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e-Newsletter October 2009

Installation of underground power in Brunswick sets scene for works to come 

The main street of Brunswick is set to be transformed with an exciting $1.8 million redevelopment that will pay tribute to the town's dairy industry.

The plan includes the creation of several dairy-themed tourist attractions including a picnic area, playground and a "Mooseum". Streetscape improvements and public art are also proposed.

Shire of Harvey community and economic development manager Tim Hartland said the first stage of the project was the installation of $875,000 in underground power, funding for which was partly sourced from Royalties for Regions and the South West Development Commission.

"Works commenced in August and are scheduled to be completed by the end of October," he said.

"The project includes the removal of 32 power poles and erecting of 16 decorative lights in Ommaney Road."

"The poles will be the last to go prior to the project completion and will transform the mainstreet of the town. "

Mr Hartland said the town centre had been a "hive of activity" during the duration of the underground power project, which is part of the overall redevelopment planned for Brunswick.

"The townsite of Brunswick Junction has felt longer term effects of service decline, which has lead the Brunswick community to explore and implement rural revival strategies addressing sustainability issues," he said.

"This project is essential to secure ongoing and future community connectedness, local tourism and business stimulation and will be a social driver that will create an attractor for a Brunswick town centre.

"This will provide the impetus for much needed social activity in turn securing the town's future."

The South West Development Commission is involved with several urban renewal projects across the region, including town centre improvements in Pemberton and Augusta-Margaret River.

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The installation of underground power is the first step towards a larger redevelopment of Brunswick's centre.

New Royalties funding round announced 

The South West Development Commission has welcomed the launch of a new round of the Royalties for Regions − South West Regional Grants Scheme.

Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls announced the second round of the grants program in Bunbury today (October 20).

Under the scheme, $45million will be shared between the nine Regional Development Commissions.
 
South West Development Commission chief executive officer Don Punch said the Commission would receive $5million in the new allocation of the grants scheme.

"This is an exciting opportunity for the people living in the region to identify projects and apply for funding to make them happen," he said.

"We had a huge response to the first round of grants and we know many people have been waiting to hear when the next round would open."

A total of 66 projects received funding support through the first South West Regional Grants Scheme, including the Munda Biddi Trail, Nannup Amphitheatre and South West Medical Attraction Taskforce.

Minister Grylls said the Regional Grants Scheme was a key Royalties for Regions initiative that put particular emphasis on local decision-making.

"The Regional Development Commissions have an important and expanding role in the regions and are in a good position to determine which projects should be funded," he said.

"The scheme gives regional communities and all organisations with regional interests the chance to apply for funding directly through the Development Commissions, knowing that their applications will be assessed in the region.

"It is putting money back in to communities and giving them the chance to determine for themselves how that money is best spent."

The latest round of contestable grants is part of a total pool of $73 million allocated to regional communities through the Regional Development Commission structure in the 2009-10 budget.

Of this total pool, $28 million has been made available for projects identified by the Regional Development Council in conjunction with the nine Commissions.  The Regional Development Council is the peak advisory body to the Western Australian Government on regional development issues.

Applications for the grants will close on 10 February 2010.

For more information about the grants or to apply go to the South West Regional Grants Scheme page.

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Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls.

Jewel Cave to be a real gem of a tourist attraction after redevelopment 

Almost five decades after it was first opened to the public, efforts are underway to give the Jewel Cave a major makeover in time for its 50th anniversary.

A stunning new visitors centre, café and cave entrance are part of redevelopment plans set to transform the popular tourism site, situated in the majestic karri forest of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge.

The natural wonder is Western Australia's largest show cave, featuring several large caverns and attracting about 38,000 visitors a year.

Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association chief executive officer Francine Errico said enhancements were needed to preserve and protect the cave, while improving the experience for visitors.

"Our aim is to move the current facilities off the cave system and allow natural filtration of water back into the cave, in a hope to protect the cave and its threatened ecological communities," she said.

The planned new building - earmarked for the existing car park - will replace the current visitors centre, which is located above Jewel Cave. It will include a 60-seat café that will open out on to the forest.

An underground tunnel featuring interpretive displays will link the new visitors centre with the cave entrance.

Funding through the South West Regional Grants Scheme (Royalties for Regions) will allow new environmentally-friendly lighting to be installed to better illuminate the cave's amazing features, including one of the longest straw stalactites found in any tourist cave in the world.

