Thanks to a school raffle win Martin and I experienced an amazing Red Balloon Experience flight over to Rottnest Island (known to locals as Rotto) recently.
The staff at Jandalot Flight Centre were awesome. After an exploratory visit the weekend before to suss out access, we turned up bright and early to be greeted by the news the office was under construction. No problem- another front entrance led us out to the tarmac to check the suitability of a different plane which promised more space in the back for our 2 wheelchairs and hence looked a tad comfier than the expected scenario of one person in the back nursing a few wheels. Yes!
The 4 seater meant we now had a pilot and co-pilot (building up his hours) and was far nicer to be able to sit together and enjoy the trip over in style. No need for earplugs- though they (and a sick bag) were on hand if required. And the pre-flight safety check was handled well- even if one point of take off had us wondering if the door was ever going to be closed and the pilot buckle his own seatbelt.
Embarking and disembarking the plane was relatively easy – if not quite elegant, We slid ourselves up the wing and across into the seats. Muggins got her bottom wet being first in and then husband was treated to a towel so his derrière didn’t suffer the same fate after he offered stacking suggestions for our wheelchairs!
What a spectacular view! Our photos often caught the plane wing but you get the gist of it I hope. Not a cap in sight. The different blues were astounding. The return journey offered sights of Perth skyline to paint another day too. And our tiny plane was so much quieter than the 12 seater plane once taken to King Island.
Any dreams of doing the Rotto swim one day were quelled when I saw the reality of the distance from mainland to island from the sky. 12kms doesn’t sound impossible to someone who once did 3.8 training sessions (back in the dark ages), and all those sharks (Colin…) that explore merrily up and down the coast- doesn’t worry me. They’d likely taste other swimmers before me…and if not- it is their territory anyway. So what decided it? The idea of salt water in goggles for such a long, long time. Horrid.
A smooth landing, complete with appropriate landing message from a wacky pilot acting as pseudo air-steward with aspirations of becoming a commercial pilot.Then a slight delay while the pilot arranged one of the accessible buses into the township from the airport, and we were off, for a good 4 hours of R&R.
The bus driver, like the pilots, was cheery and knowledgeable in what to see and do on the island. The quiet lift worked smoothly and our island holiday commenced knowing when to return to the sheltered bus stop later that day thus not rushing our relaxed day in order to push back to the airport. Excellent. Next time we’ll be sure to ring in advance and check the time table as it might have been required on the other side of the island. Serendipitous. With such advance warning the timetable can be adjusted to suit visitors’ needs.
Any trip to Rotto demands a trip to the bakery. Not only because the Duff clan knew the original baker very well, but because the cream cakes and donuts look (and taste) so scrumptious with a morning coffee.
Wander time. Had we been staying on the island we’d have experienced an afternoon play about the history of the island when used as an internment camp during WW1. Instead a visit to the museum revealed tales told and untold. Next visit we might also explore the movie night in a hall where Martin and his family once dealt with steps. It now offers a windy ramp with good side access.
Accessible loos are well located around the settlement. We didn’t venture too far this trip as our destination was the pub for a belated lunch looking out over the bay after admiring the view and Mr Percy’s pelican relatives along the way. And yes, my need for quokker sightings was well met too. Such friendly little critters. Not like rats at all despite the island’s Dutch name (Rat’s nest.) More like tiny inquisitive, and very sleepy, kangaroos. Why they sleep on their head with long tail outstretched for balance defies logic unless that is how they keep warm.
And so the day passed.