Hats off

DON’T be surprised to see dozens of women dressed in red hats and purple outfits converging on Albany next week.

More than 150 members of the Red Hat Society will arrive from all over the state, as well as from the eastern states, to take part in the Amazing Albany Red Hat Adventure.

They will be joined by red hatters from the two local chapters, who have organised the event.

The Red Hat Society was formed in America nearly 20 years ago and is aptly described as “a playgroup for women, created to connect like-minded women, make new friends and enrich lives through the power of friendship”.

Membership is primarily for women over 50 who still have lots to give and whose ethos is to meet and have fun with women from all walks of life.

Each chapter is headed by a queen, and the dress code of red and purple reflects a boldness of spirit and a desire to enjoy life to the fullest.

Red hat chapters meet on a regular basis, dressed to the nines and keen to make a splash wherever they go.

Large gatherings, cruises and conventions are also frequently organised, encouraging members to have fun with new friends and enjoy different experiences.

The official Amazing Albany Red Hat Adventure program takes place from March 9-11, and the Dog Rock Motel and Function Centre will be hosting activities throughout the weekend.

Bus trips and a river cruise have been arranged for the visitors, with many red hatters extending their sojourn in Albany so they can explore everything the city has to offer.

Local business operators have also come to the party and shown enthusiastic support for Albany’s inaugural RHS adventure.

Participating shops and cafés will decorate their windows in red and purple with welcoming posters adding to the vibrancy and colour of the weekend.

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Watto chokes $7m from minister

MEMBER for Albany Peter Watson has managed to wrestle the final $6.922 million needed to complete Stage 2 of the Centennial Park redevelopment out of Minister for Sport and Recreation Mick Murray.

At Centennial Park on Tuesday Mr Murray said the last injection of money would allow the City of Albany to execute the overall vision for the park developed in 2015 and would be a major drawcard for Albany once completed.

“Peter has been very active in making sure everything happens,” he said.

Mr Murray said Mr Watson had been in constant contact asking when the final round of funding would be made available.

“It’s important for the Albany community and important for the kids of Albany to have a safe and well-built place to play sports,” he said.

With the projected finishing date of October 2019 and an approximate total cost of $42 million, Mr Watson said once completed, the facility would be “just about state-of-the-art” for regional areas.

“Mick pushed through the funding pretty quick,” the former Olympic runner said.

“Centennial Park is going to be an important social and sporting aspect to the Albany community.

“This will be the best sporting facility in the Great Southern, and it will provide players and spectators with everything they need to enjoy their chosen sport.”

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Non-recyclers now up for $350 fine

A NEW law that gives officials the power to fine residents $350 if they toss recyclable waste into their general waste or organic waste bins was unanimously approved at a meeting of Albany city councillors on Tuesday night.

As recently revealed by The Weekender (‘Rubbish mix-up could be costly’, February 15), ratepayers may now also be fined $350 if they place general waste in a recycling or organic waste bin, or organic waste in a general or recycling bin.

In a report to the councillors, the city’s manager for governance and risk, Stuart Jamieson, defined recyclable waste as paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, steel and aluminium containers, liquid paperboard and any other waste determined by the city to be recyclable.

On November 22, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation consented to a draft of the local law.

Mr Jamieson advised that the law would need to go back to the department’s CEO for consideration if Albany’s elected officials suggested even minor changes.

If major changes had been requested, city officials would have needed to start the legislative drafting process over again.

He noted that “negative community feedback” could be a major consequence if the city failed to communicate and justify the new law adequately to residents.

The local law is based on a model prepared by the department and the WA Local Government Association.

The law also makes it legal, for commercial operators to pick up waste from verge collections.

On Tuesday night, Cr Sandie Smith said she was “really pleased” to support that part of the law.

“It’s a really good example of council listening to residents,” she said.

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The final countdown

IT’S never easy saying goodbye.

Alas, I must, because life is hectic and OMG.

Being able to speak to you in this space every week has been absolutely incredible, and the feedback I have received has been awesome.

From buying Christmas gifts to homelessness, to treating yourself and exercise, to being an adult to dressing fab, we have certainly been on a journey.

Every time I have sat down to write this space to you, I have thought long and hard about what to say.

I have never wanted to disappoint you nor bore you to death, so I hope over the past few months I have made you laugh, smile, ponder and maybe shed a tear, because that’s what life is all about.

But don’t panic, I’m not disappearing all together; just from this space on page 2.

Who knows, I might make a comeback, I might not; let’s see what the future holds.

So today, I thought we could look back on how much of my personal life I have publicly displayed to the world, and give you an update on how things are going in Ash World.

*Cue Wayne’s World spirit fingers and tongue- rolling noises*

#1: Oh, what a feeling

Well, newsflash, I’ve decided I do actually love my car and want to keep it for a couple more years, at least.

