Coasting to Sydney

SHOTS of the South Coast made it to one of Sydney’s most prestigious exhibition spaces last week thanks to Perth music and travel photographer Jarrad Seng.

Denmark’s Elephant Rocks, Lake Hillier off the coast of Esperance, The Gap in Albany are some of the locations Seng visited to create The Edge: Margaret River and Beyond.

The images hung on the walls of the Hyatt Regency Sydney for a month, from July 9 to August 2.

While boarding a plane to Brazil, the photographer and ex-Survivor contestant told The Weekender he enjoyed his trips to Southern WA, armed with his Canon 5D and a handful of lenses.

“I travel all over the world in search of nature’s hidden gems,” he said.

“The truth is, there is so much to see in our own backyard that holds up against the world’s best.

“I loved the road trip down to Esperance; there’s so much diversity and rugged beauty in this region.

“I mean, when you think of the region, you might automatically conjure up images of pretty wineries and golden sunsets, and yes, that is all there, but I think the real heart of it is the raw nature.

“Crashing waves against the cliff side at The Gap, the breathtaking Lake Hillier tucked away in the deep south, the raw beauty of Elephant Rocks in Denmark … it really does feel like we live on the edge of the world.”

Seng’s exploration of the South Coastal rugged terrain was not his first tangle with a challenging scenario, having chased sunsets, artists and wildlife across the world to get the perfect snap.

He’s conquered early morning missions in the freezing cold, hunting the Aurora, rooftop heights, five-day Vietnamese cave hikes and a nudie run down Perth’s Hay Street to do what he does best.

“As of this year, photography has taken me to all seven continents, Antarctica being the final piece of the puzzle,” he said.

“It’s amazing to realise that a humble camera in my hand has taken me all around the world, from the plains of the Serengeti to the northern lights of Iceland.”

He said it was the craziness of photography that kept him going.

“Whether it’s backstage at a rock show or in the middle of the Namibian desert, I find myself most creatively inspired amidst the unknown,” he said.

“I mean, it’s often quite scary and anxiety inducing and very stressful, but that’s where the fun begins.”

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A tale of three cities

MAYOR Dennis Wellington and Albany’s 12 City councillors get paid more than their counterparts in the only other two cities in the State’s far south, but council supremo Andrew Sharpe says ratepayers are getting good value for money.

Figures provided by an eagle-eyed ratepayer, and corroborated by The Weekender, show Mr Wellington gets paid $135,910, the maximum allowable under the Local Government Act. Meanwhile, Busselton Mayor Grant Henley receives $120,709.50 and Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan $91,000.

Albany Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks receives the maximum allowable allowance for that position of $22,216, while his counterparts in Busselton and Bunbury get $19,834 and $15,250 respectively. On top of that, Cr Stocks gets paid the maximum meetings allowance of $31,364.
All other Albany councillors receive this allowance, while their counterparts in Busselton and Bunbury are respectively paid $29,613 and $25,000 each.

Each city is a ‘Band 1’ local authority for the purposes of remuneration. Populations are in the same ball-park, with Albany having 37,686 people, Busselton 38,300 and Bunbury 32,244.

At $760, Albany has the lowest weekly household mean income compared to Busselton’s $805 and Bunbury’s $789.

Asked why, given Albany’s lower mean income and the similarities in populations, the City’s elected officials are paid more than in Busselton and Bunbury, Mr Andrew Sharpe said “the salaries and allowances the City of Albany pays its elected members is within the limits prescribed by the Local Government Act for a Band 1 Local Government”.

“Albany’s mayor and elected members work very hard for their community,” he added.

The Weekender then asked Mr Sharpe if, for argument’s sake, it could be assumed the two other cities also observed legislated remuneration limits and had hard-working mayors and councillors, what then would be the reason for the higher pay in Albany.

A City spokesman said Mr Sharpe had nothing further to add.

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Quokka ’round the clock

TREKKING up Bluff Knoll for three hours in the dark in sub-zero temperatures last week was more than worthwhile for Plantagenet photographer Michael Dolphin and his dad Andy when they spotted an impossibly cute quokka sniffing around in the snow just before sunrise.

