Sunday, February 22, 2009

viva Vincent

Lordy. We feel as though we're recovering from the Swim.

The wedding of the century yesterday at Tranby House. A beautiful union. Endless sparkling!

Today has been slow. Just concentrating on the basics. A big help is thinking thoughts about quiet time on Rottnest.

In the lead-up to yesterday's bunfight, we bought this card - for a dollar - at a florist in the Bassendean shops.

'First Light Vincent Way' is by Shirley Fisher. Gazing at it while in a semi-recumbent posture is soothing. Imagining the wind wafting through the trees.

Head pounding, pounding
Wishing for water, yearning
For time on Rotto.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cohen wins

It's all over for another year, and a Cohen is a big winner.

According to WA Today, James Cohen led the teams winner at the swim.

David Graham, Simon Huitenga and Chris Timms were with the Rotto champ.

David Cox was first man in, Jaime Bowler was first woman and the Nederpelts were first due.

"That final 400m into Thompson Bay is exhilarating - for teams, duos, and solos alike. This may be because you can see the beer garden at the pub," said Simon Beaumont in this other WA Today item.

At least the image is by us.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Early start

A few hours to go.

Good luck to all the swimmers tomorrow. Just think of the beautiful island as you plough through Gage Roads and you'll be there in no time.

We would be with you, but nuptial commitments mean we will be far, far away from the coast.

Here's a marvelous story about some marvelous swimmers. It's also on the front page of tomorrow's Post. The pic is by brilliant photographer Paul McGovern.


Red Frogs? Check. Custom-made Bare Essentials togs? Check. Dad in the support boat? Check. A good night's sleep? Check.

Three Earl girls and their friend Katherine are all set to help their mate Patrick.

The fearless foursome will plunge into the water at Cottesloe Beach and swim to Rottnest on Saturday to raise funds for diabetes research.

Jessie Earl, 22, and her sisters Maggie (18) and Cathryn (15) and Katherine Loughnan (15) will get up at about 5am before their wave leaves the beach at seven-thirty.

They'll be thinking about Patrick during the four-and-a-half hours it takes them to get to Thomson Bay.

“I've had type 1 diabetes since I was ten months old,” Patrick told the POST.

“I'm insulin-dependent, so anything the girls can raise towards research will be good enough.”

It's the sixth time Jessie has swum to raise money for diabetes.

She's being doing the swim since she was 12.

Saturday will be Katherine's first Rottnest swim. It will be Cathryn's second, and the third or fourth for Maggie.

“We'll take turns at five to ten-minute shifts in the water,” Jessie said.

“During the swim we eat Mars Bars, and Starbust and Red Frog lollies.”

The Earls aren't slouches in the water: last year they were second out of all groups of four.

Katherine is excited about swimming to the beautiful island for the first time.

“I'm enthusiastic, fit and ready to rumble,” she said.

Jessie said she wasn't nervous and the team was well-prepared.

“The biggest obstacle is the cold and trying to keep warm,” she said.

“We're taking lots of towels.”

Sharks weren't a worry.

“There are so many boats and people in the water they're not a concern,” Jessie said.

The girls will be watched over by Mr Earl in a boat and Patrick's dad paddling beside them.

Patrick won't be in the water with his friends.

“I'll be catching the 10am ferry from North Fremantle and meeting them over there,” he said.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

get into rehab

Weeding and sand dune rehabilitation can be deadly dull...except when it's on Rottnest.

The tireless Rottnest Society wants volunteers to spend some time helping improve the beautiful island later this year.

Dune rehabilitation and revegetation is June 12 to 14; tree planting is July 31 to August 2; and weeding is September 18 to 20.

The Society has booked Caroline Thomson cabins for volunteers.

“The Rottnest Island Authority will provide ferry vouchers plus Saturday night’s accommodation in exchange for 10 hours work over Saturday and Sunday,” said the Society's Sue Folks.

