We have just had an amazing day in the land of the Quokkas – aka Rottnest Island. Situated just 19km off the coast of Freemantle in Perth, this little slice of paradise is easily accessible for day trips or longer stays. It’s also a destination that has divided travellers over the years – some say it’s a must-do, yet others say leave it out as it’s not worth the money you have to pay to see it.
So, we thought we’d share our Rottnest Island adventure to help you choose… To visit Rottnest or Not to visit Rottnest?
You can fly via plane, take your own boat or most popular is via a ferry transfer which we did.
There are three ferry operators providing transfers to the Island from Perth City, Fremantle and Hillarys Boat Harbour. Depending on where you depart from, the trip takes between 25 – 45 minutes. Prices vary from each provider with adult tickets starting at about $20 each and around $11 per child. You also have to pay an $18 admission fee per person that contributes to the conservation of the island.
Exploring the Island:
There are no public cars on the island so you have a few options for getting around. You can catch a hop-on-hop-off bus (for a fee) to various locations, or for a bit more freedom you can hire your own pushbikes which is what we chose to do.
As we have our mini Blondies Marli and Ziggy, we also hired a bike trailer for the kids which they loved to cruise around in (and Ziggy could sleep in) … Rob, however, was a little worried when the bike attendant wished him luck with the ‘big hills’ as we rolled away from the main town!
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It didn’t take us long to realise what he was talking about but with determination and the help of the kids yelling ‘faster daddy,’ we peddled our way around the island exploring the sights and spotting Quokkas along the way.
Stopping off at Salmon Bay we enjoyed some fun in the sun having a picnic, and of course a swim and a snorkel. The diversity of fish, coral species and shipwrecks in the waters around Rottnest Island make it a very popular destination for diving and snorkelling, especially as it’s in such close proximity to a capital city. A guide on the island also explained that the island is the start of the coral reef and tropical species that you can find further up the WA coast like Ningaloo.
With exceptional clarity, we spotted all kinds of amazing marine life and vibrant fish as well as crayfish, sting rays and dolphins! We brought our own snorkelling gear with us for the day but there is also an option to hire it on the island along with all kinds of other water sports equipment.
The weather couldn’t have been better and once we had our beach fix we turned our attention to our main motivation for visiting the island – the Quokkas!
Labelled as the happiest animals on the planet we had to meet these little guys for ourselves! The Quokka is a small macropod about the size of a cat and like other marsupials (such as kangaroos and wallabies), the quokkas are herbivores and mainly nocturnal, …although we saw so many out in the daytime taking advantage of the beautiful weather and scavenging around tourists feet in search of food!
These little happy balls of fur are super friendly and don’t shy away from you as they search for food. One even jumped into the kids bike cart!! Which quickly led the kids pleading for us to take him back home to our caravan as a pet!
The rest of the afternoon was spent at the pub enjoying a well-deserved pub meal and a few beers while overlooking the beautiful water and catching up with another travelling family we bumped into!
Despite sore ‘bike bums’ and having to keep up the peddle power towing the kids around for the day, we loved the freedom the bikes provided and we could move around where and when we wanted, as opposed to keeping with the bus timetable.
It was a magical day, we timed it well with perfect weather and saved a few pennies by packing snacks. So if you ask us, we say YES, Rottnest is worth a visit! If you can pick a good weather day, go ahead and spoil yourself and enjoy the adventure, meet the happiest animal on the planet and don’t forget to grab that famous #quokkaselfie!
What did it cost?
For our Blondie family of 4
2 adults, 5yr old and 2yr old
Ferry Transfer $227.00
We chose to travel with Rottnest Fast Ferries which was a little more pricey but as it leaves from Hillarys and was closer to where we were staying with our caravan. They also offered an early departure of 7.30am, getting us to the island at 8.15am which gave us more time to explore the island. There is also cheap Tuesday where prices are discounted and if you have the entertainment book you may be able to use a voucher.
Bike Hire: $79.00
An adult bike was $30 and the Bike with child cart was $49. You also have to pay a refundable $50 deposit per bike.
Pub lunch: $60.00
We packed a load of fruit and snacks for morning tea in our backpacks. There is also a supermarket and bakery on the island where you can purchase supplies but as with every island, prices are higher than normal.
Rottnest Day trip total = $366.00
Interesting Rottnest Island facts:
- The Island is 11 kilometres long, 4.5 kilometres at its widest point, and the land area measures 1,900 hectares.
- It is a 24km ride around the Island. Allow at least 2.5 hours for a leisurely cycle.
- The island was identified by Dutch sailors in 1610, and the name was bestowed upon the island by the Dutch fleet captain who believed that the indigenous marsupial called a quokka was, in fact, a large rat (“rottnest” meaning “rat’s nest” in the Dutch language.
- Rottnest Island is a Class A Reserve and is renowned for its high conservation and community values. It is deserving of the greatest degree of protection and therefore all plant and animals on Rottnest Island are protected by law.
- From 1838, for nearly 100 years, Rottnest Island was a prison where 3700 Aboriginal men and boys, ranging in age from eight to 70, were brought from right across the state to be imprisoned, often for minor offences such as stealing food.
- According to some Aboriginal elders, being incarcerated on Rottnest was a double punishment for the indigenous people because the island is a place forbidden to them culturally. It has been called the island of the spirit people.
- The prison finally closed in 1931 but during this time 10 percent of the prison population, 369 prisoners, died from measles, influenza or malnutrition. Five were hanged. Those who died were wrapped in blankets, buried in a seated position and placed in unmarked graves on the island.
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