Truffle treasure trove

THE excitement in the air from their first truffle harvest was almost as pungent as the earthy aroma wafting from the collection of little black delicacies for Alan and Karen Bradshaw.

After waiting patiently for seven years for the black truffles to emerge since planting their first oak trees, the couple and their three young boys were all smiles following the discovery of a healthy little crop last Saturday.

Although far from a full-production crop, the 1.3kg harvest signalled that the long wait for signs of healthy truffles had been worth it for the Bradshaw’s.

The crop was headed straight for high-end restaurants, where it will be used sparingly for the sublime flavour that it offers. With demand outstripping supply, the market pays roughly a dollar per gram for high- quality truffles.

Following their recent crop, and with the excitement of more to come, the Bradshaw’s said they handled the nervous wait since the initial planting differently.

“I was always more positive about it, while Alan was a little less optimistic,” Karen said.

With the hard work of establishing one of the few truffieres on the South Coast done, Alan said the reality of finally finding truffles was taking a while to sink in.

“It’s a fantastic feeling. We can hardly believe it.” he said.

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Prevent fish extinctions

CITIZEN scientists, anglers, professional fishermen and fish lovers are invited to hear five experts present their latest research findings this Sunday at Albany Entertainment Centre.

Organiser Dr Emily Fisher said the public forum was part of a three-day conference held every year to share the knowledge needed to help wild fish survive for future generations.

“With the public forum, there’s a way for us to try and involve a few of the local Albany people to come and see what the conference has been about,” Dr Fisher said.

“Five presentations will be followed by a panel discussion and questions from the audience, so that’s an opportunity to come along and find out about fish science.”

Dr Fisher said all of the presenters were leading research scientists in their field.

Dr Thomas Wernberg is a marine ecologist from the University of Western Australia who researches Great Southern reefs.

He will be speaking about fish communities and how climate change affects the reefs.

Dr David Morgan is a freshwater fish scientist from Murdoch University and will give a presentation on freshwater fishes of WA.

“He does a bit of work down in the Albany region looking at some of the native freshwater fish species,” Dr Fisher said.

“He’ll be talking about some of the native fish species, like the endangered little pygmy perch, and some of the threats to them because of the changes to the water-ways.”

The University of Tasmania’s Dr Malcolm Haddon will discuss recent advances in fish stock assessment and management, and Prof Morgan Pratchett from James Cook University in Townsville will be presenting on tropical reef fish biology.

University of Tasmania research fellow Emily Ogier will present on social and economic dimensions of fishing.

Dr Fisher said the Australian Society for Fish Biology was an annual event held in a different part of Australia each time and they were expecting 170 participants from all over Australia.

“It’s an opportunity for scientists, managers and post-graduate students. It presents them with opportunities for networking and learning,” she said.

“We get academics who work in universities, we get people from governments in more applied roles where they use science to make decisions.

“We have three days where we all get together and see what else is being done in the country and share experiences.”

Dr Fisher said conferences like these were vital to prevent fish stocks from becoming extinct in the future.

“You live close to both the marine and freshwater environments, and if we don’t look after them you will lose some of those resources,” she said.

The public forum will be held at Albany Entertainment Centre this Sunday evening from 6 to 8pm.

It is a free event, but registrations are requested on the website www.asfbconference.org or rh@asnevents.net.au

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Buy-local gains traction

A CAMPAIGN urging shoppers and businesses to buy local has stepped up, with two Albany business owners gaining traction with their message.

Best Office System’s Phil Shilcock and Synergy Graphic’s Nicola Edwards joined forces to launch the Buy Albany, Buy Local Facebook page last week and have already had a positive response.

Mr Shilcock said his push to encourage people to buy local began two years ago in conjunction with the Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with the distribution of posters through their newsletter.

Having since stepped down as a board member with the chamber, he still felt passionate about doing what he could to improve the local economy.

“It’s great that the chamber promotes the message and that our local member drives around with the ‘Buy Local’ number plates, but local businesses need to step up and get involved,” Mr Shilcock said.

He welcomed the state government’s announcement of the appointment of local content officers to promote regional small business, but said he would wait to see the results before passing judgement.

“There are a lot of government departments down here that exist only to serve the local community and they are funded by our tax dollars,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the majority of them now follow a centralised procurement model. We have had lots of promises from both sides of politics over the years to sort it out, but my experience is it’s get- ting worse.”

Ms Edwards said she was also driven to promote the buy-local message for the benefit of the entire community by providing information, resources and offers in conjunction with local businesses in a fun and engaging way through their Facebook page.

She said the pair were simply volunteering their time to a cause they felt strongly about as business owners.

“We are apolitical and not funded by any organisations,” she said.

“We are independent, concerned business owners and Albany residents just volunteering our time.”