Construction of a new car park is almost complete and work on the new building is expected to begin at the end of the year, with the view to opening in late 2010 - the year the cave celebrates its 50th anniversary.

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Designs give a sneak peek of the new-look Jewel Cave visitors centre and café.

The South West’s largest ever golfing event tees off this month 

More than 100 professional golfers from around Australia are expected to tee off at the Bunbury Golf Club this month when the Clifton Park course hosts the WA PGA Championship for the first time.

Considered one of Western Australia's oldest and most prestigious tournaments, the Laurance Scrap Metals WA PGA Championship will be the largest golfing event ever held in the South West region.

It will offer a prize purse of $110,000 and four days of top golfing action between October 29 and November 1.

The event is expected to draw large crowds of spectators, with fans keen to see first-hand who earns this year's trophy.

Past winners have included Graham Marsh, Kel Nagle, Terry Gale, Peter Senior, Greg Chalmers, Kim Felton and Michael Long.

PGA of Australia chief executive officer Max Garske was full of praise for the Bunbury Golf Club which stepped up to ensure the event − part of the newly-consolidated Australasian Tour − went ahead this year.

"This year's event was originally scheduled to be played at The Cut Golf Course in Port Bouvard, however due to unforeseen circumstances a decision was made to look for an alternative venue," he said.

"Taking the tour to our regional centres is one of the goals we had for our State Championship events and when Bunbury Golf Club put their hands up, we were delighted.

"The Bunbury members and business community have embraced what will be the largest golfing event to be conducted in the region and we are looking forward to welcoming large crowds to watch some world class golf."

Perth-born international golfer Nick O'Hern said the 18-hole course was rated among the top 10 in Western Australia and the top 100 courses in Australia.

"Bunbury golf course is one of the most underrated golf courses in Australia," he said.
"It has a fantastic layout with firm, fast greens and will provide a spectacular and challenging venue for the WA PGA Championship."

The Laurance Scrap Metals WA PGA Championship is supported by the South West Development Commission, City of Bunbury, Shire of Harvey, Coca-Cola Amatil and Cellarbrations. It will be broadcast on Network Ten's OneHD.

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Last year’s PGA Champtionship event was won by WA-based Michael Long.

Busy bee brings Pemberton's replica hydro station a step closer to opening 

People visiting the popular tourist town of Pemberton will soon have another attraction to check off their must-see list, with construction work on the hydro station bringing the building a step closer to opening to the public.

The South West Development Commission was behind the recent enhancements to the Pemberton Hydro, which now features a new verandah, fence and interpretative display.

Commission staff rolled up their sleeves to spend three days building the extensions.

It is expected the replica hydro station, located alongside the picturesque Lefroy Brook, will officially open its doors this summer.

Once fully operational, the facility will act as a demonstration of the industrial heritage of the region, while also generating electricity which will be sold to support a local community fund.

South West Development Commission regional coordinator Deanna Giumelli said at peak times the hydro generated 75 kilowatts of electricity an hour.

"It is anticipated that through the sale of electricity enough funds will eventually be generated to implement a sustainable grants process that will support local community groups and projects," she said.

The original Pemberton Hydro provided electricity for the town from the 1930s until it was eventually decommissioned in the 1950s.

In the 1990s it was proposed that a replica hydro station be reconstructed on the Lefroy Brook.

Since then the South West Development Commission, with the aid of a community committee, has helped oversee the construction of the replica hydro station and pipeline.

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The Pemberton Hydro construction team from the South West Development Commission.

Bunbury introduces free shuttle bus service for cruise ship passengers 

Cruise ship passengers on a stopover in Bunbury will now find it more tempting to explore the city thanks to the introduction of a free shuttle bus service.

The complimentary loop service has been organised by the Bunbury Cruise Ship Committee and will be available to transport passengers from the wharf to the Bunbury Visitor Centre.

It has been made possible through funding from the South West Development Commission, City of Bunbury, Bunbury Port Authority and Bunbury Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

Bunbury Cruise Ship Committee chairman Jon Birch said the first bus run will take place on November 3 when the Sun Princess ties up at the outer harbour.

"This initiative will bring Bunbury into line with the services some other ports are providing," he said.

"For those cruise ships willing to participate, passengers will be dropped off in Bunbury's retail heart and provided with a free map specially designed to pinpoint services and tourist attractions."

