Looking for a gentle escape from the city? Look no further than Rottnest Island!

History

Rottnest Island or Wadjemup was originally a prison established by European settlers where thousands of Aboriginal men and boys were incarcerated. It was later transformed into a labor camp.
The island has a strong and painful history: families were separated, community leaders were imprisoned… .
Finally, the settlement founded in the late 1830s closed its doors for good in 1902, but it wasn’t until 1917 that the island began to become a possible vacation destination.

How to get to Rottnest Island?

Located 19 km off the coast of Perth, the island can be reached by various means of transport.
By ferry, plane or boat, the choice is yours.

Personally, I took the ferry, which is a quick and easy way to get to the island.

The ferries leave from various points:

  • Perth’s Barrack Street Jetty: 90 minutes
  • Hillarys Boat Harbour: 45 minutes
  • Fremantle: 25 minutes

Here are the 3 main companies where you can book your ticket:

  • SeaLink Rottnest (departing daily from Perth and Fremantle) > book here
  • Rottnest Fast Ferries (if you want to park your car, there’s a free parking at Hillarys Boat Harbour) > book here
  • Rottnest express (great for ferry packages) > book here

As there are virtually no cars on the island, you can visit on foot, by bus or by bike. You can even rent bikes in advance when you book your ferry ticket. Bike hire costs AUD$30.

Info: an entrance fee for Rottnest Island is included in the price of your ferry ticket. It contributes to the development of the facilities and conservation of the island.

Exploring Rottnest Island with bike

Itinerary

With 63 beaches and 20 bays, we couldn’t explore everything in one day with our bikes, so we had to make a choice.
Here’s our itinerary:

1. Pink Lake

Ok, to be honest don’t expect to see a pink lake like the ones you see on the internet. It was more of a light pastel pink hue. The color actually comes from the algae that lives in the lake and if you want to see a brighter pink, go during the summer.

Pink lake in Rottnest Island

Still, it was a beautiful experience to walk in snow-like soil where your feet sink below the surface.
The pink lake remains one of the most popular sites on the island and there are many around Australia, Lake Hillier being the most famous.

2. City of York Bay

City of York bay in Rottnest Island

Located on the northwest coast of Wadjemup, the bay was named after the iron ship City of York, which sank in 1899.
The place is perfect for a picnic where you can relax and see lots of cute little creatures: Quokkas.

3. West End & Cathedral Rocks

West end and Cathedral Rocks in Rottnest Island

The westernmost point of the island, accessible in 30 minutes by bicycle, is a place that the Whadjuk Noongar people consider to be a link between this world and the next.
It’s easy to see why, as it’s an isolated spot where you can only see the Indian Ocean.

If you’re lucky, you may even spot dolphins, whales and fur seals!

4. Wadjemup Lighthouse

Rottnest Island's lighthouse

You can’t really miss it, as the lighthouse is located in the center of the island. At 38 meters high, it’s the fourth-highest lighthouse in Australia.

5. Wildlife and iconic “symbol” of the island

On the island of Rottnest/Wadjemup, there’s plenty of marine life to see. From dolphins to fish, if you own a snorkel kit, I’d advise you to take it – you won’t be disappointed.

We even saw large lizards basking in the sun.

A big lizard in Rottnest Island

But there was one marsupial we couldn’t wait to meet!
On the ferry, locals told us that we wouldn’t find the Quokkas, but they would find us. It’s true, just resting by the roadside or eating at the beach, these adorable little creatures were everywhere, much to our delight.

They’re not even shy, but very curious, climbing into our backpacks when we don’t even have any food left!

The Quokkas in Rottnest Island

So, if you want to take a selfie with some Quokkas, don’t worry, they’re the best at posing!

Our day trip to Rottnest Island/Wadjemup, though tiring (8 hours on the bike has that effect), was rewarding.
From breathtaking landscapes to cute encounters, I was happy to discover another island…where the natural environment is still wild and unspoilt.

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