Wednesday, June 27, 2007

good luck

Deep in the classifieds of The West Australian this morning is an invitation to apply for summer time on Rotto.

“Applications open at 9.00am today for the Summer 2007/2008 Ballot (27th December 2007 to 6th February 2008).”

How excitement. Start lodging today. Applications close Tuesday 17 July.

We like this yarn in The Age (fine paper) a fortnight or so ago about Rottnest: it verged on the purple made put some pertinent points:

“Rottnest Island floats above the glittering water on Perth's western horizon like an antipodean Avalon. Being within sight of the city's favourite getaway is a sore trial for jaded office workers during the week, forced to endure the views from the booming city's office towers.

"On any warm weekend swarms of people descend on the island and 'Rotto', as it's known to locals, is so popular during summer holidays that accommodation is allocated by ballot. During the week, though, outside of school holidays, it can very much feel like you have the place all to yourself."

The RIA says it expects to receive more than 5000 applications.

Will you be in Geordie from Wed 2 January to Wed 9 January? Or Thomson Bay South (aka Nappy Alley) from Friday 25 January to Friday 1 January?

Not everyone sees the popularity as a good thing. This blog called The Boomtown Rap (think Sir Bob Geldof?) pines for the olden days...

“Queuing outside popular restaurants, once unheard of, is now commonplace. Ditto Rottnest Island. The days of the spontaneous holiday on Rotto are finished. Holidays during school breaks must now be booked a year in advance, and even then, you have to queue to score a place in the ballot system that operates to ensure holidays at the island are not gobbled up by the same people time after time – some actually camp out overnight to guarantee themselves a spot in the ballot!”

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

to the lighthouse prancing

Rottnest Island
Originally uploaded by Miss Leaving
A wonderful image from Flickr, taken nine days ago: the sun is setting over the Basin...time to head back to the villa...hope we don't get savaged by quokkas on the way.
A mere five days until Rotto Bloggo is on the island...we'll be doing a Wadjemup lighthouse tour for the first time (although the lighthouse pictured is not Wadjemup, natch).
"The only Lighthouse to be open to the public on Rottnest Island, this is a unique opportunity to discover what goes on within the walls of a real lighthouse," ther RIA website clumsily says.
"From the top of Wadjemup Lighthouse you will see a distant mainland Australia to the east and to the west stunning vistas that will take your eye to the edge of the world." Goodness me! Purple Haze!
Anyway, if you're keen on the tour, call the Rottnest Island Visitor Centre on 9372 9732 and talk with one of their "enthusiastic Hospitality Officers".

Sunday, June 24, 2007

the ptites betes de Rottnest

More translation fun courtesy Babelfish: here's a French tourist enthusing about Rotto...

'Beautiful Sunday on ROTTNEST After having magnifying glass my reveil last Sunday, this time it etait good, us here left for ROTTNEST ISLAND, a small island opposite Perth.

'When German decouvrerent this island, they transfer full with enormous "rats" ("Nest Rats" in German) of or the name..... But it did not etait Rats but QUOKKAS, these ptites betes so much familieres that one would want of in rammener has the house... but good I do not think that the customs officers are of the same opinion lol And then it is the only place in the world, and yes you read well in the world, or one can see these small creatures!'

(Hmm. Not sure how Frederick de Houtman and Willem de Vlamingh will feel about being regarded as German...)

'Other particularite of this island, if one wishes y sejourner during the Australian ete and well it is necessary to have gains its place has the lottery if not quenini!!! And yes too many people wish to go on this island during the ete...

(We love to sejourner during the ete!).

'Another dimension surprising of the island: there is enormously poisonous snake but by chance I do not have any crosses! OUfffffffff We thus travelled by our bicycle and veiled us left for one day decouverte on this marvellous island!! Alle now I let to you decouvrir the photographs, Ca will be much more interressant that words ah if a derniere thing, has the other end of the world I meet auvergnats of clermont! EXCEL!!!!!!!!!!!'

(No photos to be seen - never mind. What/who are the auvergnats of clerment? It's a mistoire...)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

the weather started getting rough (tiny ships were tossed)

Goodness me it’s been belting down over there.