I know my brother is still trying to wangle his way into convincing my parents he needs a V8 and I’m still whinging about my car never looking clean despite regular washes, so yeah, cars.

#2: Moving on out

I hope to move out soon with a very lovely person who makes a mean fish and chips and gives great massages, so that future is certainly looking bright.

As long as that person realises there will definitely be pink mugs and pink pillows in the house, we should be fine.

#3: Reignite the spark

I’m learning to love Albany again and stop whinging about everything, because we really do live in a beautiful part of the world and the beaches here are pretty.

Having to only drive 10 minutes for a cheeky nug run is also a great bonus of Albany’s smallness.

I hope you are still loving this little part of the world too.

#4: Get your sleep on

I’m still waking up like a zombie each day, but I’m aware of stuff I can do to ‘get in the sleep zone’.

Reminder: #dimthatscreen if you insist on carrying on your late-night text seshs until 2am.

#5: Dress to be the best

I still unconsciously dress to the nines everywhere I go, but I have learned to turn it down in casual settings.

You’ll be proud of me – I wore leggings and a cardigan to a mate’s place the other day, without a high heel in sight, so go me.

#6: Heartbreak Hotel

I have well and truly vacated from this joint and am now incredibly happy with a handsome fisherman.

He makes me feel the happiest I have ever felt in my life, so I hope you all find someone who makes you feel as special as he makes me feel.

#7: These battle scars

As I said the other day, I’m still hanging in there with my anxiety.

I am more determined than ever to not let it stop me from doing stuff, and I am super, super proud of myself for my progress.

So now, my dear friends, our time together is over, for the time being.

I hope my little babble each week has given you at least a snippet of the joy that it has brought me.

Ciao for now. xo

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Transformation trail

IF YOU are someone who pays close attention to detail, you may have noticed pops of colour appearing around Albany on the odd electrical transformer box.

Don’t worry, you aren’t seeing things.

These new and colourful displays of art are part of the FORM PUBLIC Silo Trail, which has travelled throughout regional WA for the past three years and reached Albany earlier this week.

The PUBLIC Silo Trail has painted murals on grain silos, transformer boxes and infrastructure in Northam, Ravensthorpe, Merredin, Katanning and now Albany, in an attempt to put regional WA into the spotlight.

FORM project officer Kim Kirkman said the trail was the brainchild of the Perth art group and was aimed at making WA a more creative place.

“We want to celebrate regional WA and ultimately, boost cultural tourism,” she said.

“We’ve chosen quite noticeable and prominent places to paint.”

Perth artist Rachelle Dusting is one of the artists commissioned to paint Albany and was allocated a transformer box opposite Dog Rock on Middleton Road, and one near the UWA Albany Centre on Stirling Terrace.

The 26-year-old said her childhood memories of her Albany-based grandmother’s garden inspired her floral designs.

“My usual style is realism and portraiture, so it’s quite the contrast with this project,” she said.

Ms Dusting said one of the things she had to consider when creating her designs was the distance from which people would view the transformer boxes.

“I’ve broken apart the patterns so you can still get the full impact at a distance.

“I really just wanted to bring more dynamic to the sites, so I stayed true to the colours of the flowers [banksia and spider orchid].”

The PUBLIC Silo Trail will attack the Albany grain silos with colour at the end of the month, and move to another secret regional location in April, so keep an eye out on the website for further details – publicsilotrail.com.

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Albany shopping Dullsville

ALBANY has the most restrictive shopping hours of any place with a Woolworths, Coles or ALDI in the south-western corner of the continent, and there are no plans to change the status quo.

The Weekender called every leader of the 11 local government areas with a Woolies, Coles or ALDI in the Great Southern and South West regions to gauge their views on deregulated shopping.

Of the nine leaders who got back to us, only Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington was unable to speak from a position of first-hand experience with extended hours in his area.

“I don’t know anyone that would go to a town just because it’s got seven-day trading,” he said.

One tourist who does not let his dislike for Albany’s shopping hours get in the way of visiting is Dardanup Shire President Mick Bennett.

“When I go down to Albany, I can never get anything,” he lamented.

“I come down there regularly and when I try to go shopping, I can’t.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love the way Albany operates when there’s a tourist ship in; they are magnificent at that.”

In Dardanup (population 14,233), where big supermarkets have been allowed to trade 24/7 since 1994, Coles and Woolworths operate 7am to 9pm seven days a week, and Kmart opens around the clock.

“Before deregulation, we didn’t have much shopping, a bit of a dormitory suburb [of Bunbury], really, and we thought it was time we branched out and got our own deal going,” Cr Bennett said.

“When they decided to come in, Kmart said: ‘Oh, this might put a bit of pressure on Perth if we can open 24 hours in a sleepy little place like Dardy’.

