Rottnest Island, Perth
Here is advice to find the way to Vlamingh Lookout on Rottnest Island. A charming little walk, it is not marked on the maps they give you, nor is it signposted. To get there from the Thompson Bay Settlement, walk on Digby Drive till you come to the European cemetery. Turn left and take the sealed path just before the cemetery, which goes steeply uphill for a couple of minutes and then along a ridge until you come to the pavilion and viewpoint. It takes only 5 minutes from the cemetery. From the top you can't see the whole island, but you get a good view of the salt lakes, some of them pink with algae. Continue onward on the same path to go downhill and return via the lakes for a loop return. The lakes smell bad but are interesting.
The most western point of Rottnest Island was a special place for us, being named after Willem de Vlamingh, also a Dutchman. During our visit we were all alone and walked on the boardwalks to some viewing points and had really fantastic views on this rugged part of the coastline, with also a perfect beach. According to an information board there is ‘just’ 10.407 kilometres of Indian Ocean between Cape Vlamingh and Cape Town in South Africa.
Willem de Vlamingh was captain on a ship called ‘De Geelvink’ from the VOC (United Dutch East India Company). He left on May 3th of the year 1696, trying to find crew and load of another VOC ship, which was lost on the route to East India. The ships reached ‘Zuidland’ (Australia) on December 29th. Some sailors went ashore and saw a large number of ‘bosch rotten’ (woods rats). In a ship diary these animals were described as ‘een soort van rotten, zo groot al seen gemeene kat’ (a kind of rats as big as a common cat). They named the island ‘Rottenest’, which became Rottnest Island.
In January 1697 some of the ships were sailing on a river on the mainland of 'Zuidland' and they found black swans and called the river ‘Zwaanenrivier’ (Swan River).
Although there should live a couple of thousands of these marsupials on Rottnest Island, we just saw four of these cute animals in and around Thomson Bay Settlement. A couple of my fellow countrymen named these animals in the 17th century ‘rats’. But as a matter of fact they are a (smaller) kind of a kangaroo; the aboriginals called them ‘quak-a’: nowadays well known as ‘quokka’.
They were hopping around on their big hind legs searching for food and not afraid at all. These quokka’s near the houses and shops seemed rather tame and we could come very close to take some pictures.
I’m sure you may see these ‘famous’ Rottnest animals, at least around Thomson Bay Settlement.
In the older days Rottnest Island was used for gathering and processing salt from the salt lakes. The Salt Store (nowadays an art gallery) in Thomson Bay was originally used to store the salt, before transporting to Fremantle.
The salt lakes on Rottnest Island can be found on the north eastern part of the island and cover about 10 % of the island. When biking on the island we passed a couple of the salt lakes. We found most impressive Lake Baghdad with some remarkable red ‘flowers’ along the borders and some more or less red algae in the water.
Lake Herschel had some white foam along the shoreline, due to the salt in the water.
These salt lakes are even on walkable distance of Thomson Bay
Just after disembarking from the ferry we were taken completely by surprise of the beauty of Rottnest Island. Crystal clear blue sea, white yachts in the harbour of Thomson Bay, beaches with almost white sands and green trees around the low buildings of ‘the Settlement’. We were entering an Australian paradise !!
And cycling around the island we discovered more of these fantastic beaches, sometimes with dunes and on other places with rugged rocks. But always with all these different turquoise colours of the Indian Ocean.
Bays, coves and viewing points have pretty names like Henrietta Rocks, Parker Point, Little Salmon Bay, cathedral Rocks or Catherine Bay. Everywhere yachts and sailing boats were anchored and people were swimming and snorkelling.
Further away on the island we saw less visitors and when we took a swim at Salmon Bay we were just the two of us on a marvellous beach: white sand, crystal clear water, some wind, white-headed waves.
We finished were we started; on the terrace of the Dome Café, having a fresh orange juice and a piece of cake, while overlooking the harbour of Thomson Bay, before we had to leave this paradise-like island.
Being 'Dutchies' it was a great opportunity for us to make a bike trip at the other end of the world on Rottnest Island. I’m absolutely convinced it is by far the best way to discover this beautiful island. We could go and stop where we wanted, doing it on our own pace and we even did some swimming from one of the beaches.
