Rottnest Island, Australia – Home of the Quokkas
Rottnest Island in Western Australia is well known for its colony of Quokkas. There are about ten thousand of these cute little kangaroo relatives on the island. Rottnest Island, or Rotto as it is known by the locals, is about 18 km off the coast of Western Australia. The island is only about 11km long and about 4.5 km wide.
The Quokkas on Rottnest Island are a top tourist attraction and these friendly creatures will sometimes come right up to you for a pat. You will get some great photo opportunities with quokkas, but feeding them is prohibited.
But Quokkas are not only found on Rottnest – there are also colonies on Bald Island, and on the mainland in the Stirling Ranges and the coastal plain near Perth. There is an interesting story about how Rottnest got its name. In 1696, explorer Willem De Vlaming landed on the Island and mistook the Quokkas for large rats, and named the island Rats Nest Island, which over time became known as Rottnest.
Quokkas are marsupials and they carry their babies in a pouch like their kangaroo relatives. The baby Quokkas, called joeys, are born after a pregnancy of about four weeks. At birth, the tiny Quokka weighs only three quarters of a gram. The Joey remains in the pouch for 6 months. In the early days of settlement, Quokkas were hunted, but since 1914, Rottnest has been a protected reserve, and today the Quokka population is thriving.
There is more to Rottnest Island than Quokkas, though. The island has over 50 km of road and cycle ways, and hiring a bike is a great way to see the island. Rottnest has some of the finest beaches and bays in the world where you can enjoy swimming, surfing, snorkeling and diving. Rottnest Island is one of the best diving and snorkeling sites near a major capital city. Around the island are amazing reef formations, shipwrecks, and proliferation of fish.