORE than 30 pouches for baby possums and sugar gliders were handmade by a group of Albany crafters last week in response to the east coast’s cry out for help in protecting wildlife from the devastating bushfires.

Julie Crowe and Rachel Pontin were two of seven people who participated in a Refashion Session at Green Skills with the aim of helping injured wildlife.

The monthly session gives people the opportunity to reuse discarded materials to create new things, and this time, it was to make pouches for injured possums and sugar gliders.

The group made 33 pouches in two hours and sent the pouches to NSW this week.

“My daughter said she felt compelled to help the wildlife,” Ms Crowe said.

“We did a bit of research and found out that WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) was screaming out for sugar glider and possum pouches.

“We put it to the group, and everyone jumped on board.”

Ms Crowe had learned that during the fires, sugar gliders had begun dropping their babies accidentally over the fires due to disorientation.

The handmade pouches would be used as make-shift pouches for rescued animals.

“It’s empowering for the women because they are learning new skills as well as helping the environment, both by helping the wildlife and keeping materials out of landfill,” Ms Pontin said.

“We have monthly meets for the Refashion Sessions and it’s really the people who come along who decide what we make.

“So if more people want to make pouches, we have the patterns here that they can use.”

The next session will be on February 24, 6-8pm at the back of Green Skills Albany on Graham Street.

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Money for sports

ALBANY sport and recreation clubs received a significant boost to their coffers recently as part of Albany Community Bank’s pilot ‘Get in the Game’ raffle initiative.

Twenty sporting groups from across town raised a total $71,835 selling tickets for the raffle, with all proceeds going directly to the clubs.

The money will be used on items including new equipment and to support local sport programs, such as Albany Surf Life Saving Club’s nipper and youth sessions.

Bank Community Engagement Officer Lyn Lutley described the fundraiser as a success.

She said that the participating clubs eventually sold 14,367 of the 25,000 tickets printed by the bank.

“Sport and rec are always looking for money and support, they’re made up largely of volunteers,” Ms Lutley said.

“For the bank to be successful and deliver these sort of funding programs for areas of need, we need to build business within the community.”

The raffle draw on Friday was conducted by Branch Manager Natasha Thompson and South Stirling-born field hockey star Kathryn Slattery.

Ms Slattery told the gathering at the bank’s Centennial Park branch that it was always great to support local sport.

“I think it’s a great initiative from the bank and obviously I’m really happy to be involved in the program for this, picking out the names,” she said.

Arthur Gorman was the lucky winner of the first place $15,000 cash prize, while Mat Thompson, Denise Lucas, Eden Gray, Peter Muller and Linda Urry each received $1000 as runner-ups.

Albany Community Bank, a branch of Bendigo Bank, will host an information session regarding further sport and rec funding opportunities on March 26.

The organisation’s board is run by volunteers, with 80 per cent of its profits going back into the community.

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Food van launches

IN AN attempt to rectify issues of access to food for people in need, a handful of Albany organisations have funded a portable barbecue trailer to provide breakfast twice a week.

Tracy Sleeman from Albany Regional and Volunteer Service explained that the project had been on the boil for nearly 18 months, while waiting for and seeking funding and resources to be able to offer the service.

Together with Fran Seymour from Albany Red Cross, they visited Bunbury to learn more about how the township operated two food vans, three times per week.

They then received a trailer from the Albany Men’s Resource Centre and Ventroair’s Jason Lockhart refurbished it, with the help of some Albany Community Foundation funding.

“The Homeless Forum group of support services that we met with several times to talk about the food van supported the concept of what we were doing,” Ms Sleeman said.

“We talked to existing services of food relief including Foodbank and their school breakfast program and St Johns and Scots Church about their food kitchens.

“These, and reports on food insecurity from Foodbank, Addressing Homelessness in the Great Southern, and the WA Food Relief Frame- work 2019, told us we were heading in the right direction.”

