Just off the West Coast of Perth is the small island of Rottnest, measuring just 11 Kilometres and less than a few Kilometres wide in most places. The island gained its name from a small marsupial which calls Rottnest home, the Quokka.
When early dutch explorers visited the island, they mistook these creatures for unusually large rodents, and referred to the island as “Rottenest”, a rats nest. They couldn’t have been more wrong about these creatures or the island, and the small friendly quokkas which are now a protected native animal, still inhabit this scenic island today in large numbers.
Perhaps only a few thousand years ago, Rottnest Island was part of the west coast mainland. The island has a colourful history and since first settlement it was used for a number of different purposes, including a penal colony and prison, pastoral land and farming, a Governors residence and a military training area before becoming the recreational island it is today.
Rottnest Island is known by locals as “Rotto”, and the island is easily accessible by ferry. The trip takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes depending on where you depart from, and Rottnest ferry services are available from Perth City, Fremantle and Hillarys.
Rottnest is a popular holiday destination for locals and tourists, and because of its close proximity to Perth your stay there can be as long or short as you like. Due to the frequency of ferry services to the island day trips are very popular. However you can also spend an extended visit at Rotto, and many people spend a few days to a few weeks on the island. Long weekends and school holidays are very busy, so if you are looking for a quieter island experience it is best not to plan your trip during these times.
As an added bonus there are no cars allowed on the island, this means there are no traffic jams or beeping horns on Rottnest so it feels like you are a millions miles away from the jostling and noise of modern life. The most popular transport is by bicycle, however areas closer to the main centre are easily reached by walking. Bus charters and tours are also available for hire. The slow easy pace of the island means by the end of your visit it is hard not to feel relaxed.
Popular island activities include cycling around the island and exploring at a leisurely pace as well as swimming or sun baking on any of the often quiet and secluded beaches. With over 60 beaches to choose there is no shortage of choice. Rottnest is also one of the best locations around Perth for snorkeling and scuba diving, and the pristine waters are home to a myriad of interesting fish, sea life and coral. There are a number of reefs to explore as well as old shipwreck sites.
Clear waters at Rottnest IslandFor those visitors looking for more activity, the island also offers other pursuits such as golf, mini golf, tennis and lawn bowls. The historic Wadjemup Lighthouse is also open for tours, and this heritage building offers stunning panoramic views from the highest point on the island.
Whether you have spent your time golfing, snorkeling, cycling or just lazing on a beach, what is there left to do at the end of the day in Rotto except sit back, relax and enjoy a meal and a glass of wine or beer as the sun goes down, and think about how you might spend your next day. The island offers something for everyone from cafes and take-away to a nice restaurant meal.