New life for store

THE humble country store has its place in every rural story.

Often the gathering place for farming folk to learn the latest news and gossip while picking up their mail, newspapers and groceries, it remains an important aspect of the country landscape today.

Fairer and fewer they become with regional populations dwindling but one store that has taken a fresh stand against the tests of time is the Narrikup Country Store.

Yesteryear Narrikup resident Sam Jolly constructed the store in 1922 with stone plinth and footings, weatherboard walls painted a rich red colour, a corrugated iron roof and a brick paved floor.

A Shire of Plantagenet Municipal Heritage Inventory document from 1997 described the store as having “an important focus on the business area of the district” during a period when Narrikup was a key area for summer potato crop growing and later, the dairy and beef industries.

The store changed hands 12 times after it was opened in 1923, before it reached current owner Tony Poad.

Mr Poad purchased the business in March last year and after sinking approximately $250,000 into it, reopened the doors on November 23.

Celebrating four months since opening, he reflected on his progress.

Mr Poad said the place was “a mess” when he took over as it had been closed for eight years.

“Starting was very rough,” he said.

“It was so run down, the verandah was falling off and it had a leaky roof.

“So, I insulated it, put in a new kitchen, painted it inside and out, put in a new verandah, rewired it and put in a cool room.”

Mr Poad came across the store when he moved to the district from Wellstead 13 years ago when his children needed to attend high school.

He desired a change of pace from being a builder and decided to take on the challenge of being a shop owner.

Mr Poad recognised and appreciated the value of a country store in a place like Narrikup, where fewer than 500 people reside.

He also saw the effects that the shop’s closed doors had on the community.

“It was pretty sad,” Mr Poad said.

“When I came here, people didn’t know their neighbours.

“I want people to know each other.”

Fellow Narrikup resident Glenys Steel, who has called the district home for 50 years, agreed.

“That was the hub of Narrikup,” she said of the store.

“When it shut for eight years, we lost contact with everyone, and there was no paper or milk or hardware…we had a craft shop there and it had a liquor license…

“It’s great now that Tony has reopened it; it has such huge importance to the community.”

Mr Poad has plenty on the cards for his store.

“The community have been really supportive of me,” he said.

“We had a fish and chips Friday on our first day and 72 people came.

“The next Friday, we had 83.

“So now, we also have Sunday mornings with coffee and croissants.”

Mr Poad wants to start up a monthly car boot sale and quarterly community barbecues to reignite Narrikup as a buzzing and thriving town.

He is in the process of building a photographic timeline of the store’s history and encouraged members of the public to share their photos and information with him.

Mr Poad also wants to install public toilets to encourage tourists to make his shop, and his town, a stop in their travels.

“I have my days but I see the potential of this place,” he said.

“It will get busier the more people know we’re open again.

“I hope to get more tourists to stop here.”

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Cheesy grinners

DENMARK fromager Chris Vogel of Dellendale Creamery has made history after two of his cheeses were named the best cheese in Australia at the Australian Grand Dairy Awards.

For the first time in award’s history, a Western Australian took out the coveted prize with the Dellendale Torndirrup Appenzelle being named champion semi-hard cheese and the Torndirrup Native Herb named champion flavoured cheese.

Mr Vogel said it was “quite neat” winning the prizes and that it showed Dellendale Creamery was “going somewhere”.

The Torndirrup Native Herb had a special place in Mr Vogel’s heart as it was created as a tribute to the Albany and Denmark areas.

“When we were creating Native Herb we wanted to create a product that doesn’t piggy back off European products,” he said.

“Consumers travel a lot so we wanted to make something that could be associated with the area.”

Mr Vogel said Native Herb was a tribute to a cheese that is washed by a blend of 18 different herbs from the Swiss mountains that “only two blokes know the blend” of.

“We don’t list the ingredients in our Native Herb as the blend is our intellectual property,” he said.

“It’s as unique to Albany as the Gap is or the Porongurup’s are.

“We keep it close to our chest.”

The Torndirrup Appenzelle is described as a Swiss style hard cheese with a golden wash-rind that is matured on average for three months with rich, spicy aromas and a dense but smooth texture.

This weekend Dellendale Creamery will be judged for the annual Dairy Industry of Australia WA Dairy Product Awards that Mr Vogel said could qualify them for the 2020 national awards.

“We have entered our Peaceful Bay Gruyere, Somerset Hill Cheddar, Nullaki and Outback Brie,” he said.

“The Gruyere is aged for around 15 months which is a long time to invest and see a return.

