Wednesday, December 31, 2008

rotto racket

We were keen to help the beautiful island reach the top of a poll on a new travel website yesterday, but we went all bah-humbug.

“Cape Le Grand and Lucky Bay remains the best place to visit in the West, according to visitors to the RAC’s new travel website, 101WA.com.au,” this West story began.

“Rottnest Island has jumped up the voting to fourth place over the festive period.”

Like any decent, quokka-loving, right-thinking, sensible Sandgroper we trotted over to the website to do our bit for WA’s bit of paradise.

It was a bit tedious, as you had to register, and it seems only RAC members can participate.

You can upload photos and win a prize, though (a trip to Broome). Not quite as good as a trip to Rotto and unlimited time at the Brett Heady Family Fun Centre, but never mind. We started rummaging through the folders to see what we could submit.

But then we saw this charmless 105-word sentence in the RAC’s terms and conditions:

‘Where you are invited to submit any contribution to this site (including without limitation any text, graphics, video or audio) you are required by such submission to grant the RAC a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sublicenseable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, play, and exercise all copyright and publicity rights with respect to any such work worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any media now known or later developed for the full term of any rights that may exist in such content, consistent with privacy restrictions set forth in the RAC's Privacy Policy. ‘

What bullshit. What content creator would agree to that?

‘If you do not wish to grant such rights to the RAC, it is suggested that you do not submit your contribution to this site.’

Too right. We voted for the beautiful island, but commented to the RAC that their copyright policy sucked.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

rotto's first boatie


The Nijptang, the Geelvinck and the Wezeltje: doesn’t have the same ring as the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, does it?

Nevertheless, the three strangely-named Dutch boats were part of Rotto history on this day 312 years ago.

On December 30 1696 Willem de Vlamingh became the first Rotto boatie.

Actually it seems he stayed on board (grilling marron on the barbie, no doubt).

After leaving Holland at the beginning of May, someone on the Nijptang saw land on December 24.

“The descending darkness prevented the men on Geelvinck and Wezeltje to do the same and even the following day the land remained invisible due to overcast conditions and a strong current which pushed them northwards,” says this excellent page at the VOC Historical Society.

“It would still take another five days, on 29 December, that an island was sighted. Late in the afternoon the island, located at Latitude 32°S was reached. Because of the lateness of the day the investigation of the island had to wait until the following day.”

Then, on December 30, de Vlamingh bit the bullet and used a Nijptang boat, to sail around the island. A boat from the Geelvinck landed on Rotto: on board were the First Mate, the bookkeeper and a dozen soldiers.

“Towards evening both groups returned. The bookkeeper reported that there were no people on the island but that there were large numbers of bosch-rotten. They had shot a number of them to show de Vlamingh. They were found to be dwarf kangaroos, a mammal still unknown in Europe at that time. In the journal of the Nijptang they were described as a kind of rat, the size of a cat, and large quantities of its excreta could be found all over the whole island.”

Then they had a squiz at the Swan River, but it was dull compared to the beautiful island.

Cue passenger landing fees, a ballot system, the Brett Heady Family Fun Centre and smoking herring.

(Pic of de Vlamingh is from Wikipedia)

Monday, December 29, 2008

event development horizon


You still have three weeks to apply for a couple of jobs on the beautiful island: events development officer, and front office supervisor. Both pay up to $55, 146.

You’ve got competition for the EDO: local blogger mynxii is very organised, and looks as though her app will be in early: “Did more work on my job application for the Rottnest Island Authority events development officer. I'm really hopeful about this as I think I'd be awesome at it - I need some experience in one or two areas, but I have the greater context of skill and flexibility required for events stuff and I have a solid understanding of how it works as 'stuff'. I am hopeful and crossing my fingers.” You go girl.

Many thanks to Paul from Fremantlebiz for suggesting a different approach in the ongoing saga of Rottnest Romance, the only Bills and Moon romance set on Rotto (and nearing the end of Chapter Three on this blog). I like Paul’s Mintie angle…it’s marvelous what a difference they could make to the plot.

And did you see yesterday’s West revealed the link between Rotto and Learmonth? “The Royal Australian Air Force named Learmonth Airport in honour of World War II Wing-Cdr Charles Learmonth, after his death at the age of 26. He died while on a training flight in January 1944 between Pearce and Rottnest Island in the notoriously dangerous Beaufort bomber.”

There you go. My wife often says there’s a Guildford connection to everything – I maintain it’s Rottnest.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

rottnest romance #26


It's been a long wait between clumsy metaphors and terrible tropes - nearly two months - but here is the latest instalment of the only Bills and Moon romance novel set on the beautiful island...

Last time we left our heroine Larissa and our evil nasty brooding developer Nick, they weer having a private picnic on the sand at the West End. They're still there! They've been frozen in time, like a mosquito in amber before being discovered by Michael Crichton. The dab of mayonnaise on Nick's chin is still runny - not crusty - despite having been there for weeks...

--

“And are you quite happy with your life at the moment?”

“Sure. This development in Parakeet Bay is a challenge, and will be the biggest thing I’ve done – although you would probably describe it differently,” he said, glancing at her.

“I probably would. Where are you going after Rottnest?” The mayonnaise was still there, and she wanted to reach across and wipe it off.

“There’s a project down in the south-west I’m half-interested in – I might put in a bid for it.” He smiled slightly. “Maybe by then you will have given up the ferry business and will be a full-time ecological demonstrator – we might meet again then.”

She didn’t respond. He suddenly levered himself up off the sand. “We should think about getting back.” He held out a hand to her. She took it, and he pulled her up in an easy motion.

“Or perhaps we might meet again – before then,” he continued in a calm voice.

She suddenly realised how close they were standing to each other. Their faces were only inches apart. The sun was shining in such a way that its beams picked out flecks of green in his dark eyes. She hadn’t noticed them before.

He was so close it suddenly seemed only natural for her to reach out and wipe the mayonnaise from his chin. She lifted her hand, but at the last instant changed her mind and pointed to the corresponding spot on her own face.

After a moment that seemed to last for an age he brushed his hand across his chin, and the mayonnaise was gone.

Then the moment was broken as he started collecting the remains of his meal. She did the same. As they walked back to the path that led up the rock he started talking about what he had seen earlier as he has ridden out here.

As she listened to his enthusiastic descriptions she felt vaguely disappointed. He had, she realised, wormed his way out of giving her much information about himself. That was hardly fair, considering he now knew so much about her.

They reached the top of the cliff. After their solitude on the beach, she was struck by the number of people poking around. The bike racks near the picnic buildings were full.

He walked with her to her bike – her stricken bike, she now remembered.

“How are you going to get back to Thomson Bay?” he asked, looking at her disabled pedals.

“I don’t fancy walking, that’s for sure,” she replied. “I suppose I’ll have to wait for the bus.”

He frowned. “When does that arrive?”

Not for a couple of hours, she knew, but she replied lightly, “It shouldn’t be too long – don’t worry about me.”

He strode to the bus stop to consult the timetable. “It doesn’t get here for two hours!”

His nosing around made her feel a bit peeved. “So I’ll wait. It’s not the end of the world. I can wander around, and…”

“ I have a better idea,” he said, walking back to her…

Friday, December 26, 2008

rotto drowning


Sad news: this bloke drowned on Christmas Day...seen on WA Today...

'A man has drowned while swimming off Perth's Rottnest Island, police say.

'The 46-year-old Yangebup man was setting cray pots with a group of friends at about 6.30pm (WDT) on Thursday before splitting from the group to swim back to shore at Bickley Bay.

'"He was seen to swim back to shore and when his friends swam back in shore themselves they found the man floating in the water unconscious," a police spokesman said.

'"He was dragged to shore but despite efforts to resuscitate him, the man died."

'Police are investigating the drowning and will prepare a report for the coroner.

AAP.'

Friday, December 19, 2008

twin Thomson tomes


Less than a week to go and you’re stuck for Xmas gifts? We’ve been watching a couple of eBay items.

The 1978 hardback of Freo and Rotto buildings ‘classified and recorded by the National Trust’ is a very reasonable $5.99. We saw it recently in that second-hand place on Bulwer St for around $20. But the postage is a killer.

Also stockingworthy is the Somerville: this 1976 copy of Rottnest island in History and Legend is in excellent condition and a very reasonable five bucks. But it’s in South Australia and the postage is $7.50.

