With pristine beaches, adorable quokkas and a relaxed friendly atmosphere, Rottnest Island is the perfect day trip from Perth.
Hop aboard our virtual boat to explore the picturesque island without leaving your living room.
While exploring Rottnest Island in real life is currently off the cards, you can wander the sandy white beaches and enjoy the cruisy vibe of the island on our virtual tour. So, jump aboard as we sail from Perth for a day of snorkelling, swimming and chilling on Rotto!
Evidence of Aboriginal inhabitation of Rottnest Island, known as ‘Wadjemup’ to the local Noongar people, has been found dating back over 30,000 years. However, it seems that once the island split from the mainland, the Aborigines of the area ceased to live on or visit Rottnest. Several European boats landed on the island as early as 1610, but it was the Dutch sailor Willem de Vlamingh who named the island ‘t Eylandt ‘t Rottenest, meaning Rats’ Nest Island, after he thought the local quokkas were giant rats.
With the establishment of the Swan River Colony in modern day Perth, the island was settled and later used as a prison for Aborigines from 1838 – 1902. Since the prison was closed, it has been predominately used as a travel and recreation destination, except during the first and second world war when it was used as an internment camp and military base.
The island is now a top day trip for locals and travellers alike. While there is a small airport on the island, the most common way to get there is by a short ferry trip from the mainland. With a permanent population of just 300 residents, and all but essential cars banned, the island has a relaxed beach vibe with plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy.
Once you disembark from the boat from Perth, you will arrive at the main settlement in Thompson Bay. Here you will find plenty of cafes and small shops, a museum and information centre housed in the colonial buildings. Enjoy a lazy wander down the shady treelined streets, grab a coffee or enjoy a beer and the views at Hotel Rottnest. The white sandy beach of Thompson Bay has a roped off area for swimming and the sheltered waters are perfect for small children.
With Perth’s sunny weather, it’s impossible to imagine a trip to Rottnest without at least one stop at a beach. The beauty of a virtual tour is there is no need to cycle 22 kilometres to circumnavigate the island and discover the pristine beaches that dot the coastline. Relax and appreciate the snow-white sand and aquamarine water from your couch!
The crystal-clear waters and limestone reefs make Rottnest beaches perfect for snorkelling. There are plenty of protected bays where even beginner snorkellers can feel safe, or you can laze about on the fine white sand if you don’t want to get wet. Some of our favourite beaches include the Basin, Salmon Bay and Parakeet Bay, but with over 60 to chose from, we’re sure you can find your own secluded piece of heaven!
Military History at Oliver Hill
During the tense international environment that lead up to World War Two, the Western Australian government decided to equip Rottnest Island to protect the important port of Fremantle. Guns were installed at Oliver Hill and Bickley, with army barracks and supporting infrastructure including a hospital, workshop and canteen, constructed at Kingston. After the war, much of the defence infrastructure remained, until the 1960s when the coastal artillery guns were deemed obsolete and sent to scrap. As the large 9.2-inch guns were too expensive to transport back to the mainland they remained, and you can check them out at Oliver Hill Battery. The army barracks at Kingston are now used as accommodation for large groups such as school camps.
While the spectacular beaches, relaxed atmosphere and fascinating history are all great reasons to visit Rottnest Island, you will want to get a quokka selfie at some point on your visit! These adorable marsupials, about the size of cat, are found in small numbers on the mainland and other southern islands, but the lack of predators on Rottnest Island makes it home to the largest population. Looking like a small kangaroo, they are most active at night and can usually be found hopping about in scrub and can climb small trees.
While you might not be able to get a real quokka selfie right now, here a few tips so you are ready for your trip. The first thing to remember is that they are wild animals, so you shouldn’t touch or feed them. Quokkas are used to humans and aren’t too shy, so if you just sit still, often they will come to you ready to strike a pose. Try using a selfie-stick or timer so that you can give the quokka plenty of space.
While this virtual tour gives you a taste of all the reasons to visit Rottnest Island, nothing beats a day trip in real life. So start practising your smile for your best quokka selfie and we will see you here soon!
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