If there’s one thing you need to do when travelling to Perth, it’s snapping a selfie with the happiest animal in the world, aka, the quokka!
Aside from the adorable quokkas, Rottnest Island is famous for its tranquil waters and secluded bays. It’s about a 30 minute ferry ride from Fremantle, Western Australia and is considered a popular holiday destination for the locals.
How To Get To Rottnest Island
There are two ferries that you can take to get to Rottnest Island; The Rottnest Express ferry which leaves from Fremantle, and The Rottnest Fastest Ferries which leaves from Hillarys boat Harbour.
We were in Fremantle for the first few days of our trip and opted for The Rottnest Express ferry that we had to take from B-Shed Fremantle. The return ticket costs AUD$79. Before purchasing tickets online, you might want to check with your hotel or hostel if they offer any packages or promotions. Fremantle Prison YHA, where we stayed at for the first two nights, had one. A Rottnest Day Trip Special where a return ferry trip and bike hire will cost you only AUD$74! Needless to say, our wallets hurt when we saw it because we had already bought our tickets online and we paid AUD$109 each.
Tip: Get a pill for motion sickness, because the ride can be a little bumpy.
Exploring The Island
There are virtually no cars on the island and bikes are the popular choice of transportation. They can be hired, or you can bring your own by ferry from the mainland for a small fee. You can rent one from Rottnest Express as well for $30 Australian dollars (seriously, remember to check with your accommodation for promotions. I could have saved $35) and present your voucher to the Rottnest Express staff on the jetty to collect your hired bike once you’ve reached Rottnest.
Another word of advice, these bikes have gear shifters on the right handlebar (which may or may not be slightly broken) which makes it easier to ride uphill. If you find it difficult to paddle, try turning it. There should be three settings and I’m not really sure about the gears since I’ve only ever ridden on a regular bike before. Poor Ashley had to ride with a lot of resistance for about an hour before we discovered the gear and changed it.
Private bus charters are available but one of the best options is to catch a ride with the local company, Island Explorer Tours. This hop-on/hop-off service runs daily, and takes you to many of the secluded bays and secret hideaways located around the island. But do note that bus numbers are limited to preserves Rottnest’s fragile environment.
Pick up a map from the Visitor Centre to guide you along the excellent bike and walk trails that criss-cross the island.
Meet The Quokka
The quokka is an adorable marsupial that is native to Australia and has sparked one of the cutest social media trends ever – the Quokka Selfie. They are the only land mammal on Rottnest Island and have become a tourist attraction. The Huffington Post even labelled it as The Happiest Animal In The World, probably because it always looks like it’s smiling.
The quokkas are friendly and most of them are not afraid to interact with humans, but try not to carry them or go too near to those with joeys (baby quokkas). These little guys are currently listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to habitat destruction and being preyed on by foxes and dingos.
Try not to feed them human food like bread either. Their diet normally consists of grass and leaves. Eating human food can be detrimental to their health and can cause them to become ill.
And believe me, getting a #QuokkaSelfie with these little munchkins are harder than you think!
I suppose quokkas can be considered pests, just like raccoons? Since they are known to raid houses for food. I happened to see this house with a ‘no quokkas allowed’ sign. Now I wonder if the person who put it there because quokkas really DID raid the house, or as a joke.
Aside from the quokkas, take the time to marvel at the gorgeous scenery.
There was an elderly couple admiring the view and I just had to capture it. This is what a trip should be like. Taking the time to enjoy what’s around you, especially with your loved ones.
Quokkas have mostly gotten used to humans being around, so some might approach you looking for food.
This idea just popped into my head to arrange the bikes and snap this photo. I had to wait and make sure there weren’t any people behind us so we didn’t block their path.
When I looked to my right, I saw the sign for the bathroom leading…somewhere. Why does the bathroom have to lead in the woods? It just seems so amusing. Like having to hide behind a bush or something to do your business.
After the guys left, it was time to attempt another quokka selfie. At this point, I must have had around eight failed attempts. They were really patient and didn’t run away so soon, but like I said, it’s not easy to get a selfie with them and trying to get on ground level with them is not easy with quokka droppings everywhere.
I failed this time too, but the resulting photos were actually quite entertaining to look back at.
When we got back to where we started, I saw a little quokka hopping out of DOME Cafe and it was my last attempt to finally get my quokka selfie. And I finally did it! I finally got my selfie after a total of 11 failed attempts, at the spot we first started cycling. The irony.
By the time we got back to the starting point at half past two, it was time to get some grub. We decided to try out Quokka Joe’s. Just because.
As for me, I got the Quokka burger. I promise you, that no quokka was harmed. Especially when the chef came out to tell me they had run out of beef patties and had to run over to the general store just across the shop to buy more. It was kind of a normal burger with a beef patty, some bacon strips, ham slices, a fried egg, sliced beet root and veggies, but the nice touch was the fruit chutney. You can choose between a range of different sauce condiments so I went with fruit chutney since it was something different.
Went back to the port when it was time to leave. If I get the chance, I wouldn’t mind coming back here again.
Back at the port in Fremantle, I noticed this statue thingy of a quokka playing golf. I guess it’s to advertise that there’s a golf course on the island. I hope none of the quokkas ever got knocked out by a flying golf ball.
Remember to snap a selfie with the quokka and hashtag #QuokkaSelfie when you visit!