Looking for an island holiday, with over 63 long, white, sandy beaches and 20 crystal clear bays to choose from, world standard diving areas filled with colourful coral and abundant with tropical fish, with distinct wildlife not seen anywhere else on Earth, an interesting history and that great laid back vibe, with fares from only $45 return?
Have you thought about Rottnest?
To most locals, Rotto is that sandy island full of those weird rat-like animals, off the coast of Perth that they may have visited once or twice with their school or family when they were young.
But after a recent visit, I have found a new appreciation for a unique and beautiful travel destination that is right on my city’s doorstep.
It had been at least 15 years since I had last visited Rottnest, and my memories of cycling around sandy tracks and terrorising Quokkas as a 10-year-old were quickly replaced with unrivalled views of stunning bays and beaches and an abundance of unique wildlife as I took part in an island bus tour upon arriving at the island.
The warm Leeuwin ocean currents travel directly through the waters surrounding the island, creating an almost tropical ocean climate in which 100’s of species of tropical fish and colourful coral thrive in. Who knew that some of WA’s best diving was only 19km’s off Fremantle?
The Dutch explorer, Willem de Vlamingh, came across the island in 1698 and quickly dismissed it as a sandy dump over-run with rats (hence the name which means Rats Nest in Dutch), the British colonised it shortly after settling in the Swan River and turned it into a prison in which to house local natives. The aboriginals built the prison themselves and did a pretty decent job as that and quite a few other buildings on the island are still standing. In World War I and II it was used as a first contact base to defend against any war threats to Perth and also as an internment camp for prisoners of war. The Rottnest museum in the main settlement provides an in-depth look at the history on the island.
There are plenty of interesting sites for the visitor to explore while on the island. The time honoured tradition of hiring a bike and cycling around is a must-do and many beaches are within a reasonable cycling distance. There is also the Bayseeker bus that circles the island, allowing for those who wish to find a more secluded area to swim or snorkel. If you prefer to spend more time under the water, there is a snorkel trail at Parker Point and many other locations around the island which provide beautiful reefs and shipwrecks to explore. If you don’t want to get wet the Underwater Explorer boat has a glass bottom allowing you to view to seabed.
The flora and fauna on Rottnest are very unique with most people coming to visit the Quokka which is only found in south-west WA, although rarely seen on the mainland. On the island, these fluffy marsupials have adapted to humans, some are quite friendly and will approach you, although visitors are strongly advised not to feed them.
Many bird enthusiasts come to Rottnest to see the islands varied birdlife. Some birds migrate from Siberia annually to feed on brine in the salt lakes. There are also a few pairs of Osprey’s, a hefty bird of prey, which build large stick nests on rocky outcrops around the coastline.
In the settlement, visitors can enjoy a range of meal options from general takeaway foods, to restaurants and cafes such as Dome, The Teahouse, the Quokka Arms Hotel and the Rottnest Bakery. There are many shops to explore to grab a souvenir or two or perhaps buy a new swimsuit at the surf shop. A Wellness Centre has also recently opened for those in need of some pampering.
Rottnest is a great place of diversity on so many levels. If you haven’t been here in a while, why not come over for a day trip on the weekend, you might be surprised at what you find.