Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Do you reckon Heath Ledger was ever on Rotto? Gosh we wish so. Being a Sandgroper, the odds of him visiting were pretty good.

Heath uncertainty aside, Aboriginals were definitely there. We've touched on indigenous issues before...Tentland being closed, and the fact there was one death every eight weeks for a time on the island.

More indigenous stuff on eBay: the item description is ABORIGINES - AUSTRALIA ORIGINAL REPORT OF 1844 + 6 MAPS.

After some squinting at one of the item photos, it says something like: ABORIGINES (AUSTRALIAN COLONIES)
RETURN to the ADDRESS of the Honourable The ?House of C?
Dated 5 August 1844 –far
COPIES of EXTRACTS from the DESPATCHES of the Governors of the AUSTRALIAN COLONIES, with the REPORTS of the PROTECTORS of ABORIGINES, and any other CORRESPONDENCE to illustrate the Condition of the ABORIGINAL POPULATION of the said Colonies, from the date of the last Papers laid before Parliament on the subject, (Papers ordered by The House of Commons to be printed, 12 August 1839, No 526.)
Colonial Office, Downing-street, 9 August 1844
G.W. Hope
(Mr Alden.?)

Most intriguing. (The Rotto angle? The item has a map, 334 x 405mm, which is a "Cooured (sic) plan of the native establishment, Rottnest Island".) Only 325 GBP (or around $730, according to eBay). With our reporter hat on we contacted the seller, vld5, asking if we could ask some questions, but no joy.

"No, but you are welcome to bid, and buy it if you are the winning bidder," Mr/s 5 said.

Someone at Museum Victoria was more effusive: "The response is underwhelming from a news point of view, I’m afraid.

"The expert’s feeling is that the item is likely to be already represented in public holdings (likely National Library or other state libraries), and is not something the Museum would be interested in. We also can’t think of anyone else to refer you to for further advice on the specific document."

The item ends on Friday...no bids so far.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

luvverly painting guv'nor

More politicians and art on Rotto. We’re indebted to the WA Constitution Centre for these morsels of information about Admiral Sir Frederick George Denham Bedford, who was our Governor from 1903 to 1909.

Fred was born in 1838 and joined the Royal Navy when 14 (no nonsense about being in cotton wool until he’d finished his education). ‘His family name was originally Tubb but his grandfather changed the family name by Royal licence upon inheriting property from his uncle, Dr Thomas Bedford’, says the ConCen.

Fred waged war far and wide: ‘He took part in many battles and was awarded the Crimean, Turkish and Swedish medals.

‘Sir Frederick was appointed ADC to Queen Victoria in 1888. It is said that his exceptionally high talents were responsible for his appointment as a Lord Commissioner of Admiralty. In 1892, Sir Frederick became Commander-in-Chief at the Cape and during this commission was "engaged in strenuous active naval work which he carried out to a brilliant and successful conclusion".’

A Rottnest name crops up, although it was some distance from the beautiful island: ‘In 1894, he conducted operations at Bathurst on the River Gambia for the punishment of a rebel slave-trading chief. Further action finally saw him promoted to Lord of the Admiralty in 1895. In 1899, he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the North American and West Indies Station, a position he held until his appointment in 1903 as Governor of WA.’

Fred knew how to play to the audience: ‘In his welcome speech, Sir Frederick said that "if he did not open bazaars and make nice speeches properly at first, he would probably improve with practice". During his appointment, he opened the Geraldton Town Hall and took many trips around the State.’

He was ‘very fond of children’ and was keen on the School Amateur Athletics Association; he unveiled the marble statue of Queen Victoria in Kings Park; and then there was his painting penchant: ‘Governor Bedford was also known for his artistic abilities and he and his wife spent a lot of time at the Governor's residence at Rottnest painting and sketching. If he was there on Sundays he would often read the lesson at the Rottnest Island Chapel.’

Amazingly, this old warrior was one of the state’s first greenies. We kid you not. ‘In 1905, there were plans to sell off 300 blocks on the island but Governor Bedford protested and, in fact, it is due to his intervention that Rottnest eventually became an A class reserve. He held this office until 1909 and despite encouragement from locals to allow himself to be nominated for another term, he declined, pointing out that he had for 57 years been at work in the service of the Crown.’

