Market’s future assured

THE ominous fate of Albany’s Scots Church Craft Market has been rectified with a local organisation putting its hand up to operate the kitchen during market days.

As Weekender readers may recall, Market Liaison Edith Verran put a call out to the public in a bid to find a charitable organisation to supply food during the monthly market (‘Market hanging on’, October 3).

Ms Verran said the food side of the things was one of the major drawcards of the market and without it, the 30-year-old market would close.

It previously took Ms Verran several months to secure a charitable organisation able to operate the kitchen earlier this year, but since the kitchen closed and reopened after renovations a couple of months ago, she has had no further luck in securing a group.
She said just two days after the Weekender article on the market was published, she had two groups express their interest.

“We got a lot of comment back from the article,” Ms Verran said.

“It shows the power of public speaking!

“I think your Weekender is pretty good – it gets around to a lot of places.”

Some of the readers of that article were Helen Ralph and her daughter Tracy Sleeman, the manager of Albany & Regional Volunteer Service.

Ms Sleeman has been part of a project trying to operate a mobile food patrol service in Albany to provide food relief for those in need.

Ms Sleeman thought the Scots Church Craft Market kitchen would be the perfect way to fund this service – the money people pay for food at the market would go directly to funding and maintaining a trailer with a mobile barbecue facility that would drive the mobile food service.

“We thought it would be a nice match,” she said.

“Homelessness is quite prevalent here so we’re hoping to run a four-week trial of the food trailer before Christmas.”

Ms Sleeman, alongside Foodbank, Red Cross Albany and Pivot Support Services, is currently considering a plan to operate the mobile food service two mornings per week near the Old Gaol in town and near the Albany Depression Support Network building on Mokare Road.

This would operate as a ‘breakfast in the park’, potentially from 7am to 8am, providing bacon and egg rolls to those in need.

The next Scots Church Craft Market will be held on October 31 and November 1 from 9am to 3pm, with the kitchen in full swing from 10am to 2pm.

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Chess team look to take crown

MOUNT Barker Community College’s best young chess whizzes will be hopping over east later this year, lured by a chance to claim the crown for Australia’s top interschool chess team.

The Mount Barker Bishops qualified to compete at December’s National Interschool Chess Championships in Melbourne when they scooped up the Bronze medal at the recent state comps in Perth.

MBCC Chess Teacher Doug Klaffer said the team, which is comprised of 10 students between nine and 12-years-old, had been “rapt” to learn the news.

“I had one mum come in to school to let me know the result about one minute after it came onto the website,” he said.

“[Another person] rang me from the venue a couple of minutes after that.”

This year marks the first time the team has been selected to play nationally since the Bishops originally reached “club size” and started competing in the Albany District School Championship in 2010.

Mr Klaffer said the group was preparing for their debut by practicing every Wednesday during Chess Club at recess and lunch and for an hour on Thursdays after school.

“During our recess and lunch time games, we rarely get to play through a good end game, so we need to practice some of those strategies,” he said.

“Good chess players learn from their mistakes.”

Mr Klaffer added there were overall benefits associated with playing chess and said the game promoted logic, critical thinking and concentration.

“Skills developed playing chess improve connections in the brain and can cross over and help with curriculum areas, such as maths and coding,” he said.

He thanked this year’s parent group and school chaplain Paul Ritchie who have worked to secure fundraising for the trip.

The Championships, running for their 15th year, will take place from December 1 to 3 at Melbourne University.

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Hackers a cut above

IT WAS an app made in the span of just two days that snagged a Great Southern Grammar team top prizes at last week’s Govhack WA awards.

The GSG Govhackers were presented three accolades at the award ceremony live-streamed from Perth, including for Most Creative Use of WA Data.

The tech-minded troupe created their winning InstaPlace web app during the annual Govhack Albany event at the Public Library in September.

There they were tasked alongside six other teams and more than 30 people with using open government data to come up with creative solutions for local issues over a single weekend.