Besides it is the only properly way to reach the most western point of ‘Rotto’.
We went (of course) around the whole island and together with some detours we biked about 30 km’s, which took 2.5 à 3 hours (without stops). The roads were excellent for biking, although on some spots a little bit hilly and on the way out we had the wind against us. If you are not an experienced biker don’t underestimate the whole trip and better make somewhere a short cut.
Where to rent
We rented our bikes from the ferry company Rottnest Express, because they were saying “hiring a bike prior to arriving on the island would save time and hassle”. But after disembarking it turned out we had to wait on our bikes till all other (private) bikes were unloaded and we were among the latest to arrive on the island.
Next time I would definitively rent a bike from Rottnest Bike Hire (tel: (08) 9292 5105). They even offer recovery and repair service anywhere on the island.
Rental price for a geared bike for one day (January 2007): Rottnest Bike Hire AUD 23,- / Rottnest Express AUD 24,-
- a cap (a helmet is compulsory to wear, we were a little bit cheeky and just worn our caps, because it was so hot and Rottnest Island is super safe to bike).
- sun tan 30 + / lip balm
- sun glasses
- spare memory on your digital camera (or plenty of films)
- water, water and water
Rottnest Island - or just ‘Rotto’ – is situated in the Indian Ocean just 19km’s west of the harbour of Fremantle and can be reached by a fast ferry in just 25 minutes.
The island itself is 11 km’s long, 4,5 km’s at the widest point - just 20 metres at the most narrow point and measures 1.900 hectares.
Ferries arrive at the main jetty in Thomson Bay - or ‘the Settlement’ as the locals say. When leaving the pier you will find the yellow building of the Visitor Information Centre. Just behind this building is the shopping area of the island with a general store, bottle shop, post office and an ATM.
Nearby are also Rottnest Museum and the Salt Store, both with information about the history of the island.
Café’s, restaurants, hotels and other accommodations can also be found in and around Thomson Bay. It is also starting point for the Bayseeker, jump-on jump-off, bus. Otherwise you will have to rent a bicycle from Rottnest Bike Hire.
Tours are offered as well: bus, train, kayak and boat tours. It is also possible to make guided walking tours.
Just a short ferry ride from Perth or Fremantle, Rottnest Island is a lovely place to while away a day or two. With white sand beaches, azure waters, and a laid back atmosphere, the island is best visited during the week when the crowds are comparatively thinner. While on the island, be sure to look for quokka, unique rat-like marsupials that still thrive here due to the lack of introduced predators.
Rottness island is one of these places which is so natural that you can't help but love especially if you love nature just like me. We hired bikes, bought a pic nic and off we went stopping at various places for munching, taking pictures or just checking out all the Quoka's which were everywhere and looked so adorable. My friend Linda who lives in Perth, said that they are unique to Rottness. They are small kangeroo/rat type animals but look so adorable. Be careful though they love to get food and will climb onto picnic tables to grab ur food.... , and you're not allowed to feed them.
Rottnest Island is just a short boat ride off the Fremantle coast. It has beautiful beaches and is a perfect place for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing.
Until 1920 Rottnest island served as a prison for Aboriginal people. Some of the prison cells are now hotel rooms.
You will certainly come along the cute little quokkas, which inhabit Rottnest Island (and gave it its name as the first European thought of them as rats, Rottnest= rat's nest) in bigger numbers.
Rottnest Island was discovered in 1696 by Willem de Vlamingh, a Dutch explorer, who named the island Rats' Nest due to the many large rats that he found on the island. Actually they are Quokkas which are a small wallaby and are very approachable.
Although Rottnest Island started out as a prison and also hosted a large military stronghold during World War II, it soon became a perfect escape from the busy city life in Perth and is a wonderful place to visit.
There are plenty of other things to do on Rottnest Island, and a number of activities to get involved in. Cycling is popular on the island and is a great way to get around and see everything. Also popular are fishing, snorkelling and diving. There is some beautiful coral around the island which you can see from various points, as well as a number of shipwrecks.
