Leaving Ningaloo Reef was bitter sweet. There was so much more to explore, and yet adventures further south were waiting for us. From our camp at Yardie Homestead to the Wadjemup (Rottnest Island) Ferry was 1,400 Km.
Our first stop was Point Quobba. The camp area is close to the Blow Holes and is known by various names including Point Quobba Blow Holes Camp Ground. Sites are not marked out, it’s a matter of finding a spot, then paying online (great Internet). Local rangers monitor the site. The facilities include 3 dump points, rubbish bins and drop toilets. There is no water or power. We stayed two nights with the caravan remaining hitched to the car.
The lagoon is known as ‘The Aquarium’ with bountiful tropical fish due to the warm Leeuwin Current which runs south from North West Cape (Ningaloo Reef), down the west coast of Australia, bringing warm waters close to shore.
Perhaps due to the cooler weather, we didn’t see as many fish this time as we did in 2019. You can check out our 2019 visit here. But we did spot five octopus. The reef is very shallow, so high tide is the best time to snorkel.
These are the five octopus we found. Only one was out of his den, interestingly, he had a tentacle reaching into the den next to him where another octopus was hiding.
Our first priority leaving Point Quobba was to find water to fill the van tanks. About 75km south is the town of Carnarvon which has water available at the information centre and various other locations. I should mention, the water tap is not signposted, Tim just happened to spot it in the car park behind the visitors centre.
In the late afternoon we stopped at Galena Bridge Rest Area. These free overnight stops are provided by local councils to reduce road accidents for long distant travellers. This one had a dump point for caravan toilets, picnic shelters and drop toilets. They are busy places and if you don’t stop early enough you miss out on a spot. We stopped at about 4pm and got one of the last spots that was level enough to park on (without our dinner plates sliding off the table).
The next afternoon we arrived at the Woodman Point Caravan Park in Fremantle. We left our van and car here while staying on Wadjemup (Rottnest Island)
Wadjemup (Rottnest Island)
The traditional Noongar name for Rottnest Island is Wadjemup, which means “place across the water where the spirits are”. In 1696 Willem de Vlamingh called it ‘t Eylandt ‘t Rottenest (“Rats’ Nest Island”) after the quokka population which he thought were giant rats. Since we last visited in 2019 much of the signage has been changed to include both names.
Travelling on the Rottnest Express Ferry from Fremantle to Wadjemup on a calm sunny day.
Our trip back to the mainland was not as pleasant. All ferry services were cancelled for the day we were to leave due to storms and gale force winds, so we had to leave a day earlier than expected. But we had a lovely three nights on the island.
Our accommodation at Geordie Bay was right on the water with amazing views.
We stayed at Geordie Bay because two of the loveliest snorkelling places were within walking distance. Unfortunately due to wind direction and high swell, these were not suitable during our stay and we headed around the other side of the island to more sheltered bays. Little Salmon Bay (6km from Geordie Bay) and Shark Wreck at Henrietta Rocks (8km from Geordie Bay)
The options for getting around Wadjemup (Rottnest Island) are (prices at time of our visit- I’m mentioning this because it took us by surprise that the fares were so high) …
Walking – free but lots of steep hills.
Bicycles – hire per day per bike was $30 or $71 for electric bikes (or bring your own, fees apply for ferry cartage)
Tour Bus – a 2 hour tour of the island. (Not sure of price) Targeted to day visitors.
Shuttle bus – $5 each for a week. Bus goes from the main town at Thomas Bay (where the ferry comes in) to the two accommodation areas. It runs from 7.45am to 6pm.
Island Explorer Bus – Hope on hope off at stops around the island. Adults $25 each per day. From 8.30am – 3pm.
We chose the Island Explorer Bus for the two snorkelling trips we did to the other side of the island.
Little Salmon Bay
The water was icy, and we appreciated the 5mm wetsuits we had hired in Fremantle. We also bought a thermal rashie each for under the wetsuits. Even so, an hour in the water was as much as we could manage. A shout out to Dive Locker Fremantle who hire and sell equipment for scuba and snorkelling as well as running tours and courses.
I had so much fun playing with this school of silver drummers, they are my new “favourite” fish to hang out with. They always look happy and swim straight at you.
I couldn’t work out why a small school of them kept following me around until I saw them following Tim as he swam away. They were eating the bubbles from our fin splash. Perhaps that’s why they always look so happy, they get high on oxygen.
Henrietta Rocks and Shark Wreck
Located just 50 metres offshore is the historic wreck of Shark. A hopper barge that broke free from its mooring in Fremantle in 1938, it drifted across the channel to its current location, where it ran aground on the reef and slowly sank.
Such a beautiful place. The abundance of the ocean plant life and variety of shapes and colours was truly amazing.
Wadjemup (Rottnest Island) is well known for its quokkas.
Cheers til next time
Helen & Tim