Saturday, February 16, 2008

HATE Rotto

Splash. Today was the big swim. The mainstream media were commendable in being organised and having stuff for people to read today. The West had a God-botherer doing the epic journey for the first time; The Weekend Australian's Magazine had an excellent Victoria Laurie item on Barbara Pellick, who's going across for the (gasp) 20th time. Struth. She has spent nearly 400km swimming to Rotto.

Our spies tell us Melissa Benson was the first lone swimmer to reach the latte-scented shore of Thompson Bay. First pair was Simon Huitenga and Rhys Mainstone. Barbara Pellick made it. Haven't heard about the religious guy.

It's the hardest way of getting there. An associate pointed us to these Travel Facts for Rottnest Island. No mention of the swim, funnily enough, of by flying machine. Rotto Bloggo has flown to the beautiful island, of course. Luxury darling. In a bizarre twist, our mother was once flown off the island when she was young and very sick.

Despite our excuse for not doing the swim - we'd prefer to be lying down - today hasn't been very recumbent. We went to the monstrous carbuncle that is Burswood to interview a celebrity gardener. He was at HATE: the Holiday And Travel Expo. While we were there we spotted the Rotto booth. Even in a tacky corner of Victoria Park there's a place that is Rottnest. We entered a competition to win $300 of Rotto time. Bet you we don't win.

Friday, February 15, 2008

back to Back

Some outstanding cricketers have been born in WA. Many saw the light of day in the city, but quite a few are from the regions: Kim Hughes was born in Margaret River, Brad Hogg came into the world in Narrogin and Bridgetown was the scene of Len Pascoe’s birth.

Rottnest cricketers? William Back (1856-1911) didn’t set the world on fire. He played two first-class matches in 1892/93 and scored 12 runs at an average of 4. His highest score was 7. No catches. CricInfo doesn’t say who he played for. But the important thing is he was born on Rotto. He died 97 years ago today, in Perth.

Who was William Back, apart from an ordinary batsman? Back is a prominent Rotto name, as any fule kno. We wonder if he was related to Edward Back, the Rottnest pilot from 1846 to 1857. The dates don’t quite make sense, though. According to this reminiscence Edward fell in love with his future wife on a ship (the Fanny) to Freo. Edward supposedly had eight children, it says here. One, William Mercer Back, lived from 1842 to 1910.

(Mary Curtis was the mother of the 1842-1910 William. The reminiscence says she “…was 96 when she died the oldest person in the colony. Her death was reported in the Perth Gazette; ‘Her death was not caused by disease or decay but from shock occasioned when a portion of her dress caught on fire.’ Her death certificate states ‘accidentally burnt’ and that she died at 5am 14 April in Fremantle.”)

It was Brad Hogg’s birthday last week (Feb 6) – we hope you sent him a card.

Today's pic is from Flickr user niki (da sempre)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

moored in the e bay

The big swim is looming. Next Saturday hundreds of people will set off from Cottesloe and ingest a lot of sea water while looking longingly at the lighthouse. Rotto Bloggo would love to be part of it but recumbent commitments mean we won’t be able to show.

Someone on eBay is timing their item well: would you think of paying $499 for a ‘Rottnest Island Channel Swim SIGNED Shirt RARE!’? It has long sleeves, but $499?
‘All your favourite long distance swimmers are here!’ says the blurb (Shelley Taylor Smith, Shane Gould, Bronwen Whitehead, Susie Maroney and Mark Saliba have signed the back. ‘It is the perfect item for framing! Or if you want to wear it its a size XL. This item is in great condition. There is a mark on the front of the shirt but thats now where the signatures are anyway!’

Cheaper but not perhaps as interesting is this ‘Beautiful A4 print which will be printed on canvas effect paper and delivered first class in a hardback envelope’. A snip at around $6.51.

What about a couple of folding electric bikes? ‘I bought these bicycles to put on my boat and used at Rottnest but we have had a double addition to the family and won't be using them in the next few years so I have to sell them’. Hmmm…can you use them on Rotto? The seller says they cost around $1500, but they’re up at a (starting) price of $999.

This could be perfect for the pool room: ‘AUSTRALIAN SOUVENIR-ROTTNEST ISLAND W.A. VINTAGE RARE KEY CHAIN / BOTTLE TOP OPENER. NO DATE STAMPED ON IT BUT, I WOULD GUESS 70'S.’ It’s in Yakima, WA (Washington, not here) so the postage will be a bit.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

best paint name ever

Ever heard of a Taubmans colour called Rottnest Orange?

We saw this in an old copy of Meanjin, which is now the newest edition to grace the climate-controlled, high-security cabinets of Rotto Bloggo’s study bunker. The 1993 book is called Mabo and Moral Community: the contents include ‘Rottnest Island: Rust and Irony’ by Kim Dovey.

The essay begins with Kim hurling his breakfast overboard while on a morning ferry, and is about “…the transformations of place and meaning under successive regimes of power. It is about the ironies of a place of incarceration turned place of freedom and then privilege. Rottnest is a place of semantic inversions…”

There’s talk about the prison, and how once a flu outbreak killed a third of the Aboriginal population. The pub is described as “ostentatiously castellated”. There was pressure to privatize long before the gaudy WA 1980s: in 1917 pressure to take Rotto away from the public was rebuffed.

Dovey then delves into his younger memories about the place (he crawled along gun tunnels in the dark, long before they were tidied up and became a tour). He lashes out at boaties: “Out in the bays are the most up-market units of all, which disgracefully are permitted to discharge raw sewerage into the beautiful turquoise swimming water. Reefs have been illegally blasted to remove the natural barriers to exclusive morrings in some secluded bays…the waters that surround this public reserve are dominated and polluted by private privilege.”

There are mentions of some unforgettable WA names: Alan Bond, Laurie Connell and the Man in the Panama Hat. “Indeed the egalitarian character of Rottnest has been raised to the status of myth. The image of Brian Burke mixing with the Rottnest melting pot in thongs and T-shirt was a powerful foil for the realities of WA Inc. in the 1980s.”

Marvellous stuff. And it gets better when Kim talks about the ethos of the beautiful island. “Rottnest resists the excesses of industrialization and capitalism…while food prices on Rottnest are often outrageous and the ferry service appears to be a monopoly, the best things on Ropttnest are still free…the island satisfies a growing demand for places that are not products of the market.”

And the Taubmans shade is part of the ethos: “Places like Rottnest change most effectively when they produce more of the variety and richness that generated their identity in the first place…Rottnest is a valuable piece of national heritage and we should be very careful with its development.” Righteous.