Rare buds in bloom

A EUCALYPT unique to South-Western Australia is in the last of its bloom at the moment, a sight only seen every few years.

The jarrah tree, also known as Eucalyptus marginata, has been spotted in full bloom in Porongurup and Goode Beach over the past month.

Professor Steve Hopper from the University of Western Australia explained that the tree underwent an unusual flowering pattern that no one quite understood.

“It produces one set of buds each year and aborts it, for some reason,” he said.

“But then once every three or four years it blooms, and we get this spectacular canopy of flowers.”

Professor Hopper began to see the first jarrah tree flowers in late September in part of Torndirrup National Park near Goode Beach and said this week was probably the last week of bloom.

He said the tree played an important role in supporting biodiversity.

“We did a study on the jarrah trees in Kings Park about 10 years ago and found that they attracted approximately 80 different insects,” Professor Hopper said.

“That’s the greatest number of insects seen on a eucalypt.

“You’ll often find ringtail possums and honeybees in them too, and after the flowers pollinate and there are nuts, that will feed red tail black cockatoos.”

If you are quick, you might be able to spot the last of the jarrah tree flowers along Frenchman Bay Road, Austin Road in Goode Beach and along Porongurup Road.

Let us know if you find anymore and upload your snaps to our Facebook page.

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Kendenup earth home complete

FOR Kendenup couple Kate and Scott Ryan-Taylor, beating the mortgage trap came down to a few thousand bags of dirt.

The pair recently finished building Australia’s first Shire-approved Earthbag dome home, a unique construction they say is as economic as it is environmentally sustainable.

The Weekender spoke with Mrs Ryan-Taylor following an open day showcasing the finished build on Sunday.

“For us it had two different appeals: cost and environmental,” she said.

“The overall price came to $41,600, which includes the construction, permits, rain tanks and other elements.

“We’re now mostly off-grid and semi self-sufficient.. We’ve got a solar system and rain tanks for water, and I’m even hooked up to the NBN.”

While the couple will still need to pay the mortgage on their property, Mrs Ryan-Taylor said it was “a hell of a lot less” than the mortgage on a house and could be paid off with five years of hard work.

She added the idea to use Earthbags or compacted “bags filled with rammed earth” first came to the couple around four years ago.

It took a total two years to get the necessary building permits and another 18 months to construct the home with the help of volunteers from Australia and abroad.

“We did run workshops for people to learn about it but the two of us did 95 per cent of the build ourselves,” Mrs Ryan-Taylor said.

“[Using volunteers] was not necessarily something that sped up the build, it was more of a pay it forward. Some of the volunteers have gone on to work on their own projects.”

The 88 square metre Earthbag home is located around 15 minutes out of Mount Barker and is comprised of various domes, with the highest reaching 6.3 metres.

Its interior is well lit with natural light and contains a bedroom, guestroom, kitchen and pantry that could fit its own “king-size bed and desk” with room to spare.

The home is also resistant to fire and earthquakes due to the materials and methods used in its construction.

Mrs Ryan-Taylor said the next step was to add some vegetable gardens, a backyard patio and to paint the structure in a terracotta colour.

“It’s been quite tiring setting it up but it’s worth it in the end,” she said.

“It does look ugly as you build it but I reckon it looks absolutely gorgeous now.”

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Cancer care group winds up

AN ALBANY-based charitable organisation that has raised thousands of dollars to help juvenile cancer patients during the past 35 years has decided to call it a day.

The Children’s Cancer Care Group Albany first formed in 1984 after resident Val Chisholm’s young daughter Donna was diagnosed with cancer.

Ms Chisholm said she tried to hold a fundraiser to help alleviate the cost of travel and treatment.

“I had the idea to hold a cake stall,” she said.

“So I went to Harry Capararo – that’s who you had to see for those sorts of things – and he said, ‘we can do more than that’.”

And so, the Children’s Cancer Care Group Albany was born.

The group’s first fundraiser goal was to raise $20,000 to pay for a Laminar Flow Unit for Princess Margaret Hospital’s (PMH) oncology ward.

“This was a much-needed unit and would allow the first bone marrow transplant to go ahead at PMH,” Ms Chisholm said.

The group raised that money in just one year.

The members of the Children’s Cancer Care Group Albany continued their efforts, funding PMH phone calls, accommodation for families going to Perth for treatment, costs of travel and special equipment some children needed when returning home after treatment.

