Rottnest Island, Perth

Rottnest Island, Perth

I am tired as I write this blog. It might be the eight Lebküchen I just ate flooding sugar into my brain or the fact that the sunrise now being at 7.45am makes me feel like I need three extra hours of shut-eye to make it through the day. I should probably just give up and go to bed, because the likelihood that someone is sitting out there eagerly awaiting the next installment of Jellie Down Under is as small as the chance of me making it through this next blog without mentioning desserts or my nipples. It was not my plan for these items to become regular blog features but my subconscious clearly relishes the challenge of referencing my anatomy and sugary snacks in any post I put on this site. I guess everyone’s subconscious needs a hobby.

Today’s post is about Rottnest Island. If you are in Perth, you should make time to come to Rottnest; it’s a great day trip. You can stay overnight, if you want more time on the island specifically, but you can see and do a lot in one day and the ferries are very convenient.

The name Rottnest Island comes from the Dutch for ‘rat nest.’ Rest assured, there are no rat’s nests there or I would not have visited multiple times. The ‘rats’ being referred to are actually quokkas (which the original explorers must have thought were fucking massive rats). Quokka is an undeniably Australian word, but with other native animals being named kangaroo, platypus and kookaburra, I expected nothing less.

Quokkas are super cute little animals that look like they’re always smiling. Maybe they are smiling, because they know that all the gullible tourists will be distracted by their cuteness and offer them food, or, even better, leave their bags unattended to coo or take photos. Make no mistake, these smiley bastards will steal your food if you give them the chance. Also, there is a $300 fine for touching the quokkas, so we obviously didn’t do that because I respect authority and never flout rules to stroke sweet animals. Never.  

Distinctly NOT touching

We used to visit Rottnest as family, where it was the site of many a glass-bottomed boat trip (NEVER pay for these. You get a great view of murky ocean for the fee of at least $40 and your ability to trust) and tandem cycling trip, including one of our family’s most infamous occasions. Seven year old Lucas and Dad were racing back to the bike shop and Lucas, despite it being a race, innocently put his trust in his father and yelled, “WHICH WAY?”

“Left!” Dad shouted from behind.

Lucas turned left and Dad continued straight on, duping his son and winning the race. The apocalypse began and you can now understand why I still hold a minor grudge against Maddie for discarding the winning 4 during a game of Canasta… in 2013. We do not take competitions lightly in our family.

This makes us sound bad. My parents are the best. But don’t play card games with us if you want a participation trophy.

The best way to get around Rotto is to hire a bike and cycle. You can hire bikes on the mainland and pop them on the ferry in order to absolutely maximise potential cycling time, but it’s very quick and easy to hire them on the island. Our plan was to cycle around the whole island, stopping for snorkel and swim stops along the way. As per usual, the map’s cycling estimates were wildly misleading and we made such good time on our cycle that we had time to nap on the beach in the afternoon. Dream, believe, achieve.

We were a little delayed from starting our cycle by Jake getting something so irritating caught in his eye that my mother decided to buy an overpriced can of shaving cream just so we could use the lid as an eye bath. Don’t say we don’t love you, Jake.

Cycling around to stop at snorkel points is essentially my perfect day, though you do have to perfect the on-saddle butt wiggle to stop the post-beach sand from giving you a friction burn in places you never want a friction burn.

Our first snorkeling stop was at Little Salmon Bay, where we were treated to beautiful fish and me being extra underwater, and our second snorkeling stop was at Little Armstrong Bay, where we were treated to terrible visibility and an enormous manta ray coming out of the murky depths right next to us. I had forgotten to charge the GoPro so by this point in the day it was out of battery, rendering me unable to capture this magnificent beast on camera.

We were floating about in the murkiness, each of us independently debating whether it was worth staying out, when I saw a stingray glide past. I’d never seen a stingray before – little did I know how many rays I would get to see this year – so I was freaking out underwater. I gathered the troops and we all watched the ray in awe. Feeling pleased, I kept drifting, confident that I’d seen something cool enough to make the snorkel worth it. Then I heard a noise from Jake that meant he’d either seen something super cool or a jellyfish had attached itself to his testicles. Fortunately for all of us – most of all Jake’s testicles – it was the former.

The manta ray was enormous, at least two metres wide, flapping through the water like an oversized underwater butterfly. Jake watched peacefully until the ray had left our sight back into the sandy water and then popped his head above the surface.

“I’m ready to head back to shore. I don’t want to know what else is hiding in there.”

We swam back and headed to the bikes. Between these two snorkeling spots we cycled right down to the tip of the island where the views were unreal and the large tour groups driven directly to the lookout on buses were unfortunately all too real. One group of adults had decided that they wanted to experience Hell before taking the ultimate plunge and had brought a hundred preteen boys on bikes for a full island cycling tour. It was an unwieldy, miniature Tour de Rottnest. Let’s all just be grateful that the cliffs had guardrails.

After dragging our sandy, mildly sunburned selves back to the main square (a title this cluster of shops didn’t even work for as it’s the only square), we finished up the day the only way I know how – with ice cream. I must have been overtaken by a masochistic alter ego for a second as I declined a scoop when Jake went to get one, only to literally run to the ice cream parlour for a scoop of my own after tasting his. Sometimes it takes us all a moment to see the error of our ways.

The ferry home was smooth and calm, a relaxed end to a very Australian day on Rottnest Island. And I didn’t even mention my nipples in this blog. Though ice cream and testicles did both get a mention so my brain still seems firmly on its usual track.

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