Wandering Rottnest

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Oceania » Australia
August 7th 2018
Published: August 7th 2018
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I, naturally, woke up early to make the most of being on Rottnest as soon as I wake up. It would probably be quite nice to spend an extended period of time on Rottnest because although the accommodation is relatively expensive, you can bring across basically as much stuff as you like and there is a full kitchen.

After dropping of my key, I headed out for the day's birding to thoroughly bird the Western side of the island and the mixture of rocky coastline, lakes, and heath with patches of remnant woodland. A surprising bird sighting was a Sacred Kingfisher which I wasn't expecting because they mainly migrate North at this time of year. Although the lakes were extremely full and just about bursting their banks with the unusually large amount of rain over the last few weeks, I was able to locate a mixture of waders around some of the shallower edges and sandbanks that would normally be above water.

The island in the early morning is really peaceful and quiet and the views are just absolutely stunning over the island and over the ocean. You definitely get a lot more out of the island by spending the night and just one night gives you about three times as long on the island so I didn't have to rush to cover the area as I have done on day trips. There were lots of King Skinks around today, and weirdly these were my first herps on Rottnest where normally they would be common but it has been cold recently. Today was much warmer than previous days though, and although the island is windswept on parts, it actually feels warmer than the mainland. The sun came out in the late morning too, making the scenery particularly impressive. I know most people think of Australia as hot and sunny, but it is winter now and Perth is quite far to the South. Today was the first day in Perth where I could comfortably walk around in short sleeves. Of course, having my chamoflage shirt exposed is what made all the difference with finding birds

Two rather good lifers were a Banded Lapwing and. Red-headed Avocet. The avocet in particular was especially striking sitting by the side of a lake with a mixed group of the two stilt species. I also relocated the big raft of Banded Stilts that I had seen from the bus yesterday and there was a vast mass of several hundred of them on Lake Baghdad which was cool. They are more striking looking than the common Black-winged Stilt that you can see easily on the mainland. There were no stilt rafts when I visited Rottnest last time (or at least, I didn't find them) so it was nice to see one on this visit with a very large number of birds.

My loop around the lakes and coast took all morning and the early afternoon and at lunch I was entertained by a quokka actually climbing up onto my table via the chair opposite once it realised that poking at my legs was not going to get it any food dropped down.

I didn't have long after lunch because the last boats leave at 4:30 so I went to have another check of the nearby rock parrot sites before going back to the dorm to pick up my stuff from the locker. I didn't find any Rock Parrots but I've seen pretty much everything else, and because I saw Rock Parrots on my last visit I feel like I've done Rottnest properly and thoroughly now and two full days on the island gives you long enough to get a proper look at everything. It is a really cool place and just a 30 minute boat ride from Fremantle Port too.

The last few weeks of going everywhere by car means I'm not as used to walking as I was at the end of my time in Malaysia. About 15kms yesterday and probably just over 20kms today on mostly flat land had really tired me out while that would have been normal even with gradients at the end of my time in Malaysia. I got the shuttle bus back though after picking up my stuff from the dorm to save the 1.8kms. This is a free shuttle service for those staying at the two accommodation areas away form the main settlement at Geordie Bay to the North and Kingstown Barracks to the South and it goes every hour so it's frequent enough if you happen to get the right time or are opposed to the walk, but otherwise the walk is about 20 mins if you don't stop.

I got the ferry off the island at 4:30 and instead of going to Fremantle Port where I started from, I went to the Barrack Street Jetty in Perth City instead. This is a fair bit further up the river estuary and normally is more expensive but when I booked was the same price. I did this because I was making my own way upon arrival rather than with a car as I was dropped off and from Perth City I would have a chance at getting a bus and would also be within a reasonable Uber distance if the wait for the bus was too long which I thought could well be the case given how very infrequently buses run out to the Perth suburbs.

The most interesting seabirds from the ferry back were gannet, including one diving. Also of note was a distant whale sighting which was probably a Humpback because that's most common but Southern Right is also a possibility. The ferry stopped at Fremantle first and then continued up the river to Perth City where I was getting off. This passed the container port and then the city centre at twilight which was really interesting and an enjoyable further part of the journey which I'd not done before, always getting the ferry from Fremantle.
The cruise up the river from Fremantle to Perth was actually longer than the journey from Rottnest to Fremantle (because the boat was going much slower) and it was a very nice relaxing journey that's worth doing, especially since I didn't have to pay any more for the ticket.

The boat got into Fremantle at 5 and was scheduled to get into Barrack Street Jetty at 6 but got in five minutes late. This was slightly worrying because the bus I needed to catch left at 6:15 and a check of Google maps as we were pulling up showed that we had docked at the far side of the jetty from the bus station. I just about made it to the bus station with five minutes to spare and was greeted by a huge bus interchange with airport-style sign boards and escalators up to the central hall and then down to the bus area at lettered and numbered gates. All very flash. Also, all very time consuming to get through. I ran into the station, found the gate, and made it down just as the bus pulled away. I saw the bloody thing pull away, ten seconds and I'd have made it. Because this was Australia, their idea of a frequent city bus service is one every hour and a half with the last bus of the day at 7:45. This is very different to my idea of a frequent city to suburb commuter bus service. I'd be annoyed at the wait if an equivalent Warsaw bus was every twenty minutes until about midnight. No wonder everyone commutes by car. The issue of course is that since the buses are so useless, everyone commutes by car but since everyone commutes by car, there isn't enough demand for buses. I guess that even though I don't think much of the bus system, it's probably still government subsidised and one of the better ones in Australia.

So having just missed my bus and not being keen on waiting an hour and a half, I checked the other bus destinations and the next best had a bus departing in 15 minutes and from a stop along that bus route where I knew roughly where to get off to be closest, I could get an Uber for $11. For comparison, getting an Uber direct was $45. The most penny-pinching option would be to wait an hour and a half for the next bus direct, and the easiest but a bit money-wasteful would be a direct Uber so the intermediate option seemed by far the best bet.

Conveniently, in Perth you still buy tickets from the driver, unlike London which is now contactless card only, or Warsaw where you have to faff about with ticket machines. I'm aware that this must seem remarkably unadventurous. I wasn't mugged, I didn't wave down a bus by the side of the road in the middle of the rainforest, I didn't arrive at a strange mountain at midnight, I didn't have a five hour wait in a mysterious bus station with all my luggage waiting for the next bus that would probably be already full. But all this travel in Australia has been so chill, I've got to pad out my blog with some kind of transportation misadventure. Or rather, fill several paragraphs about catching a slightly different bus to the one I had originally intended. I hadn't eaten since lunch either. Diddums. (In case it's not obvious enough, I'm being 100%!i(MISSING)ronic, I'm not seriously feeling sorry for myself in the slightest. I got back before 8 anyway.)

It was a great trip to Rottnest though, and I'm very happy that I decided to stay the night which was an extremely enjoyable and relaxing experience.

New Birds (both days):

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross

Little Shearwater

Australasian Gannet

White-fronted Chat

Wedge-tailed Shearwater

Banded Stilt

White-browed (Spotted) Scrubwren

Red-capped Robin

Sooty Oystercatcher

Red-necked Avocet

Banded Lapwing



New Zealand Fur Seal

Australian Sea Lion

White-striped Freetail Bat

Additional photos below
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7th August 2018

Oh what a day!,
Great trip William and some life lessons too. Did you see any golden pheasants. You didnt mention them. They were plentiful when I was there and quite beautiful. Hope they are still there!

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