Canyon mystery

It is as long as the Petronas Towers in Malaysia are tall, up to 10m wide and more than 1.5m deep in places – welcome to the Albany Canyon.

This natural phenomena was discovered on Monday morning following heavy showers at Millbrook by farmer Stephen ‘Snaggers’ Tuffley.

He said about 140ml of rain had fallen in less than two days but could not fathom the momentum and power of the water movement to shift earth as it had.

Snaggers has been farming for 64 years but had never seen anything like this in his time.

“It must have been a cloud burst that caused this,” he said.

“I could maybe understand if there was a clay base but also it is not a catchment area.

“But the raw power to cause this … it’s hard to comprehend.”

Snaggers previously farmed in Nyabing all of his life before moving to Albany, or “God’s country” as he calls it, three years ago.

He said he would be contacting earthmoving companies on how best to rectify the damage as he needs the land for rotation for pig huts that he leases to a local company.

His 1000-acre farm is otherwise sheep-based.

The canyon is deemed an act of God and thus not covered by insurance.

But the laconic Snaggers is taking it all in his stride, with jokes about SnaggerWorld opening up featuring a leisurely ride down the Albany Canyon.

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McGowan: more to be made in WA

AUSTRALIA’S over-reliance on Chinese imports came into sharp focus when supply chains were disrupted during the pandemic, and now the WA Government is looking at ways to reignite the local manufacturing sector.

For years manufacturing jobs were lost overseas as businesses struggled to compete with cheap overseas labour forces.

But after the supply scare and escalating trade tensions with China, government at both a State and Federal level are seemingly more focused than they have been about bringing manufacturing jobs back down under.

In the past couple of weeks, the WA Government has announced a raft of investments aimed at activating new industries, including a $13.2 million incentives program.

During his visit to Albany last week, Energy Minister Bill Johnston revealed the Government was also interested in manufacturing wind turbine components locally.

In a WA first, the Government will launch a feasibility study to look at supply opportunities for wind farms and how local industry can get involved.

“There is no doubt Western Australians are capable of manufacturing anything and this feasibility study will demonstrate the capacity of WA industry to be part of this important global supply chain,” Mr Johnston said.

“There have been people who say you can’t do manufacturing in WA, but we are showing people that you can.

“We announced further support for processing battery materials and we are looking at manufacturing in the new energy sector. It’s important Western Australians take advantage of these opportunities.”

Premier Mark McGowan said Australia has to reconsider its supply chains.

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything it’s that we need to manufacture more in WA,” he said.

“We need to be more self-sufficient and we need to have greater opportunities for our businesses and work- forces to get into manufacturing.

“We know supply chains are under threat. We want WA to be at the forefront of high-tech industries.”

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Shed scandal grows

CUSTOMERS across the Great Southern and the country fear they have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to an Albany businessman who failed to provide shed building services he was paid to deliver.

Nineteen complaints have been filed with Consumer Protection this week against Armand Javellana, owner of Aussie Sheds Albany, who is alleged to have accepted $226,000 for various orders for sheds but either did not complete the builds or did not commence the builds at all.

Mr Javellana has failed to respond to Consumer Protection officers who visited the now closed Chester Pass Road business this week.

Consumer Protection Commissioner Lanie Chopping said the number of people affected and the large amounts involved so far was concerning.

“At this stage it is vital that all consumers, who have either paid deposits or the full amount for sheds that have yet to be constructed, get in touch with us so we can determine the extent of the financial detriment involved,” she said.

Albany resident Audra Pearson ordered an American barn shed with a mezzanine from Mr Javellana back in January.

She planned to use it to open a zoo, expanding her Reptile Haven business.

In March, Aussie Sheds Albany workers delivered sand to her property and Mr Javellana requested Ms Pearson’s second payment of $12,500, totalling $25,000 into Mr Javellana’s pocket.

Ms Pearson said she paid but never heard from Mr Javellana again after four months.

“We were meant to catch up two weeks ago Friday to talk about our kit, because he hadn’t ordered the second part yet,” she said.

“He never showed and said he’d come tomorrow, he never showed. He said he’d come the next day and never showed again.

“I was getting pretty angry.”

Ms Pearson soon learned the doors of Aussie Sheds Albany had been closed.

“I was told the shed would be up by mid-March and he hadn’t even received council approval in March,” she said.

“He hadn’t even ordered the shed; I was told it would be here in July.

“I’m at the end of my tether.

McKail residents Kevin Allen and Leanne Howlett have also been left in the dark in a similar situation after paying more than $8,000 in upfront payments for a double garage.

