Wadjemup Wandering – Part 2

Written by Rottnest Voluntary Guide, Jean Hudson

No doubt you enjoyed a break from hiking and watched the sunset at Pinky’s Beach it is time to continue with the Ngank Yira Bidi and Gabbi Karniny Bidi walking trails on Rottnest Island.

Wardan Nara Bidi. Allow3-4 hours

This is a 10km one-way trail. It begins at Parker Point with its crystal clear water a Rottnest Voluntary Guide will be available to take you on a tour before you start hiking.  The Wardan Nara Bidi trail takes you along the coast to Little Salmon Bay, popular for families and snorkelling. Just before Salmon Bay, you’ll discover the 70-year Osprey stack.

Stroll along sandy Salmon Bay and then head inland to Oliver Hill and Wadjemup Lighthouse, the highest point of the island. Take in 360-degree views. The trail then heads to Strickland Bay, Rottnest’s most famous surf break. This trail ends at the Mammong Dreaming Sculpture.

Karlinyah Bidi. Allow2-3 hours

If you enjoyed the island’s northern beaches then this is the trail for you! This one-way 5.9km trail will take you to long sandy deserted beaches with lots of birds and shallow water for swimming – Little Armstrong Bay, perfect for snorkelling. At Catherine Bay keep an eye out for Pied Oystercatchers at the water’s edge.

Along a rocky beach trail, you will arrive at the site where the City of York ship ran aground on the reef. Then onto Ricey Beach (be careful it is very rugged) you’ll find lots of flotsam and jetsam on this beach. Stark Bay is spectacular and a popular haunt for several species of Terns. This trail finishes at Rocky Bay at Narrow Neck.

Ngank Wen Bidi. Allow3-4 hours

This 7.6km trail loops around the rugged and remote West End and begins at narrow neck. Walking anti-clockwise you’ll pass Marjorie Bay, there is a perfect lagoon inside the reef for a dip. Have a look for the crocodile in the rocks at Mabel Bay. Beyond Eagle Bay you’ll arrive at Cathedral Rocks and the viewing platform to watch Long-nosed Fur Seals frolicking in the sea.

Walking along the boardwalk to Cape Vlamingh you will discover incredible views and crashing waves, a blowhole, Osprey’s nest, possibly migrating whales and playful dolphins. The trail loops back to Narrow Neck via the southern coast of the island. Along the way, you will come across popular surfing spots and several Osprey nests. Further information on Rottnest Island can be found at Rottnest Island.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog Wadjemup Wandering, better still, why not enjoy the experience of hiking the Wadjemup Bidi Trails.

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Wadjemup Wandering – Part 1

Written by Rottnest Voluntary Guide, Jean Hudson

Spring is the prefect time to hike the Wadjemup Bidi trails on Rottnest Island.  The weather is sunny and not too hot and wildflowers are blooming. Quokka joeys are leaving their mother’s pouch, ducklings and osprey chicks stick close to their parents.

In Noongar language, ‘Wadjemup’ means ‘place across the water where the spirits are’ and ‘Bidi’ means ‘trail’ or ‘track’. The Wadjemup Bidi is a 45-kilometre trail network free of bikes and buses. There are five unique trails that traverse coastal headlands, inland salt lakes, ancient forests of fossilised trees and heritage sites.

Each trail can be hiked separately and spaced out over your time on the island. Trails are linked and they finish and commence near stops for the Hop-on Hop-off Bus. Maps are available from the Rottnest Island Visitors Centre or from the Rottnest Island Volunteer Guides Information Centre. Maps have numbered places of interest, distances and bus stop information.

The five trail sections are: Ngank Yira Bidi – will take you from the settlement to the Bickley Battery. Gabbi Karniny Bidi – features the salt lakes and boardwalk. Wardan Nara Bidi – takes you to Salmon Bay, Oliver Hill and Wadjemup Lighthouse. Karlinyah Bidi the sandy northern beaches and reefs. Ngank Wen Bidi loops around the West End.

Ngank Yira Bidi: Allow 3-4 hours.