The visit by the Sun Princess is part of a bumper cruise ship season in Australia, with the nation's largest cruise ship operator, Carnival Australia, announcing that a record 190,000 passengers will sail on its ships during the next six months. The figure is up 13 per cent on last year's season and almost double the number of passengers carried by Carnival Australia five years ago.

Ann Sherry, chief executive officer of Carnival Australia, praised efforts by the Bunbury Cruise Ship Committee and local organisations to introduce services that will improve the experience of cruise ship passengers.

"Bunbury is a fantastic city and a really popular destination with our passengers. It's great to see the people of Bunbury support cruise ship visits with initiatives such as a free shuttle bus and local volunteers," she said.

"Every cruise ship visit brings economic benefits to the city and I commend Bunbury for providing such a warm reception as it leaves a lasting impression of Bunbury in the minds of our passengers and is yet another reason to make a return visit."

A number of cruise ships are scheduled to sail into Bunbury this season, including luxury floating residence The World in 2010.

The parade of ships through the port will include:

November 3 - Sun Princess
November 4 - Rhapsody of the Seas
November 24 - Dawn Princess
December 15 - Pacific Sun
January 18 - The World
February 17 - Athena
February 25 - Pacific Sun
March 16 - Rhapsody of the Seas

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The Sun Princess sails into Bunbury in November 2009.

Margaret River the toast of Jakarta 

A promotional dinner in Jakarta has helped cook up further international interest in Margaret River as a source of premium food and wine.

The Taste of Margaret River event at The Ritz-Carlton in the Indonesian capital earlier this month showcased food and wine from the region to a restaurant filled with food and beverage suppliers.

Wagyu beef carpaccio and leek mushroom truffle oil pie were just some of the tantalising dishes on the menu designed by Dennis Mifsud, a Margaret River chef who is passionate about the region's food.

"The South West of Western Australia, like much of regional Australia, has a great deal to offer from a food perspective," he said.

"I think the clean, green environment plays a vital role in this. In Australia we can source some of the freshest and flavoursome produce to work with in the kitchen.

"When you match this with creative preparation and arguably some of the best wines in the world it can make for a wonderful dining adventure."

The South West Development Commission's TradeStart export advisor, Mat Lewis, worked with The Ritz-Carlton to help organise the event.

"We consider this partnership with The Ritz-Carlton an ideal vehicle to showcase premium products from the South West," he said.

"The complementary nature of wine, food and tourism assists with our competitiveness abroad.

"In fiercely competitive markets, it is critical to maintain and grow markets and nurture relationships with stakeholders through promotions abroad."

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Veda Hospitality Group owner Dennis Mifsud (left) and The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta executive chef Sean MacDougall (right).

Funding available to help make events shine 

The South West Development Commission is encouraging organisations holding events in 2010 to apply for a share of $70,000 in grants.

Funding is available through the South West Events Program to support festivals, concerts, sports competitions, markets and exhibitions which benefit local communities.

Grants of up to $4000 are available to host events, with another $2000 available to pay for professional event coordination.

South West Development Commission chief executive officer Don Punch urged groups to take advantage of the funding opportunity, which closes this month.

"In the past we have found the South West Events Program has been just as successful at helping new events to get off the ground as it has in assisting established events to grow," he said.

"Last year's funding round provided a boost to a diverse range of events including the Leukaemia Foundation's Light the Night in Bunbury, Busselton film festival Cinefest Oz 09 and the Dardanup Bull and Barrel Festival.

"Events are important to the region. For locals they add to the sense of community, while providing extra incentive for tourists to visit and discover all that our vibrant South West region has to offer."

Applications for the 2010 South West Events Program close 4pm, Monday October 26 2009.

For more information or to apply go to the South West Events Program page or contact Don Carlson.

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Light the Night benefited from a previous South West Events Program grant.

Digital animation the South West’s newest industry 

A Bunbury company is proving that a Hollywood address is no longer a requirement for making blockbuster movies.

The Australian Centre for Digital Innovation (ACDI) plans to use world-class technology to create animation and special effects for the motion picture industry from its base in the Bunbury library building.

To achieve this, it is developing a state-of-the-art special effects studio and supercomputing facilities.

The venture, between partners the Vue Group and ISA Technologies, paves the way for Bunbury to become a centre for excellence for digital content and in the making of animated films and special effects.

Vue Group managing director Alan Lindsay said the ACDI was an international company with shop fronts in Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Manchester.

