Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bungalow business

A barrage of figures from the State Government today as it announces Rotto upgrades (‘Rotto revamp well ahead of schedule’).
Of Rotto’s 308 accommodation units, 202 have now been upgraded or refurbished…$5.1million has been spent on refurbishing and furnishing the 14 bungalows, 50 units and villas in Bathurst and six heritage cottages in the Central Thomson area.
"Perhaps the most impressive result of the 17-week, $7.5million winter works program is the transformation of the island's landmark, heritage bungalows,” Tourism Minister Sheila McHale says in her media release."These 14 bungalows were built in the 1920s and were showing their age, but with the upgrades, they are now excellent self-contained family accommodation units.”
(But there were no pics of the new toilet blocks – see Rotto Bloggo’s August 30 post ‘Exclusive pics!!!’ for the snapshots).
How much do the bungalows cost now?
"We have been able to keep these at the lower end of the price bracket, with a week's rental still being very reasonable at $221 per week in low season and $345 for a family of four for a week, in the peak season,” the Minister says.The new stuff is too late for one Rodney Bolt, of the Daily Telegraph in London: Rodney had a story in the DT this week about the delights of Perth, and the even better things west of Freo…
‘And I took a day trip to Rottnest Island…the day was spent cycling around the island, discovering sparkling bays, snorkelling in quiet coves - and eavesdropping on an American couple cooing over a quokka: "Isn't it cute! It's one of those kumquat things. What are they called again?" "Combats."’

Monday, September 25, 2006

Rotto beaches are best

We didn’t need to be told, but it’s nice having it confirmed.
Rotto’s Basin beaches are the best in Australia.
Says who? The ‘Explore Australia’ travel guide.
Who are they? Rotto Bloggo isn’t quite sure – but we saw their name in a whining article from the Sunshine Coast Daily.
“It’s a quokka shocker!” howled the Daily.
“West Australian beaches that are the preserve of rat-like creatures have been rated superior to the Sunshine Coast’s people-friendly golden strips…
“That is despite the fact that the place is best known for its strange inhabitants called quokkas which look like a cross between a wallaby and a stuffed rodent.”
(A bit rich coming from a place best known for tacky high-rise eyesores).
“So what if all the picture-postcard shots on the web show Rottnest with azure-blue water and pristine white beaches – those quokkas must have bodily functions…”
(Right. And the multitudes that throng Queensland beaches never pee in the water).
“According to Redlands family, the Samuels, Coolum is about as good as it gets with mum Jo reckoning First Bay was absolutely priceless. They have a holiday home there and rate the Sunshine Coast as magnificent..."
(So, Jo Samuels is being set up to proclaim a Qld beach is better than anything she’s seen on Rotto…)
“It doesn’t get better than this,” Jo said, though she is yet to discover the quokka-chocker Rottnest,” the Daily said.
Ha! This Queensland paper couldn’t find anyone who could put their hand on their heart and say their beach is better than Rotto’s Basin.
Ha ha ha ha ha!
Rotto rules. Rottnest is the best. We all know it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Too good for the poolroom

Art and Rotto are inextricable.
This year, at Brett Heady’s Family Fun Centre, Rotto Bloggo looked like ‘The Scream’ when he lost a game of mini-golf.
He evokes Rodin’s famous image ‘The Thinker’ when taking 15 minutes over a Scrabble decision.
And our fishing exploits on the rocks recall Winslow Homer’s finest work.
The art connection continues: two Perth artists are having an exhibition on the island next month.
Maree Mack does the paintings while Michele Petrie handles the sculpture.
As reported in the fabulous Western Suburbs Weekly, the exhibition (called Treasured Island) will be on display at the Salt Store Gallery and Exhibition Space in Thompson Bay from October 7 to 15.
Photo of the photo (taken by the brilliant Andrew Ritchie) in the WSW shows a Mack painting.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Big native title news this week.
The Federal Court ruled WA's Noongar people are the traditional owners of around 20,000 sq km of WA, including the metropolitan area.
Some early reports had the claim area stretching from Hopetoun in the south to north of Jurien Bay - and including Rottnest Island.
Other more recent accounts say Rotto is excluded - "although Rottnest Island has been excluded from the claim", ABC Radio reported on Tuesday.
The original claim did include Rottnest, but as the SMH reported on Wednesday:
"...judge Murray Wilcox said yesterday that the Noongar people were the traditional owners of the whole claim area, excluding offshore islands such as Rottnest, and their society had been maintained since European settlement in 1829".
"Justice Wilcox found Noongar people would not have had access to these places before the arrival of Europeans, as historical evidence showed Noongar people did not use boats in 1829", a Perth paper reported.
Flag image copyright Christopher Vance

