Saturday, 18 November 2017

Karlinyah Bidi (Rottnest Island)

The shortest trail of the Wadjemup Bidi trails network, the Karlinyah Bidi explores the northern beaches of Rottnest Island. Starting at the Rocky Bay, follows the coast through a number of secluded bays, reefs and a spectacularly rugged limestone shelf as it makes it way to Little Armstrong Bay. Conveniently located near bus stops, this is a more challenging but compact walk on the island

Distance: 5.9 km (one way)
Gradient: Some moderate descents and ascents along the coastal sections. Relatively flat otherwise
Quality of Path: Largely clear and well maintained. Many uneven sections with rocky limestone along the coast. 
Quality of Signage: Largely well signed, with the the Wadjemup Bidi markers providing clear directional information
Experience Required: Previous Bushwalking Experience Recommended
Time: 1.5-2.5 Hours
Steps: Several steps, both formal and informal
Best Time to Visit: All Year
Entry Fee: Yes. Rottnest Island entry fees apply
Getting There: Rottnest can be reached by ferry or private vessel. The trail starts near the Rocky Bay bus stop and finishes a short walk away from the Little Parakeet Bay stop on the Gabbi Karniny Bidi. 

After stopping into the Settlement for lunch at the bakery and visiting the island's museum, Alissa and I caught the bus out to Rocky Bay to tackle our second Wadjemup Bidi walk of the day - the Karlinyah Bidi. Completed in October 2016, this is the fourth of the five trails constructed as part of the trail network, and explores the less visited northern beaches. The trail is traditionally walked in a east to west direction based on the trip notes and the trailhead's location where it joins onto the Gabbi Karniny Bidi, however we decided to walk eastwards as we would be walking the trail in the afternoon and didn't want to spend the entire walk heading towards the Sun.

Given that this is the less commonly traveled direction for the trail, there is no obvious trailhead at the Rocky Bay end, however the Wadjemup Bidi's clear directional arrows mean that navigation is quite easy. The Rocky Bay bus stop is actually the start/end point for three of the Wadjemup Bidi trails, with the Wardan Nara Bidi and the as-yet to be completed Ngank Wen Bidi also sharing this point in common.

Almost immediately, Alissa and I were impressed by how stunning the coast along this part of the island was, and how quiet it was compared to the more commonly visited beaches closer to the Settlement. Sure, there were a few boats moored in the bays and coves but it was considerably quieter than Geordie Bay or Thomson Bay.

After rounding a rocky headland, the trail descends to follow the beaches of Stark Bay. Considered one of the island's most beautiful beaches, the beach walking was enjoyable due to being quite firm under foot.

The wildlife along this stretch of beach made it a real highlight, with many sea birds thriving in these less visited habitats. Alissa and I were particularly impressed by a very large group of crested terns that flew past us as we made our way eastward.

Stark Bay is dotted with occasional limestone outcrops that are just out to sea. Looking at other photos online, these small outcrops are sometimes connected to the beach itself in low tide, however it would have been no more than thigh deep to have walked out to the outcrop on the day of our visit.

Leaving Stark Bay, the Karlinyah Bidi climbs out through the dunes and heads past the Stark Bay bus stop. Given that this is in a relatively remote part of the island, it is heartening that the trail brings walkers to a number of bus stops along the way for hop on/hop off options.

Leaving the bus stop, the trail continues along a road briefly. This is obviously not ideal compared to single file walking track, however the fact that there is very little road traffic on the island other than the bus and bicycles and that the road sections are quite brief makes them less problematic than they would be on the mainland.

The trail continues along a series of small rocky bays immediately adjacent to reefs. These secluded spots would be perfect for snorkelling, and with more time and the required gear Alissa and I would have enjoyed a quick dip and some underwater exploration in the area.

Leaving the small bays behind, the trail cuts across some low heath on the way to Ricey Beach. We encountered a number of quokkas along this section of the track that were considerably more shy than their Settlement cousins. While the Settlement quokkas range from blasé to extremely inquisitive, these northern beach quokkas seemed quite content to hide in the bushes and avoid any direct contact with walkers.

