Roaming Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island - Perth's summer island playground by Paul Amyes on
Rottnest Island’s beaches are its big draw card. The many small bays around the island make for delightful sheltered beaches that safe for swimming.


Eighteen Kilometres off the Western Australian coast near Fremantle is an island. It’s name is Rottnest Island. In terms of size it’s not very significant – just 11 Km long and 4.5 Km wide. It has just one settlement and that has a permanent population of around 300 people. But for all its insignificance it receives about 500,000 visitors a year. On a busy day 15,000 can be on the island at one time. It’s most famous residents aren’t even people, they are Quokkas (Setonix brachyurus) a small marsupial animal in the same family as Kangaroos and Wallabies. They are so important to Western Australia that they are the face of the current tourism campaign in the media with the hope that possibility of taking a selfie with one of cute critters will bring legions of overseas tourists who will enrich the coffers of the state government now the mining boom is over. For young people finishing school Rottnest is a right of passage where the teenagers go for a booze fuelled week-long party to mark the transformation from school kid to adult. For other Perth residents a trip to the island is what summer is all about.


Rottnest Island - Perth's summer island playground by Paul Amyes on
Quokkas are a small marsupial that inhabit Rottnest Island and they have now become the islands icon.


Rottnest Island - Perth's summer island playground by Paul Amyes on
Quokkas can be found all over Rottnest Island even in the Thomson Bay Settlement during day light.


Rottnest Island - Perth's summer island playground by Paul Amyes on
The supermarket in Thomson Bay Settlement has a strict no quokka policy.


You get to the island via a ferry. Rottnest Express has ferry services leaving Barrack Street Jetty in Perth, the B-Shed Fremantle Harbour and Northport Rouse Head. As well as the ferry service they run a variety of package tours to the island and you can rent  snorkeling equipment from them. Rottnest Fast Ferries  sails out of Hillary’s Boat Harbour and they also run a variety of day tours and cruises.


Rottnest Island - Perth's summer island playground by Paul Amyes on
There are no cars on Rottnest Island, cycling is the main form of transport.


The best thing about Rottnest is that there are no cars!!!! I’ll say that again. No cars!!!! Cycling is the main form of transport. Brilliant. You can either bring your own bike on the ferry at an extra charge or rent one from either Rottnest Express (if you travelled with them) or get one from Rottnest Island Bike Hire located behind the Hotel Rottnest on Bedford Avenue. The last time I visited the island I took my own bike and did an abbreviated circuit of the island.

Distances are not vast, but before you set off make sure you take plenty of food and water with you as there is none out- side Thomson Bay Settlement.

1. Starting at the Visitor Centre head south following the signs for Hotel Rottnest. After 200 metres take the left fork that runs along the beachfront in front of the hotel. Turn left into Forrest Avenue and  this swings round into McCullum Avenue. At the end of McCullum turn left into Parker Point Road.

2. Follow the signs for Kingston Barracks and after 870 metres go past the turn off for Kingston Road and go over the railway crossing heading for Parker Point. After a little while you pass Henrietta Rocks where the wreck of the vessel Shark can be seen from the look out point. The wrecks of the Lady Elizabeth and the Raven also lie off this point. If you are lucky you may see a sea-lion or two.

3. After 4 Km you arrive at a junction, take the left turn and follow the Parker Point Loop. If you have brought a mask, snorkel and flippers with you a stop here is a must as there is a snorkel trail that takes you out on the coral. After 2 Km you are back at the junction, take the left turn and ride along the edge of Salmon Bay.

4. At the 9 Km point you reach the intersection of Parker Point Road and Digby Drive. If you have had enough turn right onto Digby Drive and follow it back to Thomson Bay Settlement, otherwise turn left and then 1 Km later take the right fork following the Geordie Bay sign.

Rottnest Island - Perth's summer island playground by Paul Amyes on
Rottnest Island is Perth’s summer playground as families look to escape the heat of the mainland and enjoy the relaxed carefree beachlife of the island. Geordie Bay is one of many safe swimming beaches on the island.

5. Turn right into Bovell Way and follow the road back to the settlement on the northern side of the island. After 5 1⁄2 Km you reach Geordie Bay which is another good spot for swimming and snorkeling. Keep going along Bovell Way until it ends at the intersection with Geordie Bay Road where you turn right onto it and cycle along the edge of Herschell Lake. After 600 metres you reach a cross-road, turn right onto Digby Drive and cycle back through the settlement.

Rottnest Island - Perth's summer island playground by Paul Amyes on
Bathurst light house on Rottnest Island guides boats safely into Thomson Bay.