Yesterday Rotto Bloggo was driving down Stirling Highway and we couldn’t see the beautiful island because of the rain.

Rottnest had 21mm of rain in the 24 hours to 0900 today. It had 1.4mm in the half-hour until 1000.

And it’s been windier than Blazing Saddles. Gusts of more than 80kph earlier this morning, and a monstrous 111kph yesterday afternoon around 3.30.

We hope no quokkas were blown away.We can’t wait until tomorrow week, when we’re playing Scrabble and drinking while looking out at the wind-whipped water.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Rotto Rocky Rock

Rotto Rocky Rock
Originally uploaded by deadguru
A nice image from Flickr user deadguru of the (possibly) most-photographed bit of Rotto beach.
Only nine days until we're there.
If you're on the other side of the country you can see at least one Rotto image in a yartz exhibition.
'Working from an old garage at Crows Nest, four women have been making a big impression on the art of printmaking,' says the Mosman Daily.
The women are artists Tanya Crothers, Barbara Davidson, Helen Best and Janet Milton.
' Davidson's colourful etching of the Wharf Theatre with the dark beauty of Crothers' lithograph and collagraph of trees on Rottnest Island, Western Australia.'

Thursday, June 21, 2007

'Dead in Rotto'

An attention-getting blog headline from this Irish backpacker.

(But really, shouldn't it be: Dead on Rotto?).

Fluff, from Cork, gets a warning from a travelling companion...

""Turn around really slowly and carefully," Cat has just said, in a very low and cautious tone of voice. "And look at what's behind you."

"I mean, it's got to be the phrase that you least want to hear when you are in the Australian outback. There are other contenders, including "Oh look, we’re in Wolf Creek" and "That's not a log you're sitting on, mate, that's a crocodile" but in terms of sheer gut-wrenching I'm-in-the-place-with-the-most-poisonous-animals-in-the-world-and-they-all-hate-me terror, that one's got to win. That's it. My number is up. This time, I am going to die. And I haven't even seen a bloody quokka yet."

An amusing post follows. And she does get to see a quokka.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

quokka rendezvous

More quokka sightings as we count the days until we’re on Rotto again.

German blogger Verena was on Rottnest a few months ago and liked what she saw.

(Although she seemed to wear the same clothes for the whole time she was in WA).

'For the following weekend I bought a ferry ticket to Fremantle, were I spent a great time till sunday. It is not far from Fremantle to Rottnest Island, were bikes can be hired to explore the small island by a quiet convenient way (as long as you get a good bike and don't mind cycling the whole day). Rottnest is famous for Quokkas (Tree Kangaroos), which were taken for rats by the first explorers of the island. So, the name of it. By the way, there I met my second australian snake.

Tree kangaroos? Hmm, not quite: tree kangaroos are macropods with long tails, but we’ve never seen a quokka in the trees.

Only 14 days until we’re on Rottnest: the bumf, including baggage tags, arrived today from the RIA.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

quokka covered

There have been many fine books written about Rottnest. There have been books set on Rottnest (who can forget that marvelous Mills & Boon-style potboiler, Rottnest Island Romance?).

But until now we didn’t know there were books with small herbivorous marsupials in the title.

Yes, we refer to the quokka: we stumbled across a reference and link to the “absolutely delicious” thriller The Quokka Question.

Pardon me? It has as good a ring as The Bourne Identity or The Third Man or The Postman Always Rings Twice.

“Claire McNab's 2 other series feature Detective Inspector Carol Ashton (18 books) and Denise Cleever, an Australian Intelligence Organisation agent,” says this blog. Her Kylie Kendall novels include The Wombat Strategy, The Kookaburra Gambit, The Dingo Dilemma – and of course The Quokka Question.

“There should be something...for everyone to enjoy, whether it's hardboiled, humour, thriller or a bit of each,” says the blog.

Heavens! We went straight to McNab’s website to learn more.

“Think Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum blended with Crocodile Dundee. That's brash, enthusiastic Kylie Kendall, raised in the remote Outback of Australia,” says the author.

“She's familiar with perilous situations and dangerous animals. Even so, nothing has prepared her for the challenges Los Angeles provides when Kylie inherits a private eye business and decides to lob in and run it herself.
"Fair dinkum," she says, "how hard can it be?"