Heavy sigh. Those clowns today at The Worst of Perth were talking about end-of-year lists in the meedja. We did one last year, of course. Maybe we’ll work on a top ten lists of greatest potential Rottnest Island Xmas presents.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

eagles' lair


Man oh man. We're still amazed at being electrified back into posting by yesterday's mention of Rotto on the Huffington Post. What next? The White House condemns Nicole Kidman for throwing shoes at whales from Ben Cousin's Geordie Bay unit?

Not so far-fetched, given the Shaven One's name was mentioned on the beautiful island this week during a WCE four-day team-building exercise.

'The camp will feature an 'Amazing Race' where players will go head-to-head in cycling and running challenges around Rottnest Island. There will also be a scavenger hunt that has players team up in small groups,' according to Glen Foreman on News Ltd.

John 'Woosha' Worsfold told Glen the camp was more about team-building than physical conditioning as the playing group prepared to break for Christmas holidays.

PerthNow had this gally of the players soaking up the beautiful island at Kingston after spending a small fortune at the bakery. Or did they bring their own sausages and buns?

That naughty Nick Naitanui didn't seem to have been wearing his bike helmet! Tsk tsk. But if that's the extent of the Eagles' problems in the next 12 months Woosha won't be too worried.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

sparrow false start


The world-wide prominence of the beautiful island, allied with the usefulness of teh Internets, never ceases to astonish.

Rottnest has had a mention on the Huffington Post: Craig Silverman, the bloke who does Regret The Error, has awarded a new journalism award to someone who corrected a Rotto error and the winner is not a million miles from Thomson Bay.

David (excellent name) Hummerston, the readers' editor at The West, has won the prestigious and inaugural Ian Mayes Award for Writing Wrongs.

'Mayes has agreed with my suggestion for the first recipient of the award. He is David Hummerston, the Saturday editor/editorial counsellor and readers' editor of the West Australian. Yes, the man wears many hats. In addition to everlasting fame, Hummerston will receive a signed copy of Ian Mayes' book, Journalism Right and Wrong: Ethical and other issues raised by readers in the Guardian's Open Door Column,' Silverman reports.

He gives samples of Hummerston's work, including this gem: 'Birdbrains: We swiftly swallowed the information supplied to us which described a photo of a bird in flight as a Rottnest Island Sparrow (The science of fine photography, page 19, August 16). As any eagle-eyed ornithologist would attest it was, of course, the much less rare Welcome Sparrow.'

Rotto Bloggo regrets we didn't spot this error and complain to the readers' editor.

Accompnaying photo is of...we have no idea. But it's a bird we saw on Rotto.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Bartley and Peck


One equine identity had the right idea on how to overcome disappointment with the gee-gees.

Tracey Bartley from Mudgee in NSW was on the beautiful island last week to get over her nag’s defeat at Ascot.

Sniper Bullet didn’t win the Group One Railway Stakes but her owner took it in her stride.

“Right now I have Simon Marshall (former leading heavyweight rider and now racing television commentator) trying to push me off the gang plank onto the boat and Joe Janiak (of Takeover Target fame) is on board and I’m looking at a day relaxing on Rottnest,” she told the Mudgee Guardian.

She wasn’t the first person to be entranced by Rotto waters: we loved this anecdote from longtime TV critic Robin Oliver in the Sydney Morning Herald:

“I remember the hotel staffer who thought I might be interested in Gregory Peck, who was holed up in the Perth Travelodge to be with the film crew for The Dove. Perth, that most star-struck of cities, had been unaware of the famous man's presence. He had come to WA because the unusual wave patterns off Rottnest Island were exactly what his round-the-world yachting adventure required. ‘Sure, come around,’ he said.”

Monday, November 24, 2008

booze on the beach


The admirable Post Newspapers had an excellent leavers yarn on the weekend. They had a long interview with one of the first leavers to the beautiful island, who went over 62 years ago.

'As this year's school Leavers prepare to descend on Rottnest Island for their end-of-school revels, Floreat grandmother, Dawn Berry is looking on with fond memories of her Leavers holiday on the island...next week, Mrs Barry's grandchildren, Natalie Barry (16) and Christiaan Gurritsen (17), head over to Rottnest for their own Leavers celebrations, after their grandmother blazed the trail for them.'

Fabulous stuff. The Post had several excellent photos with the story - we love this one, of Dawn and Judith Douglas topping up their tans.

'When Mrs Barry's group went to Rottnest, they were setting a trend for generations of school leavers to come. But they did it in different style and circumstances to today's kids.Ferries to and from Rottnest operated only twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

'The old ferry, the Zephyr, docked at the army jetty near Kingston Barracks and visitors had to either walk along the beach to Thomson Bay settlement, or take the charabanc (an old-fashioned, open-sided bus) with their luggage on their laps.

'There was no hotel, and any alcohol that made it on to the island arrived at the army jetty and had to be hauled along the beach by anyone devoted enough to their booze to do so....'

Saturday, November 22, 2008

leaverless legs


The paranoia and angst about Rotto leavers are peaking. Cartoons and news articles are thick on the ground. We liked this recent cover of a newspaper supplement: Leavers 2008...curbing the damage as they kick up their heels.

But the image? It's manipulated. We're hard-pressed to believe that's a view of any Rotto shore. That's not natural light on those legs. I ask you! There was a superior pick inside of schoolies streaming off the jetty. One kid had a T-shirt with the word ENJOI.

Some of those new limits of leavers: Those who permit the consumption or possession of liquor by underage leavers on their premises will face a $10,000 maximum penalty or an infringement fine of $1000 per offence.

And: All ferry companies have agreed to a police-proposed ban on the transport of alcohol during leavers to help stamp out binge drinking. The ban is from Monday to Friday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

hydro history


Rotto Bloggo has been shocked back into coherence by a guest post from Old Salt.

OS has previously remarked on singalongs at the Quokka Arms and a book about fish.

This time he's talking ferry fast...

I’ve found in the WA State Library online database a couple of pics of the Rottnest Hydroplane. The Hydroplane was the first attempt at high-speed ferry travel between the mainland and Rottnest. This was circa 1974 when, traditionally, the ferry trip from Fremantle to Rottnest took one hour, and that was the accepted duration of the voyage. Heavy conditions simply made the trip longer.

Interestingly (and this I was not aware of until I found the info in a online wrecks database) the 62.3-foot, 51-ton Rottnest Hydroplane was built in the U.S.A. in 1944 and purchased by the Royal Australian Navy, then subsequently used as a search and rescue vessel by the RAAF. The fact this vessel was a World War II era rescue boat had escaped me.


Other information provided in Jack Loney’s Wrecks of Western Australian Coast is that the Hydroplane ended its career on fire and adrift near the Barrack Street Jetty, on 8 June 1975. It was burnt to the waterline and later sank near the jetty; later the hull was raised and sold for its fittings.

So ended this first chapter of high-speed ferry transport to Rottnest. The next tilt was the Hydroflite. This was an altogether different boat, designed by Perth naval architect Len Randell as a high-speed ferry. The Hydroflite is still in service, though these days it’s a charter boat. In Rottnest terms, travelling on the Hydroflite was the equivalent to walking straight to the business class check-in counter at the airport, then going to the Qantas Club to await departure.


The consumer now of course expects to get to Rottnest in 30 minutes, and pretty much all the ferries doing the run now are designed and built to comfortably maintain the necessary speed.

As for the pictures of the Hydroplane, well, how things have changed. The lines of a ‘crash boat’ can be seen in the exterior shot, though I expect a lot of superstructure was added to convert it to a ferry. The interior shot of skipper at the controls shows a couple of interesting things: firstly, the gauges suggest the engines aren’t running, despite his hand being on the wheel, and the ashtray alongside the compass suggests smoking in the workplace was quite acceptable back then!

Cheers Old Salt. And apologies for the long silence...perhaps we'll even post a new chunk of Rottnest Romance soon...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

quokka song


We’re not familiar with Dan Warner’s work. He’s a musician in Melbourne, and according to Fairfax, ‘he has written songs and performed as part of the Warner Brothers, Overnight Jones, the cultish Dan & Al, Dan & Kev and as a solo artist, releasing 10 albums, including his new second solo record Night Parrots.’

But he’s alright by us: ‘He began playing the guitar at five and as a child growing up in Perth adored John Denver. Neil Young and Bob Dylan soon took the mantle and by the time Warner was 11 he had written his first song.

"It was about Rottnest Island and it even had a line about a quokka in it. It was called The Island and it was so bad."’

