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“Make sure you visit Rotto!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Rottnest Island

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Brisbane
2 reviews
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Make sure you visit Rotto!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 30, 2010

I travelled to Perth for a weekend in February to visit some family, and I'm so glad that we decided to check out Rottnest Island, or 'Rotto' as the locals call it.

Ferries leave from Perth or Fremantle- but I'd recommend going there as early as possible to get the most out of your day. Also, make sure you look up the ferry times in advance. If you miss one, it's a long wait for the next.

The ferry ride is about half an hour from Fremantle, and longer from Perth. It was quite calm on the way over, but I'm not sure if that was because it was so early, or if we were just lucky.

There are no cars on the island, and while there is a bus that goes every hour or so from the most popular spots, your best way to get around is by bike. I'm not a fitness freak, and was terrified at the thought of cycling 22km around the island but honestly, it goes really quickly and the views are so stunning, you don't even notice how much ground you're covering. (If you're still scared of the long journey, the south-east and north-east parts of the island are probably the nicest anyway, so there isn't far to go.) You have the choice of bringing your own bike or renting one from the ferry operators- it worked out a few dollars cheaper to borrow bikes from my family, but the rental bikes looked fine.

When you get to Rotto, make sure you grab a map from the info centre- there are lots of bike paths to choose from, going all the way around the island and taking you to plenty of amazing beaches. Also, make sure you have sunscreen and plenty of water, because once you're out of the main settlement, there's nowhere else to buy things that you've forgotten.

We cycled past the main settlement- which has a Subway restaurant, a few cafes and a grocery store- and travelled through a huge salt flat to get to the lighthouse. The ride is quite hilly in some places, but the views of beautiful crystal water is worth the effort! After that, we circled round to Parker Point to soak up some sun.

Parker Point was amazing- it has the most beautiful strips of dark and turqoise water, and it's quite calm to swim in. Just be careful walking into the ocean- a lady near us hurt her foot on some sharp coral. Also at Parker Point, there was a gorgeous family of quokkas hiding underneath a large tree near the bus stop. They're really friendly and love to be stroked, but try not to feed them- apparently human food is bad for their tummies.

Make sure you check out Little Salmon Bay if you're a snorkeller- the water is beautiful. I think snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef (in Queensland) is brighter and the types of coral and fish are probably more diverse, but this is definitely worth a look anyway.

After lunch, we checked out the northern side of the island- the reviews say to visit the Basin, but we found it to be a little crowded, and kept going to Geordie Bay. The sand is white and the water is turqoise, sectioned off away from the boats for swimming.

Although there is plenty of accommodation on the island, we got the late ferry home. I think our ferry left at about 6pm or so, and it was a really rough trip home. Waves were crashing left, right and centre. Probably make sure you don't eat right before you leave- lots of people were using paper bags that the crew had to hand out. Not the most pleasant half hour of our lives!

One last tip- don't forget the sunscreen, especially on the top of your legs and on your back if you're bike riding. Also, make sure you check out the rottnest island website before you go- it has pictures and maps so you can plan in advance, and get the most out of your day.

Enjoy your trip to Rotto!!!

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Surfers Paradise, Australia
Top Contributor
76 reviews 76 reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
“One of the best times I have had!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2010

WOW what a surprise! I was worried about the ferry over, but it was no problem at all, not rough. once we arrived, we grabbed some push bikes and off we went. Navigation around the island is easy once you are out of the little village. They need little coloured markers to navigate the tracks a little easier in the village. We rode for about 20 kilometres, across the entire island. We stopped to pat wild Quokkas, which were the friendiest little creatures I have come across. They are just beautiful. Had lunch at the village and then back onto the ferry back to Perth.
This was one of the best trips I had done, the riding was easy, although I am glad I am fit. Got a little sunburnt but well worth it. Definately recommend Rotty!!

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Broome, Australia
Top Contributor
86 reviews 86 reviews
Reviews in 54 cities Reviews in 54 cities
101 helpful votes 101 helpful votes
“One of my favourite places in WA and it's just 30 minutes away how cool is that?”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2010

Your visit to Rotto should be focussed towards natural scenic beauty, fresh air and water based pleasures. Beach bumming is the order of the day, walking and cycling are high on the agenda. The pace of life here is typically Island so get into that frame of mind. For alternative transport there is a regular circular bus route and the system is very useful with stops at most of the key points of interest, but if you're fit take your time and toodle about in the lovely fresh air that blows in from the sea. After that theres very little else to do. If you're after flash accomodation and fancy restaurants forget it, stay in Perth you're wasting your time here. Resources are basic and prices are very steep for what limited commodities you can expect. The accommodation is generally poor to middling thats just how it is. (hence some of the poor reviews) What is available is a more natural laid back kind of lifestyle, available to all and sundry and 30 minutes from Fremantle harbour. Up the type of accomodation on the Island, develope the marina, add the odd casino or two and a posh restaurant etc and the costs will rise and accesibility will become more limited in accordance.
You'll probably already have heard but the Island has loads of what I can only describe as either big rats or small kangeroos called Quokkas. They are everywhere, particularly towards sunset and often under your feet when you're trying to eat your tea. They are very cute and friendly and add a personal touch to an already idyllic setting,
Go with an Island mentality and enjoy.

