Showing posts with label Rottnest Island. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rottnest Island. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Welcome to Rottnest Island

I'm just back from my annual two week sojourn to Rottnest Island, my favourite place in the world. For good, or bad, the Perth social media community was kept abreast of my adventures every step of the way... Hey, I like to share.
Speaking of which, this year I shared the experience vicariously with author Robert Drewe, through his new book Montebello. He talks at length of his love of the island and I now know I'm an 'Islophile'... it makes perfect sense! I'd like to discuss our mutual afflication one day, preferably with a glass in hand looking across the bay at the Perth skyline, so close, yet so deliciously far away.

If you've never visited this limestone outcrop just 20km off the coast of Western Australia, I suggest you add it near the top of your bucket list. Slip off your shoes, get used to the sand between your toes and let the stress of mainland life simply float away on the warm currents in one of the, tranquil, turquoise bays that lie around every corner.

Oh, there's lots more to do than simply bob around in the Indian Ocean after a brisk bike ride, but hey, that's what I do best. After that I might retire to my lattice framed bungalow with a good book (thanks Rob!) and a glass of wine... breathing in the salt-laden breeze, laced with the perfume of Rottnest Island Pines and sun cream - could it be bottled? - listening to the crunch of bike tyres on gravel.

As I've blogged before, I've been visiting the Island since before I was born. Bungalow 5 is no longer there and neither are my much-loved Nan and Grandad who passed-on this passion. Nan, the purveyor of the famous cream buns, shoo-er of rogue quokkas and queen of the card nights. Grandad, the catcher of herring, reclined on his cot on standard issue R.I.B army blankets, preparing tackle for the next day, or reading his pulp fiction cowboy and indian novels. But the tradition continues.

I've walked and ridden almost every corner of the island. I learned to ride my bike at the northern end of Thomson Bay and now two of my three children have done likewise, on the exact same stretch of road. It's number three's turn next year.

In years to come, my children and grandchildren will carry the same fond memories and love of this special Island. They'll teach their kids to ride in the same place and snorkel across the same reefs. And as the ferry pulls away from the jetty on the return trip to Fremantle, they'll hug them close and stroke them reassuringly on the back as the tears fall for having to leave it all behind.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Rottnest Island experience

Rottnest Island isn't the most scenic holiday location on earth. The accommodation is a bit rough around the edges, food prices are steep, there are poisonous snakes in the sand dunes and quokka shit sprinkled liberally across all walking surfaces.

Have I put you off? Good, cause to be honest it's my favourite place on the planet and I'd rather keep it to myself. You can have your lush rainforest resorts, or drink cocktails out of two litre buckets in Bali and I'll have my Rotto.

So it was with great pleasure that I spent the last two weeks on the great southern island with Mrs Cookster and the young Cookster clan aged 2, 3 and 10. Having spent much of my childhood on Rotto, marking such memorable occasions as learning to ride my bike and getting drunk for the first time, it was a visit filled with much misty-eyed nostalgia.

In a case of life turning the full circle, I was able to watch my own son come to grips with a bike in almost the exact spot that I had some 35 years earlier. Back then the road on the Bathurst end of Thompson Bay was shaded by Bungalow 5 where our family would spend two weeks every January.

My Nanna Flora was the ruler of that rickety bungalow and in charge of duties including the shooing of rogue quokkas with the broom, boiling the water for the nightly 'bucket baths', preparing the freshly caught herring and procuring the fabled bakery cream buns.

My Grandad Len would work with Dad to set up our illegal 'hose and shower head' set-up in the back courtyard so the adults could take an illicit shower without having to line up and pay for a wash at the shower blocks.

This recent visit gave me time to reflect on those happy days and bring my Nanna back to the island for one last time. Our family gathered on the rocks beneath the Bathurst Lighthouse and scattered her ashes into the waters at Pinkies Beach where she would swim every morning in her powder blue bathing suit and matching swimming cap. Enjoy the stay Nanna, we'll be keeping the tradition alive.

That night I dreamt I was nine years old, lying on my cot on the verandah of bungalow 5, smelling the scent of Rottnest Pines and salt lake foam, reading war comics and rubbing my sandy feet on the RIB army blankets at the foot of the bed.

The next day we learned that a young boy had been killed by a collapsed pillar in a unit not far from where the now demolished bungalow 5 once stood. It was an awful feeling that such a tragedy should take place on an island that's supposed to be about creating treasured family memories.

With sentimentality running high, I texted some rather flowery prose in praise of the great island to fellow Rottnest lover, POST Newspaper journalist, union heavyweight and purveyor of smoked herring David 'Fucking Outrage' Cohen.

