richoztrek: Richos trek oz 2013 travel blog

Fresh of the ferry at Rottnest Island

Alice strides up to the lighthouse

Will checks out the view from the top

The view from one of the landings in the lighthouse

The island's museum

Our walking tour to see the quokkas

They're obviously very used to people being around

Sticking close to mum...

... or on her!

Perhaps this is dad?

This one is a bit more of a recluse


Today's journal entry is dedicated to my brother, who suggested we visit Rottnest and who wouldn't mind visiting himself one day. This one's for you bro!

Today we went to Rottnest Island (Rotto!), a 30 minute boat ride from Fremantle. We spent most of the day there, choosing not to stay over in the accommodation (island prices) but taking advantage of the cheap Tuesday boat fares. Will was most enamoured with the tv on board! Ben and I were glad we'd all taken sea'well'ness tablets as the ride was a bit bumpy.

The island was named in the 1600s by a dutch man who thought the area was overrun by rats (rotte), but later found to be Quokkas. Over the past, it's hosted a prison for local aborigines, a reform school for naughty boys, then farmers and their convict labourers from the mainland, and salt farms. Rather different to the small tourist area and nature reserve of today, best known for its cute little critters, Quokkas, and its picturesque beaches. As a consequence of past activities on the island, the original vegetation of dense forest is now pretty much sparse, shrubby, sandy slopes. There are revegetation efforts being made to restore some areas, but as the Quokkas see these saplings as their breakfast, they in turn have been treated like the naughty boys of the past and put into exclusion zones! This is just until the trees have grown higher and apparently the Quokkas are still happy enough.

The only vehicles allowed on Rottnest are bikes, a couple of buses and a few maintenance vehicles, so it has a pretty quiet and 'unbusy' feel to it - very nice. As the kids are not all completely confident riders, we didn't take up the popular option of hiring bikes to ride around the island. We took up the bus option hoping to get to see fur seals but found out they were a 3km walk from the nearest bus stop which would have meant missing out on the Quokka walk (hopefully we'll catch up on some seals near Melbourne). Instead we checked out one of the two lighthouses and then remnants of the past like old limestone walls, horse stables, grain storage and mill buildings all built by aboriginal prisoners, and the reformatory as well as the museum.

The Quokka guided walk was great (although unfortunately not guided by the Quokkas themselves...). We wandered along with a guide learning more about island history and its buildings and around one of the salty lakes to a quiet nook. Quokkas are pretty much nocturnal and party across the island through the night, but some hop about during the day. We found a few rather sleepy looking guys but also saw a number of others who seemed to be fairly active and sooooooo cute. There aren't foxes or other predators on the island, so they are fairly unafraid of people, sometimes even sitting up on their haunches to check you out when you come in close. Of course, you wouldn't want to get too close because if they bit you, you could get salmonella...

A bit of late lunch, a visit to the playground, some souvenir shopping, an icecream and then we boarded the boat back to Fremantle. What a day!

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