Travel Rottnest Island
A trip to Rottnest Island – ‘or Rotto’ – (www.rottnest.gov.au ) is an annual ritual for many Perth locals and virtually obligatory for visitors, and for all the right reasons. The gorgeous little island, almost 20kms from the mainland, is home to the world’s southern-most coral reef system, a population of rare marsupials (quokkas), and has some of the best off-beach snorkeling to be found in the world. Rottnest Island Perth Fremantle Tours experience Western Australia.
Prison for Aborigines
Until as late as 1903 Rottnest was used as a prison for Aborigines (who knew it as ‘Wadgemup’ – place across the water) and later it was an internment camp for German and Austrian citizens during the war, but the island now gives away nothing of that darker past.
Rottnest has a living reef
A living reef rings Rottnest and supports nearly 100 species of tropical fish. From the blindingly white beaches, you can just wade out, don your snorkel and mask, and join the fish in their sub-aquatic wonder world. There are even several sunken ships – holed by the reef – within swimming distance of the beaches. Back on land the pace of life is very chilled out. You can’t bring cars over to the island, so everyone gets around astride bicycles.
One day to see the island
It’s possible to get around the small island in one day, but you could easily spend a week cycling from bay to bay and exploring. As you pedal around keep an eye out for Rottnest’s most famous inhabitants, the quokkas. These little marsupials flourish on the island, protected from the jaws of carnivores and feral animals, and they actually gave the island its rather dodgy sounding name.
Rat Island Willem de Vlamingh
When Willem de Vlamingh, a Dutch mariner, passed this way back in 1696 he thought the island was covered in rats, hence he named it Rat’s Nest Island. In reality, quokkas look more like some sort of bonsai kangaroo than a rat and are actually very cute. Other wildlife includes a variety of lizards and a resident snake, the dugite, plus fur seals, sea lions, dolphins, whales, osprey, kestrels, terns, small wading birds, and gulls.
There’s loads of accommodation, from camping and budget through to resorts, which you can either book ahead by ringing 9432 9111 (highly recommended during summer and schoolies week), or sort out at the Accommodation Office at the end of the pier. Also on the island are a supermarket, dive and fishing shop, newsagent, bakery, hairdresser, surf shop, fast food outlet, Post Office and ATM. Facilities include public telephones, the Visitors Centre and a big bike hire place to sort yourself out a good ride (Ph:9292 5105).
Listed buildings Rottnest Island Perth Fremantle Tours experience Western Australia.
Older buildings to look out for are the white Salt House, now a gallery, and the present-day Rottnest Hotel and resort, which in the 1860s was the Governor’s Residence. For those who haven’t got the puff to pedal, the Bayseeker bus service runs a regular 50 minute round route along the coast, stopping on request; At $7 for adults and $5 for concessions, an all-day ticket is great value. Two-hour bus tours with full commentary depart the settlement during the morning and afternoon. The Rottnest Railway Train, the ‘Captain Hussey’, is a novel way to see the island; tickets are available at the Visitors’ Centre.
Catch a Ferry to Rottnest Island
To get over to the island-jump on a ferry either from Perth, leaving from Barrack Street Jetty and taking in the sights and curves of the Swan River before heading out to sea, or take the 15-minute direct route from Fremantle. You may even glimpse a humpback or southern right whale if you sail between June and November, but if you don’t have sea legs you can always fly over with Rottnest Air-Taxis (www.rottnest.de ).
Rottnest Island Perth Fremantle Tours experience Western Australia