Rubbish! It must have been marvellous. We need more songs with quokka lyrics, and more songs about Rotto. The Quokkas Cricket Club are working on their team song, it seems, but we can’t see the words.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

the midas touch



How much moolah is Dome losing on Rotto? Enough to buy at least three loaves of bread from the bakery.

Here are progress shots taken over a couple of days. The old one is gone and the new is further than a lick of paint from completion.


When is it going to be ready? No idea. No word on the Dome website (although you can apply for a job).


The digger in the photo was running but stationary. The radio in the cabin was going full-blast: we thought it was just to provide tunes for the blokes standing around.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

age of aquarius passed


How good is catching $200 worth of fish for about ten bucks worth of bait? Pretty outstanding. More on the fishing later: we’ve been tardy in blogging about our recent paradisiacal four days on Rottnest, and will try harder.

The plush bayfront Geordie unit was mostly in order. On the first morning there was an electrical issue: when we plugged in our Aquarius toaster, it shorted out half the place. A phone call to the accommodation crowd, and that afternoon a near-new Tiffany toaster was delivered (but they forgot to take the dud Aquarius with them).

The wire screen doors were an issue. The springs were buggered, so they would slam shut if you weren’t careful. “That bloody door”, someone would remark occasionally, as it (yet again) slammed.

There was also no ashtray.

But minor quibbles, these, for the luxury that is the beautiful island. More reports following in the next few days. We did like this Phil Haberland assessment of the Rotto zeitgeist: “I was sitting on the veranda of my Rottnest villa in Nappy Alley, overlooking Thomson Bay. For $200 a night, I was feeling as rich and spoilt as Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates. If you must endure school holidays, this isn't a bad place to prop for a week. In fact, I could think of no better place in the world.”

Phil noted the important-looking plaque outside the bike hire shed that Premier Barnett opened when he was Minister for Tourism in January 1994.

“…this island paradise remains one of the great jewels in the WA crown. It needs to be treasured and nurtured,” Phil wrote.

“People have been bagging the island of late, saying it's cheaper to go to Bali (blah, blah). But, if you haven't been over there for a few years, I suggest you go and have another look…to hear all the children say in unison, ‘Dad, can we come to Rottnest every year?’ is to confirm them as dinky-di West Australians.”

Sunday, October 12, 2008

island time


In a few short hours we’ll be either strolling around Thomson Bay, sitting on our luxurious Geordie Bay balcony, or wetting a line off a jetty. Four days on Rotto. We last glimpsed the beautiful island a few days ago, from a retirement village in the heights of City Beach. It was a clear day, and it looked as though you could’ve jumped across.

We won’t be illegal fishing (today’s pic, of those naughty alleged fishermen the other day, is via Fisheries), or diving (see here for a science feature that opens off ‘the Australian resort island of Rottnest’) while trying to work out how to harness wave energy.

We’re taking three books, a pile of marking and a stubby holder. We’re not taking the laptop, the alarm clock or stress.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

rottnest romance #25


Time for another pulse-racing, adrenaline-rushing, brow-fevering instalment of Rottnest Romance, the only Bills & Moon romance set on the beautiful island. Before we get to the fabulous fiction, you may want to check out this ad in today's paper. Cleaners on Rotto! The ferry leaves at 0730 and the gig pays a whopping $18 an hour. We are seriously tempted. We could stand outside units and shout at people waiting hopefully to get in before 2pm: "It's not fucken ready yet, whaddaya lookin at cunt?" This ad could be just the thing for our RR heroine Larissa - you'll recall she's dissatisfied with her ferry work. She might become a cleaner and have the contractors using Enjo and no chemicals within a week.

The ad says call ISS on 9445 4467 or text ROTT to 0438 965 407. We texted immediately, but no response as yet. Keep you posted.
--
That made her pause. Why would he be racking his brains over what they had named her ferry? It gave her a peculiar feeling – the thought he would be thinking about her. For a moment she wondered if any other aspects of her life had also claimed his thoughts…

He leaned over and poured some more water into her cup. Casually he asked, “How old are you, Larissa?”

“I’m twenty-six. Why?”

“Just wondering. You’ve been involved with the ferry for five years, yes?”

“That’s right.” She curled her toes in the warm sand, slightly uncomfortable with his questions.

“What did you do before the Daisy?”

“I went to university in Perth. I did a degree in environmental studies…”

“I should have guessed,” he interrupted dryly.

“…while Marjorie did a business degree. She’s the brains behind the operation.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” he said quietly. “How long have you been on Rottnest?”

She hesitated, and decided to fib. “A few months. Marjorie and I are supposed to swap every now and then, but we haven’t got around to it lately, for various reasons.”

He stretched out on his back, placing his hands behind his head. There was a smile playing around his lips.

“That isn’t what I heard,” he murmured.

“Why – what did you hear?”

“Your sister told me you haven’t been off the island in nearly a year – not even across to Perth for a weekend.”

She was indignant, and felt her face colour. Marjorie again! She had a mouth as big as the Sydney harbour Bridge.

“Well, I suppose that’s right, now I come to think of it,” she admitted in a tight voice.

“Isn’t life here…well, a bit quiet?”

“By that you mean dull, don’t you?” she demanded.

“Not at all – I just meant that it…”

She cut him off with a curt tone. “I find it suits me. Maybe I’m not as outgoing as everyone else, but I don’t need hundreds of other people around me to keep me happy.”

He sat up again and seemed about to say something, but kept his silence. Just as well, she thought. She was tiring of his questions and opinions about her lifestyle. Just because it didn’t match his busier, high-powered existence didn’t mean that it was wrong.

She decided to start probing with some questions of her own, as he ate the last of his salad.

“Where do you call home, then, Nick?”

“Home for me is where the project I’m working on is,” he replied, “although I suppose I most relax on the Gold Coast.”

“Do you have a wife and family?”

He laughed. “Not me – no time!”

She had thought as much. No doubt it was quite convenient for him, having his assistant for his girlfriend – or did he regard that arrangement the other way around? She noticed a dab of mayonnaise from his salad was on his chin, and she had a sudden urge to lean across and wipe it off.

Friday, October 10, 2008

quokka com pewter


We might be missing out on Rotto gems on eBay, but we snagged this superb item today: a pewter quokka. An associate of taste (The Lazy Aussie at The Worst of Perth) tipped us off about this item.

We rushed to the shop and lo, it was still there. And look at the (strange) price! It was originally $14.30 – a massive saving.

This is going straight in the poolroom. This is solid pewter: the tail is nice and strong and will be handy for aural cavity excavation. The little fella doesn’t have any eyes, so he won’t be upset.

We’d take it to the beautiful island on Sunday – yes, Rotto Bloggo has four nights coming up, in primo Geordie beachfront – but we don’t want to run the risk of losing it.

Lots of news happening in and around the island. According to Aunty, Fisheries Officers have swooped (like a hungry gull) on 147kg of scallops.

A torch has been on Rotto to spruik climate change. And Japanese lizard smugglers were apprehended after an investigation began when the men visited Rottnest Island.

Will our bucolic 72 hours be interrupted by breaking news? One can only hope.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

fight for survival


We wrote about those strong winds of Rotto earlier this week. How strong? A bloke called Frank Okely found out how strong on Tuesday. He was going to have a leisurely paddle from Thomson ‘round to Longreach, but ended up at Floreat.

(For our small army international readers: that’s kind of like intending to paddle from Keflavik to Reykjavik, but ending up at Scotland…or starting from Netanya and aiming at Jaffa, and finding yourself at Crete).

Excellent job from the mainstream media in covering this huge Rotto news: see the leads below…

“Never underestimate the sea,” Frank told reporters. Ah, the sea. As we’ve quoted Clive James quoting Jacques Cousteau before, there is no sentiment to the sea: zere is only ze struggle to survive.

WA Today: A Perth kayaker who is lucky to be alive after his journey around Rottnest Island went horribly wrong spoke of his ordeal today.

thewest.com.au: A 48-year-old West Leederville man has described how an afternoon paddle on a kayak turned into a fight for survival.

Perth Now: A PERTH man blown off course while kayaking around Rottnest Island could not fight the strong ocean currents so he paddled nearly 22km to the mainland.

ABC Perth: Police say a 48-year-old man is lucky to be alive after being swept away from Rottnest Island in a kayak.

(thewest.com.au and the ABC mention a place called Thomsons Bay, and Perth Now calls it Thompsons Bay - oops.)

