Rottnest Island is in my opinion one of the most beautiful places on earth. Located around 19 kilometres off the Fremantle coastline, the island is a popular but relaxed tourist destination which can cater to almost any holiday seeker.
The island features 63 pristine and picturesque beaches, most of which you allow you to get into the brilliantly turquoise water for a refreshing swim. These beaches are among the finest in the world, and with so many to choose from, everyone can find their own 'secret spot' to relax and unwind. Coupled with rolling hills, salt lakes, natural bushland and dozens of vantage points, Rottnest is a beautiful place to explore.
Sprawling reef formations about the island coastline were a real headache for exploratory ships in the seventeenth century, as several shipwrecks will testify. They also hold a fantastic array of marine life, which coupled with the presence of several sunken wrecks, provides endless diving and snorkelling options for visitors.
For the history lovers, Rottnest Island has a fascinating past involving aboriginal inhabitation, European exploration, colonial settlement, military deployment and fortification, and social importance as a cultural site and recreational destination. Guided tours and heritage trails enable you to explore this history in depth. I find that taking a guided tour of the Oliver Hill Battery Lookout really transports you back in time. Walking through the narrow trenches and touring the massive 9-inch naval canon provides a stark reminder of the danger that threatened the Fremantle port during both world wars. Other historic sights include the Signal Station and Battery Observation Post, Pilot Boat Shed, Wadjemup Lighthouse, Bathurst Lighthouse, World War I Prisoner of War Internment Camp Site, Kingstown Barracks and Bickley Battery, Aboriginal Burial Ground, Vlamingh Memorial and many others.
The local fauna and flora of Rottnest Island are very unique and interesting, but of course, most attention falls upon the humble 'Quokka'. The name of the island itself is based upon the quokka after a Dutch sailor called the island 'ratsnest' in the 17th century. These fury marsupials are much cuter than rats however, and if you keep your eyes open, you should see plenty of them before the end of your trip.
If all that exploring has made you thirsty and hungry, Rottnest Island provides a wide array of cafes and bars to meet your needs. Aristos Waterfront Rottnest is particular impressive, with great food and beautiful ocean views. Hotel Rottnest, Dome, Rottnest Juice Nest, Quokka Joe's, and Rottnest Bakery are a few of the other options open to diners, and all provide quality offerings at a reasonable price for an island destination.
Other activities include fishing, scenic flights, mini-putting, golfing, boat tours, and much more. I find the best way to explore the Island and to do any of the above activities is to hire a bike for the day and ride the many bike routes which fully encompass the island. Stop in at the information centre at Thompson Bay, and the staff will be happy to help you plan your day.
Getting to the island is easy. Ferries depart from Perth, Hillary's boat harbour, and Fremantle boat harbour daily. Rottnest Express is my favourite service for getting to the island, with a return ticket and bike hire offered at very reasonable prices. Concessional tickets are also available. If you're interested in staying longer than the day, a variety of accommodation options are available on the island for your stay. Get in quick, however, as these places typically book out very quickly.
Beautiful beaches, stunning natural formations, fascinating history, creature comforts- Rottnest Island is truly a wonderful place to visit. Go check it out for yourself.