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e-Newsletter December 2009

Improved infrastructure needed to meet industry growth 

The South West Development Commission is supporting a stakeholder group working to ensure the Bunbury-Wellington region receives the $756 million in rail, road and port infrastructure it requires to stimulate future industry growth.

Working in partnership with the Bunbury Wellington Economic Alliance and Bunbury Port Authority, the Commission is advocating for a transport funding package for the South West that covers:

  • Completion of all stages of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road and Bunbury Port Access Road;
  • Funding for the diversion of the Preston River to allow infrastructure articulation to the Bunbury Port;
  • Dualling of the rail link between Brunswick and the Port;
  • Improved traffic management at the Bunbury Eelup Roundabout; and
  • The safety and bottleneck issues on the Coalfields Highway.

Commission chief executive officer Don Punch said a presentation to State Cabinet and a submission to Infrastructure Australia had been carried out.

"Efficient transport infrastructure and port operations in the Bunbury-Wellington area are essential for the South West to continue the strong contribution to regional, State and national productivity," he said.

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The South West Development Commission is focusing on improving local transport infrastructure.

Plans to create World of Energy museum in the South West 

The South West could one day be home to a museum highlighting the history of electricity production in Western Australia.

The South West Development Commission is investigating a proposal to relocate the contents of the World of Energy − a former Western Power museum based in Fremantle - to the region.

The World of Energy collection is the largest of its kind in Western Australia and includes early diesel generators from the 1920s through to a fully-functioning wind turbine generator, antique domestic appliances and interpretive materials on sustainable energy.

A feasibility study detailing options for relocating the impressive collection has been completed and the Commission is set to present the report to the SWDC Board for consideration.

Commission chief executive officer Don Punch said the South West would be an ideal place to relocate the display to.

"The region is being considered as the first option because of its long association with power generation and potential to be included in the highly successful Working Life Heritage Trail," he said.

"Relocating the World of Energy exhibit to the region would reflect the industrial heritage of the region and add to its tourism potential.

"The collection includes some fascinating and historically significant objects, including the East Perth Power Station Turbo Alternator, and would be of interest to industrial heritage enthusiasts, school groups and tourists in general."

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A proposal to relocate the World of Energy museum to the South West is being investigated by the South West Development Commission.

Popular Working Life Heritage Trail welcomes new sites 

People are being encouraged to explore the history of the South West region by following the refreshed Working Life Heritage Trail.

A link of historical sites across the region, the popular trail recently grew to include Wonnerup and Augusta Historical Museum and now features 20 attractions that tell the story of the region's past.

From Yarloop Workshops to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, the trail highlights the efforts of pioneers who helped shape the region.

South West Working Life Association chairman David Partridge said the new sites enhanced the trail, giving visitors further opportunity to learn about the region's history around settlement.

 "Wonnerup, a National Trust property, has been an icon in the Busselton district for many years and the history behind it is really fascinating," he said.

"The Augusta Museum is a most interesting museum with a maritime theme and we are just so pleased it, along with Wonnerup, has become part of the trail."

The Working Life Heritage Trail was created by the South West Development Commission in partnership with heritage site operators.

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Wonnerup’s Margaret Dunn showcases some of the treasures at the historic house.

BMX champ crowned top athlete 

Local BMX star Lauren Reynolds capped off an outstanding year on the track by taking out the major prize at the South West Academy of Sport's inaugural awards.

The exciting Clifton Park talent was named the winner of the Sports Star of the Year Award (sponsored by The Griffin Group) and accepted her trophy at a special gala dinner at the All Seasons Sanctuary Golf Resort on Friday December 4.

Reynolds competed at several international events this year to earn an impressive seventh overall placing in the 2009 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup, placing her in a prime position to claim the award.

She said it was an honour to be named the academy's top athlete for 2009.

"The South West Academy of Sport has been a lift up for the South West and the young talent coming through," Reynolds said.

"It's really something special to be part of the program and to win the overall Sports Star of the Year was even better again. It is an honour and something I will carry with me forever."

The awards night, attended by about 180 guests including Olympic hockey player Kobie McGurk and Minister for Sport and Recreation Terry Waldron, also recognised the best athletes in the academy's partner sports of basketball, hockey, Australian Rules football and soccer.

