All roads lead to Anzac commemorations

TIM EDMUNDS, TOYAH SHAKESPEARE, LISA MORRISON and SHANNON HAMPTONAlbany Advertiser
Anzac Albany ambassadors will be busy helping out this weekend.
Camera IconAnzac Albany ambassadors will be busy helping out this weekend. Credit: Anzac Albany

Seven Australian and international naval vessels, 800 defence personnel and 60,000 visitors are flooding into Albany for the Anzac centenary commemorations from today.

The four-day commemoration includes 10 major events and 19 supporting events with some 800 performers to mark 100 years since the first convoy of Anzacs left from King George Sound.

These events will be broadcast nationally and internationally by more than 100 media representatives from Australia, New Zealand and Japan.Sharp Infusions owner and Albany chef Dan Sharp has one of the biggest tasks on his hands, setting up catering at the Stirling Terrace mess hall, which comprises six food stalls each with its own kitchen, a cool room, storeroom and main kitchen.

“It’s been an enormous amount of pre-preparation and planning, we had to think about it practically — how does anyone cook 40,000 meals,” he said.

“On Monday, we received about 400kg of fresh herbs, 170kg of lettuce, we’ve sliced up 110kg of Shadforth Dellendale Creamery cheese for the burgers, we’re using about 1.6 tonnes of fresh seafood, we’ve got 4000 burger patties made with Butterfield Beef and Mt Barker Free Range Chicken.

“We’ve been preparing food for seven weeks, freezing what we can.”

Mr Sharp has hired 130 people for a menu that aims to show off local produce and features everything from crumbed Albany sardines and pulled Plantagenet Pork to Manjimup royal blue potato chips.WA Police regional commander Murray Smalpage said more than 100 police would come to Albany including mounted police and the tactical response group and regional operations group from Perth.

He said the weekend became a State-level operation when the nation’s terror alert was raised to high last month. A specialist squad from water police will be backed up with aerial support from the police air wing, including a helicopter and the PC12 fixed air wing plane capable of flying officers into Albany.

Cmdr Smalpage said the distance from Perth made it important for police to be significantly prepared.

He said while there would be similar security to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth in 2011, the police operation was smaller scale.

“We want people to be alert, not alarmed,” Cmdr Smalpage said.

“You can expect to see police and emergency services. The rationale is we are a long way from Perth so we have staged them down here if needed because of the distance.”

WA Country Health Service regional director for Great Southern Susan Kay said Albany Health Campus staff had spent six months planning for this weekend.

“The health service has … worked very closely with other agencies such as St John Ambulance and Silver Chain to ensure a co-ordinated response if required,” she said.

“Contingency planning has examined issues such as bed capacity, supplies, security and business continuity.”

Ms Kay said staff had been involved in emergency management planning, which included two simulated emergency exercises.

She said health services had increased staff during the commemorations including medical officers, GPs, nursing staff, hospital managers and support and on-call staff.Albany and Regional Volunteer Service co-ordinator Tracy Sleeman said 427 Anzac Albany volunteers would assist people to seats, control crowds and give directions at events.

About 200 volunteers from community and sporting groups are helping with parking at the various park and ride locations across the city. More than 80 Girl Guides and Scouts are involved with the mess hall’s gratitude wall and 30 Australian Red Cross volunteers are also on hand.

Ten volunteers are hosting the World War I Nurses Remembrance Association dinner and memorial service.

Three volunteers have cut up 1500 small carpet squares so 230 naval personnel can place camper beds on the Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre basketball courts, while about 20 volunteers are cooking breakfast from today to Monday.

Four volunteers will fill inflatable bean bags for extra seating, while 10 volunteers have put together 1000 information packs.

Albany City Cabs co-owner Tim O’Donnell said taxis would be rostered on 24-7 with extra vehicles and cars placed on double shifts.

He said he would have 30 cars and 60 drivers were already available for the weekend.

“It will be all hands on deck,” he said. “We have extra drivers from Perth to help us out so we have done everything we can.”

Mr O’Donnell said it was important for prospective customers to make the taxi driver’s job easier by waiting where they ordered the taxi and to keep a look out for when it arrives to avoid unnecessary delays.

There will also be 60 buses, including 48 from Perth, 70 drivers and 23 Transperth support staff in Albany.

Caltex Albany proprietor Greg Mansfield said service stations on York Street and North Road had more than 100,000-litre capacity at each, and tanks would be refilled at least twice a day, and as required.

As well as diesel and unleaded fuel supplies sourced in Albany to cater for increased demand, Mr Mansfield said a back-up reserve was on stand-by in Katanning if needed.

“We have also organised extra deliveries of supplies including pies, soft drinks, ice creams, milk, bread, cigarettes and water to increase our stock levels to cover the extra influx of visitors,” he said.

Western Power has supplied five large generators to power the temporary campground off Campbell Road, the concert at Centennial Oval and markets on Stirling Terrace.

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