2019 tour travel blog

Rottnest Island

Smile for the camera

Wadjemup Lighthouse

Can I have your banana?

Elizabeth Quay, Perth

Bell Tower, Barrack Sq, Perth


We are lucky to have another fine sunny day for our trip to Rottnest Is, or Wadjemup as it is now preferred to be known. The island got its’ name from Dutch explorers who saw the wee quokkas, and thought they were rats, Rotte is Dutch for rat.

We catch the free bus to town, but the service stops at the bus station instead of the wharf (another will along in a few minutes, we are told). We are not sure how few these minutes will be, nor do we know if we will get to the wharf with the next one. So we decide to continue on foot, but it is peak hour so there are a lot of others about, in just as much of a hurry, but at least these folks know where they are going.

The ferry is packed (bloody school holidays) for the 90 minute trip to Rottnest, down the Swan River and out to sea at Freemantle. Dolphins are playing in the wake of the boat down river, an unexpected sight.

We decide to wait until we get to the island to talk to volunteer guides about activities, and are recommended to take the hop on hop off bus, with a number of stops pointed out for us. There are other options to get around this 11km by 4.5km island (about the size of Kapiti, for those back home). We can hire a bike, or walk the trails. There is also a day pass on the local bus, but the number of stops and timetable is very limited. We opt for hop on, hop off, AU$20 each, there are 20 stops on the one hour trip, and there is a bus every half hour. Sounded great, pity it did not work that way. It was ok to begin with, we opted for the second bus at 11am, thinking it would be less crowded. First mistake. It was packed, and we stayed on for a while. Unfortunately everyone else had been told by the guides to get off at stop 5 where we also planned to stop. It is here we get the first view of the adorable little Quokkas, if you think miniature wallabies you will have a good idea what they look like. There are a couple here, wandering from person to person looking for a free feed. The rules here are “no feeding, no patting”, but these two think that they will get a feed anyway, even with a ranger close by. Tony puts his pack down, and they are all over it. Then they spot Cynthea’s pack and are soon into that, managing to get at a couple of bananas she had in the side pocket. They did miss out on them, thankfully – there is a $150 instant fine if you feed them. Or pat them. Or give them something to drink (they get water from succulent type plants and from berries).

We had a guided walk us to the next stop, mostly a gentle downhill wander, seeing Osprey nests on the way. Rodger also told us about the bream that lived in the pools at the next bay. At low tide there are deep rock pools left behind that trap unwary fish. These bream trim the seaweed into “hedges” that keep other fish in the rock pools, and then they go hunting. Clever buggers. We are told bream are bloody horrible to eat, so they are safe from being hunted themselves.

It is a lovely little beach, but we are told the swimming is better on the other side, as it will soon get windy and unpleasant here when the “Freemantle Doctor” blows in from the Antarctic. Second mistake – we should have stayed here a bit longer and had our swim here. We get on the next bus, only a short wait for us, but there are too many waiting to get on here. There is another bus coming shortly, but we are lucky enough to get on here, thanks to our guide. Tony decides to walk to the top of the hill to see the view from the lighthouse, and arranges to meet Cynthea in an hour at the far end of the island, where there are a couple of walks and a smelly seal colony.

Tony hoofs it up the hill, stopping under some trees when he spots half a dozen Quokkas. He drops his pack on the ground and lies on top of it. Should have had the video camera going, they come bounding over and are soon all over him, looking for food. He was all hot and sweaty, and they are licking his arms, haha. Tony gets a couple of good photos, then they soon head off to see if someone else is about. People are obviously feeding them, so it is a bit sad. “People food” makes them sick (their stomachs are not designed to cope with our tucker), and they also may make us sick too. Even giving them water to drink can make them ill. And if you piss them off, they will bite, so you have to leave them to it. But they are very friendly and cheeky, and will often come over to say hi (and hat have you got for us to eat).

The view from the lighthouse hill is disappointing, and the tour that Tony wanted to take is some time off. He also thought he could just climb up, but you have to wait for the tour (AU$4). A bit of a wander around the lighthouse, and then down the hill to catch the bus to meet Cynthea. Except that Tony didn’t read the timetable properly, and just allowed 25 minutes from the time he was dropped off (because the buses run every 30 minutes). Bugger. Another mistake. The bus is disappearing around the corner as he nears the bottom of the hill. So he waits for the next one, and waits, and waits. Not sure what the problem is, but the bus doesn’t turn up on time. He tries calling Cynthea to tell her what is going on, but the phone reception is rubbish out here. Hopefully texts can get through… The bus finally arrives, nearly 20 minutes late (others have been ringing the bus company and the visitor centre asking what is going on). The bus is packed, and only a few get off. There is no way we are all going to get on. But Tony and a couple of others have been waiting a long time so they make sure they get to the front of the queue. The driver lets six people on, there is another bu three minutes away and apparently it has room for all. Bugger that, Tony makes sure he is on this one. He finally gets through to Cynthea and he is told to stay on the bus, she will join him at the stop. Not enough time for Tony to get off here and explore.

We were told to get off at stop 18 for swimming and coffee – it was even marked on the map for us. We get off, no bloody coffee shop, and the water is rough, and full of seaweed. Unpleasant to stand in, so sure as hell won’t be swimming here either! And it is a bit cold. We decide give this spot a miss and walk the kilometre to the next one, where there is a pub, and maybe a coffee shop. As we are about to set off we spot the bus, and hop on. By the time we get to the pub it is getting late, and we are wanting to be at the village for a quokka tour at 3pm. So we stay on, and when we get to the shops grab a pie and some locally baked hot cross buns (for tomorrow, Good Friday).

We are more than a little disappointed to find that the main tour was actually at 1pm, wrong information given to us earlier in the day. The talk is great however, and we learn a bit about these cute wee buggers. Gestation is only 27 days, young are born about now, and spend until September in the pouch. Lots of cute wee joeys about in the spring. We see a few animals in the village, though a lot are taking a nana nap (well they are semi-noctural). We are talking to the guides when Tony sees some bloody kid feeding a quokka, and he bellows at her to stop feeding it. Everyone jumps, haha, but they are pleased he said something.

It is nearly time to leave, so we head over to wait for the ferry. You have to be there early to get a decent seat, and we had finished our icecreams, so we head off to the dock. A couple of cute wee quokkas check us out on the way past, still no food for them from us though.

It is another pleasant trip back to the mainland, but the bloody woman on the p.a. system keeps going on about sea sickness (pills available at the snack bar), and that is enough to make some feel crook before we even leave the dock. We just wish she would stop banging on about it. It is a pretty sunset cruise up the river back into Perth, and we get a couple of nice photos. Now it is dark we had expected it to be colder, but it is still pleasant, even though it is clouding over. A quick shop at the supermarket (Good Friday tomorrow, so a lot of places closed).

After tea Tony takes some gear to the room, and really thrilled that we basically have free entry to the outdoor night club outside our bedroom window. Yes, it is that close. Yes, it is busy already. We hope it will have to shut down at midnight (evil laugh). The music itself is not bad, we quite like what we are hearing, so far. It is when they wind up the bass later, and put on the crap for the young ones that venture out late that we will feel differently! The duty manager hands out industrial ear plugs. A little more bearable, hopefully we will be so tried we will go straight to sleep (lots of photos to sort from the last four days though!)



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