Rottnest Cruise and Wild Seafood Feast

When the email pinged in my inbox inviting me on a Wild Seafood Experience and cruise on Rottnest Island (20km off the coast of Perth), I signed up straight away. The new tour is an ocean-to-plate boat cruise called Wild Seafood Experience by Rottnest Cruises, blending two of Western Australia’s great icons − Rottnest Island and the Western Rock Lobster (crayfish).

The 2.5-hour cruise is the first-ever interactive seafood tour – and by interactive I mean passengers catch lunch – on Rottnest Island. It was a stunning summer’s day and the cruise on Rottnest Cruises’ multi-level charter vessel around to Parakeet Bay, with an ice cold beer in hand, was sheer bliss.  Here’s a short video about our day:

On the way we stopped to catch lunch, taking it in turns to haul up the cray pots, cheering as each one of the six pots was raised on board with several crayfish inside. Pots were rebaited  with fish heads, and the crays removed. Each lobster was measured to ensure it met compliance, quick photo for insta, then in the crate to be prepared for lunch. It was fun and interesting – I’d never caught a lobster before.

Before lunch, we jumped in crystal clear Indian Ocean for a swim, while crewman Kent was busy shucking oysters for us, then in a first for me, passed me one as I was swimming. Eating freshly shucked oysters while in the ocean, heaven! We devoured an elaborate banquet of sea-fresh delicacies that included Mandurah blue swimmer crabs, king prawns, fresh fish tacos, marinated Fremantle octopus, loads of salads and of course just-caught crayfish, cooked live in an open, on-board kitchen. All this, while taking in Rottnest’s Insta-perfect views and enjoying unlimited beer, wine and bubbles. Now, that’s living.

I was invited, but I wouldn’t rave about anything to you unless I thought it was exceptional, and Rottnest Cruises’ Wild Seafood Experience is exceptional. For a short time, it’s just $175 per adult, totally worth it. The boat caters for 30 guests and a new slightly bigger boat will be in operation soon.

Rottnest lighthouse from boat

 

Rottnest Cruises’ Wild Seafood Experience operates from Rottnest Island daily from 11am to 1.30pm. Introductory cruise cost (valid until February 28, 2019) is $175 per adult or $125 per child (not ideal for children under 5) and is fully inclusive of three courses (canapes, seafood buffet lunch and dessert), with unlimited beverages.

For bookings, phone +61 8 9586 1136 or visit rottnestcruises.com

Did you know…?

The western rock lobster is one of the family of ‘spiny’ lobsters, colourful and protected by a strong carapace. They are sometimes called ‘crayfish’ or ‘crays’. They canlive for more than 20 years and grow to weigh 5 kg. But due to fishing rules, fishers rarely catch animals heavier than 3 kg. When temperatures are cooler they mature at six to seven years old, when their carapace reaches a length of about 90 mm. In warmer water they mature at smaller sizes, usually at about 70 mm.

 

To read more, head to the Department of Fisheries website here.

 

 

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Rottnest Island first, Margaret River third in Australia’s top destinations

Rottnest Island is number one and Margaret River has taken out the number three spot in Australia’s ‘Top 10 Destinations to Experience’ for 2014, in a poll by leading travel website Experience Oz.

Ningaloo Reef was the third Western Australian destination in the top ten, in ninth position.

Other famed Australian destinations in the top ten include Kangaroo Island, Barossa Valley, Uluru, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, and Gold Coast in Queensland, with the Whitsunday Islands taking second place.

Thousands of people participated in the poll, predominantly via social media, where they were asked to name what they considered to be Australia’s best destination based on a variety of criteria including ‘does it have unique geographical or architectural features’ and ‘if money was no object, would you want to visit there more than anywhere else in Australia?’.

Rottnest Island – no.1

I love Rottnest Island, and it certainly is unique and beautiful. It can also be expensive during peak periods. The beaches range from little secluded coves with lapping of the smallest waves, to renowned surf breaks and bays full of enviable boats. The white sand, azure Indian Ocean, and rocky outcrops set against a big clean Western Australian sky is a view to behold. It’s as beautiful as the beaches of Sardinia, yet just a 30 minute ferry ride away from Fremantle.

