SHELLY BEACH SNIPPETS NO. 60. February, 2016
Patricia Newell-Dunkley photographs by Reginald J. Dunkley.
Greetings from down under where Rottnest Island is Western Australia’s very own paradise and at this time of year it becomes the perfect place for celebrities’ hideaway. It is blessed with a casual atmosphere, picturesque scenery, dazzling marine life, and some of the world’s finest beaches and pristine bays. Natural occurring salt lakes are a refuge for the abundant bird life, and because of its breeding populations of Fairy Terns, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, and Red Neck Stints, it has been identified by Birdlife International as an important bird area.
You can view the annual migration of Humpback Whales from September – November; get up close and personal with a colony of New Zealand Fur Seals at Cathedral Rocks, plus Ospreys and Pods of Dolphins.
On Rottnest Island, bikes are the transportation of choice and can be hired or alternatively you can enjoy the hop-on hop-off service of an air conditioned coach on the Island Explorer. This will take you to many of the secluded bays and secret hideaways located on the island.
Needless to say, water activities play a major role in Island life, from snorkelling and diving to fishing, surfing, boating, kayaking, sailing and swimming. With just over 135 species of vibrant tropical fish and 20 species of coral, heading below the surface is a truly worthwhile experience. The Island boasts the world’s most southerly corals seasoned divers and you will be happy to know that just off the coast slumbers a vast graveyard of over 13 shipwrecks waiting to be explored.
Rottnest is also renowned for surfing with some of the best breaks in the world found at Strickland Bay. The surfing season is at its best from May to October and boards can be hired. Rottnest also offers endless fun on land, with mini golf, trampolines, and play arcade games at the Family Fun Park, Lawn Bowls or Golf at the Country Club before relaxing at the Rottnest Island Karma Spa. When it comes to food and drink you will be spoilt for choice, fresh seafood, delicious Pub Grub, to casual bites and great coffee at the many restaurants, Hotels, and Bakeries which are famous for their Vanilla Slices and Cream Puffs.
The Island earned its curious name when in 1696 Dutch explorer, William de Vlamingh, mistook the Island’s unusual marsupial population for common rats and named it Rottnest – meaning ‘Rats Nest’. Today having a photo taken alongside the most famous inhabitant which stands twelve inches tall ‘Rats’ known as Quokkas is one of the main highlights for visitors.
Accommodation ranges from camping to bungalows and villas to comfortable serviced apartments, making Rottnest the perfect place to relax and indulge you for days or weeks.
Rottnest Island was inhabited by Aboriginal people until rising sea levels separated the Island from the mainland of Western Australia about 7,000 years ago. The Island features Noongar Aboriginal Mythology as Nadjemup, meaning ‘Place across the water where the spirits are’. Aboriginal artefacts on the Island have been dated from 6,500 to more than 30,000 years ago. There were no people on the Island when European exploration began in the 17th century, and the Aboriginal people on the mainland did not have boats that could make the crossing so the Island had probably been uninhabited for several thousand years.
Today this popular island it is visited annually by 450,000 to 500,000 visitors with 70% coming for a day visit never to be forgotten.
The 20th anniversary of Chinese New Year is well under way in Sydney with the whole of Circular Quay bathed in red. Sydney Harbour Bridge, Town Hall, Westpac Lunar Lantern Hub, the Opera House are lit up in a dazzling red. The colour red is an important colour during Chinese New Year as it scares away bad fortune to ensure a happy and prosperous New Year.
With three weeks of celebrations and eighty events to attend it is a fascinating and exciting time in China Town Sydney. Hopes and dreams for ‘The Year of The Monkey’ are written down and added to the hanging display in The Chinese Garden of Friendship, at Harbour Street, Sydney. It is said that ‘The Year of The Monkey’ brings good luck and fortune. On a certain date the messages are burnt and the wishes go to heaven and are answered.
It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors are decorated with red paper-cuts and couplets with themes of “good fortune” or “happiness” “wealth” and “longevity”, and money is given in red paper envelopes mainly to children.
The popular dragon boat races that see the spirit and power of the dragon come alive as 12 metre long boats, with up to 20 paddlers, battle it out to the beating of drums! It is a great time to learn more about Chinese traditions and join in the many activities that abound for the duration of the festival.
Here at Shelly Beach the surfers are enjoying extreme hot weather and holiday makers are still in evidence. My Lorikeets, Crested Pigeons, and Mistletoe Thrush are happy to visit morning and afternoon. While Princess Pixie the Pomeranian watches everything that goes on, and is very much in charge. My website www.patriciasartworld.com is well patronised and my books “Letters of a Travelling Lady, The Complete Guide to Painting and Decorating Porcelain, Wallis the Woman I Love.” are available on Amazon. Enjoy!