Ms Edwards encouraged residents to support their Facebook page to help get the message out there.

“If you are a locally owned and operated business in Albany, and are interested in showing your support, please like the page and send us a message so BABL can support and promote your business,” she said.

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Cameron’s whiskey a go go

The accolades continue to pour in for Great Southern Distilling Company as they were crowned Telstra Western Australian Business of the Year on the weekend.

Director and distiller Cameron Syme said the award was a surprise, but an amazing achievement.

“All our staff went to the award with the hope of winning,” he said.

“We were so surprised to come away with the big one. 2017 is shaping up to be a great year for us.”

Home to Limeburners Whiskey in Albany and Giniversity Gin in Margaret River, Great Southern Distilling Company continues to impress on the world stage with their range of whiskies, gins, vodkas and other liqueurs.

In the last few months, they have been reaping the rewards of their internationally recognised whiskey, winning more than 20 awards including best craft whiskey in the world at the American Distilling Institute’s annual spirits awards.

Not only recognized as a Champion Australian Distillery, GSDC has been ranked in the top two per cent of world whiskies by the world leading whiskey critic, Jim Murray.

With the impending opening of the company’s newest distillery in the Porongurup, Mr Syme said he was excited to have the opportunity to cater to more international whiskey drinkers.

“So far, we’re producing around 10,000 cases of whiskey a year at our Albany distillery,” he said.

“We’re expecting to produce around 130,000 cases of whiskey a year from our Porongurup distillery when it opens.”

Mr Syme’s hope is to have Western Australia, and Albany in particular, become internationally recognised as a place to go for good quality whiskies and liqueurs.

Great Southern Distilling Company are well on their way to achieving that goal, with more than 400 liquor outlets and bars in Australia supplying their products, and international markets in the UK, USA, Singapore and China all demanding a taste.

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For hunters and gatherers

FOR someone who has forged international demand for his work, David Brodziak is particularly humble about his sustained success as a knife maker.

The small sign hanging on the picket fence out the front of his Albany home is more of a request to knock before entering, rather than a glaring advertisement for his business.

For 28 years, Brodziak has been honing the craft of making custom knives from his small workshop here.

His list of clients includes Hollywood A-listers and sheiks at the top end, and at the tail end, it’s ordinary people who simply appreciate the beauty and utility of a good knife, whether it’s for hunting or collecting.

Brodziak’s background in art, wood work and metal work was the catalyst in discovering knife- making.

“It’s something that I could apply all my skills to, and it became a passion very quickly,” he said.

“It still is a passion. I still love doing it.”

The enthusiasm is evident as David and his wife Gail showcase about 30 knives that have been prepared for the upcoming WA Wood Show in Perth in a few weeks’ time.

Each knife is completely unique, some featuring highly figured wooden handles with Damascus steel blades, while others feature 12,000 year-old mammoth ivory that has been pulled from Siberian ice- melts.

A few of the knives feature the hand-painted artwork of Carol-Ann O’Connor, who has been collaborating with Brodziak for about 17 years.

O’Connor embellishes the handles of the knives and uses a combination of tiny paint brushes and pencils to create stunningly detailed images, adding a new dimension to the customised nature of Brodziak’s knives.

“Carol-Ann is an amazing artist and a good person to work with as well,” Brodziak said.

“It’s got to the stage where I can give her the knife and let her do what she wants with the artwork, and I’m always happy with it.”

The attention to detail and the drive to create new and unique designs has seen the demand for Brodziak’s knives reach a point where he must politely ask people to wait.

He currently has six months of orders ahead of him and it looks like growing, with several high-end restaurants chasing full sets of high-end knives to go with their high-end steaks.

Brodziak pin-points the finish on his knives as one of his big selling points, but there is no trade-secret to how he can produce a knife that is both worthy of display as an art piece, or equally at home in the second-drawer.

“I don’t teach people knife-making, but I’m happy to have them in my workshop and they can watch and ask questions,” he said.

“I show them the way I get the finish on my knives. They’ll try and do what I’m doing, then they’ll end up going back to the way they were doing it before.

“There’s no secret. I use nine grades of wet-and-dry on a blade, and you get to the point where your fingers are cramping up. It’s just a lot of hard work.”

It’s putting the knife together after its components have been prepared that brings the greatest satisfaction to Brodziak.

“When you put the knife together, that’s when it forms a piece of art that you know someone is really going to enjoy,” he said.

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The simple things in life

WHEN you celebrate the magic milestone of reaching your 100th birthday, it’s probably fair to expect that you can eat what you like for lunch, and so it was for Dorothy Smith who was surrounded by the love and adoration of her family on the special day last Thursday.

While a birthday card from the Queen took pride of place amongst those from family and friends, it was a simple serve of fish and chips that had really been worth the wait.

