Truly Wild Experiences Down Under

As someone with a keen interest in conservation and zoology, seeing the native wildlife of a place is something that usually features highly on my destination wishlist when I travel. This year hasn’t been easy for me on a personal level but it always lifts my spirits when I think of the amazing things I have seen and done already.

One of my most cherished memories is when I went backpacking Down Under with my husband. Australia and New Zealand are two of my best-loved countries – friendly locals, stunning scenery and most importantly, amazing wildlife. So I would like to share my favourite wildlife experience from each.

Adorable quokka - a native to Rottnest Island in Western Australia

Discovering quokkas on Rottnest Island, Australia

Rottnest Island is a beautiful island off the coast of Western Australia, home to an adorably smiley-looking marsupial known as the quokka. In fact, Rottnest Island was named after the quokka when a Dutch explorer arrived at the island and mistook the quokkas for rats, naming it ‘Rat’s Nest’.

Wild Experiences Down Under

Being almost completely wiped out on the mainland of Australia, Rottnest Island is one of only a few places where you can see quokkas in their natural habitat and due to the lack of predators on the island, coupled with an abundance of food, their numbers are thriving.

Beautiful Rottnest Island - catch the ferry from Fremantle and enjoy a day with the quokkas!

As the island has a strong focus on the environment and sustainability, the best way to explore is by bicycle. So when we arrived by boat we picked up some hired bikes from the dock and went on our merry way.

Rottnest Island is easily one of the most beautiful places I have been fortunate enough to visit, with its white sand beaches and turquoise seas it looks like something from a movie set. Of course, my favourite part was observing the quokkas and I managed to even get a #quokkaselfie too! All flora and fauna on the island is protected by law so visitors must remember not to touch or feed the animals as it could harm them.

The best way to get around Rottnest Island! Hire a bike and explore this beautiful part of Western Australia.

Quokka selfie on Rottnest Island, Australia

One of my favourite things about Australia happens to be its native creatures – I’m completely in awe of it – so to be able to see the happy little quokkas in the wild and not in a zoo was something unforgettable.

Spotting wild seals in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Kaikoura is a small town on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island and is famed for its marine life. Due to the weather cancelling any whale watching trips out to sea, we made a spontaneous decision to take a drive to Ohau Point where we could see some wild New Zealand fur seals.

Adorable seal pup at Ohau Point, New Zealand

After a short walk into the woodland, we were greeted by one of the most magical sights I have seen – numerous young seals swimming and frolicking at the bottom of a waterfall! I wasn’t sure what to expect on this spur of the moment adventure but it by far exceeded any expectations I could have had. The seals looked so happy and there were very few tourists at this spot making it feel all the more special. Of course, we kept our distance but a couple of the seals were playing on the path together just a mere metre away from where we stood!

Ohau waterfall - a beautiful place to see seal pups swimming

The seal pups are born in November and December and start making their way to the waterfall in April, where they are then able to develop their swimming and social skills together. They stay in the stream for several days at a time before returning to the coast to feed from their mothers. Once weaned, they then remain on the coast where they can hunt for food at sea.

See New Zealand fur seals - free things to do in Kaikoura

Seal swimming in Ohau stream, Kaikoura

We waited and watched the playful pups for a little while longer but even on the walk back to the car we were able spot a few of them swimming in the shallow waters alongside us. Amazing! Sometimes the best adventures are unplanned.

Note: My visit to Ohau Point happened prior to the devastating 2016 earthquake and although parts of this area are still destroyed, visitors are still able to see seal colonies elsewhere in Kaikoura. Hopefully they will return to the waterfall very soon.

As far as future wildlife adventures go, a safari in Kenya would be at the top spot on my travel bucket list and as a proud recipient of a charity rhino adoption, I would love nothing more than to see them in the wild.

Win a safari adventure in Kenya!

Win an African safari with Audley Travel by sharing your best wildlife photograph or video on your social media channels. To enter write #AudleySafari and @AudleyTravel on your Instagram or Twitter post or share directly on the Audley Travel Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/audleytravel/. To find out more or enter via the website, visit www.audleytravel.com/social.  Entries must be posted between 20th August – 23rd September.

This post is my entry into the Trips 100 & Audley Travel blogger challenge.