“We would be hung, drawn and quartered if we said we were going to change back.”

From Cr Bennett’s neighbouring City of Bunbury (population 34,467), Mayor Gary Brennan said total deregulation of shopping hours in 2015 was a likely factor in ALDI recently opening a supermarket there.

“The longer hours give business people and the community choice, that’s the key thing,” he said.

Mr Wellington said that during his 17 years on Albany council he had always absented from voting on shopping hours because he was a co-owner of Leading Edge Hi Fi.

He confirmed the city (population 37,233) had no plans to revisit the shopping hours debate, which last occurred in July 2016.

At the time, six elected officials – including current councillors Paul Terry, Ray Hammond, Bill Hollingworth and Alison Goode – voted down a plan by city tourism development manager Matt Bird that in 2019 the council consider consulting the community on extended shopping hours.

Capel Shire President Murray Scott said his local IGA had not suffered since extended trading was introduced for larger supermarkets in 2015.

“Capel’s got an IGA that’s open seven days and there’s always people there,” he said.

In Capel (population 17,316), the Dalyellup Woolworths opens 8am to 9pm every day.

Cr Scott said extended trading may have been a factor in Coles’ recent decision to buy a block of land across the road from Woolworths.

Murray Shire President David Bolt said that since seven-day trading was introduced there in 2012, ratepayers had embraced it.

“Seven-day trading supports increased visitation, in line with the shire’s and its community’s awakened tourism focus for Pinjarra and the wider Murray district,” he said.

From Augusta/Margaret River, where Woolworths and Coles trade 8am to 8pm seven days a week, Shire President Pam Townshend said locals and visitors “loved” the longer hours.

“I think the IGA was the one that struggled the most, but there’s such a big ‘shop local’ campaign in Margaret River from people who want to support the IGA, and they’re doing okay,” she said.

From Busselton (population 26,355), Mayor Grant Henley said he had not noticed any impact on small businesses since trading hours were extended in February 2015.

“Interestingly, we just had an ALDI open last year and an additional Coles supermarket,” he said.

“When the ALDI opened, they chose not to go on the full hours available.

“They’re more interested in the customers coming to them when they’re open, rather than because they’re open.”

In Manjimup, with a population of 9404, Shire President Paul Omodei said extended trading had worked “extremely well” since being introduced in September 2014.

“It certainly was a big step for a community with a lot of small businesses, but I certainly think it is working,” he said.

Harvey Shire President Tania Jackson said extended trading had probably been a factor in ALDI deciding Australind would be its first location in south-western Australia.

“We have certainly had some benefits, but I do feel the local smaller shops have either had to come along for the ride or deal with stiff competition from the [bigger players] now,” she said.

The shire presidents of Katanning (Liz Guidera) and Collie (Sarah Stanley) – where extended trading also occurs – did not return calls.

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A balcony fit for Juliet

THE first balcony at the Albany Club on which a woman member is allowed to stand was officially launched on Monday.

And like the decision almost 30 years ago to open the then exclusively gentlemen’s club up to women, the opening of the balcony door to a gentle easterly was an understated but liberat- ing affair.

Optometrist Alison Steer, whose father Geoff is a long-term member, said that in 1990 when she became the club’s first woman member, there was no- where else in town appropriate for informal business meetings.

“This was a nice, secluded place to bring business people and reps,” she said.

“I guess I got a bit of inside knowledge about the club from Dad feeding me bits about what was going on.

“I knew all the members anyway; they were family friends.”

Graham Wroth and Alison Steer at the balcony launch.

In the lead-up to Ms Steer’s membership, renovations were hastily arranged for the 1887-built clubhouse, which had no women’s toilets.

“I’ve heard the story that in the club constitution, when it was first written, that because there was no dream that women would even be involved, it just listed ‘member’,” she said.

“So there was no constitutional change needed, and there was very little excuse for them not to let me in.”

Ms Steer said there were lots of behind-the-scenes whispers about her signing up that she heard “bits and pieces of”, but once members “got their heads around it, it really was a non- issue for me when I first rocked up”.

“At first they wanted me to stay in the front bar, but no-one else was there, so I said ‘that’s not going to happen’ , and quickly walked into the main billiard room, and everyone said ‘hello’,” she added.

She said the new balcony, overlooking Aberdeen Street, was “unbelievably fantastic”.

“There used to be a door up there that led nowhere, but now it leads on to the balcony, and the building looks complete,” she said.

Club President Daphne Cotton and Mayor Dennis Wellington at the balcony launch.

At the launch, Mayor Dennis Wellington unveiled a plaque.

He recalled that in the 1980s, when he was a real estate agent and club member, he tried to have a business meeting with a woman sales manager from Skywest Airlines at the venue, because it was the nicest spot in town.

“There were a few coronaries in the pool room, and I was told it was totally unacceptable,” he said.