Year 10 student Kelvin Hands said the team’s creation focused on developing “a sense of place” for the region’s young people.

“The whole idea of InstaPlace was that a teenager like me or a tourist could go on there, look up places to visit and look at reviews and that sort of stuff,” he said.

“The goal was to engage local youth by having them produce media and videos [to be displayed on the app] which would give them something to do and get them moving around our city.”

Kelvin worked with Year 10 student Ben Terry, Year 7 students Owen Baxter-Holland and Joe Hawke and GSG staff members Kieran Bailey, Matt Beamish and Elinor Couper on the app.

They utilised open street map data, animal and government service databases and even information from the Heritage Council of WA to bring their design to life.

Mr Bailey, heading the school’s IT department, said the hackathon was a great opportunity for the students.

“From a teacher’s point of view, it really ticked off a lot of those STEM learning areas,” he said.

“We were able to extend ourselves and it was fantastic. We’re hoping for bigger and better things next year.”

The GSG Govhackers said they were eager to continue work on the app and were considering adding a bike-sharing function for youth without driver’s licences.

Govhack Albany has been coordinated for the past three years by Creative Albany.

The organisation’s Leon Delpech said the event provided a chance for people of all ages and from various disciplines to network and work together.

“It’s great to see these young people talking to each other, discussing stuff and hacking something like that together,” he said.

“It’s the reason we run it, to give people that don’t have the chances or access or abilities to do projects like this.”

He encouraged interested schools or groups to consider taking part in 2020.

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Old Farm gets new look

THE construction of a new building intertwining colonial and Indigenous heritage at Albany’s historic Strawberry Hill will begin at the end of this year ahead of the city’s bicentenary in 2026.

Denmark-based PTX Architects’ David Gibson and Melanie Hoessle were given the task of designing a Visitor Orientation Hub to improve visitor experience at Strawberry Hill.

The building will be placed adjacent to the existing Workers Quarters and provide a central location for visitors to purchase their entry tickets and commence guided tours from, as well as provide a space for volunteers to coordinate the historic facility from.

Construction is set to be completed by the spring of 2020.

Mr Gibson said the inspiration for the building’s design was the European wardian case – a type of terrarium invented in the 1800s – and the traditional Indigenous mia-mia dwelling.

“There are many historic aspects of this site, both colonial and Aboriginal, so this building will bring those two histories together,” he said.

“It will also take the heavy lifting off the heritage buildings and be a visible entry to where visitors’ journey will begin at Strawberry Hill.”

Ms Hoessle said there had been strong consultation with both Strawberry Hill volunteers and traditional owners to confirm there was support for the new facility.

She said there were many factors she and Mr Gibson took into consideration when designing the Visitor Orientation Hub.

“The way we’ve bridged the two cultures is deliberate, so you can’t tell where one culture ends and the other begins,” Ms Hoessle said.

“We were very conscious of the weight of the heritage and fabric of this place, so we didn’t want the new building to overpower what’s already here; we wanted it to have equal standing to honour what’s here.”

Mr Gibson and Ms Hoessle crafted the building’s design to reflect and acknowledge an Indigenous travelling route that winds through the Strawberry Hill property.

The multitude of glass windows also gives visitors the opportunity to view Mount Clarence and the property’s surrounding lake and gardens.

Volunteer coordinator Judy Williams said the Visitor Orientation Hub would be a massive step-up for volunteers and visitors at Strawberry Hill.

“It expands our possibilities,” she said.

“We often have weddings and functions here, so if it rains, there’s a place people can move into – it will be able to fit about 100 people.

“It will also be a very flexible interior with moveable desks, so people can have meetings and lectures and functions here.”

Currently, Ms Williams and other volunteers coordinate the facility and process visitor tickets in a small room within the two-storey stone house.

Ms Williams hopes that by lessening foot traffic through this area, it will help preserve the historic building for longer, as well as give visitors more room to stand when conversing with volunteers.

