Formal chinwag to last a lifetime

PERTH theatre platform Barefaced Stories is bringing a familiar yet new type of interactive experience to Albany this weekend for four days.

The Chin Wagon will roll into town on Sunday at the Albany Entertainment Centre and remain in situ until Wednesday, January 22.

It will offer people the chance to participate in The Story Exchange, a free interview session between two people that can last a lifetime – The Chin Wagon is a mobile story studio where people can interview a loved one and share a story with them, and it will be recorded.

Conversations will be based around love and loss.

“When we take the time to ask someone about their life, the things they’ve been through, highs and lows, and listen closely back to the stories they share, remarkable things can happen,” Producer Andrea Gibbs said.

“Sometimes they share stories we’ve never heard of before or we gain new insights into those we have, bringing us a greater understanding of who they really are.

“So much can be learned by the stories we have and the relationships we have shared.”

The Story Exchange interview is 40 minutes of conversation with someone you know and care about – a partner, a friend, a family member, a teacher or even a work colleague.

The Chin Wagon team will guide you through how to interview them, ask the right questions and listen closely so that your partner will respond in the best way possible, speaking from the heart.

The final conversation will be sent to participants in an audio package.

“Ask your grandfather, ‘What was the happiest moment of your life, Pop?’, or your mother, ‘Mum, what do you remember about the day I was born?’, or your brother, ‘Was there a time when you didn’t like me?’,” Ms Gibbs said.

“Choose just one person to come along with you and we’ll help you figure out a great list of questions for them.”

To take part in The Story Exchange inside The Chin Wagon, interviewers need to be available to attend a free workshop this Saturday, 10.30am to 12.30pm at the Albany Entertainment Centre, then book in for a recording session and attend at your designated time.

Sessions are offered on the hour between 11am and 6pm.

Bookings can be made online at

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Players fired up for fundraiser

IN ANOTHER show of community generosity during the devastating nationwide bushfires, Plantagenet Players amateur theatre group is hosting a fundraiser show at the end of the month.

All Fired Up! will play for one night only on January 31 at Plantagenet District Hall to raise money for the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services Association of WA.

All proceeds from the show will go to the association.

Co-producers Charmaine Gadenne and Helen Jeffery said a Facebook post initiated the idea.

“People were looking for somewhere to donate and to make sure the funds go to where they need to go,” Gadenne said.

“And as a community group, like everyone else, we just want to help those who’ve suffered.”

The variety show will commence at 7.30pm and feature snippets of song, dance and comedy skits and sketches from previous Plantagenet Players shows.

However, seating will not be in the tradition table style.

“We’re using the tiered theatre-style seating, because we want to jam as many people in there as possible to raise as much money as we can in one night,” Gadenne said.

“But the canteen will still be open with lots of yummy treats and there will be tea, coffee and soft drinks available for sale.

“And it’s not BYO this time – it’s an alcohol-free event.”

Gadenne revealed that Tribal Thunder belly dancing group would be popping in for a performance and that the finale would have a “nice little surprise” for the audience.

Tickets are just $15 for the show and can be purchased from Mt Barker Newsagency on Lowood Road or via phone: 9851 1034.

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TV show stars Albany

DON’T miss Albany’s latest time in the spotlight – the first season of children’s adventure show Itch is now online on ABC iview and the episodes will only be available for another month.

Itch is based on the book series of the same name by British author Simon Mayo and tells the story of a teenage boy who discovers a new element of the periodic table; he must defend it from the clutches of evil, secret organisations.

It was filmed in Albany and includes the iconic locations of Middleton Beach, Albany Senior High School (ASHS), Albany Town Hall and the University of WA Albany campus in multiple scenes.

The ASHS school logo was altered for all school scenes but the uniform is otherwise easily recognisable as the one worn by students today.

Episodes 1-10 were published online two weeks ago and will be available until February 23.

The Behind the Scenes videos will stay online until March 28.

