If you’re in Perth, and have the time, I thoroughly recommend a visit to Rottnest Island. You can get day trips, but to have a good look around do what I did and stay for a couple of nights.
It’s a decent enough sized island. About 11km end to end. Used to be a gun emplacement during World War II but now it’s completely given over to the tourist industry. And let me tell you, of all the places I’ve been these guys have got it pretty much sorted.
I got the ferry from Perth, via Fremantle, and here was the first pleasant surprise. You just label your bags with where you’re staying, they load them on the ferry, and deliver them at the other end. Brilliant! No lugging big backpacks around. As I was staying 2km from the harbour, and would be renting a bike, that worked out great for me.
That’s right, I said bike. I still haven’t learned my lesson. After my previous epic bike rides cycling on an island seemed to be simple enough. I mean how far could I go? Well, as I found out, quite far enough! Actually, it wasn’t so bad. I went round the island on the first day, just for the hell of it, and it was ok. I did the ride in bits, and there weren’t too many hills, so I got round more or less in one piece.
I also got to do my first headstand pic, at what I thought was the main lighthouse.
Only later did I discover it was just the mini-lighthouse, and the main one was elsewhere. Still, no matter. At the other end of the island I got to see a tall ship coming in, which was a very welcome surprise. I love tall ships, and hope one day to sail on one for a while.
The sight was so unexpected I thought it was a ghost for a moment, lol. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I watched it, looked away for a bit, and then next time I looked it was gone! I managed to keep the uncertainty going in my head until the next day, when I saw it at anchor on the other side of the island. So, no ghost, but still it was fun to pretend.
Apart from all that my first day was relatively quiet, except for all the Quokkas!
Quokkas are the local bit of wildlife that give the island its name, (some Dutch guy thought they were giant rats and so named the place Rottnest – ‘Rat’s Nest’) and they’re protected, which means they’re everywhere and they’ve got no fear of man.
They were everywhere round the old barracks where I was staying, so many you’d have to watch you didn’t stand on them when you went outside. They were very cut, and completely harmless, and it was nice to have them wandering about. Just added to the charm of the place.
Day two saw my brother and his family come over for the day. We had a fairly decent lunch at The Bakery (I confused them with my veggie burger order – excluding the pesto, because of the cheese, left me with just mushroom and salad, and they just couldn’t quite get their head around that to begin with), went for a paddle in the sea, and then jumped the tram up to the old gun emplacement.
So, another day, another tram. That makes three so far this trip (I think) but I’m not complaining. We had a nice ride up to Oliver Hill. Spent most the time looking out for quokkas. Then once we got there we did a tour of the gun emplacement and underground tunnel system.
I’m not massively into guns, but I do like being underground, and I also saw an opportunity for another headstand shot.
In taking the shot my brother dropped my camera, right on the lens. If you look closely you can see the curved shadow of the interior lens in the left hand corners. We got the lens back in position so that it would close again, but it’s still not working quite right. It’ll do for a while but it looks like I’m gonna need a new camera. But at least it wasn’t completely done for. If I’d been without a camera for the Indian Pacific trip (coming next) I’d have had to practice some serious non-attachment!
After they’d gone I cycled out to Little Salmon Bay to take a promised photo of the West Australian sunset over the sea. It was nice to just sit there for a while, listening to Sigur Ros on my iPod, just watching the sun go down, not being in a rush to be anywhere.
My last day saw me seeking out the main lighthouse on the island. It was a sweltering bike ride in the midday sun, but I made it. I had a lovely tour with a lady named Jan, who’s also into yoga , and I got to do another headstand shot.
I’m glad I got the shot, but what I didn’t think about was how hot the tarmac would be after baking in the sun all day. Now when I do the timed shots I always take three at a time, so I have some options. So, for your amusement, here’s me running away in pain after burning my hands on the hot road.
All that left for me to do was go for a flight round the island! I’d seen it advertised, and at only $38 for a 10 minute ride, how could you say no? I had to hang around for a bit until some other turned up (two person minimum), but eventually I got to go.
I love small planes. They remind you what a fragile thing flight actually is. More like skating on ice than anything else really. You get tossed around all over the place, especially at take-off and landing, and you never know how things are going to turn out. Good fun, lol.
And you get great views too. Check these out:
And that was it for Rottnest Island. I got the ferry back to Perth in the afternoon, spent the night there, and then next day I boarded the Indian Pacific train for Adelaide. That, of course, was an adventure in its own right, and I’ll be going into that next time.
Ciao for now.