Zoe and I arrived in Perth late Saturday night for one of our last big adventures before the end of the semester *tear tear*. We had arrangements to stay with Zoe’s friend Nat from Queen’s who is currently on exchange at UWA. On Sunday morning we headed to the nearby suburb Fremantle to visit the weekend market. The market was full of souvenirs, arts and crafts, and of course the best part of the market scene—amazing food. It was a stage 5 treat yourself day and we sampled both the chocolate covered strawberries and homemade cookies. Oh and did I mention that was breakfast? For lunch Nat told us we would head to the Little Creatures Brewery and restaurant—an Australian micro-brewery founded in Fremantle. Coincidentally, we had actually visited the company’s other restaurant location while in Melbourne and I had purchased a 6 pack of their bright ale the week prior so it was cool to see where it all began. After eating lunch we headed next door to the brewery for a complimentary beer tasting! The bright ale and amber ale were my personal favs for sure.
We spent Monday exploring Perth’s largest park and CBD. We had tried eating at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant downtown the night before but were faced with two-hour wait times. We decided lunchtime would be our best opportunity to minimize wait time and try out the acclaimed restaurant and it was worth every minute of our twenty-minute wait.
On Tuesday morning we headed back to Fremantle to go on a tour of Fremantle Prison. The prison was used to house convicts from the UK in its early years while they built the prison and served in other various labour positions. These convicts were serving sentences for things like stealing a loaf of bread to feed their family. Eventually the prison was handed over to the colonial government and converted into one of Western Australia’s only maximum-security prisons, housing some of Australia’s worst criminals. The prison was closed in 1991 as it had begun to garner a bad reputation. Living conditions in the prison were pretty horrendous for late twentieth century—there was no plumbing in cells, which meant prisoners had to do their business in buckets that permanently resided in the cell. In addition, there was 200 escapes over the course of the prison’s history which led people to question it’s status as a “maximum security” prison.
On Wednesday we made our way to Perth’s most central beach—Cottesloe Beach. We enjoyed a really nice lunch overlooking the water and then made our way to the beach to relax and read for a bit. On our way we bumped into the national Chinese and Australian basketball teams doing some sort of press conference for their upcoming exhibition game. I couldn’t help but ask to get a picture to capture their height!
On Thursday we were up bright and early to catch the ferry to Rottnest Island—just 30 minutes by boat from Perth mainland. Upon arrival at Rottnest we rented a tandem bike and snorkel gear before setting out to explore the island. It was a bit of a rough start on the tandem bike and we were both wondering if we would need to exchange it for two separate bikes. But we switched spots and eventually got the hang of it and it was so much fun! This first day we biked a loop that covered the Southern part of the island. The island is absolutely beautiful and the landscape is similar to that of the Greek islands or Croatia—lots of limestone, beautiful beaches, and blue blue water. We made lots of stops over the course of the day at various bays, beaches, a WWII Bunkie, and to snorkel a shipwreck! There have been 12 shipwrecks in the island’s history and the one we snorkeled was a ship called Shark. It was extremely cool but also rather eerie to swim around the sunken vessel. Multiply that by 25 when I encountered a school of fish that were each the size of my lower body.
You can see the top of the shipwreck sticking out of the water below!
At the end of our cycling day we checked in to our very own little cabin and soon after we had a visit from a potential third bunkmate. This guy is known as a quokka–a marsupial native to Rottnest Island. Rottnest is one of the only places in the world where quokkas can be found living in a natural habitat (there are a few other very small colonies in WA). The island was actually named after the quokkas; when Europeans discovered the island they thought the quokkas were giant rats and thus named the island after “rotte nest”–the dutch phrase for rats nest. In reality, the quokkas are a super cute little animal that has become pretty accustomed to humans given the touristy nature of Rottnest. “Ralph” as we named our pet quokka spent about half an hour meandering around our cabin before he made away with one of Zoe’s granola bars from her backpack.
We enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the beach with a few beverages!
Friday was another full day of cycling, this time around the northern half of the island. We biked the entire northern coast and then returned to our favourite beach of the day–Ricey Beach–to relax and do some reading before we had to return the books. The scenery was equally beautiful on this half of the island and the roads are practically empty. We found ourselves passing by other bikers once every half hour on average I would guess and no cars are allowed on the island other than the shuttle buses which is amazing! Rottnest really is a great destination for people of all ages looking for a relaxing but active getaway. Zoe and I both agreed we would be ferry seasons pass holders if we ever lived in Perth. The island is all controlled by a state authority so they have done a great job of keeping big commercial developments out, by prohibiting private land ownership, and conserving the natural environment. There is a small village with a few places to eat and buy necessities (liquor store of course) and a modest area of accommodations but aside from that the rest of the island is open roads and the great outdoors.
All in all, a great week in WA with Rottnest Island being the highlight hands down!