Tuesday, July 29, 2008

rottnest romance #15

Another 500 word drip-feed from Chapter Two of Rottnest Romance, the only known Bills and Moon novel to be set on the beautiful island. Larissa is as cross as a frog in a sock about Nick's plans for Parakeet Bay. Will he brain her with the wedges bowl, or run her over with a bulldozer? We hope she does something dramatic at the end of the argument, like throwing wine in his face or kneeing him in the nuts. Go Larissa!
"Those are pretty strong accusations."

"Accusations that are probably quite accurate," she retorted.

Beside them Ashleigh had been swiveling her head back and forth from Larissa to Nick as each of them spoke. She was wide-eyes at this sudden antagonism between them. Larissa thought sourly that she would probably gang up with Nick after she had got over her initial surprise.

All of his easy good nature had evaporated by now. "You have a rather narrow view of the issue," Larissa."

"I don't think so. Despite your undoubted business acumen, I suspect you're the one with the narrow viewpoint."

He leant his arms on the table, and fixed her with a hard look. "Even though you haven't given any details to back up your accusations I think I can sum up your opinions as regards my project."

"Go on, then," she invited him defiantly.

"All you can see is a development being built where previously there was nothing. If you had your way nothing new would be built - anywhere."

"That's my point," she said fiercely. "There isn't just nothing there now.
Just because there aren't houses or shops or paved roads doesn't mean that it's utterly vacant."

He was starting to look skeptical. "Oh dear," he said, "I think we have a hard-line conservationist sitting with us."

She tried to keep a rein on her temper. "That's right - don't think about what I'm saying. Just slap a label on me."

"No, let's think about it then. When you're saying there isn't "nothing" in parakeet Bay you're referring to animals, I suppose?"

"Not only animals - a whole ecosystem exists there. Birds, animals, plants, marine life.a very complex system."

"And I'm going to destroy this elaborate ecosystem with my clumsy arrival, is that it?" He said it with a straight face, but she detected a hint of sarcasm.

"Go on, be sarcastic. You're not really interested in what's going to happen after you move in there."

"But you're certainly interested in telling me."

"No I'm not, because you're not interested in listening."

Beside them Ashleigh cleared her throat. The noise made them both turn and look at her.

"Excuse me, guys," she said, "but you're both getting kind of loud, and attracting quite a bit of attention."

Larissa glanced around and saw that she was right - quite a few heads had turned their way as a result of that last exchange, and they were getting some curious stares.

She took a deep breath, and willed herself to speak in a normal voice. The last thing she wanted was a public slanging match. If things got out of hand here it would be all over the island tomorrow.

"I'm sorry for raising my voice at you," she said evenly, "I get rather involved in discussions of this nature."

"So it would seem," Ashleigh remarked dryly.

"Nick said nothing. He twirled his wine glass between his fingers while looking at Larissa - sizing her up, it seemed.

Monday, July 28, 2008

rotto on the schmap

We had an offer we could refuse recently: an online publisher asked if she could use one of our Hawaii photos from last year.

We love our on-an-angle pic of the Marriott Maui Ocean Club, but we politely declined. Well, we clicked a button.

Schmap is “a powerful desktop application that gives you a world of additional trip planning convenience, including options to take virtual tours and custom-print full-colour guides…we’ve schmapped 200 destinations…add a schmap to your website or blog…show friends where you live…let hotel guests see your great location…help vacationers find your rental.”

Hmmmm. From Rotto Bloggo’s ignorant viewpoint, it’s not an app that’s going to shake the world. We know mashups are all the rage, and convergence is king, yadda yadda…but there’s no payment for photos being used.

We assume Schmap’s Emma J. Williams had to pay for doing a deal with a street directory, and has to pay for hardware and bandwidth. Why shoouldn’t she pay for using photos too?

We had a look at her Flickr account – see here. There are countless enthusiastic thank-yous from people who’ve had their photos chosen. It’s worth reading down to see the occasional rant from someone who resents being asked if their photo can be used gratis.

“…they prey on the egos of photographers that think somehow being "published" is valuable consideration for their work. If you give these guys (or anyone) free photos you are contributing to the demise of the photography business as a whole.”

You think? Is this sentiment right? Or is Rotto Bloggo behind the times and erring by not embracing the Creative Commons thing?

What is the Rottnest, connection, I hear my thousands of readers asking?

Schmap has a Perth map. It’s a work in progress, shall we say. There are a few photos of the beautiful island there. Alas in the Rotto chapter there’s one of a place called ‘freemantle’, too.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

rottnest romance #14

In Barry Humphries' memoir there's a passage where he's having dinner with his parents at a nice Melbourne restuarant. Without warning, a female guest a few tables away jumps up and screams, "This spaghetti is shithouse". Barry describes it as his first glimpse of alcoholism. There's no sign of our heroine Larissa Kidd being a dipso - but her seething could soon see her go postal...

How could she, part of a small group with a deep concern for the environment of Rottnest, have any effect on what he planned to do? Was there any point in even trying? If she was thinking about a battle, then it was most likely over before it had begun. Her concerns and worries may as well not exist, for all the real importance they had.

Linda returned to the table, apologizing for not having taken their plates sooner. As he engaged her in conversation again Larissa reflected he was part of the real world. He was a businessman and he would complete his project in Parakeet Bay. That would create more jobs for people like Linda, as more and more tourists came to the island to take holidays in his cottages – it was the cycle of business, and it would never stop.

