All photos courtesy of Australia.com tourism board
I can't wait to meet these little fellas! They always look like they are smiling, and apparently love to take selfies with anyone who is game. How fun is that!
This is the quokka - the world's happiest animal!
About the size of a cat, quokkas are marsupials found only in Western Australia, almost exclusively on beautiful Rottnest Island, just off the coast from Perth.
The inspiration of the island's name came about in the 1700s. Believing quokkas to be giant rats, a Dutch captain named it "rotte nest", Dutch for rat's nest. Originally inhabited by Aboriginal people over 7000 years ago, the island had no human population when the Dutch arrived. This changed, though, in the 1800's when it became a prison for Aboriginal men and boys for nearly 100 years.
The island later played a military role during both World War I and World War II. Primarily an interment and prisoner of war camp during WWI, this changed in WWII as the island became a critical part of the defense strategy should hostile ships attempt to bomb the port of Fremantle. The military gave back the land to the Western Australia government years ago, and now history buffs can take a walk back in time exploring the military remnants, including buildings, a maze of tunnels and a 9.2 inch gun.
Today, the island is a popular destination for fun and relaxation. The entire island is a protected area for all plants and wildlife, and as a car free zone, it can be explored by bike, foot or on a discovery bus that circles the island every 90 minutes.
Quokkas are a top reason to visit Rottnest, but the island offers so much more.
Water sports are the biggest attraction. With 63 beaches, locals and visitors alike enjoy swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing, surfing, paddle boarding and more in the pristine and protected waters. And with so many beaches, it isn't all that hard to find one just (or almost) for yourself.
Whale watching is also a big event. Over 35,000 whales travel north from Antarctica to feed and give birth during April, and spend time again between August and November in the protected waters before migrating back to Antarctica.
Rotto, as the locals call it, is a 90 minute ferry ride from Perth, 25 minutes from Fremantle and 45 minutes from Hillarys Boat Harbour, a northern suburb of Perth. An easy day trip or long weekend visit, Rottnest Island is one spot in Western Australia not to miss. Especially when you end the day with freshly caught lobster on the grill!
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Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder