Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Rottnest Island, WA. © Tourism Western Australia

Rottnest Island, Western Australia

Rottnest Island, just a short ferry ride from Perth, feels a world away from city life. Rottnest Island was separated from the Western Australian mainland around 7,000 years ago when the sea level rose. The first records of human occupation of Rottnest Island date back more than 6,500 years, when the Nyungah Aboriginal people inhabited the area. Known to local Aboriginal people as Wadjemup, the island is of great spiritual significance to Aboriginal communities.

Rottnest Island has been a popular tourist destination since the early 1900s when ferries carried tourists to the island’s stunning beaches, beautiful bays on Sunday outings.

A stroll through the main settlement is a journey back in time as you pass by some of the early colonial cottages dating back to the mid-1800s. The old barracks are a good budget option for camping and backpacking.

Tours on land and sea offer insightful experiences, from unique wildlife encounters, to history and cultural tours bringing Rottnest's vivid maritime, convict, colonial and World War II heritage to life.

Rottnest Island is classified as an A Class Nature Reserve which protects rare and spectacular plants and abundant marine life and wildlife. Meet a quokka, a cute marsupial like a small kangaroo which is only found in Western Australia. During the autumn and winter months (March to August) young joeys may be seen peeking from their mothers' pouch and in spring (September to November) hopping around exploring their new world. Join a wildlife cruise and see fur seals, ospreys, turtles, dolphins and whales.

The waters around Rottnest Island's waters contain a number of shipwrecks - a legacy of the early exploration of the southwest coast of Western Australia, which make perfect diving and snorkelling sites. Western Australia has the highest per capita boat ownership in Australia, and Rottnest Island is a favourite destination for sailing.

With no cars on the roads, cycling is one of the best ways to get around the island. Bicycle hire is available at the ferry terminals and on the island. The Bayseeker Bus also regularly runs around the island, stopping at secluded beaches and surf breaks. More family fun in the form of golf, tennis, shopping and cafes and restaurants can be found in nearby Thomson Bay.

Head to Wadjemup Hill and experience the breathtaking 360 degree views from Wadjemup Lighthouse. The crystal sapphire Indian Ocean waters frame a stunning picture of the Island. Take a tour and explore a real working lighthouse.

Venture out on one of the walking trails such as the West End Boardwalk and Vlamingh’s Heritage Trail. When you reach the interior of the island you’ll discover an amazing ancient landscape of pink salt lakes, rolling sand hills and trees sculpted by hundreds of years of ocean winds.

Accommodation on Rottnest Island ranges from villas with ocean views and heritage cottages to comfortable, cabins, hotels and backpacker hostels.

Ferries to Rottnest Island depart regularly from Perth's Barrack Street Jetty; Hillarys Marina and Fremantle, or arrive in style by helicopter or air taxi.

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