Spotting quokkas on Rottnest Island, Australia

If you’ve never seen a quokka before, google “the world’s happiest animal” and you’ll see image after image of an adorable furry little creature that appears to be smiling. That, my friends, is a quokka and they live wild on Rottnest Island off of the coast of Western Australia.

Quokkas on Rottnest Island Australia

When I returned to Australia I knew I had to pay a visit to Rottnest Island and it turned out to be one of the best days!

We were staying in an Airbnb in the lovely town of Fremantle, which was where we caught the ferry from. The ferry journey took around 25 minutes before we reached the blissful shores of Rottnest.

Beautiful beach of Rottnest Island in Western Australia

Beautiful Rottnest Island - catch the ferry from Fremantle and enjoy a day with the quokkas!

At the port, we collected the bikes we had hired as this is pretty much the only way to travel around the island as cars are not permitted and it is too large to navigate by foot. However, there is a bus service but where’s the freedom in that?!

We picked up a map and set off on one of the bike trails. We only covered a small section of the island but still managed to cycle about 10km!

The best way to get around Rottnest Island! Hire a bike and explore this beautiful part of Western Australia.

The beaches are stunningly beautiful here, with white sand and turquoise sea, so be sure to take a break from cycling to enjoy them. It was a little while before we spotted any quokkas but when we did, we tried to get ourselves an obligatory ‘quokka selfie’ (yes that’s a thing). After initially worrying that we wouldn’t find any quokkas, we ended up seeing loads of them all around the island.

Quokka selfie

Quokka selfie

The quokkas face no natural predators on the island so they aren’t particularly fearful of anything. They actually see humans as a source of food which is bad because you aren’t supposed to feed the quokkas.

Once we’d cycled a loop, admiring the views and the wildlife along the way, we headed to Aristos Waterfront Restaurant for some well earned fish and chips which were delicious!

Rules of Rottnest Island

  1. Don’t feed the quokkas

  2. Don’t touch the quokkas

  3. Be careful – in one quokka encounter, I ended up shoving a man in the leg because a throng of over excited tourists had showed up and he wasn’t looking where he was going and stepped backwards onto a poor little quokka’s tail! I’m a wildlife warrior, me.

  4. When cycling, ensure you are wearing your helmet. They are compulsory by law in Western Australia.

  5. Respect the island – take your rubbish with you and stay on the designated paths.

Quokkas having a nose in our bag
Watch your bags – those quokkas aren’t shy!

Top Tips

  1. Take plenty of water and snacks as once you leave the main harbour there isn’t really anywhere else to grab refreshments.

  2. Take sunscreen/hat/sunglasses etc as it is hot out there and not particularly shaded.

  3. If you’re only in Western Australia for a short amount of time I would recommend booking your place on the ferry in advance. We booked ours before we left the UK and the package included bike hire. We also went on a Tuesday as we found that this was the cheapest day to go.

  4. Take a watch with you to ensure you don’t miss your ferry slot back!

We had booked the last ferry back so once we’d explored a little more, we spent some time chilling on one of the beaches before having a drink at Quokka Joe’s cafe. I was pretty jealous of the people who were staying overnight on the island but I was also incredibly satified at what a wonderful day we had had.

Adorable quokka - a native to Rottnest Island in Western Australia

Around the world in 7 weeks - a video diary

Around the World in 7 weeks – a video diary

Around the world in 7 weeks

Exactly one year ago today, on 16th October 2015, me and my husband were on a flight from London to Singapore to embark on a whirlwind seven week trip around the world. Regretting never taking a gap year as students, we decided to ask for a career break and were granted those weeks – not as long as we had hoped for but still long enough for an epic adventure.

We had a brief two night stopover in Singapore before flying on to Australia for a couple of weeks – Oz being one of my all time favourite places. The main reason for our desire to head Down Under however, was an (almost) month-long road trip around New Zealand. After our epic road trip we stopped over in Fiji for some relaxation and culture (I never thought I would ever get to Fiji!) before finally crossing over the International Date Line and reliving 1st December all over again in Los Angeles where we spent a few more nights.

So for you, in video form, here is our awesome, amazing adventure!

Around the world in 7 weeks …in 7 minutes!

Kangaroo Dundee – An Australian Hero

Today’s post was partly inspired by the new series of Kangaroo Dundee which aired on BBC2 this evening, but also the WordPress weekly photo challenge with the theme: admiration.

When I visited Australia last October, the Northern Territory was at the top of my visit list for 2 main reasons – Uluru and The Kangaroo Sanctuary.

