island of the quokkas


We just arrived in Perth yesterday, but have been looking forward to seeing quokkas on Rottnest Island for weeks. It’s the only excursion we actually planned and booked ahead of time for our one free day here. (Let me just apologize in advance for the next few posts, which will be replete with pictures of the gorgeous summer we are enjoying down under while our families freeze at home in Chicago. I promise you, we will be working hard as well.)

Wait, what’s a quokka, you ask?

I’m still not sure. It’s a marsupial with the tail of a rat, the body of a miniature kangaroo, and a face that’s cute as all get out. The only place on earth where they live is on Rottnest Island, except for the quokka who recently escaped to Perth on a garbage truck. That little quokka is now in a zoo. They kind of remind me of the Rats of Nimh (this is a deep cut, but we’re best friends forever if you know the reference). See?

The Rats of Nimh were really quokkas

They only live on Rottnest Island, which is accessible by a 45-minute ferry ride. Once on the island, there are no vehicles allowed, so you can rent a bike, book a Segway tour or hoof it to explore, all without worrying about death from cars. We opted to rent bikes, much to my horror because not only was I wearing a dress, but I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I rode a bike. Well, there was that one time a couple years ago on Governor’s Island when I acquiesced to a tandem bike with my husband, but we all know that doesn’t count. The only thing I feared more than the bike was being left behind by everyone, so I took the plunge.

And guess what? It was just like riding a bike. Sort of.  I did need a lot of personal space to feel comfortable, and there were buses and service vehicles that occasionally passed us, which nearly gave me a heart attack. And a mean lady yelled at me (it wasn’t my fault, I swear). We rode until we found a little beach access area, and several quokkas came out of the bushes to greet us. They’re extremely friendly and unafraid of humans, so if we wanted to pet one we could have. In fact, I had to back up to avoid a quokka who was maybe getting a bit too friendly. There are warnings everywhere not to touch or feed them, but the rumor that they carry salmonella was quite enough for me, thank you.

After getting our fill of quokkas, Nathalie and I headed down to the picturesque beach, where she snorkeled a bit and I baked on the beach, having not brought my swimsuit (did I mention it’s really hot here??).  At one point, Nathalie motioned to me from in the water to look at something. When I looked over, I saw a GIANT bird looking for lunch in the water. I missed it at first because I assumed it was a dinghy or some weird inflatable water toy, it was so big. We caught a picture of another one on our way back to the ferry (in the gallery above). If you know what it is, please tweet us!


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