“Volunteers will pay $20 for Friday night’s accommodation and provide their own meals.”

For further details contact Sue on 9438 1413, 0411 880 199 or

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gage Roads for sale

We were down at Cottesloe Beach today (doing yet another Rottnest Channel Swim story) and could barely see the beautiful island for the number of ships out in the Roads.

The Swim swimmers we spoke to agreed the number seemed greater than usual. They said there's normally only a couple on the big day.

One chap we interviewed is catching the 10am ferry to meet his swimming peeps when they stagger onto the sand of Thomson Bay.

The boat pictured is up for grabs on eBay: a mere $57,000 for a seven metre fibreglass powerboat which is great for 'Walkaround, Fishing, Rottnest'.

'Gage Roads is 23 foot & features the full walk-around cabin which gives you the best of both worlds, with shelter and comfort regardless of how interesting your adventure gets.

T'he deep and beamy design and bow seating makes using the front of the boat easy and the walk-around gives all-over access. The helm area is fully enclosed with full wrap-around screen, clears and beautiful stainless steel bar work.'

No bids as yet. No postage costs - strictly pick-up only, from Kingsley.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Vale Fitzy

Imagine having a Rotto villa named after you.

That was one of the achievements of John Fitzhardinge - there were many others.

The Post ran an obit on John, but half of it was - for some mysterious reason - left out.

Here at Rotto Bloggo space isn't an issue, and we're proud to bring you the full article.

John Fitzhardinge 1911-2008

John Fitzhardinge had the rare honour of having a villa on Rottnest named for him.

The Thomson Bay pad was named for John after his pivotal role in developing the Geordie Bay and Longreach settlements while on the Rottnest Island Board.

John's island idylls were just one episode in an action-packed, fun-loving life of achievement and community service.

He served in World War Two, was a distinguished architect, played a crucial role in WA's America's Cup win and was a generous soul.

John Berkeley Fitzhardinge was born in 1911 in Manly, NSW. His family moved to Perth 18 years later, at the height of the Great Depression, when his father became Chief Inspector WA with the Bank of NSW.

John brought his 16-foot skiff with him: the first of his boatbuilding ventures. He was a keen rugby and tennis player, and became captain of the Perth Rugby Union team.

John joined the architectural firm Eales Cohen and qualified as an architect in 1934. He became a partner two years later when it became Eales Cohen and Fitzhardinge. After the war he founded Forbes and Fitzhardinge with his brother-in-law Bill Forbes. The firm was one of the largest architectural firms in WA for 30 years.

In 1939 John enlisted in the 2/3rd Field Regiment, which arrived in England during the Battle of Britain and the evacuation of Dunkirk. John was shipped to North Africa and then to Greece where he was commissioned as Captain and leader of E Troop, 6th Battery.

“Last year Dad and I were watching the 7.30 Report: Kerry O’Brien interviewed a guy about his memoirs, and asked what was the best thing he had done,” John's daughter Jody recalled.
“I posed the same question to Dad: his immediate reply was: 'Surrendering to the Italian submarine”.'

At 1.30am on June 1, 1941, a submarine came up beside the barge that John and his escaping party had fitted out to take them from Galini in Crete to North Africa.

“Dad, worried about his charges being blown out of the water, dived overboard and swiftly swam 60 metres and pretty much surfed up the side of the sub,” Jody said.

“In his schoolboy French, he managed to make a deal with the astonished Italians. The deal was, if he and the other officers gave themselves up, the Italians would let the rest of the men go.

“The Italians accepted his terms, he saved his men from being taken prisoners, or being blown up, and they made it safely to North Africa.”

John was a prisoner of war for four years in Italy and Germany – but was inspirational even during imprisonment.

He painted, played in the orchestra, wrote and acted in plays and cooked a Christmas meal for 1,000 men.

He was later awarded an MBE for effecting his men's escape from Crete.

