Soapbox shortage threatens season

ALBANY Soapbox Club has offered to buy back soapbox racers from their owners as a shortage of the motorless vehicles threatens to dampen the start of the racing season.

Club President Larry Puls said the group, set to convene for its first meet of the year this Sunday, was “struggling” with the amount of soapboxes available for its members.

“In 2012, when we celebrated our 50th anniversary, there were 54 soapboxes at the championships and 28 of those were from Albany,” he said.

“Now we have nine of those left and 13 soapboxes all up. They’re something the Club really needs to have on display to show and teach newcomers about the sport.”

Soapboxes are typically made from aluminium or fibreglass and use gravity to propel down the racetrack, reaching speeds of between 80km/h and 100km/h.

The Australian National Soapbox Championships are held on Mount Clarence in Albany each year, with this year’s rendition taking place on April 11.

“Part of the reason we’re starting up registrations a little bit earlier than usual is the soapbox shortage,” Mr Puls said.

“Drivers need to have done three races before they can qualify to race in the championships.”

Mr Puls urged anyone with a soapbox “lying around in the shed or backyard” to consider selling it to the Club.

He also called on those aged six to 17 and curious about soapbox racing to sign up at the February 16 meet.

“It’s a different sport, it’s a fun sport,” Mr Puls said.

“It’s a sport where you don’t have to be athletic or know how to kick a ball, you just put your bum in a box and let gravity do the rest.”

Mr Puls can be contacted on 0439 395 860 or via email at [email protected]

Continue Reading

Campaign promotes early detection

A TELEVISION commercial featuring GPs from regional WA is among a number of Cancer Council WA public health campaigns driving home the ‘Find Cancer Early’ message.

Cancer Council WA Great Southern Regional Education Officer Bruce Beamish said while new data showed the Find Cancer Early messages were starting to show some impact, there was still a long way to go in improving early detection of cancer.

“The campaign is prompting people to take action, and our recent evaluation data reveals that more than a third of regional viewers took action as a result of seeing or hearing the Find Cancer Early advertisements,” he said

“Encouragingly, we’ve seen a 61 per cent increase from 2018 in people taking action within 12 weeks of seeing the campaign, but we’d still like to see people taking earlier action rather than waiting up to 12 weeks.”

Prostate, breast, skin, bowel and lung comprise almost 60 per cent of all cancer diagnoses.

Albany-based GP Dr Keerthana Muthurangan said she is never too busy to discuss important issues.

“No question is silly, weird or odd, especially if it is about possible cancer symptoms,” she said.

“It’s normal to be scared when you want to know if you could have cancer.

“We are here to provide you non-judgmental counselling and management.”

Mr Beamish said the aim of the Rural Doctors Bathroom campaign and other Find Cancer Early campaign materials was to increase awareness of the symptoms of the five most common cancers and motivate people to seek medical advice early on in WA.

The advertising campaign began on Sunday and will run for 13 weeks across the state.

For more information on Find Cancer Early, visit

Continue Reading

Unique masterpiece makes movie history

LEGENDARY South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho made history on Monday when his hit flick Parasite became the first foreign language film to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture.

Bong’s extraordinary achievement at the 92nd Academy Awards capped off a throng of accolades the film has received this award season and is elevated further when considering the behemoths he was up against.

Scorsese’s three-and-a-half hour gangster opus The Irishman, Tarantino’s ever-subversive Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood and Noah Baumbach’s incredibly realised Marriage Story fell short of Bong’s latest due to one inarguable truth: we knew what to expect.

That is not so much a critique of any of these films, all of which were some of the best put out by their respective auteurs in years, but a resounding endorsement of Bong’s latest.

Parasite is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

Described in some circles as a dark comedy, others as a mystery/ thriller, and elsewhere yet as something akin to a capitalistic horror, the 2019 film is difficult to present cleanly.

Its eclecticism makes it frustrating to talk about, in large part because to ruin even one of the numerous twists and surprise tonal shifts that riddle its runtime could be regarded as a moviegoer’s cardinal sin.