Geordie Bay at Rottnest Island

Geordie Bay at Rottnest Island

I really rate Rottnest Island for as a family holiday getaway – to read about one of my previous trips, click here. If your kids are of bike riding age, then it’ll be one of the best holidays you and your kids will have. With no cars permitted on the island (exception is service vehicles and local bus), kids can be free and ride in relative safety.  Add a cute little marsupial that you won’t find anywhere else, the Quokka, and Rottnest Island ticks the boxes for this competition.

There’s not much to do at ‘Rotto’ – after riding to some impressive historical sites, enjoying a pub lunch and sunset beers at the Rottnest Hotel, visiting the Settlement for the daily ice cream and supply pick up, activities are limited to swimming, snorkelling, sun bathing, riding, snoozing, or just relaxing. And that’s part of the Island’s appeal.

Margaret River – no.3

Margaret River is one of my favourite regions on the planet, so I’m not surprised by this outcome.  According to Experience Oz, Margaret River’s top three ranking can be attributed to its ‘sheer variety’ with ‘epic and beautiful coastline, array of wineries, quality whale watching, great surfing and spectacular cave networks’.

Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator Victoria Johnson said she was thrilled that Margaret River was in the top three, which was a dramatic progression from 10th spot in last year’s poll.

“We are genuinely privileged to be able to say that the diversity of experiences is unmatched by any other destination in Australia. Where else can you go for a walk and a swim at an uncrowded pristine beach in the morning, ride your mountain bike through towering karri forest, maybe explore an ancient limestone cave then head out to a winery or brewery for a relaxing afternoon of outstanding local produce, wine and craft beer? It’s a traveller’s dream come true!”  said Ms Johnson.

Me at Canal Rocks beach in the Margaret River region in winter

Me at Canal Rocks beach in the Margaret River region in winter

I’ve been writing a lot of posts lately on Margaret River – check them out:

…and there’s more to come.

Ningaloo Reef – no.9

If you haven’t added swimming with the whales sharks to your bucket list, do it now. It is one of the best natural experiences I have ever encountered. It’s up there with visiting the Galapagos Islands and learning to dive in the Great Barrier Reef, and far better than a trip to the Red Sea (where much of the colourful coral is now grey) the Amazon jungle (less mosquitos for starters!).

The sheer enormity of the whale sharks is something you have to really experience to believe – to read my post about swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, click here.  These serene creatures are colossal in size yet I felt no ounce of danger snorkelling beside one, the deep blue ocean underneath. Looking down, the ocean disappeared into darkness. Who knows how deep it is down there? That’s how plankton-eating whale sharks protect themselves. They have the ability to dive to great depths very quickly. So much so that we humans don’t actually know how deep they can dive, we’ve not been able to measure it due to the pressure of the ocean depths. Interesting, huh?

Swimming with whale sharks

Swimming with whale sharks

To view the full top 10 Destinations for 2014, visit the Experience Oz website.

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Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Perth’s very own island getaway is just a short 40minute ferry ride from Fremantle.  Welcome to the absolutely beautiful Rottnest Island holiday paradise. This little island has a circumference of 25km. There are no cars allowed and the preferred method of transport is by push bike. There is a bus that services the island’s bays, beaches and attractions for those that don’t want to ride.

Parakeet Bay Rottnest Island

Parakeet Bay Rottnest Island

The beaches at ‘Rotto’, as the locals call it, are stunning, some of the best in the world. Having visited the most beautiful beaches in other amazing places around the world including the Galapagos Islands, Sardinia in Italy, Brazil, Bali, Greece, and Queensland, I can say with authority that Rottnest’s beaches are up there with the best of them.  So beautiful you just never want to leave.

