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.
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.
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 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.
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
Don’t feed the quokkas
Don’t touch the quokkas
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.
When cycling, ensure you are wearing your helmet. They are compulsory by law in Western Australia.
Respect the island – take your rubbish with you and stay on the designated paths.
Take plenty of water and snacks as once you leave the main harbour there isn’t really anywhere else to grab refreshments.
Take sunscreen/hat/sunglasses etc as it is hot out there and not particularly shaded.
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.
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.
In celebration of it being Australia Day in Oz right now (26th January… well they are ahead of the rest of the world!), and because I have a massive travel crush on The Land Down Under, I have decided to dedicate this post to 26 things I love about Australia!
1. My Aussie Family
Of course number 1 has to be my rellies. I’m often told by my UK-based family how much like my Aussie Aunt I am. And my cousin and her family were awesome to let us stay with them when we visited Melbourne. How could they not be number one!
2. Kangaroos and Wallabies
True Aussie icons. I absolutely adored visiting Brolga’s Kangaroo Sanctuary after being an avid viewer of the show Kangaroo Dundee. We got to meet Brolga himself and cuddled a little joey! I also loved feeding the wallabies at the Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas – they were too cute!
How could I not include another icon on this list – the koala! They are so flippin’ cute! I was lucky enough to cuddle one first time round in Port Douglas. But I also enjoyed seeing them on Phillip Island and at Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo.
4. Tim Tams
The first time I tried a Tim Tam I dismissed it as a glorified McVitie’s Penguin biscuit (soz Australia but you know Tim Tams were based on Penguins right?). But then I discovered all the different flavours beyond just milk chocolate and I was hooked… peanut butter, dark chocolate raspberry, salted caramel – I could go on.
5. Thorny Devils
Thorny Devils are freaking cool! I think lizards are pretty cool anyway but the thorny devil is the most awesome of the bunch – they’re covered in spines and are able to drink through their skin! I got to see them when I was in Alice Springs.
6. Rottnest Island and the Quokkas
Google ‘the happiest animal in the world’ and you are sure to find pictures of quokkas – adorable smiley little mammals that can be found in the wild in just a couple of places in the world, one of which is Rottnest Island. Rotto (as it’s known by the locals) is a picture postcard island of white sand, turquoise sea and most importantly, no cars. The best way to get around is to cycle!
7. The Daintree Rainforest and the Cassowaries
And similarly if you google ‘worlds most dangerous bird’, the top answer will be the cassowary. I didn’t realise how significant this was at the time but we actually got within a few metres of a wild cassowary in the Daintree Rainforest!
I am British. We talk about the weather. And yes I know Australia isn’t always hot and sunny but when you’re writing this on a cold and rainy January night in England remembering that just 3 months ago you were basking in the warm and fuzzy glow of the Australian sunshine, then it would be rude not to mention it.
When people ask what soaps I watch and I say “Neighbours”, their usual response is something like “Oh I haven’t watched that since I was at school! Are Karl and Susan still in it?”. Well, yes. Yes they are. And I got to meet the legend that is Karl Kennedy aka Alan Fletcher at Neighbours Night in St Kilda. AND I did the Neighbours Tour stopping by Ramsay Street and it was awesome!
Sydney is the city with it all – business, shopping, harbours, beaches, parks – and the most iconic of all Australian landmarks, the Sydney Opera House! I would love to spend New Year there one day…
11. The Blue Mountains
Located around a 2 hour train journey from Sydney are the spectacular Blue Mountains. They are called the Blue Mountains because of the eucalyptus trees that populate the area that disperse oil droplets into the atmosphere which together with water vapour and dust particles scatter rays of light which are a hue of blue.
12. Laid-back Attitude
It’s true what they say, those Aussies are a pretty laid-back bunch with the whole “no worries” attitude. I absolutely love how informal everything is too and it’s not just the spoken word that gets abbreviated. For example, seeing the word ‘rego’ instead of ‘registration’ on something formal – that would never happen anywhere else! And not forgetting their liberal use of the word ‘bloody’. I bloody love it!
13. Aboriginal Culture
When I visited the Northern Territory I got see the magnificent Uluru and learn a little about Australia’s indigenous culture, their art, their way of life and spirituality. Did you know that boomerangs were traditionally used for hunting?
14. The Great Barrier Reef
When you are travelling, you always remember those ‘wow’ moments, and snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef truly was one of those moments. My anxiety about the big deep ocean was soon forgotten at my first site of a fish.
15. Port Douglas
A pretty little town in Queensland with a stunning four mile beach and the atmosphere like you’re in a movie set based in some tropical paradise. I’ve often joked about packing up and moving to Port Douglas to become a beach hippy.
16. Fairy Penguins
Aka Little Penguins. One of the best places to see these wild penguins is at the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island where you can watch the little guys come ashore to their burrows at dusk each night. Really something special!
17. Rainbow Lorikeets
Rainbow lorikeets are a species of parrot found in Australia and they are super duper pretty and colourful. I saw them at the Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas and Australia Zoo.
18. The Wildlife
Actually, although I’ve already mentioned the likes of kangaroos and thorny devils, I think I have a bit of a fascination with Australian animals in general – be it the sounds of the native birds singing, seeing the galahs in the trees, the bizarre-looking egg-laying mammal the duck billed platypus or big fat cuddly wombats (whose poop is square, FYI). I think I missed my calling in life to become an Australian zookeeper!
19. Chocolate Macadamias
Mmm so moreish! Of course you can eat the macadamia nuts on their own but everything is so much better when it’s covered in chocolate!
20. Aussie Legends
Some of the best celebrities have come straight outta the land down under, I love a bit of Hugh Jackman and Kylie Minogue. And how could we not include the late, great legendary crocodile hunter himself, Steve Irwin. Crikey!
21. Watching the sun rise and set over Aussie Landmarks
The first time I visited Australia I saw the sun rise and set over the famous Sydney Opera House and my husband even had my photos printed on canvas for me. The second time I was lucky enough to visit Australia (I’m like a boomerang – I just keep coming back!) I witnessed the sun rise and set over Uluru, although it was quite cloudy it was still pretty magnificent.
Specifically City Beach and Jay Jays. They got me out of a spot of bother when my bikini broke and all my shoes hurt my feet!
23. Limited Edition Mars Brownie and Snickers Rocky Nut Road
Hello! Why don’t we have these in the UK? They were soooo good. Mars Brownie was my favourite… oh I’m craving one right now!
24. This Song…
All because of this bit- “I said, “Do you speak-a my language?” He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich”
25. And This Advert… There’s nothing like Australiaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
26. And this amazing occurrence…
While we were having lunch at a pub in Alice Springs, I noticed that the froth in my husband’s pint of beer had taken the shape of Australia! How very appropriate!
Have you been to Australia? If so, what do you love about it? Leave me a comment below or tweet me @quirkylilplanet
And if you enjoyed this post, like it, share it and then check out my Australia board on Pinterest!