“The flavour profile is really nice and can change depending on milk production and the season the cow is milked.”

Mr Vogel said the Nullaki cheese was a semi firm cheese washed with roasted wattle seed that changed the colour of the rind to a coffee or hot chocolate colour and gave the cheese an earthy taste.

The Outback Brie had an orange washed rind reminiscent of the outback.

“I’m hoping that the brie starts winning some things,” he said.

“It doesn’t have a full strength mould taste and has a lot less mould on the surface than a traditional mould cheese.”

Mr Vogel said he had received tremendous support from Great Southern cheese fans and said customers should try and look for the Buy West, Eat Best logo when shopping.

“I don’t think people really realise how the Buy West program supports local producers,” he said.

“Ninety nine per cent of my product is sourced from Western Australia and the one per cent I have to get elsewhere because it’s not made here.

“Buying a product with the Buy West local supports farmers in a way that has a trickle down effect.

“It supports the cheese maker, that supports the dairy farmer, that supports the grain distributor that supports the grain farmer. It really is a good thing.”

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Money where your milk is

YORK Street IGA and Spencer Park IGA proprietor Paul Lionetti is trying to make a difference for struggling dairy farmers in the region by proposing an optional price increase on the two litre Country Dairy milk by 70 cents.

Mr Lionetti announced last week that he would offer customers the opportunity to add a 70 cents surcharge to be donated to dairy farmers within a 100km radius of Albany.

York St IGA store manager Sharon Oreo said Mr Lionetti felt that farmers were not getting anything for their milk.

“Other supermarkets have been talking about their milk prices going up but what the majority of that price increase goes to we’re not sure,” she explained.

“With what Paul wants to do we’ll deal directly with the dairy.”

Ms Oreo said they would be offering customers the chance to support farmers in a way that would ensure farmers would received 100 per cent of the money promised.

“We’ll have a committee that oversees how the money is distributed that is formed by public members and not done in house,” she said.

“We understand that 70 cents can be a lot of money for people who can’t afford to pay $2.69 for their $1.99 milk, which is why we made it optional.”

North Road IGA owner Bob Cebula said his establishment had raised their milk prices by 10 cents per litre to “support WA dairy farmers”.

Ms Oreo said on average the York St grocery sold 2200 units of the full cream Country Dairy milk a week and 700 units of hilo.

“If all 2900 units are sold with the extra 70 cents there will be around $2000 a week going to farmers. It’s a lot of money,” she said.

“We’re still planning the details of how everything will run though.

“It’s still a fresh idea, it’s a new idea and we’re just getting the ball rolling with it all.”

Ms Oreo said if dairy farmers in the region were interested in participating in the optional price increase or if members of the public wanted to get involved to contact Paul Lionetti on 0418 945 420.

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Diving in to clean up

THE run to represent one of the largest electorates in the world has begun with Denmark resident Nelson Blake Gilmour stepping up as the Greens Party candidate for the Federal electorate of O’Connor.

There are two months to go before the federal election and Mr Gilmour has been door knocking and volunteering wherever he can to raise awareness of his first campaign.

Mr Gilmour has been involved with the Greens Party since 2016 during the last federal election volunteering in Launceston, Tasmania and then working in parliamentary services in New Zealand.

“Emersion in the Greens movement was just a starting point and I felt that a lot of work needed to be done,” he said.

“I’ve always had an interest in candidates and campaigns and I thought becoming the candidate for O’Connor could be a way I could help out.

“It’s not easy but it’s my contribution.”

Mr Gilmour graduated Murdoch University with a degree in Politics and International Studies and minored in Criminology and said he had always been politically minded, but this year was the first time he had put it to the test.

“O’Connor is historically very conservative with three very different zones with coast, wheatbelt and outback,” he said.

“My biggest hurdle are the wheatbelt and outback conservatives that view the Greens as the enemy of farming.

“We have a different way of doing things by being in harmony with the environment by promoting regenerative farming practices.”

Mr Gilmour said his biggest strength in the May election was being more relatable to people under 35 who were “inclined to view the Greens more favorably” but was also his biggest hurdle with O’Connor having an older age demographic.

Mr Gilmour said if he won the upcoming election it would be “one of the biggest swings in Australian history”.

“My first priority would be as the Greens slogan says to ‘clean up politics’ and for me that means getting corporate money out of government,” he said.

“Senator Jordan Steele-John always talks about how you can be in Canberra, you can see coal and lobbyists walking in and out of hallways buying policy influence.

