Ngank Yira Bidi
The Hike - When you think of Rottnest the first thing that comes into mind for most people is quokkas, white sandy beaches or leisurely riding your bike around on a family holiday. Did you know that Rottnest is home to some great walking trails with more on the way? The construction of the Wadjemup Bidi trail network on the island means that previously inaccessible locations can now be reached on foot and with more trails coming, this is a great way to explore one of Western Australia's favourite tourist destinations. I had this trip marked down in my calendar since I started planning the hiking season over the summer. The plan was to wait for warmer weather in late September and make a day of it but an opportunity came up through Sightseeing Pass Australia for a trip over so I decided to move it up a month so everyone else can see what the Wadjemup Bidi was all about and visit during the spring months. The booking process was very smooth and the range of tours, experiences and packages means there is something for everyone. I didn't even know some of the attractions they offer existed (check this one out if you like old school gaming) but will definitely be doing a few later in the year.
A Friday was chosen for my visit and the tickets were booked but in the week leading up to the trip the weather forecast was looking like heavy storms hitting during the day. Deciding that I wanted sunnier skies to really showcase these walks, I asked the team at Sightseeing Pass Australia if they could change my ticket date to the following Monday, where the weather looked infinitely better. Within five minutes they had confirmed a change of ferry dates for both myself and my partner and the whole experience was an example of great customer service. With the date change all sorted we had to contain our excitement all weekend but Monday finally arrived and we crawled out of bed to catch the earliest ferry across. Departing at the B Shed Markets, the blue skies were dotted with a hint of cloud and it was shaping up to be an enjoyable day. The crew on the Rottnest Express ferry were fantastic when my partner started experiencing the effects of the sea and quickly offered a sick bag, bottle of water and then as we were getting off they advised of the best seats to avoid getting sea-sick on the way home (the back of the ferry for those playing at home). When we arrived at the main jetty we quickly set off for the bakery for a bite to eat and to say hello to the quokkas before tackling the first of two trails planned for the day.
The first trail, the Ngank Yira Bidi (Bidi means walk) is a 9.5km journey from Thomson Bay along the east and south coast where you retrace the military history of the island, specifically the role it played in protecting Fremantle during WWII. The official start of the trail is located on the beach, just south of the main ferry jetty. Guiding you on your walk will be blue trail markers outlining the Wadjemup Bidi logo and these are placed at crucial way-points. In a stark contrast to my usual hiking adventures, starting on a perfect white sandy beach with blue skies overhead is not how I imagined a late winter's hike but with great weather and beautiful scenes, it was ideal. Caris had fun combing the beach for shells and other interesting objects as I snapped away at the fluffy clouds and blue skies. One of the first points of interest you come across is the Army Jetty where equipment was loaded/unloaded during WWII. Dotted along the trail are information boards containing the history of each location and an insight into life on the island during WWII. The trail then deviates away from the beach and up the path to the Kingston precinct, home to the old army barracks and the start of the still working railway line that runs all the way up to the finishing spot at Oliver Hill. The trail then follows parts of the old railway line that was used during WWII, providing some great photo opportunities as you are given glimpses of the ocean and pass by the old buildings of the Bickley Battery.