Up-and-coming basketball player James Goodlad claimed the Emerging Star Award (sponsored by the Department of Sport and Recreation).

The Australian Rules Football Athlete of the Year (sponsored by the WA Football Commission) was won by Manjimup young gun Riley Hutchinson.

Bunbury court talent Tyler Hickert won the Basketball Athlete of the Year Award (sponsored by MPM Development Consultants and Stockman Holden).

The Football (Soccer) Athlete of the Year Award (sponsored by City of Bunbury Councillor Derek Spencer) was presented to promising young athlete Callum Richardson of Australind.

Gifted Gelorup hockey player Aimee Harris was crowned the recipient of the Hockey Athlete of the Year Award (sponsored by FHE Field Hockey Equipment and WA Country Builders).

SWAS chief executive officer Bernice Butlion congratulated all award winners.

"These fine athletes have worked hard for their results and are deserving of being the South West Academy of Sport's inaugural award winners," she said.

"I'm sure we can expect more achievements from these bright young stars in the future."

Butlion also thanked local businesses and individuals for making the awards night possible, including Lomax Media and Totally Sound.

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Clifton Park speedster Lauren Reynolds can add another trophy to her cabinet after winning the SWAS Sports Star of the Year Award.

Royalties for Regions workshops held across region 

A series of workshops were held across the region over November and December to inform people about applying for funding through the Royalties for Regions - South West Regional Grants Scheme.

The South West Development Commission conducted the workshops in Manjimup, Bunbury, Margaret River and Collie to give groups and organisations a clear understanding of the grants application process.

Commission chief executive officer Don Punch said there was $3.5 million available through the current round of funding.

"The current round of the South West Regional Grants Scheme closes on February 10 2010 so there is plenty of time for people to prepare their application and build partnerships with other funding providers," he said.

The South West Regional Grants Scheme, which is in its second round, aims to improve economic and community infrastructure and services in the South West region.

For more information about the grants scheme or to apply go to the South West Regional Grants Scheme page or contact grants coordinator Gayle Gray.

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Lora Osborne, Mabel McLachlan and Beth Reynolds celebrate the Busselton CWA's new roof.

South West a top holiday destination 

Forget scaling the Sydney Harbour Bridge, snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef or marvelling at Uluru.

International tourists are being encouraged to spend next year walking at sunrise on the Bibbulmun Track, canoeing under the forest canopy at Nannup and swimming with Bunbury's dolphins.

In its recently released Best in Travel publication, leading travel guide company Lonely Planet named the South West corner of Australia as one of the world's top 10 regions to visit in 2010.

The book is a collection of the world's best journeys, destinations and experiences for the year ahead.

Tourism Minister Liz Constable was thrilled a Western Australian destination was chosen to feature in the influential guide, noting the South West was the only region in Australia to rate a mention.

"This recognition elevates the South West on to the world's stage, alongside some internationally recognised destinations such as Bali, Alsace in France, the Lake District in England and Southern Africa," Dr Constable said.
The Minister said the South West's inclusion on the list would provide extraordinary exposure for the region and the rest of the State.   
"The Lonely Planet guide books are read by millions of travellers around the world and this provides the region with a promotional opportunity money can't buy," she said.

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Joseph and Colin Norris walk the Bibbulmun Track at Pemberton.

Regional rock event set to attract 10,000 

Make sure you circle May 15 on next year's calendar - that's the date touring music festival Groovin the Moo is coming to Bunbury.

The event, which will benefit from a $50,000 grant from the South West Development Commission, is expected to attract up to 10,000 people and feature high profile national and international artists.

With a growing reputation for boasting a unique atmosphere and a consistently exciting line-up of music, Groovin the Moo festivals have become a fixture of the Australian music calendar.

This year's events in Maitland, Bendigo and Townsville were attended by a total of 38,000 people keen to see live performances from big-name acts including The Living End, Hilltop Hoods and The Grates.

Stephen Halpin from Cattleyard Promotions, which promotes Groovin the Moo, said Bunbury was one of two new locations set to host the event in 2010.

"The GTM team is really excited to be adding Canberra and Bunbury as the fourth and fifth leg of the GTM festival tour in 2010," he said.

"Both are fantastic locations that will no doubt create a great vibe to go with an amazing line-up next May."

