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Rottnest Island, Western Australia: What to do and how to get there

Rottnest Island is a popular tourist destination off the coast of Western Australia, some 18km away from Fremantle. Rottnest Island is also famous for its population of quokkas, a cute native little marsupial which, besides Rottnest Island, can be found in only a few other places. So… what is there to do there and how do you even get to this island?!

How to get to Rottnest Island

Elizabeth Quay
You can grab the Rottnest Express from Elizabeth Quay at Perth City
Elizabeth Quay
The Rottnest Express from Perth City

The easiest way to get to Rottnest Island is via the Rottnest Express (https://www.rottnestexpress.com.au/) ferry from either Barrack St, Perth City or Fremantle B Shed (the other way is via helicopter, which is $$$). You can pre book tickets online as it may run out on the day! I personally took a ferry from Perth City, and it took around 3 hours. At around the 2 hour mark, it arrived at Fremantle B Shed and we had 15-20 minutes free time to explore before the Rottnest Express headed off again. It’s worth noting that you can opt for a faster ferry if you book one that doesn’t stop at Fremantle - given the choice, I would’ve picked the faster ferry.

Fremantle B Shed Markets
Fremantle B Shed Markets

So what can you do in those 15 to 20 minutes? You can explore the sheds at Fremantle! There’s a few interesting markets around in the sheds but maybe there isn’t a lot of business around the area, so a lot of the stalls are actually empty. This was actually a little disappointing, to be honest.

Pricing: varies depending on the season and date, but roughly $80-$100 for adult return.

Transport around Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island Explorer

Hop onto the Rottnest Island explorer bus to see different parts of Rottnest Island. You can grab a ticket at the Rottnest Island Visitor Centre, where the tickets are sold for a flat rate of $20.00 AUD per day per person.

The bus comes around every 30 minutes or so, with the last bus departing the main terminal at 3:00pm. The route is a full circle around the island, beginning and ending at the main bus stop terminal. Outside each bus stop along the way is also a sign that says approximate times that the next bus will come. Make sure you check when the last bus arrives at whichever attraction bus stop you’re at! The last bus which departs at 3:00pm from the main terminal stop. Otherwise you’re in for a long, long walk back to the ferry terminal (hint: you’ll probably miss it).

One thing that was super cool about the explorer bus is that it runs 100% on electricity!

By bike

For the more adventurous, you can also rent your own bike! I chose to take the Rottnest Island Explorer because my best friend Maggie doesn’t know how to cycle, so it made more sense to just take the bus. Renting a bike to ride around Rottnest Island will set you back around $30.00 a day. A bit more expensive than taking the Rottnest Island Explorer bus, but cycling will give you the flexibility to go to different attractions whenever you want to.

A word of warning: there’s no bike lane on the island, so you’ll be sharing the road with the bus!

Food Options

Dome Cafe
Dome Cafe

There’s a lot of food options near the wharf where the Rottnest Express drops you off. Some off the top of my head are: Dome Cafe if you want a sit down experience, Subway and also the Rottnest Bakery. Maggie and I grabbed a quick lunch at the Rottnest Bakery, which has items such as potato and steak pies and sausage rolls. This was just a quick meal to keep our bellies full. Don’t expect five star service or anything, because the bakery is a cheap, quick meal only.

Things to do and sights to see

Quokkas near Rottnest Island Marketplace

Quokka near the marketplace
There are so many quokkas near the marketplace in Rottnest Island
Quokka near the marketplace
Don't touch the quokkas!

The quokkas are really the star of the show here! These small marsupials reside here on Rottnest Island and are mostly found on islands off the coast of Western Australia. They are SUPER cute, and can be found mostly where there are people. There are plenty of quokkas hopping about near the Rottnest Island marketplace where the bakery is also at, because there’s always food where there are humans.

Quokkas near the marketplace
Quokkas are SO cute!

Tip: don’t touch a quokka though! If you’re caught touching one, you may incur a $300 AUD fine. This might be good for you too - quokka bites are a real thing (no matter how cute they seem!), and if you piss a quokka off, touching it might not be a wise thing to do.

Little Salmon Bay

Little Salmon Bay
Little Salmon Bay's clear blue waters

The first stop I took was at Little Salmon Bay. This picturesque little bay is a great pit stop for a brief half hour. The water is actually, completely 100% clear blue. While the sand is not amazing (it’s a bit too grainy to even walk on), it makes for a great photograph.

Salmon Bay

Salmon Bay Beach
Salmon Bay Beach

One stop away from Little Salmon Bay is of course Salmon Bay. This is a long stretch of beach and it’s just like Little Salmon Bay multiplied by 5. Something I found (horrifyingly) was that there were probably a hundred dead blue bottle jellyfish lying on the beach. Swimming here is maybe NOT such a good idea folks! Unless you want to play the jellyfish version of the lava game.

Salmon Bay
On the way down to Salmon Bay
Salmon Bay
Panoramic view of Salmon Bay

Cathedral Point

Cathedral Point lookout
Try to spot a seal at the seal watching platform at Cathedral Point
Cathedral Point lookout
Seal watching at Cathedral Point

The last stop we visited was Cathedral Point. We took a brief walk up to the seal viewing platform, which the bus driver advised us was a popular tourist attraction. I’m not too sold on this, because the seals were so small it looked like just another rock.