Rottnest Island is directly off the Perth coast. Rottnest provides all that is required for a relaxing get-away. Coral reefs make for fantastic diving and snorkelling; hidden bays and deserted cycle paths wait to be explored. The small marsupial quokka a bit like a small Kangaroo only exists on this island, and in some parts they have become very tame.
Just 20km northwest off the coast of Fremantle is Rottnest Island, a popular vacation spot and day-tripping destination for Perths population and visitors. Famous for the quokka, a small marsupial unique to this region, Rottnest offers a relaxed holiday atmosphere and brilliant water-based activities and historical attractions.
Willem de Vlamingh, a Dutch mariner that thought Rottnests quokkas looked like giant rats. When he landed in 1696, he named the island 'Rat's Nest Island, or in Dutch, Rottenest Island. The 'e' was eventually dropped and today it is also affectionately called Rotto by local West Australians.
This low white sandy island is quite small, measuring 11km long and 5km wide. Rottnest is covered by grassy plains, woodlands and scattered salt lakes; its low-lying scrub and bush vegetation is very hardy. Rottnest Island Pines and Rottnest Island Tea Trees are native to this area and dominate much of the landscape.
Rottnests coastline is very attractive; there are numerous secluded bays with gin-clear water and soft, white beaches to rival any island in the world. The surrounding sea is a marine sanctuary that protects a wide variety of fish and other marine creatures. No pets, guns or spear guns are allowed on Rottnest Island.
Private vehicles cars are not permitted on Rottnest Island and this maintains the allure of Rottnest and its idyllic atmosphere. The General Store, famous Bakery, Quokka Arms pub and a few smaller stores are only a few minutes walk away. Mini-golf, trampolines, tennis, golf and bowling facilities are also close by. The settlement is the centre of life on rottenest Island a few stores and buildings all within a very short distance from each other. There is no other place to buy food or products anywhere else and other than a few scattered water fountains at the main bays; self-sufficiency is important when leaving the settlement.
There is a good network of sealed roads on Rottnest Island and the only way to get around, besides the bus tours that go around the island, is by bicycle. This is how Rottnest has maintained its charm. It would take a full day to comfortably explore the whole island by pushbike. Just jump on and choose a direction to ride in. Whichever road you take, you will come across some of the most beautiful coastal scenery in the world.
Rottnest boasts many small, private bays and coves. At the top of every hill or the turn of every corner, another one comes into view. Sparkling waters with colours the best computer graphics could never reproduce and snow-white sandy beaches characterise a bike-ride around Rottnest Island. Popular spots are The Basin; a reef-protected bay a few minutes ride from Thompson Bay is gorgeous and great for children. Longreach Bay, Little Parakeet Bay, and Geordie Bay are also popular spots for swimming and lazing on the beach.
The thirteen shipwrecks and exciting diversity of life in the marine reserve surrounding Rottnest attract scientists and recreational divers and snorkellers from al over the globe.
Around 20 species of coral and 360 species of fish live in the reefs and warm waters around Rottnest drawn to this area by the Leeuwin Current.
Rotto is also popular with surfers and body boarders that flock to Strickland, Salmon and Stark Bays for some of the best conditions in Western Australia.
Rottnest is an anglers paradise; hundreds of boats frequent the lively waters for a variety of reef, sea grass and migratory species. Jewfish and King Wrasse are caught amongst the reefs; Cobblers and long-headed Flatheads live in the sea grass and migratory fish like herring, tailor, whiting and skippy can be caught in the open waters or off the beach.
There are a number of historical attractions on Rottnest that offer a link to the islands diverse past as an Aboriginal penal colony, military installation, salt processing site and government holiday destination.
The Rottnest Museum traces its cultural and natural history from the first Dutch visits through to the present.
Take a trip up to Oliver Hill on the railway that once hauled guns and ammunition fro the Army.
The many old holiday homes and chalets still stand and peacocks and pheasants peck around their outsides, adding to the nostalgic charm of Rottnest Island.