Of course, he bought me back down to earth by calling me a "wanker" on his cult blogsite Rotto Bloggo.

So in closing, I shall return the favour DC - wanker - and start dreaming of next October when I'll once again tread the sandy shores of Little Parakeet Bay and wallow in its crystal clear waters.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Where the NO votes live

Thanks to my esteemed colleague from the Rotto Bloggo desk David 'The Outrage' Cohen for drawing my attention to Antony Green's election blog analysis of who voted yes and no in the last daylight saving referendum.

No surprise to see it was the farmers who stitched us up last time, while the good folk of Rottnest Island were leading the charge for the extra hour of sunshine at the end of the day - the part of the day when it's actually of use.

I'm yet to hear anyone argue the case to end daylight saving? Cat got your tongue?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Daylight saving zombies attack!

It happened on Sunday morning. The world as we knew it was gone and a dark pall had fallen over suburbia like a blanket over a bird cage.

I stumbled outside to find out where the sun had gone. Yes it was morning, but the harsh glare that would normally prise my lids asunder and prod the sleeping baby until he screamed for his bottle was curiously missing. It had shrunk away and was hiding in the shadows like a dog licking its wounds.

But I had been tricked before. The cunning beast which is the coming of day in Western Australia does not suffer fools gladly. It will tear the eyes from your very sockets and sear your flesh before you have time to mutter, 'where is the 30+?'

I donned my glasses and faux-quokka baseball cap, put the poodle on a leash and ventured into the street. Something was wrong. Very wrong.

Sensing danger I grabbed a five iron from the garage and wrapped the dog's leash tighter around my wrist. I was like Will Smith in that awful armageddon movie set in New York, except instead of an alsation and a pump action shotgun, I had a yappy poodle and a golf club.

The cause of my paranoia became evident immediately. It was pre-empted by a wailing sound, followed by large groups of people floundering about and clawing at their eyes, shouting, 'I can't see', 'Who turned out the lights?' 'Oh my Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?'

They appeared to be blinded, unable to see where they were going... staggering on hands and knees, or scuttling along crab-like, bouncing off trees, tripping on gutters. Joggers, dog walkers, retirees and empty nesters with nothing better to do. Individuals, some gathered in groups, others dragged by pets.

I grabbed a flannel-hatted senior by the collar of his cardigan and demanded he tell me what had caused this nightmare vision before me. 'Tell me old man or you shall feel the blunt end of my Ping!'

He cowered in fear, his eyeballs rolling back into his emaciated skull. His lips trembled. 'Don't you know? Don't you see what they have done? They have taken away our light... our shining beacon. Without it we are doomed. Doomed to wander the early morning streets as the daylight saving damned - wretched, sightless, aimless beasts.'

I threw him into the undergrowth in disgust. 'Get a grip man! The day is here - look around you... is this not light enough for you?'

But it was too late, he had stumbled into the path of oncoming traffic and disappeared in a puff of brown woollen fibres.

'You've had it too good for too long!' I screamed at them. 'You must adjust to the light and learn that you don't need to eat dinner at 5.00pm and be in bed before the final sirens sound on the closing credits of The Bill!

'There is life after Parkinson. It's okay to stay in bed until 6.00am! There is NOTHING to fear...'

But again, too late. Blind eyes and deaf ears. Rather than embrace the change they gathered in even tighter groups, huddled around radios sharing mobile phones to call talkback radio and wail down the line to Hutchison and Beaumont - whoever was willing to listen.

And in time the savagery began. Within days these rabid packs would begin wandering the early morning streets in search of the 'Savers', chanting 'Death to the Twilight' and offering up sacrafices to the 'God of Early Morning Walks'.

Meanwhile, on Rottnest Island, David 'Teh Outrage' Cohen was mobilising forces to take out these vast zombie hoards, but there was much planning to be done. He rolled his first herring spliff of the day, kicked off his deck shoes and leaned back to look out across Thompson Bay to the mainland beyond.

'You f*#kers shall rue the day...'

As the blue smoke curled languidly across the room to join the sea breeze snaking across the salt lakes, making music in the pines, he eyed the cream bun in the pantry and punched 1300-COOKSTER into the Nokia.

'Teh Rage here Cookster. The barge will meet you at the North Mole at 6.30pm once the zombies are safely in bed. You bring the golf clubs and I'll supply the octopus. Tell The Lazy Aussie to pick up Skink and Frank in The Worst of Perth Combi on the way - I have a plan.' be continued.