WA wines Show stars

Ellenbrook Advocate


Houghton Wines winemaker Ross Pamment

TWO Swan Valley wineries have scooped the pool in winning wines at this year’s Royal Show as locally produced wines competed against wines from the eastern states.

With 26 judges determining the medals from 2119 exhibits provided by 299 entrants, the most isolated state’s wines held their own.

Houghton Wines, Swan Valley, clinched four major awards taking out the Most Successful West Australian Exhibitor, Wines of Provenance Best Red or White Varietal for its Jack Mann Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, 2008 and 2013, Best West Australian White Table Wine and Best Dry White Table Wine Blends for its Heritage White Blend 2011.

Mandoon Estate in Caversham laid claim to the Best West Australian Wine, Most Successful West Australian Exhibitor processing under 300 tonnes and Best West Australian Dry Red Table Wine with its Mandoon Estate Frankland River Reserve Shiraz 2014. In Margaret River, the Best Semillon Sauvignon Blanc/Sauvignon Blanc Semillon went to Xanadu winery while Heydon Estate’s Cowaramup winery walked away with Best Chardonnay: The Willow Chardonnay 2013.

read more…

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Biting report ranks Perth councils’ urban planning performance


The WA government concedes it is partly to blame for dismal urban planning in virtually all Perth councils, revealed in a landmark Property Council report released on Thursday.

The report, based on voluntary participation from councils providing data for three areas of measurement – strategic, statutory and process – showed just two, Melville and Belmont, had a high level of planning performance across the three elements.

Many of the rest had patchy performance, good in some areas, bad in others. Of the 32 metropolitan councils (including Mandurah and Murray) approached, 29 took part. Only Bayswater, Victoria Park and Claremont did not.

The worst performing had no planning strategy, a very old planning scheme and either low efficiency measures or could not provide sufficient data on efficiency.

Only nine had a strategic plan less than five years old, and only seven of these also significantly reflected state policy – the top two plus Armadale, Kalamunda, Mundaring, Bassendean and Mosman Park.

Planning schemes averaged 14 years old and only three councils had a scheme under five years old with a significant relationship to their strategy.

Perth has 98 “activity centres” requiring structure plans, and since these were identified six years ago only a third have been prepared, or even begun.

By contrast there were a huge number of planning scheme amendments being done, which one of the report’s authors likened to continuing to patch a fishing net.

“At some stage, it all falls to pieces,” Planning Context associate Katrina Elliott said.

Planning performance: council scores out of 23
But the state copped blame too, taking “far too long” to review strategies being developed.

Scheme amendment approvals took seven months at best – one took 2.5 years, another more than five.

“There was a degree of frustration with the time it was taking to progress certain things … an element of concern relating to the capacity of the Department of Planning to meet the timelines now shown in the most recent changes,” she said.

“There was a lack of resources.”

read more…

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WA Premier Colin Barnett floats idea of expanded Perth ferry service to Swan Valley


ferry_compPREMIER Colin Barnett has floated the idea of expanding the Transperth ferry system with river stops reaching as far east as the Swan Valley.

The Sunday Times can reveal the State Government is looking at new ferry stops at riverside suburbs including Maylands, Bayswater, Guildford, Belmont and Applecross.

A Working Group headed by South Perth MLA John McGrath has been formed to explore the viability of the expanded service.

It’s hoped the service will appeal to CBD commuters by being faster than the existing ferry between Elizabeth Quay and South Perth.

The Premier said modern craft were designed to operate at higher speeds without causing damage to river banks.

“Why don’t we use our river better?” Mr Barnett asked at a Swan Chamber of Commerce function on Friday.

“We all go to Sydney and see Sydney Harbour with the ferries and even Brisbane — boats are shooting up and down the Brisbane River.”


Posted in Community, Public Transport, Tourism | Leave a comment



The Swan Valley Protection Bill 2016 introduced into the State Parliament last week has created significant uncertainty and confusion about the future of the Valley.

The intention of the legislation is to repeal the Swan Valley Planning Act 1995 and provide a new planning framework for the Swan Valley.

