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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Rottnest Island...

While we were still in Perth, DH and I took a day trip to Rottnest Island. This island was named by the Dutch Captain Willem de Vlamingh. The captain thought the island was overrun by 'giant rats' and so named the island Rottnest which means 'rats' nest'...but more about those 'rats' shortly!
We took the train to Fremantle and then caught one of the ferries which goes to the island.

On the dock at the island, you can't help noticing all the hire bikes waiting...and that's the way that many visitors get around the island. We walked towards the buildings near the dock to find the information centre. ( My brother had recommended that we hop on and off the buses that loop the island but DH had read of a particular attraction on the island and that would be where we would spend our time) 
After buying our tickets for a particular tour, we headed to the food court area and that is when we saw the 'rats'!
That Dutch captain got it a bit wrong...what he actually saw wasn't rats. They were little native animals called quokkas. They are marsupials like the majority of Aussie native fauna. Of course I bought a toy quokka for Anthea...and it had to be a mother quokka with the baby in her pouch! 

While we ate lunch, the bag containing the toy was at my feet...

And an inquisitive quokka just had to check that bag out! Lol. We had been warned by the lady in the bakery that the seagulls had been stealing food from tourists as they ate at the tables. But the gulls let me eat my potato topped pie in peace. 😀

Door entries to shops in this area all have Perspex swing doors because it looks like the sweet quokkas like to check out the shops too! 
After our lunch we had a short walk around that area looking at old buildings. 
Even though the island was named by the Dutch, they didn't colonise WA; that was left to the British. Over the years Rottnest Is was used in various ways...for example, penal colony, internment camp, military installation. It was this last use that DH had read about. 
During WW2 Rottnest played a major part in the defence of the port of Fremantle. It was a major base for the allies in the Indian Ocean. There is a huge gun emplacement on Oliver Hill on the island and this Battery is the only intact gun emplacement left in Australia. It was all decommissioned after the war but in the 1990s restoration started and now it is a tourist attraction.

All those years ago in WW2, a light rail network was built to transport materials and munitions to the guns, and that's what we were going to do...ride this little train.
Great views from the train...including the little airfield.
We did the tour up on Oliver Hill, which included walking through tunnels built under the hill. The Operations' rooms were underground of course too. During the war, there were a lot of military personnel on the island, including WRANs ( women's navy personnel). Our guide joked that the women did all the calculations for working the guns and the men fired them. But it would have been very hot, dirty work for those gunners! 
We saw in one tunnel corridor some clothes hanging up. They were made of cotton and the men who were entering the cordite store had to change into cotton clothing to prevent any risk of static electricity setting off the cordite. 

The big machines that generated electricity for the Battery have long gone but there are large photo murals showing what the room had looked like. 
Our guide told us that those generators were sent in the 1960s to a little town and used to provide electricity for that town until it was connected to the main grid. 
Neither of us took photos of the lower part of the gun...too entranced by the guide's commentary! 
But we did take some photos of the great views from up on Oliver Hill.

After the tour finished, the little train was waiting for us. We headed down to the settlement and then just had enough time to walk down to the dock area to catch the ferry back to Fremantle. We would have liked some more time but some return trips had been fully booked when we had bought our tickets in the morning. So we had had to take 2 spots on the 3.55 ferry. 
So our day on Rottnest was completely different to my brother's day there, as he went right around the island...we possibly didn't see as much, but what we saw and did was fascinating!! 

1 comment:

Vireya said...

The quokkas look quite adorable, especially the one that wants your shopping. Love the quokka barriers on the shops!

I was unaware of the military history of the island, so that was interesting. And I love the little train.