Suffice to say, the film succeeds in merging these aforementioned genres in a way that ensures you never quite know where you’re going.

The simple premise is this; a family, clinging to the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder in South Korea’s capital of Seoul, find themselves in the employ of their far wealthier counterparts by way of luck.

An unexpected discovery, and the word ‘unexpected’ cannot be stated enough, soon threatens their shot at financial stability.

That’s it. That’s all I can say.

Parasite is buoyed by some incredible performances by Kang-ho Song, an acting titan in South Korea comparable in prestige to Al Pacino, Woo-sik Choi and So-dam Park.

The visuals are sharp, the score suits perfectly, and the script and dialogue, which shifts between Korean and occasionally English, is witty, realistic and memorable.

While the subtitle averse might find the idea of a foreign language film daunting, Parasite does not feel inaccessible in the slightest.

Bong has a proven history of merging the world of Western cinema with its Asian equivalent, having directed cross cultural crowd pleasers like 2013’s Snowpiercer and Okja four years later.

Much like these films, Parasite explores themes relevant and familiar to audiences across the globe, and is likely to strike a chord with almost everyone because of it.

It serves as a biting dissection of class struggle and income inequality, as well as a morally-challenging exploration of the lengths we will go to in order to make a life for our loved ones.

It’s funny. It’s clever. It’s brutal and unnerving and immensely satisfying, and hands-down the right choice for Best Picture this year.

Continue Reading

Black dog ride to red centre

MORE than 100 Great Southern motorbike riders will join upward of 6000 others across the country to raise awareness for depression and suicide prevention next month.

The Black Dog Ride 1 Dayer will take place on Sunday, March 15 and see Great Southerners depart from Denmark’s Koorabup Park and ride through Mt Barker, Porongurup, along the Kalgan River, through to Marine Drive at Middleton Beach, along York Street, Albany Highway and back out along Lower Denmark Road.

1 Dayers will take place across the country on the same day along various routes.

Denmark Coordinator Rob Woods said the Black Dog Ride brought many people together to reduce the stigma around mental health.

He said a second larger ride would see motorbike groups from across Australia ride together in August.

“We start in Busselton and ride to Hyden, Norseman, along the Nullarbor to Ceduna, we all meet in Port Augusta then ride together to Coober Pedy and then to Alice Springs,” Mr Woods said.

“It’s about starting conversations about depression and suicide prevention and getting people talking about it.”

Bev Seeney, who has had her own experiences with depression and suicide, has participated in the ride with husband Roger for the past eight years.

She said the Black Dog Ride often brought back the same people every year, creating a second family of support for her.

“I feel very supported by Roger and everyone,” Ms Seeney said.

“It’s a lot of fun, there’s plenty of camaraderie in the group and they really are like an extended family.”

“I’ve seen the knock-on effects of suicide and depression,” Mr Seeney added.

“This is a way of helping, getting people talk- ing, and reminding peo- ple that it is an illness – not a stigma.”

Those interested in participating in the Denmark Black Dog Ride can sign up at

Continue Reading

Love conquers all

AN EVENING at square dancing in Victoria was where the love story of Albany retirees Allan and Doris Brown began nearly 70 years ago.

The couple has seen more of history than most people, born at the end of World War I and during the golden decade of the “roaring” 1920s.

After 18 months together, they decided to marry in Rochester, Victoria in 1954.

Doris, now 102 years old, and 96-year-old Allan reflected fondly and cheekily on their 66 years of marriage with the Weekender.

“We were going to be married in the Presbyterian church, but the minister had a heart attack the night before,” Mr Brown said.

“So we ended up getting married in the Methodist church.

“I remember it was a wet day, very wet – they threw confetti on our car, it was a Dodge car, and it was so wet that the confetti stained the car!

“When we sold it years later, it had coloured stripes on it.”

After 14 years of marriage, the Browns decided to move their young family to Albany to live and started farming.