There were some charming reader comments on Perth Now: this from Andrew of Broome: 'FOOL !!!! So much time and money is wasted on unprepared fools like this , they should be made responsible even if it makes them bankrupt. I am sick and tired of the daily expense nowdays to find fools like this, I don't pay tax for fools.'

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

rottnest romance #24


Time for the latest eye-popping instalment of Rottnest Romance, the only Bills & Moon romance set on the beautiful island. And a warm hello to our regular readers from Iceland and Israel! Nick and Larissa are still on the beach having their lunch. Will there be a rockfall, entombing them under limestone? Unlikely - we still have seven and a bit chapters to go. When is the horizontal folk dancing going to start? A bit of post-prandial action coming up, perhaps? Read on with bated breath to find out...

--

He gave a contented sigh. “This really is a perfect setting for a quiet lunch. How often do you come here?”

“Not often enough,” she said ruefully. “With our ferry, I have to be near Thomson Bay most of the time. It’s not a lot of work, but I have to be around in case there are any problems.”

“How is the ferry business, anyway?” he asked casually.

“Not bad,” she said, “summer’s our best time, of course. So at the moment business is good. I don’t know, though…”

“What?” he prompted her.

She paused, uncertain. She had felt a sudden urge to confide in him – to tell him how she really felt about the ferry business. Was it wise? Impulsively she decided to go ahead.

“I wonder if I’m really cut out for business life. Lately I’ve been losing my spark for it.”

She had his attention. He was propped up on an elbow, looking at her. “Go on.”

“At first it was fun, setting it up. Struggling through the first couple of years. But lately…I think Marjorie’s the real driving force behind it these days.”

“Why do you think you feel like that?”

“I don’t know,” she said with feeling. “Maybe I need to do something else…” Her voice trailed off.

“Hmm,” he mused, looking out at the sea again. After a moment he said slowly, “Could it be that, deep down, you’re worried about the effect of your ferry?”

She raised her head. “What do you mean?”

“Think about it. Your ferry brings people to Rottnest. They have a good time, and come back again. You carry across more people. They have to be catered for, with restaurants, facilities…places to stay, like cottages. So you have a direct hand in the development of Rottnest as a popular tourist place.”

She gave him a sharp look. “You’re saying that unconsciously I’m upset at the role I have in the way Rottnest is changing?”

“Does it sound right?”

“No,” she replied with some force. “I mean, I know what I think about things – there’s no deep mystery to it.”

“OK,” he shrugged, “so my theory isn’t right.”

Frowning, she glanced at him as he looked out to sea again. He was basically hinting she was like him – using the island for personal gain. Her mind drew back sharply from the notion – because it wasn’t true. She had a sudden slackening in her recently improved opinion of him. If he had come out and said it bluntly, she would have been rather cross.

“Incidentally, why is your boat called the Daisy?” he asked.

“It’s named after a wildflower that grows here – the Blue Lace Flower. It’s actually a light purple – it grows all over the island from September to November. At that time you can see whole stretches of the island covered in daisies. We thought it would be a nice name when we started the business,” she explained.

“It is,” he agreed. “A wildflower! I was racking my brains and though you had named it after your mother or someone like that.”

Monday, September 29, 2008

wave hello


"Rotto's waves could help power nation."

Now that's the sort of headline we like at Rotto Bloggo. Of course the motion of the ocean around the beautiful island could be the electrification of the nation. Glorious Rottnest energy leads to enlightenment across our magnificent country!

There's a bit of a catch: it wasn't only Rotto waves that were under the microscope. Also in the frame are Kangaroo Island (SA) and Eden in NSW.

'More than a third of the nation's power could come from the ocean, according to a report that examined waves at Rottnest...the report's authors, consultants RPS MetOcean, found waves had the potential to generate four times existing national electricity output.'

It's all done with with subsea buoys attached to pumps on the seabed. The bouys wave to the motion of the ocean and drive the pumps, which pressurise seawater, which is then piped to land where it powers electicity-generating hydroelectric turbines.

'Carnegie Corporation, a private company which wants to build a wave farm in southern Australia, says about 10 per cent of this power could be tapped economically.

'Carnegie is studying potential sites for a wave farm.

'Carnegie managing director Michael Ottaviano said the world's oceans had huge potential to generate electricity.

"This report further supports Carnegie's view that Australia has the world's best wave energy resources,'' Dr Ottaviano said.

Sounds good to us. The accompanying pic (from Stefan Landsberger's fabulous site of Chinese propaganda posters) could be Photoshopped without too much trouble to reflect Rottnest's glorious power-generating role.

Friday, September 26, 2008

rottnest honey


Lots of good things come from Rotto - like honey.

One of Rotto Bloggo's bright young journalism students at Curtin wrote a lovely story on Rottnest honey. As we speak the story is being perused in that journal of record, the Western Independent. Thank god there are no feral bees on the beautiful island. I'd pay a small fortune for that.
--
At $60 a kilo Bees Neez Apiaries is producing Western Australia’s most expensive honey.

David and Leilani Leyland, owners of Bees Neez Apiaries, first began production of the rare Rottnest Island Honey late last year.

Only 80 250gm jars of Rottnest Island Honey were produced.

The honey is sold only at Bees Neez Apiaries, located in Beechina, as well at Rottnest Island’s General Store.

The Apis mellifera ligustica, an Italian bee, is taken to Rottnest Island once a year and left to produce a honey free of any contamination.

According to David Leyland, who is also the head of the Bee Keeper Department at the Western Australian Farmers Federation, the honey is perceived to be something special.

“Because there are no feral bees on Rottnest, we can get the sort of matings that we desire, the right characteristics.

“By taking the bees over to Rottnest, we are ensuring that we are producing a pure type of honey free from contamination,” he said.

“This Rottnest Island Honey in reality is not your typical Australian honey as the bees feed off a weed type of plant, giving the honey its sweet yet bitter taste.”

The process of deriving honey from its hive is normally done using machinery, but Rottnest Island Honey is manually hand spun twice after it is extracted from the hives.

This is known as the two-frame extractor process that Mr Leyland says aids in producing its “delicate” flavour.

Rottnest Island Honey may see an increase in production in the future but Mr Leyland says that all depends on how popular the honey is.

“This year we are going to work with seven other bee keeper businesses to produce more of the Rottnest Island Honey.

“If we can buy the honey off them we can produce a bit more but I’m not sure we will go that way yet, it all depends on the demand."

It takes 125 bees one week to produce a single 250gm jar of Rottnest Island Honey.

The average bee produces two teaspoons of honey in its six to eight week lifespan.

The Western Australia Agriculture Department began the process of taking bees from the mainland around 30 years ago.

Daughter Queen bees from the best were mated and assigned to drones at Rottnest Island to ensure quality production of WA honey.

Mr Leyland describes the reason for breeding bees on Rottnest Island.

“In 1978, Western Australia’s borders were closed for any bee imports or bee products.

“To make sure that we continued having good quality bees, they (the Agriculture Department) had to start breeding their own (bees).

“Obviously the Ag Department over at Rottnest Island started breeding bees for the industry and that industry took over.”

Border closure resulted in WA becoming the only state free of European Foulbrood, a disease threatening to wipe out bees worldwide.

WA is also the only state that does not use any pesticides to extract bees from their hives.

Today, 40 per cent of Western Australia’s honey is exported.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

rottnest romance #23


More heart-pounding excitement on the beautiful island as we delve deeper into chapter 3 of the only Bills & Moon novel set on Rottnest. Larissa nibbles on Nick's nuts, and he says she's smart. Love is blossoming faster than Mrs Rotto Bloggo can devour a jam doughnut from the bakery. We're taking bets they'll be licking the tartare sauce of each other's extremeties within a thousand words. Read on...

"I'm afraid not," she said, smiling. So he had remembered she was a vegetarian. For some reason it made her feel pleased.

He offered her a small container. "How about some Waldorf salad?"

"Alright then - thanks. But only if you have some fruit."

"Done," he said with a grin.

They ate together. She reflected that out of his suit and with his mind for the moment not focused on his business he could actually be reasonably pleasant.

"It's a beautiful location here," he said, looking back up at the rocks.

"Yes, it's one of the island's more attractive spots," she agreed.

He slid a sideways look at her. "Perfect for a luxury revolving restaurant and leisure centre, in fact..."

Despite herself she laughed. "Don't you ever leave your work at home/" she asked good-naturedly.

"I was only kidding," he assured her with a grin.

"I know, I know," she said, holding up her hands.

"Actually you're right - I should learn to switch off more, and take time to relax," he admitted.

