Over on the far western side of Australia, just off the coast of the most isolated city in the World, lies a small island of swooping hillsides and golden beaches with strange unique animals roaming the land. Seabirds dive above the brilliant turquoise sea that holds fantastic coral and strange gloopy sea-slugs that lurk in the clear waters of secret coves. Dark deep crevices in the cliffs cause you to pause and wonder what lurks within…

It sounds magical doesn’t it? It does exist though, hand on my heart. It was the part of my Perth trip that made me fully realize how beautiful and stunning Australia is: Rottnest Island.

Our adventure began when we realised that we were going to miss our ferry. Classic. We had booked a return ferry to Rottnest the night before and had to get up pretty early to get a full day’s exploration in! But the trains had got delayed and we had 40 minutes to get to the docks in Fremantle… we were 30 mins away and stranded. Even though a friend came to the rescue in a truck, we still missed the ferry but got on the next one after a delicious breakfast by the waterside. From then on, the stress was officially eradicated from the day. We were on our way to Rottnest!

The ferry took 45 minutes to get from mainland Australia to the little offshore island, and already it seemed a million miles away from Perth. I had had a blast in Perth, but I wanted to get out and about, on to some exploring on far off turquoise shores… so by getting off at the Rottnest docks and jumping on some rickety old bicycles, I did feel like I was featured in a Famous Five childrens book! The four kids (and a dog) were always amidst random adventures that would lead them to discovering a smugglers coves, or hidden treasure… and as we set off into the island, the road got quieter and quieter making it easier to imagine we were living the stories.

We managed to score amazing weather, with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees Celsius, but a super refreshing breeze whipped straight off the sea. If it hadn’t been for that breeze I doubt I would have lasted 15 minutes on that bike!

The rolling roads dipped and dived as we meandered our way around the circumference of the small island, which is only 11km long by 4.5km wide. Aboriginals had inhabited this tiny island when it had been attached to the mainland thousands upon thousands of years ago. But as the sea levels rose, it was abandoned and was uninhabited for several thousand years before Europeans landed.

True rugged wild landscape make-up the A-Class Reserve, with scattered salted lakes dotting the islands expanse. And with brilliant blue skies blending into the turquoise sea, it was incredibly picture perfect! I feel that I could write every word listed under “beautiful” and “picturesque” in the thesaurus and still not do the place justice! Even photographs don’t seem to capture the freshness of the place.

We stumbled upon little footpaths off the road that would disappear into the sand dunes. We’d padlock our bikes and delve down the routes to a secluded cove where shallow waters allowed us to cool down from the cycle in complete peace from others. And in one we found suspicious jelly-fish-like things on the seabed.  After I freaked out and ran for the hills, it turned out that my brave friend was able to pick one up and discover a new sea-slug that I had never witnessed before. And that wasn’t the only weird animal we stumbled across.

The small marsupial animal that resembles a wombat mixed with a wallaby resides on the island. Super cute, super tame… and super odd as the ball of fur has a huge rat-tail coming out of its rear. This is the Quokka. They only exist on Rottnest Island, mainly due to the fact that predators weren’t introduced onto the island, and are just totally not afraid of humans! When Europeans landed upon the island, one saw the animal and described it as ‘kind of a rat, as big as a common cat’, and dubbed the island ‘Rats Nest’ originally.

When we were lining up in the bike shop, a Swedish girl suddenly squealed and everyone freaked at the sight of a stray Quokka who had sneakily wandered in and was sniffing her flip-flop. What an introduction to the bizarre creature!

We passed many as we attempted to get around the whole island (many are tagged and look quite punky with their lone silver earring), amongst beach-side naps and healthy picnics of fruit and yoghurt. But as soon as we saw the day was getting away with us, we attempted to find our way back to docks, which was an adventure in itself.

Up by the light-house which is situated about one third around the island, we had to toss our maps aside and begin asking any passer-by how to get back. Surfers from South-Africa cycled past with their boards precariously strapped to their sides attempted to help, an old couple thought they knew the way (they were more lost than us), in the end we cycled for our lives and at the top of an epic hill, we saw sweet victory: the boats.

What a day: Exhausted, wind-swept, sun-burnt feet (forgot that an inch left uncovered by sunscreen under the Aussie sun = burn), invigorated, sea-salted. The perfect Australian day trip where you can see a unique gem of the West coast, but still get a quick boat home to all the comforts of a City. If only I could have taken a Quokka home.

Image 1 via Sea Wind Cats, image 5 via Shafir, image 6 via Trek Earth, all other images by author.

Sophie Saint was one of the original travelettes, from 2009 – 2017. After fleeing the UK with ink barely dry on her graduation certificate, she traversed the world with a backpack and spent a few years living in Melbourne – one of her favourite cities in the world.

She finally returned to the UK after a few years where she now whiles time away zipping off for European escapes, crocheting and daydreaming of owning her own hostel somewhere hot to live out eternal summers. See what she’s up to over on her blog saintsonaplane.com and instagram: @saintsonaplane