A September Day on Rottnest Island

A Day on Rottnest.POST

It was early.  Too early.  But I was running off an adrenaline rush because I was finally heading to Rottnest Island.  It was a place I had firmly on the itinerary for our Australian road trip.

We departed from Rous Head, in North Fremantle, just south of Perth City. After checking in, we grabbed the biggest coffee on offer at the nearby café.  I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet. That was packed in the daypack. I was too excited to eat anyway.

We popped some Dramamine, not knowing how rough the water would be in open water.  It was a good thing Rich did.  He was looking a bit green at one point, even with the Dramamine. We found a seat outside, with a front row view from the back of the ferry and enjoyed the view as we headed out to Rottnest, waving goodbye to the mainland for the day.

Morning Coffee

Upon arriving at the island, we lined up for our rented bikes, which were transported on the ferry with us, grabbed our helmets and headed north, through the Settlement, toward the lighthouse.

We decided to skip the Settlement when we initially arrived, tapping into our morning energy while we had it. We had made up some peanut butter and jelly (jam) sandwiches and bananas to eat for breakfast, once we arrived on the island but looking at the options after we arrived, we could have grabbed breakfast easily at one of the couple of cafés available in town.

bikes on rottnest

We spent the next 4 hours exploring the island.  We stopped at The Basin for a little while, basking in the gorgeous surroundings.  It wasn’t quite warm enough to take a dip, or plunge in for a snorkel, but I was tempted.  The shoes did come off and my toes did get to feel sand between them and it was incredible.  Cold, but incredible.

There were some daredevils jumping into the water, as there always are, yipping in delighted screams at the briskness of the water. I just wasn’t ready for that.  I was excited enough just to be on Rottnest.

Believe it or not, this was a working trip!
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Rottnest Island. The water was turquoise, with patches of a deep cobalt blue where seaweed lay beneath the surface.

It was a sight I’d never seen before, despite my extensive travels.

We cycled from cove to cove. It was breathtakingly beautiful at every turn.

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We spent the next 4 hours exploring the island.  We stopped at The Basin for a little while, basking in the gorgeous surroundings.  It wasn’t quite warm enough to take a dip, or plunge in for a snorkel, but I was tempted.  The shoes did come off and my toes did get to feel sand between them and it was incredible.  Cold, but incredible.

There were some daredevils jumping into the water, as there always are, yipping in delighted screams at the briskness of the water. I just wasn’t ready for that.  I was excited enough just to be on Rottnest.  The colour of the water was clear but looking at it from a distance, it was the colour of turquoise, with patches of a deep cobalt blue where seaweed lay beneath the water’s surface.

We cycled from cove to cove. It was breathtakingly at every turn.

We had packed some ham and cheese sandwiches, some apples and muesli bars for lunch so when the time came, we found an amazing spot near City of York Bay and sat for a while in the sun, eating our lunch.  I could not have picked a better spot for the day.  There were no crowds.  No noise, but for the sound of the lapping ocean on the shallow reef and the occasional boat passing by.  It was just me, the sandwich and the sea.

After lunch, our destination was West End.  It is at the far end of the island, a mere 11km from our departure point.  It felt like an easy ride, with some slower hills slowing us down to a very slow pace, due to the lack of gear options.  Before arriving at West End, we caught a headwind and by that point, it was enough to do me in. We had found ourselves out of water and there was no water to be found since Geordie Bay, I found myself walking the bike up the hills.   At West End, there were many daring King Skinks, a lot of amazing sights, but no drinking water.  We continued on despite being parched.

Lunch Spot on Rottnest

At West End, we stood and watch the waves crash violently against the rocky alcoves.  West End is like visiting the end of the world.  You feel that rawness of vulnerability.  It’s rough seas, blowing winds and battered rocks.  But it’s also fresh sea air and freedom and vastness.

When we left West End, we stopped at Cathedral Rocks.  We almost didn’t. A mother beaconed her nearby pouting son with enthusiasm so I knew there were something special down the track.  This is where the N.Z. Fur Seals live, basking in the warm sunshine, either on the rocks or in the water.  Watching them could have easily been an all-day event.  The seals looked to be doing water aerobics or  at least some form of yoga.  It was hilarious to watch as all seemed very coordinated with flippers in the air although one put his flipper on his head in a ‘doh moment’, as if it to say “Ugh!  I can’t DO that pose! It’s just too damn hard!’.

