thomas m wilson

The Paleo Path on Rottnest

July 25th, 2014

I’ve just come back from Rottnest island, after staying in a little cottage in a small bay right on the water.  The cottage looks out over an arcing rocky limestone headland, and as a cold front moved over us, the headland protected us like a encircling arm from the winds and waves.  Our first night there a lighting show illuminated the scene.


There was a white sand beach in front of our balcony.


The sound of the water lapping the sand a few metres from where I slept made me think of Jack Aubrey, the character in Patrick O’Brian’s series of novels set on the high seas of the eighteenth century and his lust for the adventure that beckons beyond the weed wrack.  However more recently I’ve been reading the book in the photo, John Ratey’s Go Wild: How to Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization (Little Brown, 2014).  It sums up a lot of the recent research on movement, sleep, diet and exposure to nature, and how the place these things had in the lives of our paleolithic progenitors can inform our efforts to be happier in the present.  Highly recommended.


We’ve been swimming every day as the Leuwin current makes the ocean warmer out there, even in winter.  Swimming along in the fresh the ocean water, looking back at the land, I felt alive and we hooted to the sky, and I thought, this is touching my touchstone, adventures out in new wild nature with some good companions.

Cycling around the island in winter is green and the sea breeze doesn’t knock you off your bike.  You look out over gently undulating green hills, with copses of trees here and there, and a lighthouse centering the scene on a far away hill in the middle of my vision.  In the middle ground are a series of lakes.  A freight of clouds travel through the sky over the empty hills.


The island is empty of tourists at this time of year, and only sooty oyster catchers and errant quokkas share the landscape with you…  Oh, and fish in the sea.


After this time on the island I feel revivified – partly being in a different environment – I feel alive, closer to nature, happier.


Sometimes the ember dies down, sometimes it flames up again.  I watch a gull wheel with a back of cumulus cloud behind it, free, unemcumbered. My bike rolls on.