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