Never was I more grateful for being taught how to ride a bicycle than when I arrived on Rottnest Island and realised there were no private vehicles (and few public transport options). My friend said we’d take bicycles and explore the tiny island on two wheels. It sounded good.
As we wheeled our bikes off the ferry and made a quick stop at the bakery for some lunch I distractedly searched for quokkas in the background, until informed they are nocturnal so were all fast asleep. Ah.
We headed out of the island’s main settlement, Thomson Bay and cycled west. Within a few minutes of leaving we were cycling along the road that runs in a circuit around the island flanked with incredible sea views to our left. The water off Rottnest is a beautiful deep blue broken up with patches of crystal clear turquoise. The colours are incredible.
|Cycling Rottnest Island, Western Australia|
Whizzing along with the sun on my back and the sea breeze in my hair, this seaside cycling was all going very well considering my complete lack of fitness. I was surprised at how easy I was finding it until we came to our first hill. I was being careful on the bike I had borrowed and had slowed down enough that I wasn’t going to make it up the hill. Some furious peddling later and I was whizzing down the other side of it. As I got used to the lack of traffic, the borrowed bike and got a bit braver frankly, the hills became easier to negotiate.
|Cyclist enjoys a rest on Rottnest Island, WA|
The flies however did not. Western Australia has a lot of flies in summertime and they are sticky and persistent bastards. You’d think that while cycling they wouldn’t be too much of a problem as you are continually moving. While sunglasses kept the majority of the flies out of my eyes and keeping my mouth tightly shut kept me from flossing corpses out of my teeth at the end of the day, there was no simple solution to keeping the flies out of my ears (I hate having anything in my ears, especially a ‘buzzing’ something) so I suspect anyone witnessing my cycling exploits may have thought there was something seriously wrong with me as I pedalled along batting my arms about occasionally taking swipes at pests invisible to anyone but me. My friend certainly got a laugh out of it.
|The loop road around Rottnest Island, Western Australia|
We settled on one of the beaches for a while and recovered, me from my exertions and my friend, I suspect, from the amusement of it all. When we returned to our bikes I was delighted to find a pair of quokkas casually hanging around the bike rack. I proffered my hand and it was received with a sniff and a lick. The quokkas hopped around me hopefully for a few minutes but, having come to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to feed them, quickly went back to their scratching around on the ground.
|Meeting quokkas, Rottnest Island, Western Australia|
We headed back to Thomson Bay stopping periodically to take in the views and also because my friend’s pedal had snapped off… When we limped back into Thomson Bay we could barely move for quokkas. Clearly they had woken up and were out in force looking for snacks.
Our cycling adventure had not been without its challenges but had been satisfying. I loved the beaches and seeing wrecks peeking out of the water added character and hinted at Rottnest’s history. The quokkas were also surprisingly friendly so provided quite the interactive experience!
Have you been to Rottnest Island? Did you cycle around?