The line-up is expected to be announced early February, with plans already underway for two main stages and a "Moolin Rouge" circus big top to act as the dance tent.

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The crowd at this year’s Groovin the Moo festival in Bendigo. Picture: Liane Audrins.

International art event “mooving” to Margaret River 

An event set to turn people's attention to Margaret River next year is CowParade, a fun and quirky public art exhibition featuring life-size cow sculptures.

CowParade has been held in more than 50 cities around the world including Paris, London and New York and the event in Margaret River will be the first time it has been held in a regional area.

Artists have already begun transforming 80 fibreglass cows into pieces of art in anticipation for the event, with artist Ken Done and television news presenter Natalie Barr kicking the process off by painting a cow live on Sunrise in November.

Come March, the cows will be seen "grazing" at iconic attractions and local businesses throughout the Margaret River region.

Over four months, visitors will be encouraged to follow the cow trail using a free specially-designed map and participate in a variety of cow-themed events including cheese-making classes and milk-carton regattas.

South West Development Commission chief executive officer Don Punch said CowParade had received $50,000 through the Royalties for Regions - South West Regional Grants Scheme.

"CowParade is an innovative and unique event which will provide a valuable stimulus for the local creative arts industry as well as tourism," he said.

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More than 80 life-sized cow sculptures will be seen grazing at different Margaret River locations between March and June 2010. Pictured is a sculpture displayed at CowParade in Manchester.

New brochure provides statistical snapshot of the South West 

Want to find out the population numbers for Harvey, Boyup Brook or Nannup?

Or discover how much the South West's mining and tourism industries are contributing to the region's economy?

You can find the answers in the South West Regional Focus 2009, an informative publication recently produced by the South West Development Commission.

The brochure provides a statistical snapshot of the region, with figures on areas including population growth, building approvals, employment and trade. Also highlighted in the publication are local industry sectors.

To request a copy of the South West Regional Focus 2009, please phone 9792 2000 or email

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South West Regional Focus 2009 provides a statistical snapshot of the region.

Bunbury closer to understanding its dolphins 

Bunbury is well-known for its dolphin population, but until recently no one knew for sure how many called local waters home.

It was Murdoch University PhD candidate Holly Smith who came up with an answer.

She recently completed the field research component of a study into the local dolphin population and has been analysing the data drawn from numerous observations, surveys and satellite images.

Though she is not set to reveal her complete findings until July 2010, Ms Smith can pinpoint the number of dolphins that live locally.

"A total of 230 individuals have been identified from Capel to Binningup, including Koombana Bay and Leschenault Estuary," she said.

Ms Smith presented her preliminary findings at the recent Society of Marine Mammal conference in Quebec, Canada.

"Having accurate information about the number of dolphins in the population is important because it will allow us to detect if any changes to the population occurs in the future," she said.

"Through the research program we were able to document 17 new calves between December last year and as late as May this year. This is the most number of calves we've ever had in the area during one season."

During the study, Ms Smith focused on evaluating the size and social structure of the local bottlenose dolphin population, their habitat use and their seasonal movement patterns.

Her findings will form a foundation for other Murdoch University scientists working to assess the potential impact of human activities, such as boating and coastal development, on bottlenose dolphins.

The study is part of the South West Marine Research Project, which is supported by the South West Development Commission, Bunbury Port Authority, Bemax Cable Sands, Millard Marine, Worsley Alumina, Naturaliste Charters, Department of Environment and Conservation, Cristal Global, Iluka, WAPRES, City of Bunbury, Dolphin Discovery Centre and Murdoch University.

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Murdoch University PhD candidate Holly Smith has completed the field component of a study into the local dolphin population.

Refurbishment work on jetty continues 

 The Busselton Jetty and Underwater Observatory is one of the most visited attractions in the South West and its blue boatshed-style interpretative centre is a familiar sight on photographs, postcards and brochures. But never before has the pier been seen quite like this.

A recent aerial photograph shows the result of months of work carried out to refurbish the 140-year-old structure. Sections six and seven, near the popular underwater observatory, have been dismantled as part of the jetty restoration process.

The $27.1 million project to return the jetty to its former glory involves replacement of about 50 per cent of the 1.8 kilometre existing jetty structure and the driving of approximately 200 new timber piles and 108 steel piles.

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Sections six and seven of the Busselton Jetty have been dismantled.

