Para sailing pathway

A STATE sailing contest for people with a disability taking place in Albany this weekend could be an important stepping-stone for events like the Paralympics, according to its organiser.

Coordinator Mark Paynter said the Hansa WA Sailing Championships, being held at Princess Royal Sailing Club (PRSC) for the first time, could act as a “pathway” for sailors with a disability eager to compete internationally.

The Hansa 303 and slightly larger Hansa Liberty are the two types of vessels being used at the event and are specifically designed to suit those living with disability.

“Hansa are a class of boat that are sailed internationally, so if we can prepare our sailors for these, they’ve got an opportunity to not just sail down here but in competitions across Australia and the world,” Mr Paynter said.

“These craft are designed for confidence building and have a high level of stability, but still require skill to sail them.

“If sailing were to be re-introduced to the Paralympics, then probably the Hansa 303 would be the boats used.”

The sport has been officially discarded from the Paralympics in Tokyo this year.

Mr Paynter, who also heads PRSC’s decade-old Sailability program, noted sailing provided people with disability a chance to both engage with the sport and the broader community.

“This particular championship brings Sailability and other programs for people with disability into the mainstream, and that’s why it’s important,” Mr Paynter said.

“Through these, people develop the skills they need from qualified instructors.”

Sixteen participants from Perth and Albany are expected to compete this Saturday and Sunday, ranging in age from 12 to 84.

More information about the event and bi-weekly Sailability program can be found at and on the Club’s Facebook page.

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Breaksea icon undergoes restoration

ALBANY’S iconic Breaksea Island lighthouse is currently undergoing a $1.9 million maintenance facelift.

The lighthouse, which inspired Albany author Dianne Wolfer’s book Lighthouse Girl, was identified by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) as a priority for refurbishment in 2018.

The Breaksea Island lighthouse, built in 1902, is one of more than 60 heritage listed lighthouses.

It is the same one that was once home to a young Fay Howe, famous for translating soldiers’ messages and passing them on to their families as they departed Albany for World War I.

It was built to replace an earlier pre-fabricated cast-iron lighthouse that was built in 1858.

“Getting our contractors and their materials onto these remote sites is a big part of the logistical challenge of maintaining our lighthouses and our broader aids to the navigation network,” an AMSA spokesperson said.

“It’s a technical and logistical challenge, but both AMSA and our expert contractors are well-equipped to take it on.”

The works include the removal of lead paint internally and externally, repairs to the lantern room and stair corrosion, and external stone work.

AMSA Project Engineer Daniel Atkins said the entire siteworks were expected to be completed within 21 weeks.

“Definitely one of the most challenging parts of this project is the logistics,” he said.

“The majority of our lighthouses are located in logistically challenging places, in harsh marine environments – we had to have 60 loads [of materials] delivered to the site by helicopter.”

Mr Atkins said lighthouses would always be relevant, hence worth maintaining.

“There’s been a lot of technological improvements over time for navigation in vessels, but that still doesn’t outstrip the need for traditional lighthouses,” he said.

“They are an important navigational tool as well as having cultural importance.

“I think everyone is drawn to lighthouses; they hold a special place for many people.”

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Champion of the people

MINISTER for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan has reiterated she will not run for the Seat of Albany following current member Peter Watson’s announcement this week that he would retire from his position at the 2021 state election.

Frequently asked whether she would make a permanent sea change to her Albany abode during various press conferences, Ms MacTiernan told the Weekender it wasn’t for her.

“I absolutely love being in Albany but I think there are other ways for me to continue to fly the flag for regional WA,” she said.

“We are all going to miss Watto and his very special style of advocacy.

“He has been an extraordinary standard bearer for the town.”

By not re-contesting his seat next year, Mr Watson will miss out on the record for longest serving ML A for the Seat of Albany by just 20 days.

He was first elected to the position in 2001, knocking out Liberal politician Kevin Prince who held the seat for eight years.

He was reelected consecutively four times after that.

Mr Watson was appointed Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in 2017 after being Acting Speaker from March 2005 to August 2008 and again from November 2008 to January 2013.

The Labor MP said his career highlights included advocating for survivors of sexual abuse at St Andrew’s Hostel in Katanning, the development of Albany’s marina, entertainment centre and Anzac Peace Park, delivering a radiation oncology centre for Albany Health Campus and securing $15.2 million for Mt Lockyer Primary School’s major facelift.

