Sydney-bound septet

SEVEN young Albany talents are hosting a variety show on October 28 to raise money to send themselves to Sydney for a national music summer school program.

Siblings Bonnie, Josie and Maggie Staude, along with sisters Bella and Ruby Fasolo and Hudson Bell and Jessica Turner will attend the Gondwana National Choral School in January next year at the University of New South Wales in the hope to further develop their vocal skills and advance their musical careers.

Bonnie, who has attended the Gondwana summer school program four times previously, said the septet will spend two weeks in Sydney and live on the university campus.

They will devote school hours to rehearsals with their designated choir, and spend spare time partaking in specialist projects, which range from musical theatre, to drumming, to Indonesian dancing.

“Gondwana is a great way to build connections with composers and conductors,” Bonnie said.

“The Gondwana choirs are extremely good and of a really high calibre, so it’s pretty exciting to think that little ol’ us from Albany will be singing with an international act.”

Bonnie said funds raised during the October 28 variety concert, Pure Imagination, would contribute to the group’s flights, accommodation and participation fees.

“Tickets are going well at the moment, but we would love more people to come,” she said.

“And if people can’t make the concert, we would greatly appreciate any donations.”

Bonnie said Pure Imagination will feature snippets of musical theatre, instrumental performances, classical and contemporary music, and a little bit of comedy.

Pure Imagination will be held at the Port Theatre at 4.30pm on October 28 and tickets can be purchased through Paperbark Merchants.

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Land inspires collaboration

OCHRE Contemporary Dance Company’s new performance Kwongkan will debut at the Albany Entertainment Centre next week and showcase a collaboration of indigenous Australian and Indian dancers conveying their feelings towards climate change through dance, physical theatre and aerial acrobatics.

Artistic director Mark Howett said upon learning that by 2050 there would be no more banksia and peppermint trees left in WA, he considered the long-term effects of climate change.

He said Kwongkan developed as a result of that and described it as a journey of self-discovery and of people fighting to protect their ancient cultures and lands from “the tsunami of change”.

“Peppermint trees were such a big part of my childhood and have great cultural significance,” Howett said.

“It made me think… there’s so much to talk about, about how perilous climate change is.”

Kwongkan will take centre stage at the AEC on October 13 and tickets can be purchased via the AEC Box Office or online.

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Magical homecoming

ALBANY product Alannah Woods will make her debut hometown performance with national Irish dance-magic act Celtic Illusion next month after spending 10 years away studying and singing across the country.

Woods graduated from Great Southern Grammar in 2008 and was accepted into the WA Academy of Performing Arts in 2010.

After completing her Bachelor of Music in Classical Performance (Voice), she pursued further musical theatre and dance studies in Melbourne.

It was there that the chance of a lifetime fell into her lap.

“I’ve been in an amateur production of Anything Goes and Strictly Ballroom,” Woods said.

“When I was finishing Strictly Ballroom, I saw an ad on Facebook for a singer with Celtic Illusion.

“I messaged them and they sent me a song to learn, and within 24 hours I got the job.

“So, a week after finishing Strictly Ballroom, I was on the road again!

“It’s my first professional contract, which is pretty exciting.”

The 26-year-old said she performs four songs in Celtic Illusion, two in the first act and two in the second act.

Her early songs embrace a storytelling format and her later songs act as an introduction to an illusion.

“They are fantastic people,” Woods said of the Celtic Illusion cast.

“They’re all really lovely.

“We’re like a little family.”

Celtic Illusion director, principal male dancer and lead illusionist Anthony Street said Woods replaced a singer who was retiring from the show.

He said the company was working on developing Woods’ role to become more than just a singing one.

Street is the mastermind behind Celtic Illusion, premiering his show in 2011 after wanting to make his dream of creating a magic show and a dance show simultaneously come true.

“I was intrigued by a magician at a local fair when I was eight years old, and I’ve loved magic ever since,” Street said.

“Then when I was 14, I found a video of Irish dance and I watched it every day.

“I thought I might not have time to live both dreams of magic and dance, so I combined the two.

