Saturday, June 28, 2008

rottnest romance #6

The next white-knuckle read of the only Bills and Moon romance set on the beautiful island: Larissa Kidd unwittingly helps Nick with his erections, he gratefully asks her for a on...

Once outside she took a few deep breaths, and started to feel something close to normal again.

After a minute or two he emerged through the courtyard entrance.

“You have a lovely cottage, Larissa. It’s given me some ideas to work into the design I want to use for Parakeet Bay.”

“Great,” she replied, trying to sound enthusiastic. She couldn’t believe it. It looked as though she had assisted his development – albeit entirely against her will. It was too awful to think about. In less than an hour her world had been turned upside down by this marauding businessman from the mainland.

He must have sensed her despair, or seen a trace of it on her face. “Are you alright?” he asked.

She returned his look, forcing herself to smile. “No, I’m fine, thanks. Why shouldn’t I be?”

“Fine. I’m going back to our hotel now, to see how Ashleigh has managed to settle in. would you like to join us for lunch in a while?”

The mere invitation filled her with dread. “No! Er, I mean no, thank you. I should get down to the office soon and do some work.”

A quizzical look crossed his face. “Your sister told me it was your day off.”

That Marjorie, she thought savagely. “Well, when you work for yourself, you don’t really get to have days off, do you?”

“How about tonight, then, after you’ve finished? We could have a drink at the Lodge.”

“I’m afraid not,” she replied. “I do have a previous commitment.”

“Oh well – never mind. We’ll be on the island a few days, so I dare say we’ll bump into each other again sooner or later. See you around.” With a friendly grin he turned away and began to stride along the path back to his hotel.

She watched his tall figure recede down the road. What he said was true – Rottnest was a small place, and there was a good chance they would encounter each other again before he left. In the past, she had liked that cosy aspect of the island. But now she was suddenly regarding it in a different light. She most definitely didn’t want to bump into him while he was here.

“Morning, Larissa! How are you today?”

She looked around, and her heart fell. It was Mrs Squire, who worked at the bicycle hire shop. She had stopped on the road, astride one of her bikes. She was the island’s most notorious gossip. Had she seen Nick leaving her cottage?

“Morning, Mrs Squire. I’m fine thanks.”

“Lovely day. I see you’ve been entertaining someone – is he someone special?”

“Not at all. Just a business acquaintance.” Oh no – so she had seen him leaving. Now it would be all over the island in a matter of minutes that she had a lover.

“A very handsome man, I couldn’t help notice,” the woman on the bike said eagerly. “What’s his name?”

“Mr Montagu – I don’t know his first name,” Larissa lied. “I think that’s my kettle boiling, Mrs Squire – got to go – bye.” She hastily beat a retreat inside her cottage, seeking refuge from the inquisitive woman. Considering the awful morning she had had so far, the brief encounter with Mrs Squire seemed to top it off in an appropriate way.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

canyoning off Rotto

The beautiful island gets a passing mention in this science story about whales.

A Curtin boffin has devoted 20 years listening to whale songs. “I recognise about 10 per cent of what I hear, but I don’t often know exactly what its specific purpose kight be,” he said.

“Whale songs are incredibly complex, and there is a vast amount to learn. Humpbacks are probably the best known. They have a song and they change it each year.”

The boffin has devices called loggers to detect the songs: some are in the Perth Canyon, near Rottnest.

The Perth Canyon? It’s west of Rotto and “forms a deep indentation lying across the continental shelf. It is believed to have been formed by submarine flows from the out flow of the Swan River. It is believed that under certain conditions the Canyon influences the local oceanography of the region such as to favour high productivity about the Canyon, which supports a large biomass of small krill, which in turn sustain the blue whales.”

Click here to see a map of the Canyon.

