Rottnest Island and the cutest Marsupial

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How to spend a day on Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is about 19km from Fremantle so an easy half hour ferry ride. While its proximity to Perth might make you think that it is probably not really worth the effort, you couldn’t be more wrong. Rotto is a stunning piece of paradise that is a pristine example of what you can expect from the coastline as you head north.

My husband is from Western Australia and we spent a good few years in our 4wd exploring the West Australian coastline in our mid twenties. From the Nullabor right up to The Olga’s there isn’t much we haven’t seen and I have to say that Rottnest Island has some of the most stunning coast you will ever see.

What and where is Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is approximately 35km off the coast of Perth in Western Australia. While that isn’t far, the WA coastline is known for its wild weather so its not somewhere you would try and get to with your own boat.

Sure if you have experience and a larger vessel many boats anchor at Rottnest for days, weeks or even months over the summer, but the crossing is not to be sneezed at. If you don’t have a good amount of experience and aren’t confident in your boat, you would be much better to take the ferry from Fremantle.

Rottnest was established as a nature reserve very early on in it’s tourism life and its been aggressively protected since then.

Living in Perth in my late teens and early twenties we spent most Australia Day Weekends on Rotto and I have a lot of very fond memories of the island and the lifestyle it embraces.

Quokka Fever is everywhere on Rottnest Island

The last time I was on Rotto was early 1995 so 23 years ago! My that has gone by quickly and apart from the usual tourism improvements (cafes, shops and bakeries mostly) it is pretty much exactly as I remember it.

There is one exception however. Quokka’s which have always been on the island are the latest and greatest selfie opportunity these days.

Quokkas can only be found on Rotto and are definitely cute. They aren’t very big and kind of look like a cross between tiny wallabies and cuter oversize rats.

Quokka liking Brads finger

There are no vehicles on the island so pushbikes are the main mode of transportation. The hire company Peddle and Flipper has hundreds of bikes for hire and a good variety of choices, however – its worth remembering that these are hire bikes and the island is hilly. Not Tour De France hilly but there is nowhere you can go without having to cycle up and down small hills so if you have your own bike to take, that would be my strongest recommendation. The bikes are fine, but I really missed my Stylyx bike with its amazing gearing and seeing so many people pushing their bikes up the hills, it was good to know that wasn’t just me.

There are a few things you have to know about WA and Rottnest specifically.

  • It will be windy
  • It could be VERY windy
  • It might even be blowing a damn gale!

That is a given. It could also be stinking hot. I’m talking above 40 degrees celcius hot. I’d been watching the weather as having had a few years experience with WA temperatures I knew it could be nice, spectacular or “my brain is cooking through my hat” hot! We completely lucked out and the day was a very nice 30 degrees. It was also in the very windy range, but we were just thankful it wasn’t 40 knots.

We stayed in Fremantle so we took the Sealink Ferry over and from Fremantle its only 35 mins. Going over was slightly rugged but coming back (the wind remember) was pretty gnarly so if you get seasick, even though its a short journey its best to remember that this is probably the only time that coming back will be worse. Traditionally you head into the swell going out and with it coming back but between Rotto and Perth its a cross swell so you can’t escape it and back was easily 50% rougher than out.

The ferry was $39 each + a Rottnest Island government fee that is unavoidable. There are 4 services over and 4 back each day so you can easily find a time that suits. Its $49 per person + the $18 govt fee.

You may know that Rottnest is also famous for its little marsupial the Quokka that isn’t found anywhere else in the world. I remember in years past staying on the other side of the island and having to cycle home after a few brews at night and we used to call it “dodge the quokka” because like cane toads they are much more prolific at night.

About a year ago an instagram photo of this gorgeous Quokka had thousands of views and ensured that the humble Quokka’s were elevated to the latest must have selfie.

Everywhere you go there are people lying on the ground trying to capture the next big Quokka photo.

They are the cutest litle animal and are everywhere. Even in the cafe. You will be sitting there and the waitress comes with the soft broom to shoo the Quokka’s out.

We spent the day cycling around the island and ended up at Parker Point lounging on the beach for a few hours, Cycling back to the village was thankfully 80% easier with the wind at our backs. I had totally forgotten how much the wind factored into cycling in WA.

We had lunch at the pub, walked around and generally just spent the day relaxing and enjoying the Rottnest experience. It is a stunning slice of coast although the water was way too cool for us to swim. We did hire snorkels but it was just too cold for us Pacific Ocean babies to use them. The Indian Ocean is always cooler than the pacific but we just couldn’t believe how cold it was. Talking to a few of Brad’s mates over beers the next day, they said that Perth has had an unbelievable cool summer and the water temps have stayed very low. I didn’t feel like such a woose after that!

In summary – fantastic day. Got a few cool Quokka photos, cycled off my lunch for sure, lazed on the beach for a few hours and wandered through Freo on the way back to our accommodation. Great day and it reinforced that we need to go back and stay for a few days on the island with the cutest marsupial in the world.

Rottnest Island Tours From Perth Or Fremantle

If your time is limited or you would like to take advantage of a tour of Rotto, check out the ones below from either Perth or Fremantle.


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