They accomplished this with a variety of cake stalls, quiz nights, luncheons, street appeals, raffles and donations.

“We have purchased and maintained many computers for our children so they can continue with lessons at home if they are not well enough to attend school,” Ms Chisholm said.

“They miss a lot of schooling when they’re away in Perth having treatment and although they are encouraged to participate in lessons, they are often too unwell for this to happen.

“We have also provided school aides for individual children who have physical disabilities as a result of their illness or treatment.”

The Children’s Cancer Care Group Albany’s efforts also went to sponsoring rooms at Ronald McDonald House for regional children and their families to live in.

However, with the introduction of online fundraising services such as GoFundMe, Ms Chisholm said the group was no longer approached for help as much as they used to be.

The group’s members are also older than when they first started and cannot do as much fundraising as they used to.

It has operated for more than three decades and some of the members have been there since the beginning.

So, it with a heavy heart that the group has decided to no longer operate.

Ms Chisholm said the group’s remaining money, approximately $25,000, was split evenly between CanTeen, The Leukaemia Foundation, Camp Quality, Ronald McDonald House and the new Perth Children’s Hospital, formerly PMH.

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Drink-driver caught twice, hours apart

A MAN who crashed his car into a Kalgan paddock mere hours after having his license disqualified for drink driving will not be allowed back on the roads for at least three years.

Rick Gregory Millan was found guilty of driving under the influence, disorderly behaviour and driving with no authority when he fronted Magistrate Raelene Johnston at Albany Magistrates Court last Thursday.

The 35-year-old recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.173 grams per 100ml of blood when he was stopped by police driving his Holden Commodore on Hanrahan Road in Lockyer on August 30.

Prosecuting Sergeant Dave Loverock said that at around 1:40pm, Mr Millan made an “unsafe overtaking manoeuvre into the path of a police vehicle heading in the other direction”.

He said an hour later, the father-of-three was served a notice disqualifying his licence until October 29 and released.

At 4:30pm on the same day, Mr Millan was back in the driver’s seat heading in a westerly direction in Kalgan when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed through a fence into a paddock.

“He picked up a beer bottle from the ground and drank it,” Sgt Loverock said.

“He was heavily intoxicated and had slurred speech.”

Sgt Loverock added Mr Millan behaved in an “agitated and aggressive” manner when he was taken into custody and while he was being processed.

“He kicked the side doors [of the police vehicle] and was screaming obscenities at police,” he said.

Magistrate Johnston described Mr Millan’s behaviour as “a disgrace”.

“You were stopped and you continued to drive. You showed blatant disregard for the law and the safety of others,” she said.

Mr Millan’s defence counsel Wendy Stewart said her client denied he made an “unsafe manoeuvre” in the earlier incident but accepted responsibility for his actions overall.

“He drank too much alcohol … he made silly decisions,” she said.

“He has been struggling with alcohol and has engaged with Palmerston.”

The court was told Mr Millan was on a two-year suspended imprisonment order at the time of the offending for assaulting his ex-partner in Little Grove on August 11, 2017.

Magistrate Johnston said although the no authority to drive charge breached the order, Mr Millan had made efforts to overcome his issues.

“You’re most unlikely to get another chance,” she warned him.

Mr Millan received a $3700 fine and two 30-month licence disqualifications, to be served concurrently, for the DUIs.

He was also fined $400 and had his licence disqualified for nine months cumulative for the no authority offence, received another 10-month prison term suspended for 12 months for breaching the original order, and will serve a nine-month community based order for the disorderly charges.

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Lantern walk for cancer

A SPECIAL evening at Emu Point has been planned for next weekend to give people the chance to reflect, remember and honour those who have survived and passed away from their battles with cancer.

Light the Night is an annual fundraiser event held across the country to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation.

It comprises of a community get-together with a lantern walk – blue lanterns represent showing support, gold is to remember loved ones lost and white is to reflect your own diagnosis.

The Albany Light the Night will take place from 5.30pm on November 16, with a performance from the Flinders Park Primary School Choir at 7pm.

The traditional lantern walk will follow at 7.30pm and see the beach light up with a soft haze of blue, gold and white.

Coordinator Gayle Harman said it was a beautiful way for the community to come together.

“It’s a really serene walk,” she said.

“It takes you away from everyday life and gives you the time to reflect, or rejoice, for some.”