Sunday, September 17, 2006

There's money in eating

It's a dream job.
Well, any job that means you can live on Rottnest is pretty good.
But add 100,000 large and it's Fantasy Island!
Rotto Bloggo only noticed this ad on and a couple of other places a few days ago:
'Our client, The Rottnest General Store, has a rare and exciting opportunity for an experienced Retail Manager to manage the operations and performance of this multi-million dollar business which employs up to 60 staff in peak periods'.
(Multi-million is right: the Store's owner bought a unit in the Raffles tower).
'Experience within the supermarket is not essential, as we are considering applicants from all retail areas. The owner of the business is prepared to provide supermarket training to the successful applicant. The successful applicant will have significant retail management experience and will have high standards of store presentation, customer service, leadership skills and staff management'.
'The position includes the responsibility of the majority of the purchasing for the store, therefore knowledge of GP’s and retail financials are essential'.
(What are GPs? General products?)
The package for this plum job is $100,000.
If Rotto Bloggo didn't love freelance journalism so much we would have applied already.
The money is enough to keep you in bananas all year round.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

"Tie them up like dogs"

An obituary of prominent Aboriginal artist Hector Jandany in The Australian yesterday had this:
‘During his childhood at the Turkey Creek police station, Jandany used to take food and water to the lines of Aborigines brought in chains on the way to Wyndham and then Rottnest Island. “They would bring them to the tree and tie them up like dogs,” he once said.’
We’re not sure how the timing works – Jandany was born in 1927, and Rotto was a place of imprisonment until 1903 – but it’s a timely reminder of the island’s dark past.
According to the RIA website Rotto was an Aboriginal prison from 1838 to 1849, and again from 1855 to 1903.
The RIA says there are 17 sites on the island listed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act.
Wikipedia has this:
‘Upon the establishment of the British colony in nearby Perth, ten Aboriginal prisoners were sent to Rottnest Island in August 1838. The Colonial Secretary announced in June 1839 that the island would become a penal establishment for Aboriginal people, and between 1838 and 1931, Rottnest Island was used as an Aboriginal prison to “pacify” “local natives”.
‘In “pacifying” an Aboriginal population, men were rounded up and chained for offences ranging from spearing livestock, burning the bush or digging vegetables on what had been their own land.
‘It has been estimated that there may be as many as 369 Aboriginal graves on the island. Except for a short period between 1849 and 1855 during which the prison was closed, some 3700 Aboriginal men and boys, from all parts of the state, were imprisoned.’
Another site, Creative Spirits (see link below), lists some of the significant Aboriginal sites.
It also has this:
‘Originally Aboriginal people were imprisoned in the Round House in Fremantle. When this jail became too small during the 1830s a new location was sought. Rottnest Island was thought suitable because it was separated from the mainland which made escapes not easy.
‘Beginning in 1838, Aboriginal prisoners were sent to Rottnest Island and “assisted” (Round House leaflet vocabulary) in the building of a prison complex. In fact, most of the historical buildings on Wadjemup which you see today have been built by Aboriginal labour. The impressive sea wall alone, which you see upon your arrival, took them three to eight years to complete (sources vary).
‘Before a woman set foot on Rottnest Island she had to do a smoking ceremony which is linked to the many men who died on this island. However, details cannot be provided as this is women’s business and you might be a male reader.
‘Men of many different tribes had been brought to Rottnest Island prison which resulted in tensions. But many died simply because they were parted from their land, which has a much, much higher significance to Aboriginal people than to whitefellas. The prison, built by Aboriginal labour, was so overcrowded at times that prisoners who were far from the openings through which guards handed the meals, starved.’

Hector Jandany obituary:,20867,20413429-16947,00.html
Creativespirits site:

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The tree that won't die...

