Baked Beans at Rottnest

baked beans

With issue 15 away, I just had a family weekend at Rottnest and I couldn’t recommend it more.
It’s a rocky outcrop 12 miles off the coast of Perth that’s covered with scrub and salt lakes and tiny rat-like kangaroos that shit everywhere.
Accommodation is ex-prison, turn of the century worker’s cottage, post-WWII migrant camp, or 1970’s unit complex for upper level Soviet bureaucrats. The only vehicles are service vehicles, two police cars and buses. One of them is an aboriginal tour bus and I wonder if they’re too polite to mention that under the ground is the bones of their incarcerated ancestors.
Other than that, it’s great. Crunchy white beaches just across from the balcony and low 20C sunny winter days.
Friends are next door or just down the road. You can walk or cycle everywhere without having to dice with traffic.
It’s village life without the not from round here are you villagers. Dinners are shared, kids play together, drinks start at noon, books are read and windows are looked out of.
What’s it like? It’s like the idealised caravan park of my youth without the caravan and without the roller rink.
There’s a lot of guff about Rottnest being the holiday spot for the average West Australian. It’s not. It’s actually filled with AB demographic Western Suburbanites slumming it. But it does retain some magic and it’s this – holiday spots are now places for resorts or holiday homes. Resorts always feel like someone else’s place and holiday homes are now more like the home you have in the suburbs. Get in the car, go to the supermarket, get back in the car. I’m just wondering why they can’t create communities like at Rottnest, on the mainland.

Enough of that, here are the baked beans I made.

Baked Beans

2 cups of dried haricot beans
1 stick of celery
1 onion
1 glass of red wine
1 large tin of chopped tomatoes
a handful of chopped speck/pancetta
3 sprigs of thyme

Soak the beans for 5+hours and then cook in lightly salted water for half a hour. Finely dice the onion and celery and chop your speck up into small pieces – about the size of your front tooth (adjust accordingly, if you’re a sabre-toothed tiger for example, you may want it a bit smaller – or not. Ooh look out, here’s one now…

: =

no it’s OK, it appears to be dead.)
In a cast iron casserole pot, sauté the bacon over a moderate heat until slightly golden. Then add the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes, then add the celery and sauté until soft. Add the beans and mix well. Add the glass of wine, bring it to the boil and stir for a minute or so and then add the tin of tomatoes and mix well.
Leave to simmer uncovered until reduced to a sticky consistency or put it in a 150C oven to a similar point.
Season and serve on thin slices of toasted white bread.


  1. santos.’s avatar

    ah, lucky holidaymaker and beanbaker. where does the lovely name "rottnest" come from?

  2. Anthony’s avatar

    also a heartbreaker, hip shaker, troublemaker

    It's from the sweet sounding Dutch for 'rat's nest'

  3. John Townsend’s avatar

    I have no had the pleasure of visiting Rotternest.

    I have any photos of the park I would love to included them on my Caravan Park Photos website.

  4. beyondbagot’s avatar

    we visited the Thai rotto just a few months back – a worthy cultural exchange


  5. Anthony’s avatar

    Sorry for the confusion John but 'like a caravan park' – it'd be a brave man that would take his caravan to Rottnest.

    Did it have a bakery that sold the pastries of my childhood?

  6. Ella’s avatar

    wow, it's always a delight/shock to be trawling the foodblog world and suddenly come across a post on one that you've randomly clicked – and it's posted from your doorstep! just came back from rotto, not sure if i like the direction its taking though, freakin' expensive…

  7. Jeanne’s avatar

    I did think "hmmm, that sounds rather like rats' nest in Afrikaans…" and I was not wrong! Great nostalgia-inducing post though. And ace-looking beans! The photo is kind of like an edible Rorschach test…

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