Five years ago someone posted on Facebook a set of photographs of these small adorably cute smiling furry little creatures proclaiming that they were the happiest animals on earth. They melted my heart. You couldn’t help but smile back at the picture of these little guys smiling at the camera. I immediately googled to find out what they were and where I could find one. It turned out they were Quokka. A small marsupial that call a tiny island off the coast of Perth Australia their home. It was settled, when I landed in Australia, visiting Rottnest Island and getting a Quokka selfie had to be done.
Western Australia was the bookend to my holidays before flying back to Nova Scotia. Rottnest was the first thing I did when I got there. My anticipation for my trip out to Rottnest was only slightly quelled by the idea of being on a ferry in potential rocky seas and getting seasick. Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad on the way over and at the end of the day the ferry was larger and had an outdoor sitting area so I plonked myself on the deck. No seasickness that day! If you go from Fremantle return including a bike hire for the day, the trip costs 99AUD. It was hands down the best 99AUD I have ever spent. The sun was out, I had a picnic lunch with me, my little red bike, a map of the island and my camera on standby for Quokka encounters. I was ready.
Now, there are a few routes you can do around the island. I chose the longest one which circles the whole island. They explain that to make the most of your trip you should bike clockwise around the island so the wind is at your back. Murphy’s Law, the wind thought it would be amusing to be in full force and blow in the opposing direction that day. I must say it made me love the hills all that more. Despite the wonderful wind, which made going up those hills equivalent to peddling in an oven; I must admit it did make going down the hills and the last flat stretch a lot of fun. It took a lot of effort not to throw my hands up in the air. I didn’t, I have about as much grace on a bicycle as a bear on a unicycle, probably less so.
I had been prepared for the cuteness and my excitement of seeing Quokka. I hadn’t been prepared for how ruggedly beautiful and peaceful Rottnest island. At times, it felt like I had the whole island to myself. The main lighthouse and Western Australia’s first stone one, Wadjemup, keeps watch over the rocky shores standing like a sentinel over the island. They built a second one though in 1900 after the waters claimed the City of York and her eleven crew so that sailors could better judge where they were situated amongst the dangerous shoals.
Turquoise waters, coral reefs, jagged rocks, twisted trees knarled from ocean winds with sparrows performing death defying twirls in the air surround you, leaving you constantly lost for words. And the Quokka chilling out on the side of the road or hoping over to check you out are the added bonus.
I stopped for lunch and a swim at Parakeet Bay. A small bay with golden sand and birds playing in the surf. Minus one gentleman at the other end and a few seagulls hoping for some of my sandwich I was alone. Floating in the Indian Ocean, relaxing after a good morning cycle, the outside world melted away.
Whether my lack of ability to get a quokka selfie is due to my general uselessness at taking selfies or my over excitement of having one that close to me or a mixture of the two I don’t really know but I never managed to get a selfie with one. It is amazing how little fear they show though and how inquisitive they are. Although they are definitely hoping you won’t follow the rules and possibly offer them some food. One had found a piece of sweet potato and was happily munching away and this girl, cruel or nature lover I don’t know, ran at the poor thing so that it wouldn’t eat the human food. The little Quokka looked so confused and upset. I felt so bad for the little thing. Everywhere you went people sat beside them trying to get a selfie it was all a bit odd.
5:00 came and it was time to get back onto the ferry to Fremantle for a look around and a catch up with an old friend. So I, a little too sun kissed, looking like I had just walked out of the sea with my hair in every which direction and in a happy dazed bubble that only a day of exercise, sea air and a bit of Quokka madness can do I returned my little red bike and took my seat over looking the ocean and said goodbye to Rottnest Island and the happiest animals in the world