New aquawoman

AQUACULTURE in Albany is in the spotlight after the Aquaculture Council of Western Australia (ACWA) appointed Albany local, Jude Tyzack, as its Executive Officer.

Ms Tyzack is excited about what her new position will bring for Albany.

“It is so exciting with what’s happening in aquaculture down in Albany at the moment and I am thrilled,” she said.

Albany has emerged as a strategic industry hub for being one of the State’s key aquaculture centres, with the Albany Shellfish Hatchery, an initiative between the ACWA and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and the recently declared Albany Aquaculture Development Zone both helping to support the growth of the industry.

Ms Tyzack has lived in Albany for 10 years and knows how important local industry is to people.

“Jobs in aquaculture are highly appealing, especially to those wanting to be involved in the marine environment, because of the strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation,” she said.

“Expansion of the aquaculture industry will create a need for local aquaculture education and training opportunities which is something ACWA will be pursuing as a priority in Albany,” she said.

Ms Tyzack also encourages the community to attend Due South for ACWA’s upcoming pop-up shellfish showcase on March 11.

“We will have Albany shellfish there with a display of what they do and people can come and see how oysters clean the water columns, the farmers will be down there with a display of some of their technology,” she said.

Ms Tyzack is excited to add appeal to Albany’s tourism, while opening up opportunities for modern seafood restaurants that will showcase top-quality local Albany rock and Akoya oysters.

“Just really making Albany the shellfish capital of the state; it’s just really exciting for me I think it’s great,” she said.

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Oyster Harbour seagrass population on the rise

A RECENT report shows seagrass populations in the Oyster Harbour catchment have increased as a likely result of improved water quality after suffering severe deterioration.

A significant deterioration in the seagrass meadows was recorded in the 1980’s after the harbour had become increasingly eutrophic and the water quality deteriorated, resulting in increased algal bloom and the ecosystem significantly collapsed.

Supported by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions Program, through the Regional Estuaries Initiative, data was collected by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation in March 2019 at 200 randomly selected sites, using underwater cameras and viewing cones to observe and assess seagrass coverage, species and height.

Areas excluded from the survey were those with aquaculture lease and the deepest parts of the estuary where seagrass unlikely grows.

Spatial software ArcGIS was then used to create maps of the seagrass extent and coverage based on field observations.

So what is so important about seagrass?

Seagrass meadows provide habitats and food for birds, fish and crustaceans while also contributing to good water and sediment quality by consuming nutrients and oxygenating the water.

Seagrass is also a key ally in the fight against climate change as it stabilises sediments, protects shorelines from erosion and store carbon whilst release oxygen.

Studies in the 1990’s and 2006 showed seagrass recovery in ‘patchy’ areas and calculated the total coverage at 540 hectares, but the most recent 2019 study found that total coverage had increased to 663 ha and the deepest observation of seagrass was at 5.5m.

Effects of human interference

Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DoWER) responded to the Weekender stating the seagrass loss in Oyster Harbour was caused by build-up of macroalgae and epiphytes from catchment clearing and agriculture land use through the twentieth century.

This was the leading cause of poor water quality as the run-off delivered both sediment and fertiliser-derived nutrients into the harbour.

The report also stated higher rainfall have also eroded nutrient-rich, fine, silty soils from the catchment which caused flood waters to have high turbidity.

“These nutrients fuelled the prolific growth of macroalgae and epiphytes, that impacted seagrass and wider ecosystem health,” they said.

“When macroalgae and epiphytes are over abundant, they can shade and/or smother seagrass, limiting the amount of light available for the seagrass to convert into energy for growth- through photosynthesis.

“Catchment clearing and subsequent agricultural land use through the twentieth century was the leading cause of poor water quality – with run-off delivering both sediment and fertiliser-derived nutrients to the harbour.”

While the seagrass population is recovering in Oyster Harbour, nutrients from agricultural land use, urban and industrial land-uses, such as septic, garden fertiliser and stormwater outflows, continues to be the biggest threat to the health of the harbour.

Therefore management of the water quality requires managing of the multiple sources of nutrient input through the catchment.

Chang in farming practises

Thanks to early intervention in the 1990’s by Albany locals and a change in farming practises, a recovery and a restoration program led by the Oyster Harbour Catchment Group (OHCG) was put in place.

Oyster Harbour Catchment Group worked for more than 30 years implementing a catchment project and a seagrass regrowth program, collaborating alongside Great Southern farmers to reduce their fertiliser run-off into creeks and estuaries.

