Rottnest Island & Perth

We spent too much time on the beach, petting quokkas, and relaxing to do a post a day. Here are the notes about the end of our vacation. We’re safely back and already looking forward to more adventures…

We left Perth and headed out to sea. Rottenest Island is about an hour’s ferry ride from the city center. The small island is about 11km long and home to a number of sheltered beaches. We decided to spend the last days of our vacation enjoying the sun and sand. The ferry ride out goes down the Swan river which is the main waterway through Perth.  Along the shores, gorgeous homes spring out of the water until you reach Freemantle.

There, the port looms large with huge container ships being docked to off load their goods. From our ferry, we could see the giant cranes moving containers from ship to shore and back again. The trip over the ocean was short and relatively smooth.
We arrived on the island and immediately met one of the locals. The island is home to a small marsupial known as the quokka.  They are reasonably docile and will approach humans to see what’s going on. They seem happy to be petted by calm adults, but one jumped nearly a foot in the air when a little girl startled it.
The island is technically in the Indian Ocean and the water was colder than expected. It is as clear as most places in Tasmania (Wine Glass Bay being clearer) and there are a number of reefs as well as shipwrecks which you can go snorkeling out to. The beaches on our side of the island are full of soft sand and remarkably free from shells. The limestone around the island is layered with ancient shells, but we only found loose shells on the north side of the island.
We spent the second day doing what we joked was 2/3 of an “island triathlon”.  The morning run by the ocean was lovely. After breakfast, we took a leisurely 10K bike ride along the coast and across the center of the island.  Since there are no cars on the island, riding a bike is the easiest way to get across it. The ride was nice, not too hilly, and wound by some amazing coastline.  We saw lots of people out swimming and the roads were busy with cyclist. We stopped at the lighthouse, which has been operating since the late 1800s and was an important guide for ships heading to Perth.  From there we rode back into to town and had a relaxing afternoon of reading and watching the waves.
Day three was more biking, this time to the north side of the island. The beaches here were just as nice. Half way through our trip one of the quokkas got inquisitive.  He hung out with us for a while before we headed on. Ashley found a ceramic fragment and some sea glass in the sand. We spent the afternoon playing minigolf (Ashley won by one) and air hockey (Drew won). The golf quokkas were much more skittish than the beach ones and didn’t want anything to do with us.  We let them be. Later that night, some hopped into our back yard and we got even more pictures with them.
The last day we woke early and rode out to the beach for sunrise. Some locals nicely decided to tether their boats in just the right spot to get some pictures.  After a sugary breakfast (waffles with sugar baked into them), we returned to Perth proper.  Our only adventure was to the Perth Mint. It’s one of the few remaining mints that actively trades in bullion.  At the trading desk, we could purchase stamped ingots ranging from an SD card sized 10 gram (~$423) piece to full bars weighting several kilos. The tour was nice but the real highlight is the gold pour. The mint keeps one of it’s old furnaces running and enough gold in it to make one, 12.4 kilo standard bar.  The heat and smell of the furnace were impressive even from the stands.  Sadly, no pictures were allowed for security reasons.
We’re happy to be back in Alice, but it was an amazing adventure. From coast to coast on a continent, devils to quokkas, whiskey to gold, we’re enjoying every part of our time in Australia.
Rottnest pictures are here and Perth/Freemantle pictures are here. See you all soon.

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