She felt a sudden spurt of anger. It may be unrealistic of her, but she was still worried about Nick’s development. There had to be some other way of doing things…there must be. She was damned if she was going to sit meekly by and passively watch things go ahead. And she definitely wasn’t going to assist him with his plans.

As Linda left she fixed him with a determined look.

“Nick, I have to tell you under no circumstances can I act as an advisor to you.”

He looked at her. “Well, as I said, you don’t have to decide immediately…”

“I have decided,” she said firmly. “I don’t want anything to do with your project.”

The expression on his face was still neutral. “Oh. Well, you seem to have made your decision, then. I suppose I must accept it.”

There was a pause, and he didn’t seem disposed to take the matter any further. After a moment she asked, with a trace of defiance, “Aren’t you curious as to why I’ve said no?”

This time his look had some wariness about it. “Alright then – why have you said no?”

“I don’t want anything to do with it because I think it’s wrong.”

“Wrong?” he echoed, mystified. “Why do you say that?”

Gaining courage, she continued. “Because all you want to do is make money from your precious development – you don’t care about anything else.”

“Of course I want to make money – that’s why…”

“Yes, that’s all you think about. Money, and making your fortune. Never mind what has to be sacrificed to make that happen.”

“Now, what just a minute – I think you…”

“Have you even begun to consider what impact your project is going to have on Parakeet Bay? Or what this island is going to lose because of your activity?”

He was frowning now. “If you’ll just let me answer, Larissa,” he started again, with irritation in his voice.

But she continued, carried away by the momentum of her anger. “You’re just going to breeze in here and finish your plans, and congratulate yourself on how clever you are. Then you’ll go away very pleased with yourself, too ignorant to see the damage you’ll do.”

Saturday, July 26, 2008

rotto book list

Our Rotto book list is at an advanced stage. Not on here is 'Mental Floss Presents Condensed Knowledge: A Deliciously Irreverent Guide to Feeling Smart Again'. Thanks to Amazon Online Reader we see the book claims the first three keepers of the Wadjemup lighthouse all killed themselves.

"The lighthouse...is famous not only for being the first rotating beam lighhouse on that continent but also because its first three keepers all committed suicide!" Love that jaunty excalamtion mark. This was supposedly because of the pool of mercury that supported the lens. Could be true?

Alas, Rottnest Romance is not on here. We guess it's being published, gradually, but it hasn't been published in full so far. Another thrilling 500 words soon.

The Artist’s Rottnest by Ted Snell
Rottnest Island in History and Legend: Its discovery and development, natural beauties, fauna and flora by W Somerville
Rottnest Island: History and Architecture by R.J. Ferguson
Rottnest "Fair Isle." Praised in Prose and Picture by Arnold Hamer
Gone To Rottnest by Trea Wiltshire
Rottnest Island Sketchbook by Kirwan Ward and Paul Rigby
The biology of the mountain duck on Rottnest Island, Western Australia by T. Riggert
The Fishes of Rottnest Island by Barry Hutchins
Fremantle and Rottnest: Buildings Classified & Recorded by the National Trust by Marie Cownie
The Rottnest Bike Business by Susan Burke
Man, Marsupials and Muscle: Investigation of Muscular Paralysis Occurring in the Rottnest Island Quokka by Byron A. Kakulas
Isle of Girls by Eleanor Smith
Rottnest Island: A Documentary History by Prue Joske et al
Nuteeriat Nut trees, the expanding earth, Rottnest Island and all that by David Noel
Rottnest: Its tragedy and its glory by Edward Jack Watson
The Colours of Rottnest: 300th Anniversary published by Rottnest Island Foundation
Birds of Rottnest Island: A Checklist by D. Saunders and Perry De Rebeira
Introduction to the marine environment of Rottnest Island, Western Australia by F. E. Wells and D. I. Walker
Rottnest Isle of Youth by John T. Macmahon
Far from Home: Aboriginal Prisoners of Rottnest Island 1838-1931 by Neville Green and Susan Moon
The Rottnest Biological Station and Recent Scientific Research by E. P. Hodgkin and K. Sheard
All The News in a Flash: Rottnest Communications 1829-1979 by John Moynihan
The Marine Flora and Fauna of Rottnest Island, Western Australia by F. E. Wells
Rotto: The Alternate Guidebook to Rottnest Island - WA's Summer Playground published by WA Ferry Operators
The Natural Features of Rottnest Island by B K Bowen, C F H Jenkins, N G Marchant, P E Playford and G R W Meadly
Rottnest Island: Western Australia's Premier Island Holiday Resort (Season 1928-29) published by Rottnest Board of Control
The Quokka Question: A Kylie Kendall Mystery by Claire McNab
Quokka Island by Leslie Rees
What on Earth is a Quokka by Jenny E. Tesar
Quokka Tale by Stefan Mager
Quentin: a Story of a Little Quokka by Hilaire Natt
Tertiary Microplankton from the Rottnest Island Bore, Western Australia by IC Cookson and A Elsenackt

Friday, July 25, 2008

rottnest romance #13

They're still in the restaurant. Thank god it's not a six-hour degustation.
Nick reveals he's good with his hands. Will Larissa club him to death with a Black & Decker spirit level? Read on as we move into the exciting second half of Chapter Two...
"How's your bruschetta?" she heard him enquire.

"She looked up, about to say it was delicious, but saw he was talking to Ashleigh.

"Not bad," Ashleigh said. It was the closest so far she had come to being complimentary Larissa had heard.

