Monday, January 10, 2011

Rottnest Island: Adventures in Snorkeling and Sunbathing

After my arrival to Australia a couple months ago, I was greatly encouraged to visit some phenomenal place called "Rottnest Island" which is 19k off the coast. In short, this place was amazing as several pictures show below (if you want to cut to the chase you can simply scan for pics).In a brief summary of the island, here are a couple exerts from our friend Mr./Ms. Wikipedia:

The island was given the name "Rattenest" (meaning "rat's nest" in the Dutch language) by the Dutch fleet captain Willem de Vlamingh on 29 December 1696. De Vlamingh described the indigenous marsupial, called a quokka, as a large rat.[6] Ten Aboriginal prisoners were sent to Rottnest Island in August 1838. The Colonial Secretary announced in June 1839 that the island would become a penal establishment for Aboriginal people, and between 1838 and 1931, except for the period 1849 to 1855, Rottnest was used as an Aboriginal prison to "pacify" local natives. Aboriginal men were imprisoned for offences including spearing livestock, burning the bush or digging vegetables.
It has been estimated that there may be as many as 369 Aboriginal graves on the island. Rottnest was the site of an internment camp in both World War I and World War II. In WWI it was mostly used for German and Austrian enemy aliens, before being closed towards the end of the war due to poor living conditions 

   Upon researching information for this post I didn't realize that some many people were basically captive and/or tortured on the island getaway, crazy what they can turn into a vacation hot spot huh? Moving FORWARD, my good friend from the states Glenn came to Australia for a visit just a couple weeks back, so I knew we had to make a trip to Rottnest while he was around, after all when would he be able to do this again? After a very hectic couple of weeks, the decision was made to head to the island since I actually had a day free, so BOOM here we go! Screw planning this trip out days in advance as most do, we were going to wake up, walk to the train station, hitch a ride to Fremantle , buy our ferry ticket and spend the day hopping (not literally) around the island. Of course with this lack of planning we managed to miss our 1st train, then the ferry we planned on was full so we waited a bit longer, but all in all we still managed to make it in the AM time frame.

  Upon arriving to the island, we noticed heaps of large boats just anchored next to the island were most had small rafts to take into shore after they finished off their floating margarita's. Next stop was finding a bike hire and after some frustration of losing our way, Glenn and I found the shop to hire some sweet single speed bikes. My bell was broke as well as my seat kept sliding down, what an awesome piece of machinery! Glenn was the navigation expert, so trusting his eagle scout instincts, I followed suit. We noticed loads of people walking their bikes up the hills and basically decided that we had to ride up the hills harder while making it look as effortless as possible, CHECK.

Great Hangout area

    On to our adventure, we managed to ride the entire island by bike and then come back for more racking up 36K+ on these rag tag bikes, all the while toting around our full back packs, wearing sandals aka "thongs" in down under slang, and rocking it shirtless. The water was amazing and so clear, heaps of people were at the beaches, it was time to hit the water. After bailing out on paying another $25 on snorkel gear, we decided that our swimming goggles would be just fine, so we hit Little Salmon for the dive of a lifetime. I was hit by a small wave walking into the water because it was so clear it caught me off guard and nearly knocked me on my A$$. Upon further inspection (going under water) I took a single stroke and saw a school of fish in front of me, "WOW THIS IS AWESOME!". I found Glenn and mentioned that I wished we had a snorkel because I just can't hold my breath underwater like some people and then I hear a nice English woman say, " I have a snarkel on the beach, let me fetch it fa you!!!". Sweet I got a snorkel and manged to suck in about half of the Indian Ocean up my nose because I breathed w/o clamping my nose shut, OUCH, BURNING, BURNING!

Little Salmon Bay {favorite snorkeling spot} G$ on the far right

  I figured it out thanks to my above average intelligence level and then explored. Without an underwater camera, the scenery is impossible to accurately describe. The corral and the varieties of fish were amazing, to simply put. We lost time and snorkeled for quite awhile before exploring the remainder of the island. We also realized that because we were caught up with exploring we completely missed lunch and hadn't ate since 7am!  By the way there was only one water spout outside of the main jetty, so we were drastically dehydrating ourselves into nothing. After snorkeling a few other spots, we made it back to our 1st snorkel spot, where we were told promptly not to go because of the waves crashing against the rocks in the afternoon was dangerous. Naturally, Glenn and I had to dive in and see what it was all about, the warnings were pretty accurate as the waves really pushed you around especially if you stayed near the crest of the water line. Fortunately we were able to snap a few pictures of us snorkeling and even a funny video of Glenn falling onto some rocks.

Myself snorkeling against the waves
  All in all this trip was great, we rushed back to make our 5:30pm bike drop off time and decided we should jump over to the hot showers in the villa section of the island. SUBWAY it was for dinner, along with a JUG of orange-mango juice we found at the grocery for $2 and a Mocha milk for $1!!! We decided to change plans and not take the late night 9pm ferry back into existence, so we managed to hop on the 6:30pm ferry home. The ride was rough with the boat bouncing from side to side, but our fatigue began to set in at this point, as well as our sun workout, which mostly soaked up my back. On the way back we were able to witness some amazing drunk ramble from some locals to the police as well as make new friends with 3 women, 2 whom were from Germany visiting and another who works at the mines and encouraged us as everyone else does to apply for a position within the mines to BANK some serious money.

  In recap, this was an amazing trip, the pictures will do little justice, but I am fortunate to be able to say that I have experienced this island with one of my best friends. I hope to continue my adventure around Australia moving forward if things line up in order to allow me to do so. Up next, maybe a trip to Asia? Who knows, once I find that money tree, I will pick it dry!!!


  1. I will place this on my bucket list. Hopefully one day I will make this journey. Great post Chris. Keep them comng.

  2. nice post man! that island was AWESOME!!