The couple ordered the garage in January, had the sand pad laid in May with footings, form work, plastic and wire mesh installed, but nothing else since.

“We fully understand sometimes the weather does disrupt their work and they can have a few jobs on the go, but not knowing when our garage is to be erected was the frustrating part,” Ms Howlett said.

“No dates were given to us; our yard is a mess and it’s embarrassing.

“Why and how could he do this to everyone?”

Across the country in New South Wales, Simone Law and Brad Oliver have been left feeling “absolutely sick” after paying 50 per cent of their order, totalling just over $30,000, and receiving nothing.

Mr Javellana had begun some of the development application work with the couple’s local council after the order was placed in April and payment made in June.

Mr Javellana did not answer any of Mr Oliver’s calls for an update on the progress.

“Armand, I worked so hard to get this shed happening; you have wrecked my plans of my partner and our kids all being in one house,” Mr Oliver said.

“Please just pay us back all our deposits. You called me nearly every night wanting to discuss the shed and now nothing.

“You got your money and ran.”

The Weekender contacted Mr Javellana for comment.

Consumers who have paid money for a shed but have yet to have the work completed are urged to lodge an online complaint on the Consumer Protection website or contact the department by emailing consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or calling 1300 30 40 54.

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Albany’s wettest day in 143 years

ALBANY recorded its wettest August day in more than a century this week as the south coast was battered by an unusual winter weather event.

Albany received 81mm of rain on Monday alone, making it the wettest August day since 1877 according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

Within the past 20 years, the closest figure to this amount was in 2003 when 40.4mm of rain fell, and in 2011 when 37.6mm fell.

An unusual south-easterly swell peaked at just over 7m on Monday night with south-easterly wind gusts reaching 80km/h in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

King River broke its 16-year highest daily rainfall record, measuring 95mm of rain on Monday.

Denmark also broke a record, this one 124 years old with Monday now its highest August rainfall day with 49.6mm.

That night, power went out in Albany affecting 4,400 residents.

Areas with the most intense rainfall over the 24-hour period were Bremer Bay (122mm), Manypeaks (108.2mm) and Cheynes Beach (93.6mm).

A number of roads were impacted by flash flood- ing including Denmark- Mount Barker Road and Border-Bremer Bay Road.

Emergency Services received more than 44 calls for help from 11am on Monday, primarily to report flooding and roof damage.

A car was left stranded up to its windows in water on the corner of Havoc Road and Henry Street in Milpara, Middleton Beach’s Eyre Park lake overflowed, and Albany Saddlery’s Ulster Road equestrian facility in Collingwood Heights became a pond.

Gnowangerup farming sisters Danielle Smith and Chantelle Varley said their dried up dams soaked up a bit of the south coast’s storm front, recording 25mm of rain on Monday.

Ongerup recorded 23mm of rain and Jacup picked up approximately 20mm of rain.

Katanning recorded a top of 37.2mm at 9am on Monday and Walpole recorded 40.8mm on Tuesday morning.

But it wasn’t just the Great Southern dealing with chilly, wet weather. Perth shivered through its coldest day in 15 years on Monday and as such, set a winter peak electricity load of 3,665 megawatts at 6.20pm.

Western Power officials said the new record only just nudged past the 2016 record of 3,628 mega-watts.

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Aspiring filmmaker sets sights on final

BUDDING student filmmaker Josh Clark has reached the grand final of this year’s CinefestOZ Cinesnaps Short Film Competition.

The Year 11 Great Southern Grammar pupil drew inspiration from his passion for nature photography to craft his five-minute short film Suitcase Story.

Suitcases were the mandatory theme of the competition and Josh’s plot is based around the journey of a suitcase after it falls off a boat and washes ashore.

He filmed scenes at Whalers Cove and Ledge Beach with his Canon 1200D and GoPro as these locations provided colourful on-shore and underwater backdrops.

“It would mean a lot,” Josh said, when asked his opinion on winning. “I don’t have a lot of experience with videography so it would be good to see if people like my stuff.” Media teacher Katie Gunning said Josh was a star student and excelled at all tasks given to him in class.

“He is definitely one of our highest achieving Year 11s,” she said.

“There’s not much left to teach him in cinematography because he teaches himself a lot and he is very intuitive.

“We’re very proud of him.”

