Rottnest, or Rotto as the locals call it

Rottnest Island or Wadjemup means “place across the water.” It is a 25 minute ferry ride away from Freemantle, and it a very popular holiday destination for Western Australians. Rottnest (or rat nest in Dutch) received its name from Dutch explorers in the 17th century who called the native marsupials giant rats. Today, it’s a hugely popular summer destination spot with crowds topping 15,000 daily.

I went on Tuesday, November 19, and Tuesdays are good days to go to Rotto because the ferry is half price ($39 instead of $75). I added a bike rental bringing the daily total to $59. The island is only 22 km to cycle around and you can go to any one of the 63 beaches and 20 bays, almost guaranteeing a relaxing day on a semi-private beach.

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I picked up my bike from the ferry terminal and took off counter-clockwise around the island. My first snorkeling/swimming stop was Little Salmon Bay. This is a sheltered beach from water and winds, and was quite calm that morning. The water was crystal clear, which made it good for snorkeling.

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After spending a while exploring Little Salmon Bay, I got back on my bike and headed to the west end of the island, Cape Vlamingh where a colony of New Zealand fur seals supposedly lives at Cathedral Rocks.

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Unfortunately, there were no fur seals that day, just a few obnoxious seagulls interested in my lunch. I continued on my way and came across one of the islands quokkas, known as the Kangaroo Rat. It’s about the size of a large housecat with a long tail. These critters have no fear of humans as the below photo shows. There will always be stupid tourists on every continent.

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My last snorkeling stop was at Little Armstrong Bay, but I didn’t stay long. I stopped for a short swim, but it was pretty windy and the flies were bad. I should have taken a page out of the local’s book. There was an elderly lady swimming around with a fly net on!

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The white pelican seeing us off on the last ferry of the day. It was a great day on a beautiful island. I just wished I had more time to spend there!


Help-x, an alternative form of travel

For the past two weeks, I have been doing help-x opportunities. The help-x network is a type of work exchange. Usually, you do a few hours of work per day (normally 4) in exchange for accommodation and food. It’s also a cultural exchange, giving you the chance to live with a local family. I enjoy them because I find that I have trouble meeting people while traveling independently. By staying with a local family, I not only save money, but I get a sense of community. I did a few help-x jobs in New Zealand, and decided to give them a try here too.

My first week was spent at a home in Waneroo, Western Australia that had two horses, Harley and Gonzo. My host, Sally, had recently injured her shoulder in a horse show and needed some help with the horses. Every morning I would get the horses ready to go out to pasteur, muck out their stables, and then do some general yard work. In the evenings, I would help with dinner. My afternoons were free; most of which I spent job hunting. I also got to bake chocolate cake for the family!


Getting Gonzo ready in the morning


Harley and Gonzo

During the second week, I moved to Ballajura, which is another suburb in Perth to stay with Sharon and Taipan. Taipan is a gorgeous Siberian husky, who I got to take for walks every day. The other work consisted of  weeding and housekeeping. I was luck enough to stay here because I developed a bad sinus infection, and I had my afternoons free to rest.


Taipan, the Siberian Husky

So most of my afternoons were spent scouring Gumtree, which is like Craigslist in the U.S. for jobs. However, I did take one day trip to Rottnest Island on November 19, which is a gorgeous island 25 minutes away by ferry…