Ricey Beach is the next major stretch of beach walking along the Karlinyah Bidi, and I would consider later parts of the beach to be the major highlight of the entire trail.

The sandy beach initially encountered to the western end of Ricey Beach gives way to a long wide limestone shelf that continues for some distance. This is arguably the most exciting part of the Karlinyah Bidi, with the limestone shelf being very reminiscent of stretches of the Cape to Cape Track near Hamelin Bay.

Along the shelf, walkers are privy to some excellent views of reefs just below. Once again, Alissa and I really wished we had more time and snorkelling gear with us as the crystal clear waters and the beauty of the reef made it a very tempting spot for a dip.

The shelf eventually gives way to sandy beach as the trail continues to the City of York Bay. Given the large reefs along this part of the island, it is not surprising that the bay is named after a ship that was wrecked nearby, and was one of the catalysts for the construction of the Bathhurst Lighthouse, as seen along the Gabbi Karniny Bidi.

From the beach, the trail heads off from the coast towards a toilet block before heading up to another bus stop. An interesting feature of this relatively remote toilet block is that the doorways to the toilets feature low gates blocking the entrances. These gates are in place to prevent quokkas from entering the toilets, with Alissa and I suspecting that poor quokkas must have found their way into the toilets and gotten stuck in the past - which could be a deadly accident for a poor little marsupial.

From the City of York bus stop, the Karlinyah Bidi continues eastwards along the coast with views across Catherine Bay.

Descending to the beach, Catherine Bay is the last beach walk of the Karlinyah Bidi, with the later beaches being accessible via spurs.

After leaving the beach, the trail continues along a series of low coastal cliffs as it follows the road. While road walking is not amongst my favourite things, the views of the Little Armstrong Bay and its reefs below are nevertheless spectacular and make for enjoyable walking. Little Armstrong Bay looked to be the best snorkelling spot of all the Karlinyah Bidi's beaches, and we definitely have it earmarked for a future visit. 

Leaving the beaches behind, the Karlinyah Bidi heads through some low grasslands and the odd pocket of remnant forest. Being a warm day, this stretch of the trail was one where Alissa and I thought we may have an encounter with a snake, however we passed through the area without any issues.

This inland section is not the most interesting part of the walk, however we enjoyed passing by a small lake that was as brilliantly blue as the Pink Lake we encountered along the Gabbi Karniny Bidi earlier in the day.

As we were coming over a low hill, we saw that the trail was turning to run parallel to the road as it neared the bus stop at the end of the trail. If you look carefully, you can see the bus at the bus stop in the picture above, having just passed us a few seconds earlier. We were so close but just a bit too far to run to the bus stop in time, which meant a 20 minute wait for the next one.

The Karlinyah Bidi ends as it intersects with the Gabbi Karniny Bidi. Having walking the Gabbi Karniny in the morning, we had encountered this trailhead from the other direction, which featured valuable information about the Karlinyah Bidi on the other side. From here, it was a short walk to the bus stop and the end of our walking adventures for the day.

Although relatively short, the Karlinyah Bidi is a fantastic coastal trail, with its rugged landscapes making for enjoyable and moderately challenging walking. It is often said that Rottnest's northern beaches are amongst its best, and the sheer number of secluded snorkelling spots along the trail definitely back up this claim. While the Gabbi Karniny Bidi's convenient loop form, easy going nature and mix of inland and coastal walking probably makes it the best introduction to walking on Rottnest Island, the Karlinyah Bidi is a better purely coastal experience - and that I would happily visit again.


  1. Now this looks like my kind of walk, I think Sam would love this one too. I'm thinking that I'd probably spend longer in the water than on the track though..... Thanks for posting guys.

    1. Cheers Kevin! The coastal walks on Rottnest are quite spectacular and we really regretted not having snorkelling gear with us as just about every beach had a beautiful reef within easy access.