His work done, he went back to the Old Dart until his death in 1913.

The image is from Snell and is a Fred effort circa 1903.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

feeling blue

‘Other MPs revealed the incident likely happened at a Liberal Party gathering at Rottnest about two years ago.’

Cheating at Scrabble? Fishing from an anti-angling area? Tossing rocks onto someone’s roof? No, the incident referred to in today’s The Sunday Times is what Katie said about Troy.

"(Mr Buswell's comments) were of a sexual nature. Involving me. He had been drinking. It was offensive enough for me to indicate to the party room that I wouldn't tolerate that behaviour any more. In no other workplace would that be acceptable behaviour."

Where did the Libs gather for their love-in? Was there a lot of snorkelling on the trip? Is this (a pic on Image Dump titled ‘Troy the Conqueror: The Western Australian Leader of the Opposition, Troy Buswell’) a happy snap from the island idyll? Questions questions.

Enough of the questions. Time for stimulation of a soothing nature. Today’s pic is from Ted Snell’s ‘The Artist’s Rottnest’: Rottnest Lighthouse and Salt Lake. Elise Blumann, 1947, oil on cardboard. Owned by UWA (as is much else in this glorious state).

Saturday, January 19, 2008

pinky period

Much excitement in the Rotto Bloggo fortified compound this week: another primo boffo publication was added to the special-interest bookshelves.

Ted Snell’s ‘The Artist’s Rottnest’ was published in 1988 by Fremantle Arts Centre Press and has oodles of Rottnest art. The cover of this softcover has a Guy Grey-Smith oil called – what else – Rottnest. This has never been one of our favourite Grey-Smiths (the lurid primary colours recall how Tom Ripley was repelled by Dickie Greenleaf’s Mongibello daubings) but the Wadjemup lighthouse is recognisable in the background.

The earliest artistic rendering in the book is Victor Victorszoon’s coastal profile ‘t eylant ‘t Rottenest: a watercolour and ink on paper he dashed off when he was on the Geelvinck with de Vlamingh.

The wreck of the City of York in 1899 attracted the attention of an Aboriginal prisoner: the pencil, watercolour and gouache effort on paper is in the WA Museum collection. Around about the same time Henry Charles Prinsep did a much more cheerful watercolour, Rottnest Along Thomson’s Bay, c1890s.

Some of the artists could paint the same thing today. Iris Francis’ Rottnest from 1950 is a view of a fig tree on Vincent Way.

As with Flickr photos, so too with art. Lots of people have a go at Thomson Bay or the view from a villa window or life on the rocks. But not all of them. The Snell book is a must.

Our favourite? Ashley Jones’ Vacant Implacement, a 1978 acrylic on canvas. It has a touch of the Smart about it. As Snell says: “A well-known Western Australian ‘photo-realist’, Jones has produced a number of paintings and drawings that investigate the lure of Rottnest and its less immediately recognised rituals and pleasures.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

in the sun lie

We almost choked on our latte this morning when we saw this Rottnest artefact online.

Body on the Rocks is a novel set on Rotto. It’s two audio CDs for German kids learning English. The story promises “adventure, friendship, fantasy and mystery” – so it’s a typical Rotto time.

We fired up the trusty Babelfish to turn the Deutsch into something we could understand.

‘Rotting nest is a small island before the coast of west Australia - an ideal resort with mediterranem climate and wonderful dream beaches. In this idyllische atmosphere the corpse of a man is found, and sees itself suddenly complicated into the clearing-up of a strange death to Becky, which did not want anything, as to bathe and in the sun lie. Does the murder of a 16-jaehrigen of girl have to do something more than 40 years ago with history? Who is the man with the red-blue cap, which Becky pursues obviously? And which role plays the 18-jaehrige Alex, which seems to be more than a harmless holiday-maker?’