She took a sip of water, and asked, "Where's Ashleigh?"

He snorted. "Getting on a bike and riding to the other end of an island isn't her idea of a good time. I dare say she's still at the hotel, taking full advantage of room service."

They were silent again. She remembered last night's meeting, and her stalking out after they had argued. Perhaps she should make some sort of apology. But, she thought, he had raised the subject - maybe he should have a word or two of regret to say as well.

"Anyway," he began slowly, "about last night..."

"Yes?" she prompted.

"I think we got off on the wrong foot at dinner."

She thought it had happened when they first met, but she let it go.

He continued, “Perhaps a few of the things I said last night were somewhat uncalled for. If so, then please accept my apologies.”

She sensed he was unused to apologizing, and felt glad he had made the effort. She responded, “I should say the same thing. But…”

“Yes?” he said, turning to look at her intently.

“…I’m not going to take back the meaning of what I said about your plans for Parakeet Bay.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to.”

“Really? Aren’t you going to try and convince me that there’s no alternative to your plan?”

“Can you be convinced?”

“No.”

“So I’m not going to. You’re an intelligent woman, Larissa, and you’ve obviously given a great deal of thought to what you believe in. I’m not going to try and talk you around to my way of thinking.”

She averted her gaze to her empty lunchbox. She hadn’t expected any compliments. What did he mean by saying them? They had made her feel…what? A Little light-headed, actually.

Friday, September 19, 2008

mise-en-Cedric


There was a shriek of anguish last week from the Rotto Bloggo compound when we missed out on an eBay sale of Isle of Girls.

The wonderful Eleanor Smith tome was up for grabs with a starting price of less than $10. We put in a parsimonious bid: just before the auction ended there was a higher bid; we bid again but were pipped at the post by a measly cent. It sold for a meagre $11 - surely we could've bid a dollar or two more.

Such is life. We’re aiming for better luck with an intriguing new item on the online auction giant: a Cedric Emanuel sketch of a heartwarming Rottnest scene.
Cedric was once “Australia's best known pen and pencil sketcher”. He’s in the Art Gallery of NSW and was prolific. The item up for grabs is pencil on paper from the 1970s:

“…serene Little Parakeet Bay, located on Rottnest Island, which is off the West Australian coast near Fremantle. This is a magnificent example of Emanuel's work, and is testament to his unrivalled prowess with the pencil: note the delicate shading of the clouds in the sky (the photos below do not do it justice); the subtle reflections of light across the gentle incoming waves; the detailed stony outcrops that frame the central scene of the tranquil beach.”

When Rotto Bloggo espied it the bidding was at one cent. We went wild and have whacked in a bid of five bucks. The seller cautions us: “An image of this calibre, if offered in a commercial gallery, is likely to attract an asking price of around $1,000-1,200. This represents an excellent opportunity to enter the Australian investment art market at a more affordable level.”

There’s another Cedric on eBay, too, which has 10 bids so far, highest $103: “Emanuel has depicted two charming historic buildings on Rottnest Island, located off the coast of Western Australia near Fremantle. At the upper left portion of the sketch, we see the Rottnest Island Chapel, built in 1858; lower right, the artist has illustrated another quaint stone building. Evident in this artwork is Emanuel's unrivalled skill in illustrating light and shadows cast across buildings.”

Unrivalled even by Caravaggio? That’s a big call. Mind you Caravaggio didn’t do anything on Rotto.

rottnest romance #22


The latest instalment in the thrilling Rottnest Romance, the only Bills & Moon novel to be set on the beautiful island. In these 500 words, the lunch at the West End continues. Larissa is picking at her rabbit food, while evil nasty immoral developer Nick is no doubt gnawing on the femur of a protestor crushed by one of his bulldozers. What will happen next? Our advice: keep reading. Nick's nuts get a mention pretty soon...
--

Getting up with some reluctance, she went over to him.

“My napkin, I believe,” she said curtly.

“What? Yes, I suppose so,” he said with an air of unconvincing surprise. As she went back to her lunch she felt like laughing at his display of pretense. Of course he had seen her napkin.

She started eating her yogurt. As she ate she looked at the seagulls, over the ocean, wheeling above the waves. After her meal she might go and have a look at the osprey colony in the rocks…

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Nick suddenly get up and walk in her direction. She looked out at the horizon, resolutely ignoring his approach.

“Excuse me.”

She turned her head to him. “Yes?”

“Do you have any salt and pepper, by any chance?”

“Sal and pepper? Er, no, I don’t. Sorry,” she added.

He nodded and trudged back to his spot. She felt a moment of regret she hadn’t bought any seasoning with her, followed by an inward frown. So what if he had been caught short – it wasn’t her problem.

She took the top off her water bottle and poured the last of her water into the top, which served as a cup. Taking a piece of carrot from her salad, she popped it in her mouth and reached for the water. In her distraction she knocked it over. The water trickled out onto the sand, and disappeared as it sank through the grains.

Biting back a curse, she quickly looked across to see if he had noticed her clumsiness.

He was looking at her, a blank expression on his face. She felt unbearably silly – she would bet he was now going to come out with a smart remark about what had happened.

He called out, “Do you want any more water?”

She shook her head, warily returning his look. “No.”

“I’ve still got quite a bit – certainly enough for two.” He picked up a large bottle of mineral water that was still nearly full. Perversely, now that all of her water was gone, she felt quite thirsty.

“That’s generous of you,” she replied hesitantly. “I’d appreciate some.”

“It’s no big deal. But there is one condition.”

She tensed. “Yes?”

“That we sit together sociably, instead of trying to conduct our conversation by yelling from one end of the beach to the other.”

In spite of herself she started to smile. He had a point – there didn’t seem to be much purpose in ignoring each other.

“Shall we meet in the middle?”

She nodded. “OK.”

They gathered up their lunches and moved to the centre of the beach. In silence they sat down again. He took her bottle cap and filled it up with some of his mineral water.

Presently he spoke. “That looks like a healthy lunch.”

“Yes, I suppose it is. Not very exciting, though. What have you got?”

“Smoked salmon sandwiches, along with a salad. I’d offer you a sandwich or a piece of lettuce or walnut, but I suppose you couldn’t accept anything.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rotto gold in Beijing


Yikes: did you see this story on a Paralympian in some Fairfax papers on t'otherside?

Brad Ness is the captain of the Australian wheelchair basketball team. 15 years ago he was a teenage deckhand on a ferry travelling between Rottnest and Perth.

He was standing on a wharf with a rope near his foot. A ferry departed at speed, and the rope zipped through his lower leg.

"We were preparing to leave the pier when the skipper thought he heard me calling 'All clear', but the rope I had was still attached to the quayside," the 33-year-old said. "When the ferry moved out, the rope tightened and sliced off my right foot as neatly as a chef chopping through a carrot."

One leg amputation and some time later and Ness won gold: "led brilliantly by captain Brad Ness", we thrashed Canada in the final.

We have unanswered questions about Brad's accident, though. Which ferry company? On Rotto or the mainland? What happened to the foot? Did the ferry keep on going?

But the overall message is clear: Rottnest is a place for winners.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

to the lighthouse


It's a must-read about Rotto.

Earlier this month we reported Denise Kirby's Body on the Rocks had won the Extensive Reading Foundation's Language Learner Literature Award for Adolescent and Adults, in the Advanced category.

Rotto Bloggo was rushed a review copy - and we can say it's gold.

All the beaches are described as beautiful (but the Basin is the most inviting); there's lots of info about lighthouses, people play Scrabble, there are bike trips out to the West End, there's bakery action - it's a tremendous book.

There are mentions of some of the great Rottnest names: Parker, Angwin, Timperley, Scanlon...

Scanlon? You'll have to read Body on the Rocks to find out more. There are also pics, a glossary, and a quiz at the end.

We're putting it on our Top Ten list of great Rotto reads. It's published in Germany by Hueber for English learners: Body on the Rocks is for a basic vocabulary of around 2000 words.

Monday, September 08, 2008

rottnest romance #21


We're out at the West End and there's gunna be a showdown between Nick and Larissa. Will Nick be exposed by our brave young heroine as a smuggler of high-grade herring and octopus? Or will she whip out her own quokka-shaped bong, inviting him to fill her pipe with the good stuff? Afterwards, will they roll around together in the foamy surf? It's getting exciting in Rottnest Romance...

There were a number of people already there, eating at the picnic buildings and ambling over the walkways. Some were at the edge of the cliffs, gazing out at the dramatic views of the turbulent ocean. She couldn’t see Nick.