Our unscientific view: whales, like dolphins, are hard to put in a logo. Perhaps even harder?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

rottnest romance #5

The latest gripping mini-chapter of Rottnest Romance: Larissa finds herself in the kitchen, there's a lot of banging, and she and the evilly handsome Nick have a bit of a tango in the on...

“A single person can live here quite happily, I’ve found.” She hoped that her voice sounded neutral, and that he wouldn’t discern his questions were making here feel rather edgy.

“Hmm. There’s not a lot of natural light in here, is there…ideally the windows should either be bigger, or there should be more of them. I wonder…” He strode off into the living room. She stayed in the kitchen, beginning to resent his casually critical assessments of her home. She didn’t care if the windows were somehow inadequate, or if the sink was in the wrong place, or whatever. She liked living here. It was her own personal space, as she wasn’t concerned if it failed to meet his demanding specifications.

The sound of windows being opened and closed came from the living room as he seemingly made an inspection of everything. She sighed – surely there wasn’t much else in here that he would find interesting. She felt like making her self a pot of tea, but realised she couldn’t. she would have to offer him some as well – and she didn’t want to run the risk of him accepting. The sooner he left, the better.

While he was still fossicking around in the living room, she decided to quickly nip into her bedroom. She wanted to make sure there was nothing potentially embarrassing lying around. As she went in she thought she should close the door as she came out again – it would give him a hint that, really, there were limits to what he could poke his nose into.

She rapidly shoved her dressing gown under her pillow and tidied up her bedside table. She was relieved she’d made the bed this morning. More often than not it was an untidy tangle of unmade sheets. As she straightened up she saw he was framed by the doorway, looking at her.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “You startled me.”

“I didn’t realise you were in here. Tell me, why did you choose the biggest room for your bedroom?”

She felt rather flustered at his sudden presence in here. Only her bed separated them, and she looked down at it.

“Is this the largest room? I didn’t know…” Her voice trailed off. All of a sudden it seemed no bigger than the bathroom. He seemed to fill the space with his presence. His tall frame, dressed in the imposing dark suit, dominated the room – he seemed to loom over the bed, and over her.

“I’ll just open the blinds and get some more light in here,” he said, apparently unaware of her discomfort. He moved around to the foot of the bed, towards the window behind her. At the same moment she moved away from the bed, trying to get out of his way.

“Excuse me…”

“Sorry – I’ll…”


Finally she managed to squeeze past him, without making any physical contact. It seemed as though it had taken five minutes for them to get past each other, instead of two seconds. She made an instant decision to cut her losses and get out of the cottage – her cottage – immediately. His presence was making the situation all too fraught. She needed some fresh air.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bermuda short

We were browsing through Perth's Wikipedia entry recently when we saw this: It is the antipode of Hamilton, Bermuda.

Of course we knew it was around there somewhere - of course you don't get to China if you start digging here - but it's appropriate Rottnest's antipode is the delightful Caribbean isle.

They have a nice lighthouse (see pic: theirs is very vexillological); Bermuda is also an island; the official language is English; the water is very blue; Europeans saw it a long time ago; most of the trees are long gone and tourism is big.

Things you might not have known about Bermuda: it has the world's highest GDP - a whopping $US76,403; it has beaches with pink sand; Glamorgan captain David Hemp was born there.

We fiddled around with this tool and saw that it's not the exact other side of the globe: it's about 25km off. But near enough is good enough for antipodes.

Image © by James G. Howes, July, 2003

Monday, June 23, 2008

rottnest romance #4

A brush with a root, thinking about Nick's heavy equipment and heavy breathing outside her window - it's heating up for Larissa Kidd in the next gripping instalment of Rottnest Romance...

He had started to walk away from the hotel – in the direction of her cottage. She hastened to catch up, and spoke again as they moved along at a brisk pace.

“I asked you where you’re going.”

He looked ahead as he spoke. “If you won’t let me in your cottage there’s no harm in having a look at it from the outside, is there?”