When Mr Mayo caught up with the Weekender at Middleton Beach during filming in February last year, he said changing the story’s location from Cornwall to an Australian coastal town “made sense”.

He described the similarities between Cornwall and Albany as “remarkable”.

“Cornwall has a rich mining heritage,” Mr Mayo said.

“So switching to here makes perfect sense, with Albany’s connection to mining.”

Mayo scored a brief cameo in a scene shot at Middleton – he’s hiding in the Ellen Cove picnic area, typing on a laptop.

Itch star and Perth product Samuel Ireland visited The Gap, Emu Point, Middleton Beach, Boston Brewery and Greens Pool on his days off during filming.

He said scoring the lead role of Itchingham Lofte was a dream come true.

“When I saw the Itch auditions, I thought, this is my childhood,” Mr Ireland said.

Blue Water High, Parallax…kids’ dramas are what Aussies do best.

“So getting that first callback was a wonderful feeling.”

Albany’s Dragon Martial Arts owner and instructor Mark Burridge was hired to teach actors and choreograph various fight scenes for the production.

A few of his students assisted him in teaching the actors and one student appeared as a stunt double in a scene.

“Teaching the moves and scenes and working with the stunt coordinator has been so much fun and I can’t wait to see the end product and the TV series,” Mr Burridge told the Weekender in April.

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Artists mix it up

FOUR Albany artists have set up camp at a local tourist attraction to display their latest collection of watercolour and acrylic paintings.

Collective Mix features the work of Zoe Butler, Ros Jenke, Margaret Dowdell and Julie Fletcher and ranges from still life to flora and fauna and landscapes.

Fletcher and Butler said the exhibition, installed at Albany’s Historic Whaling Station ahead of a Saturday afternoon opening, included all of the artists’ favourites.

“We’ve been learning about how important friends are to the creative process,” Butler said.

“We all help each other, support each other and learn from each other.

“It’s been really good.”

Fletcher said the exhibition predominantly had small-sized artworks for sale, so as to be more convenient to tourists, taking up less room in their luggage.

It’s free to enter the exhibition once it opens at 2pm on January 11 and it will remain open daily from 9am to 5pm until it closes on February 9.

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Last hurrah for Wignalls concert

IN A sad moment for the Albany music scene, the final Wignalls Vintage Music Festival will be held tomorrow after 24 years of memorable events.

Hosting large events over such a period of time is an exhausting process, and 2020 sees the retirement of organisers Rob and Claire Wignall with the last vintage music festival.

Rob said this makes the festival very special for anybody that has been here before.

“With more than 62,000 people attending over the years creating many memories, relationships, marriages and fun, come along for the last hoorah,” he said.

“Those people that met their girlfriend at the show who is now their wife and mother of their children, re-visit the event.

“After 24 years of events, we have selected these special memorable acts by popular demand, with sell-out shows in 2011 and 2015.

“The prestige of this famous festival continues to be far-reaching with 2020 bringing to Albany a rare performance of headline acts back by popular demand – The Blues Brothers Revue, Ash Grunwald and the Vibrolators – who will create music and history for the 19th Wignalls Vintage Music Festival in the grounds of Wignalls Winery at Albany.”

The Blues Brothers are here to celebrate 40 years since the release of the famous Blues Brothers film.

Grunwald is playing in Albany to release his much-anticipated international tour, yet another coup for the event and possibly the last time the Great Southern will see him with his booming popularity.

Ticket holders are welcomed onsite from 4.30pm to kick back and relax with a picnic basket and blanket in the gardens while listening to great musical talent.

Although car parking is available on-site, free public transport will be available to return to Albany’s CBD from 10.30pm.

Full bar and food facilities will be available for all patrons. Children are welcome but must be accompanied by a guardian or parent.

Tickets are $75.00 +bf via or if available at the gate on the day.

Photo ID is essential for entry into licensed areas.

For more information, visit

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Watto’s seniors concert a smash

MEMBER for Albany Peter Watson’s annual Seniors Christmas Concert was attended by more than 100 people keen to get into the festive spirit.