“It has been a tremendous honour to have served the people of Albany since 2001,” Mr Watson said.

“I am incredibly proud that I have been able to change so many people’s lives for the better, and to play a part in a significant transformation of Albany over the past 20 years.”

Premier Mark McGowan congratulated Mr Watson for his service.

“Peter is one of WA’s most loved and recognised Members of Parliament and is highly respected, particularly in Albany,” he said.

“He has been truly embedded within the Albany community for the past 20 years and has advocated fiercely for his electorate.

“I thank Peter for his years of service to his electorate and Western Australia and wish him and his family well for the next chapter of his life.”

Mr Watson plans to travel with his partner Dianne and their dog Harry and spend more time with their grandchildren during his retirement.

He said his political successor should be someone who holds the same values as him, has strong ties to the community and would always put the people of Albany first.

“They will need to have a strong work ethic, empathy with people who are doing it tough, and be willing to fight for a cause no matter what the outcome,” he said.

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Girl power skates on

TEENAGE girls with dreams of roller derby stardom will be well supported in Albany this year, with the town’s popular Skate Like a Girl program set to enter its third rendition next week.

More than 160 youngsters from Albany, Denmark, Mount Barker and Tambellup have participated in the skating, mental health and physical wellbeing program since it was first launched by Albany Roller Derby League two years ago.

This year it will expand to include roller derby specific skills and low to moderate contact derby drills with the view of preparing those keen to join a junior roller derby team or age up into the adult team in the future.

Albany Roller Derby League coach Julie “Stax” Byrne-King said she had been “blown away by the skill progression” of participants in previous terms.

“They learn so much faster than adults and new skills and drills each week keep them entertained,” she said.

“We had them learning jump transition, where they skate forward, jump and turn 180 degrees and land it to keep skating … and this is a skill many of the adults don’t manage for six months at least.”

Skate Like a Girl made headlines last June when it become one of only two groups around the world selected to receive a grant worth thousands.

Healthway funding for the program was due to expire at the end of 2019 before United States skating organisation Girls on Track Foundation (GOTF) chose to support the program from a list of more than 40 applicants.

GOTF’s Carla Smith said at the time the league was one of the strongest and most likely to have a wide impact.

“Their successful Skate Like a Girl program and their aspirations to grow it and reach lower income families fit with our organisation’s goals of expanding awareness of and access to roller derby for teenage girls,” she said.

The program will run for girls aged 12 to 17 from 5 – 6.30pm every Thursday, commencing February 13.

Registration details can be found online at

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Safer roads on the horizon

THE second stage of a roadwork project targeting a “high-risk” section of Albany Highway is set to begin later this month.

An 11km stretch of the route running from Kojonup to Balgarup Road will be widened to 11 metres with two metre sealed shoulders.

It will also see safety barriers, pavement markings, audible edge lines and other minor intersection treatments implemented

The $3.85m expansion comes as part of a larger Regional Road Safety Program targeting 60km of road across seven regional areas in the state at risk of single vehicle run-off crashes.

Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts said these types of accidents were “one of the biggest causes of fatal and serious injury crashes in regional Western Australia.”

“We’re seeing more and more crashes caused by simple errors of judgements or moments of inattention,” she said.

“Safety treatments like widening the road, installing safety barriers and sealing the shoulders will create a safer environment on those high-risk roads.”

A spokesperson for Transport Minister Rita Saffioti told the Weekender that crash density on the targeted section of Albany Highway was “greater than other sections of the road network”.

“The predominant crash type on Albany Highway, outside the metropolitan area, is a single vehicle run-off road crash,” they said.

The Great Southern had 42 run-off road crashes resulting in at least one fatality between 2014 and 2019.

There were 241 general crashes on Albany Highway between Kojonup-Katanning Road and South Coast Highway near Albany in the five years to December 31, 2018.

Of these, six were fatal and 71 required hospital or medical treatment.

The stage two roadwork between Kojonup and Balgarup Road will build on clearing, earthwork and drainage improvements completed there in May last year.

Construction is expected to wrap up in June.

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100,000 reasons to smile

AN ALBANY shopper is now nearly $100,000 richer thanks to Saturday’s Super66 Division One Draw.

Lotterywest announced on Monday that a ticket sold at Clarks Newsagency on York Street had won $99,134.

Owner of Clarks Newsagency Greg Hopkins said he was delighted to see another win come from his store.

“I’ve been here for around 20 years and, in that time, our store has sold more than 20 Division One prizes,” he said.