She nearly tripped over an exposed Moreton Bay Fig tree root as she hurried to keep up. She was suspicious of his intentions, but she had to admit she couldn’t stop him taking a look from the outside.

“I suppose she told you where it is, too, as you seem to know your way around without having been here before,” Larissa said testily.

“No, Marjorie didn’t tell me,” he said, striding along. “In the process of drawing up my Parakeet Bay plans I studied maps of the island, so I know my way around pretty well.”

She wanted to respond by saying he wouldn’t need her as a guide – he was obviously quite self-sufficient. Which was just as well – she certainly didn’t relish the idea of having to escort him around her island, and thereby helping him with his business.

But she held her tongue. After all, she had her own business priorities to think of. Marjorie had mentioned over the phone that Nick would be in a position to provide them with some business. She now realised what her sister meant. If Nick’s blasted development went ahead he would need workers, materials and equipment transported over from the mainland. The Rottnest Daisy would be ideally placed to meet his needs…

They had reached her cottage. “Here we are,” she said. “If you’re really so interested in the layout I’m sure Marjorie could find the original plans for you. There: that should sound as thought she was trying to be helpful.

It was as though he hadn’t heard her. He gazed at the cottage, stroking his chin thoughtfully. “An old, traditional-style cottage like yours is what I’m aiming to base my designs on. Yours looks ideal. I’d really like to see the interior, though…”

He took a few strides up to the front door, paused for a moment, and then suddenly darted into the courtyard.

“Hey!” she exclaimed. Stop – come back.” She followed, and once inside found him stooping at her kitchen window. “Mr Montagu, I didn’t say you could go into my courtyard.”

He was peering in through the glass. “You just said you wouldn’t show me the inside. You didn’t say anything about the grounds, if I remember correctly.”

She was rapidly tiring of his antics, and was about to order him off her property immediately…

“It’s a lovely place you’ve got here, Larissa. Your sister said you had transformed it into something beautiful – and I can see that she was right.” He glanced at her, and beamed a dazzling smile. He had very white teeth.

She wondered if he was trying to charm his way into her good books – and her cottage.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

for the bird lovers

Cultural innovation on Rottnest: this academic report sounds very intresting.

'Cultural innovations are commonly noted in animals, but times of development of novel traits are usually unknown. We report here a novel song type arising in a bird population on an offshore island of Western Australia where the time of colonization of the island by the Western Gerygone, Gerygone fusca, is known'.

We can't find many images online of the Gerygone, but here's one on Flickr.

'On the mainland, a single song type is widespread,' the report says. 'On Rottnest Island, many individuals sing a different type of song and a number possess a repertoire of two song types: the standard song shared with the mainland and the novel song type not found on the neighbouring mainland.'

It's a Rotto-only song. How about that. I wonder what the (bird) words are?

'The novel song type found on Rottnest is so different in its syntactical structure that one could easily mistake it for that of a new species. The characteristic song of mainland birds is irregular in the frequencies at which the notes within a song are delivered. The novel song on Rottnest has a highly structured syntax with notes delivered at a strict and repeated sequence of frequencies resulting in a rhythmic musical sound.'

The Triffids spent time on Rotto. We reckon they inspired the Gerygone - which, come to think of it, sounds like a Triffids song or album name.

The Gerygone colonized Rottnest around 1955. 'The new song type apparently developed rapidly by cultural evolution in the last 50 years.'

Thursday, June 19, 2008

rottnest romance #3

The next episode of this thrilling saga: Larissa's still worried about her bush, but she has met the evil developer and his underling at the's time to get REAL...

He must have realised she wasn’t sharing his delight. “Is something the matter?”

In her turmoil she had a sudden desire to tell him about REAL and their determination to stop the development. Should she try and obstruct him right here and now? It would give her keen pleasure, letting him know what she and her friends thought of his plans – and how they would fight them every step of the way.