“I have to pinch myself sometimes… it’s such a one-of-a-kind show.”

Street said his ultimate goal is to see Celtic Illusion become comparable to the likes of Cirque du Soleil.

Woods aspires to move to London in the next couple of years and make it on London’s West End, and one day, Broadway.

Celtic Illusion will perform at the Albany Entertainment Centre on November 8 and tickets can be purchased via the AEC Box Office.

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Music from Manus

DENMARK songstress and human rights activist Dawn Barrington continues to blend two of her passions as she take her message to the masses.

Barrington was first properly introduced to music seven years ago when she attended a local TAFE music program.

“I went to go and do something for a bit or fun and then I guess I got a bit carried away,” she said.

“I was working with a guy called Tony King who is a brilliant teacher.

“He just continues to plant seeds around Denmark, which is great for growing local talents.”

Barrington’s music developed into a sound she was already very familiar with as part of the local bar and café music scene.

“I usually describe it as contemporary folk, folk-rock maybe,” she said.

“It’s along the lines of what I think a lot of solo acoustic acts do these days.

“If you’re not blues, you’re simply folk. I guess it’s that kind of thing.”

Barrington explained how her music and activism became more strongly connected over the years.

“I’ve always been a writer, so that’s probably the thread that got me into it,” she said.

“A lot of my stuff is activist-based; it’s about social and environmental issues.”

This was the spark for her latest collaborative project Music From Manus.

Music From Manus is a 40-minute documentary by filmmaker Tim Maisey.

It centres around Barrington’s journey to Manus Island to meet the refugees and to connect with them on a musical level.

“I guess my main goal is to let the world know that they’re just innocent people; they’re real humans like me and you.”

When asked why she chose to do this through music, Barrington told The Weekender that it was the only way she could.

“I’m not a social worker and I’m not a support worker, but I was connected with the guys working on Manus Island through music,” she said.

“When I started to learn about how bad it was and how lovely the guys there were, I knew I wanted to go there and play for them.”

She got in contact with Maisey and travelled to the island in March.

After they had arrived back in Australia and Maisey had completed the film, Dawn took to showcasing their work to as many people as possible.

“I took it all over East,” she said.

“I did screenings over there and here in WA, met loads of people through it, and got an amazing response.”

Through doing something like this on such a big scale, Barrington began to realise that she was becoming a better musician.

“It’s brought a new life to my music and songwriting,” she said.

“I guess you could say it’s my purpose.”

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Gongs for best drops

FOUR Great Southern vineyards picked up nine of 24 trophies at the prestigious Wine Show of Western Australia held in Mount Barker last week.

Denmark’s Rockcliffe, Castle Rock Estate in Porongurup, Ferngrove Frankland River Wines and Frankland River’s Alkoomi Wines won gold across the Riesling, Rosé and Pinot Noir categories and event coordinator Marie O’Dea said it was a great effort.

“We had more than 115 wineries competing,” she said.

“Our Singaporean judge, Lim Hwee Peng was quite impressed…it’s an indication of the strength of the Great Southern.”

Rockcliffe won best Rosé of show with its 2018 Third Reef Rosé and Rockcliffe owner Steve Hall said it was a “very special” wine.

“At last year’s show, I purposely went through the rosés with Antony [winemaker] and the winners were very dry and grey, and I thought that was a French style,” he said.

“I said to Antony, ‘I need this, it’s a fabulous wine’ and so a lot of hassle, debate and work went into it.

“I thought Antony should make it, and he did, because he is from Provence and we made it in true Provence style.”

Mr Hall said Rockcliffe also won the Neale Warneford Trophy for best red blend with the Ironcloud Wines 2017 Rock of Solitude Purple Patch GSM, as Rockcliffe also makes Ironcloud products.

“Winning a trophy is the pinnacle, really,” he said.

“We’ve effectively made the best Rosé in WA.

“It’s a massive accolade for us.”

Castle Rock Estate won the Winequip Trophy for most successful exhibitor processing under 250 tonnes, best Great Southern white and best Riesling with the 2018 Porongurup Riesling, and best Pinot Noir with the 2017 Porongurup Pinot Noir.