Mr Dolphin said the pair rose an hour after midnight last Thursday to have breakfast and get themselves organised before clambering into the car and making the 80km drive to the region’s highest ascent.

He said their efforts to keep warm with five layers of clothing were rendered unnecessary halfway up the hiking trail when their hefty backpacks and the mountain’s steep gradient got their temperatures rising to scorching levels.

“We were about halfway up when I stripped down to just my singlet and snow jacket,” he laughed.

“It felt like it was 50 degrees!

“My backpack was just deadweight, I took too much; I only ended up using my 600mm and 24mm lenses and I had three others with me.”

Mr Dolphin said the two men began to see snow approximately halfway up the hiking trail, and felt incredibly relieved that the snow prediction had been accurate.

“It’s the most snow we’ve seen up here,” he said.

“It was a bit thicker, more spread out and a lot lower down than last time.”

After spending 30 minutes admiring the snow and having a look around, Mr Dolphin spotted what he had been searching for at about 6.30am.

“I was pretty excited to see it,” he said of his quokka sighting.

“I was just ecstatic, but I had to wait for the sun to come up to take photos.”

Mr Dolphin and his dad passed the time by making a snowman and getting some signature Bluff Knoll landscape images before settling down on the ground for two hours from about 7am to capture the perfect snow quokka snap.

“There were about 15 people up there so we waited for them to clear out a bit, and then we were just slowly moving around to get the right angle,” he said.

“It was just luck I got the photo [of the quokka] with the icicle…it just came around the corner and was in the perfect spot.

“It made my day, no, my week, getting that quokka pic.

“It was just the cherry on top.”

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Port back in local hands

WESTERN Australia’s original port city has wrested significant control of its waterfront back, with a locally engaged general manager taking the helm for the first time since that position was canned in January last year.

The Weekender can reveal that 10-year veteran at the Port of Esperance Dale Lindkvist was on July 30 appointed interim general manager at the Port of Albany while recruitment is undertaken for the reinstated position.

Southern Ports interim CEO Alan Byers said the position was part of his organisation’s response to the Southern Ports Post-Amalgamation Review.

That review, completed in January, noted that the October 2014 amalgamation of the ports of Albany, Bunbury and Esperance under the Southern Ports banner had seen a “significant loss of connection” with Albany people.

“There is one [Bunbury-based] general manager for Albany and Bunbury ports, which in Albany contributes to the sense that there are no ‘local’ executives,” the review observed.

“A number of long-standing local initiatives in Albany, including publishing advertorials in the local paper and a regular radio segment with the CEO were discontinued.”

For six months from July 2016, when the incumbent port manager retired, to January 2017, the then-chief executive of Southern Ports acted in the Albany general manager position.

Since January 2017, there has been no general manager.

The appointment of Mr Lindkvist, who recently moved to Albany, is in line with a review recommendation that Southern Ports consider reinstating locally-based general managers at each port.

“Southern Ports operations in Albany, Bunbury and Esperance will [now] have a separate, locally-based general manager, all of whom will have a seat on the executive leadership team and will be empowered to make decisions to suit each individual port,” Mr Byers said.

“The creation of a General Manager – Albany role is an important strategic move to drive Southern Ports into the future.

“We are prepared to take the time required to find the right candidate and will not rush the appointment.”

On Monday, Mr Lindkvist gave The Weekender a tour of the port in his Ford Ranger, and said he was working to meet all Albany staff and would strive to reach out to the community.

“I think it’s of foremost importance that we get that transparency from the activities that we’re currently undertaking at the port, and rolling that through to the community,” he added.

In stark contrast to the might of his 4WD, Mr Lindkvist said he looked forward to his wife and two pups, Cavoodle Molly and Moodle Toby, moving from Esperance to Albany soon.

Also new to the port’s leadership team is Julie-Ann Gray who has lived in Albany since 2002 and was appointed to the Board of Directors on July 1.

Aside from the appointment of Ms Gray and Mr Lindkvist, Mr Byers said lots of work had been done to “rebuild” the “connection” with the people of Albany.

