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Rottnest snorkel

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rottnest Island, just 19 kilometres off the Western Australian from Fremantle, is 11 kilometres long and 4.5 kilometres across at its widest point. It is an A Class Reserve, managed by the Rottnest Island Authority and there is no private ownership of land.

Prior to significant changes in sea level more than 7000 years ago, Rottnest was part of the mainland. Local Aboriginal people knew it as Wadjemup and the Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh renamed it in 1696. He thought the quokkas on the island were huge rats, and Rottnest is the Dutch word for rat's nest.

It is a special place for Western Australians who call it Rotto and has been an important holiday destination for over 50 years. It has beautiful scenery and fine beaches and bays.

The island has a delightful style of architecture dating to the 1800s and has an interesting history. It was an Aboriginal penal settlement, a WWI camp for prisoners of war, a place for salt gathering and processing and a WWII military installation.

Rottnest Island was international model Megan Gale's favourite holiday destination as a child. She was delighted to return there with a Getaway crew for a look around the island and do a spot of snorkelling.

Private vehicles aren't permitted on Rottnest so everyone rides a bicycle. In fact, generations of kids have learnt to ride a bike on the island.

It takes about three hours to ride around the island and you can take your own bike on the ferry or rent one of the 1500 available at the island's bike hire. The staff there will tell you the best route to explore, and should you happen to get a flat tyre, they will send a van to collect you.

Rottnest Island Dive and Snorkel has two vessels and a bus on the island. Whether you are in a group or on your own, they will ensure a memorable experience. Take your own gear or rent from them. Their dive store has some great surf clothing and anything else you may want. PADI-certificated courses are available from beginner to expert.

There are countless shipwrecks to explore — six in Thomson Bay alone — and reefs and caverns to explore.

The first ship known to have been wrecked was the wooden schooner Transit which went down in 1842. That was followed by the cutter Gem in 1876, Lady Elizabeth, a composite wood and iron vessel in 1878 through to the auxiliary schooner Uribes in 1942. There were many in between which now lie in their watery graves, providing snorkellers and divers with some great exploring.

Qualified instructors will guide you to some of the island's most beautiful and secluded underwater sites. They run trips from Perth every day and will pick up from hotels, or you can meet them at their Perth store at 8am.

The temperature of the gorgeous aqua waters surrounding the island means they have a superb variety of brilliantly coloured coral and sponges. Limestone reefs hold an exciting array of tropical fish and you swim with them in waters with great visibility and with a temperature ranging between 19 and 24 degrees celsius.

Location

Rottnest Island off Perth on the WA coast.

Cost

Bicycle day hire is from $17.80 for a single speed bike for adults and from $12.10 for children. There are lower rates for extended stays.

Rottnest Malibu Diving costs from $80 per person for one dive. For two dives with equipment, lunch and return Perth boat transfers, the cost is $165 per person a day. For scuba dive without qualifications, one dive with instructor and return boat transfers from Perth costs $200 per person. They operate year round.

Prices quoted correct at November 29, 2007

For more information

Rottnest Malibu Diving
Thomson Bay
Rottnest Island 6161
Ph: (08) 9292 5111
Fax: (08) 9292 5055
Website: www.rottnestdiving.com.au
Email: malibu@rottnestdiving.com.au

Rottnest Island Authority Bike Hire
Bedford Avenue
Rottnest Island 6161
Ph: (08) 9292 5105
Mob: 0412 474 501
Website: www.rottnestisland.com

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