Sunday, October 28, 2007

boat floats, biz riz

We were the third person on board the Rottnest Spirit for its first trip on Tuesday.
We were going to Rotto to report on the refurbished bungalows in Nappy Alley: also present were other media heavyweights (Channels 9 and 10, Carolyn Monaghan from ABC 720, and Brendan Foster from the Fremantle Herald).

We’d reported on the Spirit before, but we were chastised this week for not including the number of passengers it can carry. The number is 200.

It was a nice ride to the beautiful island. The Spirit has a double hull. It seemed very smooth. There was OJ, sparkling wine, muffins and scrolls for breakfast. Can’t led the media go hungry.

Tourism Minister Sheila McHale says the new boat, which cost Oceanic $12 million, is a sign Rotto business confidence is soaring. Soaring higher than a freewheeling gull above the tearooms. Higher even than the top of the Wadjemup lighthouse.

“This major investment is a real indication of the level of private sector confidence in Rottnest and in tourism in Western Australia,” Ms McHale said in her media release. “We are entering a new era as business engages with the island and Rottnest’s popularity soars.”

Hmm. Business has been engaging with the island for a long long time, from making salt to charging the earth for bread. Popularity? It’s pretty popular now.

Ms McHale said an estimated $60million was due to be invested in Rottnest Island by the private sector: “$6.5million will be spent on the Quokka Arms hotel, a new Dome cafe is being built and negotiations are continuing towards a new $50million hotel…business confidence in Rottnest has never been so high and it augurs very well for the future…the Carpenter Government is boosting our State’s tourism industry to create new jobs and opportunities for people and preserve our unique lifestyle.”

Hmm. Is giving the go-ahead to a huge new hotel preserving Rotto’s lifestyle?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

McHale's navy

It was McHale’s army on Rotto today, too, as dozens of people invaded a Nappy Alley unit.

Tourism Minister Sheila McHale cut a ribbon across the front door of Gull, or unit number 211, in South Thomson.

The thronging crowd seemed like gulls as they huddled and devoured morning tea after the event.

“Ms McHale also unveiled 43 refurbished units in South Thomson, meaning 85 per cent of the island’s 308 holiday units have now been upgraded or refurbished,” said her media release.

“We’ve also reached another milestone – all asbestos cement roofing has now been removed and replaced with colorbond,” Ms McHale said in her release.“It also keeps us on track for the refurbishment program as set out in the Rottnest Island taskforce report to be finished in 2008.”

The media were keen to know if schoolies would be staying in these now-pristine places. No they will not, the Minister said: Nappy Alley is families only.

The refurbished unit looked very nice. It was certainly a lot cleaner than the one we checked into earlier this year. The Minister had a poke around the fridge, people inspected the shower and bedrooms, and marvelled at the view from Gull’s front porch.

The crowd zipped across to Rotto on the Rottnest Spirit: more detail about that tomorrow.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

off the soap box

We were at the Freo Markets the other day and we saw this Rottnest soap.

Mariners' Soap on a Rope lathers in salt and fresh water. "Great for boats, holiday home and Rotto", says the manufacturer. "Made with coconut oil...good for waterways."

Looks good to us. There's no fragrance. The rope is hemp. Why wouldn't you pack one of these when you're next going to the beautiful island?

Rotto Bloggo had it's HOME supplement (The Sunday Times) hat on when we were at the store. The owner told us a version of this tale, in the Wikipedia entry on soap: "...soap takes its name from a supposed "Mount Sapo" where ancient Romans sacrificed animals. Rain would send a mix of animal tallow and wood ash down the mountain and into the clay soil on the banks of the Tiber. Eventually, women noticed that it was easier to clean clothes with this "soap".