When John returned from war he set about making a significant mark on Perth.

He was also an urban planner, the National President of the Royal Institute of Planners (now the Planning Institute of Australia), and for many years a member of the Town Planning Board (WA).

He was especially proud of designing the bike paths around the river, the Hay St Pedestrian Mall (at the time, the second in the world), and for UWA's Sunken Gardens.

“When Winthrop Hall was being built, the site next to it was dug for mortar and the architects weren’t sure what to do with the hole,” Jody said.

“Someone suggested getting Fitzy along to have a look ‘as he was artistic’ and he came up with the idea of an amphitheatre.

“Dad was also the earliest exponent in WA of underground power lines – in fact of all utilities being concealed - and effected the change at Rottnest from overhead to underground power.”

Then there was sailing. From 1960 to 1962 John was Commodore of Royal Perth Yacht Club. He built his yacht Theanna on his front lawn, and in 1970 won the inaugural Perth to Albany race in his craft and held the race record for nearly 25 years.

John was a founding member of the Perth Game Fishing Club with Garrick Agnew, Carl Georgheff and others, and they were the first to fish the Rottnest Trench.

By 1978 John was an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to yachting and urban planning.

Then, in 1982, he resigned from various boards to dedicate his energies to the America’s Cup Team, of which he had been a member since 1974.

John Bertrand said John left an indelible mark on the campaign that saw Australia II wrest the Cup from the New York Yacht Club.

“I will never forget his playing of the bagpipes at our crew house during the A2 campaign in Newport,” Bertrand said.

“Holding an upturned chair as the ‘bagpipes’ and holding his nose with his other hand...his performances were the perfect remedy to add the humour that was vital during the summer of ’83, particularly when we were three-one down against the Americans. Fitzy will be remembered by many people for many things.”

Cup-winning starboard grinder Will Baillieu described John as a “larrikin in a blazer”.

“He was an absolute legend and will be terribly missed by all of us,” he said.

“He was a lovable rogue disguised with perfect style. He had a sharp eye, and a wonderful wit. Our team morale was largely due to his humour.”

Retirement wasn't in the Fitzhardinge vocabulary: during the 1990s he was as busy as ever working as a consultant.

As he saw in the new millennium he still had a very strong grip on life: racing on the Swan River every week, drawing up the occasional house plan, heading off on travels (fishing in Shark Bay and the Abrolhos Islands and trips to Greece and other parts of Europe.

During his last four years John lived with Jody and her husband Peter at their home in North Fremantle.

“For a man who had been so fiercely independent and physically adept at everything he did, so in control of the many aspects of his life, he was enormously gracious and dignified in accepting the help he increasingly needed as his body lost the ability to respond to his ever keen mind,” Jody said.

“We all felt blessed to have been part of his extraordinary life.”

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday excursion

Here's some ripper copy about the beautiful island, snatched from the pages of The West Australian:

'Marine Excursions. - The excursion steamers Gannet and Eleanor were largely patronised yesterday on the usual Sunday excursion to Rottnest, each vessel having a full complement of passengers. Favoured with delightful weather the trip was a most enjoyable one. The passengers were landed at Fremantle on the return journey bofore dark.'

Largely patronised? Delightful. Most enjoyable.

It's from the West of April 18, 1898. We got to this by idly clicking on a Google News search result: at the side of the page there's an option for getting results from the 1890s.

It's the result of a National Library thing to digitise old papers. They seem to have stuff from the Perth Gazette and West Australian Journal starting from the 1830s.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


It's only February - Happy Valentine's Day - but we may have already seen the Rottnest news story of the year.

'A woman is suing her husband for running over her leg with his boat in Thomson Bay during the Rottnest Channel Swim three years ago.'

Look. If you bash someone with a boat you have to expect the worst. This otherwise outstanding Philippa Perry story doesn't give vessel details.

'Wendy De Bie, 50, of Halls Head, was a first-time competitor in the 19.2km swim in 2006, swimming in the team event with her family.