Strawberry Hill was built in the 1830s and housed Sir Richard and Lady Anne Spencer and later, Frances and Maud Bird.

Sir Spencer was appointed Government Resident of Albany on the recommendation of Sir James Stirling, the first governor of WA, in 1833.

Sir Spencer purchased Strawberry Hill where he resided with his wife and 10 children.

After Lady Spencer died in 1855, Frances and Maud Bird purchased the property in 1889 and restored it.

It came under National Trust control in 1964.

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Surf reef nears

AN ARTIFICIAL surf reef at Middleton Beach is one step closer to reality after the City of Albany launched a tender process to design the project last week.

The hunt for a Coastal Engineering Team to coordinate the design comes months after the WA Environment Protection Authority ruled the reef was unlikely to have significant environmental impacts.

City Chief Executive Officer Andrew Sharpe said the project would deliver numerous benefits for the township.

“A surf reef at Middleton Beach would deliver economic, social, health, and ecological benefits by creating an attraction that brings visitors to Albany,” he said.

“[It] can support a whole range of community and high profile events, contributes to our city’s liveability, helps retain our younger generation, creates jobs during and after construction, and provides a habitat for marine flora and fauna.”

Plans for a manmade reef catering to beginner and intermediate surfers at the popular beach have been on the table for at least two decades.

A community survey in February 2015 attracted more respondents than ever before and found 90 per cent of residents supported the creation of a reef.

Mr Sharpe said he expected the design process to be completed by May 2020 and construction to begin within the next two years if the roughly $9 million project can be fully funded.

“At the last election, the State Government committed $5 million towards the project and as of June this year had assigned a portion of this amount to the City to fund the detailed design process,” he said.

“Once detailed design is complete, the next stage will be to seek further funding so that the surf reef can be constructed.”

If plans go ahead, the reef will likely be built on the southern end of the beach about 300 metres offshore.

The tender process is set to close on November 7 at 2pm.

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Drivin’ on sunshine

TWO recent Albany Senior High School graduates made it into the big leagues this month when they participated in one of the most technological car challenges in the world.

Aiden Matson and Michael Taylor, currently studying at Australian National University (ANU), were part of a 40-person team in last fortnight’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

The aim of the challenge was to build a race vehicle entirely powered by the sun and able to journey approximately 3000km between Darwin and Adelaide.

The pair’s team, MTA A Super Sol Invictus, ranked 25th in the Challenger Class and was one of only eight Australian teams participating.

The other 36 teams hailed from secondary and tertiary institutions in the USA, the Netherlands, Chile, Singapore, Japan, Germany, Hong Kong, Poland, Sweden, Canada, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Mr Taylor and Mr Matson were involved in engineering the solar array and steering systems for their team’s car, the MTAA Super Charge 2.

“To race a vehicle powered by the sun, you need a reliable, aerodynamic, lightweight and low energy-loss vehicle,” Mr Matson said.

“Our chassis is manufactured from a carbon fibre weave with a Nomex paper core, layering the two materials like a sandwich.

“The motor driving our car is one designed by the CSIRO, with an incredible efficiency of 98.3 per cent.”

The MTA A Super Sol Invictus team worked on the car in conjunction with their own ANU studies and utilised their university’s resources to construct it.

“We laid out each system and simulated their breaking conditions using 3D design software, then milled, turned and laser-cut our components at the University ourselves,” Mr Matson said.

“The biggest thing I worked on in the car was wiring up the solar array and making the connections reliable enough to go the distance – specifically the 3000-plus km of the challenge,” Mr Taylor added.

Both Mr Matson and Mr Taylor are eyeing off the 2021 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge and hoped to build on ANU’s previous successes.

“This season was the second time ANU has competed in the event, and with much more success this time,” Mr Matson said.

“Next season, we need to do more rigorous testing so that everything is ironed out for the race itself.

“We can also make many changes to improve the car’s efficiency, so we maintain a higher speed for the duration of the race.”

Professor Nick Birbilis, Deputy Dean of the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science, said he was extremely proud of the ANU team.

