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Rottnest Island

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Rottnest Island is a must-do in Western Australia. It is home to officially the cutest Australian wildlife ever, the Quokka! Although the Quokka is a major draw to Rottnest Island, the beaches are world class and knock the socks off many East Coast beaches.

If you think you need to go in search of a Quokka when you arrive you’re mistaken. Within seconds of us stepping foot on the island we were greeted by this squirrel / wallaby creature who calls Rottnest Island its home.

quokka on rottnest island
A cute Quokka on Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island / Rats Nest Island

Not everyone thinks the Quokkas are cute though. The island was first known as Rotte Nest (Rats Nest) Island because the first (Dutch) visitors back in the 17th century assumed the Quokkas were large rats! These days the locals call it Rotto, in that great tradition of Aussies shortening as many words as they possibly can!

If you think Rottnest Island is a remote idyllic island you would be half correct. It is idyllic but there are restaurants, a bakery and even Subway, so take a picnic and find an isolated beach.

Exploring Rottnest Island

So, remote it may not be but spectacular it most certainly is. A popular option is to explore the island by bike which means that you will pretty much see every inch of Rottnest Island if you wish. If you don’t want to be active and just want to find a beach to relax on then the bus will take you there.

map of rottnest island
Map from http://sacsphotography.blogspot.co.nz/

We chose to walk the island. It’s a 24km round trip so it is walkable but it is a long day. However, a few stops at white sand beaches and a few dips in turquoise blue water make the walk a lot easier. We started by heading inland to Oliver Hill and the old war bunkers (even Rottnest Island can check the history box). This is the highest point of the Island so the views over the rest of Island are perfect and you can easily see Fremantle waiting in the distance. From here, we wandered up to the North side where the beaches lie empty apart from the odd surfer and dive boat.

rottnest island bay
By Ndaaunhi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
If you have the time snorkelling on the reef surrounding Rottnest Island is an experience you won’t forget. The time passes away quickly whilst you laze around on beaches and tramp along isolated roads. After 8 hours we were ready for a quick beer before saying goodbye to the Quokkas, getting back on the ferry and heading back for a well earned rest at Billabong Backpackers in Perth.

Getting to Rottnest Island

You can get to Rottnest Island from directly Perth. The early morning ferry is worth hauling yourself out of bed for.

Sealink Ferries:

  • 8.30am – 90 minutes from Perth. Return ferry departs at 4.15pm

Read our Guide to Perth or learn more about the full west coast in our Guide to Western Australia

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