Larissa had a feeling of - what? - annoyance Nick hadn't been asking her how her food was. Why was that? She was getting rather tired of hearing him go on about his building project - why would she want him to speak to her about anything else?

With a frown she tried to clear the question from her mind. Although it was probably the last thing she wanted to know about, she decided to find out some details about the man opposite her.

"How long have you been a developer, Nick?"

"All my working life," he answered. "It's pretty well all I know how to do."

"How did you get started?"

"From the bottom up. I began studying to be an architect at university, and financed my studies by working on building sites."

"Do you mean labouring?"

"That's right - hard physical work, out in all kinds of weather. I learnt how to do it from scratch."

Larissa glanced at his expensive clothes and Rolex watch and reflected that lately he didn't seem to have to do much of the building himself. Ashleigh seemed to think the same, because she drawled, "You don't often have to get your hands dirty now, though, do you Nick?"

He shrugged, and gave a fleeting smile. "I've been successful. I can employ people to do all the hard work for me now."

"How did you come to choose Rottnest for your next big scheme?"

"By the usual process - although I did have some good fortune as well."

"Oh? How was that?"

"The project was announced in the usual way, by public tender. The island also contacted me and asked if I'd be interested. I lodged my tender, which was provisionally accepted."

She wasn't part of 'the island' that seemed so keen for Nick to start building, she thought fiercely. "Good for you, then," she commented. Her voice must have sounded less than enthusiastic, as they both glanced at her with curious looks.

She hurriedly came out with another question. "What do you mean, that your tender was only provisionally accepted?"

"The deadline is next week. I have to hand in all the documents by then. But there's no problem there. We just came to Rottnest to look the place over and finalise details in the cottage design."

As he spoke he looked confident and relaxed. At his side Ashleigh was sipping at her glass of wine. Larissa had a sudden feeling of helplessness as she sat with these two dynamic, well-dressed people who radiated confidence. It seemed inevitable that the development was going to proceed. Nick was a successful and energetic businessman, with every intention of making his latest project a credit to his portfolio.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

treated worse than a quokka

An associate of Rotto Bloggo took us on a walk down memory lane the other day. His scrapbooks were filled with front page ball-tearers from the late, loved, lamented Daily News (of blessed memory).

The yarns included an agreeably high number of Rottnest stories. There was a story with then-shinybum Chris Back who said despite recent price increases, the beautiful island was still tremendously affordable. This was 1986. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Another one about a man who had been assualted was puzzling. Rotto Bloggo was baffled.

The bloke said he'd been treated worse than a quokka by the state's legal system.

"He is bitter because a stranger who punched and kicked him at a party was fined merely $200 for assualt," the yarn reported.

"If he had kicked a quokka at Rottnest he'd have gone to jail," the bloke complained.

Hmm. But how was the bloke treated worse than the quokka? They were both kicked. Well, the theoretical quokka was kicked, but you know what we mean.

Surely the bloke meant to say the bloke who kicked him was treated better than the theoretical bloke who kicked the quokka.

The Daily: will we see its like again?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

rottnest romance #12

Another thrilling 500 words in the only Bills & Moon romance set on Rottnest: Rottnest Romance. It was titillation in Thomson Bay when we were last with our hero and heroine. Larissa had been forced, kicking and screaming, to sit at handsome Nick's table for dinner. It can't be too long before they're eating oysters and asparagus off each other's bellies...once they're done discussing peacocks...
He gave her a puzzled look, while Ashleigh snickered.

“That’s not quite what I had in mind,” he eventually said. Was he just a little peeved, she wondered? Too bad, then.

But he seemed to shrug it off. “When I was speaking to your sister this morning,” he said, “she mentioned that you’re quite an expert on anything to do with Rottnest.”

“I wouldn’t label myself as an expert,” she said, suspiciously.

“You’re being too modest, I’m sure. I’d like to take advantage of your local knowledge, and get your advice of some of my plans for Parakeet Bay.” He gave her an encouraging smile. “What do you say?”

Absolutely not, she wanted to firmly reply. “I don’t know if it would really be a good idea, actually,” she said hesitantly instead. “I’m in no way an expert on building or anything like that.”

“That doesn’t worry me in the slightest – I’m the builder. What I think would be good would be input from a local person – and I think you would be ideal.”

How could she get out of this? She tried a different tack.

“I’m actually involved in running a business of my own – or had you forgotten that? I don’t think I’d be able to spare the time.”

“Oh, I understand it would be business,” he said, looking surprised. “A fee would be payable to you, of course, for your time and expertise. That would only be fair.”

Once again the irony of the situation struck her. She was being offered money to do something which went entirely against her beliefs and ideals. It was obvious that her sister hadn’t told Nick about her rather passionate interests – if she had, then he wouldn’t be as keen to get her involved in his plans.

“Well, let me think about it,” she said, trying to sound unconvinced. “But I can’t promise anything, you understand.”

“Of course,” he assured her.

“Have you seen the peacocks yet?” she asked, wanting to change the subject.

“Yes!” he said, smiling. “At first, seeing them from a distance, I didn’t realise what they were, but then they spread out their feathers. They’re very striking.”

“They’re not as common as the quokkas – or as friendly – but they are another feature of the island.”

Linda appeared at their table, with their first course. As the plates were put on the table Larissa had a sudden thought about the offer Nick had just made. Why didn’t she act against her initial instincts, and accept? That way she could find out a lot about his plans for Parakeet Bay. Any information she could obtain would probably be extremely useful to her and her friends. They could be in a much better position to hinder the development.

