Imagine an island, edged with stunning white-sand bays and sheltered coves so that whichever direction the wind blows from you could always find a calm swimming bay. Imagine if there were no cars allowed on the island save for the island bay-hopper bus and services vehicles. That everyone cycled, children and adults alike. That there was one general store and one bakery. Image that there were no dogs or cats but plenty of a very unique, fairly cute animal.
Ladies and gentlemen I give you Rottnest Island. Or plain old “Rotto” as the inhabitants of Perth, WA call it.
Located about 18 mms off the coast of Western Australia, Rottnest is a mere 11kms long by 4.5 kms wide. This means cycling around is a good option even for the most out-of-condition visitor (if I can do it anyone can, you can hire a bike there). All accommodation is dotted around the island coastline in settlements and varies from hostel and campground through self-catering small units (with pretty bay views) to a selection of ‘premium’ cottages, some of which were occupied by army commanders during WWII. Plus there is one hotel (attached to the one pub) and one upmarket lodge. But in general the accommodation is fairly low key, basic but enough. And if you simply don’t fancy cycling, the regular small bus runs from bay to bay, settlement to settlement.
As for the unique cute furry critter, take a look at the quokka! Cute, eh? Although, to be honest, quokkas seem like a cross between a wallaby and a rat. Which is not so surprising as the name Rottnest derives from the name the first european, a dutch sea-captain Samuel Volkersen, gave to the island which he termed after seeing the quokkas. ‘Rotte Nest’ meaning ‘rat’s nest’. These little critters hop around the island with no restrictions. On the road, around your feet in outside seating areas, in fact leave open your cottage and they’ll may even sneak in for a rummage! They’re harmless (with bad eyesight) but as with all wild animals carry a range of fleas! So no petting please. In fact these little quokkas are a protected species as are many of the fauna and flora of this island, an Australian class ‘A’ Nature Reserve.
I love taking the short ferry ride across to Rotto (25 mins approx from Fremantle, 20kms south of Perth city centre*) and have been lucky enough to spend many sunny days and balmy nights there with good friends eating, drinking, swimming and generally taking it easy. This year was no different except for the fact that we seemed to ramp up the bacchanalian activities and after 2 days realised we had almost worked our way through a week’s supply of drink. Oops! Hmm, those pesky quokkas… who knew they drank, eh?
One healthy-ish edible treat that I brought over to Rotto which disappeared pretty swiftly was some salty sweet seeds packs that I had made as gifts. Australia has strict rules about what you can carry in your luggage as you enter the country so I made a batch of my Chocolate Dates with Almond and these seedy treats after I arrived in Perth. They are so simple to make and will have you in and out of the kitchen before your chilled beer has time to lose any frostiness. Nibble them with drinks, sprinkle over soups (pumpkin soup especially) or salads. I’d advise you to make in large batches as they don’t last long. Enjoy!
Salty Caramelised Seeds
This is less a ‘recipe’, more a ‘guide to ratios’!
2 handfuls of seed mix
(I used approximately 60% pumpkin seeds, 30% a mix of sunflower and 10% sesame seeds – ish)
1 tblsp sugar
1 tsp salt
Pinch of chilli flakes
Crushed cumin or coriander seeds or a spice of your choice
Pinch of dried herbs
Dry fry the pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a frying pan over a medium heat until the pumpkin seeds begin to pop.
Sprinkle into the pan first the sugar, then the salt and finally the sesame seeds (the tiny sesame seeds would burn if you put them in the pan too soon).
The sugar will begin to melt. Stir the seeds so that all get covered in the melting sugar. Add the pinch of chilli, herbs, spices or zest if using (optional) Keep an eye on the heat and turn it down low if the sugar begins to burn.
When all the sugar is melted empty the caramelised seeds onto a baking sheet. Allow to cool
That’s it! I know, too easy. But I promise this is one of THE BEST nibbles you will make.
I accept all forms of thanks.
*Ferries from Barrack St Jetty in Perth city take 90 mins, ferries from Hillarys Boat Harbour take 45 mins. We usually depart from Fremantle.