While Ms Saffioti welcomed the focus on maintaining the rural character of the Swan Valley she raised a number of concerns regarding the content of the bill.

  • The Bill relies on the “Swan Valley Development Plan” for the planning and development guidelines of the Valley, yet this Plan is not finalised and is still in draft form. Ideally the legislation and the Development Plan should have been considered concurrently.
  • There is no real replacement of the “Swan Valley Development Committee”. The committee has significant local knowledge and expertise, and this is not being replaced with anything similar. Without a dedicated board or Committee the many interests in the Valley will not be properly represented.
  • The Bill and Plan do not provide any practical support to address many of the challenges in undertaking agricultural pursuits in the Valley, in particular viticulture. There is no “right to farm” element, there is nothing to address the water shortages and water allocation issues and they have not addressed the cost challenges to leasing properties such as land tax;
  • There is little planned investment for the area, including no supporting funding to improve road and public transport to services the region.

After many years of missteps on Valley planning the community expected that the Barnett Government would be able to provide a greater level of certainty.

Comments from Member for West Swan, Rita Saffioti MLA:

“The Minister is asking for the Parliament to support legislation without the details of the development plan being finalised. In a sense, the Minister is asking Parliament to sign a blank cheque.

“The abolition of the Swan Valley Planning Committee with no real replacement, will mean that the many different voices of the Valley will have no real place to be heard.

“The Valley will just be treated like any other part of the metropolitan area, without its own voice.

“The draft plan and legislation provide no measures to address many of the practical impediments for agriculture in the Valley – including land tax, water supply and right to farm issues.

“Feedback from members of the community already shows unhappiness with the Bill.

“After eight years of Government the Swan Valley community deserved better. Introducing an “empty” bill with six weeks of Parliament left is not the certainty that was promised.”

read Swan Valley Protection Bill 2016

Media contact: Rita Saffioti 9248 3822

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Future Planning for Whiteman Park – Sporting Facilities for Ballajura, Bennett Springs, Brabham and Dayton Communities

rod_henderson_header_comp2With the release of the draft Whiteman Park Strategic Plan 2016-2020 and the announcement of a $2.8 million investment into Whiteman Park will ensure that this iconic 4,000 hectares remains a local and international visitor hotspot for generations to come.

Being a resident in the area Rod Henderson, the Liberal Candidate for the seat of West Swan said that the “proposed inclusion of new sporting, camping and recreation facilities at the Marshall Road Lands and Whiteman Bush Lands area will be a large boost to the community and young families in the Ballajura, Bennett Springs, Brabham, Dayton and Surrounding Areas.”

Mr Henderson continued by adding that “these sporting and recreation facilities will play a vital role in providing not only infrastructure for this area but also a place for the community to watch, interact and bond over the coming years as the area grows”.

The draft plan outlines a significant investment of $2.8 Million from the Liberal led Government that will ensure that Whiteman Park is able to provide a much needed interconnected meeting places for communities to meet, recreate in and enjoy. Mr Henderson believes that “…improved community access to the park whilst conserving the environment and Whiteman Park’s heritage is essential for future generations and to preserving the park as a destination of significance for local and international visitors. The inclusion of new sporting facilities and land for outdoor events, markets and concerts will see a further increase in the vibrancy of Whiteman Park.”

The draft Whiteman Park Strategic Plan 2016-2020 has been released for public comment.

Submissions close at 5pm on Tuesday 4 October 2016

The plan can be found at:

Further comment and feedback from local residents is vital to shaping the future of Whiteman Park and Mr Henderson urges members of the community to contact him directly via email or phone to discuss the matter.

Contact: Rod Henderson – rod.henderson@wa.liberal.org.au – 0428 944 781

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Plan for market at railway workshops

Ellenbrook Advocate


Midland Railway Workshops

MIDLAND Railway Workshops could offer local growers a venue for a seven-day market for residents to buy fruit and vegetables.