“It needs to end. Corporate money should not have influence over public policy.”

Mr Gilmour said the biggest issue he wants to tackle is water security.

“Water is a sleeper issue that no one is talking about yet it’s on the front page of newspapers,” he said.

Seeing Borden waterless is shocking.

“It’s taken for granted that water comes out of the tap. The writing is on the wall and we’re running out of fresh drinking water.”

Mr Gilmour said the one thing he wanted to say to voters ahead of the election was that “we can do better”.

“If we know we can do better, then we should do better,” he said.

“We need to do what is in the best interest of all of us and the environment.”

Nelson Blake Gilmour and Western Australian Senator Jordon Steele-John will be at a public Greens meeting at the Albany PCYC on March 23 from 7pm to 8.30pm.

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Salmon season

‘TIS the season of the mighty salmon and basking in the glory of reeling one in, but fishers are reminded to keep safe when chasing them.

Popular spots in the Great Southern to drop a line include Cheynes Beach and Nanarup Beach, as well as Lowlands and Shelley Beach.

Albany fisherman Andrew Jarvis reminded others that rock fishing wasn’t the only way to hook a salmon.

“Salmon are the first big fish that casual fishers can catch reasonably easy,” he said.

“Australian salmon are stubborn, hard fighting fish that often make spectacular leaps and are great fun to catch.

“But I would like to make the point that you will catch as many salmon off the beach as you would off the rocks, and it is so much safer and more family friendly.”

Recreational fishing body Recfishwest reiterated Mr Jarvis’s safety message and acknowledged the tourism boost salmon season gives to WA.

“Salmon fishing supports a thriving local tourism fishery for many towns between Esperance and Perth,” a spokesperson said.

“Each season, the lure of catching a salmon attracts new participants to the sport, with an expectation to experience an exhilarating catch; especially in the last few seasons where a high abundance of salmon has provided great fishing.

“Recfishwest believes the pristine white sandy beaches of WA coast, combined with the splendid sports fishing qualities of this species, truly makes this the world’s best fishing on the  world’s best beaches.’’

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Drugs case on ice

FORMER Icebreakers facilitator Craig Golding was granted another four-week adjournment last week after a brief appearance in court related to his alleged methylamphetamine dealings.

Ice Breakers is a State Government funded program to help methylamphetamine addicts recover from their addictions and is run out of the Albany Police and Community Youth Centre.

Mr Golding did not appear when his name was called as the second item of the morning in the Albany Magistrates Court on Thursday related to a number of drug-related charges.

Last year, 15 charges of offering to sell methylamphetamine were laid after detectives allege they found illicit drugs and other items of interest in his Spencer Park home on December 6.

During Mr Golding’s last appearance before the court, Perth-based lawyer David Manera sought an adjournment in relation to Mr Golding’s desire to argue that police allegedly found a substance other than methylamphetamine.

Mr Manera appeared via teleconference and was informed by Magistrate Raelene Johnston that his client had not appeared.

Mr Manera proceeded to plead their case to adjourn until April despite Mr Golding’s absence.

“Mr Golding received a disclosure from the police that was a series of discs,” he explained.

“He wasn’t able to view the discs on his computer.

“We’re seeking an adjournment so Mr Golding can come to Perth and we can both go through them.”

Prosecuting Sergeant Alan Dean had no objections, and the matter was stood down temporarily until Mr Golding entered the courtroom.

Mr Golding entered Courtroom 3 more than 15 minutes later clutching a stack of discs stamped with the Western Australian Police shield, and wearing a black button down long sleeve shirt, jeans and red sneakers, was directed to take a seat and wait to be heard.

When Mr Golding made it to the stand he state to Magistrate Johnston that he “wasn’t late” but downstairs on the phone to his lawyer.

“Well, you were late for your name being called,” she replied.

Mr Golding hunched his shoulders slightly and responded.

“I apologise for that your Honour,” he said.

Mr Golding will appear in court on April 4.

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Return of the ring

WHEN Kalgan resident Donna Fisher’s late husband of 37 years’ ring slid off her finger while swimming at Middleton Beach on her birthday last month, she accepted it was gone for good.

She certainly didn’t think someone would find it eight days later – in the exact spot she dropped it despite changing tides and swell – within one hour of searching.

Ms Fisher told The Weekender she was still in disbelief about the whole situation.

“I told my daughter that all I wanted to do for my birthday was swim the length of the shark net at Middleton and have a picnic,” Ms Fisher, who turned 59 on February 24, said.