We went immediately to Amazon and ordered a copy. It will be the perfect addition to our Rottnest bookshelf.

Mind you, click on the large version of the book cover at Amazon and I’m sure you’ll agree with Rotto Bloggo the quokka looks more like a cross between a deranged Labrador and a raunchy kangaroo.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ben and the Bearnaise

Rottnest Island was one of the key ingredients for a celeb chef’s success.

Rotto Bloggo is indebted to the Courier-Mail for this news: we just about fell off our chair when we read it.

Ben O’Donohue is the chef in question: he’s on the looming Foxtel show ‘The Best in Australia’.

(Former Jam Tart Sophie Gare also stars: good to see WA girls doing well).

“O'Donoghue's cooking career began one night in a busy kitchen in a little restaurant on Rottnest Island, Western Australia,” reports the C-M.

"I'd been hired as a kitchen hand and I got involved in a bit of food preparation but one night the chef ran out of bearnaise sauce and he told me to make some more," O'Donoghue told the paper.

"I said I didn't know how to do it but he said he'd talk me through it, which he did, and I made it! I ended up getting a job as an apprentice chef."

No word on when this was, or at what gourmet Rotto location this happened, but you can’t have everything.

O’Donoghue was also on Surfing the Menu, of course, and after finding this ABC page we discover Ben began rattling pots and pans at the tearooms.

Dedicated Aunty viewers will recall Ben and Co (including Luc Longley) going to Strickland Bay, snorkelling for lobster…paradise!

“When he's not filming TV shows or writing columns for food magazines, O'Donoghue's attention is split between his wife and two children who live in Hackney, east London and his new firm, The Great Australian Pie Company, which he set up with some partners in the UK last year,” the C-M reports.

"We sell pies at major sporting, art and music events around the country and we're planning on opening some pie shops across the UK soon too," he tells the paper.
What about a Rotto-inspired/named pie? We’d like to see that.
* Pic not of Ben, and not taken in the tearooms: instead it shows a cream mishap in a Thomson Bay kitchen.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

the -oolie suffix

Schoolie, toolie, droolie (a person over 40 who pathetically hangs out with schoolies trying to be hip and cool) - we thought we'd heard them all.

Although we're still a bit confused about toolie: yes, the common definition is someone older, like in this dictionary: 'Perhaps related to tool ‘a stupid person’ by comparison with schoolie ‘a student celebrating the end of final year exams.’ Alternately, it could be influenced by tool v. ‘to drive (an automobile); to cruise (around),’ particularly given the predatory undertones of toolie'.

Don't even get us started on zoolie...lordy.

We liked this blogging from a cute young kid called Sarah (schoolie of the future?) at Hillarys Primary School. "Some of the places I've been with Hilarys Primary School are AQUA, the Perth Zoo, Rottnest, the beach and the Maritime Museum," she says.

"Our school treats year 7's with very great respect. Some of the things we have done so far is have a 4 day trip to Rottnest, go beach swimming, and have people from such high schools as Duncraig and Padbury tell us about the advantages of going there the following year."

Respec' is when your school takes you to Rotto!

"Our school is kept in a very clean and neat stage. Litter is kept to a minimum and the gardener keeps the bushes green. Grafetti is cleaned on with in the week that it was made and after school hours security cameras are turned on. Windows are repaired very quickly too, although the windows being smashed stopped in around 2004."

Nothing like that happens on Rottnest either...certainly bakers don't steal no no!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

doing some bird

'Bird watching on Rottnest Island is always a small adventure, and it can spring surprises with the sighting of a bird rarely seen anywhere else, or the experience of encountering a species that is common elsewhere but never before been recorded on the island.

'The Rock Parrot is the only member of this family to live permanently on the island. The Willie Wagtail, Grey Butcherbird and Brush Bronzewing all occur on nearby Garden Island but not on Rottnest.

'There are few observations of breeding on the island and those that do exist might be based on only one observation. In the last decade eight species have been added to the list of birds known to breed on Rottnest.

