Thursday, May 29, 2008

tatty Thomson

We stayed in central Thomson last week. Gorgeous of course: watching dolphins and Mr Percival from the balcony. Waking up to wonderful sunrises, and seeing the rain lash Perth. At night you can see the Maritime Museum in Freo and the lights from Subiaco Oval.

But it's got to be said: the building is pretty shabby and needs some TLC. We're not talking plasma TVs, a gleaming espresso maker and wireless Internet: more attention to the basics.

The place needed a thorough clean. Witness the ooze stuck to the ceiling of the bathroom/toilet. Most unwholesome. Back in the distant past, when Rotto Bloggo was a carefree tenant, that was the sort of thing that made property managers cross.

New paint is needed, especially on the balcony and other woodwork. Could also benefit from some sponging and elbow grease.

Inside, the furnishings are not quite from a day in the life of Ivan Denisovich, but they're close. The cushions on the sofa are mismatched and worn, covered in lots of hair and lumpy. The matresses are pretty thin and unyielding. Even though they're worn, we like the curtains which incorporate Rottnest motifs. That curtain quokka is more realistic than the Rottnest Brown Quokka Hat ($15.99 at the general store).

We had a look at South Thomson last week - aka Nappy Alley. Much nicer there. Regular readers of Rotto Bloggo will remember our coverage last year of that area being refurbished.

We don't expect luxury during our time on the beautiful island. Far from it. And the above issues won't stop us from being there again. Ramshackle can be charming. But let's not let standards slip too far.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

on the beach

Well, back from the beautiful island for three sleeps already and no blogging until now. Very slack. We had a lovely time: all will be revealed in the next few days.

Not so lovely for this chap, though. Rotto Bloggo was enjoying lunch when a contact rang with a tip about a whale beached next to the army jetty.

We raced down with four-year-old Ella to check it out: reporters at work. There were some difficulties with the local police. A male officer said we couldn't cross the police line, and the RIA ranger would have to let us through. This was fret-indusing. There was no line. He said, "You've been to police lines before have you mate?" We calmed down and lo, the ranger did eventually let us get closer to the stricken beast.

Soon we'd filed for PerthNow. It was the first time I'd seen a whale so close. They are majestic creatures. It was making a noises that sounded like a cross between a cow mooing and a dog with kennel cough. He (the sex was undetermined) tried to roll on his back a couple of times, which was distressing.

TV reporters turned up. Time passed. The wildlife officer arrived on a boat. We thought he was injecting it with something, but he was taking its temperature. The prognosis wasn't good. Eventually he announced it had to go.

Cops cleared the beach and hills ("there's no way they need to see this", a policewoman said). There was an interesting indigenous procedure: two elders were there, and were hugged by a ranger as the deed was done.

The first shot rang out at 1650, and there were eleven more in the next six minutes. The shooting was very loud, but Rotto Bloggo's associates didn't hear it, back in Thomson Bay, about 700m away.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

it can't be stopped

One sleep to go. In less than 24 hours Rotto Bloggo and our associates will be breathing the freshest air in the world.

Last week was good for blog stats: adding something about Tory Troy and the quokka saw an astronomical increase in visitors. 'troy buswell quokka' and variants saw Rotto Bloggo's most visited-day ever.

But always popular search terms concern leavers. 'rottnest leavers 1986', 'rotto leavers 07', and even 'rotto toolies' bring people here.

Should we be providing more information about leavers on the beautiful island? Gotta help the young people. is interesting. There's also some WA Gov't sites.

A great read is this 89-page document. School Leaver Celebrations on Rottnest Island: Going It Alone was published in July 2002 and makes for very interesting reading. They interviewed 112 leavers; most came from the coastal or inner-southern suburbs. There were a couple of kids from Armadale as well.

'Each year in late November school leaver celebrations occur in Western Australia. The most popular destination for these celebrations is Rottnest Island. Here 16 – 17 year old leavers gather to unwind after the stress of their final exams, socialise and mark their passage into adulthood. For most participants alcohol consumption is involved in their celebrations, while for some the consumption is excessive and accompanied by the use of illicit drugs.'

It's a comprehensive look at what the kiddies do, and why. We were surprised at how many didn't drink to excess or get on the Mary Jane.

'Leavers responses...indicate that violence and tension were among the most common negative experiences...'

The activity authorities - schools, police, gov't - do in telling the kiddies about what can happen, or what has happened, in previous years is remarkable. And there's increased activity on Rotto: on the island there's been a fast-food outlet outside the police station. What do the kids make of it all?

'In 2001 the most common response was a call for less intrusive regulation by the various authorities, including police, security and the RIA with regards to the accommodation. This theme was unprecedented in its occurrence.'