“The breadth of expertise which makes up this team is truly outstanding,” he said.

“We feel privileged that our students are provided with opportunities to play a part in this innovative and forward-thinking space.”


Photo: Courtesy Australian National University

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Spotlight on rural mental health

THE mental health of people living in regional Western Australia is being highlighted this week at the WA Rural and Remote Mental Health Conference in Albany.

Hundreds of health professionals and members of the public converged at the Albany Entertainment Centre on Wednesday for the first in a series of seminars and activities hosted by the WA Country Health Service.

Clinical Director at Great Southern Mental Health Service Noel Collins said the conference’s broad aim was to allow experts to share insights on the topics of trauma, resilience and recovery and to network.

“There’s a huge focus now on understanding how trauma affects people’s mental and physical health and how you can help people recover from traumatic experiences,” he said.

“I wish I could say people in the Great Southern are immune to the effects of trauma but, of course, they’re not. Trauma is a universal experience.”

Among the three-day event’s guest speakers are National Mental Health Commissioner Professor Helen Milroy, Flinders University’s Director of the Centre for Remote Health Professor Tim Carey, and many others.

Their expertise range from child sexual abuse and Indigenous mental health to post-traumatic stress disorders and working with victims of crime.

Mr Collins said the conference, which runs every second year at different locations throughout the state, addressed some of the unique challenges faced by rural communities.

He said environmental events like drought, financial pressures and difficulty finding employment are “unique challenges” for those living outside metropolitan areas.

“There’s no doubt that in terms of access to mental health and primary care, that can also be very challenging for people living rurally and remotely,” he added.

“There’s just less psychiatrists, less psychiatric nurses and less GPs in rural areas.

“GPs are particularly important as they often bare the burden of mental health when there’s no psychiatrist available.”

The mental health of Indigenous Australians, who Mr Collins said are disproportionately affected by social factors like “unemployment, economic hardship, racism and the effects of inter- generational trauma”, is also an important topic of discussion at this year’s conference.

Its theme, Moorditjabiny, roughly translates to the Noongar term for “becoming stronger” or resilience.

“We wanted to make sure that a good proportion of this program provided a platform for Noongar and Menang people’s stories, not only of individual trauma … but a breadth of stories of strength,” Mr Collins said.

“We’ve got a lot of personal stories about resilience and lived experience, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. It is a really valuable event.”

The conference will conclude on Friday morning.

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Lost wallet costs $2000

A MAN caught driving at nearly 80km/h above the speed limit on the South Coast Highway in April was rushing to recover his lost wallet, the Albany Magistrates Court has been told.

Denver Warrick Swainston pleaded guilty to charges of reckless driving exceeding the limit by 45km/h and providing false details to police when he appeared before Magistrate Raelene Johnston last Thursday.

Speed cameras captured Mr Swainston driving his Holden Commodore utility at an approximate speed of 188km/h in a 110km/h zone in Marbelup at 6:29pm on April 20.

The 35-year-old’s defence counsel Wendy Stewart said her client, who had been homeless and “living rough” at the time the incident occurred, panicked when he realised he had lost his wallet.

“He had $2000 in that wallet and that was all the money he had,” Ms Stewart said.

“He wasn’t thinking about the speed, he was thinking about the cash … This was a one-off offence for him.”

Magistrate Johnston noted Mr Swainston had been previously convicted for driving offences.

“This charge can bring with it a term of imprisonment and that reflects the seriousness of the offence,” she told the accused.

“You were travelling way above the speed limit. There is no justification or excuse.

“You should have been worrying about your life and the lives of other people on the road.”

Mr Swainston was fined nearly $2000 for the driving offence and for giving a false address when police pulled him over for unrelated matters on Albany Highway on September 6.

He also had his license disqualified for six months.

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Crowning glory for Castle Rock

THE top gong at one of Mount Barker’s most prestigious events went to an out-of-towner last week.