'But towards the end of the race, which was one of the worst crossings on record because of weather conditions, Mrs De Bie’s leg got caught in the propeller of her support boat and was severely gashed.'

The family that swims (and sues) together stays together.

“I just got picked up by a wave and just basically thrown up against the back of the boat,” she said this week. “I had a smashed femur and lost a lot of blood.”

'Mrs De Bie has lodged a writ in the District Court claiming her husband, Arend Abraham De Bie, negligently skippered their boat, Pletemella, in Thomson Bay, causing her injuries.'

Hard to sue the wave. Maybe Mrs De Bie will also sue the Rottnest Island Authority for not providing a safe swimming experience in Thomson Bay? What does Pletemella mean?

Friday, February 13, 2009

rotto barbies

Goodness: breaking news on Perth Now about Rottnest. Someone has been bitten by a 'potentially lethal' snake.

'It is believed the victim was bitten about 3.45pm today and will be flown to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. More coming.'

We hope so. The accompanying pic is of a lizard - it's the best we can do.

The beautiful island has also been mentioned in high art. Alexander McCall Smith (whom Rotto Bloggo once interviewed at Cottesloe, within sight of Rotto) has this in Corduroy Mansions.

“We had great parties at uni,” said Jo. “We used to go over for weekends to Rottnest Island and have barbies. Someone would get out a guitar and we’d sing. Out there in the darkness, under all those stars.”

“A beautiful image,” said Caroline. “I can just see it.”

This is an online novel by McCall Smith, who writes like you and we breathe. We recently saw him quoted, or quoted as saying, 'there's no such thing as writer's block. People who can't write have nothing to say'.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

villa d'angst

'The stunning coastline and azure waters of Rottnest demanded a simple and classic design.'

I don't think we've blogged about the house for fabled film Under the Lighthouse Dancing before. See here for pics of the domicile - the work of Eastwood Design.

What do you think? Casual, 'Matisse motifs', a lot of blue, shutters and bi-folds. There's a hint of Bali/Lombok there, yes?

How we wish UTLD was a better film. Not too many are made on the beautiful island.

It gets 5.6/10 on IMDB. Some of the user comments on the site are interesting:

'There was a reason for the Australian media to have it in for this production: lead actress Jacqueline MacKenzie was nominated in the 1997 Australian Film Awards for two other films in two equal Best actress categories: one was a Melbourne cinema-movie drama ANGEL HEART and another was a TV movie. As LIGHTHOUSE was filming at the time, the producers and director (incredibly) refused to let her leave the set and briefly travel back to the Eastern States to the Awards night. She was extremely upset. Then, to the collective embarrassment of everyone she won the two awards for both roles, an unheard-of achievement in Australian type "Emmy/Oscar". But she wasn't there to be on stage, she was stuck on the LIGHTHOUSE set, missing out on the one mighty acting awards achievement accolade of her career. As a result, there was an almost mutiny against Director Rattigan and the film was doomed to be the sour blot on his and her career. The actors refused to allow ANY publicity on LIGHTHOUSE, walked through the rest of their roles and laughed out loud at the mention of the film getting released.'

The house was re-built in Attadale.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

rotto helitac

Emergency services are ready should there be a conflagration on the beautiful island.

Rotto Bloggo was at the airport yesterday writing about helitacs: fire-fighting helicopters. We took many photos and have been poring over the resultant chopper porn.

But we always have Rottnest on our mind. So we asked: as well as Kings Park and the hills, do the heitacs put out the blazes on Rotto?

They haven't lately. But they do a bit of practice there. Inflatable pools are set up with water, and the helitacs hover over the plastic while sucking it up.

We didn'get a pic of that, but here's a photo of a sheet pinned up in helitac HQ: it's on the list.

