All the local news as it happened in Armadale in 2023

All the local news as it happened in Armadale in 2023

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As we hurtle into the new year, which brings with it the promise of new possibilities, it’s traditional to pause for a moment and reflect on the year just passed.

It’s clear that for the City of Armadale, the times are a-changing.

There was a lot of movement at the station; the long-awaited Byford Rail Extension took off with the shutdown of the Armadale/Thornlie train line in November, ushering in 18 months of bus replacement services (god willing).

Within weeks, level crossing boom gates that tested the patience of many motorists were gone, never to be replaced. And the less-than-two-decades-old Armadale train station was levelled in a matter of days just before Christmas, the pile of twisted metal and bricks carted off. It will be another six months or so before locals can expect to see their new elevated station rise from the rubble.

On Monday the building was there, and by Friday it was gone. Photograph – Victor Coules

Likewise, the business owners in the South Armadale Industrial Estate have another six months or so of enjoying direct access to Brookdale, Hilbert and Haynes before the Byron Rd rail crossing is closed forever – a thorn in the sides of many.

In another infrastructure milestone for our fair city, the multi-million-dollar Armadale courthouse and police station precinct was opened in November after years of delay thanks to the ravages of COVID on the construction industry.

There are now five courtrooms, four permanently-stationed magistrates, and a huge amount of room to move.

The rapidly-growing Piara Waters celebrated the opening of its very own high school this year, with its first cohort of Year 7 students now ready to march determinedly into Year 8.

In October the area also welcomed a revolutionary (and free) drop-in mental health hub. The Armadale Head To Health Centre on Church Ave is a federal government-funded initiative that fills the all-too-common void between emotional and mental distress and psychological treatment.

October seemed to be the month that kept on giving with the Roleystone Karragullen Volunteer Bushfire Brigade pleased as punch to be handed the keys to their brand-new purpose-built home in Springdale Park.

Member for Darling Range Hugh Jones, Member for Burt Matt Keogh, Mayor Ruth Butterfield, Brigade Captain Sean Anderson, DFES Superintendent Alan Crossman in front of the new station.

But it wasn’t all gains this year – the city also faced a myriad of losses.

After a memorable 22 years, the John family closed the doors on Kelmscott institution Classic Sounds for the very last time in December – a loss that will reverberate for years to come.

In a move that caused widespread outrage, Bankwest announced it would be permanently shutting down its Jull Street branch on January 18.

The Haynes community rallied together in August when tragedy took the life of another local institution – Graham the Dog Walker – a friendly face who most would have passed by on his twice-daily pilgrimages around the neighbourhood.

Tributes also poured from near and far for St John’s Tinesh Tamilkodi, the first paramedic in WA to lose his life while on duty after he crashed on Armadale Rd in November while responding to a priority one call.

Tinesh Tamilkodi was widely regarded by his peers as “the best sort”. Photograph – St John WA

And the semi-urbanised Piara Waters community lost a park and a certain sense of security when a fast and furious bushfire threatened homes during an early heat wave in November.

But without darkness there can be no light. And there certainly were some shining beacons within our community this past year.

Veteran Armadale firefighter Robert (Bert) Alteri was honoured for his distinguished service with the Australian Fire Service medal.

Kelmscott Bulldogs’ Robert (Rob) Turner was already a winner to his adoring community, but now the rest of the country knows too after he was announced as the National AFL Disability Inclusion Ambassador of the Year. And the Bulldogs’ Robert Fancote was also one of only five in the state to be given the Lifetime Service Award for his 60 years of dedicated service to the club.

Challis Community Primary School principal Lee Musumeci was awarded the Department of Education’s Women of Achievement Award in recognition of “disrupting disadvantage through high quality teaching”.

Lee Musumeci with her daughter Sarah.

Mark Thompson was recognised as Community Citizen of the Year, acknowledging his passion and leadership of the Roleystone Karragullen Scout group for over 11 years.

And Kelmscott’s David Pearce showed dignity in the face of discrimination when the US war veteran and his service dog were refused entry to a Northbridge restaurant. His plight shone a light on the discrimination that people with service dogs can still face. And only through awareness can societal attitudes change.

We also saw the rise of quite a few sports stars this past year.

Leah Cornish had the year of her life when the sixteen-year-old baseball star was awarded the Golden Bat after her state team won the Australian Women’s Championship in Melbourne. She was then recruited to play for the national team at the 2023 Women’s Baseball World Cup.

Ten-year-old soccer and futsal star Ari Lewis Johnston made a pilgrimage over to the UK to try out for multiple English Premier League teams.

Shevana Laput had a blinder of a year after she was scouted for the high-stakes world of Filipino volleyball.

And Kayla Bongers was named the Under 19 Girls Victorian State Champion for Modern Pentathlon before taking out the national honour two months later. Kayla also became the first Australian to compete internationally in the Modern Pentathlon since the inclusion of the Obstacle Course Race element.

And in a coup for our area, the Armadale Fitness and Aquatic Centre was named AUSactive’s ‘Leisure Centre of the Year’, cementing the centre and its staff’s reputation in Australia as the best in the business. In addition to the top gong, AFAC took out the People’s Choice Large Business awards, and Sherree Morgan was named WA’s exercise instructor of the year.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of accomplishments within the City of Armadale in 2023, but it is a good indicator of the heights that its people can achieve.

We here at The Examiner cannot wait to share your best and brightest moments from 2024.