“I got in the water and it felt like someone ripped off my ring.

“I looked down in the water straight away for two hours with my family and surf lifesavers, but it was just gone.

“I came down every couple of days to see if it had washed up but never found it.”

Swimming at Middleton was something special for bronze medal-level swimmer Ms Fisher, providing relief from being in a wheelchair after breaking her back in a car accident in 1984 and recently having a knee replacement that “stuffed up”.

Her ring, which had never been loose before, held significant sentimental value to her – it was the only piece of jewellery her late husband, Steve, owned.

He passed away from emphysema three years ago aged 64.

“Swimming was part of my rehabilitation after my husband died,” Ms Fisher said.

“It got me out of the house and got rid of the energy.

“I was absolutely devastated to lose his ring.”

Enter Sean Boddie.

Friends of Ms Fisher had heard of Perth-based Mr Boddie and his ability to find jewellery and lost treasures with an underwater metal detector.

Ms Fisher called Mr Boddie four days after she lost her ring and he arrived in Albany four days after that.

Mr Boddie spent the time between receiving the phone call and driving to Albany researching the recent weather and determining a day with low swell – ideal for his work to be successful.

“Her location details were fairly accurate,” he said.

“I knew her ring wasn’t very deep and I did have knowledge of Middleton, so I was positive about finding the ring.

“I ended up finding it between the 17th and 18th buoy.”

Water conditions were ideal for Mr Boddie’s methodical searching on March 4.

“Typically in WA, the best conditions are in early morning,” he said.

“It was low tide and no swell, so I was at Middleton around 9am.”

Finding Ms Fisher’s ring added to Mr Boddie’s high success rate.

“Out of 36 times, I’ve found 35 of all or some of the missing item,” he said.

“Generally, people lose stuff at the beach 80 per cent of the time, and usually, it’s in the first few metres of water.

“There are very few things as close to people as rings, so they are the most rewarding to reunite with their owners.”

Ms Fisher was beyond thankful to Mr Boddie.

“I couldn’t believe it!” she said, reflecting on when she received the happy news.

“I felt complete disbelief and happiness.

“If anyone loses their jewellery, they should just get him [Mr Boddie].

“He’ll find it.”

Mr Boddie can be contacted via ringrescues.com.au.

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Compensation decision

THE City of Albany has said it will “honour its obligations” to the family of City volunteer firefighter John Fenwick who died in January 2016 during brigade activities, after the City went to the Supreme Court last week to clarify how much of Mr Fenwick’s compensation it was liable to pay.

On March 8, the City argued that of a $514,409.20 compensation figure, its insurer was liable to pay $40,854.33 and the State of WA was liable for $473,554.87.

The State disagreed, arguing the City’s insurer was liable for $339,664.37 and the State for $174,744.87.

The City submitted that “four points lead to a conclusion that the City’s insurer was not liable to pay compensation as a result of Mr Fenwick’s death”.

The points were “insurance under s 37(2) of the Bush Fires Act is required for injury only, and injury does not include death”; “‘death’ as provided for in s 37(6) of the Bush Fires Act is
a specified injury”; “the legislature has over a long time purposefully incorporated only certain clauses of schedule 1 of the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act (WCIMA)
into the required insurance policies, and has chosen specifically not to do so for clause 1 to 5, which deal with death benefits” and; “‘specified injury’ compensation has its own regime under the Bush Fires Act and that obviates the necessity to also incorporate parallel non-incorporated substantive provisions of clause 1 of schedule 1 of WCIMA”.

Mr Fenwick had served as a volunteer firefighter since 1986 and was the City’s Chief Bushfire Control Officer from 2008 to 2014.

When he died after suffering a stroke, Mr Fenwick was the Fire Control Officer for the Kalgan Volunteer Bushfire Brigade.

“To ensure that our bushfire volunteers, including the Fenwick family, receive the benefits as outlined in the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1998 and Bush Fires Act 1954, the City sought clarification from the Supreme Court about the interpretation and intent,” City CEO Andrew Sharpe told The Weekender.

“As this matter has only recently concluded, our insurers are currently considering the decision.

“We will honour our obligations to the Fenwick family.”

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the State’s argument.

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Carnegie wave contract dumped

MINISTER for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan has said the State Government “won’t apologise for supporting local renewable energy” despite terminating their contract with Carnegie Clean Energy on Tuesday to deliver the Albany Wave Energy program.

Minister MacTiernan announced this week that after examining the requested financial plan from Carnegie in February, it was found that “they will be unlikely to meet those obligations”
to invest $25.5 million into the project.