The Swan Chamber of Commerce has suggested the area in between the apartments – they are still being completed – at the MRW site would make a wonderful daily market for people to buy fresh and healthy produce direct from growers in the Swan Valley, Pickering Brook and Carmel, Chittering, Bickley and Mundaring areas.

Chamber president Gerry Hanssen said the suggestion had been taken to the City of Swan and councillors were hoping to discuss it at an upcoming meeting.

“Crucial to the success of the market place would be to make the rent affordable to these small local producers to encourage diversity and higher numbers,” he said.

City chief executive Mike Foley said the workshops came under the control of the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority so any approvals for the market would need to be considered by that body.

“However, the City supports all new industry in the region and would welcome the market as a new opportunity for growers and for residents wanting to access grower-direct produce.”

Planning Minister Donna Faragher said expressions of interest would be sought for markets and other activities to be set up in the space at the workshops.

read more…

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rita2_compThe lack of commitment to the Swan Growth Corridor from the State Government is yet again demonstrated by the lack of funding commitments to new schools in the area.

Despite the State Government releasing a planning document for the growth corridor in 2009, they have done nothing to provide certainty for students, parents and teachers.

The lack of any funding certainty for the proposed schools creates enormous uncertainty for homeowners in the area, and is now pushing up costs for landowners.

Changes in Developer Contribution schemes that were discussed and approved at the City of Swan Council last night show that there will be increased costs to landowners, as a direct result of the Liberal Government ignoring the need for new schools in the area.

In Dayton, developer contributions will increase by $9,776 per hectare ($541 per dwelling) and in Brabham by $14,525 ($988 per dwelling).

The State Government planning document, identified a number of new primary schools in the Brabham, Dayton and Caversham area. The Government has not funded any of the new schools in the area.

Comments from Member for West Swan, Rita Saffioti MLA:

“The Liberal Government has ignored the needs of new suburbs across the metropolitan area.

“Under a Labor Government we were building 8 new primary schools each year, currently the Liberal Government is only funding 4 new primary schools each year.

“They have provided no funding commitments for schools in our area, creating significant concern for families in the area and higher costs for local landowners.”

Media contact: Rita Saffioti 9248 3822

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Dear Friends

This week has been a major game changer for tourism in WA which has been overwhelmingly embraced by our operators. By simply removing two restrictions, our tourism operators are jumping with joy. Tuesday’s announcement now allows tourism operators to offer a glass of wine or stubby of beer to their visitors during the normal activities of their service.

This week I attended the two-day WA Tourism Conference held in Perth and supported by 400 tourism operators from around the State. In my role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, I accompanied the Hon Colin Barnett to the official opening of the conference on Tuesday. Later that day I joined a discussion panel and spoke on the sharing economy; in particular the rise in demand and popularity of Airbnb and how it is adding to the growth of tourism in our State.

It was a proud moment indeed when the Premier announced changes to the Liquor Control Regulations that will provide local tourism operators with the option to serve alcohol, be it at the end of a sunset cruise, a bush walk, a camel ride, hot air balloon flight or a picnic as part of their tour, without the requirement for a liquor license. The Premier also announced the restriction surrounding gambling on cruise ships in Western Australian waters will be lifted to take affect from 1 January 2017. These are two initiatives that I have been working on for some time. The simple removal of these restrictions frees up the industry to grow and to attract thousands of more visitors to WA.

Cruising is a vital part of the State’s $9.3 billion tourism industry and changes to the Liquor Control Regulations will also promote regional Western Australian ports as attractive destinations for cruise operators.

Tourism is such an important growth industry for Western Australia and cruise ships are adding to that growth. WA sped away from the rest of the nation in cruise shipping growth with a boom year in 2014-15. However, the 2015-16 was WA’s most successful cruise season with Fremantle handling a record 58 cruise ship visits and 152,000 cruise passengers. The sector generated more than $275 million which represents a $159 million increase on the previous year.

This is also an exciting and important time for tourism in the Swan Valley and Perth Hills. Perth’s transformation as a destination means it now has more to offer visitors and the diverse range of attractions including wineries, breweries, restaurants, cafes, galleries and trails that connects the Swan Valley through to the Perth Hills and the Bickley Valley, will enable the region to capitalise on the renewed marketing focus on the city.