Geordie Bay

Geordie Bay

The lake - where our deluxe room at the Lodge looks out on

The lake – where our deluxe room at the Lodge looks out on

Our Deluxe room

Our Deluxe room

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Our original room at the Lodge – the Palm Court room

Quokka

Quokka

Hello Mr Peacock

Hello Mr Peacock

Rotto is a very family friendly holiday spot. Accommodation is fairly basic – camping, cabins, chalets and villas – all very basic and the word luxury does not describe any of them. Yet during peak season, it is expensive to stay.  There is also the Rottnest Island Hotel and the Rottnest Island Lodge. The Hotel has recently been refurbished and one can expect to pay upwards of $300 per night for a room without ocean views.

In the past we have stayed in the villas that line Geordie Bay – they are basic but have everything you need – a balcony to look out at the stunning bay, a kitchen equipped with the essentials, bathroom and a choice of two or three bedrooms that sleeps four to six people.   In peak season, a villa for six people will set you back about $2000+ for one week.

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This time however, we chose to stay at the Lodge.  Entertainment Book members, which I am, receive a discount.

The Deluxe room – which we upgraded to once we checked in and decided we didn’t like the Palm Court room – cost $290 per night with a discount. It has a lovely view over the lake, is spacious, has a king size bed, flat screen TV, bar fridge, a modern bathroom and a great shower. Yes, it’s expensive, but it is one hundred times better than the Palm Court room that was once a boys reformatory in 1890.  I did nick name it Cell Block B because it was so much like a prison room!

The discounted rate at the Lodge for a Palm Court room was $210 per night. As you can see from the photos, it is a bit grim. The rooms are dated, stuffy, small, and not that cheap really.  There is no view, no balcony or outside space, and neither of us wanted to spend more than 5 minutes in it. Our room also had a smell to it that was all but pleasant.

Zorba didn’t care how much extra we had to pay, he just wanted out of the Palm Court room.  I couldn’t blame him really.

Once we moved into the Deluxe lakeside room, he declared, “Now I feel like I’m on holidays and I’m excited to be here!”. As long as the Greek is happy!

Native to Rottnest are Quokkas, little marsupials that are part of the rodent family. They are super cute and they are everywhere. They are quite used to tourists and often join in for breakfast!

There are also beautiful birds of all descriptions and some fairly friendly peacocks.

Breakfast at the Lodge offered the standard hotel buffet fare – bacon, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, tomato, baked beans, toast, fruit, cereal, juice, and filter coffee and tea.

There is a pool at the Lodge too – which is little and during our two-night stay, it was always packed. With beaches as stunning as those on this little island, I couldn’t understand why you would want to sit almost on top of people around a little pool.

The beauty of Rotto is that there really isn’t that much to do except beach it, sleep, eat, and rest. There are tennis courts, a 9-hole golf course, an old war canon, a couple of lighthouses and some surf on the east side of the island. It’s just so relaxing and so so so picturesque.  The beauty for families is that kids can ride their bikes without traffic fears and because of days filled with swimming, riding and exploring, kids wear themselves out and fall into bed at the end of the day. Every parent’s dream!

Parakeet Bay at Rottnest Island

Parakeet Bay at Rottnest Island

Eating out options are fairly limited and none of the options are really worthy of much comment. The Hotel pub has great views and a cool vibe, but the food there is average. Aristos seafood is also ordinary. The bakery is a ok and there’s a wholefood cafe that is quite good. Simmos ice creamery has opened up and next door is Lane cafe that serves proper barista made coffee.  There is also a Dome. The general store is well stocked and prices are marginally more expensive that those in Perth. Self catering is the way to go.

Yes, Rotto is expensive in peak season, but it’s also an awesome holiday that is devoid of too many choices, and that makes a stay on Rotto simply relaxing.  I love it.

FACT FILE

Rottnest Island Information
The Lodge at Rottnest
Rottnest Hotel
Rottnest Fast Ferries
Rottnest Express

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InContro, South Perth – review

Could InContro be a candidate for my new favourite restaurant in Perth?

This beautiful South Perth restaurant offers not only superb food, but uninterrupted sublime  city views across the Swan River.  The views are hard to beat.