Probably have more leverage – don’t crack down as much coz that’s when people want to rebel more. Don’t kick people off for stupid things – Female
The 18 year old rule is stupid because they cause all the trouble - Male
Police need to change their attitude a bit. They won’t give a wave or a grin. They are too negative – Female
The street drinking rule is ridiculous. Getting charged for crossing the street. It actually makes us drink more because you have to scull to get across the street – Male
The rule that you can’t bring alcohol is stupid because people turn to drugs - it’s easier to bring them. People are going to get alcohol anyway –Male
I think it is a massive invasion of civil rights – they search your bags when you come off the boat – Male.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

sorry copy

Two sleeps to go. After booking the ferry tickets the other day we idly scrolled through the ferry company websites reading what they had to say about Rotto, and the experience was pretty ordinary. Why oh why is this considered essential information to convince people of the delights of the beautiful island:

11 kilometres long, 4.5 kilometres at its widest point. All three ferry companies report this. The width at its narrowesht point is more intereshting, shurely?

And the weather: surely people will be wondering what sort of climate they can expect? How best to convey this vital information?

The island is an A-Class reserve enjoying a semi-arid Mediterranean style climate. Right right right. At least Rottnest Express doesn’t regurgitate this. The company doesn’t say anything about the weather at all.

Rottnest Express says the island is “idyllic”. Oceanic Cruises says it’s “charming”. Rottnest Fast Ferries merely says it’s “WA's most beautiful Island”.

According to RE the bays are “tranquil turquoise”, and then a bit later they’re “world-class” – a very WA phrase. OC claims the bays are “some of the finest in the world”, which we guess means world-class. No opinion on the bays from the folk at RFF.

Proofreading isn’t the most sought-after skill at RE: The underwater life in and around the world-class bays makes diving adn snorkelling both breathtaking and beautiful for expart and novices alike.

And they haven’t done their quokka research, either: Growing less than a foot tall, the quokka cannot be found anywhere else in the world which is why it is a star attraction on the Island.

Those ones down south and on nearby islands must be faux quokkas.

OC and RFF have this: a unique style of architecture dating back to the 1800's. The apostrophe abuse is annoying – and having spruiked the architecture, why not give some detail?

Are we being too critical? Do we expect too much? Why don’t some people write for their audience?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

ferry funny

So it was a jape! A blogger claims he made up the yarn about Tory Troy and Queen Quokka. I know the quokkas have been keeping a low profile today on the beautiful island: they did threaten to go on strike last night, but last-minute negotiations with the Rottnest Island Authority saw them win significant concessions and improved living standards. As the head of the RQU (Rotto Quokka Union) said: "Don't muck about with the macropod."

We've booked our ferry tickets for our blissful time on the island next week. By ringing around (well, by calling Rottnest Express and Oceanic Cruises) we saved a whopping eight dollars.

RE was charging $58 for an adult extended stay out of Freo and $51 for a tertiary student concession. Add eleven bucks per bike, and the total is $131.

OC was charging $54 for an adult extended stay out of Freo (even though their website says $56), $51 for the concession and a measly nine bucks per bike. Grand total $123, so we went with the OC.

Wonder what the weather will be like. A couple of years ago we had our roughest crossing ever, and shared the top with a group of spewing Japanese. They throw up very discreetly. Even Rotto 'Sea Legs' Bloggo needed a deep breath before his Dome latte after that crossing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

quokka, smile and laugh

"I have absolutely no idea about these stories of quokkas on Rottnest."

It's Troy Buswell speaking. He knows there are quokkas on the beautiful island, of course. But this yarn on Perth Now has lots more Troy quotes...we've taken out the in-between bits, and excised some Troy talk about Paul Omodei at the end.

"absolutely no substance"


"I'm not being backward in saying that I'm not a perfect individual and you know I've had a robust past and there may be elements of that that have proved offensive to people.
"I don't shy away away from that at all, but I'm not aware that I've caused any offence to a quokka."

"I have no idea.

"I'm not going to comment on it. All I've heard is people use the word quokka and then smile and laugh.
"I'm just not interested to be honest with you.''

"Members of the press have in passing mentioned the word quokka and suggested to me that something inappropriate in the past may have happened.
"Nothing has, absolutely nothing."

"quite remarkable that some of these bizarre accusations get legs and due consideration".

"I'll tell you what's better with the Liberal Party.
"That is that everybody accepts their responsibility to the collective and to the voters of the state and that they knuckle down and do their jobs properly.
"I mean fanciful stories like this don't do anyone any benefit."

"Politics is not without its moments like this. It happens on both sides of politics from time to time.
"We just have to deal with it and get on with it."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

last post for island playground

‘Rottnest’s coast line is picturesquely indented with many bays and inlets, most of which are reef locked making safe and delightful bathing spots for both young and old. The most popular being the Basin near the settlement, but others are easily accessible by pleasant walks across the island or along the beaches.’

Slightly stilted language with random capitals, six-digit phone numbers, orange and green: it’s a Rottnest brochure from around 30-odd years ago printed by William C. Brown, WA Government Printer.

