Meet the Quokka: Rottnest Island’s Most Celebrated Creature
I adore Rottnest Island’s sheer natural beauty – the sandy beaches, crystal-clear oceans, enchanting pink lakes, and many stunning bays that practically beg visitors to plunge into their inviting waters. Nestled just 18km across the sea from Perth, this island paradise has won city-dwellers hearts seeking an idyllic escape.
However, the island’s most compelling attraction, without a doubt, is its endearing quokkas. These charming marsupials shot to stardom when it was discovered that they appeared to be smiling when photographed. This discovery gave birth to the ‘quokka selfie’ trend, luring tourists to Rottnest Island in pursuit of that perfect snapshot. If you search for #quokkaselfie on Instagram, you’ll find over 36,000 posts featuring people posing with these adorable island inhabitants.
So, what exactly is a quokka? Where can you encounter them on Rottnest, and how can you snap that flawless quokka selfie? Let me share all you need to know.
What Exactly Is a Quokka?
Quokkas are marsupials native to southwest Australia. They boast a petite stature, like a small domestic cat, with rounded, compact bodies and coarse grey/brown fur. Belonging to the kangaroo and wallaby family, they are often celebrated as the ‘world’s happiest animals’ due to their perpetually cheerful expressions.
Sadly, these delightful creatures are classified as vulnerable due to threats from feral predators, habitat loss, and wildfires. Today, they can only be found in isolated pockets of southwest Australia, including Rottnest Island, Bald Island (near Albany), and the mainland.
Quokkas on Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island owes its name to the quokkas. In 1696, Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh christened it ‘Rotte Nest,’ which translates to ‘Rat Nest’ because he mistakenly thought the marsupials were giant rats.
Where to Find the Quokkas
While quokkas face endangerment on the Australian mainland, they thrive on Rottnest Island, thanks to the absence of predators, limited vehicular traffic, and dedicated conservation efforts. The island boasts the largest quokka population in Australia.
Quokkas can be encountered throughout Rottnest Island, with an estimated population ranging from 10,000 to 12,000 on an island spanning just 19 km². One prime spot for sightings is around the Settlement, especially in the late afternoon when quokkas are drawn to the area, possibly in anticipation of food from the nearby pub, bakery, and restaurants.
Other frequented quokka hangouts include The Basin, Stark Bay headland, Bickley Bay, Parker Point, Salmon Point, the scrub around Bathurst Tennis Courts, and Pinky’s Beach. I highly recommend renting a bicycle and embarking on a day-long exploration of Rottnest Island. With its smooth roads and minimal traffic, cycling is the perfect way to cover the island while enjoying numerous encounters with these charismatic marsupials.
How to Capture the Perfect Quokka Selfie
Suppose you manage to photograph a quokka from the right angle. In that case, it appears to be gleefully smiling at the camera. Rottnest Island enthusiastically encourages the quokka selfie trend, promoting tourism and generating essential funds for quokka conservation. These docile and curious creatures have no qualms about interacting with humans, seemingly unfazed by their social media fame.
However, it’s crucial to remember that you must refrain from feeding or touching the quokkas. Instead, admire them respectfully and use a selfie stick or a wide-angle lens to capture your photo. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, but please be considerate and let the quokkas dictate the terms. They are naturally curious, so attracting their attention doesn’t require touching, chasing, or offering food.
Here are some tips for the perfect quokka selfie:
- Use a selfie stick or wide-angle lens to effortlessly include yourself and the quokka in your photo.
- Quokkas showcase their best ‘smiles’ when they look up towards the camera with their necks stretched out inquisitively.
- Get to their level, exercise patience, and wait for the ideal moment. Achieving the perfect shot may require persistence, but the result is worth it.
Rottnest Island Essentials
If you’re eager to meet these delightful quokkas in person, here’s what you need to know about visiting Rottnest Island:
- Where: Rottnest Island is 18km off the Western Australian coastline and makes for an excellent day trip from Perth or Fremantle.
- When: Rottnest Island enjoys pleasant weather year-round, but the period from October to April boasts the warmest temperatures and the lowest rainfall.
- How: Three ferry companies service Rottnest Island: Rottnest Express, Sealink, and Rottnest Fast Ferries. Multiple departures are available daily from Fremantle, Perth, and Hillarys.
Take advantage of the opportunity to experience the magic of Rottnest Island and capture your unforgettable quokka selfie!
FAQs about Quokkas
Q1: Are quokkas dangerous?
A1: Quokkas are not dangerous to humans. They are gentle herbivores and are known for their friendly demeanor.
Q2: Can I feed quokkas?
A2: Feeding quokkas is discouraged, as their diet is specific and should not be altered by human food. Feeding them can also harm their health.
Q3: Are quokkas endangered?
A3: Quokkas are considered vulnerable, with their main threat being habitat destruction. Conservation efforts are in place to protect their population.
In conclusion, the quokka is undoubtedly Rottnest Island’s most celebrated creature, and for good reason. Their charming smiles, friendly nature, and unique habitat make them a must-see when visiting the island. However, it’s crucial to remember that these delightful marsupials are vulnerable, and their conservation should be a top priority.
So, if you’re planning a trip to Rottnest Island, keep a respectful distance from these lovely creatures and admire them in their natural habitat. And who knows, you might capture that perfect quokka selfie to share with the world, spreading the joy of these remarkable animals even further.