'The history of the birdlife of Rottnest Island is by no means complete, and all observations made on and near the island are useful contributions to the ongoing story of the birds of RottnestIsland.'

From The Birds of Rottnest Island, by Birds Australia WA Inc. Photo courtesy Flickr user happy crumblers.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

"Rotto Inc": blast from past

From Hansard, 14 November 2000…
440. Hon N.D. GRIFFITHS to the Minister for Tourism:

(1) Was the minister accurately reported in The West Australian today in the article headed "Rotto hotel: Minister in dark" as admitting he had no idea what the proposed redevelopment of the Rottnest Island hotel site would be like?
(2) Was he accurately reported as saying about the proposal by the Swan Brewery, "I do know it meets what the vast majority of people want at Rottnest"?
(3) Does the minister know what is being proposed; and, if so, when did he find out?
(4) Why was a concept plan not put out for public comment?
(5) Will the minister assure the House that this will not be another case of changing the parameters of design and financing after the closure of the tender process, as he did with the convention centre?

Hon N.F. MOORE replied:
(1)-(5) The end part of the question is totally wrong; there have been no changes to the financing arrangements for the convention centre. I wish the Opposition would learn how these processes work. There are two ways to go about having a convention centre built or renovating the Rottnest Hotel. The first is that the Government could decide that this is what it wanted to do, have the government architect design it and then call for tenders to build it. The other process, which many Governments in other parts of Australia and the world have used increasingly, is to seek input from the private sector through architects and developers, and to call for expressions of interest. The Government outlines its parameters at the expressions of interest stage. People then make submissions based on those expressions of interest and the criteria contained therein. Governments then choose the proponents whose expressions of interest meet its basic requirements. It then goes through a request for proposal stage, when proponents are asked to refine their expressions of interest to a proposal document. From those proposals the Government chooses the preferred proponent. The preferred proponent is then given the opportunity to turn the proposal into a contract. At the end of the day, if the Government accepts the contract, assuming that it is based on the criteria the Government set out in the first place, it can agree to the contract. That is what has happened with the convention centre and what is happening with the Rottnest Hotel. The Rottnest Island Authority, being a statutory authority, is responsible for leasing all sorts of property on Rottnest. It is responsible for leasing the Rottnest Hotel to the previous lessee, who walked away with $957 000 of taxpayers' money about two months ago thanks to a contract entered into by the previous Labor Government.

Hon Greg Smith: How much?

Hon N.F. MOORE: It was $957 000. The Opposition is critical of a Government that is going through the proper processes to get a proper result. The people who gave us that hotel contract are now being critical. I cannot believe it!

However, in respect of the Rottnest Hotel, the Rottnest Island Authority put the proposition to me as minister that it would like to call for expressions of interest, have a request for proposals stage and then pick the best option from the private sector to develop and to run the hotel. I agreed to that process. During the process, it has informed me of what has taken place in broad terms; in other words, it has said that it has had 10 proponents and one has dropped off or that it had five at one stage but one dropped off. It has said who the proponents are. I have not been involved in any of the decision making. The Rottnest Island Authority is the decision-making body. It is proper that it should make the decision. However, it will come to me when it has a contract with the preferred proponent or somebody else. If the contract meets the Government's requirements and the requirements of the process, Cabinet will make a decision.

Hon Peter Foss: The Labor Party's minister would fix it up with his mates and then go to Cabinet.

Hon N.F. MOORE: That is exactly right. I am dying to know the intricacies of the previous 10-year lease on the Rottnest Hotel. In my retirement, I shall spend a lot of time looking at the documentation surrounding it. There is a serious scandal there. Added to all the other things I have told this House about Rottnest, somebody could write a very thick book called "Rotto Inc". It started in 1983 and finished in 1993. Since then the place has been straightened out and fixed up. We are going through proper processes. It is proper that the minister does not get involved in making decisions about who will get a particular contract. However, at the end of the day, Cabinet will decide whether it agrees with what the process has produced. I really hope that one day the Opposition will sit down and try to understand that this is a proper process which is used by many people.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Fancy up to $5000?

That's what the State Government is offering if you have a good idea to keep young people on the path of righteousness later this year.

