“Guys! Guysguysguys! I got a SELFIE! With a QUOKKA!”
The animal version of me. Weird-ass, cuddly-looking idiots, rummaging for food and grinning stupidly. I saw the “Quokka selfie”-trend years ago, starting with Allan Dixon, spreading to everywhere. I knew it instantly. This was my goal in life.
Barrack St – Rottnest Island – Barrack St
Takes 2 hours out and 3 hours back in
Cost AUD 90 (USD 57) for a round trip (as of October 2019)
Bike rental (bike + helmet) cost AUD 30 (USD 19)
What can I even say about this day. It was perfect. I got up early and caught the ferry at 8.45 am from Elizabeth Quay out to Rottnest Island. I rented a bike from Rottnest Express, meaning the bike and helmet are on the ferry, given out to you upon arrival and when you get back on the ferry to go home you return it at the same place. So simple it was ridiculous and it cost about AUD 30 for a full day. Not the newest, most hardcore bike of course, but it was more than good enough for my use.
The ferry trip out had a bit of rain for about 15 minutes, then full sun and lovely weather. We even enjoyed the company of a local dolphin pod that played around in the churning water behind the boat.
Upon arrival I was given my bike and I promptly set off in search of Quokkas. The weather had taken a turn for the worse so there were clouds covering my sunny summer weather, but fortunately the rain kept away so my problems were limited to navigating the island. Biking around Rottnest can take anywhere from 2 – 5 hours and I only had 6 hours until the ferry went back so I went for the safe option and chose one of the shorter paths ensuring I would be back about 3 hours after I set out.
Turns out, the best place to see Quokkas is in fact IN the settlement area, because that’s where the tourists congregate with food. I figured this out when I got back and checked out the shopping/diner area 😉
However, I did find other Quokkas on my bike ride. As well as awesome nature. It struck me several times while I was biking around there (on my own a lot of the time) how much I was enjoying myself. It was such an amazing day and the Quokkas were just the absolute bonus part of it, important, but not the only thing I take with me. It was almost therapeutic or meditative biking around, listening to Sting on my iPod, taking in the sights… So beautiful.
Now, on Quokkas: “Quokkas are nocturnal marsupials. They’re some of the smallest members of the macropod (or “big foot”) family, which also includes kangaroos and wallabies. The quokka clan makes its home in swamps and scrublands, tunneling through the brush to create shelters and hideouts and emerging at night to find food.
They’re the only land mammal on Rottnest Island, and have become something of a tourist attraction. Quokkas were first described by Dutch sea captain Willem de Vlamingh, who reported finding “a kind of rat as big as a cat.” The squeamish seaman named the quokkas’ island Ratte nest (“rat’s nest”), then sailed away, presumably toward more genteel wildlife.
As for pronunciation, dictionaries offer two options. North Americans usually pronounce it kwo-ka (rhymes with “mocha”), and everyone else says kwah-ka (rhymes with “wokka wokka”). It’s really up to you. Quokkas don’t care.”
These guys look like they’re constantly smiling, but when they open their mouths they look like they’re freakin’ cheering or just so super-happy they can’t contain themselves. I fell in love before I even saw them “in person” and that didn’t change after my Rottnest trip ❤
ROTTNEST ISLAND SETTLEMENT
“The first Europeans took up residence on Rottnest Island shortly after the first settlement of the Swan River Colony was established in 1829. Rottnest Island was considered to be of interest as a place with potential for salt harvesting, farming and fishing. Thomson Bay was named after Robert Thomson, who became a major landholder on Rottnest Island during the 1830s.”
The Rottnest Island settlement now has a shopping area (of course) selling food, clothes, souvenirs etc, but it’s not huge so the commercial side hasn’t done a complete takeover of the place. has a permanent population of around 300 people, with around 500 000 annual visitors.
As a tourist you can hike, bike, see the Quokkas, visit the museum showcasing the history of Rottnest as well as plenty of information on the local flora and fauna and see the old church and chapel (which is spartan to say the least, but still worth seeing). I got a real “blast from the past” feeling when I was in there by myself. It’s literally just a small, whitewashed stone building with one focal point – the stained glass window front an center when you enter. I didn’t get to see the church as I completely missed the fact that the church was separate so I thought they only had the small chapel and that was it. #Protraveller
After checking everything out, having a lengthy talk with the guy working at the museum and buying myself a small Quokka stuffed toy (that I promptly named “Terry”) I went to buy a light snack and do some people watching before my ferry departed. The quokkas weren’t very shy outside of the settlement, but they were completely at ease with getting up close and personal INSIDE. I caught a picture of one standing on a woman’s lap trying to reach her fries. (This can be a bit precarious, their feet are covered with some pretty sharp claws, so I hope he/she jumped off the lady gently)… I didn’t stay to check, I walked up the tiny hill and down the other side and caught some quokkas sleeping (they roll up into a ball with a full faceplant, it’s adorable) and generally just tried to soak in as much as I could before heading back to the pier.
This is an outing that I recommend to anyone and everyone. It’s great for solo travellers, families, older people, younger people, everyone. It was a definite highlight for me ❤
Also: I took a picture of this installation back in Perth because I thought it so beautiful. I’m putting it up here so I’ll remember it. They’re put up in the Stirling Gardens, called “Memory Markers” and were made in 2005 by Anne Neil.