Wow! Clive James once remarked punning on Chinese names is a very low form of humour. He would also doubtless say making fun of computer-translated language is nearly as low. But nonetheless: the corpse sees itself! But any publication about Rotto – fiction or non – is welcome news.

We saw this book on eBay. Haven’t been able to find any further information on author Denise Kirby. This is the translated bit from a German Amazon page: ‘The "Hueber readings" bring back that which youngsters aged 15 to read: adventure, friendship, fantasy and mystery. This is the perfect incentive to learn English. The combination packages (book and audio CD) is suitable both for single reading and for the incorporation in the class association. Target audience: students from 15 years in the Second Level I. Level B1 level of the European framework.’

We need to write to Mark McGowan and ensure he puts this on the WA school curriculum zofort. Body on the Rocks can be yours for EUR10.50, which is about $17.39.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

still in his pyjamas

Do you remember the armoured personnel carrier that careered through the ‘burbs and the city nearly 15 years ago? Rotto Bloggo was overseas at the time: we learned about this epic tale a couple of weeks after it happened. The Americans we were with were pretty sanguine. Stuff like that happens with somewhat more frequency on the mean US streets.

A bloke stole the 11-tonne vehicle from an army depot. First stop was a fence at the Wembley cop shop: he crashed through it at 0440. A police car arrived and he bingled them. The behemoth hit the city at 0515 and dropped in to Police HQ, the East Perth lockup, the Central Law Courts, the CIB on Beaufort Street and finally Parliament House.

“…TRG officers managed to drop a tear-gas grenade into the vehicle through the loose hatch, which also gave them entry, finally arresting the offender who resisted arrest violently at about 6.15am. It was then discovered that the vehicle was not carryying ammunition for its guns,” this police document reminisces.

Exciting stuff. Rottnest can’t really offer anything comparable, but we did find this charming tale on Flickr of all places. Let’s go back to April 7, 1959…

‘A stolen 72ft seaward defence boat which was chased to sea to the north of Rottnest yesterday morning was taken by and 18-year-old youth.

‘The Fremantle Harbour Trust pilot boat Lady Mitchell caught the runaway boat and HMAS Fremantle towed the stolen SDB1325 back to port.' (The kid planned to go east and sell the thing).

‘The episode began shortly after 6am when a naval dockyard policeman noticed the boat moving away from the naval boatshed at East Fremantle. The youth, who later said he had no naval training, slipped the moorings of the luanch, started the twin-diesel engines and headed out into mid-stream.

‘Twice he ran the boat, worth about $20,000, aground on sandbanks, and the mast broke off when he passed under the railway bridge.

‘The boat’s port engine seized outside the harbour and the Lady Mitchell was able to draw alongside the SDB1235 (sic?). Still in his pyjamas the skipper leapt aboard and took control of the stolen vessel. The youth offered no resistance.’ (From The West, the day after).

More nautical news: another article on the Lissa says it’s been asked to be the VIP vessel for the Rottnest Island swim.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


We were idling through Flickr photos today when the site prompted us to search for photos with the phrase rottnestisland instead of the bog-standard rottnest. Up popped a user called Rottnest Island. The pics are very nice. Some (like this one) have been used in official Rotto marketing.

A call to the Rottnest Island Authority ensued. They weren’t sure who it was, but wondered if it was Chris Gosfield. Her work has been in the quarterly RIA publication Rottnest Islander. She also had a lovely image from inside a bungalow in Post Newspapers late last year.

Using Flickr to promote tourism is a good idea and an increasingly popular one. Our very own WA Tourism Commission does it, as do many other tourism bodies. The WATC uses Flickr to promote the Red Bull air race.

Putting rotto into Flickr gets you a mix of Rottnest pics, Italian images (rotto is Italian for broken) and and assortment of other stuff.

Today's pic isn't by Chris Gosfield, or us, or an Italian: it's by brilliant WA journo Victoria Laurie.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

revenge of the quokka

Rotto’s short, cute gregarious relatively small-headed macropods are no doubt still high-fiving each other over the departure of Western Force boss Peter O’Meara. After some of his players abused quokkas, “...O’Meara was criticised at the time for not rushing back to Perth to take charge during the quokka crisis”, The West notes today.

