Sunday, June 2, 2013

Rottnest Island

About a year ago, Tiger Airways, a budget airline in Australia, had a 2-for-1 ticket sale on most flight routes. A lot of Aussies complain about Tiger being a poor airline, but Erik and I have flown Tiger on numerous occasions without problems and have been pleasantly surprised with their customer service. As long as you know what you are getting into (e.g. they will likely weigh your carry on bag so make sure it is under the baggage allowance or you will get charged A LOT), we feel it is a good budget option for flying. During that 2-for-1 sale, I purchased tickets for our trip to Sydney with my parents, tickets to Tasmania, and tickets to Perth. The Perth dates were really far out (9+ months), but they were SO cheap ($150 return per person including baggage) that we decided to book the tickets and hope that we could make it work with our commitments at the time, since we would be taking a few days off during the week for our trip. Erik visited Perth last year for a work conference, but this would be my first visit to Western Australia.

We arrived in Perth early on Thursday morning, picked up our rental car and headed south towards Fremantle, where we would catch the ferry to head to Rottnest Island. We had some time to kill before our ferry left, so we were able to spend some time walking around downtown "Freo", as it is commonly referred to by Australians. It seemed to have a laid back vibe (though that is what Western Australia is known for) and some really cool, eclectic shops.
On our way to Fremantle we stopped at Macca's (otherwise known to Americans as McDonald's, a place that we generally try to avoid) and found out they were featuring an American themed menu called "Tastes of America", including things like the "Smoky Texan Burger" and the "Banana Split Shake".
Found this gem at a Salvation Army (Salvos) store in Freo! Yes, it's a GW bobblehead.
Once it was time for our ferry to depart, we said goodbye to the mainland and were on our way to Rottnest. It is not cheap to get to Rottnest Island, so it is something that we debated back and forth about doing. After talking with friends who are from WA and people who have visited the area before, the general consensus was that we should go if the weather was nice. The weather was absolutely perfect. A tad on the cool side, perhaps, but not a cloud in the sky on that day. Once we arrived on the island, we checked into our accommodation for the night, a cabin that could sleep 6 people. It was basic but clean and a bit of a step up from camping, which we had done a lot of recently in New Zealand and on Fraser Island. We then went to rent bikes so that we could explore the island. There are no cars on Rottnest, so biking is the best way to get around. Armed with a map, we peddled around almost the entire island, about 20 kms or so, stopping along the way to enjoy beautiful views.

Our "cabin" for the night, along with our rental bikes!
Fortunately we did not see any venomous snakes.
You can see the mainland in the background of this picture.
Do you see the sunken machinery sticking out of the ocean? At this point I noticed that we have a piece of sand stuck in our camera, so you will see the dark dot on the rest of our pictures from WA, unfortunately!

Our first quokka sighting! Quokkas look like small kangaroos/wallabies.
Wadjemup Lighthouse
Quokkas are most definitely used to human interaction, though visitors are encouraged not to feed them.
Narrow Neck

We spent the evening hours lying on the beach as the sun went down, then headed into "town" to pick up some food for dinner.
Not a bad spot for a nap! A short walk from our cabin.
Bathurst Lighthouse
A standoff between a quokka and a peacock! 
Quokkas are literally everywhere. Stores have to put these up to prevent quokkas from coming inside.
The next morning we took one last leisurely bike ride before dropping off our bikes and catching the ferry back to the mainland. Our trip to "Rotto" (yes, there are abbreviations for everything here) was short, but we felt that it was just enough time to explore a breathtakingly beautiful place. Erik and I were in awe of the gorgeous ocean views, each one somehow even more impressive than the next. You will see a few more Indian Ocean pictures from our visit to WA, but none compare to the views of the ocean from our bike ride around Rottnest Island.
View of Perth CBD on our way back from Rotto


  1. Enjoyed reading your experience and seeing the pictures of the beautiful Rottnest Island. I'm planning to go there soon on the Rottnest Fast Ferries

    By the way, which ferry did you both hire for the Rottnest Island?

    1. We took the Rottnest Express from Freo.
      I found that all ferry prices were quite expensive. I can see why some people who live in WA find it cheaper to fly to Bali rather than heading to Rottnest. Still, a gorgeous place and one worth seeing!