Having seen all of the episodes of Kangaroo Dundee back home in the UK, I knew that I couldn’t be in Alice Springs and not visit the sanctuary which is run by Kangaroo Dundee aka Chris ‘Brolga’ Barnes. Incase you were wondering, Brolga got his nickname – the aboriginal word for ‘crane’ – because he is 6ft 7 tall!

Brolga, who refers to himself as a ‘kangaroo mum’, rescues orphaned and injured kangaroos and cares for them at his sanctuary in the Australian outback. His passion for rescuing wildlife began while he was working as a tour guide and discovered a kangaroo lying in the road. When he went to check it, he found that although the kangaroo was sadly dead, she did infact have a tiny joey in her pouch that was still alive. Brolga saved this little kangaroo and the rest, as they say, is history.

Having rescued over 200 kangaroos, Brolga has also begun to start caring for other creatures great and small – from emus, wallabies and wombats – to camels! He is also a really lovely guy who I was fortunate enough to meet when I visited the sanctuary, which was my absolute favourite place I visited in Australia. I could gush and fangirl on about it forever but I think I will save that for another post!

But for now, from one animal lover to another, I take my hat off to you Brolga – a true Aussie hero!

Kangaroo Dundee - an Australian Hero. I was lucky enough to visit his sanctuary in the Aussie outback. It was my favourite thing!

Beer for brunch – XXXX Brewery Tour

XXXX Brewery Tour Brisbane

XXXX Brewery in Brisbane Australia

During our visit to Brisbane we decided to do the XXXX Brewery Tour as neither hubby nor I had ever done a brewery tour before so thought it might be something quite fun and different.

As the tours are at set times and it was our last full day in Australia, we wanted to get ourselves onto the 11am tour so we’d have the rest of the day at leisure. We were running a bit late so neglected to eat any breakfast, got lost finding the entrance to the brewery and arrived hot, sweaty and 5 minutes late. Not the best start to the day but the lovely people at XXXX said we could still join the 11am tour, so it was all good.

We were given a free XXXX branded baseball cap each to keep and also were required to wear lanyards, goggles and fluorescent vests. I also had to wear some plimsolls they provided as I was wearing open toes shoes. I don’t think I’ve ever looked so attractive.

There were a handful of other people on our tour and we were led around by a guy named Hoff who was very knowledgeable and had a really dry sense of humour! We were shown a clever video of the XXXX story and taken around to see the working brewery in all its action. If you want to know how beer is made then I suggest you either google it or take the tour yourself because I can’t even begin to tell you.

Beer on the conveyor belts at the XXXX brewery in Queensland

After seeing the brewing tanks and all the bottles whizzing about the factory on conveyor belts, we were taken into what I guess you would call a small museum dedicated to the history of the beer. We could see all the different bottle designs, the XXXX mascot as well as other paraphernalia.

Mascot and paraphernalia at the XXXX brewery

1878 bottle of Castlemaine ale - taken at the XXXX brewery

At the very end of the tour, after we removed all our health and safety gear, we were taken into the bar to sample four of the different beers brewed there. I can’t remember what they all were but it was fun to taste them all, even though I’m not much of a beer drinker. Our tickets also included a free full sized beer to enjoy in the bar after tasting the samples.

XXXX Brewery Tour - free samples

The barman had accidentally poured an extra beer so kindly offered it to my husband and then I was offered a glass of champagne because they had poured too many glasses out for the people who were celebrating the Melbourne Cup in the bar. Naturally, we found ourselves a bit drunk! Beer for brunch, what piss heads!

As we were naughty and hadn’t eaten, we decided to stay at the XXXX bar for lunch and get something to soak up that alcohol. My husband had a yummy looking burger, while I opted for a healthier meal and had a delicious salmon dish.

Salmon dish at the XXXX brewery in Brisbane

The atmosphere in the bar was great, there was a large group of people enjoying watching the horse racing on a big screen, while we just sat in some comfy seats and had a leisurely meal. Perhaps it was all that beer making me feel that way!

I enjoyed my time at the XXXX Brewery alot more than I expected (as beer isn’t my tipple of choice), the staff were all really friendly too, so if you’re ever in Brisbane and fancy doing something a little different then go check it out!


If its booze that you’re after then you might enjoy my post about the Copper Rivet Distillery Tour in England.