How could she do that, she wondered, as she picked up a slice of bruschetta. If Marjorie found out she would never forgive her – Larissa would never hear the end of it. And, really, the ethics of the idea were a bit suspect. She would in fact be deceiving Nick if she agreed to give him advice, and instead only planned to try and sabotage his project. It would be wrong…it might even be criminally wrong.

All the same, it was a tempting notion.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

rotto facebooko

We were grateful to outstanding local blogger The Perth Files for making Rotto Bloggo his Rottnest Correspondent in his Facebook blog network.

It prompted us to have a mooch through Facebook to see what sort of stuff there is on the beautiful island.

Good to see the RIA has the official Facebook fan group. We promptly joined, and was the 4726th person to do so. It has some good discussion boards and video, including inside the Wadjemup lighthouse.

We loved 'I lived at Rottnest, SUCKED IN', 'I'm in the 2008 Rottnest Channel Swim', and the QPG: 'Quokka Protection Group'. Lots of stuff to explore.

Most intriguing, however, was this group: the Rottnest Island Pingers (The R.I.P). Their page says their group is for "anyone who has missioned on Rottnest Island in the early hours of the morning".

Goodness. A religious cult? We had to investigate further before we joined. It seems the Pingers have more secular interests. This video is fun: it's called 'I'll do anything for a Pinger', and features a young gel in a hoodie snorting sherbet, a la coke, up her nose after the powdery confection has been chopped up with a credit card. At the end she says, "I'll do anything for a pinger", much to her pals' amusement.

The Pingers' photos are intriguing. They operate in the wee hours, on various Rotto landmarks, with plenty of ciggies and drinks at hand. One of the people in the photo is a Fitzhardinge. If only they'd missioned on the bungalow of the same name.

Monday, July 14, 2008

give me your answer true

An alert reader has pointed out Larissa’s boat (see episodes of Rottnest Romance) is named after an island flower.

Yes indeed. At times there’s nothing much Rotto-related on eBay – but there’s usually a listing or two of Rotto Island pine seeds and/or Rotto Island Daisy seeds.

“Trachymene caerulea…is a long flowering annual growing to 60 centimetres (2 feet) which produces lovely long-stemmed medium blue pom pom like flowers up to 5 centimetres in diameter in summer,” says the eBay description.

“The flowers last well for an indoor display. This delightful plant is easy to grow in a range of climates and is ideal for containers and as a bedding plant. Plant in full sun or part shade. They flower in the same year as planted.”

Mr Fothergill says daisies are bright purple, pincushion-like flowers on attractive, low-growing plants. The RIA says it’s also known as the blue lace flower, and it’s “actually” a member of the carrot family. “It is now grown throughout the world as an ornamental garden plant.”

The RIA says rising sea levels thousands of years ago created Rotto fauna.

“Rottnest was partly submerged and became 11 small islands. Exposure to salt and wind eliminated hundreds of species at that time so that today there are only about 140 indigenous species left on the Island.”

Sunday, July 13, 2008

rottnest romance #11

The narrative trundles along. We're in the restaurant - Larissa should have had tofu burgers at home. Nick reveals his one track mind. Larissa lets slip about her morning missile called Buster. Ashleigh is bored with it all. Caution: conversation about feeding quokkas will give RIA rangers heart attacks.
He shook his head. “Not yet. We’re planning to mount an expedition and ride around tomorrow. You never know, there might be other areas ripe for development as well.”

That sounds ghastly, she thought grimly. Why couldn’t he be content with messing up only one part of the island? Did he have to be so eager about what else he could spoil?

“You might be on your own again, Nick,” his assistant said. “The idea of having to propel myself around this sandy piece of rock doesn’t appeal to me, I can tell you now.”

There was an uncomfortable pause at the table.

Larissa wished the woman would say one positive thing about Rottnest. She seemed to take a delight in being negative about what was, after all, her home.

The awkward moment was broken by the arrival of Linda to take their orders. Nick was friendly and chatty, and made Linda smile as he told her what he wanted, while Ashleigh persisted with her suffering martyr attitude.

As Nick settled back into his chair he gave Larissa an amused glance. “I don’t want to offend your vegetarian principles, but I wonder if restaurants here have ever considered putting quokka on the menu?”

She gave him a guarded look. After a moment she decided he was merely being playful. “Perhaps it has occurred to them, but I can tell you there would be an uproar if they ever tried.”

“I’m sure there would be,” he admitted, grinning. “They are rather endearing, aren’t they? Are they only found here on Rottnest?”

“Mainly here, with some in the state’s south-west. My best friend is a quokka, actually. His name is Buster, and he usually comes to visit me first thing in the morning. I feed him, and then sometimes he runs amok in my garden.” She stopped, catching sight of an amused grin on his face. Why was she gabbling on like this?

Ashleigh joined in. “They give me the creeps. They look like giant rats – ugh.”

“You’re not the first person to think that,” Larissa told her. “The island got its name from Dutch explorers in the seventeenth century. They mistook the quokkas for giant rats, and came up with the name Rotte Nest.”

Ashleigh gave her a bored look. “Fascinating.”

Larissa felt a prick of annoyance, but Nick smoothly re-entered the conversation. “They’re very tame, aren’t they…I notice that generally they’ll let people feed them.”

She nodded. “Yes, in the more populated areas like Thomson Bay they’ll eat out of your hand. But in the wild they tend to keep their distance.”

“I wonder,” he mused, “if I could work the quokka into my new development. Have it as a mascot, or something like that. How does that sound to you?”