Friday, February 06, 2009

'exponential beauty'

"You know how in tourism advertisements for warm places like Australia, they always show white sandy beaches, clear blue water, and girls in bikinis? And sure, you think, those things exist - but surely that's an optimistic or idealistic view of the destination. Those places must be remote, or few and far between, or cost a pretty penny to get to. Well as it turns out, they are here in Australia, and not just here and there, but everywhere! It's hard to believe it when you see it -- that water can be that clear, sand that soft, girls that skinny."

We like the cut of sarahdownundah's jib. She has a lovely post on the beautiful island, and some excellent pics of skinks and bays.

"...the island has a certain charm about it and its beauty is simply exponential." Righteous.

We must include a small mention of the RCS (15 days to go). We saw this poll, asking for the 'Top Ten Moments in Open Water Swimming History'. Imagine our dismay when the Rotto event has attracted hardly any votes.

Leading the poll is something called the 1956 Traversata dello Stretto. Then there's John Kinsella (we assume no the JK who writes poetry about the Wheatbelt) in second place. Matthew Webb's English Channel effort is third.

Gerd von Dincklage-Schulenburg's epic 1956 journey has a mere five votes, out of more than 700 cast. Come on people!

Many thanks to sarahdownundah for permission to use her pic.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Simon and David go Rotto

“The black line on the bottom of the pool does not prepare you for Gage Roads.”

So says Simon Beaumont in this excellent item on the forthcoming Rottnest Channel Swim.

The super-fit broadcast boy hasn’t been spending enough time in salty water to get him in swim-shape.

“This has been the summer of the shark sighting, this has been the summer of no open water swimming, this will be the Channel Swim when I sink like a Colin Barnett election promise.”

I reckon David Byrne isn’t swimming to Rotto today. According to the ABC, the 56-year-old Talking Head could be on the beautiful island. Mrs Rotto Bloggo was at the zoo last night, but she didn’t mention if he said he’d be there. Keep an eye out for him and send us a pic if you spot him at the Basin or the hotel.

Today’s pic is ‘That’s Rotto’, a fine artwork by Debra Corbett. Check it (and other works) out here.

Monday, February 02, 2009

swim story city

Rotto Bloggo spake, and it was thus: a flood of Rottnest Channel Swim stories today.

Everyone on Facebook is complaining about the weather. Not so bad on the beautiful island, of course: humidity was at 92 per cent a little while ago, but the max temp was only about 27 degrees (at 11.30am).

The water would have been a good place to be. But alas the triple crossing attempt by Chloe McCardel was abandoned 'cos of tough times.

'The 23-year-old open water swimmer was just 5km from Rottnest Island, near the end of the second crossing of the channel, when 25 to 35 knot winds and strong currents made the feat impossible.'

WA Today have a nice story of a woman who did the crossing last year in nearly 12 hours: Ginger Nuts helped her through.

In fact WA Today have lots of Swim stories: they are a naming sponsor, fo' shizzle.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

over the trench

The Rottnest swim is this month, and the number of news stories about the event should move from a trickle to a shower.

Here's one from WA Today: a 23-year-old from Melbourne wants to swim there. And back. And to Rottnest again. All in the one go.

'Only two people have completed a double crossing, so McCardel wants to create race history and go the extra distance.

"The longest I've ever swum is 40 kilometres and that's in a pool so I'm looking for a challenge and a lot of excitment and to be part of the history, so that will do that all in one go," McCardel said.'

Ye gods. She has a nice pink cap, so good luck to her. Here's some insight from another swimmer about the swim, which goes over the Rottnest Trench:

"One of the things I found during my first swims across there is that you're going across very deep water. I used to have my eyes open in the water and you'd see very dark shapes in the deep water and it really freaks you out," he said. "You don't know if it's a big fish, because you do see stingrays over there and dolphins and sometimes hammerhead sharks, or if it's a cloud creating a reflection or a big mass of seaweed so one of my suggestions is don't look … you're better off not knowing."