The Quokka's Arms, Rottnest Island, Western Australia

In 1658 Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh stopped into a little island off the coast of Western Australia.  It measured 11km by 5km, and was promptly named "Rottenest" ('Rats Nest') as he thought it was inhabited with rats. 

It was. 

Well, not rats exactly, but something that looks something like a large rat. A type of wallaby - a "Quokka". 

And had heard that 350 years later the island was still infested by these rats, or "Quokkas", if you prefer, and, what's more, you could enjoy an icy cold beer as you checked them out. 

We need no more than that. 

And so it was this aim in mind that we set sail from WA on a fine, hot afternoon, saying goodbye to the most isolated city in the world - Perth. 

Good-bye fair land!
We know not what risks we take!

A couple of hours later (we took the guided tour to enjoy the Swan river while indulging in, well, a few Swans) we rocked up on Rottnest Island (or 'Rotto' as the locals like to call it).

We took a quick look around the bushes. And in the sand. 

Not a quokka in sight. 

It was just starting to look as though we had been dudded when we came across the next best thing: the Quokka's Arms. 

Right on the main beach, the Quokka's Arms (not its real name, but what the locals call it), exists to make your trip worthwhile - quokka or no quokka. So we decided to wander up the beach and spend just a few minutes to decide on a hunting strategy. 

Up the beach we go - and not a Quokka in site

We looked around: if we were quokkas this would certainly be the place we would spend our day. The traditional Aussie beer garden was going off, with tourists and what looked like locals alike enjoying the sizzling Western Australia heat with a majestic beach view over a few quiet ones. We waltzed up to one snazzy lady who looked as though she knew what she was doing. 

A local enjoying a few beers in the sun 

"So, what's the story?", we asked. "Where the bloody hell are the quokkas? We've been on the boat for hours and walked up this hot bloody sand. Don't tell us it has all been for nothing!" The local calmly faced us and formed an evil looking grin: "They're all dead", she said. "I stuffed the last one yesterday". She turned around to show us her backpack. We gasped in horror as we viewed the stuffed animal. Disaster!

The last Quokka!

She cackled at our obvious dismay. "Just pulling your leg", she confessed. "We'll have a few beers and then I'll take out for a look".  After that little episode we needed a few, and were glad to accept her offer of a few Emus - her shout.  After our heartbeats returned to normal we were able to continue our professional evaluation of this island pub. 

Well, one thing was for sure, it certainly had the standard Australian dress code. 

The Aussie Dress Code  Fun for all the family - or Dad at least

After a few coldies we had convinced ourselves that we could find one of these damn quokkas in no time.  After grabbing a 6-pack "takeaway" and a couple of Rotto stubby coolers (or stubbie holders, as the locals call them), we made our way up past the holiday shacks in search of the wild beast.  In fact the only wild beasts we could find were flies. By the hundreds. They buzzed around and made a general annoyance of themselves. We tried to kill them but only succeeded in killing one that flew down one reviewer's throat. He managed to eventually cough it up and stamp on it.

Things were not going well. 

It as bloody hot. One reviewer had almost died swallowing a wild fly, the coolers could only hold one beer at a time and the only quokka we had seen was stuffed.  

Something had to give. 

To top it off every now and then some tourists would ride past on hire bikes smirking at us walking. "Where the bloody hell are the quokkas?", we yelled to one. "They're nocturnal", said one joker in a Scottish accent. "They only come out at night". 


Wait. One reviewer had spotted a dark rat like creature in the bushes. Could it be? It was!

Quokkas giving us the evil eye

We weren't sure what they were up to, but we didn't really care. We had seen the bloody things, and now were going to have a swim and another beer to celebrate. And wasn't the water a treat.

A Quokka Free, Fly Free Paradise

We swam for a while in the calm, clear waters - only exiting every now and then to get a fresh beer.  We had no idea that these sorts of beaches existed anywhere in Australia outside of far north Queensland. Paradise.

As with all great afternoons, eventually our beer ran out and we had a boat to catch.

Final verdict: go for it.  Rottnest Island and the Quokka's Arms - one of the gems of WA.

Till next time!

Take a break from drinking like the author of this article did - Read why and how in his book Between Drinks: Escape the Routine, Take Control and Join the Clear Thinkers