Rottnest Island - universally known as Rotto by anyone who's been in Western Australia for more than five minutes - is quite simply Perth's playground and the fact that it attracts 500,000 tourists a year (dominantly West Australians) speaks volumes for its unique combination of charms.
Located just 18km off the coast, it is an enchantingly timewarp sort of place that occupies a special place in locals' hearts, especially those born and bred in WA who have holidayed there since childhood. It is the ultimate day trip out from Perth at any time of year, especially for families, provided that the weather is good - the photo above, for example, was taken in late June, which is mid winter in Western Australia.
For more information on Rotto, follow this link to my Rottnest Island page:
My Rottnest Island page
When deciding which ferry company to travel with, I would recommend that you should take into consideration both where your travelling from/to and whether you want to make the ferry ride just a journey or part of the tourist experience. Ferries to Rottnest run from Fremantle, Barrack Street jetty in Perth and Hillarys (a northern coastal suburb). For more detail on selecting which ferry route to take, follow this link:
Travelling from Perth to Rotto
However, if you are new to Perth, then don't underestimate how lovely the boat trip down the Swan is (see my other travel tips for more details). This gives you an entirely different perspective on the city and allows you to rubberneck at the jawdroppingly opulent riverside properties: most trips also provide some sort of commentary that is usually scurrilous and highly amusing in a typically Aussie 'tongue in cheek' manner. It is possible to take cruises on the Swan River between Perth and Freo that will give you the same experience, but if you're planning to visit Rotto anyway, then why not consider combining the two (with a considerable resultant saving, as these things don't come cheap)?
The only warning that I would offer if you decide to take the ferry from Barrack Street is that it adds at least two hours onto the round trip. This could make for a very long day - especially if you have small kids in tow - and may also eat into the time your have available to enjoy Rotto, especially if making an early morning start isn't your forte.
Rottnest Island (affectionately referred to as 'Rotto' by Aussies) is a short 40-min ferry from either Fremantle or Perth - you can check online for different companies.
I took Rottnest Express (http://www.rottnestexpress.com.au) and from my research it would appear that every single one of the ferry operators charges around about $70 evenly for a return day trip. If you are going for more than one day, I saw plenty of accommodation on the island, and plenty of availability. Things would probably change right around when final year students finish school (late November) and during Christmas/New Years.
Rottnest Island is famous for it's great diving (try Dolphin Surf & Ski), snorkelling and bike-riding (hire directly on the island) and beach-combing. The name-sake of the island is the adorable Quokka - indigenous and unique to Rottnest Island. It looks kind of like a wallaby, but it is the size of a cat and has definite mouse-like features. Cute and cuddly, they are unafraid of humans for the most part and hop around on powerful hind legs. They can't really hurt you, but don't touch, as they can carry disease.
Earlier in the 1990's some sadistic scum used the Quokka population for a sport they coined "Quokka soccer" (you can imagine) and it's now a criminal offence - if you see anyone harming a quokka, inform any staff from any store on the island immediately and give the offender an extra good kick from me.
WHEN IN PERTH MAKE SURE YOU DONT MISS OUT ON A TRIP TO ROTTNEST ISLAND..
THIS LITTLE PIECE OF PARADISE IS ONLY A ONE HOUR FERRY RIDE FROM PERTH OR THIRTY MINUTES FROM FREMANTLE..WE DECIDED TO MAKE THE TRIP TO ROTTO FROM FREMANTLE AS THE TRAIN FROM PERTH CAN HAVE YOU IN FREMANTLE IN A VERY SPEEDY 30 MINS THEN ITS A QUICK 30 MIN HOP OVER TO ROTTO AND A LITTLE ISLAND GEM AWAITS.
ONCE ON THE ISLAND IT IS UP TO YOU AS TO HOW YOU FILL YOUR TIME THERE..WE DECIDED TO HIRE A COUPLE OF MOUNTAIN BIKES FOR THE DAY SO THAT WE COULD SEE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE..THIS IS A GREAT THING TO DO AS YOU CAN GO FROM BEACH TO BEACH TO FIND THAT PERFECT SPOT TO SWIM AND SNORKEL..WE FOUND "THE BASIN" AND LONGREACH BEACHES THE BEST.. ALSO GEORDIE BAY IS VERY NICE ALSO.. THEN WHEN HUNGER TAKES OVER YOU CAN HOP ON YOUR BIKE AND FIND THAT PERFECT LITTLE SPOT FOR LUNCH. YOU CAN HIRE YOUR BIKES FROM "ROTTNEST BIKE HIRE" PRICES ARE $15 FOR ADULTS AND $10 FOR CHILDREN AND A $25 DEPOSIT IS REQUIRED..PRICE INCLUDES HELMETS AND LOCKS.
IF YOU DONT FANCY HIRING BIKES BUT STILL WANT TO SEE AROUND THE ISLAND YOU CAN TAKE THE "BAYSEEKER BUS" THIS WILL TAKE YOU ON A TOUR OF THE ISLAND STOPPING AT ALL THE BEST BEACHES AND BAYS. THIS SERVICE RUNS FROM 8.40 AM - 4.40PM $7 ADULT/$3 CHILDREN..BUS LEAVES FROM THOMSON BAY EVERY 30 MINS.
FOR OUR TRIP TO ROTTO WE USED "OCEANIC CRUISES" OUT OF FREMANTLE. TIMES ARE..
DEPART FREMANTLE SHED "B" 8.30AM-10AM-11.30AM-2PM-5PM
DEPART ROTTO-9.15AM-10.45AM-12.30-4.15 AND 6PM. PRICES ARE $51 ADULT/$21 CHILDREN
FOR A DAY RETURN.