The beaches are fabulous and the colour of the water bright turquoise or dark blue depending on depth.
If you don't like getting wet there is a cheesy but interesting "submarine" tour of the reef. Its the southernmost reef in the word. interesting but hardly the Great Barrier Reef.
You can also visit the interesting Rottnest Island Museum, or by following one of the Rottnest Voluntary Guide Tours around various historical sites. You can also visit the Oliver Hill Gun Emplacement which is a site from World War II, which you can get to by train from Thomson Bay.
There are a couple of tours which you can join still allowing you to see the island. There is a tour bus from the visitor centre in Thomson Bay, The Bayseeker also travels around the island, stopping at many of the bays and beaches along the way. Alternatively you can just relax on one of the many beaches, or admire the fabulous views from Vlamingh Lookout, or picnic around the salt lakes with the many Quokkas.
There are a number of places to stay around Thomson Bay, as well as several good restaurants and cafes. You can get to the island from both Fremantle and Perth by boat. A flight is also available from Perth.
Quokkas were one of the first Australian mammals seen by Europeans. In 1658 Dutch mariner Samuel Volckertzoon wrote of sighting "a wild cat" on Rottnest Island. De Vlamingh thought they were a kind of rat and hence named the island "Rottenest" (Dutch for "rat nest") in 1696.
Qoukkas are friendly little fellas that are marsupials and live out in the bush. They hang around under bushes for most of the day and don't seem to be the less bit bothered when you approach them.
Quokkas on Rottnest have a well-developed pecking order. The males defend individual spaces and the older a male is the more authority he has. The males dominate the females and younger quokkas. Defined groups of 25 to 150 adults occupy shared territories, which they rarely leave. They breed once a year, and produce a single joey. Their low numbers on the mainland, compared with relatively large numbers in less than optimum habitat on fox-free Rottnest Island, suggest that mainland populations are heavily predated by foxes.
Rottnest is the Island right in front of Perth.
There are different Ferries that can take you there - just check the prices out at the harbour.
Some Ferries drive over Freemantle, where you can also go shopping.
Rottnest Island itself isn?t very big. There are two possibilities to get around (no cars on the island).
One is the bus (around 5.50 AUS), where you can get out and in at different stops. The bus drives every full hour.
The other possibility is by bike.
Since the island is quite flat, the road good and you can stop and drive on whenever and wherever you want, I think it is the nicer option.
Also you can really enjoy the views and have a look at the beaches and wonderful spots you come along.
The drive around the island (just one main road) is about 15 km, but you can extend it at the west end (out a one-way road 4 km and back) and at a little loop in the south (1.5km).
Any way it isn?t too much stress to drive around the island in that one day and enjoy all the viewpoints and have something to eat at a beach and have a good look at the Quokkas (those rat-like big animals the island has it?s name from), they are actually quite cute.
Back on the ferry at 4.45 pm, and back in Perth at around 7 p.m.
I was in Oz in December, so it was in the middle of summer, and one thing that stood out about 'Rotto' was the flies! MAN, there were flies for flies out there, if you head out, then a flynet is a MUST.
However, there could have been a million billion flies around, but it couldn't take away the pure beauty of the place, quite possibly the clearest water I've ever seen, and its also home to the 'Kwaka' which is indiginous to Rottnest island and Rottnest island only, there is an island a little bit further away with similar creatures on, but these are both unique in the world.
I ended up taking the ferry form Perth, so I got to cruise down the river, but, if memory serves me correctly, you can take the ferry from next to the maritime museum too.
A trip to Rottnest Island is a fun day out. You can get to Rottnest by ferry from either Perth or Fremantle. Once you're on Rottnest Island, drop into the vistors information centre to check out what there is to do on the island. There are usually a number of free guided tours. One of these, which I went on, was a guided tour to find quokkas. These are marsupials and look like rats but very cute in my opinion. I was told by the guide that there are only 2 habitats in the world where quokkas are found, but it is only on Rottnest Island that the public can see them.
The island is a great place for bike riding, there is a bicycle hire shop on the island, or you can hire a bike as part of a package with some of the ferry companies.