Winemaker and owner Rob Diletti said the vineyard had competed in the wine show since 1986 and winning kept the Castle Rock name fresh in people’s minds.

“We’ve done well in Perth and other capital city shows, so it’s a continual indication showing how our whites are going,” he said.

“For Riesling and Pinot Noir, Porongurup is up there creating the best in Australia.

“It’s amazing to get it [trophies].”

Mr Diletti said the location of the vineyard at the base of the Porongurup – which has a good balance between being not too rigorous and not too lean in its soil – the elevation of the land, and the easterly sea breeze from the Great Australian Bight all contributed to creating the ideal growing conditions for his grapes.

Ferngrove Frankland River Wines won the title of best Great Southern red and best red varietal for its 2017 Black Label Malbec and vineyard manager Chris Zur said it was earned by a big team effort.

“It’s always good news to be recognised for hard work,” he said.

“We’ve been a champion for Malbec in the region for a long time, and it’s because of a lot of work from the whole team.”

Mr Zur said despite Frankland River being “probably” the most isolated of the five sub-regions in the Great Southern, its low disease pressure, Mediterranean climate and the cooling influence of the Southern Ocean in the afternoon were desirable for making Malbec.

Alkoomi Wines won best aged Riesling for their 2010 Black Label Riesling.

Owner Sandy Hallett said the vineyard had supported the Wine Show for many years, with Ms Hallett’s father being one of the founding members of the prominent event.

“This [trophy] shows that Riesling from our region, whilst delicious young, also has tremendous ageing potential,” she said.

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Guiding light brings story home

THE LAUNCH of Albany’s Field of Light: Avenue of Honour artwork at the Mount Clarence war memorial last week sparked vivid memories of Afghanistan for State Veteran Issues Minister Peter Tinley, a onetime member of the crack SAS regiment.

“Those lights, when I stood back and got a good space-and-depth look at them, reminded me of flying in the Middle East and coming into towns in Afghanistan where there was a smattering of lights,” Mr Tinley reflected in an unguarded interview with The Weekender on Friday.

“And it brought back memories of … trepidation and fear of what we might find down there on the ground.”

In 1990, Mr Tinley graduated first in class and was Queens Medallist at the Royal Military College Duntroon.

For 17 of his 25 years in the Army he served with the Special Air Service regiment, which is based in Perth.

“It’s really good to be part of this continuous and unbroken story of Albany’s connection to the Anzacs,” he said.

“Actually, I thought the rain made last night’s opening even more poignant.

“It just added to that sense of place that was so important to the Anzac story and will continue to be important.”

Mr Tinley was the first member in the history of the SAS to advance from Trooper to Squadron Commander.

“One of the things that’s really good about Field of Light is the inclusion of the ‘A’ and the ‘NZ’, in the changing colour of the lights to the Kwhai, the national flower of New Zealand, and the wattle,” he said.

“As Veteran’s Minister I go around always and acknowledge there is an ‘NZ’ in ‘Anzac’, because in major missions in Afghanistan and Iraq and everywhere in between our Kiwi brothers and sisters have been there with us.

“They’re two siblings that don’t mind going each other, from Rugby to under-arm bowling, but the relationship is still very strong.”

During his final appointment as Chief Operations Officer from 2001 to 2004 Mr Tinley was principal planner for operations worldwide including East Timor, Christmas Island (Tampa), Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The challenge for us in Government is to make sure all of Australia knows what’s going on in Albany so people can have a fair opportunity to get here,” the Labor Member for Willagee said.

“And it’s on until April.

“My eight-year-old daughter has committed me to a road-trip to get to it again so she can see it.”

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Govt swamped on Carnegie payment

HEATED debate over the Albany wave power project dominated the reopening of Parliament on Tuesday, with Treasurer Ben Wyatt conceding the State may have cooked $2.6 million of taxpayer dough.