Pivot Support Services, Barbeques Galore, Albany Signs and Pearson Spraypainters also got on board to get the trailer operational.

Ms Sleeman said the community support she’s received has been overwhelming and highly appreciated, as food insecurity is a hidden problem in Albany she says needs to be addressed.

“We tend to not see issues that don’t affect us directly,” she said.

“It’s not always about not having enough food; sometimes it’s about not having the transport, not knowing how to cook wholesome meals, having family issues where there may be drug abuse or domestic violence which leads to children missing meals because of instability at home … you only have to see that Foodbank Albany is supplying the equivalent of 30,000 meals per month to Albany people to see we have a need for food support.”

The barbecue trailer and Breakfast in the Park program officially launched at Foodbank Albany at 9am today.

To start with, the trailer will offer a bacon and egg burger to people in need on Tuesday mornings from 7-8am on Mokare Road, Spencer Park and on Wednesday mornings from 7-8am at the Old Gaol in town.

People interested in volunteering, hiring the trailer or wanting more information can email [email protected] or call 9841 3588.

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Pony club wins award for taking healthy way

ALBANY Pony Club have taken out top honours in a competition encouraging healthy lifestyles at pony clubs across the state.

The organisation was recognised for winning Healthway and Pony Club WA’s Go for 2&5 Canteen Competition at an award night earlier this month.

Tanya Sprigg, who has acted as Club Canteen Manager for the past two years, said she was “really, really happy” with the win and looking forward to seeing if the group could top it this year.

“We’re just trying to get the kids used to eating fresh and healthy food, especially because Albany has such great, local produce on offer,” she said.

“Kids eat so much junk food these days, there’s so much advertising on TV, and while that’s okay sometimes, most of the time you’ve got to bring out the healthy stuff.

“We’re trying to show them, as all schools are nowadays, that healthy food means a healthy body and a healthy mind.”

As part of the contest, clubs had to recreate dishes from a 2&5 cookbook sent out by competition organisers.

They also had to demonstrate how they implemented and plan to maintain healthy menu items.

Ms Sprigg said fruit and salad were popular at the canteen during the hot and dusty summer months, while nutritious soups accompanied “the easier stuff like pies” in winter.

Healthway CEO Susan Hunt PSM said the organisation and Pony Club WA worked to promote the benefits of eating plenty of fruit and vegetables daily.

“These competitions are fantastic ways to inform clubs about how to have a healthy lifestyle, while motivating them to create healthier environments for children and young people,” she said.

Albany Pony Club received 2&5 merchandise and a $250 supermarket gift card for its win.

Woodbridge Horse and Pony Club and Peel Metropolitan Horse and Pony Club placed second and third respectively.

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Game tackles dyslexia

A BOARD game designed to help people with dyslexia develop their literacy skills will be launched at Albany Public Library next Thursday.

Kanga Words is the brainchild of Albany retiree Don Titterton, who spent almost a decade developing it with the assistance of more than a dozen others.

The 75-year-old has lived with dyslexia his entire life and said he wanted to create a fun “educational tool” fine-tuned to suit individuals with learning difficulties.

“I was 35 when I first learned to read and write properly,” Mr Titterton said.

“This game is about the repetition. If kids with dyslexia play it once or twice a week, they can benefit greatly.”

Kanga Words somewhat resembles Scrabble in design and tasks players with making various words for points.

Words that contain other words within them, such as the word “phone” containing “hone” and “one”, are allocated additional points.

Mr Titterton, who regularly travels across Australia in his caravan, said the game had now been played by more than 200 people.

“I’ve tried it on strangers, I’ve tried it on rellies and friends and everybody loves playing it,” he said.

“While it’s great for people with dyslexia, it’s also useful for school kids in general and people in nursing homes who might need a mind stimulant.

“My long term goal is to travel around Australia going from library to library and running demos.”

Kanga Words will be showcased at the library from 5.30 – 7pm on February 6. Book by calling 6820 3600 or emailing [email protected]

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