Of more interest in today’s media is a story in the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail by Rob Bennett about the Lissa, a former icebreaker/freighter that recently lobbed into Busselton. It used to be the vessel of Chris Packer, who got into strife in Bali over guns. We had a hard time finding decent photos of the Lissa: the best we could come up with is this and this.

The Lissa’s new owner is one Mark McCormack: “Mr McCormack bought his first boat shortly before being made aware Lissa was for sale and until his trip to Busselton had only sailed it to Rottnest in the 12 months he has owned it”, the Mail reported.

Mr Packer’s brother Ron was reported as having said Lissa was “hardly a luxury boat” as there were no ensuites on it when they had it and the cabins and living quarters were the same as they were originally”, the Mail said.

“However, an inspection by the Mail last week showed it had everything anyone would want on a vessel. All the cabins are timber lined and the toilets and bathrooms would do justice to a four star hotel.”

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

rupture of the deep (fried)

One of Rotto Bloggo’s associates was sounding off about the State Government today, and for a moment we perceived a future Rottnest angle in her angst.

She was as cross as a frog in a sock about Health Minister Jim McGinty’s labelling of fast food as verboten in the future: see this Perth Now story for the details, but essentially it’s ‘…a ban on all deep-fried food, as well as soft drinks that exceed 300kJ a serve – such as a can of Coca-Cola. Chocolate bars and other confectionary exceeding more than 600kJ a serve, including crisps and corn chips, will also be forbidden. The closest a visitor, health worker or patient will get to a chocolate bar will be a fun-size Freddo Frog.’

The ban comes in at the start of next year in public hospitals. “As if adults can’t decide for themselves what they want to seat,” our associate seethed after buying a bag of chips. We delighted in reminding her that Mr McGinty participates in an annual orgy of fat-enriched, high-salt, meat-heavy baking: the lasagna cook-off in the South Freo street (pretty close to Rottnest) in which he lives.

As the State Government runs Rotto, why don’t they get serious, be consistent, and ban fast food on the beautiful island. No more Red Rooter or Subway. Why ban it in hospitals, and not on A-class reserves? The absence of fast food litter would be good (but no doubt some would keep littering anyway).

Perhaps such a ban was mooted by a Rotto tripper in that Synovate document ‘Evaluating the Rottnest Island Experience (Final Report)’ that the Rottnest Island Authority won’t release to Rotto Bloggo. We dunno. If you gave Red Rooter their marching order, would the bakery be persona non grata as well?

Monday, January 07, 2008

don't let your fingers dangle

Did you see the photo in The Age Online that a New Zealander supposedly took of a big shark? ‘Gary Porter said he asked friends to hold him by the ankles from their small boat as he dunked his upper body in the water to snap the four-metre predator less than two metres away’, the article says.

Lordy. This happened a mere two days ago near Kapiti Island, which is near Wellington. “I've got a few regrets about not hopping in with it and having a good swim with it”, Gary is quoted as saying.

Rotto Bloggo has been thinking about sharks lately. You would have the video on Perth Now of a 3.3m monster in water near Cathedral Rocks, by Rotto’s west.
The 3.3m shark was filmed in September, in 38m of water near Cathedral Rocks at the island's western tip. We love how the tropical fish in the foreground aren’t concerned at all about the prowling sharp-toothed terrifying stuff-of-nightmare giant beast.

Another shark of sorts was also around the island last week: relatives of Rotto Bloggo had their dinghy stolen while they were on land. They came back to their boat near the YHA and it was gone. Probably taken by someone else who didn’t want to get wet on the way back to their boat. Would a yachtie do that? They are capable of such behaviour, say our yachtie rellies.

Lee Paxman from the Salt Rock Spearfishing Club says bronze whaler and mako sharks aren’t uncommon in Roe Reef, while Swirl Reef is the go for bronze whaler, mako, hammerhead and the odd tiger shark. Lee says he still holds the state spearfishing record for the largest yellow tail kingfish taken from Thomson Bay: 34.25kg. A man that accomplished should be believed about sharks.