Rottnest Island… where the sun sets (that’s way over west, and west again if west)

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Rottnest Island is a unique place. It’s unique not just because of the quokka’s – the native furry dudes found only here. It’s unique not just because of the abundance of other wildlife and the scenery. I believe it’s unique because of its way of life. From the moment you arrive you fall into a relaxed and low key vibe.

Rottnest Island has its own microclimate. The water can be warm here and yet in nearby Perth it is freezing. Rottnest sits in current of warm water, making it the ideal home for a vast array of wildlife. Its 18 kilometres from Perth and is 19 square kilometres in size.

The Island has six major zones or habitats (as my scientist refers to them): coastal, salt lakes, swamp, woodland, heath and then the accommodation areas. In addition there are coral reefs and further habitats to see in the water. With limestone being the foundation, it certainly creates a unique landscape to explore. If you are a diver or your kids are old enough there are 13 wrecks beneath the waters surface.

Bikes are the mode of transport here and legs. If you want to spend the day at one of the quieter beaches there is a bus but watch the times carefully as the next one will be a while.

There are plenty of beaches to explore near the accommodation. The accommodation ranges from Rottnest Lodge (which is the only accommodation with a pool) to campsites. The camping grounds do have cabin style accommodation. Rottnest Lodge has 6 different accommodations types and can cater to just about anyone. If you are looking for more hotel style accommodation this is your place. My pick is the premium style accommodation. There are a few reasons for this. With kids, this is where you want to be. The premium style accommodation is small street after small street of small bungalows. Each one is built as a semi. (a term Australians use for two houses sharing one wall) They all have little fences. After a day in the sun and walking, families return for a bath and dinner. The streets become like the street parties of your childhood (I can’t say mine as I didn’t have a street growing up on a property) and all the children run, and ride around. It’s delightful. You don’t get this at the Lodge. You’ll invite the neighbours over for wine and cheese as you prepare dinner. They actually don’t need to come over. the fences are low enough to sit on each side and still share the evening together. The fences have one purpose – quokka proofing the place.

Each little cabin has a fridge, microwave and a BBQ. I suggest doing some shopping before you get there but the supermarket on the island does stock everything. Essentials (dependent upon which family member is creating the list) can be picked up here. They have a tonne of souvenirs and sand equipment for sale.

The first Europeans resided on Rottnest in 1829. Aboriginals are thought to of been on the island as early as 50,000 years ago. At that stage the island would of still been joined to the mainland. The most recent rise in the sea was between 6,500 and 10,000 years ago. The island is believed to be a place of spirits and of significance to the Wadjemup people.

The island is the kind of place you can’t do in one night. (well you can do a daytrip but I think you would be rather rushed) The effort would be too great for just one evening. It’s a low key kind of place so everyone is in holiday mode and there is no need to rush.

The island has a bakery and several other food outlets. There is a pub with decent pub food for a meal. There is an ice creamery which makes for a great excuse for an evening stroll to pick up an ice-cream and mossy along home. Subway is also present.

I recommend hiring bikes while you are there. It’s not only good for you but immediately creates that relaxed vibe. The little ones can be towed in a trailer. Be prepared for the quokkas to jump in or under to gain some shade. They are used to humans being around so they are fairly tame.

My 8 year old loved the Aqua park but its slightly dull if there are no other kids there. Never mind, perfect opportunity for mum and dad to join in!

Enjoy the wonderful shades of blue as you explore. You may see seals. Be aware that there are snakes. I certainly don’t want to be waiting for a helicopter to get me to a hospital. There are lizards around. It certainly is a trip worth doing from Perth. The natural beauty is astounding and you will remember it for a long time after getting home.

TIP – check in time is check in time. We arrived in the morning hoping to be able to drop groceries and go exploring. No such luck. Here I was wondering around with a pram, a baby, a nappy bag and balancing a box of groceries on top. What fun!


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