As examples, he nominated biannual meetings of the Board in Albany, recommencing a quarterly local newsletter, and helping to deliver the sea dragon mural on the CBH silos.

Southern Ports also recently donated old port timbers for a playground at Bremer Bay, and upgraded the area around Mass Rocks to support the upcoming 150th anniversary celebrations of Western Australia’s first Catholic mass there.

From 1826, Albany was the State’s only deep-water port until Fremantle’s inner harbour was built in 1897.

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Artistic mecca

ALBANY’S historic York House on lower York Street has undergone a facelift and is now home to the city’s newest art exhibition space.

Blush Retail Gallery is the brainchild of local artist and businesswoman Angie Fryer-Smith and is an idea she has had whirling around her head for the past three years.

After the closure of her previous business in the same building, Ms Fryer- Smith said the building received eight months of extensive renovation before she reopened the doors last week.

Now, the lower level of York House has three sections, each with trapeze lighting, spotlighting, the capacity to hang artwork on the walls and sporting a fresh lick of paint.

Ms Fryer-Smith said her aim is to focus on Great Southern artists and showcase the “amazing local talent” popping up around every nook and cranny in town.

She said exhibitions in Blush Retail Gallery will rotate every four to five weeks and all artworks on display will be for sale.

“We wanted to keep the building in retail, to keep the street having a retail focus,” she said.

“I didn’t do much research before we opened because we just wanted to do our own thing, and keep the space free and simple.”

The gallery’s first exhibition is a collaboration between Ms Fryer-Smith and artists Cynthia Corr, Marjan Bakhtiarikish and Ron Baker, called La Dolce Vita.

The fitting Italian name ties in with Bakhtiarikish and Baker’s Mediterranean artistic influences, having both received professional training in Florence in their respective portrait and still life genres.

Ms Fryer-Smith is excited for the new gallery to become an art hot spot as well as an area for pop-up venues to setup shop.

“It would be fantastic for Albany if it became a food, wine and art mecca,” she said.

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Terrace attack charge

A 23-YEAR-OLD man has been remanded in custody charged with the first of two alleged attacks that fractured the skulls of two Albany men who had departed Studio 146 nightclub.

The men were both airlifted to Royal Perth Hospital, each having been allegedly punched in the head in seemingly unrelated attacks on Stirling Terrace.

Yesterday, Cody Nathan Lee Bennell, 23, appeared from the dock before Albany Magistrate Raelene Johnston.

Mr Bennell was not required to plea to one count of grievous bodily harm over an alleged attack in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Earlier from outside court, police alleged that at 3am on Saturday a 40-year-old man was struck to the face, fell and hit the back of his head on the road.

Police spokeswoman Alice Cockram said the 40-year-old was with a friend on Stirling Terrace when he became involved in a fight with a group of men.

“He was conveyed to Albany Hospital and later transferred to Royal Perth Hospital via Royal Flying Doctors Service for treatment for serious head injuries,” Sgt Cockram said.

Albany Police Acting Detective Senior Sgt Kris McDonald said the alleged attack occurred after the man exited Studio 146, having spent “time with family and friends and just celebrating some good times”.

“He is an Albany local and it is certainly a sad state of affairs when a gentleman is out with his family and friends to mark the occasion for his birthday and as a result he spends the rest of the weekend in RPH with a fracture to the skull,” he said.

Snr Sgt McDonald said the man did not know his alleged “attackers”.

Yesterday, as four of his associates looked on from the back of Courtroom 3, Mr Bennell made no bail application and was remanded in custody to again appear on August 9.

Magistrate Johnston anticipated a bail application might occur on that day.

In an eerily similar alleged attack police say is unlikely to be connected to the Saturday one, on Sunday at 3am another Albany man was punched in the face after leaving Studio 146.

The victim, 26, landed face-down on the pavement and received multiple head injuries.

Sgt Cockram said the victim was on Stirling Terrace when approached by a man unknown to him.

Snr Sgt McDonald said both men received fractured skulls from the “very serious” alleged assaults.

“[The Sunday morning victim] sustained significantly more serious injuries [than the 40-year-old], which include a fractured skull, fractured eye sockets and a fractured jaw,” he said.