Hopefully he had decided to go off and explore the area, she thought optimistically. Shouldering her bag, she admired the view for a moment, and then began to carefully pick her way down to one of the beaches.

Even if Nick was prowling around, there was little risk of him stumbling across where she was going to eat her lunch. She knew a very secluded spot where she had eaten a couple of time before – she liked to think of it as her very own private spot.

Once she had reached the soft yellow sand she took off her sandals and strolled along, enjoying the feeling of the sand between her toes. Her retreat was along the right hand side of the beach. The rock there formed a natural windbreak – she had eaten there while watching the surf break and race up to the shore. Larissa reached the rock, and…

There he was again, stretched out on his side, poking in a lunchbox. He looked up and saw her standing there.

“Hello again. Changed your mind about that lift?”

Her mouth set in determination. “You’re occupying my spot.”

He looked nonplussed. “What do you mean, your spot?”

“I always have lunch in this very spot when I come out here.”

“Is that so? I don’t see any sign telling me that this particular piece of beach is reserved for the use of one person only,” he stated, looking idly around.

It was obvious he wasn’t going to move. She glumly thought she should go and eat somewhere else. But then, seeing him casually laid out, she felt a sudden stab of annoyance. No – why should she be forced to go somewhere else? It was a free country, and she wasn’t going to let his unexpected presence put her off.

She turned on her heels, and strode to a point 20 or so metres away from him. She sat down and looked in her bag. A delicious lunch was in there, and she was going to enjoy it. Never mind about the interloper a bit further down. She could feel him looking at her – it didn’t bother her.

In her lunchbox was a container of yogurt, a salad and some fresh fruit. She took out her fork, spoon and napkin. As she placed them in front of her a breath of wind took the napkin and blew it up in the air. It sailed across to where Nick was, and landed just in front of him.

She froze. What would he think was going on? She could have kicked herself – why hadn’t she tucked the napkin under her lunchbox?

He wasn’t making any move to return it to her, of course. She didn’t relish the idea of using her shirt to wipe her mouth and fingers after she had eaten…she sighed, realizing she would have to retrieve it herself.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

rocking the truck on Rotto


Prostitutes, Homer Simpson, Cat Stevens, Michael Kirby and Rottnest Island.

They all get a mention in this profile in The Australian of new Chief Justice Robert French.

Good to see a WA bloke get to the top of the legal industry - even better that he's spent quality time on the beautiful island.

The story tells of his failed attempt to knock off Kim Beazley Sr in the Federal seat of Fremantle in 1969 (French was president of the Liberal Society at UWA at the time)...

French describes that time as "a lot of fun". He even took a band, Time Peace, on the hustings to support his campaign slogan - pop politics in the swinging seat.

"The high point of the campaign in 69 was when we went over to Rottnest Island," he says.

"We were on the back of a truck outside the Rottnest pub, the band was playing and there was a crowd of about 500. While the band was playing the crowd was rapt.

"They would stop and I would stand up and give a short burst and the crowd would move forward and start rocking the truck.

"We got the band to start playing again."

He never fell victim to a rotten tomato but remembers that "a dog in Willagee bit my trousers. I think it was an ALP dog".

Are the ALP dogs biting today?

Friday, September 05, 2008

rottnest romance #20

More from the third chapter of the only Bills and Moon romance to be set on the beautiful island paradise that is Rottnest, WA. Larissa has huffed and puffed out to the other end of Rotto - and is nearly at the West End when her bike goes bung. Bugger: will she be eaten by feral quokkas? Or will a knight in shining armour come to her rescue, as often happens in works of this genre? Will she get back to Thomson Bay in time to vote tomorrow at Rottnest Primary?

Nick Montagu stopped by her side. He was dressed in faded blue shorts, a T-shirt and deck shoes. Surveying her for a moment, he said, “Hello again. Can I help?”

What incredible bad luck, she thought. It was almost funny.

Larissa swallowed hard. “I just had a slight problem with my bike, and I was wondering if someone could help. I didn’t realise it was you.”

He gave a ghost of a smile. “You mean if you had known it was me you wouldn’t have waved for help?”

“No, that’s not what I meant…”

He got off his bike and put it to one side. “What’s this problem, anyway? Your pedals, by the look of it.”

“You don’t have to bother – I know what’s wrong…” But he was kneeling by her bike, inspecting the damage.

“Your cotter pin is broken,” he announced after a moment.

She sighed. “You don’t say. I know what’s wrong.”

She gave his bike a quick glance. “I was hoping whoever was riding towards me might have a repair kit – but apparently you don’t.”

“Nope. You’ll need a bit more than a tyre patch to fix this, though.”

“I know how to replace a cotter pin, thank you. I need a small spanner and a wedge of metal to act as a temporary pin. I’ve got all that stuff in my repair kit.”

“Where is your repair kit?”

She hesitated. “Well, it’s at home,” she admitted, feeling foolish.

He gave her a look from his kneeling position. “Not much good there, is it?”

She didn’t trust herself to reply. Why didn’t he just go away?

“Are you going out to this Cape – Vlamingh, is it? – further on?” he asked, straightening up again.

“Yes,” she said, and them immediately regretted saying so. It wasn’t any of his business.

“So am I. Would you like a lift?”

She looked at him, incredulous. Surely he couldn’t be serious! She wasn’t going to accept any help from him.

“No, thank you,” she replied frostily. “I’m quite capable of walking.”

He must have detected the chilly note in her voice. “Fine,” he said abruptly. He got on his bike again, and pedaled away from her without so much as a backward glance.

She looked balefully at his back as he rode up the final crest. She could see the muscles in his legs working as he smoothly tackled the hill. His arms, too, showed some muscle as he gripped the handlebars…

With an impatient shake of her head she grasped her bike and began trudging towards the Cape.

Nick had better not pester her while she was there, she thought ferociously. If he followed her around she would tell him in no uncertain terms to remove himself.

After ten minutes of brisk walking she reached the Cape. The road stopped at a couple of picnic buildings, and a wooden walkway led out further to the edge of the cliff. Down below were sandy, inviting stretches of beach. Larissa knew from her past visits that, although the Cape seemed quite small in size, there were numerous nooks and crannies that you could explore for the whole day.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Rotto book wins award


Get ready for an influx of German backpackers to the beautiful island paradise.

They'll be paying homage to the award-winning novel, Body on the Rocks, written by former West Aussie Denise Kirby (and blogged about earlier this year here).

Rotto Bloggo can reveal the book has just won the Extensive Reading Foundation's Language Learner Literature Award for Adolescent and Adults, in the Advanced category.

The ERF is a not-for-profit organization that supports and promotes extensive reading in language education: stories designed for English language learners, with graded vocabulary and grammar.

Denise (a Perth actor for some years before moving to Sydney) writes fiction for young people. Body on the Rocks was published by International Language Teaching Services, who have a series of graded fiction readers licensed to publishers around the world, including Hueber Verlag in Germany.

"Denise is thrilled that the award might help bring Rotto to an even wider international audience," ILTS told Rotto Bloggo.

Wunderbar for Rottnest! If you see holidaymakers from Hamburg pigging out on cream buns by the bakery, thank Denise Kirby.

More details on the ERF awards here: http://erfoundation.org/awards08.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

rottnest romance #19

Time for another thrilling episode in the only Bills and Moon romance set on the beautiful island. You'll recall our blonde heroine, Larissa Kidd, was setting off on a bike ride to the West End. No Troy Buswell jokes about bicycle seats or anything else, please. She's got her lunch and a water bottle with her. Who knows - perhaps there'll be some nude sunbathing very soon. In a week she'll be voting in the 2008 WA state election. Are the Greens green enough for our feisty young conservationist? Read on...

It was still completely trustworthy, though, Larissa assured herself. She jumped on, and slowly threaded her way around the numerous pedestrians as she cycled through the winding historic Thomson Bay area. After a few minutes she reached the open road which stretched out between the large salt lakes. She began to pedal energetically, and was soon making good progress.

Gradually the island lighthouse, a brilliant white in the sunlight, slipped by on her right-hand side. At times she free-wheeled down hills, but also had to stand on the pedals to force her way up steep inclines. She had promised herself she wouldn’t get off the bike and walk up the hard stretches.


As Larissa sped through narrow Neck – so named because only a thin strip of land separated the waters on either side – she could hear the surf rolling onto the beaches.