But the moment passed, and her instincts told her she should be more subtle than that. She wouldn’t let her feelings about Nicholas Montagu cloud her judgment over such a vital matter. No, she would deal with it coldly and analytically.

“It’s nothing,” she said lightly, and looked away. “The Lodge is just around the corner – let’s go.”

In a few moments they reached the front entrance of the hotel. They stood in silence until Ashleigh caught up with them. Larissa was hoping she wouldn’t have to shepherd them through check-in: she wanted some solitude to digest what she had learned.

Nick took Ashleigh gently by the elbow. “How are you feeling now?”

“I feel awful after that crossing,” she said. “And there’s a ladder in my stocking. We really must fly back when we leave this backwater, Nick.”

He smiled. “As soon as you’ve checked in, lay down for a while. I’ll be busy for the next hour or two, anyway.”

Ashleigh turned and made her way into the Lodge. Larissa noted there was no acknowledgement of Nick’s support, or thanks to her for meeting and greeting them.

“Could you wait a moment, please?” Nick said to her. He followed Ashleigh into the hotel, deposited his briefcase by the front desk and came back outside.

“Now that’s done, I’d like to see where you live, Larissa.”

She felt her mouth drop open. “What? I beg your pardon?”

“It’s only a couple of minutes away, isn’t it? It won’t take long.”

“Why…why do you want to see my cottage?”

“For research purposes. I am a builder, after all.”

“Well…no. I just don’t let anyone into my home.”

“Please. It would be helpful to me.”

“No, Mr Montagu, and that’s my final…”

“Your sister Marjorie thought it would be no problem,” he said smoothly. “When I spoke to her earlier this morning she said you’d be glad to have the chance to show off your lovely cottage.”

Larissa had to suppress a scowl at hearing her sister’s name. “She had no right to say that! It’s my home, and only I can decide who goes through the front door.”

He gave her a quizzical look. “I thought the cottage belonged to your company?”

“Well…yes it does. How do you know that?”

“Marjorie told me.”

Larissa was starting to feel somewhat disturbed about the amount of knowledge he seemed to possess about her. Marjorie had obviously freely given away personal information to this virtual stranger about her own sister.

“Did she? Well, even so, she has no right to give someone permission to browse through my home as though it’s a museum…hey, where are you going?”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Rotto Bloggo is set to enjoy a tidal wave of publicity: we've been asked to appear in the Rottnest Islander, which is 'your essential guide to WA's holiday island'.

There's no URL, but the RI is published we think quarterly. If we remember rightly the first issue was spring last year.

We assume the Rottnest Island Authority pay for it - which is why we were a tad surprised to be invited to write about Rotto Bloggo. We're not always 100 per cent fulsome about the RIA. The island itself - no worries there.

We'll whip something together and send it off by COB tomorrow. It will be, we promise, superior to this account which was recently on Reuters (which Rotto Bloggo naturally pronounced as 'Rooters' when he was a teenager, much to his vast amusement).

Reuters' angle is how to spend 48 hours in Perth: "Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most from a short visit".

It's commendable they urge you to visit the beautiful island, but their schedule would be a stretch. On Saturday you're supposed to job 9.5km through the city, then have an 8am Dome coffee somewhere on the (bleak windswept) Terrace - and then be at Hillarys at 9 for the ferry to Rotto.

"Its coral reefs make for fantastic diving and snorkeling; hidden bays and deserted cycle paths wait to be explored. The small marsupial quokka -- a bit like a small kangaroo -- only exists on this island and in some parts they have become very tame," opines Reuters (never mind about those quokkas down south).

But then at 1pm you're back on the mainland, pigging out somewhere in Cottesloe! Would you really spend only two or so hours on the beautiful island?

(Larissa certainly spends a lot more time there - next gripping 500 words tomorrow...)

Monday, June 16, 2008

rottnest romance #2

The next 500-word instalment of Rottnest Romance...hunky Nick and irritable Ashleigh have arrived on Rotto after a delightful ferry trip...our heroine Larissa has met them on the jetty...speed limit for this narrative is five knots...