Begin this 9.4km one-way trail at Thomson Bay and follow the blue osprey signs. The first section is along the beach towards Kingstown Barracks. Then onto the Bickley Battery, to explore the remnants of the coastal defence system installed before WW2.  Two 6-inch guns protected the southern passage to Fremantle from enemy ships.

You’ll find abandoned fortress buildings: plotting rooms, command centres, observation posts, railway sidings and the bases from the two 6-inch guns. These guns had a range of 17 kilometres.

The Jubilee Observation Post is the highest point of Bickley Bay. You can enjoy 360degree views of the island and surrounding waters and marvel at the complex military installations.

The trail takes you past the ‘Osprey Beachcomber’, a sculpture made from 80% recycled material, the onto a rugged dune system to arrive at Henrietta Rocks.

At the lookout of Henrietta Rocks you can see the Shark shipwreck just a short distance offshore. She is one of the many ships that came to grief on the reefs around Rottnest Island. You can end the trail here by catching the hop on hop off bus or finish the trail by walking inland to Oliver Hill.

Oliver Hill Battery has tunnel structures supporting two 9.2-inch guns and railway lines used during WW2. There are incredible views over the Rottnest Island Settlement. You can take a guided tour (offered by the Rottnest Voluntary Guides) of the battery and tunnels, catch the bus back to the settlement or join another trail.

Gabbi Karniny Bidi.  Allow 3-4 hours

This 9.7km loop trail takes you around the lakes. It starts from Thomson Bay via the Vlamingh Lookout, which provides amazing views beyond the settlement. Stop at Lake Baghdad and enjoy watching the bird life. Lakes Boardwalk will make you feel as though you are walking on water. The salt lakes occupy 10% of the island’s mass.

The second part of this trail takes you by the turquoise waters of Little Parakeet Bay, stop and have a paddle. At Geordie Bay, you take a break at the café and catch the shuttle bus back to the settlement. Or continue on to Longreach Bay and the Basin. Remember to pack a towel and snorkel … just in case, or maybe end up at Pinky’s Beach for the sunset.

To be continued …..

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Fins, Feathers & Flippers

Wildlife watching at Rottnest’s West End turns each visit into an adventure. 

Written by Rottnest Voluntary Guide, Jean Hudson

It’s windy and huge waves roll in crashing onto the limestone cliffs sending plumes of spray into the air. The blowhole fills with surf and spray. The water is alive with every colour of blue – cyan, sapphire, aquamarine and turquoise. A pod of bottle nosed dolphins frolic in the waves, some jumping out of the water.

I’m standing on the West End Boardwalk at Cape Vlamingh – the most westerly point of Rottnest Island

A wedge-tailed shearwater glides above me, its flight an elegant pas seul. Shearwaters, also known as mutton-birds are rather clumsy on the ground. They colonise in ground nests and burrows. You’ll see lots of burrows at either side of the boardwalk.

An osprey sits on its nest at the far side of Fish Hook Bay. There are up to 14 osprey nests on the island. Their nests or eyries are large compact structures built from sticks and other debris. These magnificent birds have a wingspan of 1.8m and catch their prey in their claw-like talons. They can dive to a depth of 1m. Ospreys lay 2 -3 eggs from August to October and the fledging remains in the nest until Christmas.

The viewing platform at Cathedral Rocks is the perfect place to watch the antics of the long nosed fur seals. A colony has made Cathedral Rocks home. They sunbathe and roll about on the rocks and do belly flops into the water. They spend half their time in the water – fishing, swimming and lying on their backs with their flippers in the air.

How do you get to the West End? You can cycle there on your own bike or rent a bike from Pedal and Flipper or you can catch the Hop-on, Hop-off Bus. You can also explore the West End by foot – you can hike the 7.6km loop trail Ngank Wen Bidi, the full loop takes 3-4 hours. A Rottnest Voluntary Guide will be at the West End to answer your questions. Further information on Rottnest Island can be found at www.rottnestisland.com

Don’t miss a unique trip to West End, Cape Vlamingh the next time you visit Rottnest Island.

July 2022