Perth and its surrounding areas have so much more to offer than cultural cliches might make you believe. In my humble opinion, there are a lot of spots here that come close to what heaven might resemble like, especially if that heaven was envisioned for Condé-Nast-travel-editors, National Geographic- wildlife-photographers or just intrepid travel lovers. Ok, now that the stage is set and your curiosity is sparked, let me introduce you to Rotto. Say what?
Rotto is local speak for Rottnest Island, an absolute chocolate-praline of an island located about a 25-minute ferry ride off Fremantle in Western Australia. Rotto is everything you think the Carribean might look like, plus Quokkas. Say what again? Well, imagine stepping off the ferry in Thomson Bay, being blinded by white sand beaches, greeted by incredibly clear blue waters sparkling invitingly in the sun and a sky the color of azure-blue confetti. Your gaze wanders around, your mood lifts from taking in all the picture-perfect impressions around you and then, something VERY unusual stops you in your tracks.
Is it an Instagrammed aka beautified rat? Is it a small kangaroo gone wrong? No! The small animals that like to wander around Rotto as if they own the place (which they kinda do) are called Quokkas. If a zoologist would explain to you what they are, he would probably say that they are wallaby-like marsupials about the size of a cat. Quokkas are a truly Western Australian phenomenon, as they can only be found on some islands off the WA coast and in the forest and coastal heath in the South-Western part of this vast state.
The Quokka is a true trendsetter by the way, as he/she prefers vegan food, and is furthermore also very photogenic. It´s no wonder, then, that Quokkas do fancy the occasional photo-shoot. Ah well, they might be slightly addicted. But who isn´t, in these times of social media mayhem? Sorry, I am wandering off. Back to your new found animal friend.
No matter whether you choose to explore the Rottnest Island nature reserve by foot or on a bike, you´ll see Quokkas all around. They will approach you if you stick around for a bit, so get that selfie-stick ready and put a smile on your dial. The Quokka usually already has one, that´s why it´s often called “The happiest animal ever” by its admirers. I would be happy, too, if a whole island was named after me!
Yep, the name ´Rottnest´is actually a weird sort of love declaration to the fun-loving furry marsupials, because, just like you, 17th century Dutch explorers didn´t know what hit them when they saw these cuties for the first time. They accordingly named the island after their perception of the Quokkas as cat-sized rats – Rottnest Island literally means rat´s nest.
Alright, let´s assume you are waiting for your Quokka-friends on this car-free island playground, ideally around the main settlement area in the late afternoon. Your new photo-co-stars love green spaces and grass (ahem, no comment), so they often hang out around the green space where the bakery is, according to insider sources on the island.
You could also choose to interact around Thomson Bay or see if a Quokka wants to keep you company at the Oceanside Pub. Anyways, Quokka approaches you, next up, get low to the ground and close to the Quokka’s level, and do not put your arm around it – you can do that with your Uncle Bill, but not with this wild and free Selfie queen/ king. Do not touch it all, actually. Think of it as a Kim Kardashian or a Sam Heughan in animal form. You wouldn´t touch them, either, if you crossed their path, right? Being starstruck and all.
To top off your Quokka-interaction- experience, continue on to the final step: Click that freaking shutter! Yeah, you´ve done it! And the best part: No need to Whatsapp the Quokka-mate the new picture. They have plenty already.
- To get there, take a ferry from Fremantle, central Perth or Hillary´s Boat Harbour. There are numerous ferries available daily with Rottnest Express and Rottnest Fast Ferries.
- Do not touch the Quokkas, you or them might get unwell from that. Think of them as a Tinder-date with social anxiety.
- Do not feed them, either. Think of yourself feeding them as that overeager aunt that always wanted to stuff you with food you didn´t want.
- Bring a Selfie-stick to keep a decent distance between you and smiley Quokka. Remember, they are basically movie or TV stars. Keep your cool and don´t get hysterical.