Sunday, March 23, 2008

flagging interest

When you talking things vexillological, what's the drill when it comes to Rottnest?

Yes, vexillology: the study of flags. Vexillologists are your blokes (rarely women) who know their onomasts from their vexillums and their burgees from their swallowtailed pennants.

Your typical vexillologist was in a lather yesterday as it was six years ago to the day that the East Timor flag was confirmed and had its colours re-defined in the country's constitution. White-knuckle excitement!

But Rottnest? We can't say for sure which flag was the first to be flown on the beautiful island. There's this passage from an account of a French ship, the Naturaliste, leaving something fluttering in the breeze in 1801:

"In the meantime the days fixed by Captain Hamelin to wait for the GĂ©ographe had expired, and we had heard nothing of her, nor did it now appear likely that we should obtain any news of her by staying any longer on this coast, we therefore determined to sail for Endracht's Land, leaving on this island of Rottnest a flag, and a bottle with a letter for the Commander, in case he should touch there."

No Tricolors now, please. I'm not sure about this, either, from a local flag maker. Here's what they say about it...

"An old naval tradition survives today through the Gin Flag. Often each ship in the fleet had their own Gin Flag and designs were many and varied. When the fleet was at anchor and a warship would break open the Officers Mess for Cocktail Hour, the Gin Flag was hoisted as an invitation to others to row over and enjoy a tipple.
Pennant House boasts two Gin Flag designs which are the perfect gift for the Captain with everything.

"Because of our proximity to the island, our Vexillologists have designed The Rottnest Gin Flag which features a charming cartoon of a Quokka (the quaint Kangaroo-Rat-like marsupial that is native to the Island--from which Dutch discovers named the island Rats-nest)."

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