Rottnest Island (with Quokkas!)


Last Updated on May 15, 2021 by Amy

Public Transport to Rottnest

There are several ferry services to get to Rottnest.  We would have liked to book a ferry + bike combo, but they were sold out already.  I bought us ferry-only tickets for the express ferry, leaving Fremantle B Shed at 10:15 am.   We took the Transperth train from our lovely Airbnb to Fremantle. The ferry was full, but there is a seat for everyone.  The ride was only 45 minutes long.

Bike Rental in Rottnest

Rottnest is pretty similar to the Waiheke Island in New Zealand that we visited last year.  In Waiheke, we didn’t rent bikes, but I had wished we had.  This time, we were prepared.

We got to Rottnest and immediately went to Pedal and Flipper to pick up our bikes.  I had made a reservation online, and it was a good thing I did.  We were able to cut the queue.  While we were testing out our bikes, one of the staff told the people in line that they only had enough bikes to get to about this spot in the line.  Even with a reservation, they were out of bike locks and helmets were slim pickings.

Our Bike Route

I would have liked to get out to Cathedral Rocks at the far end of the island to see the seals, but it turns out my butt was not up for that distance of cycling.  As it was, we did a loop along the south coast, up to Wadjemup Lighthouse, and back into town with an out and back to the Bathurst Lighthouse.  There are a lot of hills, particularly on the side road to Wadjemup.  Often we saw people getting off their bikes and walking it up.  I finally gave it at Wadjemup and walked my bike a bit (because oh the burn!).

The South Coast

It was a lovely and very scenic ride.  Biking enables you to stop where ever you want, not just at the bus stops (of which there were only a few).

Salmon Bay.
Porpoise Bay. Ok, I could definitely picture Starry Horizons anchored here.

Wadjemup Lighthouse

Wadjemup Lighthouse is the first lighthouse on Rottnest Island.  It was completed in 1849.  There is a tour of the lighthouse (for $8 per person) which we opted not to do.  Instead, we found great humor in a plaque that read:

“Rottnest Island has been the brick on the doorstep of Fremantle which trips up any drunken or unwary captain.”

All About the Quokkas

While Rottnest Island is beautiful and well worth a visit, it just wouldn’t be the same without seeing a quokka, or two, or dozens.  Quokkas are a small marsupial, about the size of a housecat.  While they live elsewhere in WA, they a most famously inhabitants of Rottnest Island.

Our first encounter with a quokka I learned something valuable; they have a good sense of smell.  I had our lunches in my backpack and when I squatted down, taking pictures, the quokkas could smell it.  Basically, they tried to climb up me or onto my backpack, looking for food.

We did NOT feed the quokkas, with the exception of one quokka who was willing to eat leaves when I picked and offered them.

Don’t think that the quokka can’t get into your backpack;  their noses are pretty small and can wiggle their way in.  I spent most of my time with the quokkas trying to take a picture with them while simultaneously trying to keep them out of my backpack.

shhh…he’s sleeping.
Hey! Out of my backpack!
Amy getting a kiss from a quokka!
A kiss from a quokka!

We should have packed

…a bathing suit!  Some of these beaches were so beautiful, we really didn’t expect it.  Also, snorkel gear would have been great, particularly at Henrietta Rocks, where there is a sunken vessel to snorkel.

a shipwreck poking out of the water at Henrietta rocks, Rottnest Island.
Swimmers at Henrietta Rocks.

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  1. Great post & advise re the bikes. And I love your photos of the Quokkas! I went a few years ago & really enjoyed Rottnest – well worth the visit but don’t think you could make the most of it if you missed out on the bikes! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Never heard of quokkas or Rottnest Island! The quokkas are adorable and Rottnest Island is so scenic. Biking sounds like a great way to see the island.

  3. We took the kids to Rottnest Island a few years ago and rode bikes around to all the different beaches at the back of the island. we loved how friendly the quokkas are and the kids had lots of fun with them.

  4. Great to know you get to see quokkas so closely . I am very much in to getting to know animals closely in the wild 🙂
    This looks amazing !

    Now I know where to go to see quokkas !

  5. I heard about Rottnest Island when I was a child growing up in Australia but I never knew much about it. It sounds and looks like such a lovely place to visit, I just love that you got so up close and personal with the Quokkas they are just way too cute.

  6. Sounds like a fun trip! Especially with seeing those cute little quokkas. But Dang! I could never do that much biking in one day!

  7. Great info! I have been wanting to go to Rottnest when we finally make our way to west coast. Great tip about booking your bicycles in advance! Wouldn’t want to walk all this way! And yes, definitely will bring a bathing suit, the water looks so initing. Glad you didn’t feed the quokkas! Being responsible when it comes to animals is important.

  8. The island looks pretty amazing. I love the lighthouse. I don’t know that I could have biked so much and I’m sure I would be one of those walking his bike up the hills. The quokka are adorable, although we’ll heed your warning that they can smell well and are unafraid of hoping into a backpack.

  9. I have never heard of this island and now I want to get out there and cycle around the place. I cant believe you got that close to the wildlife as well! Western Australia…here I come (very soon I hope)

  10. I have never heard of a Quokka! But now you have me wanting to go play with these adorable animals now! And I might just want one as a pet too! LOL! They are SOO cute! Your photos of this area are gorgeous!! That water! Will definitely have to put this on my list for my Australia/NZ trip!

  11. oh. my. goodness.
    I so have to add this to my Australia bucket list now! (pinning it, btw)
    I’d probably cry tears of joy if I got to touch a quokka. So cute!

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