Josh is up against Bella Montgomery from Busselton Senior High, Poppy Treloar from Georgiana Molloy Anglican School, Timothy Coleman from Manea Senior College, James Kenworthy and Cooper Warrick from Cape Naturalist College, Julia Spencer, Olivia Teede, Ashton Thompson and Joe Van Nierop from Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School and Luka Coulson from Manea Senior College.

The screening of all films will occur at the grand final in Busselton on August 27.

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Chef in hot water over assault

A DENMARK head chef and business owner was served a wake-up call in court last week after appearing for a string of charges following an alcohol-fuelled rampage.

Grant Richardson, head chef and owner of Ajar on Shadforth, assaulted a woman and threatened to punch a female police officer while resisting arrest outside the Denmark Hotel on July 16.

Prosecuting Sergeant Dave Loverock told the court the incident occurred around 9.40pm, when Mr Richardson started throwing beer glasses onto the road and proceeded to engage in an altercation with another patron.

The 50-year-old woman had asked Mr Richardson to “calm down”, with the chef subsequently push- ing her with both hands, causing the woman to fall back and hit her head on a concrete step.

The woman received a laceration to her head and was taken to Denmark Health Service where the wound was glued shut.

After being locked out of the pub, Mr Richardson did more damage to the business by smashing a glass panel in an attempt to get back in.

Sgt Loverock told the court that when police found Mr Richardson, he began threatening officers and struggled while being loaded into a police vehicle.

Mr Richardson told the court that he was ready to accept the consequences of his actions.

“I accept that I’ve made really bad decisions on that day,” he said.

Mr Richardson offered an explanation for his behaviour, stating the pressures of starting a new business had triggered the frenzy, but Magistrate Raelene Johnston was not impressed.

“People can die when they get pushed like that,” she said.

As reported in The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Richardson had a previous run-in with the law in 2011 when he worked as head chef for an exclusive inner-Sydney bar while “allegedly [supplying] shopping bags full of ecstasy from his kitchen as part of a multimillion-dollar drug syndicate”.

Magistrate Johnston ordered a pre-sentence report, having the matter adjourned to September 3.

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Pre-kindy offered

ONGERUP Primary School is offering pre-kindergarten enrolments to engage parents and children looking to join the school next year.

A Pre-Kindy Open Afternoon was held last Tuesday and saw families visit the campus and listen to a variety of guest speakers from the school’s specialist support network.

Principal Mark Bruce said children turning four by June 30, 2021 were eligible to enrol in kindergarten next year and pre-kindy this year. Pre-kindy day sessions will be offered weekly during Term 4 over a four-week period.

“We had our last pre-kindy in 2017 and the year after, we had our biggest kindy intake,” he said.

“It went down as a really good event for the school and the town.”

Mr Bruce said pre-kindy had been offered previously at Ongerup Primary to try and boost the school’s population.

The school is the smallest in the Great Southern region this year with just 20 students.

“We have a lot of new mums and dads on the fringe between here and Jerramungup, so we encourage people to come and see what we are all about,” Mr Bruce said.

“It’s about getting parents enthusiastic and involved and helping with children’s school readiness.”

Unique features of Ongerup Primary pointed out by Mr Bruce include the whole school Japanese language program, end-of-year musicals and regular camp excursions.

People interested in joining the Term 4 pre-kindy days can contact Mr Bruce on 9828 2033.

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Gnowangerup ninja twins

SWINGING, leaping, jumping and dodging obstacles on TV was certainly not what Gnowangerup twins Chantelle Varley and Danielle Smith were expecting to do this year.

The pair made their way into season four of Australian Ninja Warrior, which began airing last month, and still find it surreal seeing themselves on screen.

As fourth generation farmers, being outdoors has always been the twins’ favourite place to be, and with that a passion for sports and fitness.

It was good friend Sam Goodall from Albany, who is also competing in this season of Australian Ninja Warrior, who encouraged the sisters to sign up for the obstacle competition.

“He said: ‘You guys should go for it, you are really active’,” Ms Smith said.

“And Dani forced me to apply!” Ms Varley laughed.

“I thought it would be cool,” Ms Smith smirked. The sisters were luckily able to attend the Perth tryouts after harvest was completed earlier than expected.

“I’d been doing sneaky training behind Chani’s back,” Ms Smith, the school chaplain for Tambellup and Katanning, said.

“Yeah, because I’d been stuck on a tractor for four weeks and done no training!” Ms Varley, who stayed on the family farm, said.

Once they learned in January that their application had been successful, their husbands got to work building a miniature ninja course for the sisters to train on.

They have a rock-climbing wall and bars in their tractor shed.

