Rottnest is one of those magical places that you can’t help but fall in love with. While young kids delight in those cute quokkas, teens can get out surfing and the oldies can enjoy a spot of fishing or spoil themselves with a spa treatment.
The island is car-free, so the Island Explorer bus tour ($20, $12 for kids) is a great starting point to soak up the history and check out spaces you’d like to investigate further. Buy tickets on the Rottnest Island website or at the visitor centre just up from the ferry dock. The drivers are incredibly knowledgeable so pick their brains while you have them captive.
If you want to explore the island on two wheels, hire a bike at Pedal & Flipper. It’s a five-minute walk from the jetty – just follow the signs.
Eat and Drink
You’re not really spoilt for choice on the island. To do it in style, stock up on gourmet produce at the Boatshed in Cottesloe (40 Jarrad Street; www.boatshedmarket.com.au) before heading across to Rottnest. If cooking up a feast isn’t your idea of a break, head to Hotel Rottnest or Aristos Waterfront. The bakery is also a must: it’s essential to try a pie (if you are sitting outside, just watch out for the eternally hungry quokkas).
The Rottnest Island website lays out all your options. Unless you want to camp or bunk down with backpackers, you’ll need to book well in advance. Our tip? Aim for the lighthouse keeper’s cottage at Bathurst Point and the Kingstown Heritage View cottages at North Thomson Bay (both unbeatable summer and winter). If you don’t mind a cycle, Geordie Bay is a wonderful spot (keep your eye out for the stingray that skims the shallows each evening).
Two ferry companies – Rottnest Express (departs from Fremantle and Perth) and Rottnest Fast Ferries (departs from Hillarys Boat Harbour) – make the journey across. It takes 30 minutes from Freo, 90 minutes from the city and 45 minutes from Hillarys. The companies also do hotel pick-ups, so check if you’re on their route. If you prefer air to sea then Rottnest Air Taxi, Ozwest Aviation and Rotorvation Helicopters are all good options. Be sure to ask about their joy flights.