There will also be a sausage sizzle and a coffee van set up at the event, located on the grassed area near the boat pen car park.

Leukaemia Foundation merchandise will be available for sale as well as the $20 lanterns.

Any enquiries about the night can be directed to Ms Harman on 0408 094 817.

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Church ‘rotten’ for clearing

THE site set to house a new Baptist church in Denmark has begun to be cleared, prompting some residents to voice concerns about its environmental impacts.

More than a dozen trees were felled at Lot 166 at 987 South Coast Highway last week to make way for the building expected to be constructed there in the coming years.

Environmental activist and vocal critic of the new development Tony Pedro described the “destruction” he witnessed at the site as “pretty confronting”.

“They’ve totally clear filled some of Denmark’s most significant pieces of remaining karri and marri country, big trees that would be 200 to 300 years old,” he told the Weekender.

“Denmark doesn’t have a lot of mature trees because the timber industry in the late 1800s and early 1900s took out most of that country. These trees survived because they were within the town site.

“Now, a century or so later, our ethics don’t seem to have improved a great deal.”

Mr Pedro and a small group of other residents first raised concerns about the church’s potential environmental impacts during a public consultation process conducted by the Shire of Denmark earlier this year.

The Shire originally refused the church’s development application over worries the building would be used for purposes other than worship.

It approved the application in September after the church took the original decision to the State Administrative Tribunal for review.

Pastor Graeme Ritchie said the community had been “overwhelmingly supportive” throughout the process and denied the clearing was having a significant impact.

He said a majority of the trees cleared were smaller regrowth trees that displayed signs of rot and added the church intended to replant trees after the church had been built.

“We’ve tried in all sincerity to keep what we’ve needed to keep. That’s not the point anyway. It’s our property and we have permission to remove what we’ve removed.”

Mr Pedro said he did not believe the trees were rotten.

“They were very good examples of their species. To say they were rotten I find quite insulting to be honest,” he said.

“I’d say the church is rotten for doing what they’ve done.”

Clearing at the site should be completed sometime this week, with finals drawings expected to be considered by council in the next few months.

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Future looking bright

OUT of 113 submissions from media-based companies throughout Australia seeking innovation funding grants, the Weekender was the only successful applicant in WA.

The company will receive more than $380,000, a significant investment from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund.

The grant will enable the Weekender to innovate and increase its online capacity.

Editor Ian Beeck said it was reassuring that ACMA saw the company as contemporary and relevant and willing to invest almost the maximum amount ($400,000) under the guidelines.

“There were 113 applications received for the round of funding, and 62 were successful with the Weekender being the only one in WA,” he said.

Mr Beeck said the 18-month project will allow the Weekender to move from delivering news through print and radio only to a digitally-enabled multi-channel delivery that reaches a wider demographic with real-time news and information available 24 hours a day.

This will result in an increase in audience numbers and improvements in revenue flow.

The project will also enable the Weekender to deliver regionally relevant news to an increased number of communities within the Great Southern that do not currently receive a paper distribution.

Mr Beeck said it will enable news and information to be delivered to a broader demographic, meeting the needs of the younger generation who prefer to receive their news in a digital format whilst still meeting those who prefer a printed newspaper.

“It will also enable the Weekender to develop new revenue streams for news and information increasing the offering to advertisers,” he said.

There will be technology upgrades, staff training, and the ability for audience analytics and subscriber management.

A Digital News Report Australia in 2018 stated that for the first time, Australians’ use of online news has surpassed traditional offline news sources.

Almost 60 per cent of Australians are using their smart phones to access news.

The Weekender commenced operations in 1993.

It is WA’s largest independent newspaper delivered free to more than 21,000 households and businesses throughout the Great Southern.

It also runs two radio stations, 88 Fly FM and Gold MX 1611 AM, acquired in 2014.

The Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund (the Innovation Fund) was established by the Government to support regional and small publishers to transition to and compete more successfully in the evolving media environment.

The Innovation Fund is designed to preserve and improve the viability of Australia’s regional and small news publishing industry in the current period of transition.

The Regional Grant Opportunity is a new grant opportunity under the Innovation Fund that is targeted at regional publishers of public interest journalism.

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Franchise opportunity arises

ALBANY could become the newest home of Mexican food franchise Zambrero if the right person is found to operate it.

The Australian company listed an expression of interest for a franchise partner in Albany just 17 days ago online.