“We hit training pretty hard once we knew we got in,” Ms Smith said.

“We were training three times a week and at least once a week we’d train with Sam at his gym in Albany.”

“It was three months of hardcore training,” Ms Varley added.

With their acceptance into Australian Ninja Warrior a secret, the twins snuck off to Melbourne under the guise of a “family holiday” in March to film their episodes.

It took a bit of work to convince the Gnowangerup community that they were actually going to Melbourne for a holiday, as they are two very country people who are very anti-city.

Once they reached the course ground in Melbourne, Ms Varley and Ms Smith got on a bus at 4pm and returned to their hotel at 4am.

Their first time on the Australian Ninja Warrior track was exactly what viewers saw in the episode.

“Once you’re up there, you’re so in the moment and focused on the next step,” Ms Smith said.

Filming was conducted months before the show hit television and keeping it quiet was a funny secret to keep.

Ms Smith said it was pretty weird once students at her schools watched the show and realised she was front and centre.

“They’d be like, ‘we saw you!’, ‘you have a twin?’” she said.

“I was actually more nervous the day it was going to air than the day of actually doing it.”

Both sisters were proud the show put Gnowangerup on the national map and hoped to further promote farming and the work farmers do.

Ms Smith made it to the semi-final of Australian Ninja Warrior on Monday but did not go through to the grand final.

Ms Varley participated in Heat 2 but did not reach the next round.

Sam Goodall and brother-in-law Zed Colback from Mandurah have made it through to the grand final.

Stage 1 of the grand final will air this Sunday at 7pm on Nine and Stage 2, 3, and 4 will follow on Monday at 7.30pm

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Twins reunited

TWIN sisters have come together in Albany to celebrate their 70th birthdays together this week, after 52 years of celebrating solo.

Suzanne Randall and Dianne Buxton have lived in different parts of Australia since 1968, with Ms Randall taking up residence in Albany with her husband and Ms Buxton doing the same in Tasmania.

“We actually went to Tassie and my sister Dianne met her husband, she remained there, and I went back to Victoria,” Ms Randall said.

“She married Kent there, and I came over to Albany with three other girls and found my husband and married here, so that separated us for a long time.”

As the years moved on, the two sisters grew into their own lives which made it difficult to find time to visit each other.

“Our lives became very busy. I had a career in nursing and three babies, my sister had two babies and also had to care for her husband for many, many years and so just circumstances didn’t allow us to meet up again for our birthdays,” Ms Randall said.

The sisters saw one another a total of three times in the 52 years that went by, but when Ms Buxton’s husband passed away it was clear that Albany and the Randall home would welcome her with open arms.

Ms Randall said being able to celebrate her and her sister’s birthday together again after so much time spent apart has been a gift to both her and her children.

“What was really wonderful was that my daughters are now really getting to know their aunty,” she said.

“All of my family was in Victoria, so they’ve had small contact with the aunties but not a lot.

“For them it’s lovely having an aunt here and being part of an extended family.”

Ms Randall said despite the time that has passed, they’re still discovering how similar they truly are.

“We’re identical twins, and that’s one thing we’ve found is how much we are still alike,” she said.

“We’ve spent so many years apart and we’ve realised we still have the same likes and dislikes, and we even start talking together now like twins stereotypically do.

“We both love gardening and we’re both artists too, so we are just so alike and
it’s wonderful getting to know each other again and realising how much alike we are.”

Ms Buxton will now reside with the Randalls, with the twins looking forward to many more shared celebrations.

“This is her home now. We’ll be celebrating each birthday that we have, and hopefully we’ve got many more,” Ms Randall said.

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Black spots given green light

THREE mobile black spots in the Great Southern have been addressed with additional mobile base stations opened last week.

Telstra Area General Manager Boyd Brown said the new mobile base stations located at Narrikup West, Gnowangerup/Jerramungup and Mettler were among 218 mobile coverage black spots across regional WA benefitting from expanded 3G and 4G mobile coverage via the Federal Mobile Black Spot Program.

“The activation of these three new sites is making a huge difference to local communities, as well as providing coverage for motorists and tourists travelling on the nearby major roads such as Albany Highway near Narrikup and South Coast Highway near Mettler,” he said.

“Local residents can keep in contact with family and friends and agricultural businesses can now operate more effectively, whether it’s ordering stock on the phone or using a range of online services.”

Mr Brown said the new sites were equipped with a 4GX service which provides a faster mobile network with more consistent data speeds.

He said the new service would also enable mobile enhanced coverage for nearby areas.

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