Rottnest needs the Greek touch

Sub-standard fare suits some but not others 3 August 2020


Nice piece by chief reporter Ben Harvey in today’s The West Australian where he has a go at Rottnest Island’s deficiencies and gives the holiday spot some praise as well.

Rottnest’s future is a polarising agenda item for WA people.

Some like me think the infrastructure and the hospitality entities are worse than ordinary and cannot understand, from that point of view, the attraction of the place.

Many others – who Harvey points out are mostly western suburbs-based Rottnest tragics who don’t want anything different from the wonderful holidays they enjoyed as children and as young parents – don’t want one thing changed.


I have spent some great times at Rottnest. The most recent was a day trip for the 60th birthday party of a dear friend whose family occupied two cottages facing Fay’s Bay. It was blissful.

My cousin Robert Burns has taken me on his luxury boat to Narrow Neck and we have spent days enjoying the serenity.

I can enjoy myself.

However, the facilities for the general public are dumbed down and there is no hint of it getting better. When I dine in a café or restaurant as just one example, I don’t want salt and pepper in paper sachets. People would regard that kind of criticism as petty but it is indicative of the wider complacency about Rottnest’s hospitality culture.

Attitudes towards Rottnest appear to sit in the demilitarised zone that is WA people’s opinions on development. Half want everything to stay exactly as they know it and half want Perth to develop into a city that can better accommodate a huge influx of population.

Personally, I don’t want Rottnest to change. I just want the existing stuff to be better. The hotel, the Lodge, the restaurants and cafés, the little shopping mall. They’re all just that bit too crummy for my liking. Then again, others like that feel.

One suggestion or change I do have is that other parts of the island should be better used. People cycling about the island and the lucky boat community should have a small restaurant-style building set into the hills in each bay.

Each would be a stone-built structure, smaller than a Zorzi lounge room, with a palm-fronded patio in the lee of the strongest winds. Nothing elaborate.

This could be sympathetically built into a hill above the roadway. It could have a small area for the owner’s residence and a toilet for his/her use and that of anyone who stops in. The owner could dive for his/her own squid, lay out and pull a few cray pots and catch some fish off the shore to cook for passing guests.

No one is expecting such businesses would make a big quid from this so authorities would have to attract lessees seeking lifestyle and who just wanted to perhaps make ends meet.

Toss out all the ridiculous regulations applicable in Perth and let the restaurateur have a licence that allows one style of red, one style of white, one light beer and one full-strength. Use an Esky. No need to have the seafood cleared through some government by-law. It came out of the ocean that day and it’s cooked. End of story. Caveat emptor.

Another bay could serve Thai-style barbecue, using fruits of the sea. Another bay with simple pizza cooked in a subtly-designed pizza oven. No combos of Greek-Thai-fish & chips-pizza; no one-stop shops. Artisanal, specialist pit-stops for the tourist and the local holidaymaker prepared to cycle there.

Worth a try?


Big odds available.

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