DONT FORGET TO LOOKOUT FOR THE LITTLE QUOKKAS THAT GAVE ROTTNEST ITS NAME..THESE LITTLE CREATURES CAN ONLY BE FOUND ON ROTTO...
SO IF YOUR IN THE PERTH OR FREMANTLE AREA DO MAKE THAT TRIP OUT TO ROTTNEST..YOU'LL HAVE A LOVELY DAY AND I JUST KNOW YOU'LL WANT TO RETURN...WE DO ..AND WILL !!
The one place practically everybody will tell you you should visit whilst you are in Perth is Rottnest Island - so named by Dutch explorers in the late 17th century for the animals they thought were rats that inhabit the island. The "rats" are actually quokkas -a small wallaby-like marsupial that live just here on the island and in a couple of very small enclaves on the mainland. You'll see them all over the place, they're well used to humans, but please don't feed them - tempting as it is - they are very appealing - they don't need your food and you don't need their fleas.
A day trip will give you a good taste of the island. 45 minutes by ferry from Fremantle ( it can be a very rough crossing, particularly in the afternoon if there's a stiff sea breeze blowing ), less if you take the more expensive catamaran, will set you down at Thomson's Bay, the main Settlement. When you get there, check at the visitor's centre for information about where to go and what to do, guided tours, bus times and so on. The beach at Thomson's Bay is OK but there are many others to choose from - The Basin is probably the favourite swimming beach and you will find showers and changing rooms there, facilities that most of the emptier beaches lack. The Settlement is where you will find shops, bike hire, cafes and other food outlets, etc so keep that in mind when the munchies get you. The shop at Geordie Bay has a small cafe but these are the only two areas on the island with commercial outlets.
Check the Rottnest website for up-to-date information about all the island has to offer as well as ferry companies, bike hire, accommodation, etc.
This island, 11km long, 4.5km at its widest point and the land area measures 1,900 hectares, is located around 20km off the coast of Western Australia.
Rottnest Island was named after the Quokka. A Dutch navigator, exploring this place in 17th century, described the quokka as "a kind of rat as big as a common cat". He named the Island "Rotte nest" (meaning "rat's nest").
There, you will discover not only Quokka but also a casual atmosphere, picturesque scenery and some great beaches and bays,
The best way to visit the Island is by bike thanks to the 24km ride around the island. Scuba diving/snorkeling is also popular.
You will find plenty of activities just stop to the Visitor Information Center when arriving.
The small Wallaby like Quockers are very friendly, the beaches are clean , the water is blue, and the Old Artillery Emplacements are facinating...go on a tour of one of the restored Gun Emplacements. The whole setup is underground.
This sandy island, 12 miles off the coast of Fremantle is home to small indigenous marsupials known as quokkas. These were mistakenly identified as rats in 1696 by the Dutch explorer de Vlamingh, who named the island 'Rats Nest'. They are actually very friendly, and will happily approach humans, although they are now so fearless they are almost a pest. The Rottnest settlement was established as a prison for Aborigines in 1838, but by 1920 the prison had fallen into disuse and the island had become an escape for the richer end of Perth society. For five years in WWII the island was dominated by the military, which used it to defend Fremantle Harbour.
Firstly, if you are going off to "Rotto" you should really take the ferry from Perth Barrack Street Jetty. Why not have an early breakfast at Bells Cafe, adjacent to the ticket office at Jetty 2, prior to boarding. They make a mean Bacon and Egg Burger.Departing fromPerth provides you with an hour's wonderful scenic cruise downstream to Fremantle along the Swan River.
Boat Torque Cruises/ Rottnest Express offers 2 sailings 8.45am and 9.45am. However I would suggest having an early night prior so that you can take advantage of the 8.45am vessel, as their courtesy coach will then pick you up from a location close to your hotel to save you the walk. The host on the boat will provide interesting commentary as you cruise past Kings Park, The Old Brewery, many of the Yacht clubs and of course past "Millionaires Row " in Dalkeith and Nedlands.The cruise then progresses through the busy historical Port of Fremantle, 30 mins away from Rotto. This cruise is a really nice way to start your day., a little bit more expensive than from Freo but well worth it.
Bike and Snorkle hire can be processed in one easy step ,whilst booking your ticket, with Boat Torque.Then almost by magic they are waiting for you as you disembark on the jetty at Thompsons Bay, Rotto. Helmets, locks and chains are included in the price. They have single speed , 4 speed mountain and supercomfort bikes at reasonable rates. Oh yes they will even provide you with a map of the island.
Once on the island remember it is a National Park and the only shops available are in the settlement as you arrive . So arm yourself with supplies of food, water, film and sunscreen and off you go. The island is 11 kms by 4.5 kms so you will find it a full day. Make time though to stop off at the the Quokka Arms ( the Rotto Pub) as there is no -nicer place to down a good Aussie beer than overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Even better still you could stay over ,on an overnight stay but that is another tip to come. Have a great day and don't forget to say Janet sent you
Taking a ferry over to Rottnest Island from Freemantle, is a must during a stay in Perth. We just did it as a day trip, but there is accommodation available on the island. I enjoyed pedalling around on my junky rental bike - the scenery is wonderful, and there are plenty of places to stop for a swim and a snorkel. I do hear that Rottnest is a little crazy with student party life so watch for school breaks and perhaps keep away if you are interested in sleeping at night!
Rottnest Island (or Rotto, as the locals call it) is definately a must for a day trip from Perth. Rotto has awesome beaches, fantastic snorkling, bike hire for riding around the island, accommodation, camping, kids activities,a lovely restaurant overlooking the water, and cute little Quokkas native to Rotto only.
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