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!

National Pink Day!

Apparently today is National Pink Day. Hello, did no one tell the Mean Girls because today is Thursday and on Wednesdays we wear pink!

Oh yes if there’s two things I love it’s a Mean Girls quote and the colour pink. So in honour of National Pink Day I thought I would share with you not one, not two, but TEN pink themed photographs taken by myself or by my husband’s fair hand.

Tokyo, Japan
This pretty picture was taken during the cherry blossom season at the canal in Naka Meguro, Tokyo. If you’re thinking of visiting Japan in spring then check out my post Cherry Blossoms in Japan to see where else I saw the sakura.

Cherry blossoms at the canal in Naka Meguro in Tokyo, Japan - Photo by QuirkyLittlePlanet.com

Florida, USA
Taken at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, I captured the castle lit up in pretty hues of pink, purple and orange while the firework show was taking place. The firework show is a must-do for any Disney theme park visit.

Disney castle lit up pink during the fireworks display at Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida

Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
These charming orchids caught my eye at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sri Lanka as they remind me of the singing flowers in Alice in Wonderland. Actually, they are pretty proud of their orchids in Sri Lanka!

Beautiful flowers at the Royal Botanical Garden in Sri Lanka

Havana, Cuba
If you follow me on instagram then you’re probably sick of the sights of this car but in my defense it’s not every day you get to ride around in a fuschia pink 1952 chevrolet!

1952 pink chevrolet in Havana, Cuba. A must do for any girl about town!

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
I love this photo. I was obsessed with these lupins and this lake during my brief visit to New Zealand. To be fair, all the scenery in New Zealand is like some sort of instagrammer’s dream. But seriously, look how pretty these pink and purple lupins are against the blue of the sky and water!

Lupins at Lake Tekapo in New Zealand - an instagrammer's dream!

Las Vegas, USA
I have no idea why we didn’t stay in the Flamingo hotel given that I love flamingos! Nevertheless we did go and have a nosey about and I took this photo of the bright lights in all their glory.

Bright lights of the fabulously pink Flamingo Hotel on the Las Vegas strip.

Port Douglas, Australia
I heart Port Douglas. If I could retire there I probably would. We took a walk along the beach at sunset and I captured the soft candy coloured hues of the sun setting in the sky. Bliss!

Soft candy coloured hues of the sun setting on Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, Australia.

Wellington, New Zealand
Another New Zealand pic, another botanic garden. The weather was not great in Windy Welly but we cheered ourselves up with a little look around the gardens and snapped a few colourful flower shots!

Sweet pink blossom on the trees at Wellington Botanic Garden, New Zealand

Kyoto, Japan
Kind of an obvious one this, but the shop is called Pink Latte so it already earnt its place in the gallery by that alone. I didn’t buy anything in here but you betcha I dragged hubby through it so I could look at all the Kawaii going on in there!

Pink Latte shop in Kyoto, Japan

Arashiyama, Japan
Yep Japan makes it in the gallery for a third time! But this photo is a little bit special as it has little ol’ me in there with my pink clothes and pink hair standing infront of a pink bush with my boring yet functional black bag. Doh.

Pink and more pink in Arashiyama, Japan

I hope this post left you feeling tickled pink! If orange is more your bag then click here. Or if blue’s more your hue then you might like this pinterest board.

Happy National Pink Day!

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!