For goodness’ sake, she thought: did everything he say and do come back to his blasted project? Talk about a one-track mind. With an edge to her voice she replied: “If you want to use our native marsupial in your project, how about each cottage having a quokka-shaped letterbox outside the front door? That would certainly be a striking feature.”

Friday, July 11, 2008


We’ve had some fame: Rotto Bloggo is in the latest Rottnest Islander (‘Your essential guide to WA’s holiday island’) as mentioned last month.

There’s a nice pic pointer to page seven above the masthead (‘Meet the man behind our own blog’) with the Scrabble image you see at the top of the screen.

The article is very satisfactory – as you would expect, since we wrote it – and there’s another pic of Rotto Bloggo with a monster on the end of the line while fishing at Fay’s Bay.

The Rottnest Islander isn’t bad. There advertorial about Subway (the RIA and the Rotto business community pay money to the Islander), but most of it is fair to excellent.

The front page story blares CONFIDENCE ON A HIGH!: “As Rottnest Island continues to break visitor records – more people visited the island in may than at any other time in history – business confidence has also hit an all-time high.”

How has this ascent been measured? “More than $70 million is due to be invested in the island by private companies”. The Quokka Arms restoration, new Dome and new leases are listed – but no mention of the new Mt Herschel hotel. Why not?

A postcard souvenir of a flight to the beautiful island is reproduced: it assures passengers the plane was manned by Teetotal Pilots.

A woman who had a heart and double lung transplant rode her bike to the West End…a pic of a sand dune blowout at Parker Point…a feature on the Shardlow family…another feature on the salt lakes…an obituary on a guide…it’s all good.

In other publications: the doctors’ union Medicus is advertising work on Rotto for next year: “The AMA is seeking expressions of interest for locum assignments on Rottnest Island for 2009. Minimum two weeks commitment is preferred for this assignment. For further information regarding these vacancies please contact Stacey Dorph-Petersen on 9273 3033 or email Stacey.D@amawa.com.au

Thursday, July 10, 2008

rottnest romance #10

The next choice 500 words from Rottnest Romance. Will it win the Miles Franklin or the Man Booker? I wouldn't be surprised. The scintillating story so far: Larissa wanted a quiet dinner but - fancy! - ended up sitting with evil money-grubbing scum-of-the-earth developer Nick at the same table. She proceeds to lick jus off his torso - hang on, no, will they even get to dessert before Larissa chucks a tanty? Read on...


“Was it a business or a social event?” he pressed her.

“Social – and not very interesting. Why aren’t you eating at your hotel?” she asked, hoping to deflect his curiosity.

“We had lunch there today. We thought we’d try somewhere different for dinner.”

As he spoke Larissa saw Ashleigh Kane walk towards them. She was wearing an expensive-looking blood-red dress that hugged her body.

As Ashleigh took her seat Larissa noted that she touched Nick’s shoulder for a moment. That gesture, and the fact he hadn’t been ostentatiously polite to her, told her they were intimate – perhaps lovers.

So what? It wasn’t her business.

She greeted Ashleigh, and asked, “Are you feeling better now after your rest?”

“I’m fine now, thanks. Have you ordered yet, Nick?”

He shook his head. “No, not yet. What are you going to have?”

Ashleigh’s gold jewelry caught Larissa’s eye: she wore several bracelets and a big earring in each ear. To match her dress, Ashleigh had bright red lipstick, lots of makeup and black strappy shoes. ‘How wrong for Rottnest’, thought Larissa.

“I don’t think I want anything. The menu seems a bit limited here. Are there any better places to eat on this island?”

That was a bit unfair, Larissa thought. “The food is really good here, Ashleigh – I’m sure you’ll like it.”

The other woman just shrugged. Larissa wondered how long it would be before she could leave without seeming rude.

“You have an uncommon family name, Larissa,” Nick said. “Kidd – how did you come by that?”

“We think our ancestors were from Britain and came out with the First Fleet,” she explained. “Apparently it’s an old Scottish name.”

“It was also the name of an infamous pirate – William Kidd, from Greenock, Scotland. Rather appropriate really, seeing you run a sea-faring business,” he smiled.

“Appropriate in what way?” she asked guardedly.

“I notice on my map there have been quite a few shipwrecks around Rottnest. Doesn’t that conjure up pictures of pirates and sunken treasure to you?”

“No,” she said bluntly, “although you are right about the shipwrecks. There have been about a dozen or so on reefs around the island in the past hundred and fifty years.”

“Have there been any around Parakeet Bay?” he asked.

“I don’t think so. Up until now people have had the good sense to stay away from that particular area,” she said pointedly.

It was as if Nick hadn’t heard her. “We went out to Parakeet Bay today, in fact – or rather I did. Ashleigh was still resting and didn’t fancy a bike ride.”

“Yes?” Larissa tried to sound interested. She didn’t want to hear the details about how the Bay was going to be developed – destroyed, in her view. “What did you do there?”

“Looked around. Generally got a feel for the area. It’s very scenic out there – quite beautiful.”

“It certainly is,” she agreed. She wanted to add, ‘Then why are you determined to ruin it with your big plans?’ but stopped herself.

Instead she asked, “Have you seen anything else of the island?”

Monday, July 07, 2008

petite lodgings

How about this for some excellent Rottnest design!

We noticed these images on Flickr: suzieq* is a Curtin student who visited Rotto as part of her studies. Her design gets the thumbs-up from Rotto Bloggo. We love the old buildings, but we love this idea as well…

“We studied typologies, or formal spatial patterns, in plan,” suzieq* says. “We developed a series of petite lodgings based on this research, my own based upon a use of simple structure and light to emphasize what was most important, eg. movement throughout the space/progression etc.

