In November we travelled half way around the world to Perth for the wedding of our dear friends Shaun and Jodie. We had visited Perth a few years ago and spent our time between Freo and the city, so this time we wanted to tick something different off our list
Lying just 18 kilometres (11 miles) off the coast of Western Australia, but a whole different lifestyle away is Rottnest Island (Rotto – as it's affectionately known by the locals) an island paradise.
It's just short 25 minute ferry ride from Fremantle and there's a few different ferry companies which go there. We picked SeaLink Ferries and during the month of November they had an awesome buy one get one free deal so we ended up paying $85 for us both (£27). We were treated to gorgeous blue waters along the way and dolphins were even spotted!
Rotto is only 11km long and 4.5km wide making it easy to explore with a number of great trails to follow. There is a bus service (the only motorised transport on the island) but we wanted to explore properly so hired bicycles from Rottnest Island Pedal & Flipper which cost $30 each and we opted for a gel seat at $3.
The roads are mainly tarmac'd and there's signposts along the way, you can cycle a little and stop off at some of the islands 63 beaches where you can relax on the beach or try a bit of snorkelling or even diving, or a bit of surfing or paddle boarding. Or traverse the island which is blessed with a casual atmosphere, surrounded by picturesque scenery- numerous beaches, bays and view points from the lighthouses. The colour of the water was mesmerising and tranquil, from some vantage points you could even spot the city of Perth with its skyscrapers appearing like a mirage in the distance.
Make sure to stop at 'The Basin' for a good snorkelling spot, and at Parkers Point from the vantage point we thought there was a turtle swimming around, after the boys got in for a snorkel they were informed it was a stingray.
Rottnest Island earned its curious name when in 1696, Dutch explorer, William de Vlamingh, mistook the island's unusual marsupial population for common rats and named it Rottnest - literally translating to 'rats nest'.
The 'rats' are in fact quokkas, they are the cutest and friendliest of animals, and are small like a rat but look like mini versions of kangaroos. Quokkas are said not to exist anywhere else or at least in very few other locations. They are friendly as they have no fear of humans and will happily come up close to tourists.
We also come across some King's Skinks and at one point Shannon clambered over some rocks only for a Dugite (a very poisonous brown snake) to appear from the rock and slither along near us!
We had a super day in Rottnest Island, the cycling kept a breeze on us and the views and water were up there with some of the best. We finished the day with a pie from the bakery, such a reward after a day on the saddle!
We went when the high season was still building up, along with the permanent population of around 100 people, the island can attract up to 500,000 annual visitors (and up to 15,000 visitors during peak periods), most of the visitors come for the day but there are cabins at which you can stay over-night.
How to book: SeaLink and Rottnest Express have numerous ferries throughout the day, you can check good deals like our BOGOF online or pop into the office at 'B Shed' in Freo, which is also where the ferries depart. A standard day tickets is $49pp plus government tax at $18pp. If you are a local you can pay $100pp per year plus gov tax for unlimited travel! You will need to book in advance in the high season.
What to wear: A bikini, comfortable clothing, trainers for cycling and flip flops for the beach.
What to bring: Suncream, a hat, sunglasses, a beach towel and of course a camera to remember all those beautiful landscapes.
Hiring a bike: You can bring your own from the mainland or head to Pedal & Flipper where you can rent a bike for $30 per day, we recommend a gel seat at an additional $3. If you pay by cash there is a $150 deposit. (Rottnest Express, when booking you will order a bike and it will come on the ferry with you).
Getting around the island: There are some hills to contend with but nothing too challenging on bike, it will take a few hours to cycle around, make sure you give yourself enough time to get back to the harbour for your ferry. There is also an air-conditioned bus called the Island Explorer which is a hop on/ hop off service, purchase tickets at the Rottnest Island Visitors Centre, or you can combine the bus and bike. More info will be on the Rottnest Island website
Also be sure to check out our friends Shaun and Jodie's travel blog Road To Wander at www.roadtowander.com