There are a few things unique about Western Australia. It’s size, it’s isolation, it’s laid back way of life. There’s another place that we have that is like no other. It’s Rottnest Island.
Rottnest is located around 18km off the coast from Fremantle and is accessible mainly by ferry but you can fly over in a light aircraft if you’d prefer. The journey from Fremantle takes just 30 minutes and once on the Island you really do feel like you’re much further away!
There are a myriad of things to do on “Rotto” as we love to call it for short! As you could imagine its busiest during the summer months for its cooler temperatures compared to the mainland as well as world class beaches and bays which are perfect for swimming! Scuba diving is also very popular due to the crystal clear waters and native marine life that live here. Swimmers must beware though as Shark sightings off the Perth coast have risen alarmingly in recent years.
Easily the best way to see the island is by bicycle. Due to the island having a no vehicle policy (aside from the Rottnest Bus, Police Car, Tour Bus and Conservation Vehicles) you’ll have little other choice if you want to see the island. Rottnest Express have a bike hire service in which you can collect and return your hire bike right next to the ferry making it easy and quick. There is also another hire company in The Settlement which have hundreds of bikes to hire.
The island roads are around 20km in length so it’s a decent little ride with a few undulating hills but nothing too nasty. Along the way you’ll encounter adorable little Quokkas which are small macropods only found in south-western Australia and in particular Rottnest. They are known to approach humans but it is illegal to touch or feed them in any way due to their population vulnerability and weaker immune system to that of humans.
The island was named by Willem de Vlamingh in 1696, who called it Rotte nest (Rat’s Nest) after the Quokkas. Cape Vlamingh is named after him, at the westernmost point of the island. Many of the island’s buildings date from the colonial period, often made from locally quarried limestone, and are now used as accommodation for holidays.
Back in the town, called “The Settlement” there are a good choice of lunch options for when hunger grabs you! My personal favourite is the Rottnest Bakery which has been making great pies for decades. You can also eat at Aristos Seafood Restauraunt and Hotel Rottnest, both of which are on the Thomson Bay waterfront and provide amazing views of the bay looking back to the mainland. The Hotel Rottnest used to be the residence for the Governor of Rottnest back in settlement days.
Other activities you can partake in on Rottnest include mini golf, spotting Sea lions and Humpback whales (time dependent) off the coast or going to check out the Kingstown Barracks. Once used in WWII operations the Barracks are now a popular camp destination for WA schools.
So there you have it. A visit to Perth should include a cheeky day trip over to Rottnest – the gem of the Perth Coast crown.