”The second part of the project progressed these ideas into the formation of a ensemble comprised of a wall, stair, cafe, jetty, change rooms & lookout each based on a formal pattern, playing their own role in defining a space. Only two materials were allowed to be used.

”We visited Rottnest, specifically Thomson Bay for a weekend site analysis with emphasis placed on us trying to explore our ideas of the Island's atmosphere.

”My design is based around the idea of filtering nature, blurring boundaries between the built and natural environment - which is such a prevalent part of Rottnest.

”So in response I designed light, almost entirely timber structures (in contrast to the historic masonry structures): pavilions and outdoor spaces in which the elements are felt, experienced but not uncomfortable. Passive cooling is explored with a timber louvered skin flanking the north and east (also used in response to eliminating the use of glass) while the site chosen is quite naturally sheltered during the winter months.

”The back of the cafe is protected and hidden by the dunes where a concrete fire place generates warmth on the coldest days for the few visitors. The building's flexible nature lends to an opening up in summer when the island fills begins to crowd.

”Work areas are finished with polish and rough cast concrete bench tops, furniture is simple reminiscent of a park bench. The typography is reflected in the change of levels which define different spaces...”

Sunday, July 06, 2008

rottnest romance #9

The only Bills and Moon novel ever to be set on the beautiful island ploughs on. In our latest episode, Larissa has been brooding over a pot of Earl Grey all day after Nick stomped around her bedroom. Now she's looking forward to a nice dinner of spotted dick washed down with a Slow Comfortable Screw on the Beach...

This made the restaurant popular, and a frown crossed her face as she saw the crowded interior. It seemed as though every table was occupied from where she was standing. There were also a few people milling about at the reception desk – they were probably waiting for tables.

She decided to have a word with the head waitress, who she knew well, to see if she could somehow be bumped up the waiting list.

Spotting her by the entrance to the wine cellar, Larissa went over.

“Hi, Linda. Are you really busy tonight?”

“Larissa! Hi. There’s a bit of a queue, yes. Is this a social call, or do you want to eat?”

“I’m starving! But if you’re full then I’d better…”

“I’m sure we can fit you in somewhere,” Linda smiled at her. “Would you mind sharing a table with someone else?”

“No, that would be fine.”

“Let me just have a quick look.” Linda darted into the busy restaurant and returned a few seconds later. “You’re in luck – there’s a spare seat at table seven, by the window.”

“That’s a lot, Linda. I owe you one.”

She smiled, and rushed away. Larissa threaded her way through tables towards her chair. As she neared table seven her walk slowed, and instead of taking her seat she stopped and looked at the diner already seated there.

Nick Montagu looked up from his menu. He looked relaxed in a green shirt, black jeans and boots. “Larissa! A pleasant surprise! Please, take a seat,” he said, standing and indicating the chair in front of him.

Oh no, she thought morosely. Of all the people on Rottnest, I have to share a table with the one I’d least prefer. She looked around, hoping that some miracle would occur and another table would become free.

“It’s pretty busy in here,” he said, seeming to read her mind. “I don’t think another table will be free for a while.” He moved over and pulled out a chair. “Please – allow me,” he said gallantly.

With great reluctance she allowed herself to be seated. It would have seemed churlish of her to refuse, after he had been so polite.

Sitting down again, he asked, “Would you like to see a menu?”

“No thank you,” she coolly replied. “I know what they have here.”

“Of course you would – perhaps you can recommend something?”

“The lasagna is good. And the salads are always excellent.”

He looked again at his menu. “They have a lot of seafood on offer – what would you recommend from there?”

She gave him a level look. “Actually, I’m a vegetarian.”

He raised a brow at that. “Then you wouldn’t know if I should choose the prawns or the mussels. I think I’ll have the chili prawns. I thought you said you had plans for tonight?”

His question caught her by surprise, and she remembered the excuse she had made earlier in the day to his invitation. “Yes, I did, but it finished earlier than expected,” she fibbed.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

supposed to fire my imagination

What a marvellous paper is the POST. Today they have our story on the survey (Rotto Bloggo got the whole survey after 11 months slog, you'll recall). Patience and persistence was rewarded.

Visitors to Rottnest Island are less satisfied with many businesses and the accommodation there.

A survey commissioned by the Rottnest Island Authority reveals what people do on the island, where they spend their money, how they get to the island – and what they think of it all.

The POST had to use Freedom of Information laws to get sections of the survey. It took 11 months before the full document was released by the RIA.

The survey interviewed 686 visitors to Rottnest in a 12-month period to June 2006.
They were asked to rate their experiences as ‘very dissatisfied’, ‘dissatisfied’, ‘very satisfied’, ‘satisfied’, or ‘neither’.

The general store, bakery, Dome café, tearooms and Quokka Arms hotel were the most-used businesses.

Satisfaction levels for the goods and services at the general store, Dome café, tearooms and hotel all declined compared to the previous year.

At the bakery there was in increase in satisfaction with its service, but more dissatisfaction with its products.

Businesses with the highest levels of dissatisfaction were Captain’s Kitchen at Kingston Barracks, where over a quarter of visitors were very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with both the food and service, and the hair and beauty salon, where 43 per cent were very dissatisfied or dissatisfied.

At the Dome and the hotel, nearly a fifth of customers were either very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with service.