“God, what a horrible trip that was,” Ashleigh grimaced. “All that rocking back and forth, and all those kids running up and down. Will we fly back, Nick?” she asked, giving her employer a beseeching look.

It was Nicholas Montagu’s turn to be unprepared. He had been gazing at Larissa, studying her light blue eyes, honey blonde hair and golden tan. The sparkle of sunlight off the water picked up the highlights in her hair, which was swept back in a ponytail. She had a fresh and crisp scent and seemed so casual and relaxed in her jeans and white linen shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

He suddenly realised he’d been asked a question, and groped for an answer.

“Oh, yes, of course. We’ll see.”

Ashleigh didn’t seem satisfied. “Let’s get to a more civilized place as quickly as possible, like our hotel. I suppose there are taxis at the end of the jetty?”

Larissa would have liked to look into those dark eyes of Montagu’s for just a little longer. Distractedly she replied: “I’m afraid not. There aren’t any taxis on Rottnest. Cars aren’t allowed here.”

Ashleigh groaned. “That’s just marvelous. And me in my office clothes. I knew I should never have come to this backwater.”

Larissa gritted her teeth but forced her smile to stay in place. The nerve! This woman had only just arrived and didn’t know the first thing about Rottnest Island.

The tall businessman in front of her smiled. “There’s no need for pessimism, Ash. Let’s see about our luggage, then Ms Kidd might be kind enough to show us the way to our hotel.”

Soon they were briskly striding along the jetty in the summer sunshine. As they made their way past the century-old seawall and historic waterfront cottages, Larissa asked: “Is this your first time on Rottnest, Mr Montagu?”

He flashed her a smile. “Call me Nick, please. Yes, this is my first visit, although I’ve spent a long time studying maps and charts of the island. May I call you Larissa?”

“If you like. Are you here on holidays? Taking a break from life in Perth?”

“I’m here on business,” he replied. “As soon as I’ve settled in and changed, I’ll hire a bike and ride around, looking like any other tourist. But I’ll be working.”

Larissa knew only too well on what Nick would be working. She was having trouble keeping up with his long, energetic strides. She glanced back and saw that Ashleigh was making no attempt to match the pace of her boss. She briefly wondered about Ashleigh and Nick – was he more than just her superior?

“And what sort of business are you in?” She already knew the answer, but didn’t want him to know that.

“I’m a developer,” he said. “I build houses and cottages, especially in recreational locations. I’ve been invited to submit a tender to build cottages at Parakeet Bay.”

“Oh yes…I heard something about that,” Larissa said.

She indeed had heard something about it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

the long march

More excitement at Rotto Bloggo HQ: we’re about to get a document from the Rottnest island Authority. It’s taken 329 days so far, the longest completed FoI request we’ve ever done, but we’re near the end.

On 20 July we submitted a Freedom of Information request and $30 for the Market Equity report. The RIA didn’t want to cough up all of it, so in August FoI coordinator Fiona Westenhaver posted us most of it – “third party information” was removed.

The removed information was about Means of Transport to Rottnest Island (ie which ferries people catch, and maybe what they think of them), and the seven pages of Businesses on Rottnest Island section (what people think about the shops on Rotto). We blogged about the information we did get.

In September we requested the removed material. But acting director finance and business services Ken Chinnery was having none of it: “I have reviewed the third party information in question and am withholding this information on the basis of the exemption under Schedule 1, clause 4 section 2 of the Freedom of Information Act 1992 which states that;
Matter is exempt matter if its disclosure –
(a) Would reveal information (other than trade secrets) that has a commercial value to a person; and
(b) Could reasonably be expected to destroy or diminish that commercial value.