OHCG Communications Officer Sayah Drummond said working with farmers has been a big collaboration to clean up the waterways.

“The best way we found to naturally filter all the chemicals out of the system before it gets down to the estuary is to fence off those creek lines and rivers and re-vegetate it and that acts as a natural bio filter for flow off from paddocks,” Ms Drummond said.

“…fertiliser floods into the system and algae love it, then algal blooms block off all the sunlight getting to seagrass and then it kills seagrass and that in turns kills all the fish.”

The future of Oyster Harbour

The future of the catchment is uncertain in regard to climate change, but the Catchment Group are ready to do what they can to keep the ecosystem alive.

“…all we can do is put it back the best we can so it can do its ecosystem job and that way the whole harbour will be a bit more protected in the future, and being able to monitor it means as soon as it starts declining again we can get back onto it and figure out what’s doing it,” Ms Drummond said.

“These stories of extremely slow recovery after loss of seagrass, highlight how important it is to protect our seagrasses from becoming lost in the first place,” DoWER said.

Studies continue to be carried out in Oyster Harbour, with results of another assessment carried out in January 2021 expected to be released late 2021.

Read more about Oyster Harbour Catchment Group here

To read the full report by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, go to this website

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WA polls open

EARLY voting is now open across WA ahead of the March 13 State election, with the Western Australian Electoral Commission expecting a record number of voters to cast their ballot ahead of time.

For a number of weeks, the Electoral Commission has been pushing the public to take advantage of postal voting and early voting for what it describes “is in many ways the biggest event to occur in Western Australia in 2021”.

And the message seems to be getting through to West Aussies, with the Electoral Commission so far receiving 226,612 postal vote applications as of Tuesday.

To give that figure some context, less than half that number of people (111,761) applied for a postal vote at the 2017 State election.

There is no requirement for electors to provide a reason for voting early, either in person or by post.

In a move to protect the health and safety of voters during a pandemic, the Electoral Commission has set up more early voting centres with longer operating hours.

An early voting centre opened at Unit 1/82 Lockyer Avenue in Albany which is open 8am-6pm from Wednesday to Friday this week.

Other early polling booths have sprouted up in Katanning, Wagin and Manjimup.

The Commission is also encouraging people to bring their own pen or pencil when they cast their vote.

Only a limited number of voters will be allowed into polling venues at any one time.

There are 19 political parties and a total of 788 candidates contesting the 2021 election: 463 candidates in the Legislative Assembly, and a record 325 for the Legislative Council.

Interestingly, Albany has the largest number of candidates (12) in the State vying for political office.

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Six Degrees on fire

In an “unheard of” achievement in regional WA, Albany’s live music bar Six Degrees has been announced as a nominee for the Most Popular Venue in the WA Music Awards (WAM).

Albany musician and Six Degrees Manager Geoff Waldeck said to receive the nomination is a huge achievement, not only themselves but for regional live music venues across WA.

“It’s unheard of, as far as being nominated for most popular venue, especially that we can only fit 65 people inside, its fabulous,” he said.

The nomination for Six Degrees was voted in by the wider community, and Waldeck said they couldn’t be more grateful for the support.

“People were really supportive in town, especially because we tried hard to get people out by putting original acts on, so a lot of people voted for us,” he said.

“As a result of getting original bands down here, who may not necessarily have their name in the lights, we gained a lot of traction.

“We are getting a lot of really interesting Australian original artists and a good variety of genres that are coming through, which has helped to boost our profile here.”

Although COVID-19 posed many challenges for the music and hospitality industries, Waldeck said Six Degrees took on the opportunity to adapt their venue.

“It was difficult [over the past year] if you kept doing the same thing, you had to adapt and adjust, you just had to read the trends and read what’s going on with communities,” he said.

Waldeck said they targeted the opportunity to offer ticketed shows and events, by transforming the overflow restaurant into a sealed off-stage area.

Albany raised Carla Geneve has once again starred in the WAM nominations, taking out the highest number of category nominations for the third year in a row.

Six Degrees is starting a new Storytellers and Songwriters night, designed to give Great Southern original musicians the opportunity to perform their songs in a professional environment in front of a crowd.

“I would love to hear from local aspiring original artists who would like to come down and perform their songs through an industry standard PA system with a song engineer,” he said.

The WAM Award winners will be announced at His Majesty’s Theatre in Perth on March 23 and voting is still open for most popular act, live act and venue through the WAM website.

