Perth’s idyllic island playground, Rottnest is just a short ferry ride from the mainland and a world away from city life. For such a tiny island, this car-free and carefree Class A reserve packs a lot of pleasure into a day.
Getting to ‘Rotto’, as the locals affectionately call it, is a breeze. Just 19 kilometres off the coast, ferries depart regularly from Fremantle, Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty and Hillarys Marina. You can opt to arrive in style by helicopter or air taxi, or even cruise across in your own boat.
On its shores, 63 stunning beaches, 20 beautiful bays and many coral reefs and wrecks invite you to enjoy some of Australia’s finest swimming spots, snorkel trails and surf breaks. And on dry land, you’ll meet the cutest mini marsupial, found only in Western Australia, the world famous quokka, as well as many unique plant and animal species.
With no cars on the roads, riding is the best way to get around, with bicycle hire available at the ferry terminals and on the island. If that’s too much effort, you can hop on and off the Bayseeker Bus which regularly runs around the island, dropping you off at some of the more secluded beaches and surf breaks.
More family fun in the form of golf, tennis, shopping and guided tours can be found in Thomson Bay, as well as cafes, restaurants and takeaway options.
Tours on land and sea offer insightful experiences, from wildlife encounters with quokkas, seals, ospreys and whales, to history and cultural tours bringing Rottnest’s colourful maritime, convict, colonial and World War II heritage vividly to life.
A stroll through the main settlement is a journey back in time as you pass by some of the early colonial cottages, including the Salt Store and Lomas Cottage, dating back to the mid-1800s.
Many of the grand buildings and quaint holiday cottages commissioned by Perth’s Governor in the nineteenth century are still a favourite among holiday-makers today, including the restored Hotel Rottnest and beachside villas. Alternatively, the old barracks are a good budget option for camping and backpacking.