The Wine Show of WA’s trophy awards lunch was held at Plantagenet Wines last Friday and featured more than 855 entries from 115 WA wine producers.

Margaret River winery Xanadu was named the winner of the show as well as the winner of the Shire of Plantagenet Trophy and Best Wine of Show for its 2017 DJL Cabernet Sauvignon.

It also won Best Red Wine of Show and Best Cabernet Sauvignon.

However, the Great Southern did not go unnoticed.

Porongurup’s Castle Rock Estate was awarded the Winequip Trophy for Most Successful Exhibitor Overall Processing Under 250 Tonnes and the Pam McGregor Trophy for Best Aged Riesling for the 2017 A&W Reserve Riesling.

Frankland River’s Alkoomi Wines was just one point behind Castle Rock Estate with its 2017 Melaleuca Riesling.

Margaret River-based Robert Oatley, which sources grapes from Mount Barker, Denmark, Frankland River and Porongurup among other places, took out Best White Wine, Best and Most Distinctive Regional Character, Best Riesling and Best Great Southern White with its 2019 Signature Series Great Southern Riesling.

Mt Barker’s 3drops scored top in the 2018 Riesling class with 96 points.

Ferngrove Wines and Frankland Estate from Frankland River tied second place in the 2019/18 Red Single Variety Except Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon Class, with their Ferngrove 2018 Black Label Malbec and Frankland Estate 2018 Touriga Nacional.

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Lions answer SES call

ALBANY SES’ decade-long appeal to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services for better cold climate gear has been partially alleviated following a donation of six alpine kits from the Albany South Coast Lions Club.

The unit received the sets of protective jackets and trousers from the local not-for-profit last Friday, at least 10 years after it first appealed to DFES for similar equipment with no success.

Lions Club President Lindsay Smith said he was initially alerted to the SES group’s struggle attaining cold climate gear after reading about it in a Weekender article in May (‘SES left out in cold’, May 23).

“The Club has no hesitation at all in funding these things because we recognise the obvious need,” he said.

“In some ways, we actually hope it doesn’t get used because if it gets used, there’s a problem somewhere.”

The Weekender story included comments from several senior and former SES members who claimed DFES inaction despite repeated appeals for equipment had resulted in numerous close calls during rescue operations.

SES Volunteer Association President Gordon Hall said at the time that Great Southern SES units had been requesting assistance for “10 or 15 years”.

“Straightaway it can be affecting the rescuer, let alone the person to be rescued,” he said.

“It would not be an efficient or safe rescue if they haven’t got the appropriate cold climate equipment.”

SES Albany member Robert Boyes said the newly contributed gear was much better suited for the region’s climate than older personal protective clothing.

“We are issued with raincoats and the like but they’re not designed for what we do,” he said.

“If you’re standing around in the rain they’re great, but often you might be trudging up Bluff Knoll or the Bibbulmun track carrying a stretcher and you get very hot.

“The beauty of these is they’re not only lightweight but they’re very breathable. You don’t have people getting hypothermic and it’s just safer and more efficient.”

According to Mr Boyes, the Department has made some progress since May.

It appointed its new Deputy Commissioner Craig Waters in July and formed a working group to investigate the need for cold climate gear in the Great Southern around two months ago.

Mr Boyes said the Albany unit accepted the Lions Clubs’ offer despite this because DFES working groups take “at least two or three years to get an outcome”.

“[Deputy Commissioner Waters] recognised this needed to be dealt with and he insisted there be an interim response. He’s a refreshing ray of sunshine,” he said.

“But we could still see the timeline with DFES stretching out to the point where we were going to have another season without the right equipment and so we quite happily got back to the Club.”

DFES Assistant Commissioner Country Operations Paul Ryan told the Weekender that it was providing “an interim supply of cold climate protective clothing until the full clothing review is completed”.

In the meantime, the Albany unit will be able to use the six alpine kits in conjunction with the items supplied by DFES to equip 12 volunteers.

“That’s a much better position than we were in last week,” Mr Boyes said.

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