South West the economic powerhouse of regional WA 

Did you know that the South West is the regional economic powerhouse of Western Australia?

The South West's diverse economy generated $9.867 billion during 2007/08 and contributed 6.3 per cent to the Western Australian economy - amounts higher than any other region in the State.

For more statistical information about the South West region, please contact  research officer Matthew Monisse.

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Western Australia's South West generated $9.867 billion.

Augusta Sea Rescue receives a boost 

The recent renovation of its training and meeting room has given the Augusta Volunteer Sea Search and Rescue Group a new lease of life.

Volunteers have found renewed enthusiasm since the refurbishment was completed, with an increasing number of people putting their hands up to be part of the life-saving service.

"With our old headquarters we were battling to get a quorum. Now we are getting 30 to 40 people a meeting," committee member Dave Piper said.

In the first round of the Royalties for Regions − South West Regional Grants Scheme the group received $33,776 towards the renovation of an old building.

The refurbished facility has become an important base for training and planning operations for the Augusta Volunteer Sea Search and Rescue Group, which provides a valuable service for the community.

Members cover a nautical area stretching from Cape Naturaliste to Windy Harbour and are called on to attend up to 30 serious distress calls per year.

The group has run courses, including the Recreational Skippers Tickets, and continues to run courses for active members to keep them up to date with new technology and safety requirements.

Most recently, members of the sea rescue group volunteered to keep an eye over a field of 1,550 athletes participating in the grueling Anaconda Adventure Race, held in Augusta on Sunday November 8 and involving a 1.9 kilometre ocean swim and a 13 kilometre inlet/ocean kayak.

Mr Piper thanked Royalties for Regions and the local community for the funding support it had received to refurbish its meeting and training room and fabricate a toilet block.

"Without this support, it would never have happened," he said.

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Augusta Volunteer Sea Search and Rescue Group Dave Piper was recently honoured for 15 years service.

New arena to be setting for life-changing equine therapy 

A Collie group which enriches the lives of people with disabilities through specialised horse-related programs is expanding its facilities to better accommodate riders.

A new covered arena is being constructed at Riding for the Disabled's Collie premises to provide a second area for the local branch's 50 riders to enjoy equestrian activities in.

Secretary Lynda Bebbington said the new arena would be a boon for the popular service, which provides a range of benefits - from better hand-eye coordination to improved self-confidence − for participants.

"Some kids are completely different once they've been here," she said.

"To see a kid blossom, it's really lovely."

The not-for-profit group is staffed by a team of dedicated volunteers and draws riders from around the Collie region. Able-bodied riders and school groups also use the facilities.

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Collie’s Riding for the Disabled received funding through the Royalties for Regions – South West Regional Grants Scheme towards a fence for its new arena. Pictured is equipment officer Reece Tate at work.

Creating a vision for Busselton’s Foreshore 

Busselton residents are being encouraged to have their say about the future of the Busselton Foreshore.

The Busselton Foreshore Working Group is calling on locals to submit their ideas for the revitalisation of the town's beachfront.

The group, which was established by the Shire of Busselton with support from the South West Development Commission, is carrying out public consultation for the project.

The South West Development Commission Board recently met with the Busselton Foreshore Working Group to discuss the future of the foreshore.

"We are looking forward to the community telling us what they would like to see and do along the foreshore," Busselton Foreshore Working Group chair Helen Shervington said.

"This submission process is a great chance for the community to tell us what they really want. I hope the local community embraces this opportunity and votes with their pens or online."

Submission close February 3 2010. For more information about the submission process, visit

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Record for South West Events Program 

The South West Development Commission received a record number of applications for the latest round of the South West Events Program.

By the close of the round on Monday October 26, a total of 73 applications had been submitted, up 24 from the previous record in 2002-03.

Commission chief executive officer Don Punch said the annual program provided event groups with the opportunity to share in $70,000 through a contestable grants scheme.

"Over the years, South West Events Program grants have helped to establish and strengthen numerous events across the region," he said.

"It's a great program and judging by the diverse array of applications the Commission has received this year, the South West can look forward to a vibrant calendar of events in 2010."

Events to have received funding through the South West Events Program in the past have included the Harvey Harvest Festival, Busselton Jetty Swim and the Forest Rally.

Grant recipients are expected to be announced in December 2009.

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