By the Premier taking on the tourism portfolio, he has demonstrated the value he places on the tourism sector in terms of economic development and job creation.

As always, keeping you in touch with my activities.

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Avon Descent – Walyunga National Park Drone Footage

Walyunga National Park

Walyunga National Park

We took full advantage of this spectacular annual event and launched “Inspire 1” to capture some outstanding scenery and competitor action through Walyunga National Park. Our drone footage gives the Swan Valley Progress Association an opportunity to showcase one of the great attractions that Swan Valley tourists can add to their itinerary.

Walyunga National Park is located just north of the Swan Valley and lies in the Darling Range, just behind the Darling Scarp, and covers both sides of a steep valley. The park is known for sensational wildflowers in winter and spring, abundant native animals and rugged valley scenery. There is plenty of parking at the main picnic sites, as well as gas barbecues, which may be used free of charge. A vehicle entrance fee is payable ($12.00) and camping is available but prior arrangement with the ranger is required.

It takes approximately one hour to reach from the city, via the Great Northern Highway and Walyunga Road. The park is well sign posted and entry is off Walyunga Road.

Best time to visit
Autumn, winter and spring.

What to do
Bushwalking, canoeing, picnicking, bird watching, wildflower rambles and camping (by arrangement with the ranger).

Walk and cycle trails
There are many walk trails located within the park including:

  • Aboriginal Heritage Trail – an easy 1.2-kilometre, 45-minute return walk.
  • Syd’s Rapids – a medium 4.6-kilometre, 1-hour return walk along the grassy floodplain of the Swan River under shady wandoos and flooded gum. Quiet walkers may be rewarded with sightings of kangaroos and waterbirds.
  • Kangaroo Trail – a medium four-kilometre, two-hour loop. Traverses granite outcrops with their specially adapted plants and small animals, like geckoes and lizards.
  • Kingfisher Walk Trail – a medium, 8.5-kilometre, four-hour loop with varied and abundant plant life.
  • Echidna Trail – a hard 10.6-kilometre, five-hour walk with breathtaking panoramas across the Swan and Avon valleys and the whole breadth of the park.

On-site information
Park rangers.

The video below has been uploaded to YouTube in high definition with enhanced colour and therefore, it is recommended that you view this video in full screen mode using the 720p resolution setting.Also, don’t forget to turn up your sound, enjoy.  🙂video_settings

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Draft Whiteman Park Strategic Plan 2016 – 2020


Whiteman Park is one of Perth’s most visited attractions, with more than one million visitors each year. It is also the most visited attraction in the Swan Valley. Recently the Park earned a place among the very best attractions in the world for consistently achieving top ratings from industry and travellers. Whiteman Park has been a finalist in both the WA Environment Awards and the WA Tourism Awards for the past four years. The online travel site tripadvisor.com.au has also awarded it a Certificate of Excellence based on the 4.5 out of five rating it received from visitors who chose to share their experience on the website.

Whiteman Park is located 20 kilometres north-east of Perth and is bounded by Gnangara Road to the north, Marshall Road to the south, Hepburn Avenue to the west and Lord Street to the east. At almost 4,000 hectares, Whiteman Park is one of the largest metropolitan recreation and tourism reserves in the world.

Whiteman Park will continue to fill a vitally important role as the population of Perth and Peel grows to a projected 3.5 million people by 2050. The Park will be surrounded by a direct projected population of over 105,000 people and will continue to protect the precious Gnangara Water Mound. The Park also needs to continuously evolve to meet the conservation, recreation and education needs of the region.

The draft Whiteman Park Strategic Plan documents the site planning options following two meetings in July and August 2013, to explore long-term opportunities for Whiteman Park that align to its strategic position in the Swan Valley.