Right right. We had 60 days to appeal. So on October 11 we wrote to the Commish. Our argument for releasing the rest: some third party information was already in the material released to us: what people thought of the cleaning contractors, for example. As we wrote: “Also released…in the report were details about visitor recollections of the Authority advertising in The West Australian and The Sunday Times. There was visitor feedback on ferry services being too expensive, and visitor feedback on the post office. These are all private businesses, yet I am unaware of any destroyed or diminished commercial value due to this feedback being released to me.”

The Commish’s people wrote back five days later. There was a bit of back-and-forth over the next few weeks over what sort of information we might be happy with: consulting all the third parties in the report would be time-consuming, so would we be happy with something else?

“For example, in lieu of pursuing access to specific detailed information about named businesses, whether you would consider accepting access to more general information about the goods and service providers operating on Rottnest Island,” the Commish’s people wondered.

No, it was all or nothing according to Rotto Bloggo. The new year came and went, and it was April when there was a development.

"On 17 April 2008, I wrote to the agency and advised it that, having
examined the disputed document and the FOI file maintained by the agency in relation to your access application, the A/Commissioner is of the view that the decision on access may not be justified,” the Office of the IC said.

"More particularly, the A/Commissioner is of the view that, on the basis of the evidence presently before this office, the agency has not established that the information deleted from the disputed document is exempt under clause 4(2) of Schedule 1 to the FOI Act, as claimed. In light of the above, the agency has been invited to reconsider its decision on access.”

In other words, cough it up! But the RIA wasn’t giving up without further struggle: a few days later, the Office said “the agency does not accept my view of this matter”, and enclosed its reasoning.

Rotto Bloggo dusted off the microscope, had several strong long blacks, scratched our heads and pursed our lips, and wrote back to the FoI people…

‘Regarding Page 29 – Means of Transport to Rottnest Island, the RIA says: “The data is broken up by individual commercial provider and details the % of visitors using each provider.” The RIA claims the data “could provide an indicative market share”, and this information “is not readily available to the general public”.

‘In fact, ample information about ferry companies is made readily available to the general public by the ferry companies themselves. Rottnest Express says: “Rottnest Express has the dominant share of the Rottnest Island market carrying over 60% of all visitors to the Island”.
This is not disputed by Oceanic Cruises.
That Rottnest Express has a dominant share is hardly surprising: it has seven ferry trips to the island most days of the week (except Friday, when it has eight trips).
Oceanic Cruises’ trips range from five a day (December to April) to two on four out of five weekdays (May to September).

‘It is hard to accept the RIA’s argument about this information having commercial value when details about ferry trips and ferry passenger capacities are made freely available.

‘Also, only Rottnest Express and Oceanic Cruises could really be regarded as competitors, as they both depart from Perth and Fremantle: Rottnest Fast Ferries’ trips to the island are all ex-Hillarys.

‘Regarding Pages 44-51, Businesses on Rottnest Island, the RIA claims the pages contain “a comparison of customer satisfaction, for each of the commercial businesses”.

‘I do not understand what the customer satisfaction is being compared with. If, for example, customer satisfaction with the post office is being compared against customer satisfaction with the bakery, it’s hard to see how the post office would suffer commercially if it were to be reported people are less satisfied with it than they are with the bakery.

‘The RIA claims making these comparisons public could lead to commercial advantage for someone, which would be to the detriment of the island as a business might lose market share and leave the island.

‘I am skeptical about this claim. Many of the businesses on Rottnest are monopolistic: there is one bakery, one surf shop, one newsagent, one dive shop, one health centre, one fun park, etc. If they were no good, and had already had negative feedback and couldn’t survive, they surely would have already left the island.

‘There are several food providers on the island. They cater to a captive market. I can’t recall the last time I saw or heard advertising from these providers extolling their benefits. And as the RIA says in its letter, it “takes actions” when looking at the “business mix” on the island – that is, it won’t renew a business’ lease if it doesn’t think they’re doing a good job.’

