If you’re looking to unplug, get away and spend quality time together outdoors, look no further than Rottnest Island. From sun, surf, sand and sea life, Rottnest Island offers something for everyone in the family. Only 18 kilometres west of Perth, it makes a great day trip or overnight destination.
How to get there: Rottnest Express operates between the mainland and Rottnest Island, departing from three convenient locations, including Fremantle (B Shed or Northport) or Barrack Street Jetty Elizabeth Quay, Perth. Taking a ferry offers scenic views of Perth and the Island from the water and is a fun and efficient way to get there and back.
Take in some History: For those looking to explore and learn, Rottnest offers several historic sites across the Island.
- Lighthouses: Wadjemup Lighthouse stands at the highest point on the Island, offering stunning views of Perth and Rottnest. It is the fourth tallest lighthouse in Australia (38 metres high). Bathurst Lighthouse is on the northern edge of the Island. At one of the highest points on Rottnest, it’s well worth visiting, especially at sunset with views stretching over Pinky Beach.
- Pilot Boathouse, originally constructed to help pilots guide ships safely through the reefs, is a striking display of Rottnest’s maritime history, featuring a replica pilot boat and historical photographs.
- Lomas Cottage was originally built in 1870 by the government for ex-convict Jon Lomas. Not only will you learn about this fascinating character, but you’ll also get to experience works by local artists.
- Wadjemup Museum tells the story of the fascinating history of Rottnest Island. The museum houses an eclectic collection including, 40,000-year-old artifacts, and tells the Island’s story of imprisonment, arts and culture, and flora and fauna.
Hit the water: You’ll never run out of things to do on Rottnest, especially if it is water based.
- Thrill Ride tour, operated by Rottnest Express, offers a good dose of adrenaline. Aptly named the ‘rollercoaster of the sea’ you’ll experience Rottnest’s coastline during a 45-minute tour including both high and low speeds; stopping to admire sea lions, seals, humpback whales (seasonal) and dolphins. For children 4 and above.
- Swimming and Snorkelling: There is no shortage of beaches and bays on Rottnest. Two family favourites include, The Basin, one of the most well-known swimming and snorkelling spots at Rottnest Island due to its crystal-clear, turquoise waters offering safe, shallow waters and shaded picnic areas, and Little Salmon Bay with calm waters, reef pools and sheltered cliffs for shade, making it a top snorkelling destination with excellent visibility, coral reefs, and energetic marine life—an underwater snorkelling trail is marked by a series of buoys tied to information panels.
- You don’t need to pack your snorkel gear and flippers; you can hire them through Rottnest Express ferry service when you book your passage and have it waiting for you upon arrival.
Go Wild: You’ll be hard pressed to run out of things to see when it comes to wildlife and marine life on the Island. It’s important to remember that for this wonderful ecosystem to continue to thrive, visitors should not disturb the wildlife or their habitats.
- Take a selfie with a quokka, Rottnest Island’s most famous inhabitants. Mostly nocturnal, these little cuties are more likely to be found in the early morning or early evening year-round throughout the Island. There are a few tips you should follow to ensure everyone’s safety: don’t try to touch them or lure them with food, they’re naturally inquisitive and will likely come to you. Just remember to say “Cheese”!
Explore the Island: With so much to see and do the Island offers a myriad of choices when it comes to mode of transportation – that is, excepting cars.
- Hire bikes or take a Segway tour. If your little ones love to cycle, Rottnest Express hires out bikes and gear (helmets, locks, baby seats, child trailers and cargo trailers), which can be booked with your ferry passage and will be ready and waiting for you upon arrival. The Island can be a little hilly so plan your route to suit the ability of all cyclers. Segway tours offer an easy and exciting way for kids aged 12 and up to see the island, and let you visit some harder-to-reach corners of the Island.
- Take a bus tour of the island and enjoy the sights from air-conditioned comfort. This 90-minute bus tour stops at the windy West End, allowing you to stretch your legs and take in the sprawling views. You can book a ferry and bus tour bundle through Rottnest Express for added ease.
Tucker the kids out: If your kids are chock full of energy and you’re looking for a way to get them good and tired, check out these activities.
- Family Fun Park offers on-land activities for children of all ages. Play a round of mini golf, jump on the trampolines, or play classic arcade games, pinball machines and air hockey. For low-key fun, head to the deckchair cinema to catch a movie and enjoy food and drink, including crepes, coffee, ice cream and more.
Feed the masses: After a day of Island excitement and activity you’ll need to recharge and refuel. Whether you want a quick bite, local produce, or something more sophisticated, there are plenty of places to eat. For handmade pizzas try Frankie’s on Rotto. For dinner with a view, head to Pinky’s Beach Club. Dome’s Café is a short stroll from the ferry jetty and if you’re looking for something sweet, check out Rottnest Bakery for locally made jam donuts or a vanilla slice.