CYCLING ROTTNEST ISLAND IN SIX HOURS
We planned to do some island exploring in the Fall and couldn’t have made a better decision on Rottnest, an island made up of over 63 beaches, 20 bays and countless shallow reefs teeming with marine life. While snorkelling remains the best way to explore the island’s underwater playground, Rottnest’s beauty on land is best seen and experienced on foot or by bike. We arrived Fremantle’s B Shed at sunrise and before we knew it, we were on our way across the sea, cruising 25 minutes west toward Thomson Bay.
Excited and hopeful, the weather looked promising enough for a day-long cycling adventure. Our plan was to pedal all the way to the west end of the island to Cape Vlamingh and back.
First Impressions: Batthurst Point and the lighthouse
It was an Australian Pelican that we saw perched on a light post, as we waited for our bikes along the jetty. It still felt chilly at this point, so we kept our sweaters on as we took off from Thomson Bay. Up north we went to Bathurst Point where the waves broke across the Kingston sand bank and observed as a group of kayakers glided by, winds at their backs.
Pinky beach, a gem below the lighthouse to the Basin, a natural swimming pool
Much of the island is made up of low, grassy vegetation so we had an unobstructed view of the bay and beyond. Calm and protected, Pinky beach makes for a wonderful beach spot for families and young children. How much more beautiful can this island be?
We moved on to the Basin, where we rested for a brief forty-five minutes as I loaded a fresh role of film into my camera. Not far off from the shore, a hole in the platform reef forms a large natural swimming pool, making the Basin a sort of swimming paradise, given the right temperature. Kenneth attempted a little dip and hilariously went no further than just a meter off the sandy shore, water ankle-deep before he turned back. ‘Too cold!’ he hollered. The locals seemed unfazed by the cold as they continued wading in the sea. We then cycled on to the Rottnest General food store at Geordie Bay for some water and light food supplies. Drinking water facilities are scarce outside the settlement so we made sure we had all that we needed.
Our open road
As noon arrived, the clouds parted and it got warmer as we cycled beneath the sun. The beauty of exploring a new place lays in our taking in of the atmosphere; its smells, the weight of the breeze, the colour of the earth. I’ve held an enduring fascination with sand and rocks since I was a child – an interest in arenology as I later found out, so I take pictures of them. Kenneth still finds this habit of mine a little strange.
We cycled by more beautiful bays along the coast. The hours of cycling put me in a calm, meditative state. On our left, a sign read ‘Cape Vlamigh, 3.7 KM.
And before we knew it, we were at the wild, west end of Cape Vlamingh. A little out of breath, but thrilled to finally arrive. The terrain is different – wilder, greener and a boardwalk snakes outward to sea. Being the best point for whale watching in both spring and winter, there exists no solid landmass between here and Madagascar off the coast of Southeast Africa.
We watched as the waves broke against the arches and loaded up on the sunscreen as the temperature rose. Just a few minutes away is Fish Hook Bay, a deep cove surrounded by high limestone cliffs featuring a gorgeous turquoise lagoon; perfect for long summer swims and underwater explorations. The water was so clear that we saw all the way to the bottom of sea floor.
Cycling back: Cutting through the mainland
We cycled back through Rottnest’s low, grassy interior to set our eyes on a different landscape, cycling the track along Pink Lake and Lake Serpentine, passing by wind turbines along the way. The Pink Lake dries out in the summer and struck us as the most unusual among all the lakes we saw.
We got a little lost at the settlement but were back in time after a few turnabouts. With a final hour to spare before the last ferry departed, we ended our journey with pizza and wine and thought about our day. The entire trip had taken us about 6 hours. Slightly longer than what the bike maps had predicted, but still too short a time to fully explore the island.
If you plan on spending a few days on the island, here are a few more activities you can do:
– The Wadjemup Walk Trail. Go on a self guided walk and learn about the island in an environmentally sustainable way.
– Take a free guided tour to learn more about the island’s history, flora and fauna. Gorgeous fields of purple daisies blossom in Spring – making it one of the best times to go on nature walks.
– Paddleboarding (or Bodyboarding for children) in Thomson Bay!