I could relate.  My bum was starting to get sore and I had a bruise starting to form where the seat adjuster was jutting out. I found the strength to push it all the way in, but it was too late for the leg.  Eventually a gorgeous purple shiner would form, but it wasn’t something I really felt while riding.  More inconvenient.  Ah, all in a day’s ride.

We left the seals and made our way back, taking the loop, toward Thomson’s Settlement.  This side of the island seemed less populated and had rougher waters.  It was still picturesque, but with brutal rocks jutting from the water.

West End

The rest of the island was covered in budding wildflowers.  It was as if we were just a little too early for the flower display.  We rode past salt flats, which if you read the history section, was a huge industry back in the day for the island.  We rode past the airport, where scenic flights were pushing a bustling trade.

As for the quokkas, I was so excited to finally see them but I expected them to be bigger somehow.  They are so petite, we managed to go past many without even realising they were there!  Because of this, the quokkas we did see were few and far between on our ride.

At The Settlement however, they were everywhere.  I’m sure they were waiting for tourists to share their meals, which is highly discouraged by the way, but we only gave them an opportunity to smile as we pointed our cameras at them, since they are reportedly the happiest animal on the planet.  We did this at a distance of course. And, and murphys law would state, as soon as the camera was lowered to their level, they were curious and came quickly toward us as we continually pulled back, just trying to get out of their way.

Quokka

Spent and in need of water, we made our way back to The Settlement around 4pm.  Tourists were everywhere, finishing up their afternoons.  Many seemed to be staying on the island as it was Western Australia’s school holidays.  It was delightful to see kids hanging out, feeling free to roam, without the need to be helicoptered.  I could see spending holidays here with the family or even with a bunch of friends.  It would be the perfect spot.

We finished our day on the island with a cold beverage, a bucket load of water and a pizza at the Rottnest Hotel.  Sitting outside, we watched boaters putter in on tenders to grab dinner at the hotel.  We watched kids dig in the sand or throw a Frisbee on the nearby beach, as their adults indulged in adult beverages at the nearby pub.

We watched the seagulls flap in to pick up patron’s leftovers. Too busy watching everything going on around me, I jumped in my seat when something rubbed against my leg, only to find a quokka looking up at me, waiting for his own handout.  ‘Sorry mate, nothing for you here’ I said, watching as he/she moved on to another hopefully indulging hand.

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After the sun set, the last ferry of the day was getting ready to depart and it had our name on it.  We returned our bikes and helmets, which were quickly loaded back on to the ferry and found a seat, again at the back of the ferry.

We watch as Rottnest’s lights lit the water as we sailed back to the mainland, envious of those staying the night.

The ferry return was smooth until we hit open waters, then it was like riding a rollercoaster.  The adrenaline hit and I could feel sea spray whisper on my cheek, the girls at the other end getting soaked as the ferry rode the waves, giggling in delight while their mother shook her head laughing. Rich had downed a Dramamine and was holding it together but as we rode the waves, it was one very adventure fun ride. I found myself feeling melancholy when the waters turned smooth.  We were back in the Fremantle Harbour.  It meant the amazing day on Rottnest was officially over.

For more information on Rottnest Island, check out Your Guide to an Amazing day on Rottnest Island.

Note:  This was a sponsored experience, with thanks to Rottnest Express. Our sponsorship was brought about by our own initiative. We do not promote any brand we have not used or experienced for ourselves.  All opinions are our own. Please follow our advice at your own risk. All costs and links are current at the October 2017 publication date.  For the latest prices, click here for the Rottnest Express website.

Catch me, videoing as I ride my bike back into The Settlement.  I still had some energy!

A September Day on Rottnest Island | Travel Far Enough | Rottnest Island. The water was turquoise, with patches of a deep cobalt blue where seaweed lay beneath the surface. It was a sight I’d never seen before, despite my extensive travels.

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2 Comments

  1. October 20, 2017 / 12:09 pm

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it Dhara! It was an amazing day. One of my favourites of the roadtrip to date!

  2. October 19, 2017 / 1:54 pm

    Such a lovely account of a beautiful day at a beautiful place! Thoroughly enjoyed this post!

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