"Why locate in Bunbury? In this age of digital connectivity it is far more important to have a campus for ideas and innovation than a capital city address," he said.

"Bunbury is an energetic city, in a great lifestyle region − it has a university with digital content education aspirations and it is positioned close to Singapore where we are developing symbiotic digital content partnerships.

"The new facility will run in parallel with Vue Group's documentary and drama production and be the home for Vue Group's new feature film ventures."

South West Development Commission chief executive officer Don Punch welcomed the creation of a new industry in the South West region.

"This marks the beginning of an exciting new virtual animation industry for Bunbury and the South West," he said.

"It will help to position the region as a hub for digital animation, with scope to work in partnership with productions around the world.

"It will put the South West on the map in the internationally competitive digital content industry and provide local industries with access to world-class digital services."

The ACDI is based in the City of Bunbury's new $11 million library and data centre, which received funding from the South West Development Commission.

A lease between the ACDI and the City of Bunbury was signed last month and a fit-out of the facilities is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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Sil La Puma from ISA Technologies, Helen Clucas from Vue Group and Ashley Clements from the SWDC.

South West rower selected for Olympic development 

With around 1000 days to prepare for the next Olympic Games, local rower Alexandra Hagan has stepped up efforts to represent Australia in London.

The teenager recently accepted a scholarship with the Australian Institute of Sport and will relocate to the ACT in November.

Access to skilled coaches, world-class facilities and cutting-edge support programs at the country's premiere sports training institute will help prepare her for the London Olympic Games in 2012.

"The South West Academy of Sport has been great and so has my coach Jamie Jones, but the scholarship gives me a huge opportunity," she said.

"Although I will be away from home and probably get homesick, the offer of being developed for the next Olympics is too good to turn down."

South West Academy of Sport chief executive officer Bernice Butlion congratulated Hagan, one of the academy's inaugural scholarship holders.

"The academy was set up to train up-and-coming champions in the region and act as a stepping stone to more elite sporting programs provided by the West Australian and Australian institutes of sport," she said.

"Hagan has worked hard for her achievements which have included a silver medal at this year's World Rowing Junior Championships in France," she said.

"I'd like to her wish the best for her promising career in rowing."

Find out more about the South West Academy of Sport.

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Inaugural South West Academy of Sport scholarship holder Alexandra Hagan.

Building a future for Busselton’s famous jetty 

Progress continues to be made on the refurbishment of the iconic Busselton Jetty, despite delays in construction caused by winter weather.

The $27.1 million project, which began earlier this year, involves replacement of approximately 50 per cent of the 1.84 kilometre jetty structure - 900 metres of which will be demolished.

To date, about 900 metres or half of the total jetty length, has been dismantled to enable repairs to existing timber, steel and concrete members and installation of other new works.

Thirty of a total of 290 new timber and steel piles have been driven.

Busselton Jetty marketing manager Jane Ashcroft said the recent change in the weather has seen pile driving recommence in earnest, with typically five piles driven each day. 

"It is expected that 230 piles will be driven between the shore and the underwater observatory by Christmas this year with the final 60 piles beyond the underwater observatory being driven in the New Year," she said.

"The offsite fabrication of new steel beams and concrete deck planks is very well progressed. 

"The installation of the new steel beams, concrete decking and other areas of timber decking is planned to commence in November.

"At the same time the reinstallation of refurbished steel trusses and other refurbished decking will also commence from a second work front midway along the jetty."

The reopening of the full length including the last 100 metre long section north of the underwater observatory is scheduled for August 2010.

This will be followed by the recommencement of the jetty train and underwater observatory, marking a return to form for the popular eco-tourism site that attracts about 400,000 visitors a year.

In the meantime, access to the first 200m of the jetty, including the first fishing platform and interpretative centre, has been permitted.

The South West Development Commission is a stakeholder in the project and is tasked with administrating the State Government's $24 million contribution to the refurbishment.

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A barge has been used in the refurbishment of the Busselton Jetty.

South West projects benefit from South West Regional Grants Scheme 

From Collie to Augusta to Pemberton, Royalties for Regions is giving groups across the South West the helping hand they need to get their projects off the ground.

There's work being carried out to develop an aquaculture farm using old Collie coal mines and efforts being made to relocate and upgrade the Balingup Visitor Centre - just two examples of projects that have benefited from a Royalties for Regions grant.
 