Rottnest: Island Playground – A Souvenir Of Your Vacation is charming and features a two-engined turboprop plane, map and photos (including one of the Rottnest Islander at the jetty) of the beautiful island.

‘The surrounding waters are a paradise for anglers, being stocked abundantly with fish, which may be caught from the many vantage points, or for those who so desire bigger game from boats in deeper waters.’

This is Rottnest pre-Geordie or Longreach accommodation. If you wanted ‘full particulars’ about ‘furnished premises’ you wrote to the manager or called him on 92 5044.

‘A Total of 166 Villas, Cottages, Flats and Bungalows are available for Rent. All are fully furnished, with exception of linen and cutlery.’

The salt lakes were supposedly good for ‘kindred ailments’ and there was a bowling rink. The map shows the post office in a slightly different location to today: the dive shop and/or Dome.

(news about the Rotto PO in today’s Inside Cover: “In a rather farcical situation, residents will be forced to travel to the mainland to send or receive parcels or use other Australia Post services such as Post billpay…parcels and bulky items would be held at post offices in Fremantle for residents to collect…another goodwill gesture to be hit by cost-cutting was the authority’s funding of a fortnightly medical service over winter, leaving residents without a quack until the July school holidays.”)

As this charming brochure has it: ‘For a Carefree Holiday: Rottnest Island’.

Monday, May 05, 2008

sanitary pad

“Why not have your accommodation cleaned during your stay??”

An exciting day at the Rotto Bloggo bunker: in the post was an RIA envelope containing:
• booking advice
• map of Thomson Bay Central
• bungalow inventory (they provide a whisk)
• list of extra things we can hire
• a fistful of baggage tags

And a little green flyer saying we can have our unit cleaned while we’re there!

“This service includes remaking beds with clean linen, changing towels, cleaning kitchen and bathroom services, empty bins and replacing liner, sweeping and mopping floors and general tidying. Housekeepers do not touch any personal items, therefore please clear these off floors, beds, and kitchen areas to enable a thorough clean.”

You book in advance and they need 48 hours notice. Prices range from $49 for a four-bed place during the week to $113 for an eight-bed palace on the weekend.

The breakneck pace of innovation on Rottnest! What next? A far cry from the times Rotto Bloggo’s mum spent the first day of the holiday cleaning the unit. We predict this “new for 2008” service is thanks to feedback in ‘Evaluating the Rottnest Island Experience’, where 14 per cent of punters were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with accommodation cleanliness, and 21 per cent were neither satisfied or dissatisfied.

Stop whinging, pay, and you’ll be (more) satisfied. Or use the dustpan & brush, mop and bucket, and indoor & outdoor brooms provided.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

fantastic beast

“It’s a quokka, Jim, but not as we know it.”

This ‘original antique handcolored copperplate engraving’ has popped up on eBay. The seller says it’s “extremely rare”. He says it’s “over 233 years old”.

The queer quokka is “…taken from a volume of the rare first edition of Schreber's famous work "Die Säugthiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen" (The mammals in accordance with illustrations of nature with descriptions), published and printed in Erlangen, Germany, 1775”.

Schreber was a naturalist and started on his books in 1774. They were packed with 800 pics, and a lot of animals were given Linnaeus-inspired names for the first time. But his artists were somewhat handicapped:

“The artists responsible had, however, never seen the animals they drew, relying on descriptions from explorers and travellers. Many of the pictures, therefore, are somewhat unrealistic. Collectively, they are known as ‘Schreber's Fantastic Beasts’.”

The name supposedly given to Rotto rat was Dydelphis brachyuros. Now of course it’s Setonix brachyurus. From this eBay listing it seems the Germans also call quokkas Kurzschwanzkänguru, or short-tailed kangaroo.

Wikipedia has some more of Schreber’s images here.

Pic from

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Rotto millions

Last weekend, before the WA Labor Government sent in two dozen armed police looking for information, The Sunday Times had a list of what you could do with a $40 million Lotto win. Number 34 was:

Take a family of four to Rottnest and stay at the Lodge for the rest of your life.

Hmm. Rotto Bloggo has some precious Rotto time coming up: seven nights in waterfront Thomson Bay. To hire the bungalow was $1000 (which of course we had to pay for about 12 months ago). So the big Lotto payola would buy 40,000 weeks there. We’d have to live past 800 to get all that.

What else? Five million rounds of mini-golf at the Brett Heady Family Fun Centre. Nearly 580,000 Rottnest Express tickets. Around 235,000 flights in a four-seater. About three dozen fresh jam donuts from the bakery.

Actually we’re just kidding about that last one. The bakery isn’t quite that expensive.

Or you could lodge around 1.33 million Freedom of Information requests to the Rottnest Island Authority. Rotto Bloggo’s request for the suppressed pages of ‘Evaluating the Rottnest Island Experience’ drags ever on. It was lodged on 19July last year. Are FoI laws among The Worst of Perth?