Patting Quokkas on Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island Travel Blog

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Rottnest Island, with the skyscrapers of Perth in the background

A day trip to Rottnest Island was at the top of my wish list. I wanted to see the quokkas, those tiny marsupials in the shape of miniature kangaroos that have survived in larger numbers only on this one island. Cousin Bella picked us up by car at the hotel in the morning. We went to Freo first, early enough to have time for a walk through the city and along the fishermen’s port before we had to catch the ferry.

Rottnest Island, 19 kms from Perth's coastline, is the city's most popular day trip destination. Small bays with white beaches and clear turquoise water change with dunes and rocks.

The quickest ferry route to Rottnest departs from the port in Fremantle, just behind the train station.

Shipwreck "Henrietta"
The boat ride over from Fremantle takes about half an hour. There are also direct ferries from/to Barrack Street Jetty in Central Perth. The ferries take you to Thomson Bay. If you want you can explore a bit of the island on foot. However, the island is small but not that small, and if you walk you will stay in the most crowded areas around Thomson Bay.

To get further around, it’s better to rent a bicycle. This can already be done before departure in Freo - the bikes will then be transported on the same ferry as you - but there are several bike rentals in the vicinity of the boat jetty in Thomson Bay. Wearing a helmet is compulsory in Western Australia, helmets can be obtained at the bike rentals.

Don't underestimate biking the island... The island is small but most parts are covered in dunes and you go up and down, up and down, up and down.

Quokkas love a scratch
On a plain bike without gears, best against the wind, this can become tough. Phew!

On clear sunny days it's hard to imagine how this island can be a threat to ships, but it is. There are several shipwrecks on the sea bottom around it. Some can be seen during a tour with a glass bottom boat or when scuba diving. Some are even visible from the shore, like this one, the trawler „Henrietta“, close to the southern edge.

The small island became a protected nature reserve already in 1917. It is car-free except a bus line and a few vehicles owned by the permanent inhabitants, and dog-free.

When a Dutch expedition discovered the island in 1696, they spotted „a kind of big rats“ that lived there in masses. After them they named it „Rattenest“, which later became Rottnest.

Quokkas investigate my bike
The „rats“ are in fact a species of very small kangaroos. When sitting upright they are about 40 cms tall. Their tails are hairless and when they bend down they do indeed look a bit like rats. Nevertheless they are cute little fellows. On the mainland this species is almost extinct but on the car-free and dog-free island, where they have no enemies (apart from dumb tourists feeding them junk food), they have a chance to survive. The quokkas of Rottnest Island are very tame. This bunch of five, four adults and a half-grown joey, more or less ambushed us. We were wheezing up a steep dune on our gearless old bikes when we spotted them hopping towards us. They had obviously been waiting for someone to come along and entertain them. The little guys investigated the bikes and were happy to receive a pat and scratch.
Quokkas
- Please do not feed them. You are not doing them a favour. They will get sick from food that is not part of their natural diet. 

The middle of the island near the lighthouse has some freshwater lakes. The colours are fascinating. One of them is a pink lake, the one next to it is bright blue. For whatever reason only one of the lakes contains the bacteria that create the pink colour. The freshwater lakes in the middle are populated by smaller water birds who like the shallow and calm water. If you keep your eyes open you can spot any different kinds of birds within close distance.

Parrots have arrived on the island, too.

On the way back to Perth, Bella suggested us to take the ferry on Swan River, which would drop us off close to our hotel in the centre, while she’d pick up the car and return straight back to her home in a suburb. So we changed to another ferry in Fremantle port and enjoyed the ride in the afternoon sun.

The style and size of the houses on the hills, and the sheer number of yachts and sailboats moored in every bend of the river, indicate that the city of Perth has many well-off inhabitants…

vicIII says:
Discoveries never end... Thanks for your story!
Posted on: Sep 28, 2017
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Rottnest Island, with the skyscrap…
Rottnest Island, with the skyscra…
Shipwreck Henrietta
Shipwreck "Henrietta"
Quokkas love a scratch
Quokkas love a scratch
Quokkas investigate my bike
Quokkas investigate my bike
Quokkas
Quokkas
Qokka mum and half-grown joey
Qokka mum and half-grown joey
They are tame, but should noit be …
They are tame, but should noit be…
Pink Lake
Pink Lake
Blue Lake and lighthouse
Blue Lake and lighthouse
Bird life
Bird life
Oystercatcher
Oystercatcher
Pewits?
Pewits?
Pink Galahs
Pink Galahs
The skyline of Perth can be seen o…
The skyline of Perth can be seen …
The ferry arrives
The ferry arrives
Thomson Bay ferry landing
Thomson Bay ferry landing
Houses along Swan River
Houses along Swan River
Houses along Swan River
Houses along Swan River
Sailboats on Swan River
Sailboats on Swan River
Panorama of downtown Perth seen fr…
Panorama of downtown Perth seen f…
Ferry landing at Barrack Square: B…
Ferry landing at Barrack Square: …
5,435 km (3,377 miles) traveled
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Rottnest Island
photo by: dyron_888