Freelance writer who enjoys staying active, social and making the most of what Perth has to offer.
Published June 7th 2012
Enjoy the simple pleasures in life? A relaxing stroll along the beach, a glass of wine on the balcony overlooking shimmering turquoise waters, cycling alongside the salt lakes, throwing in a line from your boat, or a dip in the cool refreshing waters. Once you step of the ferry and onto the main jetty at Rottnest Island, you can forget about all your responsibilities back in Perth, breathe in the fresh air – and relax. Then it's off to your chosen accommodation to whip on your bathers and head straight to the nearest beach, which is likely to be just at your doorstep.
The great thing about Rottnest (or Rotto as it is endearingly called by locals) is it is only about 30 minutes from Perth by ferry (19 km) so you can escape the city life even for just one day and come back feeling refreshed. Although once you settle-in to the relaxed way of life on the island, you can see how one could easily lose themselves for a week at Rotto.
The main form of transport on the island is by bike and if you don't ride then you will be getting around by foot, which isn't a problem as everything you need isn't too far away. Bikes can be brought across on the ferry or you can hire them once you arrive. There is also a bus service that can take you to beaches and other locations on the other side of the island. The small town centre offers a bakery, general store, take-away food outlets, surf shop, pharmacy and day spa.
Ok so you've unpacked and kicked-up your heels for a while, now it's time to get out for some activities. Kids will enjoy paddling and snorkeling in The Basin, one of the island's more popular bays. The Basin is well protected from the weather and generally a calm spot to swim. There are also 62 other beaches to choose from and popular places to swim include Longreach Bay, Little Parakeet Bay, Geordie Bay and Salmon Bay.
The abundant reef surrounding Rottnest lends itself to some of the best diving locations around. Reef sharks, rays, huge schools of fish all inhabit the reef and I have been lucky enough to come across large pods of dolphins. There are also some great surfing and fishing spots around the island, but fishing is prohibited in the protected marine reserve so be sure to check these before heading out. Fishing and diving gear is available for hire if you don't have your own.
While there is an wealth of animal-life on the island, no description of Rottnest would be complete without mentioning the Quokkas. Quokkas are small marsupials (like mini wallabies), which primarily reside on the island. There are approximately 10,000 spread across Rottnest so you are very likely to come across one hopping around soon after arriving. The name Rottnest in-fact derived from a Dutchman's depiction of the animals, which he described as large rats.
Rottnest is also rich in history, the island was used as an Aboriginal prison from 1838-1904 and played a military role in both World Wars. Many heritage-listed buildings can be visited and historic tours are available with guided and self-guided options.
So whether you are considering a day away from the city or a week-long break, Rottnest Island guarentees a stress-free holiday where nature provides all the activities you need.
Getting there: Choose to come by ferry, plane or on your own boat. Please note landing fees are applicable for boat owners. For ferry information visit Rottnest Express or Rottnest Fast Ferries Accommodation: There is a wide variety of accommodation styles to choose from at Rottnest Island. The Lodge offers hotel-style accommodation, while the self-contained cottages and villas are more suited to groups of friends or family. While many of these have been refurbished in the past five years, they are a basic yet comfy style of accommodation well suited to the nature of the island and the overall holiday experience. These styles can sleep up to 8 people. Larger groups should check out the Kingstown Barracks and Hostel. Camping grounds are also available on the island with convenient facilities available to campers such as toilets, showers and barbeques. For boat owners, moorings are available to hire on the bays around the island.
Bookings: The easiest way to make a booking is online, contact details are also available to those who wish to phone-in. Over the summer and Easter school holidays, accommodation bookings are allocated by ballot. For other periods you are able to book up to a year in advance.