My plan when I came to Perth was always to spend a day at Rottnest Island. Cycling around with the wind in my hair, going for a snorkel in the turquoise waters and meeting the resident quokkas was how I imagined my day going and unlike most fantasies this one actually came true!
There were of course a few aspects of the day that I hadn’t dreamt of. The first was the little girl sitting next to me getting seasick on the way over and then vomiting in mightily close proximity to me. Now I get seasick at the best of times (apparently my body is paranoid that somebody is trying to poison me) but was doing well until this point. Luckily it was near the end of the journey and we pulled into the jetty before there was time to start an epidemic. It’s safe to say I won’t be drinking a chocolate milkshake until that memory has well and truly subsided though.
On a happier note we saw some dolphins on the ferry ride and absolutely none of the other adult passengers batted an eyelid so I had to pretend not to be as excited as the 10 year-olds.
ON YOUR BIKE!
You can pre-book your hired bicycle when you book the ferry and they get transported across with you and unloaded at the jetty. I lined up, collected my bike and helmet, discovered I could remember how to ride it this time (I’m the exception to the saying), which was a relief because there were a lot of people around, and set off.
I’d decided to take the 10km track, which is the second longest and takes you around about half of the island. The longest is the 22km which they estimate takes 3-5 hours and since I had about 5 hours until the ferry back and didn’t plan on non-stop cycling for the entire day (I’m definitely not that fit) I chose the second option. It worked out just right and gave me enough time to stop off at Salmon Bay and have my first dip in the surprisingly warm Indian Ocean. Indian Ocean you might be my favourite so far, just don’t tell the others okay?
Although Rottnest is car free, which makes it perfect for cycling, it is not coach free. I feel like somebody should warn you about that rather than you getting the shock of your life when hear a huge coach pulling up behind you and have to make an emergency dive into a bush to get off the road in time.
It is also not flat, which means some parts of the ride require some leg power but on the flip side you get to cycle down some excellent hills. The hardest bit on my route was the trip up to Oliver Hill Lookout. After quite a bit of swearing I ended up getting off my bike and pushing the damn thing up the hill to the top. Once I got there I realised most people had parked theirs at the bike rack conveniently located for that purpose at the bottom. I didn’t feel too bad as I whizzed past all the people walking back down though!
MAKING NEW FRIENDS
QUOKKAS are the famous residents of Rottnest. For those who don’t know about the Quokka let me have the joy of introducing you to these furry little marsupials. They’ve been nicknamed the happiest animal on the planet because of their cheeky little faces which sometimes appear like they’re smiling. They’re also very friendly and inquisitive which has led them to become modest internet celebrities. There are so many quokka selfies on Instagram nowadays you’d think the quokkas are lining up to patiently have their photo taken with you. I hate to break it to you but this is definitely not the case.
In fact quokkas are fidgety and move super quickly. They barely stay still long enough for you to take a photo of them let alone manoeuvre into a position where you can get yourself in the photo with them. This has led me to the conclusion that the quokka selfie is a product of feeding the quokkas. I saw someone do this and they had 3 quokkas sitting in their lap as good as gold.
Even so it’s fun to just be around the little guys, coo over their cute little faces and try and stuff one in your backpack to take back home.
Just kidding. Quokkas are actually only found in a few parts of Western Australia now and mostly reside on islands because they have so many predators on the mainland in the form of foxes, dingos and a whole bunch of other things. Although they’re in abundance on Rottnest technically they’re an endangered species.
In case you’re also thinking that they look like a rat. Rottnest = rat’s nest. So yes, the island is named because the first westerner’s believed they looked like rats. Has anyone ever seen a rat hop like a kangaroo though or carry a baby rat in a pouch? I’m not sure these people were paying very much attention.
Rottnest Express return ticket and bike hire from Fremantle $99.00. You can book online or on the day at B-Shed in Victoria Quay where the boat departs. RE also run daily from Perth city centre, check the website for further info.