- Written by Libertarian Vagabond
- Category: libertarianvagabond.com
- Published: 27 February 2013
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It’s a classic disease of the backpacker: knowing the beaches of some Asian nation, or the streets of a downtown US city, better than their own backyard.
I can’t count the times that I’ve met travelers from outside of Australia who have seen more of down under than I have. ”Seen Uluru?”, they might say. ”Ahhh, not yet”, I awkwardly respond.
But it is inevitable. The rationale: the backyard will always be there when you get home.
A (Australia) and I decide to change this fact yesterday. Venturing only 20km off the Perth coast to Rottnest Island.
Rottnest gets its name from the fury (rat-like) inhabitants that hop all over the Island: the Quokka. Willem de Vlamingh, a Dutch explorer, landed on the Island in 1696 and upon seeing the Quokka (and mistaking them for rats) decided to call the Island Rotte Nest – old Dutch for “rats nest”. In fact, the Quokka isn’t a rat, but a cat-sized relation to the Kangaroo or Wombat.
Since European settlement in Western Australia, Rottnest has had a Jekyll and Hyde personality. A giant jail, or tourist paradise. It has housed aboriginal prisoners, naughty boys and interned Germans, Austrians and Italians during the world wars. Now, it’s the domain of day tripping tourists, holidaying locals and high school leaver celebrations. Enough with the encyclopedic history lesson. ”Rotto”, in the vernacular – is a place to find your favourite bay, chill on the beach, go for a snorkel and then ride to the next bay and do it all again.
The trip to Rotto takes about 20-30 minutes from Fremantle on the Rottnest Express ferries. It’s usually about AUD$50 for a day-return ticket, but on Tuesday’s there is a special for just AUD$36 (with one dollar being donated to Perth charity, Telethon.) Of that, $16 goes to the Rottnest Island Authority for upkeep of the island.
How to get around? Bike ($30 hire per day) is the usual mode of choice if you want to explore the whole Island. Rotto isn’t that big, so you can easily ride around it in a few hours. Alternatively, jump on the bayseeker bus which circumnavigates the island every half hour ($14 day ticket).
As we were on the early 7am ferry, on arrival in Rottnest it was perfect time to grab a bite at the Rottnest bakery. This bakery used to be an institution – once one of the best bakeries in WA. Now, well – it is a little up and down. Still, fresh pies in the morning were very tasty!
A and I had a chilled day. We headed straight to Little Salmon Bay, famous for snorkeling and then headed further along to its big brother – Salmon Bay.
There were plenty of fish and coral to have a look at, all within 50m of the shore.
On the way home, a little weary – we got a great suprise! The ferry was overfull – so we got to go on the speedboat from Rottnest to Fremantle….a little bit exciting, or scary if you were the three spanish girls behind us.
Authors: Libertarian Vagabond
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