"The location of Mount Sapo is unknown, as is the source of the "ancient Roman legend" to which this tale is typically credited. In fact, the Latin word sapo simply means "soap"; it was borrowed from a Celtic or Germanic language, and is cognate with Latin sebum, "tallow", which appears in Pliny the Elder's account. Roman animal sacrifices usually burned only the bones and inedible entrails of the sacrificed animals; edible meat and fat from the sacrifices were taken by the humans rather than the gods. Animal sacrifices in the ancient world would not have included enough fat to make much soap. The legend about Mount Sapo is probably apocryphal.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

one death every eight weeks

Visitors to the Aboriginal cemetery on Rottnest are all too few. Rotto Bloggo has touched on the beautiful island's sorry indigenous history before (eg 'Tie them up like dogs'), but it's worth mentioning regularly.

So it was good to read this excellent Phil Haberland column on Perth Extra on Sunday: "If sadness was something you could physically touch, you would feel it here", Phil notes about the cemetery.

"Between 1838 and 1903, Rottnest was a prison for Aborigines. More than 3000 were transported from all over WA to the island to serve sentences for breaking British laws, of which they had no knowledge or understanding (such as six months for stealing a pipe or two years for killing a sheep).
"With chains around their necks and legs, they endured barbaric treatment and conditions. This is not "bleeding heart" history – just a statement of fact that can be found at the Rottnest Museum.

"There are more than 360 unmarked graves in the Aboriginal Prisoner Cemetery. That means that over 60 years, Aboriginal prisoners must have buried one of their number every eight weeks."

Phil talks about the cemetery and also thinks about Kate Grenville's The Secret River, and invites visitors to have a look at the place.

"...if you are at Rotto's pie shop or holidaying there, take the kids for a stroll, explain what happened, and for what it's worth, maybe say a prayer.For me, the word "sorry" still comes to mind."

Monday, October 08, 2007

chicken like Miss Maud's coffee

An update on the fast food situation on the beautiful'll remember our "Less work for Mother"?? post last month, about tenders closing for a new fast food outlet in the mall.

The tender relates to the site occupied by Red Rooster, whose lease is coming to an end. What's the latest?

"Evaluation of the responses is being carried out at the moment. Until the process is complete, the details you have asked for will not be released," Rottnest Island Authority bugle Penni Fletcher-Hughes tells Rotto Bloggo.

"I will let you know when the winning tender is announced."

OK. We look forward to the details. If a new fast food outlet goes in, the RIA will have to change this on their site: 'Red Rooster offers a delicious range of roast chicken meals, rolls and wraps, snacks and a selection of salads. They use fresh A-grade chicken, marinated for over 12 hours, and because their famous chicken is roasted, not fried, fat ends up in the cooking tray and not on your waist. To end a perfect day at Rottnest, it's gotta be red.'

*Food pictured is about halfway between slow and fast.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

do you like to clean?

Looking for another job? What about cleaning on Rottnest? Recent newspaper classified ads could be just the ticket for you.

“Housekeepers reqd for servicing units. Ferry leaves Fremantle @ 7:30am. Start time 8am. Call ISS on 9445 4410 or Txt “ROTT” to 0438 965 401”, instructs one.

The other is too long for Rotto Bloggo to retype, but there are Onsite Cleaning Supervisor positions where you live on the island and must be available all hours. They also need a Cleaning Admin Clerk: must “have customer service skills, hospitality exp pref.” Send your resume to or fax 9445 4422.

What’s the cleaning like on Rottnest? One prominent western suburbs identity wasn’t impressed with it three years ago: in a newsletter Colin Barnett had this to say about the place...

“A sewage system dating back to 1935, non-compliant gas reticulation, buildings in need of re-wiring, non-operational water tanks and substandard accommodation and cleaning.”

As they say in Leon - aka The Cleaner - if you want a job done well, hire a professional.

Monday, October 01, 2007

a mean cloud

This is by Flickr user geoffrey.fisher: Rottnest Jetty to Perth was taken on September 8, 2005.

He has five Rotto images: we also like this one, Big Light from Rottnest.

It’s not well-known the Big Light (aka the Wadjemup lighthouse) was a climate statistic-gathering location from 1879 to 1995.

The mean minimum temperature on the island was 11.5 degrees, during August. The least amount of rainfall was in January. The mean number of cloudy days during September was 12.1.

In case you were wondering, the lighthouse is at 32.01 degrees south, 115.50 degrees east.