Eleven per cent of patrons of the Red Rooster outlet were either very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with its food, and the tearooms had 12 per cent of visitors very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with its service.

Businesses that received the most number of satisfied and very satisfied assessments were the general store (87 per cent), the Geordie Bay store (82 per cent), the Indianic boutique (81 per cent), and the cinema (78 per cent).

The survey also revealed how people travel to Rottnest.

Nearly a third took a Rottnest Express ferry, while a fifth went with Boat Torque.
Sixteen per cent took their own boat, and 11 per cent used Oceanic Cruises.

Of the 686 people interviewed, more than half were staying overnight or enjoying an extended visit on the island.

Nearly a third of those people stayed in villas. About a fifth were in units, and 15 per cent stayed in Kingstown and in tents.

Ten per cent were either very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with their accommodation, with another 20 per cent neutral.

The greatest unhappiness was with linen and bedding: 26 per cent were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, and 27 per cent neutral.

Only 47 per cent were satisfied or very satisfied.

Furniture and fittings weren’t far behind in the unhappiness stakes. 22 per cent were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, and 25 per cent were neutral.

The ratings for standard of accommodation, cleanliness, cutlery and crockery, maintenance services and luggage delivery were better.

Overall, there were high levels of satisfaction with accommodation: bungalows fared the best, while cottages fared the worst.

Tents and villas were the only accommodation types that had some very dissatisfied people.

People liked the guided tours, although 80 per cent of visitors said they didn’t go on the two-hour coach tour, or see the Oliver Hill guns and tunnels, or go on quokka walks or Aboriginal history tour or visit the lighthouse.

10 per cent of visitors said their expectations weren’t met – up from six per cent in the previous year.

A fifth said their expectations were exceeded, and 69 per cent said their expectations were met.

The vast majority of people said they would return to Rottnest and would recommend it to others.

Boaties were the least-satisfied group.

When it came to value for money, 81 per cent thought Rottnest was either ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Seven per cent said it was ‘poor’.

The most common reasons for giving the island a poor rating were the ferry costing too much and the food and accommodation being too expensive.

The POST’s first request for the survey results was made in July last year. The RIA refused to release them, saying it formed part of its business operations.

Some of the results are published in our annual reports,” said the RIA’s Penni Fletcher-Hughes.

“The report is not made available for the public.”

After a series of appeals, the information was released.

Friday, July 04, 2008

rottnest romance #8

It's a dark and stormy (emotionally) evening on the beautiful island. The gorgeous Larissa is as cross as a frog in a sock with her sister. She's peeved, ands wants to pick a bone. When will Nick and the sinister Ashleigh re-appear?
Still peeved, she went inside and answered it.

“Hi, it’s Marjorie. How did it go this morning?”

Larissa’s expression had hardened at the sound of her sister’s voice. “Boy, do I have a bone to pick with you.”

There had been a pause from the other end. “Don’t tell me you’re annoyed at having to meet the boat.”

“I wish that was the only reason. Are you ringing to check up on me, Marjorie? Making sure I didn’t forget to meet this Very Important Person?”

“Don’t be silly,” her sister had protested. “I just wanted to make sure they’d settled in OK.”

“You don’t have to worry about that. Mr Montagu managed to make himself quite at home.”

“That’s good,” Marjorie had said hesitantly, sounding as though she was somewhat put off by Larissa’s harsh tone.

“You had no right to tell him what you did.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know perfectly well what I mean! Saying that the cottage really belongs to the company, and of course he can barge in and look it over. It’s my home, Marjorie – I live here!”

“Well…I thought you wouldn’t mind all that much…”

“Of course I mind!”

“But Larissa, a contact with him could mean business for us. If we…”

“Yes, business with him – that’s another thing. Why didn’t you tell me what he was coming to Rottnest for?”

There had been silence from the other end.

“You knew he’s responsible for this new project in Parakeet Bay, didn’t you! And you weren’t going to tell me! You thought that if I knew then I wouldn’t have met him – am I right?”

“Actually,” Marjorie had begun slowly, “that had crossed my mind. But then I thought that you…”

Larissa had sliced into her sister’s excuses. “You had no right to treat me like that! My own sister! Since you think I can’t be trusted to act properly, I might just barge into Mr Montagu’s hotel room and tell him what I think of his grandiose plans for Rottnest! That’ll mess up your high hopes for the business, won’t it?”

Marjorie had begun to say something else, but Larissa had decided she’d talked enough. She had shouted into the receiver, “I don’t want to talk to you any more. And don’t ring me again today!” And with that parting shot she had slammed down the phone. As she stood there she had trembled with barely suppressed anger.

Now, several hours later as she strolled along in the dusk, she wondered if she had over-reacted with Marjorie. She hadn’t yelled at her like that in a long time. Perhaps she had gone over the top a little.

No, she told herself sternly, she hadn’t. Marjorie hadn’t been honest with her, and as a result had left her in a difficult situation. So son’t even think of ringing her and apologizing.

She reached the entrance to the restaurant. She had chosen to eat at a place which was past the main jetty and close to the shore. It had wonderful scenic views with its meals. Out on the water the lights of boats sparkled brightly, and much further away was the glimmer of lights on the mainland.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

'a dream for explorers'

More travel writing about the beautiful island today, at this News Ltd paper in the eastern states.

The report starts in the drizzle of a cliche: 'IT'S wildly dark and stormy in Perth as we hop on the early morning ferry and head south.' Hmm. Did she get on at Perth? It was a dark and stormy morning - perhaps she couldn't tell.

