It is so easy to get swept up in the excitement of the big, wide, unknown world and forget what gems are found right on your doorstep. But with all the beauty and adventure I have been fortunate enough to experience in recent years, Rottnest Island is somewhere I will always hold close to my heart. Located just of the cost of Fremantle WA, this picturesque island is playground for all ages, and is a part of my history.
Last weekend I was fortunate enough to get over to the island for a night to join my family, and a couple of dear family friends who were spending the weekend there. I have been visiting Rottnest, or Rotto, with my family since I was a baby, and it is always wonderful to get back over there with them to explore and reminisce over the thousands of childhood memories we all have hidden in the islands nooks and crannies.
Unfortunately I couldn't join everyone for Friday night as I had a concert but I made it over on the ferry Saturday morning, ready to squeeze in as much sunshine as I could!
After just a 30minute ferry ride from Fremantle (Perth's coastal town) I collected my bike and hit the road to meet my parents on one of the far beaches.
Listed as an A-Class Reserve since the early 1900s Rottnest is beautifully kept with crystal clear waters, and stunning flora and fauna. With no private ownership of the land allowed, Rotto is a popular holiday destination for West Australians and International travellers alike. As cars, other than essential service vehicles, are not allowed on the island you are left to explore by walking or cycling.
As I cycled through the islands salt lakes I was instantly swept up in our local paradise, feeling incredibly relaxed as I rolled across the roads I remember so well.
I met my family at Stark Bay, one of Rotto's 63 secluded beaches, where they were already set up and about to jump in the water for the first snorkel of the day. With a diverse marine life and protected reefs, Rottnest is a wonderful place for snorkelling and diving. Just a couple of meters off the shore you will be able to see a variety of fish and brightly coloured coral, making it a very accessible activity for everyone!
After an exhausting couple of hours fighting against the currents and playing in the sun we cycled back to our chalet where we were staying for the night.
The island has a range of accommodation options, from camping, chalets and even the Rottnest hotel.
Our chalet wasn't anything overly fancy, but incredibly relaxing never the less and is equipped with everything you may need for a night away. It is possible to just visit the island for the day, and if that is the only chance you have then please do, but if you have the option I highly recommend staying on the island for a couple of days. Something I hadn't done for many years.
The afternoon was spent lazing with our books, fishing and wandering the beaches at our doorstep before a quick shower and heading to the pub for dinner.
My sister, Kelly, is a very talented sound engineer who was working a gig that night with the band Hundred Acre Wood at the pub, so we all went down for a spot of dinner, a drink and a night of great live music!
I would like to take this moment to mention the Quakkas! Rotto isn't Rotto without mentioning these incredibly cute native marsupials! In 1696 the Dutchmen Vlamingh passed by the island and described these little guys as a "kind of rat as big as a cat" and decided to name the island Rottes Nest (Rats Nest).
Sunday was spent pretty much the same. After a morning stroll with the Crested Terns on Fay's Bay, we grabbed our bikes and headed to Little Parakeet Bay for a morning snorkel.
We then headed to the main Settlement for a well earned lunch at the Rotto Bakery (A must!) before a couple of us visited the other side of the island where the old army barracks are found.
|The Rottnest Bakery|
After being a location of a Prisoner of War Camp during World War 1, the island was used as a defence point for Western Australia in the 2nd. The history of its military use is still seen today as you can visit its key sights and be guided through its tunnels.
My family and friends had a ferry at 2pm that afternoon so we reconvened for a spot of tea before parting ways. I still had a couple of hours on the island, meaning more than enough time to visit some more of my favourite locations and read a couple more chapters of my book on a beach before heading back to Fremantle on the ferry.
No matter how long you spend on Rottnest, it never feels like long enough, yet you have been transported to a world away from home. You are left watching the stresses of city life float away across 18km of ocean, left simply with the wind in your hair and sand in your toes.
The only problem is deciding which exquisite bay to explore next.
All further information about Rottnest can be found on their website here.