Asked by Member for Warren-Blackwood Terry Redman if Carnegie Energy cannot convince the Government it has the financial capacity to complete the project off Sandpatch, will $2.6 million already paid to the firm be lost, Mr Wyatt said: “I suspect so”.

“Because ultimately in nine weeks the State Government will have to assess whether Carnegie has the capacity to deliver the project in the new tax incentive environment,” he explained.

Earlier, Mr Wyatt, outwardly calm under intense Opposition fire, argued that recent changes to the Federal research and development tax incentive that now made the project less viable could not have been foreseen by the State.

Opposition Leader Mike Nahan demanded the Government table any advice it had been given on why Carnegie should have received the $2.6 million.

“We now know that Carnegie is really struggling with its technology and investment off Garden Island,” he said.

“The government did not do an assessment of whether the technology that Carnegie had that was designed to serve isolated naval bases around the world that pay top dollar for energy was competitive down in Albany; it was not.

“We now have Carnegie virtually collapsing as a firm; the man who put it together has left.”

Dr Nahan said Carnegie’s share price had “collapsed to one per cent”.

“It has flogged energy made clean at a 75 per cent loss and it is not capable of undertaking the project, yet it came and asked for its milestone payments,” he added.

“The Government initially baulked, but then gave Carnegie half.

“On what basis did the Government give it … the $2.6 million milestone payment given it has not met the milestones and cannot continue with the project?”

Dr Nahan said the Government did not do its due diligence, and had misled Albany.

“Clearly, the people of Albany wanted to go to 100 per cent renewable energy – fair enough – and the government wanted to titillate them with a renewable,” he said.

“It crab-walked away from it and said the project was not to deliver energy, it was a research project.”

He said Carnegie already had a viable research project in Fremantle that was servicing Garden Island.

“The government has actually undermined that project and probably seriously damaged the whole firm,” he said.

“The Government took this on to get a few votes down in Albany and ruined a good firm.

“Carnegie will not deliver the project and a hell of a lot of money has been wasted just to cater to a marginal seat.”

Premier Mark McGowan retorted, saying: “We proudly support the people of Albany”.

“Again, I do not understand why the Liberal and National Parties dislike the people of Albany so much that they do not want these innovative projects supporting their economic development,” he added.

A question of public interest raised by Mr Redman – that the house condemn the Government for its mishandling of the wave farm and call on Mr McGowan to remove regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan from project oversight – was defeated 34 votes to 19.

In the Legislative Council, Ms MacTiernan, responding to a question from Agricultural Region MLC Martin Aldridge, said: “Of course we looked at the capability of Carnegie and its financial capacity”.

“Carnegie is not in default of its agreement, but we have exercised the right we have under the terms of that agreement to ask it to outline, in this changed legal environment, how it is going to fund its contribution into the project before we make any further commitments,” she said.

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Marina hotel ‘by 2020’

FORGET Middleton Beach; Albany’s best chance of landing a luxury hotel soon is at the harbour-front block beside Due South tavern where owner Paul Lionetti wants a hotel built in the next 18 months.

Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington told The Weekender a development application for a hotel on Mr Lionetti’s block had been lodged and the local business identity wanted the likely six-floor structure built by Easter 2020.

“It’s a design and construct thing with Pindan Constructions,” Mr Wellington said.

“It has 108 rooms.

“It fits within the guidelines of the agreement under which that land was originally set up.”

Mr Wellington said he was not in a position to confirm the hotel’s likely star rating.

“I haven’t had it really confirmed about the operator but we understand it will be a major chain, which would be advantageous in terms of them going to their database around the world and advertising this new hotel in Albany,” he added.

“It’s certainly something that we do need and the sooner we get it the better.”

The plans are being considered by City staff ahead of referral for a decision by a State-convened assessment panel on which Mr Wellington and Councillor Bill Hollingworth are the only locally elected officials.

“I think it’s a terrific idea,” Mr Wellington said of the hotel.

“I think it’s something we desperately need into our tourism product that we have a top-class hotel down there.

“I think if it goes through it would be excellent.”

