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Rottnest Island

Prepare to fall in love. One look into the meltingly beautiful brown eyes of Rottnest Island’s resident quokkas, and you’ll be hooked. These endearing marsupials are just one of the attractions which keeps locals and visitors returning to Rottnest Island over and over again.

Rottnest Island is an Iconic destination in Western Australia, rich in Aboriginal culture, history, dramatic scenery, sandy beaches with crystalline waters and wildlife on land and in the sea. It is a marine wonderland located only 19 kilometres west of Perth boasting 63 pristine beaches, 20 beautiful bays, many coral reefs, and more than 13 shipwrecks. The Island has six major habitats: coastal, salt lakes, brackish swamps, woodlands, heath and settled areas.

Perth’s favourite playground ‘Rotto’ is easily reached by ferry from the city or Fremantle. This picturesque island is car-free so visitors can get around on the local bus, or hire a bicycle at the ferry terminal and get pedalling!

Enjoy lazy picnics on beautiful beaches, snorkel or swim in crystal clear waters or join a tour to see the island’s abundant plants and wildlife – from the quokkas to seals; whales to soaring seabirds. Rottnest is a haven for birdwatchers attracting numerous species of coastal birds including breeding populations of fairy terns. Humpback whales are regularly seen during migration season and bottlenose dolphins can often be spotted.

There are five marine sanctuary zones surrounding the island located at Parker Point, Kingston Reef, Green Island, Armstrong Bay and West End. Below the waters there are approximately 400 species of fish, it is also home to bottle-nose dolphins, migrating humpback whales, New Zealand Fur Seals and Australian sea lions. On land, the most well-known of the Rottnest wildlife would have to be the Quokka. Many of these little nocturnal marsupials live on the island and can be seen resting during the day under trees and bushes, or sporadically foraging for food during the day. In September you can see their little Joeys coming out into the world from their mothers’ pouches. Rottnest is also a haven for birds with abundant food resources and a great place for aviary enthusiasts to see over 50 shorebird species.

 quokka selfie 1Photo by Tourism WA

A brief history:

Rotto, as it is known is a historically important place for WA. Approximately 6000 – 7000 years ago the Island was connected to the mainland. Before it separated due to rising sea levels, the Whadjuk and Noongar people, who are the traditional owners of the Island, knew it as Wadjemup which means ‘place across the water where the spirits are’. It was known as an important meeting place and ceremonial site. With the arrival of European settlers came a time of unrest for the Aboriginal peoples due to the loss of their land and the Island was set up as an Aboriginal prison. Wadjemup holds special significance to Aboriginal communities across the State, due to its use as an Aboriginal prison and the Aboriginal prisoners that are buried there. The Island's maritime and wartime histories cover many years from unchartered navigational voyages to the years as a Pilot Station, helping guide ships safely into Fremantle Harbour. It was an internment camp in World War I and an important defence base for Australia in Word War II. You can visit the underground tunnels, Oliver Hill and Bickley Battery, lighthouses and museums to find out more.

In 1917 Rottnest Island was declared an A-Class Reserve under the Permanent Reserve Act 1899 and the Rottnest Board of Control was formed. It has been a holiday hotspot for locals and visitors since this time to present day except for its closure due to war activities and in 2020 when it was used for returning residents who had to isolate due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nowadays, holidaymakers have a wide variety of ways to explore and enjoy the island from swimming, snorkelling, boating, fishing, diving, surfing, hiking, and cycling.

Getting There: 

There are ferries leaving from Perth, Fremantle and Hillary's that will take you across to the island for a day or extended trip. Many will offer packages that might included bike hire or a tour on the island. Bike hire is a great way to make sure you can get around the island easily. There are 3 ferry companies that provide transfers to Rottnest Island:

You can package on island activities with ferry tickets with all 3 ferry companies.

What do to:

Rottnest is an island paradise, so it is not surprising that there is no shortage of beaches and bays to explore around the island. All of them vary in what they provide, but you can be sure to find some great spots for chilling on a beach, or swimming, snorkelling or even diving. Don't forget the Quokkas. No trip to Rotto is complete without a Quokka Selfie.

There are a number of tours and activities you may do on the island, from a walking tour to skydiving onto the island or a day cruise. All these tours will help you better discover Rotto. Find the options and book a tour on or to Rottnest island below.

An Island that leaves it's holiday-goers spoilt for choice with 63 secluded beaches and 20 bays. Boasting picturesque aqua shades of ocean with limestone reefs, warm sandy beaches and rugged cliffs you will be delighted with something new to experience at each stunning spot whether you choose to swim, fish, snorkel, surf or just sit and admire the view. 

Have a look at our top 10 beaches to start you off on your next Island discovery...

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