Rottnest? More like Hotness!
You probably haven’t heard of Rottnest Island, a tiny dot in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Perth. Well, maybe you have, if you’re a David Mitchell fan and have read The Bone Clocks. In that book, it’s a place of great spiritual significance, filled with sort of residual psychic energy – much of it negative, left over from the brutal treatment of the aboriginal inhabitants and prisoners kept there. I can’t speak to any psychic remnants, but I can say that Rottnest in its current form is amazing. Yes, its name in Dutch does mean Rat Nest, but that’s because it was named by a nearsighted Dutchman named William de Vlamingh. He mistook quokkas for giant rats, and the name stuck (moral of the story – don’t let a Dutchman name your baby).
Rottnest, or Rotto, is a thirty minute ferry ride from Fremantle, a seaport town that’s part of Perth’s metropolitan area. My buddy Phil and I took the early morning ferry from the B shed (row of buildings along the water – confusing name but its easy to find using google maps), rented our bikes from the ferry company and, after a stop to buy overpriced sunblock from the general store, set out on the island to explore. But first, we said to hello to the island’s most popular resident, the quokka. These cat-sized marsupials have no natural fear of humans (which is terribly misguided, in my opinion) and possess what may be the cutest smile in the animal kingdom. But – don’t touch. It’s against the law, and they also have sharp claws.
There are two ways to get around the island: bike or bus. Private vehicles are generally banned on the island. The buses make frequent loops and are a good choice for the lazy or infirm. Coves dot the shoreline, some packed with tourist, some secluded. Make sure you bring your own water and snacks because away from Thomson Bay there are very few services offered. But who needs services when you have the ocean, bikinis, underwater plaque scavenger hunts*, and picturesque lighthouses?
Lodging on the island is a bit rustic, but there is a hotel and a hostel as well as various campgrounds. Book far ahead, because even in winter things fill up quickly. Other amenities are in scare supply – there was an uproar after wifi came to a small part of the island – so don’t expect cell service or streaming Netflix on the beach. Do expect to pay a premium for lunch or drinks at any of the restaurants, though after cycling the island, swimming, and being a lazy bum, any meal will feel earned in that beach-tired sort of way.
A day passes quickly on Rottnest Island. We leave with sore butts, dirty clothes, and salty hair. I didn’t feel any particularly strong psychic influences from Rotto (mainly because that’s not a thing), though if there ever is a zombie apocalypse, or a Robopocalypse, this is where I’ll be – with a cold beer and a quokka by my side. Oh! I almost forgot to mention; I found my Japanese tourist spirit brother here on the Island. Wait – maybe it is a special place after all…
*Book any lodging several months in advance, even in off-season. Go cheap and camp – the sites are safe and views are amazing
*Don’t worry about a car – you can’t rent one anyways.
*Don’t feed or touch the Quokkas.
*Bring your own sunscreen and snacks; everything is very expensive
How we got there: The Rottnest Express Ferry
Should I rent a car? Hell no, and you can’t rent one even if you wanted to.
What we did: Biked, swam, teased a little sunburn from the sun, posed with quokkas, bought overpriced food and sunblock from the general store.
Lunch: Was at Aristos. Seafood, burgers, easy location overlooking Thomson Bay.