“The State Government wants not-for-profit groups and local government agencies to provide a range of initiatives during Leavers that maximise the safety and enjoyment of celebrations,” said Community Safety Minister John Kobelke.

We're sceptical - end-of-exam partying doesn't typically feature safety and enjoyment at the same time - but it's worth a try.

The Minister said (in his press release) he was particularly interested in initiatives that would target school leavers and their parents to help reduce binge drinking and other physical harm during celebrations.

Those binge-drinking parents! But at least they do it in the privacy of their Thomson Bay/Geordie Bay bungalows, and don't stagger about the streets playing 10,000 Maniacs at max volume.

Other plans (says the Minister's media release) included implementing ‘driver reviver’ stops en route to key Leavers’ destinations and continuing key strategies such as wristbands for 2007 school leavers, outreach services and diversionary activities by non-government groups.

“School leavers going to Dunsborough, Busselton and Rottnest will require photo ID to access activities and services, which should help eliminate the problem of ‘toolies’, or older non-schoolies, from gatecrashing and causing problems,” Mr Kobelke says.

Toolies! Schoolies! Hooley-dooley!

Rotto Bloggo's brillaint idea is to run craft sessions for schoolies manufacturing drinkmats that look like the genuine antiques pictured above so we can put them on eBay.

Start counting the money now.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Arms and The Man

More news on Rotto’s hotel: ‘Quokka Arms upgrade in limbo’, said The West yesterday.

“The proposed $6.5 million upgrade of the Quokka Arms hotel is up in the air, with the Rottnest Island Authority failing to reach an agreement with Sandalford Wines owner Peter Prendiville after five months of talks.”

In the article RIA head honcho Laurie O’Meara is paraphrased as saying he was hopeful a lease deal could be done with PP in the new financial year, but don’t hold your horses.

The poor old hotel. There seems to be no end to the indignity the old gel has to suffer. Last year The West had an excellent story about foul-smelling liquid spreading across the floor of the bar during opening hours.

Of course the hotel was built as a summer residence for WA Governors.

As Rigby and Ward relate in the Rottnest Island Sketchbook, “…old-time Rottnesters can still recall the sight of a Government House butler in tail-coat and knee-breeches marching across the old Government House jetty to deliver, with his Excellency’s compliments, a billy of milk from the vice-regal dairy herd, to a visiting yacht which had brought Her Majesty’s mail over from the mainland.”

“The Governors usually spent up to two months each year on the Island, bringing over the butler, other servants and carriages. The last occupant was Sir Gerald Strickland, and the Island's stylish Vice-Regal days ended in 1912,” says the RIA website.

Some idle browsing led Rotto Bloggo to this treasure trove of information about alcohol tenders for the hotel.

Because it’s government-run, the hotel has to tender for the supply of booze, and they get in a lot over summer.

In the 21 days from 20 December 2005 to 10 January 2006, the Rottnest Island Authority tendered for $70,158 of booze.

20 Dec 05: beer $10,035 (winning tenderer: Carlton United Bev)
20 Dec 05: alcohol $16,442 (winning tenderer: Harbottle On-Premise)
22 Dec 05: beer $13,119 (winning tenderer: Swan Brewery)
28 Dec 05 alcohol $12,153 (winning tenderer: Harbottle On-Premise)
10 Jan 06: alcohol $18,409 (winning tenderer: Harbottle On-Premise)

And don’t forget the kegs: on 13 Feb 2006 the Swan Brewery won a tender for 99 kegs of beer: $14,742.

Booze aside, there was also a tender in January 2006 for ‘provision of marketing research services’. It was worth $118,000 and the winning tenderer was Markey Equity. The completion date was 11 January 2007.

Today’s image is from Flickr user Jodi and Jonny. Why get trashed at the hotel when you can spend time reading on the beach?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Western suburbs exam

It’s doing the email rounds again. In fact it’s never really gone away.

Like hoax virus warnings and the Mormons owning Coca-Cola, the ‘Western suburbs exam’ is as perennial as the grass.