Inside the restaurant at the view of the city beyond

The setting has an air of sophistication, the waiters are well versed, some donning French accents, and the napery, glassware and cutlery are what one would expect in a fine dining restaurants.  It’s all lovely.

It not just about the views though is it? It’s about the food.  InContro, which means “meeting” in Italian, offers first class Mediterranean style cuisine.  You can dine on the ‘piccolo’ menu – much like tasting plates or Italian tapas, the regular menu, or mix it up like we did and choose from both.

As one comes to expect when dining at a fantastic restaurant in Perth, it ain’t cheap.  No sir.  But for a special occasion, it is seriously worth splashing out for a food experience at InContro.

Leo, Katie, Matthew and John

Our family was celebrating a special occasion, Zorba‘s mother’s 70th birthday.  She is as fit as a fiddle and enjoys nothing more than sharing a meal with her family. Dining with us was Zorba’s sister Marnie and her triplet boys, Leo, John and Matthew, who are seven years old.  There is never any hesitation taking the boys out for dinner with us because they are nearly always well behaved in restaurants and thanks to their Greek and Italian heritage, they love food and eat everything!

Pizza Margherita

As most seven year olds are starving by 5pm, you can imagine how famished the boys were at 6.30pm. We ordered a couple of fresh pizzas for them straight away.  It was enjoyed by Masters Seven with gusto!

Entree was a selection from the piccolo menu; zucchini flowers stuffed with salmon mousse, Rottnest scallops and king fish carpaccio.  It was presented beautifully on a tiered  tray. I could not fault anything, simply beautifully cooked, delicious flavours, and the perfect way to start dinner. The zucchini flowers were my favourite – crispy on the outside, smooth mousse on the inside. YUM! I could have eaten a whole plate of those!

Zucchini flowers

How good do these dishes look?!  Are you hungry yet?

Rottnest Scallops

For main course, we decided to choose our own.  I couldn’t go past the Turkish Sticky Black Angus Short Rib ($45).  Marnie had Linley Valley Pork Belly Vanilla Pear Pomegranate ($36), Zorba and Katie both had Duck Confit Cauliflower Puree Quince Salad ($38).

Turkish Sticky Black Angus Short Rib

My beef rib was nothing short of sensational. Slightly sweet, oh-so sticky, rich with smoky undertones, and the meat was so tender, sliding away from the bone with just the gentlest nudge from my fork.  I have never had a beef rib as good as this one – and that’s a big call.   Whilst expensive, it was a decent sized serve which is just as well or I would not have shared any of it!  The boys all agreed that it was the dish of the night.

Marnie loved her pork and really enjoyed the pomegranate salad.  Katie and Zorba seemed to thoroughly enjoy their mains as well.  To accompanying mains, we had Albany asparagus and shaved fennel pear with candied walnut salad.

Finalmente!  Dessert time.  The seven year old nephews were chomping at the bit waiting for dessert, especially once they heard that fairy floss was a feature.

We all had the Eaton Mess with Fairy Floss and ordered some desserts from the piccolo menu to share. A two-course dessert – now that’s my style of eating!

Eaton mess with floss

The wine list was fairly extensive, but on the high end of pricey.  We shared a bottle of bubbles, a prosecco, to start ($70) and then went for one of the cheapest shiraz blends on the menu on advice from the waitress. I love my red wine but didn’t want to spend upwards of $90 for a decent drop. The waitress’ recommendation was perfect.  The 2010 Sons of Eden shiraz blend ($65) was a beautiful smooth easy drinking red.

The only other time I have been to InContro was for a friend’s wedding late last year.  For a function, it was the best food I’ve ever had. I was excited to finally be going back there again.  And it didn’t disappoint.

It would be hard to imagine anyone being disappointed dining at InContro. It is first class in every sense and really worth splashing out for for a special occasion.  Impressive and highly recommended.

FACT FILE

InContro
79 South Perth Esplanade, South Perth WA 6151
Tel. 08 9474 5566

Open Lunch and Dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

InContro on Urbanspoon

Food Wine Sleep

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