'Nothing, however, perturbs the hordes of excited kids – pillows, sleeping bags and fishing rods in hand – as mums and dads supervise the loading on of bikes. They giggle and scream with joy as the vessel lurches over the rollers and slams down into troughs. Three young Brit blokes, heading for a three-day stay, join in the kid's revelry while older Aussies and Asian couples hold on for dear life as we plough west.'

Sounds a bit like the opening to that outstanding Bills & Moon book Rottnest Romance. But soon all is well...

'Suddenly all is calm. The seas settle and the sun blazes as the small dot in the distance becomes recognisably Rottnest Island: broad sweeps of Thomson Bay, boats gently bobbing at anchor, T-shirted fisherfolk on the jetty and sunbathers on the sand.' Fisherfolk! Thomson Bay! Bobbing boats! It's all good.

The rest is OK. There's a bit of automatic writing (although not nearly as much as in Rottnest Romance) - for example: 'Surrounded by coral reefs and shipwrecks, diving and snorkelling are blissful.'

Thankfully she gets in a mention of the BHFFP: 'All groups and ages can get into the 18-hole putt-putt course, trampolines, video games and kiosk at Brett Heady's Family Fun Park'.

We love the cheesy 1980s photo (featuring pastels and boofy hair) supplied by Tourism WA, which we will upload in a bit.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

rottnest romance #7

The next episode: Larissa cools down over a nice Bushells while seething about the invasive Mr Montagu. She is as cross as a frog in a sock. And the narrative leaps effortlessly from Chapter One to Chapter Two - it's time for dinner...

With the door safely closed behind her, she thought she could now have that postponed cup of tea. She put the kettle on, and then made a quick check of where Nick had poked around. She didn’t suspect that he would have taken anything, of course – but it was just as well to check. And, in the living room, she saw that he had left the window wide open. He should have left it as he found it – shut tight.

A few minutes later, as she sat in her courtyard nursing a cup of tea, she thought back over the events of the morning.

Marjorie had asked her to meet and greet the enemy. She had aided the developer of Parakeet Bay with his ambition by somehow letting him examine every nook and cranny of her home. It was as though someone had decided that Larissa Kidd would have absolutely no control over her day.

What a morning. She scowled, and sipped more tea. Surely the day could only improve. What else could go wrong?

Chapter Two

Larissa realised she had been reading the same page of the book in her hand for the past five minutes. With a huff of discontent she tossed it aside, and sprang up out of the chair.

She felt restless. That was understandable, she thought – considering she had been cooped up in her cottage all day. It was now mid-evening, the sky was changing from light to dark and the air was warm and still. The heat of the summer day had passed – a perfect evening for a slow and leisurely stroll along the length of Thomson Bay.

But first, she should have some dinner. She didn’t feel like cooking for herself tonight, and on an impulse decided to eat at one of the island’s restaurants. She put on a black dress and a pink cardigan and slipped into some sandals. Her small gold watch and diamond studded earrings complemented her honey blond hair. She let herself out of the cottage, locking the door behind her.

As she walked along the road which led into the main area of Thomson Bay she resolved to have a pleasant evening. This morning she had stalked around her cottage after Nick had left, her mood gradually becoming blacker and grimmer. She had chastised herself for letting him weasel his way into her home – in retrospect, she was convinced she’d been a pushover. She should have shown some fibre, and flatly refused permission for him to go inside. Especially after learning what he was visiting Rottnest for. How could she? Why hadn’t she stuck to her principles? She felt rather disillusioned with herself.

It had, she reflected, been like having an intruder in her home – albeit a polite and elegantly-dressed intruder. She tossed her blond hair angrily out of her eyes as she remembered how they had nearly bumped into each other in her bedroom. Didn’t he have any notion of respect for other people’s privacy?

An hour after he had left, her phone had rung.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Rottnest rocks

We know Rottnest is the antipode of Bermuda. Or is it the other way around?

Anyway…the beautiful island and its far-away equivalent have more in common than appears at first geographical think. We got our rocks off with this information, ‘Stratigraphy and timing of eolianite deposition on Rottnest Island, Western Australia’, by a boffin at a Queensland uni.

Would you believe: “Over 100 whole-rock amino acid racemization (AAR) ratios from outcrops around Rottnest Island (32.0° S Latitude near Perth) indicate distinct pulses of eolian deposition during the late Quaternary.”

We kid you not. It’s late and we're still baffled at Demelza winning A'sNTM, but racemization is some sort of geological process, and eolian is to do with wind erosion.

There’s some discussion – including numbers (never Rotto Bloggo’s meanest point) – about modal classes of rock ratios, but the Rotto stuff under discussion seems to have been deposited around 70,000-80,000 years ago.

“Oceanographic evidence indicates the area was subjected to much colder conditions during MIS 2–4 (10,000 to 70,000 yr ago), greatly slowing the epimerization rate. Eolianite deposition resumed in the mid Holocene ( 6000 yr ago) up to the present.”

Damn that slow epimerization rate. The Rottnest Island Authority would’ve stopped that. Or they would’ve taxed it. But here’s the Bermuda angle:

“The A/I epimerization pathway constructed from Rottnest Island shows remarkable similarity to that of Bermuda in the North Atlantic (32° N Latitude). These findings suggest that, like Bermuda, the eolian activity on Rottnest occurred primarily during or shortly after interglacial highstands when the shoreline was near the present datum, rather than during glacial lowstands when the coastline was positioned 10–20 km to the west.”