Harvey-Waroona Reporter’s year in review - A look back at the biggest headlines of 2021

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Kasper JohansenHarvey-Waroona Reporter
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A COVID road block near Waroona.
Camera IconA COVID road block near Waroona. Credit: Jakeb Waddell/Harvey-Waroona Reporter

Divisive council decisions, bush fires, lockdowns and elections swept through 2021 and caught everyone’s attention. These are some of the biggest moments that made headlines throughout the Shire of Harvey from beginning to end.

JANUARY

Gone but not forgotten

After half a decade Yarloop residents believed not enough had been done to reduce the risks of another town wipe out and called on authorities to take action.

Farm theft trauma

A Yarloop grandmother lost $30,000 worth of jewellery and heirlooms after her farmhouse was ransacked in a callous burglary just days after Christmas.

Tractor-trek

A 73-year-old grandfather embarked on a 681km journey from Yarloop to Esperance, but Rex Piggott didn’t use a car, van or bus — he took to the road on his trusty tractor.

Rex Piggott was riding more than 600km from Yarloop to Esperance on his tractor to honour his grandfather.
Camera IconRex Piggott was riding more than 600km from Yarloop to Esperance on his tractor to honour his grandfather. Credit: Briana Fiore

The great divide

After conceding there was a great divide between the northern and southern ends of the shire, councillors considered changing the name of The Shire of Harvey.

FEBRUARY

Deja-poo

WA had a rude case of deja-poo when toilet paper was wiped from the shelves in a panic buying marathon sequel starring COVID-19.

Benger truck crash.
Camera IconBenger truck crash. Credit: Briana Fiore

Teen rescues truckie from cab

Brunswick teenager Anthony Carbone helped drag a truck driver “hanging” from inside his vehicle after a collision with a train in Benger.

Bales of kindness

Farmers from across the South West and Peel regions united again to help deliver hay to bushfire victims in Perth, after a devastating loss of 86 homes in the Perth Hills.

Local pair join blaze fight

Two Leschenault volunteers were among the brave troops sent out to help save lives and homes in Wooroloo. The catastrophic blaze was one of WA’s worst since the Yarloop-Waroona fire.

Dealt another blow

A Waroona winery suffered more than $100,000 of damage after a fire swept through the vineyard on Wednesday afternoon — just three weeks before the grapes would have been harvested.

MARCH

Grilled in the hot seat

While young Liberal leader Zak Kirkup may have conceded defeat against Labor leader and favourite Mark McGowan, the race for the seat of Murray-Wellington was closer than ever.

Death probe

Police investigated whether a fallen tree branch contributed to the death of a man in Harvey. Major crash investigations were under way, however the mess left behind at the scene indicated a fallen branch may have caused the crash.

Town pumped to get heart

While the Peel town of Waroona may be filled with colourful characters, public art and facilities, long-time calls to establish a community “heart” that had previously gone unanswered finally gained traction.

Leaflet scandal

The Shire of Harvey and Murray-Wellington Liberal candidate Michelle Boylan became caught up in a fake pamphlet scandal days before the State election.

Robyn’s Hood

Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke won her seat with ease, beating Liberal hopeful Michelle Boylan, with two-thirds of the votes in the two-party preferred system.

Robyn Clarke serves a sausage on election day.
Camera IconRobyn Clarke serves a sausage on election day. Credit: Briana Fiore

Shire rated ‘F’

Ratepayers reached for the red pen to whack the Harvey Shire Council with a big fat F, in a review which indicated it failed to respect community views, understand the community and communicate a clear vision for the area.

Don’t have a cow, man!

Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke didn’t mince her words in a response to farmers who last week criticised her for endorsing a pro-vegan group while representing a large agricultural electorate known for its beef and dairy.

APRIL

That’s out of line

The Waroona Shire was shifted into the Forrest Federal electorate under proposed changes being made by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Tree blue for mental woes

The iconic skeletal tree at the entrance to a Myalup brewery was given a makeover to help raise awareness about mental health, with blue trees sprouting throughout the South West.

Between a broc and a barred place

A broccolini grower in the South West that supplies produce to major supermarket chains across WA led calls for the State Government to reverse its decision to cancel international flights carrying 140 workers from Vanuatu because of the potential impact on the horticulture industry.

A COVID checkpoint set up near Waroona during lockdown.
Camera IconA COVID checkpoint set up near Waroona during lockdown. Credit: Jakeb Waddell/Bunbury Herald

Waroona peeled off by snap lockdown

The Peel town of Waroona was the southern most community to be included in a snap three-day COVID lockdown during a long weekend after a man became infected with a highly transmissible UK strain.

The $14m question

Shire of Harvey councillors decided whether to back a report outlining the proposed details of a $14 million transformation of the Leschenault Leisure Centre.

MAY

Sports grounds get the nod

Plans to develop two major sporting precincts within the Shire of Harvey took a leap forward, when both proposals were given the nod by councillors.

Cabbie puts brakes on fond journey

He’s the man you call after a big nightout. He can drive you to and from medical appointments, and he might even get paid with sausages but on June 25, Harvey Taxi owner Ian Munro hung up the keys for the final time.

Police ask for violence tag

A South West meth addict who choked his partner in front of their child narrowly escaped being labelled a serial offender despite a 10-year history of breaching family violence restraining orders.

Border woes set to stay

Waroona Shire president Mike Walmsley was leading calls for border checkpoints to be shifted south if the Peel region was to be plunged into another COVID-19 lockdown to prevent residents of one coastal town being cut off from shops and amenities.