Mrs Smith’s granddaughter Rebecca Jefferis made it her mission to ensure her grandmother got just what she wanted on her birthday.

“She is on a soft food diet at the moment, but I said to her nurses that I didn’t care what forms I had to sign, I would make sure she had real fish and chips for her birthday,” Ms Jefferis said.
MRS Smith was born in 1917 in England and lived in Bradford.

Her Yorkshire accent is still as strong as ever.

“I have so many happy memories,” Mrs Smith said, when asked of her favourite.

Mrs Smith retired in 1977 and came to Australia, choosing Scarborough as her new home.

She later returned to England, but upon the loss of her beloved husband, moved back to Australia permanently in 1993 by herself.

Mrs Smith has created a beautiful legacy with one son, six grandchildren and eleven grandchildren, all who created a week-long birthday celebration. “She’s a character, but she has never done anything wrong.” son Barry Smith said.

When her family asked about the most important thing in life, Mrs Smith said it was to be kind.

With Mrs Smith’s favourite carnations on the table amongst birthday cards and gifts, the Smith family spent the afternoon reminiscing about farm cottage adventures in Burnley where the chil- dren searched for birds’ eggs, and that time the cows ate Mrs Smith’s peas, and of course her beloved fish and chips.

“It was her favourite. We would sometimes have it three times a week,” her son Barry said.

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Cheap flights remain for early birds

GREAT Southern residents will be able to take advantage of the $129 Albany to Perth community airfare for another three years following an agreement between Regional Express (Rex) and the City of Albany.

The community fare is available for bookings made at least 60 days prior to departure subject to availability, in addition to all unsold seats within 24 hours prior to departure.

The announcement comes after a parliamentary enquiry into regional airfares started last month.

The Economics and Industry standing committee is receiving public submissions on WA country airfares until Friday, July 28 and is due to report to the WA parliament on November 28.

Albany Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) chair Caroline Hayes said the chamber strongly supported the move.

“This fare connects our region, businesses, tourists and community with Perth and is instrumental for so many travellers,” she said.

“Our understanding is that over 8000 travellers have taken advantage of this fare since its implementation, not only proving its popularity but that it is a necessity for our region.”

Rex general manager Warrick Lodge said the airline had sold 16,000 community fares in the first full year of the scheme’s trial.

“This accounts for 15 per cent of the total passenger numbers travelling on the Albany and Esperance to Perth routes,” he said.

“It represents cost savings of more than $1,264,000 per year for the two communities based on the prevailing average fares.”

Mr Lodge said this was the first time Rex or any other regional airline had undertaken an initiative to make regional air travel more affordable.

“When the state government awarded Rex the rights to operate the Albany and Esperance to Perth routes, commencing from February 2016, we said that we would do something special for the community,” he said.

“We are glad that we have been able to keep our promise and we hope to be able to do more in the years ahead.”

A Department of Transport spokesman said Rex provided 23 regulated regular public transport air services per week on the Perth-Albany route and 18 on the Perth-Esperance route.

This is under a five year agreement with the WA Government managed by the Department of Transport.

“The Labor Government is currently conducting a parliamentary inquiry into regional airfares. The Department of Transport looks forward to other innovative approaches to regional airfares in the future,” he said.

The Rex Community Fare will continue to be available until 30 June 2020.

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Jack and Pat hit straps for fun run

ALBANY’S Pat McSweeney and his son Jack are putting in the hard yards preparing for this year’s Chevron City to Surf on Sunday, July 23.

Twenty-six year-old Jack, who has Down Syndrome, secured the fun run’s hall-of-fame status last year by completing events throughout the state.

He is hoping to achieve the feat again this year with the help of his family.

He said he was proud to be part of the Chevron City to Surf for Activ series, and to support Activ as a way of giving back to an organisation that has provided assistance to him and his family.

Pat said that the best part of the event was engaging with other families throughout the state.

“Everyone we met was amazed by Jack,” he said.

“It’s been fantastic for him to make these connections with others and to help raise funds for Activ.”

Registrations are now open for the Albany event at Middleton Beach, which offers 4km and 12km running and walking categories, as well as a 4km wheelchair event.

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The road less travelled

IS your child constantly in trouble? Do they not do what they are told? Do their school reports say “if only they worked harder”?

Well, maybe they’re a future Nobel Prize winner.

Professor Barry Marshall gave an entertaining and interesting talk at the Albany Town Hall last Tuesday night on “The path to the Nobel Prize”.

He described his early life – growing up in Carnarvon, Kalgoorlie and Scarborough – with his mum working as a nurse and his dad as a diesel engineer, and explained how his school reports said “he didn’t pay attention in class” and “if only he’d work harder”.

He described enjoying the practical side of science – for his year 12 science project he built a refrigerator – and being fascinated by pretty much every part of medicine.

