Bet you didn’t know Perth’s best-kept secret- TOURISM AUSTRALIA: On a Venn diagram that captures all the luxuries of a well-lived life—sun, sand, wine and picnic parks (do we really need anything else?)—Perth would be that blessed spot that lands itself in the centre. The city is an intersection of white sand beaches, beautiful parkland and world-class wineries, and all this may have something to do with why it’s consistently voted among the most liveable cities in the world.
Blue is the warmest colour
But Perth’s charm also lies in the quick getaways it offers. From adjoining national parks to verdant vineyards, in just under an hour, you can unleash a Pandora’s box of experiences to suit your travel style. However, for true connoisseurs of life, those who like to mix unwinding with the unadulterated joys of wildlife and nature, there is Rottnest Island. Easily accessible on a 40-minute ferry, the island showcases the Indian Ocean in so many shades of blue that I’d only seen them before on a Pantone chart. The ride itself is sufficiently entertaining. If British humour cracks you up, you’ll be glad to know that Australians have a penchant of turning even the most banal conversation into a joke fit for a stand-up session. Onboard, our guide piqued our interest as he pointed to a massive riverfront property in Mosman Park, said to be the most expensive house in Perth. As heads turned to scrutinize, he added, “And here is proof that money can’t buy you taste.”
Once in Rottnest, it’s common to twitch your eyes to assure yourself you aren’t in a reverie. Comprising 63 pristine beaches and 20 stunning bays, the scenic landscape opens up to picture-perfect spots at every nook and cranny. A car-free zone, the only way to enjoy this A-Class Reserve is by renting a bicycle or setting out on foot on one of its five walking trails. Water enthusiasts, don’t forget to carry your bathers, Aussie-speak for swimsuits.
At the island, days come punctuated with swimming, surfing or snorkelling. For adrenalin junkies, there’s scuba and skydiving. The best time to visit is between December to March, the months of Australian summer when getting into the water doesn’t give you shivers. However, if staying dry is paramount to you (like it was to me in November), park yourself at any of the beaches or go lunching at Hotel Rottnest, where prying seagulls watch you devour delicious burgers and craft beer.
Wadjemup in Aboriginal speak and ‘Rotto’ to millennials today, Rottnest Island’s christening came in 1696 when a Dutch captain by the name of Willem de Vlamingh mistook its famous residents for a colony of rats. Described as the ‘happiest animal in the world’ (courtesy their ever-smiling countenance), the quokka is best described as a hybrid creature that comes in the size of a housecat with the face of a kangaroo, built of a squirrel, tail of a rat and the winsome personality of a friendly marsupial.
While I made a quick day-trip to the island, Rottnest also features ocean-facing accommodations that range from charming chalets to simple cottages to help you with an immersive holiday. I recommend you sign up for the Rottnest Express adventure boat tour—it’s the closest you’ll ever get to a rollercoaster ride on the ocean. Damien, our guide onboard, had us in splits with his commentary, while our bumpy (yet safe) boat ride came cued to a playlist of Australian artists—AC/DC, Kylie Minogue, Tame Impala among others. As we delved into unchartered territory on the blue expanse, the views were enlivened with chance spottings— humpback whales and playful dolphins vied for attention while slothful seals showed us what lounging in the sun truly means.