There was another pause of several weeks until, on Tuesday afternoon, the FoI people called in the late afternoon to say the rest of the report would be made available.

There was a final twist: the Rottnest Island Authority was going to put it in their library, and did I want to pop down there to read it?

This was tres cheeky. The woman at the FoI office accepted my desire to have the stuff sent to us by the RIA: “you’ve done the hard running”, she noted. Hard running? It’s been like a dozen marathons.

By Thursday it still hadn’t arrived, so we called the RIA. Had it been put in the post? Yes it had. But still no sign of it on Friday. Tomorrow? Fingers crossed.

What an “abnormally long time” (words of woman at FoI office) to get this stuff. It makes us wonder: is the information earth-shaking? We suspect not. It’s probably more the typical public servant attitude of wanting to keep information to themselves. Did it really need to take close to a year and generate paperwork one centimetre thick? Surely not.

* The next 500 words of Rottnest Romance will be posted tomorrow...thank you for your salacious comments :-)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

bills & moon on rotto

We apologise for no posts for more than a week, but we've been entranced with a book that was sent to us.

The manuscript doesn't have a title, but we're going to call it Rottnest Romance: it's a Mills & Boon-style novel that is set on the beautiful island.

Without further ado, let's leap into chapter one...we'll post more 500-word blocks in between non-fiction news about Rotto...

So that was Nicholas Montagu – Mr Moneybags himself.

Larissa felt like pushing him off the gangplank and into the blue water before he had a chance to step on dry land.

She watched as brightly-dressed holidaymakers chattered and laughed as they made their way down the gangplank and off the ferry. They fitted the happy and sparkling mood of Rottnest Island, Western Australia’s favourite holiday destination and portion of paradise.

Excited children carried surfboards and fishing rods or wheeled their bicycles. Their parents called out to them while struggling with beach towels and snorkeling gear. As they all surged off the ferry they created a high-spirited holiday mood that promised enjoyment and fun in the sun.

But two passengers stood out from the merry crowd. A man and a woman, both formally dressed, weren’t contributing to the laughter or anticipation of enjoyment.

Larissa thought they looked like the opposite of everything Rottnest stood for. The man was tall and dressed for business in a dark suit, blue shirt and red tie. His only luggage was a laptop computer bag. He was speaking to his female companion, who also looked she would be more at home in a boardroom than on a beach.

Nicholas Montagu was the man Larissa’s sister Marjorie had asked her to meet, when she rang Larissa earlier that morning. He was a man who, according to Marjorie, “…was going to do great things for Rottnest, so we’d better be helping him from the start.”

Larissa intercepted him and his companion at the foot of the gangway. Resisting the urge to send him tumbling into the water, she forced herself to smile.

“Mr Montagu?”

He faced her and she took and involuntary half-step backwards. He was well over six feet in height and she had to tilt her head to meet his look. There were flecks of steely grey in his short, thick black hair. His lean and hungry-looking face had strong and regular features, most striking of which were the eyes. They were very dark – almost black – and seemed to take in her presence in an instant.

“Good morning. I’m Larissa Kidd, aprt owner of the Blue Daisy, the ferry on which you’ve just traveled. You’ve met my sister Marjorie?”

He nodded.

“She called me earlier and asked me to meet you.”

He reached out and took her hand in his. His grip was firm and strong.

“And good morning to you, Ms Kidd. Thank you for meeting us…”

Larissa jumped as the ferry hooted to hurry off the last few passengers. She took a deep breath and realised he was still holding her hand in his. He hadn’t flinched.

“…this is my assistant, Ashleigh Kane.” He turned to the attractive woman in her mid-twenties who was at his side. Ashleigh was dressed for work instead of play: black pinstriped jacket and skirt, white shirt, black stockings and court shoes. Her long brown hair was tied into a braid which was draped over a shoulder.