No FIFO staff to see here

Contractor Monadelphous rejected union claims it was using interstate fly-in, fly-out workers instead of local workers on Albemarle’s Kemerton lithium hydroxide plant project.

Member for Murray-Wellington Robyn Clarke, Waroona Shire President Mike Walmsley, Premier Mark McGowan and Councillor Naomi Purcell discussing future plans for Waroona’s town precinct
Camera IconMember for Murray-Wellington Robyn Clarke, Waroona Shire President Mike Walmsley, Premier Mark McGowan and Councillor Naomi Purcell discussing future plans for Waroona’s town precinct Credit: Supplied

Time to put Waroona on the map

A promise to pump $1.3 million into breathing new life into Waroona took a big step forward after a visit from Premier Mark McGowan last week.

JUNE

Don’t walk the plank

Question marks were still hanging over a timeline for reopening the six-decade-old Australind Jetty after it was closed to the public at the beginning of the year.

Fight to save RSL

The Waroona-Hamel RSL sub-branch is at risk of closing its doors for good after 102 years of service if its membership does not increase in coming months, according to the group’s out going president.

Life in the slow lane

The stretch of South Western Highway through the Peel town of Waroona was slashed to 40km/h after years of calls from residents and civic leaders.

Carol Wright with her father William Peary, who was a patient at Hocart Lodge.
Camera IconCarol Wright with her father William Peary, who was a patient at Hocart Lodge. Credit: Supplied

Lodge under fire

The daughter of an elderly man who died from severe dehydration and pneumonia believes her father was not given water in his final days at the Hocart Lodge Aged Centre.

JULY

Ponzi ‘victims’ share stories

Harvey’s modest Amana Inn became a meeting point for a multitude of normal, hard-working people — from Harvey, Bunbury, Busselton, Australind, Perth and elsewhere — coming to terms with the brutal facts that the earnings from those years of hard work were gone.

All out of lock

Streets were bare, hospitality venues were empty but community spirit still shone through once again as Waroona was included in the third Peel and Perth lockdown.

Tough game for Hughes

Ethan Hughes returned to the Fremantle Dockers team after 11 weeks, but the defender struggled as his side was outclassed by Geelong.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 10: Ethan Hughes of the Dockers looks to pass the ball during the 2020 AFL Round 11 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Hawthorn Hawks at Optus Stadium on August 10, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos)
Camera IconPERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 10: Ethan Hughes of the Dockers (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos) Credit: Will Russell/AFL Photos

AUGUST

No kids allowed

Harvey’s only dedicated youth centre — which aimed to keep children engaged and off the streets — was forced to close its doors.

It’s time to get tough on crime

Installing a better CCTV network, strengthening ties with police and improving lighting on the streets were all part of the Shire of Harvey’s five-year plan to stamp out crime and keep the community safe.

Coming home

Harvey netball product Donnell Wallam decided not to take the option of a second year at the Leeds Rhinos to move back to Australia and be closer to family.

SEPTEMBER

‘Lion King’ to leave pride

Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault mutually parted ways with coach John Baggetta after being booted out of the SWFL finals in straight sets for a second consecutive year.

No need to vote

The Shire of Waroona’s new look council was decided without an election after just four people stood for the same number of vacancies.

Gate gate

A neighbourly dispute about a gate which had stretched on for more than five years was finally slammed shut by the Waroona Shire council.

OCTOBER

Break down the walls

Former Harvey Bull’s star Kaine Ah Chee spoke to the Harvey-Waroona Reporter on the eve of Mental Health Week about the importance of breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health.

Kaine Ah-Chee survived a suicide attempt and is now speaking out about mental health. He is pictured in Harvey where he plays footy for the Harvey Bulls. Photo by Michael Wilson
Camera IconKaine Ah-Chee survived a suicide attempt and is now speaking out about mental health. He is pictured in Harvey where he plays footy for the Harvey Bulls. Photo by Michael Wilson Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Gillett: The Best a Man Can Get

The Harvey community showed its faith in Shire president Paul Gillett by re-electing him to the council.

Waroona and Brunswick put on a show

The region held its two biggest agricultural shows — with thousands flocking to Brunswick and Waroona to embrace the festivities.

NOVEMBER

Here for all to sea

Waroona Shire voted to adopt the Preston Beach Foreshore Management Plan — including an ocean-view lookout.

Back on the horse

Perth Cup-winning jockey and Myalup product Lucy Warwick returned to the saddle after she was hospitalised due to a fall.

Jace, Peter, Brady, Fiona and Mitch Hough were all smiles after Brady was taken by West Coast with pick 31 of the AFL Draft
Camera IconJace, Peter, Brady, Fiona and Mitch Hough were all smiles after Brady was taken by West Coast with pick 31 of the AFL Draft Credit: Luke McPherson

Hough to the Eagles

Harvey’s Brady Hough was picked up by the West Coast with pick 31 of the AFL Draft — heading to the club he had supported since he was a boy.

DECEMBER

Waroona on track for rail stop

Plans to include Waroona as a stop on the potential Perth-to-Bunbury fast rail line are steaming ahead after Waroona Shire chief executive Mark Goodlet met with the Public Transport Authority.

Weekend drink-drive

Waroona police slammed drink drivers in the region after three men were caught driving under the influence across a single weekend, with one officer warning a license can disappear “as quickly as a middy”.

Games berth on the cards

Calvin Rodgers was named in the five-person vision-impaired lawn bowls squad to trial for the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

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