As part of his medical degree he was required to do a science project, and this was where he met Dr Robin Warren.

At the time, hundreds of thousands of Australians suffered from stomach ulcers.

They caused pain, indigestion and sometimes bleeding.

Doctors could diagnose them by endoscopy, which is putting a camera on a tube down your throat but they couldn’t really do much else.

They ended up saying ulcers were caused by stress, or alcohol, or spicy food, and gave treatments that maybe dulled the pain, but that was about all they could do.

Meanwhile, Barry Marshall and Dr Warren were looking at samples of stuff they’d got from people’s stomachs during endoscopies.

They saw there were bacteria (called Helicobacter) living in the stomach.

This was meant to be “pretty much impossible”, Marshall explained.

Your stomach is incredibly acidic and everyone knew that nothing could survive that acid.

When people saw what looked like bacteria in the stomach, they had said it was something else, or explained it away as contaminants, or ignored it completely.

But Dr Marshall and Dr Warren thought it might be important.

They looked at the medical records of people who’d come in for endoscopies and found that close to one

hundred percent of the people who had stomach ulcers had Helicobacter infection. What if you could cure them? There were different types of Helicobacter, and the type they were interested in only grew in people, so animal testing was out.

So Barry Marshall did what seemed obvious to him – and probably completely crazy to everyone else. He had an endoscopy done on himself, to show he didn’t have ulcers (or Helicobacter).

Then he deliberately infected himself by drinking a solution of Helicobacter.

He became sick almost immediately with stomach pain, and bad breath and felt miserable.

His wife – who was previously unaware – found out what he did and was horrified.

But an endoscopy the next week revealed that he had symptoms caused by Helicobacter – and when he treated himself with antibiotics, he was cured.

There was a lot of resistance to Marshall and Warren’s work.

The idea that two doctors in Perth whom no-one had heard of could discover something the big universities in Sydney and Melbourne had missed was inconceivable.

But eventually specialists, almost against their will, were convinced.

The impact of this was almost unbelievable.

Being affected by ulcers previously meant a life-time of pain and worry, and thousands of dollars of medication a year, and the very real risk of sudden and horrible death.

Stomach ulcers killed popes and presidents.

Surgery was dangerous, and the medication had side effects.

But what Marshall and Warren had was a cure. A week of specially selected antibiotics and the problem went away.

The Nobel Prize is the highest honour that medicine can award. There have been only about two hundred given out in more than a century, for things like the discovery of insulin, or fundamental discoveries about immunity or neurotransmission.

Marshall and Warren’s work was not only fundamentally strong, it was courageous, against the odds, and made an incalculable difference to hundreds of millions of lives.

There are people reading this article who are alive because Marshall and Warren didn’t do what they were told.

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Donations for less fortunate

DESPITE having their backs to the wall, a group of Albany potato farmers have still found the generosity to help those who are less fortunate.

With an oversupply of potatoes due to a crippled interstate market, Trevor Barker, Colin Ayres and Laurie Eldridge didn’t have to think twice about donating crates of perfectly good spuds to the Albany branch of Foodbank.

While the small truck- load of potatoes barely puts a dent in the mountain of product the farmers are left carrying, Foodbank Albany branch manager Rod Pfeiffer said even a handful of potatoes could make a big difference to a hungry family.

The potato-growing industry has been hit hard by trade restrictions imposed by the Eastern States due to the threat of the tomato potato psyllid (TPP).
The exotic pest has been detected by both commercial and domestic growers in the Perth metropolitan area but is yet to be detected in the Great Southern, despite widespread testing by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (formerly Department of Food and Agriculture).

Although the pest affects productivity in other fruit and vegetable crops, the specific threat for potato growers lies in the associated bacteria that TPP is known to carry, which causes zebra chip, which renders the vegetable inedible.

Mr Pfeiffer said the donation from the potato growers exemplified the acts of generosity that Foodbank received from the community.

They ill now be able to purchase a much-needed fruit and vegetable fridge, thanks to the generosity of Skal International Albany, with a cheque for $2000 being presented by president John Wood- bury and treasurer Lesley Briscoe.

Skal is a professional organisation of international tourism leaders, and raises money to support worthy overseas and local causes.

Each month Skal Albany also donates non-perishable food to Foodbank to help vulnerable families who are struggling to put food on the table.

Mr Pfieffer said the generous donation would make a huge difference to Foodbank and enable him to display fresh produce properly. “We originally planned to buy a second- hand unit, but we are now in a position to buy a new three metre display unit which will keep produce fresher for longer and cuts down on our running costs,” he said.

In presenting the cheque, Mr Woodbury said it was important to ensure ongoing awareness for Foodbank and encourage people to sup- port those in need.

He also commended the generosity and assistance provided to Foodbank from local businesses and tradesmen, which further demonstrated the value of networking within the community.

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