When you’ve returned to Thompson Bay you will in serious need of some refreshment. The Hotel Rottnest is in the old governor’s summer residence. The hotel used to be called the Quokka Arms and most of the locals still use that name. A great location for a quiet coldie on a hot summers day or for a gourmet meal. Another popular  eatery is the Rottnest Bakery – a visit to the bakery is considered mandatory for every visitor to the island and it is famous for its fresh bread, pies, slices, and cakes. It is the perfect place to refuel after surfing, snorkeling, swimming or cycling. It is also the most likely place you will meet a quokka.


Rottnest Island - Perth's summer island playground by Paul Amyes on
Waiting for the last ferry to arrive from Rottnest Island at the B Shed Fremantle Docks. Fremantle, Western Australia.



Happy Birthday

The Mobile Kit
The Canon EOS5d – the first “affordable” dSLR with a 35mm sensor.

On 22 August 2015 the Canon EOS 5d turned ten years old – my own 5d turned 10 last week. Now they reckon dog years are seven for every human year. In terms of digital photography I reckon ten years equates to over a hundred human years as technology has advanced so fast. Despite that the original 5d, or if you want to really annoy the anally retentive Canon fan bois over on the DPReview forums the 5d Classic, is still more than a capable camera, in fact I would go onto say that if you don’t shoot video and don’t print any larger than A3+ you don’t need anything else. If all you do is post shots on Flickr and Facebook then I would say you’re over gunned and look for a Canon EOS 300d! Why was it so special – well it was the first “affordable” dSLR with a 35mm sized sensor. That meant a lot back in 2005 because a lot photo enthusiasts and pros had cut their teeth shooting 35mm film and had got used to a certain look with particular focal lengths. The advent of the cropped sized sensor (APS-C for Canon and DX for Nikon) meant that we couldn’t just look at a scene and say that calls for a 85mm lens, or a 24mm lens. No we had all these funny focal lengths and the other annoying thing was the camera and lens manufacturers didn’t populate their lens line ups with high quality cropped factor lenses – a fact that is still true today. So when the 5d was announced I thought at last I can get my favourite focal lengths back. I literally ran to my then favourite retailer PRA and placed my order. Since then my 5d has been in constant use, there are some 14,000 images in my Lightroom catalogue taken with that camera and it hasn’t missed a beat. It still gets used on a regular basis because those 12.8 Mp render an image beautifully. Many of the cameras detractors said that it had an atrocious auto focus system but I never had any problems with mine.


2007 Boddington Rodeo, Boddington, WA.
Gotcha!!! 2007 Boddington Rodeo, Boddington, WA. The 5d in full on action mode, something a lot of people said was impossible.


2005 Perth H2O Gravity Games
2005 Perth H2O Gravity Games

A lot of people complain that Canon sensors are crippled when it comes to dynamic range, again it has never been something that has caused me any problems.

Photograph 2006 Avon Descent by Paul Amyes on 500px
Hot Air Balloons over the Avon River in Northam, Western Australia. Canon EOS 5D, Canon  75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens. Exposure 1/1000 s at f/5.6 ISO 400.


 An Evening Walk Down The Lane. by Paul Amyes on 500px
A walk down the lane at sunset. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS5d, Canon EF 28-135 f3.5-5.6 IS lens, Cokin 2 stop graduated neural density filter, Cokin circular polarizing filter. Exposure 20.0 s at f/22.0 ISO 100 in manual mode.


Long exposures such as the shot above and below didn’t cause any problems, just a little judicious use of noise reduction software in post.


Photograph York CBH Nocturne by Paul Amyes on 500px
York CBH Nocturne. Train been filled at the York CBH grain handling facility in York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 5D with Canon EF24mm f/2.8 lens. Exposure: manual mode 20.0 s at f/4.0 ISO 800.


As I said earlier I’m still happily using the camera after ten years and in that time quite a few other cameras have come and gone. I think the EOS5d deserves the appellation Classic because it helped a lot of photographers recover their preferred means of working with focal lengths, it quickly became a mainstay of a lot of working photographers, and it established the idea of the prosumer full frame sensor in camera market. Will it last another ten years? I don’t think so as a working camera. The problem is that the spares are no longer manufactured to keep the camera going. I’ll still continue to use mine until it fails but not as a mission critical camera.


Tessellated Pavement
Tessellated Pavement. Canon EOS5d with EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens. Cokin filters – 3 stop ND filter, 2 stop grad, and circular polarizing filter. Exposure: 1.6 s at f/11.0 ISO 100.



As always clicking on an image will take you through to my online gallery.