We’re only mentioning it here because it’s hit our inbox again – for the 38th time – and reminded us it has a Rotto component:

14. Rick is finishing his TEE exams next week and is looking forward to leavers. Will he pick up more girls if he goes to Rottnest Island, where he can stay on his friend-of-a-family’s 52 foot Bertram moored in Thompson (sic) Bay, or should he put a P plate on his parent's Landcruiser and drive down to the family's two storey holiday house in Eagle Bay, Dunsborough?

Very amusing.

The latest Flickr image: another wonderful view of the beautiful island from on high.

Flickr user graveca took this photo three-and-a-half years ago, but only uploaded it last month.

Time to start counting: it’s 27 days until we’re on Rottnest again…

Sunday, June 03, 2007

paradis sans voiture

The good Rottnest stuff on the Internet isn’t restricted to Rotto Bloggo. There are more Rottnest things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.

Morwenna, a recent visitor to the beautiful island, has this constructive criticism of Rotto tourist literature here, and also wrote about it on her MySpace blog.

YouTube user TTTAPU (aka chris G) wrote to Rotto Bloggo asking us to mention his Rottnest video work.

“I have been enjoying your blog, and thought you might be interested in a couple of small videos I have made and posted about Rottnest in Youtube,” s/he says.

“Love to know what you think, I am passionate about all things Rottnest.”

TTTAPU, we think they’re first-class. One of the videos has a Lucky Oceans tune as a soundtrack

‘Rottnest Island in Winter’ is a succession of still images, and ‘Rottnest Ferry and bike hire’ has great footage of the road leading to the big lighthouse, the hero swimming with stingrays and then remarking “What a place.”

More video: there’s this brief movie of a quokka made by some Dutch people (NB: don’t feed the animals on Rotto!).

“Paradis sans voiture,” exclaims travelling blogger Dede, after visiting the beautiful island.

Although our French isn’t what it used to be, we can see Dede loved Rottnest.

We were intrigued by the mention of the Aussie term Tax File Number in his post, too, so we fired up Babelfish and got this translation, which creates as many questions as it answers:

“If not, although I smell myself well here, I will not remain indefinitely, if not, I would never take off... I am reflecting over the next days. I will not delay to leave in north and to leave behind month my small Perth and the small life to which I am accustomed very quickly...! Ca will be the business of a few days! I recovered my Tax File Number and my bank card thus now I do not have any more obligations. I have the impression that all the backpackers migrate towards North to the research of heat and that worries me a little bus if it is the case, I go can be to have evil to find job and/or a place where to sleep! Finally in any event, is necessary that I move myself!!!”
Pic shows thronging crowd on ferry to Rotto. Similar scene on one of TTTAPU's videos.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

the shady avenue

More excitement in the Rotto Bloggo compound as we take delivery of a magnificent Rottnest artefact.

This pamphlet, which is more than 40 years old, is 22.5cm high by 14.5cm wide (good things come in small packages).

On the back it has general info on the island ("West Australia's premier holiday resort...three miles in breadth at its widest point"), lists four points of interest ("Swimming Basin - From the Moreton Bay fig tree near the grocer's shop proceed along the bitumen under the shady avenue of trees and past the tennis courts and school house...").

For more info you were encouraged to apply to the Western Australian Government Tourist Bureau, which was Hay Street, opposite Foys, phone number 212471.

The Bureau branch office in Freo was on Victoria Quay: phone number 53014.

But inside the pamphlet is more excitement.

There's a typewritten schedule of air and boat services, details about food costs and info on 'Trips Around The Island'.

Woods Airways has five flights a week: Monday, Wednesday, two on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Macrobertson Miller Airlines Ltd (there's a blast from the past) has five flights a week (only one on Friday).

A return adult flight on both airlines was three pounds eight shillings.

It was much cheaper on the Temeraire: 15 shillings for an adult return ("Day Excursion only").

You could have something to eat "Cafeteria Style" at the Tearooms, fork out 12/6 for a hotel lunch, or 7/6 to eat at the hostel.

"Prior arrangements for luncheon are not usually necessary," the pamphlet advises.

(As they aren't today: you just run like buggery towards Dome when you get off the ferry).

After lunch, the pamphlet suggests you take the 'Around the Island Tour': "A very comprehensive tour which gives the day visitor a good look over the island."

The pamphlet was issued on August 20, 1959.