Last month, State Lands Minister Rita Saffioti confessed not one developer had expressed interest in building a hotel on a plot at Middleton Beach left vacant when the much-loved Esplanade Hotel was demolished in 2007.

Mr Wellington said a recent approach by Mr Lionetti to convert some of the project’s rooms into apartments was yet to be resolved and did not form part of the current application.

Mr Lionetti declined to comment.

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Casting the net

GREAT Southerners have the chance to be in Albany film H is for Happiness if they can make it to casting sessions tomorrow and Saturday.

H is for Happiness follows the story of 12-year-old Candice Phee, who is on a mission to find happiness for her family following a tragedy.

The family movie will be filmed in Albany during November and December this year.

Extras, stand-ins and doubles are being sought of all ages, shapes, sizes and cultural backgrounds and will be chosen from the people who attend the casting sessions at Albany Entertainment Centre tomorrow, October 12 from 1.30pm to 5pm and Saturday, October 13 from 9am to 3pm.

One role to be filled is for a 12 or 13-year-old female student with red hair, Caucasian skin with freckles and who is approximately 154cm tall.

Another is for a 32 to 42-year-old male with brown hair, Caucasian skin and who is approximately 188cm tall.

Other roles include an elderly ladies walking group, couples, paramedics, nurses, orderlies, bands, a six-month-old red-haired female, six to 13-year-old children, teenagers, dog owners and dogs, families and a six-year-old red-haired female.

To register your interest and have your photo taken, email Rachael Karotkin at happinessfilm.casting@ gmail.com.

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Rex defends delays

EXTENDED delays to Rex’s Albany flights have raised the ire of MLA Peter Watson, who says he will raise the matter with his State Labor colleague Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“I’m going to catch up with Rita to find out what the benchmarks are, because of the amount of complaints I’m getting,” Mr Watson said on Monday night after belatedly arriving in Perth.

That morning, his scheduled 6:30am flight did not depart Albany until 11.25am.

“It just happens all the time,” he told The Weekender.

“It’s a weekly occurrence.”

The parliamentarian said he took between 30 and 40 return flights to Perth a year, and Rex offered a wide range of reasons for delays.

“Sometimes, they say: ‘Oh, we can’t get the pilots’,” he lamented.

“They’re also putting people off planes because it’s too heavy.

“I was at Perth Airport a couple of weeks ago, and they said they needed two people to volunteer, otherwise they could not take off because it was bad weather in Albany.”

Mr Watson said he checked the weather on his phone and Albany seemed all clear, and when he finally touched down the weather was okay at Drome.

He said a fellow passenger, recently diagnosed with cancer, who missed a 9.45am specialist’s appointment in Perth thanks to Monday’s long delay, had emailed him.

“I didn’t receive a text message and did not find out about the cancelled flight until I arrived at the airport at 5.45[am],” the woman wrote.

“Had I received a message about the flight last night, I could have driven to Perth and made the appointment.

“I have to spend the night in Perth now, which I do not want to [as it] will incur extra charges.”

Mr Watson said that over the past 12 months, delays and cancellations had got “worse and worse”.

“Their name is ‘Regional Express’, but as someone said at the airport this morning, they may as well take the ‘express’ off because they’re never on time,” he said.

“They seem to think: ‘Oh, it’s a business, take what you get, we’ve got the [monopoly] rights [to run the service]’.

A Rex spokeswoman said Mr Watson’s flight was delayed due to “crew rest requirements as specified by Civil Aviation Orders”.

“The inbound flight from the previous night was delayed, resulting in an extended rest requirement for flight crew,” she said.

She said Rex’s on-time performance was “well above” the benchmark stipulated in the airline’s agreement with the State to operate the monopoly Albany service.

“In Financial Year 2018, Rex operated more than 2300 flights between Albany and Perth with 88 per cent operating on time and we expect a similar result in the full Financial Year 2019,” she said.

“There have been slightly more delays between Albany and Perth during the winter months of July and August.

“However, we are already seeing a significant improvement post winter.”

The Weekender asked questions of Ms Saffioti and received no reply.

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