“Although we’ve had a few Division One wins over the year, the feeling you get when you discover you have sold another one never gets old.”

Lotterywest spokesperson James Mooney said WA’s good fortune was spreading throughout the state.

“2020 has been very kind to WA players, with eight Division One games sold throughout the early stages of this year,” he said.

“Most of these games were sold north of Perth, so to see a Division One prize from Mandurah and Albany this time is proof a life-changing prize can be sold anywhere.

“On top of our run of winners, it’s also good to know by simply playing Lotterywest games you’re supporting hundreds of community groups.”

Albany has had more than a handful of lotto winners in recent years.

In 2018, a syndicate of 22 friends won $10 million on Oz Lotto and a married couple won $100,000 on a scratchie.

In 2017, a retired couple from the Great Southern won $420,000 on Saturday lotto and an Albany family won $670,000 on Saturday lotto.

In 2016, a workplace syndicate of 16 won $2.1 million on a Saturday Superdraw and a family won $300,000 on a scratchie.

In 2015, a couple from the Great Southern region won $3 million on Powerball, a person won $750,000 on Saturday Lotto and a couple won $100,000 on a scratchie.

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Albany stars in ‘rare’ film

DON’T be deterred by the cheesy trailer and poster thinking that H is for Happiness – filmed entirely in Albany – is just another kids film.

A recent reviewer of the movie described it as “rare” type of cinema and I’m obliged to agree.

When I sat down with dozens of extras and contributors for the first Albany screening last week, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I had spoken with the producers and actors about the movie for previous news stories published here, but I was still quite in the dark about it all.

What I saw was certainly not what I expected.

As a kid, seeing kids being the main protagonist in a movie was always pretty cool, because hey, that could be you on-screen.

As a teen and as a 20-something, seeing kids as the protagonist could be slightly painful to watch – the at-times annoying overacting, predictable dialogue and the disconnect you felt from the character due to age difference.

Daisy Axon, the lead of H is for Happiness, managed to completely dispel all of these things in her tween character Candice Phee.

Candice is full of cute, unapologetic quirks and exudes optimism to keep a positive front for her family, but not so painfully as to cause the audience to dislike her.

You can’t help but empathise and sympathise with her youthful disappointment in her family’s disconnect caused by a tragedy, as well as see what Candice does not fully understand – the pains of depression, loss, broken relationships, financial strain and all of those adult things.

But one of the most enjoyable parts of the movie is that these big issues are not forced down your throat to teach you a lesson; they are quietly ticking in the background.

It is true to how a young person sees the world – they see the problem but might not see the full picture.

Candice is everything that everyone should be; someone who is kind, non-judgmental, accepting and unflinching in her care for others.

Axon’s performance as Candice is truly beautiful.

It’s the subtleties of this movie that make it so great and the young actors who hold themselves with ease.

You almost don’t notice the big names of Richard Roxburgh, Joel Jackson, Deborah Mailman and Miriam Margolyes, because Axon and Wesley Patten – Candice’s counterpart in the other lead role of Douglas – don’t need their support.

These two young actors have a beautiful, delicate, innocent yet insightful relationship and chemistry on-screen that I am yet to see in cinema.

And it is because of this that sets H is For Happiness apart from any family movie I’ve ever seen.

Certainly a film the whole family can enjoy and take something away from.

Plus, seeing Albany in a movie is pretty cool.

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Possum pouches a perfect re-purpose

MORE than 30 pouches for baby possums and sugar gliders were handmade by a group of Albany crafters last week in response to the east coast’s cry out for help in protecting wildlife from the devastating bushfires.

Julie Crowe and Rachel Pontin were two of seven people who participated in a Refashion Session at Green Skills with the aim of helping injured wildlife.

The monthly session gives people the opportunity to reuse discarded materials to create new things, and this time, it was to make pouches for injured possums and sugar gliders.

The group made 33 pouches in two hours and sent the pouches to NSW this week.

“My daughter said she felt compelled to help the wildlife,” Ms Crowe said.

“We did a bit of research and found out that WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) was screaming out for sugar glider and possum pouches.

“We put it to the group, and everyone jumped on board.”

Ms Crowe had learned that during the fires, sugar gliders had begun dropping their babies accidentally over the fires due to disorientation.

The handmade pouches would be used as make-shift pouches for rescued animals.