Franchise and Leasing Executive Ethan Flowers told the Weekender that Albany and Kalgoorlie had been identified as two potential regional locations to expand too.

“We’ve done quite well in WA so we’re looking for a franchise partner in a regional area, and Albany and Kalgoorlie are the first places we are looking at,” he said.

“Zambrero isn’t a normal fast food business; we have a mission to end world hunger, so we are looking for people who share that passion.”

Mr Flowers said a strip mall format of Zambrero, similar to Subway, would cost approximately $450,000.

However, he said the company was “quite flexible”, happy to help sort out a simple kiosk-style setup, all the way to the “top end” drive-thru format.

“A lot of people in WA are familiar with Zambrero, so if you want to see it in your own backyard, please get in touch with us,” Mr Flowers said.

A potential location for an Albany Zambrero has not yet been identified as finding a franchise partner is the first step.

Prospective franchisees can register their interest online at zambrero.com.au/franchise

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Queries over phone ban

PUBLIC schools in the Great Southern are yet to determine how to implement a state-mandated mobile phone ban announced last week.

The policy, set to come into effect during the first term of 2020, will apply to all phones and devices, including smart watches and tablets, not used for educational or special need purposes.

Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery told the Weekender it would be up to each school in the region to decide how to apply and enforce the requirement.

“Schools will use their existing disciplinary processes to apply the new policy,” she said.

“Most schools I have consulted with [that have already instituted a ban] have said when they first introduced the policy there was a spate of non-compliance.

“After a short time, kids learnt and breaches were quickly dealt with.”

Ms Ellery added that if confiscation of devices were an enforced punishment, the onus would be on schools to determine an appropriate storage approach or location for storage.

This could include student school bags, lockers or a secure classroom or administration office.

The Victorian government announced in June a similar plan to ban phones in public schools in 2020, while New South Wales barred the devices in primary schools at the start of this year.

Victoria also committed $12.4 million in August to deliver safe storage for students’ phones.

Ms Ellery did not say whether WA schools would receive additional funding, but noted they would be “well supported” in implementing the policy.

“The Department of Education has specialist staff that principals can call direct for advice on any changes they need to make to their current practices,” she said.

“A range of supports are available to schools such as template letters for communication with the school, P&Cs, school boards and councils.

“An online community has been set up to enable schools to share their resources and practical ideas.”

The Weekender contacted six public high schools throughout the Great Southern about their plans to implement the policy but most preferred not to comment.

North Albany Senior High School Principal Sharon Doohan said the school’s staff would work to determine how to apply the policy “over the next few weeks”.

“We will then provide further information to our school community,” she said.

Under the ban, students from kindergarten to Year 6 will not be permitted to have mobile phones in their possession at all during the school day.

Students from Years 7 to 12 must have their phones turned off and kept out of sight and will need to set their smart watches to airplane mode.

Premier Mark McGowan said the new policy would have multiple benefits for student learning.

He claimed it would reduce distractions in class, encourage socialising and combat cyber bullying by reducing “external issues being brought into a school via technology”.

“Some schools have already adopted this policy and the results have been very positive,” he said.

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‘Proper Japanese food’

A COUPLE who had a dream to see authentic Japanese food made and sold in Albany will see that dream come to fruition in less than a month, if all goes to plan.

Construction on Tony Wu and Kowin Huang’s Don Japanese Fusion will commence within the next two weeks in the old Al Taglio Woodfire Pizza building on Middleton Loop.

The pair are aiming to open the restaurant doors in early December and are excited to see everything come together.

“He has been cooking Japanese food for 10 years and he’s really passionate about it, so when we came to Albany, he worked around at all the restaurants but didn’t really find anywhere that sold proper Japanese food,” Ms Huang said of Mr Wu.

“This is his dream … for people to know what proper Japanese food is and combine creativity with culture, so people can see what else we can do beside the traditional foods.”

Don Japanese Fusion will trade 9am to 9pm Tuesday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm Sunday, and shut on Mondays.

Project Manager Rob Forgione from Concept Building Design said the shop fit-out was “quite unique” in its design.

“It’s very organic with a lot of timber … the interior reflects the culture,” he said.

“It will be casual dining style,” Ms Huang added.

“It will feel like home, very comfortable.”

Builder Trevor Craig from Envisage Building Solutions described the project as “one-of-a-kind”.

The Weekender will check in with Ms Huang and Mr Wu again when the restaurant is nearing completion.

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