Having seen the weather reports for the weekend at the beginning of the week (predicted 35 degrees on Sunday) we thought it might be the right time to see what Rottnest Island was all about. So we booked our ‘Mega Blast’ ferry tickets with Rottnest-Express and bike hire which came to the princely sum of $175. On Sunday morning we were up early, deliberating the merits of taking our own food and the snorkeling gear over to the island. Due to the fact we were going on the Mega Blast rather than the usual ferry we were only permitted one carry on and eyeing over our usual haul when we go snorkeling we decided that we couldn’t take it all with us, as we just couldn’t cycle around the island whilst trying to balance all of these bags on our backs. So we just took drinks, the masks and the snorkel’s with us – hoping the sea would be warm enough for us to go without our wetsuits for the first time. As it turned out the sea was far too rough for any kind of snorkeling anyway – so we were glad we didn’t take it all with us.
A quick drive to Fremantle and we were ready to catch our 9.35am ferry, it was already 26 degrees but there was a strong wind blowing in from the Sea so we didn’t mind the heat at all. We go on to our ferry (ok, more like a speed boat – the term ‘mega blast’ was becoming more obvious!) and sat down in the third row from the front. Our captain for the day came and informed us that we were some of the lucky ones as we had seatbelts – this was because the first four rows of the boat were the ‘rollercoaster’ seats and would be the bumpiest part of the boat to sit on, we weren’t deterred though as we were looking forward to the ride! He then asked if we had back problems as the sea was very rough and there were three meter swells that we’d be bumping over – no we all chorused, let’s go!
Well, bumpy is an understatement! We were thrown around in our seats for 20 minutes to get over to the island, people screaming and shouting (with joy?!), we even flew through the air a couple of times when
we went over a particularly high wave, crashing down on to the sea in what can only be described as a kind of ‘belly-flop’ to which I was really beginning to think that my back would not quite survive this spine crushing treatment! We arrived at Rottnest almost injury free (Andy had grazed his elbow on one of his returns from the air to his seat), very windswept, but having had an awesome time.
We collected our bikes from the end of the ferry, and worked out where to head to first. Andy had already spotted on the map that there were a few ‘Bickley’ areas we should head to first, that being ‘Bickley Swamp’, ‘Bickley Point’ and ‘Bickley Bay’. So we set off in search of these so that we could have our photos taken in front of the signs, Andy was most looking forward to Bickley Point so he could demonstrate that he was able to follow instructions. Much to his disappointment there wasn’t in fact a sign saying ‘Bickley Point’, so you’ll just have to take our word for it!
We then cycled back to Thomson Bay to see if we could find the museum
and generally hang around until lunch-time, as this was the only real place on the island you could buy food. By now we’d begun to have a bit of a fly problem – in that there were millions of them, all crawling on our arms and over our faces. Andy had even managed to choke on a couple that had flown into his mouth – not a pleasant experience! We’d never encountered so many flies, and they seemed to be bothering most other people as well. Thankfully in the air-conditioned museum we managed to get a bit of respite and learn about the history of the island as an Aborigine prison back in the late 1800’s.
For lunch we went with some traditional fish & chips, one portion was more than enough for both of us (you get two pieces of fish here and a mountain of chips as one portion!) although trying to eat it wasn’t fun. We were swarmed with flies, so much so that we had to take it in turns to eat, one of us put our hand in for food whilst the other batted away as many flies as possible – it was ridiculous!
The only way to stay slightly ahead of the flies was to keep moving, preferably at speed on a bike. So that’s what we did. First we headed to The Basin, which is supposed to be a nice beach with an almost pool like sea to swim in. There wasn’t much of a pool to swim in today, someone had obviously forgotten to turn the giant wave machine off! So we carried on around the coast to see if we could find a more sheltered bay to try some snorkeling. In the end we found a bay called Little Parakeet Bay, which wasn’t particularly sheltered, but by then in the heat of the day (now at 35 degrees) we decided to have a rest on the beach and cool down in the sea. We went for a dip, but we couldn’t swim because it was too rough and the rips were too strong, so just went up to our waist and jumped around for a while, enjoying being out of the flies reach for a few minutes. Trying to lie on the beach for any length of time proved impossible, the flies were everywhere. So up we got again for
6. Bickley Point
And point he did!
some more exploring.
We rode through the salt lakes on the island (not literally, there was a track through the middle!) and saw the Pink Lake – which turns a shade of pink at certain times of the year, and lots of interesting birds nesting. We happened across the Oliver Hill Battery, which is at the highest point on the island (that wasn’t a fun cycle up there) and is where a large gun was stationed in WWII. We were able to walk around the gun and generally get out of the sun for a bit. We also asked a tour guide about the large amount of flies (having sworn if it was always like this we’d never be coming back) he said in all his time on the island he’d never known as many flies as this – they never normally get ANY flies at all on the island. Well, aren’t we just the lucky ones! It was something to do with the heat and the winds that had brought them on apparently.
Having just about exhausted ourselves for the day, getting quite tired and irritable from the flies, the heat and the cycling, we headed back
to Thomson Bay for an ice-cream and a cold drink. We spent the last 30 minutes of the day stood in the sea up to our waist because this was where there were the least flies – not really how I’d imagined spending our time here! Unfortunately Andy had put his t-shirt a little close to the shore and a large wave took care of that – soaked and dumped a whole load of sand right on top of it. Try as he might, there was no shifting that sand with any amount of rinsing, so it was a bare-chested ride back to the mainland! Thankfully the Mega Blast back to Fremantle wasn’t as hair raising as the journey over, although we did do some tricks behind one of the larger ferry’s to try and get some height going back, a thoroughly enjoyable way to get to and from Rottnest. Although, next time when someone asks if I have a bad back, I’m going to have to own up – today I can barely move without cringing in pain (and painkillers aren’t working!) all that being thrown about on the way out there has really made itself known today!!
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