Invited representatives at the meetings included:

  • Nyungar families and indigenous metropolitan stakeholder groups culturally
    associated with Whiteman Park
  • The City of Swan
  • The Western Australian Planning Commission
  • The Department of Planning
  • The Department of Finance – Building Management and Works
  • The Department of Parks and Wildlife
  • Tourism Commission

This plan identifies the need for the development of a structure plan that recognises
the importance of Whiteman Park as:

  • providing interconnected meeting places for communities to meet,
    recreate in and enjoy;
  • providing improved access for the community to the Park’s activities;
    a destination of significance for local and international visitors;  and
  • conserving the environment and its heritage for future generations.

read plan…

Posted in Community, Environment, Tourism | Leave a comment

Ellenbrook crime claims rejected

Ellenbrook Advocate


Ellenbrook Police Station’s officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Wally Brierley

ELLENBROOK’S top cop has reassured residents that the area is not a “crime hotspot”, despite reports last week that overall crime had increased significantly over the last financial year.

Figures released last week claimed that crime in Ellenbrook had increased more than 27 per cent.

Senior Sergeant Wal Brierley said that was not the case.

“Reported crime in Ellenbrook at end of last financial year was 1.9 per cent down from the previous year,” he said. “Every offence type had a downward trend; we have done very well.”

“I am not privy as to where those statistics came from.”

Sgt Brierley took over as officer-in-charge of the Ellenbrook district, home to about 65,000 residents, in September last year.

He said in the nine months he had been at the station to June 30, theft was down 24 per cent overall.

“I’m concerned about putting steps in place to mitigate any trends we see,” he said.

“We adjusted our nighttime operations for burglary when it was occurring and as a result, it dropped.”

read more…

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Ellenbrook rail line could be three decades away: new report


A rail line to Ellenbrook could be 30 years away.

A rail line to Ellenbrook could be 30 years away.

THE good folk of Ellenbrook could be waiting three decades for a rail line to the city, if successive WA governments adopt a $1.3 million transport plan.

According to sources, the plan — to be released today — will not recommend a rail line to the award winning suburb until after Perth’s population reaches 3.5 million.

That could be 2050.

The report, to be officially released tomorrow by Premier Colin Barnett and Transport Minister Dean Nalder, is sure to raise the ire of Ellenbrook residents who were promised a rail line in 2008 by now Premier Colin Barnett.

read more…

Posted in Community, Perth and Peel Green Growth Plan for 3.5 million, Public Transport | Leave a comment

Avon Descent Time Trials – Bells Rapids Drone Footage

On Sunday we had the opportunity to launch “Inspire 1” and capture some fantastic drone footage of the Avon Descent time trials at Bells Rapids.

There is no doubt about it, Bells Rapids is a very unique and beautiful place to visit. As you will see in our footage there are plenty of people/tourists enjoying this location on the weekend. As already mentioned in a previous post Bells Rapids is situated where the Avon and Swan rivers meet in the Northern reaches of the Swan Valley. From the top of the road you get your first glimpses of the idyllic valley that is Jumbuck Hill Park. Bells Rapids and the surrounding Jumbuck Hill Park are nice places to take a casual walk around quiet native bushland. Bordering on Walyunga National Park, Jumbuck Hill includes the upper Swan River Valley and foothills on either side leading up to the Darling Ranges.

There are some nice set out walking trails ranging in distance and difficulty. Along the walk you can expect stunning panoramas from the hill tops, old rail lines and a 25-metre cascading waterfall.

video_settingsThe video below has been uploaded to YouTube in high definition with enhanced colour and therefore, it is recommended that you view this video in full screen mode using the 720p resolution setting.

Also, don’t forget to turn up your sound. The music is very appropriate for the occasion, enjoy. 🙂

The Avon Descent

avon-descent-compThe Avon Descent – a spectacular 124 km race over two days through some of Western Australia’s most picturesque scenery. This incredible race takes paddlers and power craft drivers down the Avon River through the historic farming regions of Northam and Toodyay, the steep and spectacular gorges of the Avon Valley, Swan Valley wineries and eventually into the tidal waters of the Swan River. The Avon Descent tests the endurance and skills of the fittest athlete. Set yourself for the ultimate challenge and join us for the 2016 Avon Descent – an unforgettable experience.

