We jumped into action to take advantage of Lyra’s last week with us. After arriving at our temporary home in Yanchep around midnight, we slept in before going to Yanchep Beach just below our house. The water is deep turquoise blue, and the Indian Ocean stretches to the horizon.Beyond Yanchep to the north are the Lancelin dunes, where there is sandboarding for the adventurous. The dramatic formation called “The Pinnacles” is nearby. I missed this as I had a cold and refused to move for a day. I may now insist on visiting. The sand is bright yellow and the rocks stick right up out of it. There’s a remarkable contrast against a blue sky. They picked the right day to visit.
From bright sun, we went into a deep cave, visiting the Yanchep Crystal Caves. A formation of limestone over sand and seawater resulted in the formation of extensive caves that were discovered in the late 19th century. Full of needle-like stalactites and rippling flowstone, one of the chambers is so large it was used for parties. Called Cabaret Cave, it can still be booked for meetings and events. We saw the wedding in the park that was going to have a reception in the cave.
Unfortunately, the use of ground water to supply Perth has lowered the water table a great deal and the cave is now completely dry, meaning no new stalactites are forming. It is also getting warmer and no one knows what may result. The park is gradually creating artificial pools of water within the cave to try and keep it cool and moist. The docent guiding our tour was a passionate caver and water conservation supporter. She tries to make people aware of the inherent conflict between the need for drinking water and the destruction of caves and underground life.
We also met up with our friend Michele from our Galapagos trip. She is a docent at Perth Zoo and fixed us up with a giraffe encounter. They are really BIG, their tongues are really LONG and BLUE. They are very good at pulling a branch out of your hand.
Next we went to sea, taking the ferry to Rottnest Island, a 30 minute ride offshore. Every person we met who knew we were visiting Perth suggested a visit to Rottnest, and our decision to stay overnight was a good one. You can walk, bike, or ride the bus around the island. Lyra took a bike and we rode the bus to Little Salmon Bay. It looks like the Caribbean. From there, we moved on to Strickland Bay, much rockier, but with better beach combing. We met a woman taking her SUP (Stand-up Paddleboard) out to practice for a competition coming up the next weekend. The water was full of surfers.You could easily stay a week, snorkeling at different beaches, biking, fishing, and lounging by the pool. Lyra took a dip in the late afternoon when the Welcome swallows were stopping to sip the water. Rottnest was our first “glamping” experience. There’s nothing wrong with a tent when it has it’s own ensuite bathroom. The Discovery Eco-resort has only been open for a month, and that means the tents are brand new. No critters hiding in the corners, though they remind you to keep your tent zipped so that a curious marsupial doesn’t decide to visit. That’s quite likely, as quokkas live on the island and are well protected. They are not afraid of people, though they don’t tolerate being touched or picked up.
One quokka wanted to sit beside Lyra’s feet at dinner. Others kept us company at the bus stop. They don’t beg, they just sit. Everyone who visits the island takes a quokka selfie. We sailed back to the mainland with plenty of quokka photos and sea views.
The Fremantle Markets were another stop on our tour of the region. On our way there we passed the Dingo Flour sign, the icon of Fremantle. The markets were full of tourist items, bars, restaurants, and food stalls. We also passed a koala on its way to a public appearance–the most awake koala I’ve ever seen. There’s something weird about seeing a koala carried like a little kid.