Rottnest Island

After roughly a week and a half in Australia, we spent my last full day on the continent checking off another item from my trip’s bucket list. We set off Monday morning to take the train back down to Fremantle, then caught a ferry to a small island off the coast of Perth known as Rottnest (or Rotto for anyone looking to pick up the local vernacular).

Aside from the gorgeous scenery, Rottnest is one of only two islands in the world that are home to the very sociable Quokkas. If that name sounds familiar (or perhaps even if it doesn’t) you may have seen the memes circulating about these small marsupials whose default expression makes them appear to be always having a better time than you are. My goal: a quokka selfie.

First, we had to make the ~30 minute trip over to the island, then we set ourselves up with some bicycles to cruise around the place which is roughly 7.5 square miles of beautiful beaches.

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Not long after getting acquainted with our bikes, we stumbled upon our first quokka. My phone was in my backpack and I was worried that too much movement would scare her off, so I opted to use the camera around my neck instead. Little did I know that quokkas aren’t skittish at all about humans; to the contrary, she was actually pretty aggressive and about saying hello.

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Eventually she got distracted by whatever leaves she had been eating before we interrupted and I was confident that we’d run into others throughout the day. So, we got back on the bikes to continue our tour around the island, stopping every now and then to go for a quick swim when the heat became too much.

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We ran into another furry guy as we approached Wadjemup Lighthouse which sits at the highest point on the island.  He was more interested in licking the saltwater off our goggles, and I wanted to see the view from Wadjemup hill, so I continued on without a quokka selfie for now.

After checking out the sweeping vistas from ~150 feet above sea level (which is high for the mostly flat island), we slowly descended until we came to the shallow salt lakes that are scattered throughout inland Rottenest. The heavy concentration of salt and bacteria gives them a dark pink hue which is just one more otherworldly experience I had in Australia.

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At some point we stopped for food, and drinks, at a couple of the restaurants found around the island. For the curious, there’s even a grocery store for the people who are staying at the small Rottnest cabins which are available to rent.

As the sun began to set, we made our way to the pier to catch the evening ferry back to the mainland. We encountered one more quokka along the way, but despite my efforts I ultimately failed in snapping a non-blurry selfie. As happy as they look, the sure don’t seem to have any interest in posing for photos…

Back in Fremantle, I got some final pictures of Emile and Penelope, and very serendipitously I was able to grab one last image of the sun sinking below the horizon before my battery died and I’d put my camera away for the long trip back the States.

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There would be one last morning swim in the Indian Ocean before my flight which was great, but also quite the shock to the system to be back in snowy NYC the following evening.

In the end, Australia was an amazing adventure and pretty crazy to think that I only saw such a small portion of the country. I’ll be sure to check out both Sydney and Melbourne when I next visit. And that, hopefully, won’t be too long from now.


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