At-risk youth take plunge

AN AQUATIC initiative has been brought to Albany after its success in the Pilbara, seeing at-risk kids participate in the Great Southern Youth Scuba Training Program.

In a collaboration between the City of Albany, Albany Police and WorkLink, two students are trialling the program which uses ocean diving to engage at-risk Aboriginal youths to utilise the tourism industry as a career pathway.

Albany Police Youth Policing Officer Senior Constable Stuart Rogers said he was excited to finally get the project off the ground, after facing delays due to COVID-19.

“The program was started by another Youth Policing Officer up in Karratha/Hedland,” he said.

“His background was a British Navy Diver and he joined the police and thought there was an opportunity to engage the kids up there.

“He did a presentation about two years ago and I thought it was a good program, it was different and offered something to the kids that they couldn’t get anywhere else.”

Senior Constable Rogers said the program combines a physical activity with classroom learning in a unique way.

While the program’s pilot scheme is currently only running with two boys, Senior Constable Rogers said he has hopes the program will expand next year to incorporate a girls-only class.

“That’s been the success story up north with the girl’s academy. They’ve been bowled over with the attendance and engagement of girls,” he said.

“There’s a lot that goes on for boys, and because they’re always at risk of getting in trouble they throw money at them, whereas the girls fly under the radar; they’re very good at being invisible and missing out.”

The students involved are awarded an introduction to scuba certificate at the end of the program.

“It’s just another one of the tools I can use to get the kids back into school and engaging in some sort of education and therefore not getting into crime,” Senior Constable Rogers said.

“They’ll also get something out of it personally; they’ll learn about themselves, they’ll push their personal boundaries and they will get something to put on their job applications.

“They might not become a full-time scuba diver working on oil rigs, I don’t expect them to do that.

“But they can show that they’ve done something which requires a buddy system, learnt about safety and taken on responsibility.”

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Christmas sparkle

MORE than a quarter of a million Christmas lights will light up an Albany property next week in the name of raising money for people living with cystic fibrosis.

Jeremy and Lorraine Stevenson’s Mueller Street property has been decorated with 300,000 lights over a 2200sqm area.

The couple first decorated their home with festive lights last year to fundraise for Cystic Fibrosis WA, in honour of their sick four-year-old granddaughter Amelia but decided this year to go even bigger.

While last year’s display was restricted to the frontage of the property, this year it expands beyond the perimeter and throughout the home’s gardens.

Visitors are encouraged to dig deep and donate to Cystic Fibrosis WA by cash or card when they walk through the property.

“We’ve gone with a theme this year of world icons,” Mr Stevenson said.

“We’ve got the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Leaning Tower of Pisa…when you light it all up, it’s just going to be amazing.”

The couple raised $10,300 last year and hope to smash that target three times over this year.

Three weeks of extensive labour have gone into setting up the lights but Mr Stevenson said it was all worthwhile.

The display will open to the public on December 4 and will run daily from 7.30-10pm until December 29.

It will be closed December 25.

Two competitions will also run during the event – prizes will be up for grabs for those who count the correct number of Santas on the property and the number of reindeer, before Christmas Eve.

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Lids for new artificial limbs

‘WASTE not, want not’ is a motto Great Southern farmer Jodi Johnson lives and breathes by, and has taken that even further by using other people’s waste to improve the lives of children around Australia.

Ms Johnson is the Albany Coordinator of Lids4Kids, a nationwide charity founded by Canberra dad Tim Miller.

The organisation takes people’s plastic lids and bread tags that would otherwise go into landfill, cleaning and sorting them to be turned into mobility aids for disabled children across Australia.

Ms Johnson got involved in the project when she wanted a way to spend time with her own children, while teaching them a valuable lesson about recycling and helping others.

“[I saw the organisation online], and the aids they made out of the lids are super cool,” Ms Johnson said.

“I thought ‘this is awesome, I should get my kids involved in this’.”

Ms Johnson now has a whole list of volunteers who assist her with the sorting, cleaning, and colour coding of the donated plastic.

“I’ve got so many grandmas who grab their grandkids and do it together and it’s super cool because that’s what it’s supposed to be about, it’s about teaching our kids to reuse stuff and not just throw it out,” she said.

What started off as a small family project exploded when the Containers for Change scheme was introduced in Albany.

“It’s really doubled since this started; I was coping okay until this,” she said.

“When they contacted me, I just thought, ‘how am I going to do this?’, and when I came in, they had these huge bags of collected lids and bread tags.

“We’ve now got drop points at Mount Lockyer Primary School, the YMCA, Rainbow Coast Child Care, King River Hall, Albany Mind and Body, and the Spencer Park Containers for Change deposit.”

Ms Johnson said a new mobility aid is able to be made from every 500 lids.

Anyone interested in getting involved could contact her on 0439 786 989.

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Broker assaults ex-wife

THE managing director of an Albany insurance company has been fined $2,500 for assaulting his ex-partner at her workplace after a dispute erupted over who rightfully owned a Ford Mustang.

