8 January 2019
Ian and I woke up around 07:00 this morning, before rolling over and going back to sleep for an hour. We then got up and showered, before Cornelia called out for me at 08:45. She needed a wee, then wanted to go back to bed! Thankfully, at 09:00, she decided she was ready to get up and start our day. I’d put on a load of laundry that I needed to finish and be hung out before we left, so we were finally on the road at 10:00. Just as we left, a car arrived. I think it may have been Gabi, our host, who was meeting the plumber to look at the pipes (although, typically, this morning there had been no such leak!).
We drove to Fremantle and had hoped to have a quick look around before catching our ferry over to Rottnest Island, a nature reserve, and home to the Quokka – allegedly one of the world’s cutest creatures, but we didn’t have time. We had parked about a kilometre away and had speed walked to B Shed, from where we would catch our ferry “Quokka 1”, which would whiz us over to Rottnest. If we thought we were rushing to be on time, we saw one guy charging down the gangway at top speed in hope of boarding. He was in luck – they pulled back the ropes and allowed him on. I couldn’t help thinking how different it would be if he’d been trying to catch a train in England!
I hadn’t brought Cornelia’s Kindle today, as I wanted her to look around her instead of down on the ferry, and she was hilarious trying to occupy her time, by pretending to be a cushion and making us sit on her. No wonder she always looks like a scarecrow by 11:00 every day! This amused her far longer than it did!
Outside, the colours of the water were incredible – dark blue patches, then ponds of bright blues, complemented by spectacular cloud formations in the sky. The swell was about 1 metre, so it was a bit choppy, but nothing too concerning. We docked at Rottnest just after 11:30 and raced straight up to the bike hire place. Ian had read online that the queues get really long really quickly, and we were most fortunate to have no-one in front of us! We bagged the last tag-along bike which was attached to Ian’s bike, and I had my own bike (and the rucksack, to even things out – a bit!). By the time we left the shed, the queue was out of the door and we were very happy that we’d managed to get there so quickly!
That was where we left our happiness for the next hour. Cornelia had a complete breakdown about going on the tag-along, something she’s done loads of times before, including a 30 mile ride around the Grand Canyon. She cried and cried, said she was scared that she’d fall off, and all sorts of things. My patience gradually wore off (my toothache had not yet improved and was unexpectedly appearing from time to time), so I said that I would go off for a bike ride by myself and meet her and Daddy back at the jetty in an hour or so, when Daddy could go off for his ride. I’m not sure what it was that exactly changed her mind, but she said she’d give it a go. I had to hold on to her to start with and we had a few false starts, with her having an itch or a fly in her face, that she wouldn’t scratch because it meant taking one hand off the bars, but we all stuck with it and amazingly, we were eventually on our way. We had wasted a whole hour of our bike hire time, which meant we had to rule out taking the long route we’d been hoping to do, but we were able take the middle distance route still – a very respectable 12 miles. And, would you believe it, she loved it. Of course she did!
We stopped at a beach called Little Salmon Bay to eat our sandwiches, and although we’d been hoping to have a swim, it was really cold, due to the strong offshore wind blowing over us. I had to wrap Bugsy up in my beach kaftan, and once the sandwiches had been consumed, we set off to make it around to the other side of the island, where we would be protected from the wind. Rottnest is stunning. Every time we went around a bend, there was another jaw dropping view of rocks, flora, beach and sea, all with exaggerated colours. Even the sky was in on the drama, and at one point, the clouds looked like those you see when looking at a satellite image of a hurricane, complete with its eye in the middle.
Quokkas, as I mentioned earlier, have the reputation of being the world’s cutest animal. And whilst they are not quite koalas, I am able to confirm that they are pretty darn gorgeous! Unlike koalas, they are incredibly friendly and curious, and although the tourists are asked not to touch them, they bound over and come and sit right by you, or on you! All three of us were thrilled to have found a couple of friendly animals who were very happy to join us for photos, although it was soon clear that they were also after Cornelia’s water bottle. I cannot lie. They were ridiculously cute.
Further on, Ian stopped to use the loo, and Cornelia took a tumble whilst holding her hand, so I had to collect her and help her back up the hill, to recover. She was fine – a small graze – and by the time Ian returned, she was fully recovered and on top form. Given her earlier meltdown, I wasn’t sure how she’d react, but she had put all of that behind her, and was completely fine now. We cycled past the ominously-named “Geordie Shore” and found a quieter little bay, where we locked up the bikes and finally ventured into the sea.
While Ian and Cornelia explored rocks that hugged the coastline, I walked over the reef and dived into the beautiful blue waters. Ah, heaven! I swam around for a bit, looking at all the fish (nothing exciting to report) before rejoining Bugsy and Daddy on shore, where we wrapped up in towels and watched as the clouds above us darkened. It looked as if we were going to be hit by a storm, and we decide to pedal back quickly to return our bikes, but fortunately, the rains never quite hit us, although the temperature had really dropped quite a bit.
Not enough to prevent a shivering Cornelia from asking for an ice cream, while Ian and I had a cider and a tea (respectively) and waited to board our return ferry. This journey felt rougher, and the swell was more like 2 metres this time. Great waves slapped the windows at the side of the boat and all of the passengers ooh-ed and aah-ed as the waves threw us up and down. Two members of the family next to us were very worried that they would be sick, but the well-timed delivery of ice pops to those suffering avoided any such event. The crew were evidently very well-prepared! Cornelia does not suffer with any kind of motion sickness, and put on a delightful puppet show, starring Cowbat. Our companions around us were at least distracted for a while!
Having arrived back in Fremantle at 18:40, we decided to drive back home and get fish ‘n’ chips as our final meal in Australia. Not quite what I’d imagined, but at Bugsy’s request, this was what we had. But first, the magnificent sunset… just wow, wow, wow, wow. It was setting as we were driving back to Scarborough, and we ended up diverting to the seafront, so that we could catch our last Australia sunset. It was one of those magical moments, forever etched in my picture memory, where the photos can’t do justice to the accompanying feeling, as I held Cornelia in my arms and watched the sun disappear. Just perfect.
Heart filled with happiness, I offered to collect supper and walk back home, while Ian unpacked the rucksack which was filled with soggy towels and sandy swimwear. I wasn’t too impressed with my fish, so added some cheese to my chips and enjoyed an unhealthy meal of cheesy chips and mayo. That took me back a few years…!
Cornelia was so tired, but she needed to have a shower to wash off the sunscreen, salt water and sand from the day, so we had a very quick rinse together, before Ian read Little Miss Explorer to her. I gave her a quick cuddle and as soon as I left the room, she was fast asleep again. Before she’d showered, I’d told her that she should be very proud of herself for overcoming her fear earlier, and turning a potentially miserable day into a real joy for all of us, She was slightly uncomfortable at first, but I asked her to tell herself, out loud, that she was proud of herself, which she did, adding (after her shower) “And I shall stand up tall and say “I am amazing!”” And indeed she is.