When is a rat not a rat? When it is a quokka. And what is a quokka, you may well ask? A quokka is a marsupial the size of a hare or domestic cat, and as with other marsupials, such as the kangaroo and wallaby, the females suckle their young in a pouch. Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth, Australia, has quokkas galore. Rottnest Island was named by Dutch explorer William de Vlamingh in 1696, meaning rats nest, mistaking the quokkas for huge rats. It wasn’t long before we saw our first quokka, there were plenty around the small shopping area close by the wharf. With their dark brown fur and long hairless tail, it was no wonder that they were confused for a large rat at first sight.
Overnighting on Rottnest Island gave us two days to have a good look around, and we were picked up bright and early from the hotel by the courtesy coach and taken down to the ferry terminal to board the Rottnest Express.
The Rottnest Island ferry
The island is 11km in length and 4.5km at the widest point. No domestic cars are allowed, only service vehicles and a few tour buses. It is a bikers paradise, and hundreds of tourists hire bikes and pedal around the island each day.
Map of the island
No biking for us, we took the easy way to explore and boarded the bus for our “Discover Rottnest” tour. Just look at this lovely coastline. The island is rugged and windswept, with great fishing, we were told, and lovely clear water. Dolphins live in the waters, and whales come by on their annual migration.
We stopped at the imposing Wadgemup Lighthouse was built in 1896, with a 45,000 candle power revolving dioptric light. This was the last lighthouse in Australia to become fully automatic, in 1986. Wadgemup is the old aboriginal name for the island and means “place across the water where the spirits dwell”
At Wadgemup Lighthouse
There is a quaint little museum on the island, and I always like to check these out for old textiles. No luck with that, but I did find a little hand operated sewing machine on display dating from the 1860s and used by the daughters of the light house keeper.
Ready for more quokka pictures? As we toured the island the bus came to a quick stop to show us this little cutie having a snooze. Seems they go to sleep all curled over.
And later we came across this quokka family. The baby was keeping quite close to Mum.
We have returned to Perth for a couple of days, before embarking on our epic train trip across the bottom of Australia, leaving on Sunday. Can’t wait, we love trains.