Enjoy a relaxing and family-friendly island holiday just off the coast of Western Australia.
By Cole Latimer
Kick back on soft sand beaches, see abundant marine life and meet the happiest little animal on earth, all on Rottnest Island. During summer, families make the weekend pilgrimage to Rotto – as it's affectionately known by the locals – to escape the rush of the city and swim in the clear, calm waters. The island is a car-free zone, and the best way to get around is by bicycle, which can be hired through the ferry company or once you're on the island.
- Visit one of 63 beaches on the island
- Snorkel in translucent waters
- Come face to face with quokkas
How to get there
Rottnest Island is 18 kilometres (11 miles) off the coast of Western Australia. It's a 25 minute ferry ride from Fremantle, a 45 minute ferry ride from Hillarys Boat Harbour in the northern suburbs of Perth, or 90 minutes via ferry from Perth's Barrack Street Jetty.
Things to do and top attractions on Rottnest Island
Head to the beach
With 63 beaches, Rottnest Island is a great destination for water sports, including swimming, diving, surfing, fishing and snorkelling. Kids can go wild at the Just 4 Fun Aqua Park, in Thomson Bay, where there are inflatable floating rides, as well as rock climbing walls, an obstacle course and paddleboards for hire. An Island Explorer bus provides an easy and convenient way to get from beach to bay, with day, weekend and holiday passes available. There is also a Discovery Bus Tour, which loops around the island in 90 minutes while guides give an insight into the island's cultural and historical heritage, as well as its flora and fauna. Guided walking and Segway tours are also available, taking in the Thomson Bay settlement and the island's World War II gun battery emplacements.
Go whale watching
Rottnest Island is a perfect location to see humpback and southern right whales as they make their annual migration along Western Australia's coastline. In April about 35,000 whales travel north from the Antarctic to feeding and birthing grounds in the Indian Ocean. From late August to November, on their return journey with newborn calves, they spend significant time around Rottnest Island's protected waters, before once more heading south. One of the best places to view the whales is from the newly constructed West End Boardwalk, which is accessible by bike or the Island Explorer bus.
Meet a quokka
Rottnest Island is known globally as the home of the cutest and most photogenic animal in the world, the quokka. Apart from a small colony on the mainland, they are found nowhere else on Earth. These tiny animals, related to wallabies, are found in abundance on the island, and have no fear of humans so will often come right up to visitors. The island was even named after these little animals by the first Dutch explorers to the region. Rottnest Island is also home to one of the world's most critically endangered mammals, Gilbert’s potoroo, which have been introduced to the island to help revive the species.
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