Earlier this year we took a photo of this plant that was growing from the eastern side wall of Dome.
Except it isn’t a plant: it’s a branch of a huge bay fig tree.
The tree is under the Dome building and bursting out.
So the existing Dome building is going to be demolished, and rebuilt some metres back.
The RIA says it will be more aesthetically suitable as the new building won’t dominate the frontage of Thomson Bay.
Dome’s lease expires in November, but will be extended until sometime next year.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

'Gone to Rottnest'

Rottnest author tells all!
Another Rotto book (hopefully you've read Rottnest Island, A Documentary History - see link on right) is Trea Wiltshire's Gone to Rottnest.
Trea's tome was published in 2004 and, according to the publisher, would "raise awareness of a fragile environment and the challenges it faces, and strengthen the cause of those who work to preserve a unique island that has always been valued for its relaxed atmosphere and unspoiled simplicity".
How are sales going?
"I am not getting rich but sales are steady," Trea tells Rotto Bloggo.
"Writing the book (over many spring visits with kids who are now grown-up and gone) was a labour of love.
"Having visited many islands in my travels, it stands alone for rewarding me with an amazing sense of peace. Probably because you arriving sort of knowing what you'll be doing - swimming, reading (and I remember so well the books I read there!), cycling, fishing - and relaxing. "Something we don't do well in the 21st century."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Only a few months to go before we know more about the new development on Rotto...
In July last year, when Rotto Bloggo was wearing its Prestige Property hat for The Sunday Times, Rottnest Island Authority chairman Laurie O'Meara said: "Consideration is being given to the construction of additional accommodation in the tarmac area adjacent to the wind turbine" (ie Mt Herschel).
In the RIA's 2004-05 annual report in August, Mr O'Meara said "...the ongoing financial viability of Rottnest Island depends upon taking a more commercial approach to the Island’s management...
"...the community of Western Australia feels a strong ownership of the Island. They want to continue to offer their children the relaxing holidays they experienced but they also rightly expect the Island’s facilities to be upgraded and new products and services made available that keep pace with similar destinations".
In November The State Government announced a four-hectare site on Mt Herschel had been chosen "for a three to four star facility with more than 100 rooms...(the) development will be low impact and all existing trees will be maintained", reported ABC Radio.
Earlier this year the Rottnest Island Authority released a brochure calling for expressions of interest in a "Unique Tourism Opportunity":
"The opportunity comprises approximately 4 hectares and is available on a long term lease tenure...
"...this development opportunity will be the only significant opportunity on Rottnest Island of its type for the forseeable future".
The place is Mt Herschel, which overlooks Longreach Bay. The brochure said the development " part of a wider rehabilitation and revegetation of the Mt Herschel area".
The brochure said it would be approximately 120 rooms - although the latest figure Rotto Bloggo hears is around 140 rooms.
What's the timeline?
Expressions of interest closed on 28 July.
Last month shortlisted applicants were invited to submit a Request for Proposal.
In November the RfP will close.
In December, the developer will be chosen.
It's alphabet soup: those involved in the development include the RIA, Tourism WA, and LandCorp. The development is Landbank project (Rotto Bloggo's note to self: must learn more about LandBank).
Even though we don't know who the developer will be, or seen the designs, what do you think?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Moody Pinky

Another great Rotto photo on Flickr: this one's from Thomas Wozniak, of Perth.
This brilliant view of Bathurst lighthouse, looking east on Pinky Beach, was taken with a Nikon D70.
Check out Thomas' other Rotto photos on Flickr: bays, quokkas, and a nice pic of the Perth lights from Rotto.

Monday, September 04, 2006

On song?

Rotto Bloggo's US spies tell us track 11 on Wilco's new album is called...Rottnest.
(Wilco, of course, are Chicago roots-rockers, and include Jeff Tweedy and Greg Kot).
We're told Wilco are set to release a 160-page book which will include a CD with "previously unreleased material".
Frankly, this sounds too good to be true.
We've directed our US spies to find out more, and verify if the Quokka Arms/Brett Heady's Family Fun Park/Wadjemup lighthouse has really been immortalised in song.
Looking out from a Thomson Bay bungalow

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A night in August

Did you complete your census form last month?
Rotto Blotto has put a query in to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, asking how many people were on the island during census night (8 August).
While we're waiting, let's have a look at the 2001 census data for Rotto...
People on Rotto: 475 (241 males, 234 females).
There were 388 people aged 15 and over, and 37 over 65.
There were three Aboriginal women on the island.
There were 336 Australian-born people, and 78 born overseas (we know that doesn't add up to 475: the ABS says the born overseas question had answers that included "inadequately described", "at sea", and "not elsewhere classified").
It was a monolingual crowd: 396 only spoke English.
Australian citizens? 387.
There were 21 overseas visitors.