Rottnest Island the Dave and Janet Way

Fri. 17th May 2019

I am not cycling along thereOur conventional approach involved booking a Rottnest Island package of ferry crossing, bikes and snorkels but after that we paddled our own canoe, so to speak. We did come a bit unstuck when we went off piste and landed up stuck in sand!!!! The island is 22km long and about 4km wide so it was difficult get lost as there were marked walking and cycling routes as well as a hop on hop off bus. The ferries make the 30 minute crossing from the mainland and dump their passengers in Thomson Bay settlement.

Quokka in your faceFrom there, people disperse in all directions to explore this pretty island. They then congregation either within twenty metres of one of the nineteen bus stops, or in little clumps looking at the ground with selfie sticks and phone cameras in hand. On closer inspection of the latter, in the middle of the cluster will be one or two small furry creatures known as quokkas. This is repeated all over the island. These quokkas are cute and very friendly. They will nose up to any camera lens and also poke their noses into pockets and generally be very inquisitive. Like animals in the Galapagos, they are completely unafraid of humans – but whereas we were just ignored in the Galapagos, here the quokkas would come and investigate.

Remains of gun placementScene set and stocked up with our lunch, we headed off on our bikes in a clockwise direction around the island as per advice, so that the wind should be in our favour most of the way. Just south of Thomson Bay is Army Jetty and Kingston Barracks heading round the coast is Bickley Point. All this part of the island was taken over by the military during the Second World War and has look out points as well as gun battlements covering the entrance to Perth. Construction started as early as 1935 when the strategic position of Fremantle and Perth was identified, but no shots were ever fired in anger. The skyscrapers of Perth can clearly be seen in the distance. It was at this point we gave up with the maps, as they proved to be pretty useless and turned to the AllTrails app on Dave’s phone.

Impressive lighthouseThere are many beautiful bays all around the island and the further away from the dock we cycled the fewer bikes and people we saw. We took time to view the remains of the vessel Shark which ran aground in 1939 before heading inland to the lighthouse. The gears on my bike kept slipping and that is my excuse for getting off and walking to the top! There were great views of the Island and yet more quokkas. It was actually quite annoying to watch the poor animals being crowded around and having people posing for pictures with them as well as sticking camera phones right up to their faces. The quokkas might not seem to be annoyed but I certainly was, it is just not natural. Can people not read, the maps provided clearly state in red that they should not touch or feed the wildlife and on the spot fines may apply.

I could watch the waves all dayHeading on to the far end of the Island we made it there for lunch, well only half an hour behind our rough schedule. The wind had got up and we found a sheltered spot. Well it is 3,000km to the nearest landmass so lots of ocean for the wind to blow across. You may have noticed that the snorkelling kits have not been mentioned, that is because we decided it was just too cold so had not even picked them up from the ferry. Apparently the water was warm but we were not going to risk it.

An osprey looking at usWe did brave the boardwalk right to West Point, Cape Vlamingh (yep the Dutch got here first) and read the boards. Ooh osprey nests all around and ten nesting pairs! If only I had binoculars or a long lens with me (both are safely packed away in my backpack at the hotel). We only have the compact camera with us and this is the best shot we managed of the osprey. Look carefully and you will see a white head. It was quite a massive nest he sat on, we believe this is a pelican’s nest. Now we knew what to watch for we saw quite a few ospreys flying overhead and landing on the cliffs on the far side. I remember getting excited over ospreys in Scotland many years ago and visiting the hide there and watched them with the help of a telescope.

Much needed tea and cakeWe then returned to Thomson Bay via the north coast which has many more very pretty beaches. The mention of tea and cake spurred us on, as well as my left knee playing up making the riding up the hills a bit painful. We were much quicker returning and even with a detour to find the second lighthouse on the island we were ordering our tea at 3:45 in the bakery just as they were clearing away. Cheap cakes for us just before the doors were locked and the staff were gone by 4:01pm. The return journey was uneventful and we were back in Fremantle by 5pm.

One of the many pretty beachesJust time to visit the dive shop and buy our own mask and snorkel ready for our road trip up to Darwin as we hope to stop a number of times to snorkel without the faff of hiring. Also we expect it will be cheaper to buy now and ditch them in Darwin rather than all the different rental charges. The sea will get warmer up north, we are told!!

Inquisitive quokka and DaveWe are glad we went to Rottnest Island and that we did manage to tour it independently, which we prefer. There was scope to become part of the masses and be herded around but luckily we avoided that. There were frequently groups blocking the path and even a toddler left to wander along the road which required a jab on the brakes and swerve to miss. There are too many idiots in this world and we do like to try and avoid them, whilst we remain in our little bubble enjoying the amazing sights this world has to offer.

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