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Tallahassee, Florida
Top Contributor
172 reviews 172 reviews
Reviews in 100 cities Reviews in 100 cities
294 helpful votes 294 helpful votes
“Quokka Heaven”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 27, 2009

On May 9 we took the Rottnest Express ferry to Rottnest Island off the Australian Coast. Although billed as a 90 minute trip, it actually took seven hours. After a pickup from the hotel at 0730, we arrived at the dock for an 0845 ferry trip. With lots of free time, we saw the Perth ferris wheel, bell tower, skyline from the harbors, and numerous flowers.

The ferry actually left at 0900, winding slowly down the Swan River from Perth to Freemantle. The views from the ferry were interesting but the trip was slow. At Freemantle, we embarked more passengers to set sail for the island arriving about 1030.

Recommendation: If driving, depart from Hillarys Boat Harbor (20 minute trip) or Freemantle (30 minute trip) ferry terminals and carry only a backpack with your own food. They have free car parking, a huge savings if traveling by car.

At the island, we found that ferry luggage would not be delivered to our hotel on Rottnest until 1430, leaving us with no beach clothes or food until then. We had reserved hire bikes with the ferry operator as there are no cars on the island, but when we picked them up the quality was awful. The bikes had bald tires, no brakes, non-working gear changers, and curved pieces of styrofoam as helmets (which are required by law on the island). The silver bikes were particularly bad but staff would not allow you to change color from the ones pre-ordered.

Recommendation: Bring a bike from the mainland or if you have to hire one, get a red one from the ferry or hire one on the island where you can look at it first.

We took the 90 minute guided bus tour around the island, which was quite informative if a bit pricey. We saw two lighthouses, the 9.2 inch gun battery from World War II, and the best coastal and inland views, the highest and most westerly points of the island, several osprey nests and the best snorkeling sites. The guide also described native wildlife and venomous snakes that are on the island. We missed the first tour as the woman at the tourist information center sent us to the meeting place for walking tours instead of the one for bus tours. All staff at the visitors center seemed poorly informed and unable to answer many questions.

Later we walked to the Bathurst Lighthouse and along the beach as well as around some of the inland salt lakes. We saw several peafowl and dozens of quokkas, some of which were quite tame and would hop up and lick our fingers in the shopping part of the village. In the bush, we saw many more quokkas, common pheasants, and galahs as well as pelicans and dolphins along the shore. Quokkas were visible almost all day in most parts of the island, but thick in the evening near Garden Lake near the golf course. In the evening I went on a quokkabout (a walkabout to watch quokkas) and saw hundreds around the village shops.

Early on May 10 I walked about 2 kilometers to the Bathurst Lighthouse to photograph the sunrise and full moon set, observing quokkas and a flight of pelicans on the way back. We then cycled out 5 kilometers to the center of the island to see the Oliver Hill coastal gun battery and the Wadjemup Lighthouse, returning past the salt lakes. We left for the beach mid-morning by the island shuttle bus but the wind picked up and heavy cloud set in, making both Porpoise Bay and Little Salmon Bay too rough for snorkeling.

We then walked to Salmon Bay and saw a dolphin and a cormorant diving for fish off the rocks. I did snorkel for an hour or two at Salmon Bay but the water was murky from the chop and quite cold with no sun and high wind. I spotted about 20-30 varieties of fish including many striped varieties, a striped and spotted fish, and a puffer fish plus white and pink corals but the bottom was mainly sand and sea grasses. I did see the cormorant dive into the water a few meters from me. Not worth the effort to snorkel there so we returned to the hotel.

In the evening, we walked to Garden Lake for a great view of the sunset and the light from Wadjemup Lighthouse in the distance reflected in the still lake. We saw a lot of quokkas and a pheasant.

Recommendation: For viewing many quokkas try the path to the right of Garden Lake and the area past the village shops towards the oval at dusk.

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Melbourne
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
“Worth the trip”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 30, 2009

We went to Rottnest Island in September. It was relatively quiet (it wasn't yet school holidays); judging by the number of bikes in the bike hire place the island gets quite busy in peak times. We spent our day there riding a tandem bike around the island. We saw some beautiful beaches, and wished it was warm enough to swim and snorkel. With some cajoling from a volunteer, we agreed to a $6 tour of the lighthouse in the centre of the island. The volunteer guide was fantastic and it was worth the small monetary contribution! The quokas (little kangaroo-type animals) were very cute. Overall, a nice day out.

A word of warning - if you decide to hire a bike, heed the warnings and take heaps of water with you when you leave the settlement.

Finally, the ferry trip was expensive but there are not many other options unless you happen to know someone in Perth with a boat. We took the ferry from Perth rather than catching the train to Freo and meeting the ferry there. I'd recommend the river cruise - it was a good way to see some more of Perth and worth the small extra charge (once the train fare is taken into account).

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