A day on Rottnest Island with the Quokkas!

Rottnest Island, also known as the home of the Quokka! Do you know where the name Rottnest came from? Turns out, a Dutch captain mistook the Quokka’s for giant rats (which let’s be honest, they sort of look like that!) so he gave the island the name Rotte Nest which translates to Rat Nest in Dutch.

Historically, the island was also home to army barracks, a penal colony and a prisoner of war camp. Nowadays, the island is a beautiful holiday destination for locals and tourists.

Getting to Rottnest Island

There are a number of ways to get to Rottnest Island, and they include helicopter, seaplanes, or if you’re just a regular person, then you can take the Ferry from either Perth or Fremantle.

There are a couple of companies to choose from, Rottnest Express or Rottnest Fast Ferries. You can choose to depart from Perth City, North Fremantle, Fremantle (Victoria Quay) and Hillary’s Boat Harbour in North Perth.

We departed with Rottnest Express from Fremantle and the journey is direct and was only around 30 minutes. I would absolutely recommend you pre-book your seats on the ferry. We went on a Monday and even then, our ferry was fully booked.

If you are someone who gets seasick, I would highly recommend taking something for that before you get on board.

Optional Activities – Adventure Boat and Cycling

When you book with Rottnest Express, you will see several options to choose. We chose the Adventure tour with bicycle hire. This package includes a 90-minute adventure boat tour and bicycle hire.

Again, I would absolutely 100% recommend booking these options before you get on the boat. I happened to sit next to the counter on board, the morning tour was fully booked and there were only a couple of seats left on the afternoon adventure tour. These were snapped up in seconds and a number of families missed out on the fun.

The 90-minute Adventure boat was a heap of fun. We spent around half of the time whale watching and we also spent some time checking out the New Zealand Fur Seals.

We were lucky on our way back to the dock and saw some whales having a play! As you can imagine, trying to get a photo of these guys in a boat that is rocking side to side with 1m swells was not easy. This is the best photo I could take!

Again, I would recommend taking some motion sickness tablets if you happen to get seasick.

The best way to get around Rottnest Island

Cycling! Absolutely the best way to get around. Not only can you do things at your own pace, but it is relatively an easy riding island with only a few hills (which Jenna had to walk up!).

If you’re not into cycling, you can opt for the local hop-on-hop-off bus that operates on the island.

How long to spend on Rottnest Island?

We took the 9.30am ferry from Fremantle and arrived at around 10.15 am. We collected our bikes, put them on the bike rack and hung around for our 11 am Adventure Boat.

After the Adventure boat, we had some lunch in town before jumping on our bicycles and exploring the beaches. We then got on the 4.30pm departure ferry, getting us back into Fremantle at 5 pm. It was just the right amount of time for us for a day trip.

You can, of course, spend the night on Rottnest Island if you want to relax a little. We did notice a heap of accommodation options, some of which have perfect ocean views.

When to visit Rottnest Island

If you’re wanting to go swimming, then a visit in summer is a must so you’re looking at November/December until around February. We visited at the end of September and the water was still a bit cold for us to jump in, although plenty of people were swimming!

I have also been told that mid-November isn’t ideal unless you want to be surrounded by Schoolies (Schoolies are kids who have just finished high school and spend a week celebrating and partying!).

What to bring with you

You will need enough battery on your phone to present your ferry ticket on the way home, if there is a chance you won’t then make sure you have a printed copy. Definitely take sunscreen regardless of the season, sunglasses, swimmers and I would also recommend motion sickness tablets. You can buy lunch and drinks from the town and there is a general store if you need to top anything up.

Rottnest Island Beaches

The beaches on Rottnest Island are simply beautiful. They look like beaches that are in Italy or Greece, only the water is slightly cooler! Our favourite beaches were:

The Basin:  Just a short cycle from the settlement you will find the Basin. It’s the most popular not just because it is so close to town but because of how beautiful it is!

Longreach Bay: It is a beautiful white sandy bay, gorgeous water and popular with the boats! You also have some accommodation over looking the bay, which I could imagine would be very relaxing!!

Georgie Bay:  Absolutely adorable! There was only one person enjoying this small bay which would be perfect if you’re trying to escape the busyness of the other beaches.

Parakeet Bay: A lovely secluded beach. If you’re looking for some quiet time then this is the spot for you.

Little Armstrong Bay: One of our favourites! The water was perfection, crystal clear and calm. Just the way we like it!

We also cycled past:

Pink Lake:  It wasn’t pink!! We read that it is only really pink over the summer months so maybe you will have better luck than us!

Just a tip to always be careful of the local animals that are around. There are two types of snakes that are native to Rottnest Island, one of which is the Dugite and it is venomous. We saw one slithering across the pathway… just be careful!

Here is a map of the beaches on Rottnest Island and cycling tracks.

The Rottnest Quokkas!

And of course, probably the main reason anyone decides to visit Rottnest Island is of course to see the Quokkas! To be honest, they are a giant looking rodent… BUT are super cute…

They are all around the island and if you pick up an island map from the ferry, they mark out where the Quokka’s tend to hang around.

Keep in mind that it is illegal to feed or touch the Quokkas. They eat berries off the ground and should not be eating human food. They are a vulnerable species and the last thing we want is to make them extinct so everyone does need to respect these rules.

Getting a selfie with a Quokka is on everyone’s list (well nearly everyone I am sure). Sometimes easy, sometimes not. We didn’t want to get too close to them.. although they are friendly I am not sure they are that hygienic… one of them had a tick in its ear which gave us enough reason to stay away!

Do you have travel insurance?

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Perth Accommodation

If you’re looking for accommodation in Perth, we recommend Crown Towers! Click here to see our full post review.

Photos from Rottnest Island

Here are a few more pics of our time on Rottnest Island.


“Remember that happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.” – Roy M. Goodman

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