Breathing deeply from her efforts, she resolved to finish it in one final big push. All went well until she had just passed the turnoff for Radar Reef. The, when she had less than a kilometre to go, disaster struck. Something went wrong with the pedals and the bike swerved dangerously. She braked, and managed to come to a halt without crashing.

What was going on? Kneeling down to inspect the pedals, she saw at once what was wrong, and let out a groan.

The cotter pin in the left pedal had snapped. She couldn’t believe it. Of all the times it had to happen, it happened way out here. Murphy’s Law strikes again, she thought sourly.

And of course it was typical her bike repair kit wasn’t strapped on to the back of her bike. She prided herself on being mechanically competent, and if she had bought her tool kit with her she might have been able to do some sort of repair job until she returned to Thomson Bay.

Look on the bright side, she told herself, as she surveyed the final hill that led to the cape. At least she hadn’t been travelling at speed when the pin broke. There might have been a nasty tumble if she had. And it wasn’t too far a walk, anyway.

Before she began to trudge up the hill she had a look around. There was no-one else to be seen: she might as well get going…

Then, in the distance, she saw a lone cyclist appear away on the track that led back from Radar Reef. Was he or she coming this way, or heading back in the other direction? There was a chance the cyclist might have a tool kit with them.

She hopped up and down on the spot, yelling out “Hello! Hello! Over here!” as loud as she could, while waving her arms about. It worked: the cyclist turned left, and rode in her direction.

Pleased, she watched the4 cyclist – it seemed to be a man – come towards her. With any luck she could…

Her positive attitude swiftly evaporated as the cyclist neared her, and she recognised who it was.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

shark lark

Why hasn’t Rotto Bloggo received the hoax email called Rottnest, Western Australia?

"While the ocean vessel 'Pirate' was commercial fishing for dhufish, this Great White Shark was hooked in the mouth,” it starts.

"It only resisted slightly for 5 minutes before it came up alongside the boat to have a look; just long enough for one of the crew members to slip a rope around it's tail!

"And that's when the fun began. The shark took off towing the 35-foot fishing boat backwards through the water at an estimated 7 knots.

"Just like in JAWS, the boat was taking on water over the stern and the crew watched in horror as the shark would actually jump completely out of the water at times.

"This went on for an hour before the shark finally drowned. She weighed in at 1035 pounds It is suspected she followed a weak El Nino current into local Perth waters in search of food. Although mid 20 degree water is considered ideal for these sharks, the larger ones can tolerate water in the low 10s.''

A huge shark towing defenceless little boats over the Perth Canyon! Diners at Cicerello’s stunned when they see a huge fin surging in the harbour!

Alas, not true.

Hoax-Slayer also has this example in an email:

Subject: FW: Fancy a swim
Wow! So much for swimming at Rottnest on the north side of
Gage Road ... just southwest of Cottesloe.

Ha ha! Gage Road! Does that second foggy pic look like the cerulean blue of the water between Rotto and Cotto?

Nothing about this on Snopes yet…we’ll keep checking.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

tardy


A shocking 13 days without posting. Cheers for the various prompts and nags. Of course Rotto Bloggo has no excuses. We deserve to be sent to Tentland without anything from the bakery.

On a brighter note, it's exactly 50 days until we're next scheduled to be on the beautiful island. It'll be blokes only: sharing the choice waterfront four-bed Geordie Bay joint will be a detective, a lawyer and two journalists. There won't be a lot of Oprah on the teev.

The numberplate? It's a puzzle. Something to do with the listings magazine?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

vote 1 for Rottnest


Only 27 days to go until Election 08. At election time Rotto Bloggo’s thoughts turn to the beautiful island. We’ve never voted there, but we would love to. Perhaps this will be the year.

Our fantasy 6 September on Rottnest would be getting the first ferry and sitting next to Antony Green and members of the meedja, hearing political scandal over a Dome latte, going to vote at the primary school and then watching the ABC evening coverage over a glass or three with the waves lapping in the background.

How about this lame summary? “The Fremantle electorate contains the suburbs of Beaconsfield, East Fremantle, Fremantle, Rottnest, South Fremantle and White Gum Valley.” How dare Rottnest be described as a suburb. The map on that page is also crap as it doesn’t show Rotto.

To the numbers. Fremantle is very safe Labor and held by Jim McGinty (he who is reluctant to provide shield laws for journalists). But in the 2005 voting bunfight the island was more blue than red…here’s the breakdown of the 127 lucky people who voted on Rotto on 26 February 2005:

Liberal 50
ALP 48
Green 13
There were five informal votes, four each for Family First and an independent, two for the CDP (who they?), one for another independent, and a big fat zero for One Nation. Ha ha ha!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

rottnest romance #18


The next day. Larissa must have had a terrible bout of overnight indigestion after her verbal stoush with the evil amoral nasty ruthless developer Nick. No doubt she smouldered at home after the encounter, knocking back a bottle or two of Oomoo. What's going to happen next? Will she be throwing herself in front of the bulldozers? Wll Nick sabotage her ferry? Will they exchange poisoned vanilla slices at the bakery? read on...

Chapter Three

With a loud clatter the gangway was thrown onto the jetty. A crew member jumped nimbly off the boat, and tied it securely into position. The captain stepped back, and passengers began filing off the ferry.

Larissa went up to her. “Morning, Caroline. It looks as though you had a capacity load again this morning.”

Her employee turned to face her. “Hello, Larissa. Yes, we were full. We also brought some freight across as well, which should put us well into the black for today.”

“Good news, Any problems – anything I should know about?”

“No, but there is something for you, though, It’s on the bridge – I’ll get it.”

“No, it’s alright, I’ll fetch it. You better make a start on unloading all those bikes – there must be dozens of them.”

Caroline gave a rueful smile. “Quite a few, aren’t there! Well, it’s good exercise for the crew.”

“Right,” Larissa agreed with a grin. She eased her way along the gangway and went upstairs to the bridge. As she entered she saw a huge bunch of flowers – yellow carnations. Picking them up, she noticed a note was attached. It read: Larissa – sorry I upset you. All forgiven now? Marjorie.

She smelled the flowers – they were lovely. If her sister wanted to mend the relationship with her the she certainly knew the most effective way of doing so. Smiling to herself, Larissa thought perhaps she’d been a little too harsh with her older sibling. She would ring her later today and say so, and also thank her for the flowers.

She left the Daisy, and walked along the jetty. The passengers were streaming off, eager to explore the island and enjoy themselves. She stopped at the office and put the carnations in a vase, filling it with water. Her assistant Frances, working at her desk, caught sight of them as she placed them on the reception counter.

“What lovely flowers! Are they from someone tall, dark and handsome?”

Larissa chuckled. “I wish. No, they’re from Marjorie. I’ll leave them her to brighten up the place. See you later.”

She left the office and strolled back to her cottage. It was another beautiful summer day, and the sunlight streamed through the branches of the big Moreton bay fig trees that lined the road. With her morning’s walk complete, Larissa had decided to go on an excursion. With a packed lunch and dressed in a sleeveless polar fleece and khaki cargo pants over a bikini, she set out to cycle all the way out to the other end of Rottnest – to the West End. It was a longish trip – about 25 kilometres there and back – but she thought it was about time she had a decent spell of exercise.

After putting her lunch in a bag and filling a water bottle she wheeled out her bike from behind the cottage. She gave it an appraising look. She had had the same bike for years now. It was a ten-speed racer, which ran very well. It had once been a brightfire-engine red, but due to the extensive use it had seen, plus the odd bash and scrape, it was now a little dilapidated.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

olympics and rotto


The Games at Smoggy Bottom are less than 24 hours away, yet we've been searching in vain for a strong link between the Olympics and the beautiful island.

Has Stephanie Rice partied at Pinkys? Did Daria Joura ever play on the monkey bars between Dome and the tea rooms? Has Cadel Evans ever zipped out on his bike to the West End (taking three minutes to do so)?

It seems not. The closest connection we could find was endurance swimmer Penny Palfrey (who did the Rottnest swim last year) being presented with a gong in Townsville by Olympic swimmer Elka Graham.

There are sharks in the water. Here's another story about a Gage Roads crosser: "Cameron Clyne has to kick hard against rough currents, fierce headwinds and sharks in the oceans where he swims."