This year was the 19th concert held in town by Mr Watson and he was delighted by the response from this year’s attendees.

“I started the concerts as a way of thanking our seniors for their contribution to our community and to showcase some of our fantastic local musicians and performers,” he said.

“It’s just a great way to get so many people together for a fun and entertaining day.

“I have lost count of the number of seniors over the years who say it’s one of the few times a year that they get out and about and that it’s the highlight of their year – it makes all the hard work that our volunteers put in so worthwhile.”

Mr Watson said the junior and senior school choirs from St Joseph’s College “absolutely wowed” the audience and that AboutFACE choir was another great highlight.

He called the Albany City Wind Ensemble “a world class outfit”.

“I’m really looking forward to the milestone 20th seniors concert next year,” Mr Watson said.

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Tess’ message is to clean up the mess

CONVEYING an environmental message through her craft is an element of art Albany resident Tess Bryant takes pride in.

She hopes people will reconsider where their food waste goes and how it is used when it is thrown away after viewing her latest exhibition Afterlife, on display at Vancouver Arts Centre from January 9-27.

“Much of my interest comes from a sustainability perspective as I try to reduce waste in all areas of my life,” Bryant said of her textile and fibre art.

“Natural dyeing is a great synergy between my creative and sustainable sides.”

Bryant practises traditional crafts, an art form she says tends to be fairly cost-friendly and sustainable in terms of materials.

According to her, if people could utilise these methods before electricity and factories, then it must be good.

“As part of my anthropology degree, we discussed the Anthropocene – the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment,” she said.

“As the political climate starts to acknowledge the massive impact recent human activity has on the earth, I want to discuss this in a creative way.

“Food waste in landfill is a big contributor to greenhouse gases and I have found some food waste can be so useful; what a waste to let it go to landfill.”

Bryant prefers natural dyes over industrial as she says the latter is a major polluter and uses a lot of water.

She can source natural dyes from her own kitchen and backyard.

“So, the exhibition theme, afterlife, refers to the ‘after-life’ of things – giving food waste a second use, as well as alluding to the broader theme of after the ‘Anthropocene’ and climate change,” Bryant said.

There will be a special exhibition opening of Afterlife at Vancouver Arts Centre commencing at 6pm on January 8

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Artist settles in

PERTH painter Mark Tweedie is the new artist-in-residence at Vancouver Arts Centre and he cannot wait to immerse himself in the environment he describes as having “endless appeal”.

Hailing from the Pilbara and Carnarvon originally, Tweedie often finds himself frequenting regional locations for new and different inspirations.

He will be at the Albany-based arts centre until January 3.

“My work is highly personal and explores memory, lineage and ageing,” Tweedie explained.

“My most recent exhibition was based on old photographs and embedded with my own childhood memories.

“It’s imperative for me to find a connection to my subject, whether that be a location, person or a shared experience.”

Tweedie recently stayed in the historic ghost town of Cossack for a residency he called one of the best professional and personal experiences he has ever had.

He said with Albany being the oldest colonial settlement in WA and with its “unmistakable ancient coastline”, it had endless appeal to him.

“Albany has an immediate and immense beauty, and a grand scale that I’ve not witnessed before in WA,” Tweedie said.

“I’m quite overwhelmed by the broad visuals of area; everything from the dense, thriving local flora up at Stony Hill, to the huge scale of the Torndirrup National Park’s dramatic coastline.

“Throughout the residency I’ll be photographing Albany and the surrounding areas to develop small painting studies in my Vancouver Arts Centre studio.

“I plan to further develop Albany-related works back in my Perth studio during 2020.”

While he is in Albany, Tweedie is hosting a portrait and palette knife workshop.

Bookings for the December 14 event can be made at

“As a studio-based-artist and workaholic, I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits and importance of artist residency programs,” Tweedie said.

“I’m particularly enjoying meeting members of Albany’s passionate and thriving arts community.”

