I rally at 5:30am feeling delusionally envigorated and stroll along the jetty in the dawn’s early light. The passive-aggressive whines of the gulls, however, take on an accusatory tone, signaling the end to my constitutional. Back in the apt, I discover the coffeemaker only makes mini-espressos, useless one-sip pseudo-beverages. Damn Keurigs and their ilk. Ali appears and we commit to ambling over to Shed B, our portal for a day on Rottnest Island. The ferry ride takes 45 minutes, the highlight of which is watching television coverage of Cher’s triumphal entrance into Sydney for the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
Rottnest is known for, indeed, named for, its indigenous marsupial, the quokka. Early Dutch explorers thought the beasts were rodents of unusual size. In actuality, a quokka looks like an opossum that swallowed a basketball then stopped by the beauty parlor for a chestnut brown rinse. Marsupials could be considered the space cadets of the animal kingdom, cute but very very dim. This makes quokkas the plebes of the cadet corps.
Once we disembark, we pick up bikes and helmets to traverse the paths that wind through the scrubby landscape. Though neither Ali nor I have had much recent bicycle experience, nevertheless, off we wobble. Whoa: critters at eleven o’clock. Some dude is stalking a pair of quokkas through the underbrush with his selfie stick. You go, asshole. We aren’t pedaling for long before we reach a bathing opportunity called The Basin, a sandy-bottomed pool surrounded by submerged rocks. It looks sublime, but not for us.
We wobble back to ‘town’ and order two small pizzas. A quokka appears, ostensibly inspecting the floor beneath our table. They’re not very efficient crumb prospectors. Above us, trees provide shelter to a species of vocally adept and insane birds we have taken to calling Cats-Fucking Birds. Their call can vary from a child’s cry to a yodel to, yes, the ear-popping screech of cats fucking. When the salad-eating Italians at the next table depart, a swarm of avian predators attack the leftover roughage, raising a general alarm. At the local Museum, we discover that for almost a hundred years Rottnest Island had been a penitentiary for aboriginals when a Governor-General of Western Australia chose the island as a summer retreat. And so began its transformation from prison to a playground. Alice asks the docent to identify the bird with the bizarre cry. It’s a goddamn crow.
We catch an early boat back to Fremantle, amused and satisfied. Cher has arrived! Wandering back to our digs we keep one eye out for the statue of Bon Scott, front man for AC/DC, rock legend, and dead since 1980. Much potential statuary exists. When we discover the thing, Fremantle’s favorite son has been immortalized in bronze, half life-size and standing on an amp.
Hoping against hope, I place a call to Apple Support. There will be no easy fix, but they’re helpful nonetheless. Dinner is outdoors at Little Creatures, a well-known pub with neo-galactic decor.
one thought on “THE OUTBACK AND SO FORTH – Wednesday, 28 February”
Fun facts. I can now identify a quokka. Squirrel/prairie dog of Down Under? Do they squeak?