2016 Avon Descent – Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 August 2016

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Ellenbrook, Morley and Midland are now crime hotspots!

The West Australian

crimeNew figures have revealed the winners and losers from Perth’s recent crime spike, with emerging hotspots such as Ellenbrook, Morley, Midland and Gosnells bearing the brunt of the pain.

The West Australian analysed the performance of more than 350 suburbs which showed crime went up by two or three times the metro average of 10.4 per cent recorded last financial year.

But at the other end of the spectrum, some suburbs recorded increases of between 20 and 30 per cent, which was well above the average metropolitan area increase of 10.4 per cent.

Ellenbrook in Perth’s east is one of the city’s fastest-growing suburbs and crime problems grew with it — up 27.5 per cent on the previous year.

read more…

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More sewage plants in water plan

The West Australian

Recycled sewage plants in Perth’s central and southern suburbs could be built as part of medium-term plans by the Water Corporation to buttress the city’s drinking supplies.

Typical water cycle (blue) including recycled water (lilac) and sewage (black) WTP = Drinking  Water Treatment  Plant.  STP = Sewage or Wastewater Treatment Plant.  RTP = Recycled Water Treatment Plant. SWRO = Seawater Reverse Osmosis (desalination plant)

Typical water cycle (blue) including recycled water (lilac) and sewage (black) WTP = Drinking Water Treatment Plant. STP = Sewage or Wastewater Treatment Plant. RTP = Recycled Water Treatment Plant. SWRO = Seawater Reverse Osmosis (desalination plant)

Longer term, the State-owned water utility wants to build giant desalination plants costing up to $1.5 billion each along the metropolitan coast to meet growing demand in a drying climate.

A blueprint of Perth’s future water sources seen by The West Australian has shed unprecedented light on where the city’s drinking supplies are likely to come from in the decades ahead.

The document also shows the indicative cost of projects, with consumers to pay progressively more as “climate-independent” sources such as recycling and desalination plants are added.

In the short term, the Water Corp proposes to upgrade its desalination plants at Kwinana and Binningup, north of Bunbury, in moves that would cost up to $600 million and deliver an extra 35 billion litres of water a year.

read more…

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Swan Valley day tripping a big hit among tourists – 2016


Swan Valley Day Trippers

Results from the latest visitor information survey identify the Swan Valley as a top tourist attraction in Western Australia.

The Day Tripper survey, commissioned by the City of Swan earlier this year, showed 3.1 million people visited the stunning region, contributing $421 million to the local economy. This is a significant increase compared to the 2012 survey results of 2.1 million visitors, contributing $284 million to the region.

City of Swan Mayor Mick Wainwright said he was pleased to see the increased interest in the region among both local and international visitors.

“The Swan Valley is at the heart of the City and is well known as one of Perth’s most iconic tourism destinations,” he said.

“Tourism is an extremely important industry for Western Australia’s overall economic future and this is particularly relevant within the City of Swan as we have a young and growing population.”

The surveys, which are conducted every few years, target visitors to the Swan Valley as part of the City of Swan’s ongoing commitment to continuous improvement. Last year, the City endorsed a five-year Tourism Development Strategy 2015-2020 which sets the strategic direction and positioning for the council and its industry partners.

Mayor Wainwright said a highlight of the Day Tripper survey results was the growing awareness of the Swan Valley as a Humane Food Region.

“Almost a third of our visitors said they were impressed by our local chefs’ commitment to serving humane food and that it had influenced their decision to visit the area”.

Swan Valley/Gidgegannup Ward Councillor Darryl Trease said there had been an increase in the number of families visiting the region, up from 32% in 2012 to 50% in 2016.

read more…

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Australia to score as China tourists spend more


Chinese Tourists

The Melbourne Age

A majority of Chinese tourists plan to maintain or increase their travel spending this year despite the economic slowdown in China and Australia remains the top destination on their wish list, a new survey shows.

read more…

Posted in Tourism | Leave a comment