Nathan Edward Hadlow, who runs South Coast Insurance Brokers, was sentenced for a string of offences in Albany Magistrates Court last Thursday after pleading guilty to common assault and two counts of breaching a family violence restraining order.

Prosecuting Sergeant Alan Dean told the court Mr Hadlow assaulted his ex-wife in August just days after the relationship had ended.

The victim was working at a medical centre in Spencer Park when Mr Hadlow followed her through a back door of the practice to retrieve a set of keys that belonged to a Ford Mustang.

After the victim refused to hand over the keys, Mr Hadlow tried to snatch them out of her hands.

Mr Hadlow then took hold of the victim with both arms and lifted her off the ground, with his right arm around her neck, according to Sgt Dean.

Witnesses intervened and restrained Mr Hadlow, who promptly left the premises.

Mr Hadlow’s defence lawyer said he was trying to retrieve the Mustang because it belonged to South Coast Insurance Brokers.

The defence council said Mr Hadlow couldn’t recall the “precise nature of the altercation”.

Following the incident, Sgt Dean said Mr Hadlow drove to his current partner’s property on October 2 to retrieve some clothing.

But as Mr Hadlow’s ex-wife was living right behind his current partner’s home, the 54-year-old broke two violence restraining orders.

Magistrate Raelene Johnston granted Mr Hadlow spent convictions for each offence.

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Albany retailer goes all in on Black Friday sales

IN THIS day and age, it’s not often you have the chance to win a free car.

Even AFL players don’t get a new set of wheels when they take Mark of the Year anymore.

But Retravision Albany is bucking the trend by giving away a brand-new Suzuki Baleno this weekend to one lucky local shopper.

It’s the third year in a row the Albany store has run the competition to coincide with the rapidly growing phenomenon that is the Black Friday sales.

Originally an American shopping gimmick, the world-wide event has been gaining big traction in Australia over the past few years, according to Retravision Albany Managing Director Russell Hare.

“It’s as big as Boxing Day now,” he said.

“It kicks off that Christmas shopping period – all the suppliers support the event.

“They are genuine one-off offers available for this week.”

After nearly having to close his Albany store because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Hare said retail business was booming.

“We’ve put on four extra staff in the last six months,” he said.

“Without being able to go overseas, people have invested in their home because they have a bit more money lying around.”

Unlike many other major competitions which are run state-wide or nationally, Retravision Albany’s car giveaway only involves local shoppers who purchase an item in-store.

Mr Hare said Retravision Albany would draw a winner after trading closes at 5pm on Saturday and stream the announcement on Facebook.

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Show sets sights on GS

BOGGED fourbys, long-lost machinery and buried treasures in the Great Southern could star in the next season of Aussie Salvage Squad, with the recovery team looking to film in the region.

Renewed for a third season, the show is considering teeing up some non-urgent jobs in the Denmark and Albany area for early next year that might be out of the norm.

Owner of Geographe Marine Salvage and Rescue and team leader of the marine rescue experts Luke Purdy said the crew were keen to film the next installation in their home state of WA.

“The whole crew are from Busselton originally and we’ve got a big marine engineering workshop there,” he said.

“We’re looking for the hard jobs that no one else can, or even wants to do.

“I grew up in Walpole, so I spent my whole childhood in Albany/Denmark way, and I love the fact we get to showcase WA and where we’re from.”

Mr Purdy credits the show’s ongoing success to its relatable characters and the team’s relationship, which are at the core of the program.

“It’s actually amazing to be able to do this, showcase what we do and how tight the crew are,” he said.

“They’re my best friends and they’re my family. I think that’s why people like it so much, because we’re just having a crack and keeping it real.”

The show’s fans can also expect to see a new cast member in the new season, after Mr Purdy and his partner Jayde welcomed their first son into the world.

Filming is expected to begin in January and run for eight weeks.

If you have a problem job for the Aussie Salvage Squad, send images and details to

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Midds tree removal on pause

PLANS to cut down nine pine trees at Middleton Beach carpark have been put on hold until a special meeting of electors takes place on December 8.

A recent update to the City of Albany’s $9 million Middleton Beach Foreshore enhancement project revealed six Norfolk pines would be removed from the centre of Middleton Beach car park, while a further three would be uprooted adjacent to Flinders Parade.

The City has stated the trees, which are estimated to be around 20-30 years old, are in poor condition and damaging the existing asphalt.

The City plans to replace the pines with at least 15 natives.

Once removed, the Norfolks will be mulched and placed under trees at Apex Drive.

Lower King resident Yana Appleton – who is acting as a spokesperson for a campaign to save the pines – has been busy gaining hundreds of signatures over the last couple of weeks to try and convince the City of Albany to change its mind.

Along with the help of high-profile lawyer John Hammond and One Nation WA Albany candidate Michelle Kinsella, Ms Appleton requested the City hold a special meeting of electors to discuss the matter.

“The six trees in the middle of the car park certainly look to be struggling,” Ms Appleton said.