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Surf’s up

Saving young grommets from ‘extreme boredom’, the Albany Boardriders Junior Wavefest is back next month for a packed day of gnarly surfing action.

This year’s competition will be held on the weekend of March 27th or 28th, with location and timing dependent on weather conditions.

To enter the event, you need to register online at by March 8.

The next generation of surfing stars will be judged on the “most critical, radical manoeuvre done with speed and style”, according to Albany Boardriders President David Beeck.

“For the kids that are competitive they get to show how good they are,” he said.

“If there’s any really young kids we can help them get a wave.

“That makes their day when everyone is watching and claps.”

Mr Beeck hopes local surfers will support the event after last year’s competitions were cancelled because of COVID-19.

“A lot of people fell off the radar, but hopefully they come back,” he said.

“There were so many people surfing during Covid, it was one of the only things you could do.”

Heading into the cooler months, Mr Beeck said it was the perfect time for surfing on the south coast.

“Autumn is the best time of year for surfing down here,” he said.

“Ideally the comp will be at Ocean Beach because there’s a viewing platform where all the parents can watch.”

Mr Beeck said plans to build an artificial reef break along Middleton Beach would take the guesswork out of organising events like the Junior Wavefest.

The State Government has already chipped in $5 million for the $9.5 million project, but the remainder hasn’t been sourced.

Heading into next month’s State Election, the WA Liberals have promised to fund the $4.5 million gap if elected, but no other political party has made a similar commitment.

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Dancing in the dirt returns

Fairy lights will once again be strung across augers for the return of the Jerramungup Dancing in the Dirt Gala ball on March 27 at Needilup Oval.

Hosted by Fitzgerald Biosphere Group, with support from the Shire of Jerramungup, the event organisers hope to bring the community together after a couple of tough harvest seasons.

Fitzgerald Biosphere Group’s Jessica Bailey said 2019’s ball was a massive success in bringing the community together.

“We’ve had a couple of really hard seasons and droughts,” she said.

“Everyone was a bit low, the morale was down in the community, so we thought we would bring everyone together.

“The Shire of Jerramungup applied for some drought money which they got, so they approached us to hold another ball this year.”

The event will see 300 farmers and community members from Jerramungup and surrounding towns kicking off their work clothes and returning to the paddock in tuxes and ball gowns.

Perth band Moves Like Swagger and a comedian will be entertaining guests throughout the night while local chefs cook up lamb, yabbies and other produce from the area.

Esperance’s Lucky Bay Brewing will also whip up a batch of ‘Biosphere brew’ made out of local barley specially for the night.

Ms Bailey said other than through work and kid’s sport, there were limited ways for locals to connect.

“Just where we live, we don’t get the opportunity to do these kinds of things often,” she said.

“Our farms are getting bigger and bigger and our community is getting smaller and smaller.

“It’s just one night where we don’t have to worry about kids, as bad as that sounds, it just gives us that chance to let our hair down a little to be honest.”

This year’s event sold out in three weeks and Ms Bailey said the Fitzgerald Biosphere Group would love to make it a more regular occasion.

“Last year we had 200 [attendees], this year we are going to have 300,” she said.

“It’s surprising how many tickets I’ve sold from Albany, Williams, Lake Grace and quite far away. The word is spreading.”


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Whip out the dancing shoes

INTERNATIONAL Folk Dance is coming to Albany, giving people the opportunity to experience other cultures through their dance styles.

Hosted by dance teacher Palenque Blair, the International Folk Dance Albany Workshop will be running inclusive classes for all ages, with no dance experience required.

Adult classes will be held on Saturdays at 11am on February 20 and 27 and March 6 and 27, while kids and family classes are at 4pm on March 5 and 26.

Ms Blair said the diverse style of International Folk Dance originates from European migrants in the USA but takes influence from an assortment of cultural dances.

“A lot of people love the variety of music and the use of traditional instruments,” she said.

The music is very varied in style from Latin to Greek, French, Celtic, Romanian and more.

“Folk Dancing is great because people have the opportunity to get to know a little bit about other cultures through their dance.

“It is also good exercise and I think people enjoy the holistic workout.”

On March 6, visiting teachers will provide a special International Folk-Dance workshop with a Romanian flare, where attendees will be able to experience another style of dance.

The workshops will take place in the Albert Hall at the Uniting Church on Duke Street.

The cost to participate is $8 per person and an additional $1 per child.