He said the first alleged victim was likely to be discharged from hospital “soon”, while the second man was likely to stay in hospital some time longer.

Asked if the Sunday attacker had been affected by alcohol, Snr Sgt McDonald told The Weekender police were “exploring all options” and “maintaining an open mind with the investigation”.

“It’s an aspect of the investigation that we will cover off, yes,” he said.

Snr Sgt McDonald said police were also “keeping an open mind” on whether the Sunday attacker had earlier been in the night club.

Police have reviewed video footage from nearby CCTV cameras.

“We’re obviously going to increase our patrols through the licensed premises within the vicinity of Albany,” he said.

Late yesterday morning, Officer-in-charge of Albany Police Grant Pollard said nobody had been arrested for the Sunday morning attack.

Anyone with relevant information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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Vandalism hits vulnerable

ALBANY’S most vulnerable families were dealt a blow this week when $500 worth of food was spoiled at the Salvation Army in an act of senseless vandalism.

The Albany corps of the charity organisation had its electrical meter box tampered with and mains power switched off sometime during the weekend.

Albany Corp Major Paul Beardsley said a volunteer was dropping off a donation on Monday night, when it was discovered the power was off and the fridge and freezer had thawed out.

“As a result, all of the bread, pies, pasties, sausage rolls and the like were spoiled and we had to throw it all away,” he said.

“It would have been around $500 worth of food which was enough to feed 100 people for two or three days.

“A jar of peanut butter and a few loaves of bread go a long way for a family that’s going hungry.”

He said the large freezer in their aid centre was usually full to the brim, but now lies completely empty.

“It’s demoralising to have this happen,” he said.

“Our staff and volunteers are trying to make a difference and support the Albany community. People have suffered because of this.”

It’s not all doom and gloom however, with the Lions Club of Albany offering to help restock until the large bread delivery that is expected for tomorrow evening.

“We got a call from Lions on Wednesday morning asking if they could help us fill the freezer from their own freezers,” he said.

“The Albany community is amazingly generous in times of need.”

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Alep steps down

KATANNING shire councillor Alep Mydie, who has gained national prominence building bridges of understanding across the Great Southern and beyond, has stepped
down after 15 unbroken years as a public official.

Mr Mydie, who handed in his resignation on July 10, said that on that day his wife was holidaying in Bunbury and he was sitting in his lounge room alone when it dawned upon him he’d achieved all he wanted to on the council.

“I texted my daughter and said: ‘Tell Mum I have resigned from the Shire Council’, and she texted me back and said: ‘Mum’s happy. Thank you very much!’” he told The Weekender.

“The situation at the moment is I cannot juggle my hours any more, I cannot budget the hours of my life because there’s so many workshops and meetings and seminars.

“Fifteen years of public service is a long time; you juggle along the way, as a husband, as a father, as a grandfather and as Imam of the mosque.”

Mr Mydie, who migrated from Christmas Island in 1974, said he was most proud of his efforts to “integrate” Muslim and non-Muslim peoples toward making Katanning a much more tolerant Shire.

“My father, two years before he died, told me you can’t change the world, you can’t change anything from outside the fence,” he said.

“You need to be inside the paddock, and I tried and it worked.”

Asked if he intended in some way to stay involved in politics, the mild-mannered Imam – who has occasionally critiqued statements by disciples of Pauline Hanson – quipped he was waiting for a call from One Nation.

“At the moment I will have a quiet moment to myself and concentrate on making the best beef rendang in Australia,” the 60-year-old West Coast Eagles fan added, more
seriously, from his cafe in Clive Street.

Mr Mydie said he could not have become, or stayed, a Shire councillor if relying on the votes of Muslim people alone.

“I’m very, very proud to live in Katanning and be part of the town, and what Katanning has given us is my main focus, not what I have given them.

“As John F. Kennedy said: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but instead what you can do for your country’.

“And what the community here has given me is a chance, and I’m very grateful.”

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Tourist railway canned

KOJONUP’S tourist railway has ground to an indefinite halt because it does not meet the insurance demands of a Federal agency based in Adelaide.

