Location: Rottnest Island
Distance: 7.6km loop
Trail Marker: Purple Wadjemup Bidi markers
Duration: 2 - 4 hours
Cost: Rottnest Island entry fees apply
Toilet Facilities: Yes, at various locations
Dog Friendly: No
Date Hiked: 23rd October 2018
My third and final trail for the day was on the 7.6km loop of the Ngank Wen Bidi which was the final trail development to the Wadjemup Bidi network and was only recently opened back in April. The trail takes off from Lady Edeline Beach, Narrock Neck where the Karlinyah Trail ends. Narrow Neck is the narrowest part of the island and is particularly sensitive to erosion making it a dramatic example of how extreme weather conditions are impacting Rottnest Island. Scientists predict that as sea levels rise, "Narrow Neck' will be once again underwater as it was 5,000 years ago, creating two islands. A boardwalk leads walkers down to Lady Edeline Beach which on a beautiful day is pure bliss. Steps mark the exit from the beach and the trail winds through more low scrubland skirting nice and close to the waters edge.
Next up is Marjorie Bay, a favourite for many with a natural lagoon in the reef. I wasn't here to swim or snorkel though so pressed on sussing out the many moorings in the bays, imagining how packed this would be in Summer. It is good to see a proper recreational boating management plan in place to prserve the islands treasured marine environments for future generations to enjoy. Another section of trail takes walkers through sandy trails and low scrubland as we make our way to the next point of interest, Mabel Cove. As I made my way around Eagle Bay I found a trail that led from the road. As I am not a fan of road-walking I decided to take that trail and check out the views of Eagle Bay and wow was I happy I did as the colours were absolutely stunning.
Back out on to the road and the trail passes through low scrub along those sandy/limestone trails again, this time heading for Cathedral Rocks, the best part of the trail. Passing by a beautiful art piece called 'Chasing Rainbows' by Fleur Marron, the themes of discovery, conservation, enrichment and understanding of the natural and cultural history of Rottnest have been explore in this installation which overlooks Cathedral Rocks. Hauled out, flipper sailing or just splashing about, the New Zealand Fur Seals will have you captivated as you make your way to the lookout where they can be admired from a safe distance and approached with care. It is here that the Fur SEals live on the exposed rocks feeding mainly at night, often along the edge of the Australian continental shelf, hunting for small schooling fish and squid. The Rottnest Island Authority promotes the protection and conservation of these Fur Seals and to ensure the survival of these wild animals they do ask that you abide by a few simple rules; do not feed them, take your rubbish with you and respect them and they will tolerate your presence.
Once your able to drag yourself away from admiring these amazing animals in the wild, head back up the trail, passing where you entered from the low scrub and you'll find yourself at the West End. A memorial plaque, and a replica of the manufacturers plate from the Kiryo Maru 1 is displayed on the stone below along with an anchor that was donated to the Western Australian Maritime Musuem by Salvor John Clarke. The 36 metre Japanese Tuna Boat 'Kiryo Maru 1' ran aground in the early hours of 6 August 1984.
It's then on to Cape Vlamingh, a remote site on the far West End of the island. The West End is a significant geological site, with many interesting shoreline features including highlights such as natural arch, crashing waves, osprey eagles, marine mammals. A spot not to be missed. During WWII six concrete search light facilities were located around the coastline with a Coastal Artillery Search Light being operational at this particular site.
The West End boardwalk was designed to protect the important Shearwater breeding habitat which arrives on the island in August to breed and leaves by early May. Fish Hook Bay is known for its distinct shape, a fish hook. The waters of the bay comprise of an array of blues and the shores are soft, sandy and white. It is in a sheltered area, perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving, due to the abundance of fish life in the area. The boardwalk takes walkers down passing Fish Hoek Bay and to the end to see the rugged rock formations of Cape Vlamingh. Departing the West End, making my way back up the road and turning right on to Aitken Way passing by WWII concrete shelters on your way to Radar Reef. Directions then take you to the next highlight of the trail, Radar Reef, a popular surfing spot for the adventurous. Walkers can enjoy breathtaking views of the southern coast of the Island before heading back inland along the low scrubland.
I was surprised to read that the highlights of the trail stop here! Surprised because there is actually quite a significant amount of walking still to to go before I reach the end. The views of Wilson Bay were nice but from this vantage point it did not look like the trail would head that way, actually I wasn't quite sure where the trail would end up but it was directing me straight through the guts of low lying heathland to the Roland Smith Memorial. The Roland Smith Memorial is a tribute to the Rottnest pioneer who sought to help boats find safe passage to the Island.
Leaving the memorial, the trail follows Digby Rd, passing above Rocky Bay Beach to the trail start/end and then on a little further up to the Rocky Bay bustop where I jumped on the bus and headed back to the settlement.