Nov 22 – 23
Dae and I arrived back into Perth in the evening. When I called Blair, I found that he and some other people had already left for Rottnest Island. He left the key in his sock outside and let me sleep in his room. I would meet up with everyone in Rottnest the next morning, which gave me just enough time to wash all my clothes, buy some groceries, and take a shower. I went to sleep around 4am and realized there was no way I would make the 7:30 ferry like I had planned. I ended up on the 11:30 ferry and I got to Rottnest around noon.
Rottnest Island (or “Rotto” as the locals call it) was first inhabited by Aboriginal people as far back as 6,500 years ago. They called the island Wadjemup. In the 1800s, European settlers came to the island and they used it as an Aboriginal prison. The prisoners were used to build roads and other structures and many of them died of disease. In 1904, the prison closed and in 1917, Rottnest Island was officially declared a reserve. Now it is a popular tourist destination and a local island getaway.
Because Rottnest Island is a nature reserve, cars are not allowed. There is a bus that stops at various bays around the island, but the best way to explore the place is by bike. Bikes are everywhere – it’s just great! You can bring your own or you can rent one. If you bring your own bike, you still have to pay $12 to bring it across. It costs $19 to rent the cheapest, gearless bike for 24 hours…so for me, it made the most sense just to rent one. Rottnest Island has lots of hills, but I didn’t want to pay the extra money for a bike with gears. It was a bit of a workout, but not too terribly hard. It rained on us for a little while, but we had a few great hours of sun.
And we snorkeled at a few nice spots.
Unfortunately, a sign said we weren’t allowed to touch the stingrays.
We also got to play with Quokkas (which look kinda like a cross between a wallaby, a chipmunk, and a rat). They are adorable and kinda half hop/half skulk all over the island. And even though they’re supposed to be nocturnal, you see quite a few during the daytime as well.
They’re really tame. And a lot of people feed them, which doesn’t help. I found a few under the fly in my tent trying to get at my food.
This one managed to get inside our neighbor’s tent.
We also saw lots of other wildlife. Like this sparrow guarding her nest.
And a peacock.
And a family of large lizards who were either trying to sit on my lap or attack me (I wasn’t exactly sure, but didn’t want to find out). I think they were probably guarding a nest.
In the evening, we found a little bay all to ourselves. We drank cider and made shadow puppets. Sean brought his guitar and sang us lots of songs. He made up a great song about Rottnest Island. I recorded it, but accidentally deleted the video. We stayed there until it got really dark and started to rain. Then we had to run for cover.
It was raining pretty hard when I went to sleep, but I was happy to be in my nice warm sleeping bag inside my cozy little tent. I fell fast asleep. Then, around midnight, I woke up abruptly to find my tent floating in about a foot of freezing water. I moved back and forth and could feel a ripple of water moving underneath me (kinda like surfing, only in a tent on a puddle…or maybe kinda like a waterbed, but not in a nice way). Water was seeping in quickly from all sides and I realized I would have to grab the important stuff and make a run for it. When I stepped out of the tent, the muddy water came up to my shins. It was still pouring and I had no clue how the other campers were able to continue sleeping! It’s too bad I didn’t take a picture of the flood, but I was more concerned about escaping it at the time. Here is one picture of me looking a bit distressed.
Shivering, soaking wet, and miserable looking, I wandered up to a cabin and a nice, drunk group of adults were hanging out on the porch drinking wine. They invited me in and offered me some coffee. Here is a picture of my rescuers:
One of the drunkest men in the group (guy in chair on right) immediately went into a rant about how much he hates America. I figured I’d just sit there quietly and smile. It was better than floating around in the muddy puddle that was now my tent (or hanging out in the public bathroom, which was what a couple of the other campers ended up doing). Luckily two of the women (Michelle and her mom, Leslie) had their own cabin with 4 extra beds, so they offered to adopt me and the others for the night. When I found my friends, apparently they had woken up shortly after me and Blair was wandering around asking anyone if they had seen a Texas girl. I’m glad we all found each other and found nice people and a warm place to sleep. Sean sung Leslie a thank you song and we all slept really well. Everything ends up working out.
The next morning, we revisited the flood zone and sorted through all our gross stuff. A few people lost their shoes and saw that they had floated many meters from the campsite. Danielle and I were going to take the late ferry back to Perth so we could spend more time riding around on the island. But since everything we had with us was wet and muddy, it seemed to make more sense just to head back early.
Back at Blair’s house, I spent the day drying and cleaning off all my stuff.