“Understandably so when covered in asphalt. However, the three larger ones next to Flinders Parade and the one by Three Anchors look to be in perfect health and show no signs of damage to the surrounding areas at all.

“As a last resort, transplant the trees, but only after all the other avenues are exhausted.”

However, the City isn’t backing down on its plans despite the public backlash.

Speaking with the Weekender, City of Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington said he stood by the decision.

“Sometimes to do some remedial work you have to take some action that some people don’t like, but the end result for the community is a much better outcome,” he said.

“This has been ongoing for a couple of years. The consultation has been ongoing in that period of time. To say that people have been blindsided is a bit naive, we don’t do that sort of thing.

“It needs some remedial work and it’s exactly what I think we should be doing.”

To his knowledge, Mr Wellington said the City wasn’t considering replanting the pines, but would wait until the electors meeting before making any final decisions.

The special meeting will be held at council chambers on December 8 from 6.30pm.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only 40 people are currently allowed to attend.

Mr Wellington said the City would look at extending that number to 80 if needed.

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Wildflower fun in bush school yard

MOUNT Manypeaks Primary students participated in a Wildflower Incursion on Tuesday.

Conducted by Sylvia Leighton with special guests Jane and Bill Thompson – both members of the Friends of Fitzgerald River National Park – the school-based activity session was a special ‘getting to know your wildflowers’ program.

The program aimed to engage and excite children about the natural environment, and included a guided bushwalk and the collection of nuts from native plant species.

Students were taught how to extract the seed out of the nuts for them to grow at school.

“As a whole school we went on a bush walk with Sylvia, Jane and Bill; they showed us the native flowers unique to Western Australia in the area and we learnt the different scientific names of the flowers as well,” Year 6 student Katelyn said.

“We also learnt that plants can reproduce by either dropping the seeds or by allowing new plants to shoot from the roots of pre-established plants, and that some flowering plants can look the same but originate from a different species,” Year 6 student Jayde added.

“During our bush walk, we also found various yate flowers in different stages of their lifecycle, which allowed us to piece together a virtual timeline of the flower lifecycle.”

The day concluded with students participating in various group activities that involved analysing the plant species under the lens of a microscope and participating in a drawing workshop.

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‘Urgent’ trails needed

LOCAL councils are moving ahead with plans to develop a series of mountain bike trails in the Great Southern but still need to overcome a number of road bumps to get respective projects up and running.

Participation in the adventure sport is rapidly increasing in Western Australia, according to the Great Southern Centre for Outdoor Recreation Excellence (GSCORE), which identified there was “an urgent need” to address a shortage of mountain bike trails in the region.

Albany Mountain Bike Club President Dora Adeline said a talented group of young riders were being held back by a lack of local tracks.

“I can only but imagine how far some of these young people could go if they had some more local trails to hone their craft on,” she said.

Behind the scenes, work is underway to get three mountain bike projects off the ground in Albany, Denmark and Mount Barker.

GSCORE’s Regional Trails Masterplan, which was released in September, identified trail experiences at Albany Heritage Park, Tower Hill and Mt Hallowell as priority developments.

GSCORE Executive Director Dr Lenore Lyons said plans were moving along, but progress was slow and steady.

“There’s no point rushing these things. I know that does disappoint some sectors of the community who want to see mountain bike trails tomorrow, but in the end, I think we will get a good outcome for the region,” she said.

City of Albany Infrastructure, Development and Environment Executive Director Paul Camins said constructing a network of trails at Albany Heritage Park had been a “key priority” since a concept plan was developed in 2016.

Shire of Plantagenet President Chris Pavlovich said his Council had resolved, in principle, to fund 50 per cent of the Tower Hill trail project once the remainder was secured.

“We think it’s important to not just have Mt Barker, Denmark or Albany, but combining the three to be a trail hub that’s got enough variety to cater for national and state events,” he said.

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Grappling champ claims state victory

ALBANY man Jesse Wynne has taken out gold in his first state grappling competition.

Mr Wynne has been at SBG Training since February 2019 after hanging up his footy boots to try his hand at Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

“[What I like is that] there’s so much to learn and it’s a lot more challenging than I found football, it’s just something you’ve got to chip away at,” he said.

“The crew at the gym are always there with a helping hand. Especially when you compete, it’s a bit more individual, but you’ve still got the team, and I think it was that aspect that really drew me in.”

Competing for the first time as a blue belt at the Submission Grappling Tournament State Champs saw Mr Wynne defeat his opponents and achieve gold.

“The boys were definitely tougher and bigger, but it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it heaps,” he said.

As a proud Menang man and graphic designer, SBG Training asked Mr Wynne to design their rash guard for the club which has since been sent all over the world for grapplers to wear at their own clubs.

“The main inspiration behind this rash guard design is the ‘meeting place’ symbol; it’s a significant site where aboriginal men and women would gather around sitting in circles,” he said.

Mr Wynne said he will be entering more competitions and continuing his practice of the sport.

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