There have now been three women club presidents, including current president Daphne Cotton. The club’s next project is to revive a spindly 110-year-old rose bush out the front that’s seen far better days.

Photos: Chris Thomson

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Weed warrior named Denmark’s top citizen

THERE was a lot of love at Denmark council chambers on Tuesday afternoon as weed warrior Diane Harwood was named citizen of the year.

Outside the chambers after receiving the shire’s top gong, Ms Harwood, a passionate member of the Denmark Weed Action Group, said she was “very surprised” to have been honoured.

“It means, to me, that people out in the community really care for the bush the way I do,” she said.

“There’s a lot of people out there who agree with the way the group works in the bush, which is a very gentle way.

“We don’t go in with a machine, but do hand-weeding and it looks as if nothing’s happened.”

Minutes earlier, from her shire president’s chair, Ceinwen Gearon had said Ms Harwood was well-known for doing “lots of work on the ground”.

“Diane is passionate about our bushland and we’re grateful to her for all the work she has done,” Cr Gearon said.

Denmark local Andrew Dickinson then stepped to a lectern and, in the direction of Cr Gearon and her dormant gavel, was moved to bush verse:

This town has a hero, the bush has a friend, a champion there to protect

our natural environment so rich and so wild, the places to which we connect.

One of a small band of women so strong, quietly chipping away,

tipping the balance to favour the bush, removing the weeds that held sway.

Releasing the natives has been her life’s work. Though comrades have fallen aside,

her focus stayed strong and she knew right from wrong. She’d carry this flame ‘til she died.

Now she has a band protecting this land from the beautiful escapees,

for her passion inspires, her strength we admire. What a gutsy woman is she!

Over so many years and in so many ways she has tried to educate us.

But despair she has known, for the bush that she loved faced a death of a thousand cuts.

In performing her tasks she has mastered her craft, refining bush re-gen techniques.

So pay attention you fellas and lend her your ear and listen whenever she speaks.

This town has a hero who has worked long and hard.

To her we should take off our hat.

She is truly a gem, a national treasure

and citizen of the year at that.

A spontaneous round of applause erupted from the packed public gallery.

Photo: Chris Thomson

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Have you tried the frogs’ legs?

EMU POINT resident Emily Elsasser came home from dinner on Friday night to a surprising encounter and may have inadvertently captured the first photographic record of a motorbike frog (litoria moorei) eating another.

With more than 40 years’ experience in studying zoology and the biology of frogs, Dr Dale Roberts from the University of Western Australia was surprised to see the behaviour of two motorbike frogs in a photo taken by Ms Elsasser on Friday.

“I’ve seen plenty of large frogs consuming smaller frogs, and frogs of similar size before,” he said.

“But this is the first photographic evidence I’ve seen of a litoria moorei, or motorbike frog, consuming another.”

Dr Roberts said he had heard previously from people that they had seen motorbike frogs eating each other, but had no actual proof.

“To my knowledge there aren’t any scientific papers in circulation that dissect the diet of these frogs,” he said.

Ms Elsasser had to grab her glasses to make sure she knew what she was looking at when she arrived home.

“We live near a big wetland area, so we’re used to sharing our backyard with frogs in the evening,” she said.

“After getting that little bit of rain the last few evenings, all kinds of frogs have been coming out to sit on the lawn or on our window sills.

“They love to sit there and eat the bugs attracted by our lights.”

Friday night was a first for Ms Elsasser though, after she spotted a small motorbike frog seemingly being devoured by a larger one.

“I didn’t have my glasses on, so all I saw was this strange two-headed frog on the window sill,” she said.

After racing back inside, Ms Elsasser was surprised to see the cannibalistic action.

“I had to be quick to take the photo before they noticed me,” she said.

“I went back a bit later and they were gone.

“I’m glad that I don’t know what happened to the poor thing.”

Photo: Emily Elsasser

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Arson squad probes yacht death

A YACHT gutted by a fire that killed a man and his dog at Little Grove last week has been moved to Emu Point for in-depth Arson Squad investigation, but police do not think the blaze was suspiciously lit – at this stage.

Great Southern Police Superintendent Dom Wood said the yacht Freelander had been taken to Emu Point and lifted from the water to be secured so Arson Squad could do a thorough investigation.

Earlier, police spokeswoman Susan Usher said the yacht had burst into flames about 8pm on February 15 at Princess Royal Sailing Club.

She said that after fire fighters extinguished the blaze, the yacht’s owner, a man in his 70s, was located on board.

Ms Usher said the cause of the fire was undetermined and police would prepare a report for the Coroner.

Arson Squad attended the yacht club on February 16 to undertake a preliminary investigation.

Inspector Wood said the man’s pet dog also perished in the fire.

Photo: Chris Thomson

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