Off the south-west coast of Australia lies one of the world’s most beautiful islands. Rottnest has long been an escape for Perth residents looking to get a little extra sunshine and ‘vitamin sea’. The rugged coastline is dotted with incredibly beautiful bays, while the township itself is perfectly quaint.
Rottnest Island is one of the best day-trip locations on the western coast of Australia, although many opt to absorb it’s beauty over more than just one day. The island offers lots of activities, accommodation and entertainment, with recent developments making it even more appealing to the tourism market. For me, Rottnest has always been a place I hold dear to my heart, so to pop over for the day after two long years was a true highlight of my trip to Australia.
HOW TO GET THERE:
My beautiful friend Marnie and I headed over on the mid-morning Rottnest Express, with a return booked for 7.15pm (latest departure). Although it was lovely to sleep in, I would recommend an earlier ferry, as we didn’t have as long as we would have wished to ride around the island. There are numerous ferry and flight services, from both north and south of Perth city, so you can easily find a departure that suits you. It is only about 45 minutes away from the ferry terminal at Fremantle D-shed markets, and even shorter if you opt to fly on a charter from Jandakot.
Once you arrive at the Thompson Bay Settlement, you are greeted with the tourism office, who can help you with anything else you may need, but it is easy (and fun) to just explore the island on your own.
WHAT TO DO:
First thing is first when getting to Rottnest, hire your bike! The island is almost entirely car free except for a shuttle bus and emergency services, but it is much too big to walk, so cycling is the perfect half-way point. Strap on your helmet at the Peddle and Flipper hire store ($30 for a day hire), grab an island map and go!
The island has two main circuits you can ride, with both joining at the south, so you can navigate incredibly easily. There are signs the whole way and the paths are all new. My favourite is the south-east route, as you see the best view points, but also try and get to the north beaches, including Parakeet and Pinkies. Be warned however, there are lots of hills so you will get a serious workout!
Bringing a backpack on your ride is essential, as you will need water, sunscreen and a towel. Be aware there are no shops past the settlement so stock up! If available, it is a great idea to freeze a water bottle and take that on the ride, as it can be extremely hot and an icey blast helps keep you going.
All of this riding will definitely work up your appetite. The perfect day is not complete without a fresh and delicious beach picnic. My number one beach for a pit stop is Parker Point (below), so make sure you have enough time to cycle there (about 2-3 hours). This beach is located down a wooden stairwell, with yachts dotting the horizon. The water is shallow and warm. Closer locations for those who want to stay nearby town, include Longreach Bay, Parakeet Bay and The Basin.
Make sure you don’t leave yourself tired and stranded in the hot sun while out cycling around. Pick several stopping points along the map and only do short rides; swim, relax, then go again. You are in Australia remember, it gets hot!
Rottnest Island’s beauty spurs from its rich nature, but make sure you also note that the island is an Australian bushland reserve, meaning it does have snakes and spiders that could be deadly.
There is nothing to worry about, just stick to footpaths and don’t go hiking barefoot through the sand dunes or shrubs (which goes for most of Australia too). You must also never touch or feed the wildlife as they are wild animals and changing their diets could be detrimental to the species living here.
In saying this, the cutest of all creatures does reside on the island. This is usually the best part of any travellers experience on Rotto, and has become quite a famous attraction. The adorable, energetic quokkas who are native only to this island, are renowned for their outrageously cute smiles and gentle demeanor. These little mouse-cross-bunny marsupials are completely harmless (and fearless) when it comes to human interaction.
There are hundreds of quokkas on the island and you will see them all throughout the township hit dusk. Be sure to say hello, but as I mentioned, do not pick-up or feed these little guys, as you could be doing more harm than good.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK:
After a long day of getting salty and sweaty, you should make your way back to the main settlement for a well-deserved drink and meal. The newly renovated Hotel Rottnest is by far the best choice, with beer garden and delicious menu. The management here are incredible as well, so be sure to say hello.
Marnie and I ended the day in the best way we thought possible; a picnic on the beach, with a fiery sunset. This isn’t rare on Rotto, as most of the year is utterly perfect. Our choice for the night was Pinkies Bay, with its little white lighthouse the perfect addition to the never-ending horizon.
Be prepared in the summer, the island is incredibly busy and the beaches swarmed with families, so try and go a little off-peak, such as in March or November for an extra-special experience.
My favourite times on Rottnest have included the following;
– Book ferries before you go.
– Have a summer beach picnic with all the trimmings
-Ride around the island in a bikini/swimsuit and feel the fresh sea breeze on your skin
– Relax and have a pint (or two) in the beer garden of Hotel Rottnest
– Get a quokka selfie (without touching them of course) at dusk
– Snorkel at Little Armstrong and Salmon Bay
– Watch the sun set on the groyne overlooking Pinkies Bay
For more information and to book a trip to my fave island, simply head over to RottnestIsland.com
A huge thank you to my friends at Rottnest Island Authority and Rottnest Express for another fabulous island escape. All opinions and images, as always, are my own.