Monday, November 24, 2008

booze on the beach

The admirable Post Newspapers had an excellent leavers yarn on the weekend. They had a long interview with one of the first leavers to the beautiful island, who went over 62 years ago.

'As this year's school Leavers prepare to descend on Rottnest Island for their end-of-school revels, Floreat grandmother, Dawn Berry is looking on with fond memories of her Leavers holiday on the week, Mrs Barry's grandchildren, Natalie Barry (16) and Christiaan Gurritsen (17), head over to Rottnest for their own Leavers celebrations, after their grandmother blazed the trail for them.'

Fabulous stuff. The Post had several excellent photos with the story - we love this one, of Dawn and Judith Douglas topping up their tans.

'When Mrs Barry's group went to Rottnest, they were setting a trend for generations of school leavers to come. But they did it in different style and circumstances to today's kids.Ferries to and from Rottnest operated only twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

'The old ferry, the Zephyr, docked at the army jetty near Kingston Barracks and visitors had to either walk along the beach to Thomson Bay settlement, or take the charabanc (an old-fashioned, open-sided bus) with their luggage on their laps.

'There was no hotel, and any alcohol that made it on to the island arrived at the army jetty and had to be hauled along the beach by anyone devoted enough to their booze to do so....'

Saturday, November 22, 2008

leaverless legs

The paranoia and angst about Rotto leavers are peaking. Cartoons and news articles are thick on the ground. We liked this recent cover of a newspaper supplement: Leavers 2008...curbing the damage as they kick up their heels.

But the image? It's manipulated. We're hard-pressed to believe that's a view of any Rotto shore. That's not natural light on those legs. I ask you! There was a superior pick inside of schoolies streaming off the jetty. One kid had a T-shirt with the word ENJOI.

Some of those new limits of leavers: Those who permit the consumption or possession of liquor by underage leavers on their premises will face a $10,000 maximum penalty or an infringement fine of $1000 per offence.

And: All ferry companies have agreed to a police-proposed ban on the transport of alcohol during leavers to help stamp out binge drinking. The ban is from Monday to Friday.

Friday, November 21, 2008

hydro history

Rotto Bloggo has been shocked back into coherence by a guest post from Old Salt.

OS has previously remarked on singalongs at the Quokka Arms and a book about fish.

This time he's talking ferry fast...

I’ve found in the WA State Library online database a couple of pics of the Rottnest Hydroplane. The Hydroplane was the first attempt at high-speed ferry travel between the mainland and Rottnest. This was circa 1974 when, traditionally, the ferry trip from Fremantle to Rottnest took one hour, and that was the accepted duration of the voyage. Heavy conditions simply made the trip longer.

Interestingly (and this I was not aware of until I found the info in a online wrecks database) the 62.3-foot, 51-ton Rottnest Hydroplane was built in the U.S.A. in 1944 and purchased by the Royal Australian Navy, then subsequently used as a search and rescue vessel by the RAAF. The fact this vessel was a World War II era rescue boat had escaped me.

Other information provided in Jack Loney’s Wrecks of Western Australian Coast is that the Hydroplane ended its career on fire and adrift near the Barrack Street Jetty, on 8 June 1975. It was burnt to the waterline and later sank near the jetty; later the hull was raised and sold for its fittings.

So ended this first chapter of high-speed ferry transport to Rottnest. The next tilt was the Hydroflite. This was an altogether different boat, designed by Perth naval architect Len Randell as a high-speed ferry. The Hydroflite is still in service, though these days it’s a charter boat. In Rottnest terms, travelling on the Hydroflite was the equivalent to walking straight to the business class check-in counter at the airport, then going to the Qantas Club to await departure.

The consumer now of course expects to get to Rottnest in 30 minutes, and pretty much all the ferries doing the run now are designed and built to comfortably maintain the necessary speed.

As for the pictures of the Hydroplane, well, how things have changed. The lines of a ‘crash boat’ can be seen in the exterior shot, though I expect a lot of superstructure was added to convert it to a ferry. The interior shot of skipper at the controls shows a couple of interesting things: firstly, the gauges suggest the engines aren’t running, despite his hand being on the wheel, and the ashtray alongside the compass suggests smoking in the workplace was quite acceptable back then!

Cheers Old Salt. And apologies for the long silence...perhaps we'll even post a new chunk of Rottnest Romance soon...