In a briefing paper to Kojonup Shire councillors – some of whom have very hands-on roles with the railway – Shire regulatory services manager Mort Wignall this week
explained the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator had written to demand adequate public risk insurance be maintained to meet “reasonable potential accident liabilities”.

“Failure to address this matter within five days of the date of the letter (10 July 2018) would result in [the Adelaide-based regulator] requesting us to voluntarily suspend all rail operations until such time the situation is rectified,” Mr Wignall advised.

Yesterday, Shire CEO Rick Mitchell-Collins told The Weekender the railway had stopped operating.

“The railway will be closed until such time as we can ensure the railway committee becomes the accredited agency with the Authority,” he said.

Mr Mitchell-Collins said that might take anywhere between six and 10 months.

“Our hands are effectively tied,” he lamented ahead of the busy wildflower season.

“We’re dealing with the national regulator.

“We have got a tourist train that does 10kph, if that.”

Asked if he was confident Kojonup would get its train back on track, Mr Mitchell-Collins said: “We haven’t run out of steam yet”.

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Barnaby blows in for warm welcome

BARNABY Joyce’s dubbing opponents of live animal exports as “zealots” at a packed meeting of farmers in Katanning has been criticised by Animal Justice Party candidates in this weekend’s ‘Super Saturday’ by-elections in the Federal electorates of Perth and Fremantle.

On July 20, the one-time Federal agriculture minister told an estimated 1780 farming people that if calls to ban the export of live sheep succeeded, “zealots” would later target live cattle exports.

“They’re not gonna stop at the live sheep trade,” he said.

“Where will they go next? We all know where they’ll go next. Live cattle is where they’ll go next.”

Animal Justice Party candidate for Perth Nicole Arielli said she wanted to end live exports but her endeavours did not come from a place of zeal.

“We believe that in this day and age it is beyond belief to think we are still live exporting when we can look at other options here in Australia,” she told The Weekender.

“Calling us zealots is pretty arrogant, absurd.

“Obviously the Animal Justice Party is opposed to slaughter, but we’re more pragmatic than that.”

Ms Arielli said she wanted to work with farmers to “try and reach an agreeable point”.

“We do understand that, from the farmers’ point of view, it’s what they do, it is their livelihood,” she said.

“We’re not saying we want to stop live sheep exports right now.

“We want to stop them sending them in the peak of the heat, from April to October when they suffer the most, and look at working together on a transitional period.”

Also running for the Animal Justice Party – in the Division of Fremantle from where most of Australia’s live-shipped sheep are loaded – is Katrina Love, who says she hopes to pick up between four and eight per cent of available votes.

Ms Love said she’d take Mr Joyce’s “zealots” call with a grain of salt.

“I’m astounded that he got the accolades, applause and recognition that he did given he was the Minister at the time when the [Federal] Department of Agriculture was allowing all these regulation breaches to go unanswered,” she said.

“I think, essentially, Barnaby Joyce is to be held responsible for the way the industry has gone and the situation the sheep producers in WA find themselves in.”

President of WAFarmers’ Livestock Council David Slade said Mr Joyce’s presence was a show of support from a politician in the Federal sphere.

“There were 1780 people in Katanning, so it’s a massive statement, and shows just how concerned farmers are about the live exports issue,” said Mr Slade, who farms sheep in Mount Barker.

“It’s the biggest gathering of Western Australian farmers in 30 or 40 years.”

He said he would not go as far as calling opponents of live exports zealots.

“But their approach is an over-reaction to the situation,” he said.

“You don’t ban the ownership of dogs because you see two dogs fighting.

“You don’t ban the ownership of cats because someone has 50 cats inside a house.”

“If we do lose live export, we’re going to decimate the industry, particularly in WA.”

Mr Slade agreed with Mr Joyce that, if enacted, a live export ban would not stop at sheep but later extend to cattle.

While Mr Joyce was cheered several times during his address at the Katanning forum, State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan was jeered in equal measures after telling assembled sheep farmers they needed a “Plan B” including exporting more chilled meat.

This weekend’s Super Saturday by elections, caused by resignations following the Federal MP citizenship fiasco, will occur in Perth, Fremantle and three other electorates interstate.

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