Sunday 20 May 2012

I got a comment over the weekend that suggested I pay Rotto a visit. Been there, done that. Haven't been for over 20 years though - and the last time I visited, it was on something like this:

I don't know how or why, but someone in our regiment managed to organise a trip to the island on a landing craft. It definitely wasn't official Army business - we turned up in civvies, took lots of beer with us and got very drunk on the way over. As they're pretty slow, the trip took at least 2 hours. Instead of docking at the jetty, the coxwain put us ashore right outside the Quokka Arms hotel. 

Apparently the pub is pretty upmarket these days - it was definitely anything but that in my youth. However, even the patrons of the pub blanched when the landing craft beached, the ramp dropped, and 50 drunken yobbos in board shorts poured out yelling something like "ATTAAAAAAAAAAACK!", and then proceeded to assault up the beach (by section) and then buy many jugs of beer which were drunk, thrown over the heads of anyone within arm's reach or vomited into. And of course there were always a few under the table - for those that couldn't be bothered getting up and walking to the toilet. 

I always get confused as to whether we did our section brown eye against the plate glass window at the Quokka Arms or Steve's Hotel. That was quickly followed by a section squashed frog*. I do remember the bouncers wouldn't let use inside because the place was "too full". After our squashed frog display, the room completely emptied, and the bouncers had no choice but to let us in. I think expected standards of behaviour have changed since then.

We were only there for a few hours - the landing craft had to float off on the tide, and if we didn't stagger back across the beach in time, we were staying the night. I don't know why the siller buggers in Transport let us on board - the thing was ankle deep in vomit by the time we made it back to Freo.

When I was a kid visiting Rotto, one of the best things to do was to "tour" the gun battery tunnels. It looks like they've been spruced up as a tourist attraction now, but 25-30 years ago, they were abandoned and a mess. The Army simply welded up the doors and walked away.

I lifted the photo above from this blog - nice pics. That door is about 10 feet tall, and up the top, you can see where the concrete has been chipped away. That must be new door, because in my day, you could stand on the shoulders of someone else and slip over the top of the door where enterprising vandals had removed a good chunk of concrete.

There was no lighting inside, and the place was half full of sand. However, you could explore the entire tunnel system, ending up under the guns themselves. It was great fun. And just to show you how much the education system has changed since my day, we used to break into these tunnels and scamper around in the dark with our teachers. They weren't particularly worried about us getting tetanus from the numerous bundles of rusting barbed wire that surrounded the place, or falling down an unmarked shaft in the dark, or picking up some unexploded ammunition. I don't think they even made us wear sun screen, or take water with us, or wear a sensible pair of safety thongs. What 12 year old boy wouldn't give their right nut to partake in a bit of dangerous, unauthorised trespassing on ex-military territory?

* A "squashed frog" is where you drop your pants and squash your genitals against a window. Preferably when there are lots of women on the other side.


TimT said...

'The Quokka Arms' is a much better name than 'Hotel Rottnest'. I hope it's still on their signage.

Useful too. If you don't like the pub, you can refer to it as 'a complete quokka quap'...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you've had your share of fun on Rotto.

My wife detests quokkas. We were cycling there a few years ago and when going from Geordie Bay back to the Settlement at Thomson Bay, she fell off her bike and badly grazed her knee.

She couldn't continue cycling, and couldn't walk back to the Settlement, so I propped her up under a shady tree. I then left her and continued on to the nursing station to get the ambulance to assist.

While I was gone, a quokka came out of the shrubbery and approached my wife expecting the usual tourist handout. My wife had nothing to offer this creature, so he bit her on the bum.

She wasn't happy, had to go home on a stretcher with a badly injured knee and a sore bum thanks to a carnivorous quokka.

Ian said...

Bikes and Quokkas are a bad mix, as a teenager riding with a surfboard under my arm, one hopped out in front and front trye collected him. I went straight over the handle bars and used my face as a brake and damaged the board. In a completely rational response I charged after the bastard who casually hopped off into the bush thus missing its opportunity become the first Quokka in outer space.