Rottnest Island in Western Australia should be top of you list of places to see, when planning a trip to Perth and Western Australia.
It’s an ideal place for families, located only a half an-hour ferry ride from the city of Perth or Fremantle. Rottnest has 63 beaches of fine white sand, 20 beautiful bays with crystal clear waters, surrounded by protected coral reefs perfect for snorkelling.
Once on the island it’s possible to do excursions both by sea and or on land
If you would like to learn about the history of the island and get a glimpse of the interior of the island. I would highly recommend taking a bus tour of the whole Island, I did this tour with my youngest daughter Maya who is 3 years old, it was perfect for us.
The tour takes an hour and thirty minutes with frequent stops, we had a very informative guide explaining all the intriguing history of the island everything from when Rottnest was inhabited by Aboriginal people until rising sea levels separated the island from the mainland of western Australia about 7000 years ago. Aboriginal artefacts on the island have been dated from 6500 to more than 30000 years ago, which is astounding.
The history of this beautiful island is rather dotted and for such a remote and stunning place it has been used for some rather inappropriate uses. From the first settlement of the europeans to when it was an aboriginal prison and young boys detention centre and then in World War II, as an army base.
Rottnest Island is perhaps best known for its population of quokkas, a small native marsupial found in very few other locations in the world. Taking the bus tour was an ideal way to see them, Maya became very good at spotting this cute fury creature. At the lighthouse stop we were even able to get very close, for the famous Quokka Selfie. The island is also home to colonies of Australian sea lions and southern fur seals too. On the bus tour we lucky enough to see an osprey eagle nesting on the rocking coastline.
Nowadays, the island is trying to make up for its rather shady past, the government run island is very committed to running the island sustainably. With very few vehicles being driven on the island, bikes are the main form of transport as the island is trying to preserve the unique natural environment with many eco initiatives implemented they are doing a grand job and now have the island running 90% of its power from renewable sources like wind and solar.
The roller coaster of the sea
If you would prefer to see the island from the sea and enjoy a good dose of adrenaline, make sure you book “Thrill Ride tour also called “the roller coaster of the sea”. Marco and Isabella took this tour and can confirm it’s precisely like being on real roller coaster.
N.B This excursion is not suitable for children under 4 years old or anyone who suffers from seasickness.
The boat excursion takes you to the most beautiful beaches on the island, whilst at the same time you get the adrenaline rush and excitement of high speed cruising into the waves. There are also many stops to admire the sea lions, seals, and huge they also were lucky enough to see the huge Ospreys eagles nesting its also sometime possible to see dolphins.
To feel less bounce from the waves, sit in the seats at the back of the boat, behind the skipper so to speak; it is also the best place to view the landscape of the island. Ensure you put on ponchos to protect yourself and clothes from the sea spray. The tour leaves from the main pier: be there at least 15 minutes in advance to ensure the best seats.
Make sure you buy a complete package with the tours from Rottnest Express and which also includes the ferry to and from Perth or Fremantle.
What to do on the island
Apart from the excursions already mentioned, one of the best activities to do is to rent a bike and discover the island on two wheels by yourselves. By bike you have the opportunity to discover the island at a slower pace, stopping at the many stunning coves and beaches and also heading inland discovering more of the history of the island.
We rented two bikes with seats for children, and visited the areas near the harbour, the island of Rottnest is more than 22 km long, we simply didn’t have the time or energy to visit more of the island.
On the island you can also snorkel
The equipment can be rented directly at the information centre located in front of the harbour, or by booking directly from Rottnest Express when booking tickets and tours. It’s also worth trying the train experience to see the labyrinths under the cannon of the second world war.
Overall we had a fantastic day out on a really unusual and beautiful island, because we did the bus and boat excursions, we simply didn’t have time to look around the rest of the island with our bikes. So we would love to return and stay 2-3 nights to explore more of the island at our own pace.
Thinking Nomads Tips
- Take a picnic lunch, so you can enjoy lunch in peace at many of the secluded bays and beaches.
- Hire Bikes and snorkel equipment when you book your ferry ticket, we recommend the Rottnest Express.
- It is 22km to cycle around the whole island, so if you have young kids makes sure you book a, bike trolly or bike seats for them.
- If your not feeling so energetic, hop on the bus runs all day and they will drop you at all the main beaches and bays.
- If you would like to book accommodation on the island, make sure you make reservations well in advance, the island is so popular in the holiday season, places get booked up a year in advance.
- It’s very windy on the island and the water is cold. Even on hot days, when the sun is going down it can feel quite cold, so take some warm clothes as well.