The bloke is head honcho at National Australia Bank. "Clyne shrugs off the threat of sharks prowling in the waters off Perth in Western Australia, where he competes in the annual Rottnest channel race. 'You don't have to be the fastest swimmer. You just have to be faster than the slowest swimmer,' he told reporters."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

rottnest romance #17


Two chapters down, eight to go. Phew. When will Larissa and Nick have sex? Chapter 3? Later? It seems a long way off - but then again, you can never tell with these crazy young things. They need to chill out and be civil over a nice round of mini golf at the Brett Heady Family Fun Centre. Or they need to wet a line. Hard to be as cross as a frog in a sock when you're fishing. Stay tuned for the opening salvo later this week of Chapter 3 in Rottnest Romance, the only Bills and Moon romance novel set on the beautiful island paradise that is Rotto.

“I’ll grant there are similarities between us, but not as many as you fondly imagine.”

He looked amused at that. “I’m not fondly imagining anything.”

“We’re both businesspeople, yes, but we differ a great deal in how we do our business.”

“Right. I pillage the environment without a care, whereas you wouldn’t harm a blade of grass.”

Leave, Larissa thought. Leave now, before you say something you’ll really regret.

She threw her napkin on the table. “I’m not going to be patronized or insulted any longer,” she informed them in the most civil tone she could manage.

He looked momentarily surprised, but then fixed her with a narrow-eyed look. “Storming out in a huff because you’re losing the argument? I thought you might be made of stronger stuff than that.”

Several answers came to her. After a moment she chose what she thought was the most dignified response.

“I’m quite prepared to debate our differences, but as I said I’m not going to sit here and be insulted. I’ll leave you two to enjoy your meal,” She rose from her chair.

He leant back in his and spoke in a gentler, quieter voice. “Come on Larissa – surely it isn’t worth storming out at the cost of not finishing your meal. Please, sit down again.”

“And have myself subjected to more abuse?”

“No, not at all,” he said with a smile. “No-one’s abusing anyone.”

“We disagree there, along with everything else.’

He sighed, and shrugged again. “This is completely unnecessary.”

“I won’t bother you any more. Have a pleasant time on Rottnest, as I’m sure I won’t be seeing you again. And do enjoy your meal,” she added, with a harsh edge to her voice.

She turned away, and made her way through the tables. From the corner of her eye she saw that a few curious looks were directed at her.

As she passed the group of people still waiting for a table she felt a hand pluck at her sleeve.

She turned to see who it was. It was Mrs Squire – again. Was the pesky woman following her, for heaven’s sake?

“What was going on there, Larissa?” she enquired eagerly. “Were you having an argument with that nice man of yours?”

It was too much for her. She gave the gossipy woman a laser-like stare, and hissed, “Oh, go away! It’s none of your business!” And with that she strode out of the restaurant without looking back.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

619km to rotto


The beautiful island has been mentioned in the Queensland Coroner's Court.

"Jenny Batten, wife of Des, 69, said her husband was a careful and experienced yachtsman who regularly skippered motorboats to Rottnest, was a member of Fremantle Sea Rescue and the holder of a recreational skipper’s ticket and marine radio qualification," said this report in The West.

Des Batten was aboard the Kaz II, which was found floating sans its three crew in April last year.

Better news for seniors here: a free trip to Rotto!

'SENIORS card holders in the Goldfields region have the chance to take a break on Rottnest Island in the August Seniors Card website competition,' according to the Golden Mail.

'The prize is courtesy of ferry operator Rottnest Express and is valid for two adults to travel on same day return transfers.

'The winner will also receive free bike hire allowing them to explore the island at their leisure during the day.

Entering the competition to win two return tickets to Rottnest Island and free bike hire can be done in one of two ways...see here for the GM story.

Monday, August 04, 2008

rottnest romance #16


Second-last instalment of Chapter 2. Surely the sharp implements are about to come out as the heated argument between Larissa and Nick gets ugly. I'll give her $20 if she upturns the table on him and glasses him.
--
"Let's try and discuss this in a civil manner," she suggested.

"That's fine by me," he shrugged.

"Can I ask what steps you've taken to ensure your development has as little impact as possible on the environment of Parakeet Bay?"

He inspected his glass as he twirled it in his fingers. Eventually he replied: "Of course, the tender called for considerations to be given to the environment of the area."

"Which sounds like you've only given lip service to the matter."

He raised an eyebrow at her. "Since you're such an expert on the area, what should I be concerned about when I proceed with the development?"

She wondered if he was sincerely interested. Against her better instincts she decided to give him an answer.

"Parakeet Bay is a particularly sensitive area in regard to sand dune erosion. In fact most of Rottnest is. More people in the Bay might lead to that problem becoming irreperable."

He looked pleased at hearing that. "You'll be delighted to hear the sand dunes will be fenced off."

“What do you mean?” she asked, puzzled.

“My cottages will be behind the dunes, and paths will lead down to the beach – the dunes will be protected by fencing.”

She shook her head. “It’s not good enough. The very fact you’re building something there will lead to erosion. Even if the dunes get that protection.”

“Oh for heaven’s sake,” he spluttered, finally moved to sudden anger by her observation. “It’s going to be a residential area. I can’t help it if people are going to want to walk down to the beach.” His dark eyes glittered at her.

“You can’t help it, or you don’t care?”

“This is ridiculous,” he rumbled. “You slant things in such a way that suggest I’m a heartless destroyer only interested in making money from damaging the environment.”

“You said it, not me,” she shot back. “Why else would you be doing it, if not for the money?”

But at the same time, she wondered if what he had just said was true. Was she so obsessed with picking holes in his argument she wouldn’t give him a fair hearing? No – that wasn’t right. Even if there was an element of truth in that, then it also applied to him. He wasn’t interested in conducting a reasonable discussion. He was merely concerned with pushing on with his grand design – nothing else was as important.

“That’s what business is about, Larissa – discovering the needs or services people want, and then providing them while making a living from it. I’m surprised you’re not aware of this by now,” he added with a sneer.

“There’s no need to be condescending,” she retorted.

“Isn’t it true?” he pressed, determined to make his point. “Isn’t that what you do in your business with your sister?”

“Yes, but I wouldn’t…”

“So there you go…”

“The similarity on…”

“You’re just the same as me.”

“Will you let me finish!” It came out much louder than she expected, and again heads turned in her direction from nearby tables. She glowered at him, and struggled to keep her voice at a normal level.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

hotel hiatus


The five-star hotel slated for Rottnest Island is well behind schedule.

Negotiations between the state government and developer Broadwater are continuing, despite the company being chosen as the builder 18 months ago.

The Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) has stopped spruiking the $50 million project on its website and signage.

It mentions refurbishment programs and the construction of the new Dome cafe, but details of the hotel have vanished.

Tourism Minister Sheila McHale said in January last year the hotel would be built within two years.

"The new facility will provide eagerly-awaited accommodation on Rottnest," she said at the time.

"The 120-room hotel will offer guests options such as short-stay and fully serviced rooms of an equivalent four-star rating."

The hotel will be built on four hectares of the derelict water catchment site at Mt Herschel, near Geordie and Longreach bays.

But the minister said she was disappointed with the wait.

"I have a certain level of frustration with the delays but this is about getting it right for Rottnest and future generations of holidaymakers," she said.

"At no time has the Rottnest Island Authority delayed the process. We look forward to the contract being signed."

Broadwater's Scott Cogar didn't return numerous calls.

Broadwater is the head of a six-firm consortium that will build the hotel.

The other companies involved are First Acuity Management Enterprises, WA Developments, Humfrey Land Developments, Jones Coulter Young Architects and Ningaloo Reef Retreat.

"I don't think they know a lot about it at the moment," someone at Humfrey Land Developments said when called.

WA Developments said only Broadwater could comment on the hotel.

First Acuity Management Enterprises, Jones Coulter Young and Ningaloo Reef Retreat didn't return calls.

RIA bugle Penni Fletcher-Hughes said the hotel could open in 2010, subject to government approvals.

"As far as we know, negotiations (with Broadwater) are continuing," she said.
"The company has four years to build the hotel from the date of signing with the government."

The authority recently spent $76,000 on a geotechnical survey for the hotel.

"The survey was an integral part of the undertaking to potential developers to ensure the site is development-ready," Ms Fletcher-Hughes said.

Golder Associates spent five days on Rottnest taking site samples and then took four weeks to test them in a laboratory.

The authority wouldn't release the survey.

"The report is part of the negotiations expected to result in a development/lease contract signing with the Broadwater consortium and is therefore currently commercial-in-confidence," Ms Fletcher-Hughes said.

Ms McHale said the survey wasn't the reason for the hold-up.

"The geotechnical survey was in fact done ahead of time at the request of the developers," she said.