Larissa extracted her hand from his grip and made a deliberate effort to draw her attention from the good-looking man. She focused her attention on Ashleigh, shook her hand and was flashed a short and insincere smile in return.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

health and pleasure resort

The 175 Years of Headlines series in The West is proving to be a must-read. Some of that old-style reporting was very laboured. How about this 1909 epistle from today's supplement: 'An incident, as exciting as it was probably unique, occurred during the last homeward voyage of the R.M.S. Oroya.' It takes many turgid words before we find out the ship rammed a shark ('an enormous fish of the tiger shark species').

Today also has a story on the beautiful island. Rottnest Island: A Health And Pleasure Resort is from October 13, 1911, and features another buried lead.

'The opening up of Rootnest Island as a health and pleasure resort was a development to which the late Colonial Secretary (Mr J.D. Connolly) applied himself with much earnestness during the five years that he held Ministerial office.'

The island would be ready for the public not later than December 1 next...boring for water was proceeding...a bowling green and tennis court would also be provided.

The gaol and reformatory buildings were converted to: three sitting-rooms, drawing-room, dining-room, lounge, 2 card rooms, billiard rooms, 38 bedrooms, kitchen, with servery, pantry, etc., and 10 bathrooms (and lavatories).

Tremendous stuff. To stay close to the bogs and pool tables, 'the tariff had been fixed at 8s. per day, or 2 pounds 2s. per week.' I wonder how that converts into today's money?

You could also use the phones at the hostel and tourist camping reserve: they worked on the "penny in the slot" principle. Whatever that was.

Monday, June 02, 2008

orwell that ends well

The links between Rotto and some other things aren't always apparent, so we're grateful to Perth Now for revealing the link between the beautiful island and Big Brother.

(Wait a minute. Thinking about it, there's already a link. Big Brother rules Oceania, of which Rotto is a part. We're all Ingsoc speakers).

But we digress. 'PERTH real estate agent Terrence Hardie - 51 - is undaunted by the prospect of mixing with a younger generation when he enters the Big Brother house on Sunday', reported PN on the weekend.

Terrence loves West Perth, wants to comprehend Gen Y - and spends time twice a year on Rottnest.

'Hope he does his Quasimodo skit he made famous at Rottnest', says a comment on PN.

"I am in a Rottnest Island club called the Winnit Club and go to camp there every Christmas and Easter," he explained.

"We are in a huge tent and I do lots of skits. I have been allowed to pack my Quasimodo outfit - so I will be doing Quasimodo in the house."

Rotto Bloggo doesn't watch a lot of Big Brother but we wish Terrence well. Any friend of Rottnest is a friend of ours.

fishing haiku #23

The tide is turning

In a rapture of the deep

The line drops for rain.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

aren't all gropers blue?

No more catching any western blue groper at Rotto. The Man has said from today the fishies will be safe within the Rottnest Island Marine Reserve, which includes all waters surrounding the island, extending to about two km offshore.

“The shallow reefs around Rottnest Island provide an ideal environment for divers to observe these iconic fish in their natural habitat,” Fisheries Minister Jon Ford said.

“Protecting these wonderful fish in this unique area will add to the dive tourism values of Rottnest - and add to the environmental legacy we leave for future generations.”

Right right. "Blue groper are a serious angling proposition and present an exciting fishing challenge to anglers that chase big fish off our rocky southern coastline", says this Western Angler page. Not any more.

"Blue groper are best recognised by their prominent fleshy lips and peg-like teeth. Smaller specimens are generally found inshore and are greyish brown in colour, to match their surrounding habitat. As they mature and grow their colour changes through olive green to a glorious blue as they grow larger and move offshore," says the WA.

The fishing on Rotto last week was very satisfying. Rotto Bloggo's associate believes you have to put in maximum effort to get to a choice fishing spot - as you can see from the photo we had to endure a vertiginous descent before we could wet our lines. Getting back up was a toil as well.

Not sure what the green fish is here but we threw him back.