“It’s empowering for the women because they are learning new skills as well as helping the environment, both by helping the wildlife and keeping materials out of landfill,” Ms Pontin said.

“We have monthly meets for the Refashion Sessions and it’s really the people who come along who decide what we make.

“So if more people want to make pouches, we have the patterns here that they can use.”

The next session will be on February 24, 6-8pm at the back of Green Skills Albany on Graham Street.

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Master blaster Crudeli saves day

CRICKET finally returned on Saturday after a long holiday hiatus and it showed, with a number of rusty performances but the usual suspects dominating.

Railways took on Denmark, who would want to forget 2019, losing the opening 10 games, and with zero points to show for the season thus far, what had they to lose?

And that is the attitude they came with after Railways won the toss and elected to bat – the score was soon 2-10 with both openers sent packing early.

The wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals with Railways 8/90 at one stage and looking like being dismissed for under triple figures.

But everywhere man Nathan Crudeli picked up exactly where he had left off before the break, smashing 73 off only 68 balls including three towering sixes.

He found a valuable ally in number 10 batsman Simon Harvey who made 17 runs and when Crudeli was last man out in the 38th over, Railways had managed to scramble to a competitive 147.

Bradley Stewart led the bowling attack with 3/37 while Graeme King, Aden Montague and Ben Attrill all took a couple of scalps.

Denmark started brightly and were 1/44 with opener Daniel Robson dominating proceedings and it looked like the Magpies would clock up their first win of the season.

But once Robson departed for a well-compiled 40, the flaky Denmark line-up collapsed to be all out for 101 in the 44th over, with Jarrad Fuller finishing with the amazing figures of 3/8 off 4.4 overs.

Over on Turf E, Collingwood Park won the toss and batted first and clearly their top-order had been working hard in the nets as they all had solid scores with the side finishing on 9/210 off their 50 overs.

The hard-hitting Nathan Dover, averaging more than 50 this season, smashed 76, Leroy Van Dan Dool was stumped on 48 and Nick Barrow made 37.

For Manypeaks, Paul ‘Burner’ Donaldson took 5/27 but the other bowlers, perhaps enjoying the festive break a little too much, rarely troubled the Parks’ batsmen.

Swashbuckling captain Aran Tilbury, in his eight games this season (when not in Bali), either makes a score in the teens or the forties but unfortunately is was the former this game as he was first out for 14.

The only bastman to make an impression was wicketkeeper Sebastian Stanton with 75 and the Peaks’ tail failed to wag and they were all out for 193 to lose only their second game of the year.

For the bowling side, Mathew Heberle was im- pressive with 4/35.

In the final game, an improving Mt Barker won their third game of the year, defeating Royals by 27 runs.

Opener Alexander Fergie held his wicket finishing with 77 not out, well supported by Clayton Wood with 53 not out.

Royals batted through their 50 overs but could not put the disciplined Barker bowling attack away, finishing with 9/163.

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Money for sports

ALBANY sport and recreation clubs received a significant boost to their coffers recently as part of Albany Community Bank’s pilot ‘Get in the Game’ raffle initiative.

Twenty sporting groups from across town raised a total $71,835 selling tickets for the raffle, with all proceeds going directly to the clubs.

The money will be used on items including new equipment and to support local sport programs, such as Albany Surf Life Saving Club’s nipper and youth sessions.

Bank Community Engagement Officer Lyn Lutley described the fundraiser as a success.

She said that the participating clubs eventually sold 14,367 of the 25,000 tickets printed by the bank.

“Sport and rec are always looking for money and support, they’re made up largely of volunteers,” Ms Lutley said.

“For the bank to be successful and deliver these sort of funding programs for areas of need, we need to build business within the community.”

The raffle draw on Friday was conducted by Branch Manager Natasha Thompson and South Stirling-born field hockey star Kathryn Slattery.

Ms Slattery told the gathering at the bank’s Centennial Park branch that it was always great to support local sport.

“I think it’s a great initiative from the bank and obviously I’m really happy to be involved in the program for this, picking out the names,” she said.

Arthur Gorman was the lucky winner of the first place $15,000 cash prize, while Mat Thompson, Denise Lucas, Eden Gray, Peter Muller and Linda Urry each received $1000 as runner-ups.

Albany Community Bank, a branch of Bendigo Bank, will host an information session regarding further sport and rec funding opportunities on March 26.

The organisation’s board is run by volunteers, with 80 per cent of its profits going back into the community.

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