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Entertainment centre celebrates 10 years

AN ENTIRE year’s worth of theatre productions and concerts, as well as opportunities for children to explore backstage and learn what it takes to work in a theatre, have been announced today in celebration of the Albany Entertainment Centre’s 10th birthday.

Manager Drew Dymond said the 62-page 2020 program was live as of today and a full colour booklet detailing all events would be delivered to households inside next week’s Weekender.

Mr Dymond said this was the first time the AEC had ever released details of a full theatre season in one hit.

“I’ve tried to program as much diversity in this season with a particular focus on families and family shows,” he said.

“We really want more families to come here and by releasing the full season at once, it will let people plan their year, budget their time and funds and make the most of it.”

There will be four circus shows next year including from A Good Catch Circus and One Fell Swoop Circus.

“This is a circus made for the stage, not a circus tent, so it has a different kind of intensity,” Mr Dymond said of the latter circus.

“It’s just terrific.”

The Harbourside Concert Series will return for another year and the Sydney Dance Company, Bell Shakespeare, Australian Chamber Orchestra Collective and The Waifs are among the headline acts of the year.

Comedian Arj Barker will also return to the AEC – he was the first person to ever perform on the AEC stage so Mr Dymond has invited him back to celebrate the theatre’s 10th birthday.

The X Gang is a workshop series exclusively for 10-year-olds to learn about the multiple facets of the theatre, including lighting, costume making and catering.

These will occur during each school holiday period.

To wrap up the birthday celebrations, the 10 Year Anniversary Gala Concert will be held on December 11, 12 and 13.

This will be conducted by Sue Findlay from Albany City Wind Ensemble and AboutFACE, who conducted the original gala concert when the AEC first opened.

The full 2020 theatre season can be viewed online at, at the AEC on Toll Place or from your December 19 copy of the Weekender.

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Indigenous foods make the final cut

A SPOTLIGHT has been shone on the Great Southern again but this time, in the form of a documentary.

Readers of the Weekender may recall that various towns in the region have played a role in different productions recently – Mount Barker in feature film Rams, Denmark in the movie Breath and Albany in H is for Happiness and TV series Itch.

Now, a documentary exploring indigenous foods and methods of farming across the state will include the Great Southern – in particular, Albany – in the final cut.

LVF Visuals Creative Director Todd Delfs said Fat of the Land was a concept he and Fervor chef Paul ‘Yoda’ Iskov had been playing with for the past four years.

“Every time we go out on country or visit another region, our world gets flipped upside down,” he said.

“I grew up in the South West and Paul in the Perth metro area…we quickly realised how sheltered our lives had been from traditional aboriginal culture.

“With the popularity of indigenous foods growing every day, it’s not a debate anymore whether there’s a market for native foods in Australia or the world; the real problem is, will the market treat the foods with the right respect where respect is due and go beyond understanding the foods, beyond just their nutritional and economic value?

“The days are gone where people say ‘oh, there is a market for this, let’s grow 10,000 acres of one species’; that sort of thinking has caused a lot of trouble, especially in WA.”

Delfs said the documentary includes footage from Porongurup, the Stirling Range and around the Kalgan River.

He described the Great Southern as “a wild, ancient and richly tactile frontier”.

“The ongoing relationship between cross cultural communities and the country itself is stronger than most other places,” Delfs said of the region.

“Whether it’s foraging for food in local streams or by the highways, we are introduced to connections between place, life and story, and stories of culture in continuous transition.”

Delfs is now calling on the broader community to financially contribute to the project, to extend it from being a short film to feature length.

The fundraising goal is $30,000.

“The ultimate aim for this documentary is to prove that through the fusion of modern and ancient farming techniques, we can mitigate the traumatic damage that recent land care management systems have caused,” Delfs said.

“One of the challenges with this film has been the frustration and grief in learning what was here before and now is gone…over the years, Yoda and I have learnt certain values on country and that is you have a duty of care to everything around you; your plants, your animals and the people.”

Delfs hopes to complete the project at the end of next year.

To find out more about Fat of the Land or to donate to the cause, visit

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