Now, with their children in their 60s and with not quite enough energy to maintain a working farm, Mr and Mrs Brown call Clarence Estate in Spencer Park home.

They don’t have any plans for Valentine’s Day this year – in fact, when asked whether they would celebrate it, Mrs Brown’s eyeroll was quite amusing – as they have never really made a big deal out of the event.

They are more than happy to spend tomorrow like any other day – Mr Brown tending to the gardens and looking after the birds, and Mrs Brown relaxing in her favourite armchair.

Continue Reading

More toys for us

THOUSANDS of dollars worth of new toys are now ready and waiting for children and their families to ‘check out’ from the revamped Rainbow Coast Toy Library.

Now located at the former kindergarten rooms at St Joseph’s College, the toy library, which allows families to borrow six toys for three weeks at a time, is raring to go and welcomes new members.

It recently celebrated its 30th birthday and with that, secured the upgraded facility and additional grants to now have a toy library worth at least $20,000.

President Michelle Hassell said there was more than enough toys to share around.

“We really want to promote stopping unnecessary expenditure and reusing, instead of sending old toys to landfill,” she said.

“Studies have shown children get bored of toys after about one and a half weeks, so why not borrow different toys all the time?”

Ms Hassell said educational resources were also available at the toy library to assist children with school readiness.

The volunteer-based organisation is open 10am to noon every Saturday and has more than 50 families already utilising its products.

Ms Hassell hopes now that the new library is fully operational, more families will sign up for a membership.

Continue Reading

Film festival dives in deep

AUDIENCES at the Ocean Film Festival coming to Albany this month will witness the wonders of the big blue deep from the comfort of a theatre seat.

Coming to the Albany Entertainment Centre on February 26, the Ocean Film Festival will showcase a selection of short films spanning from the North Pole to the South Pacific.

These films from around the globe document the beauty and power of the ocean and celebrate the divers, surfers, swimmers and oceanographers who live for the sea’s salt spray, who chase the crests of waves and who marvel at the mysteries of the big blue.

Each of the festival’s films conveys a deep respect and appreciation for the world’s oceans and the creatures that call them home.

A Corner of the Earth starring professional surfer Fraser Dovell explores his surfing during the brutal northern winters.

Swimming With Gentle Giants highlights wildlife photographer Scott Portelli’’s documentation and capturing of humpback whale behaviour in Tonga.

Deep Sea Polynesia shows a team of divers exploring the South Pacific’s coral during dives of up to 150m of previously unexplored waters.

You can secure your tickets to the event via the entertainment centre’s website – – or at the box office.

The festival’s carefully curated selection of films will light up silver screens in 29 towns and cities.

Visit the Ocean Film Festival Australia Facebook page for updates and under sea tasters.

Continue Reading

Caffeine cravings costs driver $500

CAFFEINE cravings have cost a man $500 after he pleaded guilty in Albany Magistrate Court last Thursday to driving without a licence while on his way to pick up an iced coffee.

In what will likely be his most expensive coffee run ever, Ethan Ross Newbey was also handed a six-month driving suspension for the January 1 trip to Jerramungup Roadhouse.

The court heard Mr Newbey told police he “only came down for a bottle of Dare.”

In sentencing, Magistrate Raelene Johnston questioned why the 28-year-old father of two would take such a risk for a simple caffeine hit.

“It was an expensive bottle of ice coffee you wanted to buy,” she said.

In a separate offence, Mr Newbey pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of an illicit drug.

Prosecuting Sergeant Peter Yuswak told the court Mr Newbey had tested positive for methamphetamine and cannabis after police stopped him shortly before 4pm on September 28.

He said this was Mr Newbey’s second conviction for this type of offence.

Magistrate Johnston handed down a $400 fine and a nine-month driving suspension.

“Do not drive without authority,” she warned.

“People can go to jail for their third conviction.”

Combined, Mr Newbey will have to fork out $900, plus costs, and have to wait at least 15 months before he can legally drive again.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.”

Continue Reading