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Sunday, November 7, 2010
The Witches of Rottnest
The ‘coven,’ as one of the men describes us, has just returned from playtime on Rottnest Island. We managed to do very little for five days, saving our energy for a shopping frenzy in the big smoke on the way home.
Without shifting from our balcony we could watch other peoples‘ children at play, girls struggling to put up sun shelters, stingrays cruising by and the comings and goings of birds and walkers. Any boats pulling in to the moorings were scrutinised, commented on and categorised as to their desirability factor and the appearance of their crew and passengers as we sat feet up, sipping tea or enjoying a tipple or a block of chocolate or two as we glanced up from trashy novels or knitting.
Great thumping noises heralded the whales that appeared many times each day to put on noisy displays of breaching and slapping while frolicking with their new babies. The Leeuwin training ship passed by carrying full sail and we were shocked the same day by a huge a navy submarine surfacing...all day free entertainment!
It was only when heading into the settlement the trouble started. On the road it was quokkas under foot (and almost under wheels) and hills to burn the fittest of thigh muscles. The shop was a minefield of gourmet nibbles, Connoisseur ice cream, imported cheeses and an array of alcohol, potato chips and every sugar confection known to woman. Luckily the cakes and coffee at the bakery weren’t up to much and the food and drinks at the hotel outrageously expensive so we weren’t tempted back there after the first visit to each.
Rotto is no longer the rough and tumble make do sort of holiday I remember from my first visits I was thrilled to see the solar hot water systems , the wind generator and the revegetation work everywhere. The villas have been modernised and updated. It was sad to see the old Quokka Arms looking posh and exclusive and that the generic fast food outlets continue to multiply
What it does have is that wonderful aahhhh feeling when you step of the boat; the wild windswept west end and tiny bays so blue you would swear you were in the tropics. It has the wonderful wildlife and a poignant sense of history radiates from the old buildings, the ruins and the graveyards. The lighthouses continue to mark the passage for ships heading for the busy mainland port as they have since early settlement. An easy going camaraderie exists between the visitors here; the lack of motor vehicles engages people with the environment and each other, instilling respect and fond memories.
For the coven, there was no need to weave any magic here; the island did it for us.