Rottnest Stay Part II

rottnest sunset

Sunset

It was my first full day to myself on the island and I got up with the sun, wandering down to the Rottnest Island Bakery for a breakfast steak & onion pie, even accepting the $7.00 price tag without too much of a struggle (I am Scottish after all). I had plans to visit every single bay around the island, riding the full 24 km and making it back alive. My hired bike and I had already got off to a bad start the night before when it decided that the chain was an unnecessary burden on its back wheel … but we sorted it out and had come to a gentleman’s agreement!

Kingston Barracks

And then I was off, heading down towards the Kingston Barracks and the start of the hills. For those who have never been to Rottnest (or ridden around it) it is essentially up and down hills the entire way around. If you can get to a fast enough coasting speed on the downhill run you can usually make it to the top of the next hill, then rinse and repeat. Well most of the hills anyway! I rode past a shimmering salt lake just past the old train station and started to follow the cliffs around the island. I remember cruising down the first big hill, my hair blowing in the wind (my helmet hanging from my handlebars – oops) and feeling like I was flying … to the left of me on every rocky outcrop an old man happily fishing.

After a few stops at lookouts at the top of hills, and playing some more with my new camera, I found my first accessible beach. After taking some photos for a mother and son who didn’t seem too sure at first to be handing their camera over to a wild haired smiling hippy I clambered down the stairs … over some rocks … jumped over a couple of rock pools and then down the deserted beach … my footsteps the only imprints in the sand. I set down my mountain of supplies (so many different cameras) … grabbed my waterproof camera and ran into the ocean … after swimming around and trying to take pictures of fish and coral for a while… I lay back in the sand and put on some music …

It had been so long since I hadn’t had a schedule … I really didn’t know what to do with myself … my habits told me to move on, to hurry! I ignored them until they wore themselves out and let myself drift in the warm sun. My mind flowing smoothly from the sand underneath me, to what my future holds, to the awesome things I can show my boys when they come over to the island tomorrow! Eventually I made my way back up the beach … jumping from rock to rock … and back up the stairs … and then flying onwards on my bike.

Rottnest Lookouts

I stopped at every lookout and took photos, watching the waves crash into rocks, not seeing another human being for hours. I moved my way around the coast going down every detour, exploring every cove I could find, wading into the water and feeling the sand in between my toes. I spent an hour or more at Strickland bay (the most well known surf spot on the island) taking photos of the surfers – making pretend that I was a professional surf photographer. The waves were not huge but they were clean and the swell was fairly consistent … I really wish I had a board with me. After Strickland the next big stop was the West End.

Rottnest Bike Hire

As I was riding up the last hill to the West End my rear brake broke and I realised that I had 12 km’s of hills to get back … with only a front brake. I arrived at the West End lookout just as a tour bus was packing up and leaving (I don’t know how long they get at each spot but it didn’t seem very long). I put down my bags and spent the next few minutes setting up my camera as they milled around and got back on the bus. Within seconds of the bus driving down the road I saw something out of the corner of my eye and saw two dolphins jumping and playing in the waves … I ran from one lookout to the other, changing lenses on the camera as I ran … I managed to get a handful of photos of them surfing … When they were gone I was in awe … it really felt like I had shared something … I was out here all alone .. nobody in the world watched that but me … and even writing about it now I have a giant smile on my face.

After that … it was a terrifying no-brake ride home in time to meet up with the same group from the night before at the lighthouse on Pinky’s beach to take more photos of the sunset … the clouds that night made for an absolutely amazing show … Exhausted I returned to my cabin, more relaxed than I had been in a long time and wrote most of what you just read … I listened to Mike Oldfield, drank quietly with my feet up on the table and wrote on until the early hours of the morning. Tomorrow I had to return to the mainland to pick up the rest of the family and there was no way that I could know the boys were going to meet their first sea monsters face to face.

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To Be Continued

 

About Josh

Josh is a bare-foot, dread-locked librarian, surfer, writer, blogger, up and coming youtube personality and amateur photographer. He is the father of three young boys and if he had any spare time he would probably spend it lying in a hammock listening to music.

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