For booking enquiries call Blair Palenque on 0423 834 439 or email

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White-hot rage

AN ALBANY student who attacked a bouncer after getting kicked out of the White Star Hotel has been slapped with $1740 in fines.

Oliver Davanay Vynne pleaded guilty in Albany’s Magistrates Court last Thursday to common assault, failure to leave a licensed premise and re-entering the premise within 24 hours.

The 19-year-old jumped the venue’s back fence on January 15 to join his mates after being refused entry because his ID photo was invalid.

A bouncer working at the White Star approached Mr Vynne to remove him, but the accused held onto a fence before punching, kicking and breaking the victim’s prescription glasses.

Police Prosecuting Sgt Alan Dean said Mr Vynne told police he had no recollection of the event.

“This is a case of too much alcohol and poor decisions,” he said.

Magistrate Dianne Scaddan said violence in licensed premises was far too common.

“People in licensed premises have the right to work in a safe environment and not be assaulted,” she said.

“You were intoxicated and made a bad decision.

“You decided to take matters into your own hands.”

Mr Vynne’s defence lawyer asked the court to consider his mental health issues and the trauma he had gone through after losing a friend in November 2020.

Magistrate Dianne Scaddan warned Mr Vynne not to re-offend.

“You’re allowed to be given an opportunity to reach your full potential,” she said.

“Don’t come back here again.”

A spent conviction was granted.

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Rex flights extended

REGIONAL flights between Perth and Albany will continue until at least 2023, with the WA Government granting Regional Express (Rex) an extension of their operating agreement.

The commitment to operate the Perth to Albany and Perth to Esperance routes has been extended by five years, after it was due to expire on February 27.

Rex has the rights to exclusively operate the two routes, alongside piloting the Perth to Carnarvon and Perth to Monkey Mia flights.

Rex General Manager of Network Strategy Warrick Lodge said the company was pleased to be able to continue providing essential regional air services for the foreseeable future.

“This decision provides increased certainty for the Albany and Esperance communities and the benefits of certainty in the current climate cannot be underestimated,” he said.

When travel agencies and airline carriers were first impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, many regional flights which country residents relied upon were grounded.

Rex has now returned to 70 percent operating capacity levels after combating the initial set back of border closures.

Mr Lodge said without the support of the WA Government they wouldn’t have been able to rebuild the Perth to Albany route from four to 14 weekly return flights and four to 13 weekly return flights in Esperance.

“Rex understands the critical importance of regional air services, particularly when local communities are also dealing with the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19,” he said.

The company promised to continue the Community Fare scheme, capping the price of flights for Albany residents at $139 and for Esperance residents at $138.

The McGowan Government has recently announced it will bankroll $19.8 million into a Regional Airfares Zone Cap for other communities currently without a cap on prices, if re-elected at the upcoming State Election.

Residents of other regions would be able to take advantage of cheaper take-offs, with one-way flights within 1,000km of Perth capped at $199 and outside of that range capped at $299.

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Raising vital funds

AN ANNUAL community cycling event is coming back to Albany, with participants gearing up to cycle for a good cause.

The event is hosted by MSWA, a not-for-profit organisation which provides vital support and services for people living with neurological conditions in Western Australia.

The community is encouraged to get involved by fundraising or sponsoring riders to participate, helping to raise funds for MSWA to continue providing its support services.

The event will kick off at Emu Point on March 13, where participants choose between a 10km family ride, 40km, 80 km or the 135km challenge route.

In its fourth year running in Albany, the cycling routes takes riders through iconic landmarks and scenic locations, drawing in participants from all over the region and Perth.

The Cridge family are this year’s event ambassadors, with Mackenzie riding on behalf of her father Rob, who is a long-term advocate for people living with neurological conditions like himself.

Last year Mackenzie took part in the 2020 MSWA Albany ride, helping to raise awareness and vital funds for hundreds of people living with all neurological conditions in the Great Southern region.

Mackenzie said she is inspired and motivated by her father to continue his work in helping the community.

“It’s about being able to show support and help in a way for not only my dad but others living with MS,” she says.

MSWA Events Manager Gail Szabo said they’re hoping to have another great turnout after 200 participants got on the bikes last year.

“It’s all about having an event that brings the community together more and the other important thing is the funds that we do raise stay in the Great Southern and go to support our members, clients and customers in that region,” she said.

“We’re really excited to keep com- ing back, year on year it grows and has a great atmosphere on the day.”

“We’re looking forward to coming back to Albany and raising some much-needed funds.”

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