One of the biggest projects to have received support through the first round of the Regional Grants Scheme - a Royalties for Regions program - was the Munda Biddi Trail.

A total of $3million was committed by the South West and Great Southern development commissions towards the extension of the popular cycling track.

The trail is currently about 500 kilometres and will eventually stretch approximately 1000 kilometres from Mundaring to Albany once complete.

It is fast becoming one of the South-West's most popular tourist attractions with an estimated 22,000 international, interstate and WA-based cyclists using it each year.

"The board of the South West Development Commission recognised the trail's potential in terms of tourism, health and lifestyle opportunities, and made funding its expansion a priority," South West Development Commission chief executive officer Don Punch said.

"Cycling along the Munda Biddi Trail is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people. This funding will extend the track and help to make the journey all the more memorable by allowing people to take in even more of the State's spectacular scenery."

Learn how your group or organisation can share in millions of dollars in funding through the South West Regional Grants Scheme.

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The Munda Biddi Trail was one of the biggest projects to receive Royalties for Regions funding.

Creating a new vision for an old suburb 

Plans are underway to breathe new life into Collie's Wilson Park.

The South West Development Commission is working with the Shire of Collie and the local community to create a new vision for the suburb.

To kick-start this process and guide future planning, the Commission recently undertook a feasibility study on the potential urban renewal of the area.

As part of this planning, the Commission ran two focus groups on Monday September 7 to gauge the opinion of residents, businesses and shire councillors.

Commission chief executive officer Don Punch said people were asked whether they were interested in seeing changes to Wilson Park and what could be done to improve the neighbourhood.

"Interest was shown on improving parks, building better pedestrian walkways and boardwalks, minor road changes for safety and better access to services," he said.

"Their ideas will be used to develop a report that will be presented to the Shire of Collie for consideration."

The South West Development Commission is involved with numerous urban renewal projects across the region.

This work is aimed at helping preserve the character and unique history of the towns and revamping them to improve the lifestyle for both residents and tourists alike.

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A step towards a more pedestrian-friendly future for Bunbury 

Plans to transform Bunbury into a more pedestrian-friendly city have moved forward with the completion of an overview audit into walkability and wayfinding issues in the central business district.

The report by Victorian-based planner Dr John Grant identifies a number of key areas for improvement, including speed limits, road crossings and footpaths, as well as the need for new map-based signs, directional signs and hand-held maps.

The findings follow a recent site visit by Dr Grant at the invitation of the South West Development Commission and the City of Bunbury.

South West Development Commission regional coordinator Alan Cross said a more detailed study of the city's centre would be carried out later this year.

"This is an important project for Bunbury that has already attracted a great deal of interest from residents," he said.

"Many people have made a range of suggestions that we are keen to explore to ensure the best possible outcomes for this project."

Mr Cross said the Commission and the City of Bunbury would continue working towards a safer, more pedestrian-friendly CBD over the coming months.

"It has been shown that just by improving signage, more people can be encouraged to explore the area on foot, resulting in enhanced retail turnover, a reduced demand for car parking and better health all year round," he said.

"Nobody disputes the critical role cars play in our modern society, however experience has shown that the most vibrant cities are those that put people first."

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New highway set to be a boon for South West tourism 

Heading south to enjoy a break during the October school holidays was a breeze for metropolitan residents, thanks to the new Perth to Bunbury Highway.

The $705 million Kwinana Freeway extension and Forrest Highway, which was jointly funded by State and Federal governments, has slashed 30 minutes off the journey between Perth and Bunbury.

Premier Colin Barnett said the continuous dual carriageway brought the South West significantly closer to the metropolitan area, bringing with it immeasurable long term economic benefits.

"It will significantly enhance tourism opportunities for the South West region, one of the most popular destinations for Western Australians as well as interstate and overseas visitors," he said.

Bunbury Chamber of Commerce and Industries chief executive officer Allan Birrell said the Forrest Highway was a major development for Bunbury and the South West region of WA.

"The reduced travelling time for Perth residents will encourage more visitors to visit Bunbury and boost the local tourism industry," he said.

The new highway was officially opened on Sunday September 20 and is the State's biggest single road project.

It involved 70.5 kilometres of new dual carriageway featuring six interchanges, 10 intersections and 19 bridges.

More than 12 million tonnes of sand and one million tonnes of crushed rock base were used, while 27,000 cubic metres of concrete was laid.

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