“Obviously we’re very disappointed. We do believe there is still a future for wave energy and the resource in the Southern Ocean around Albany remains one of the strongest energy sources in the world,” she said.

“Carnegie, in our judgment, can not take this project as we conceived it forward.”

In a statement published by Carnegie Clean Energy in November 2018, they said the Albany Wave Energy Project was “critical to future growth of [the] global ocean renewable energy sector”.

Following Minister MacTiernan’s announcement, politicians lined up to discredit the Minister and the State Government.

Member for Warren-Blackwood Terry Redman said the “big losers here are the people of Albany”.

“The Minister [MacTiernan] needs to be held accountable for this,” he said.

“In October last year she made the decision to give $2.6 million to Carnegie on the back of knowing there was a financial report that there was material uncertainty in this company.

“She should probably step down.”

Shadow Minister for Environment Steve Thomas said it was a “dud deal from day one”.

“The wheels just fell off the project,” he said.

“There will be lots of ramifications from this. Carnegie was never prepared to be in Albany.

“They were trying to buy votes in marginal regional electorates and the wave energy project was just another thought bubble.”

The $13.125 million allocated for the wave energy project was redirected to delivering radiotherapy services in Albany, news also announced on Tuesday.

Member for Albany Peter Watson said he thought the funding allocation to build a radiotherapy service in Albany was “a great outcome” but it was “unfortunate” that Carnegie didn’t “come through on what it promised”.

“We had a go and sometimes it doesn’t work. I’d prefer to have a go than not have a go,” he said.

Tempers rose during question time at State Parliament on Tuesday afternoon following the announcement with Mr Watson, acting as the Speaker, having to halt proceedings on a number of occasions due to members speaking out of turn.

Premier Mark McGowan said the State Government thought the wave energy program was a “good proposition” initially.

Mr Redman unsuccessfully moved to have the House condemn the McGowan Government on the “failed Albany wave energy project and for wasting $2.6 million of taxpayers funds that could have been better used to create jobs for the Albany community”.

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Cancer centre closer

STATE Government funding intended for a wave energy project in Albany has been reallocated to help pay for a radiotherapy oncology unit at Albany Health Campus.

State Health Minister Roger Cook visited Albany on Tuesday to make the $13.1 million announcement which he said he was “very pleased” to make.

“This is a great win for Albany,” he said.

“We can now move forward to develop this quickly as soon as the feasibility study is complete, which we expect to be finished by May.”

A campaign to obtain a radiotherapy machine for Albany began more than two years ago with Denmark resident Mary Williams at the helm (‘Cancer machine resolve’, October 19, 2017).

The Albany Radiation Machine Project attracted the support of Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson last year who, in September, wrangled $6.6 million in Federal funding to support the cause (‘Cancer funding coup’, September 13).

Mr Wilson said Albany could see a facility as soon as June 2019.

One month later, Mr Cook said “more consideration” needed to be given to the project before he could make any promises of State support, (‘Feds push State to back cancer care’, October 4).

He later announced a feasibility study would be conducted and estimated it would be completed by May.

Last month, Ms Williams presented Premier Mark McGowan with a petition when he was in Albany containing more than 2000 signatures to show the community’s support of the project, (‘Bunker feasibility study on track’, February 14).

Ms Williams was then asked to meet with Mr Cook.

“He reassured me he’d spoken to Hunt [Federal Health Minister] about an extension on the $6.6 million,” she told The Weekender in February.

“Over my dead body will they take that money away.”

Ms Williams was grinning from ear-to-ear as she stood beside Mr Cook and Member for Albany Peter Watson during the $13.1 million announcement on Tuesday.

“I am absolutely overwhelmed and elated,” she said.

“My heart is truly singing and I cannot wait to get to the people in the pockets of the Great Southern and give them this most incredible news.”

Mr Cook thanked Ms Williams for her efforts as well as Mr Watson for his “continuous lobbying”.

“Nothing will stop us in terms of our determination to see radiotherapy oncology services delivered here in Albany,” he said.

“It’s a fairly complex project but we know we can overcome the obstacles to get this unit developed.

“We know some funds have been secured by the Commonwealth at this stage, so obviously that has a bearing on it, but we simply need to know the full dimensions of this project.”

Mr Wilson told The Weekender he was thankful the State had “come to the party” and commended Ms Williams on her efforts.

“My next campaign will be to have it called the Mary Williams Oncology Unit, as a great testament to her hard work,” he said.

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