Rottnest Island is known to local Aboriginal people as Wadjemup or ‘Place across the water’, though is commonly referred to nowadays as simply “Rotto”. The island lies about 18km off the coast of Perth, taking around 30 minutes by ferry or fast boat, or 90 minutes by catamaran.
Rottnest Island is a popular playground for Perth families, tourists, the boating community, surfers, divers, marine biologists and holiday-makers. It is protected marine park, governed by the Rottnest Island Authority (RIA), who work hard to ensure the safe and continued preservation of the island for many generations to come.
Natural attractions include spectacular limestone cliff beaches, turquoise bays, squeaky white sand, amazing wildlife and an abundance of marine life. Notably, the ‘Quokka’ recently landed Rottnest and Western Australia on the global map thanks to Roger Federer and his famous ‘Quokka selfie’, which he posted in Dec 2017. It’s a craze that has continued to grow with literally thousands of Instagram posts now quoting the famous #quokkaselfie hashtag!
Read on below to find answers to common questions about Rottnest Island
It was first known as an island of spirits by the Noongar people who viewed it from the mainland. Artefacts dated at over 20,000 years old have been exposed on the island indicating Aboriginal occupation prior to the island’s separation from the mainland.
The most recent sea level rises between 10,000-6,500 years ago led to the island being separated from the mainland. During this time the local Aboriginal people whom were not sea-faring did not traditionally inhabit the island.
The island took on a new and tragic meaning for Aboriginal Australians from the mid-19th century to the 1930s when the island was used as a prison for around 4000 aboriginal men from all over Western Australia. It is estimated that around 10% of these prisoners remain buried on the island and of those that survived, most never made it home. Researchers estimate that every West Australian Aboriginal person alive today has an ancestor that was imprisoned on Rottnest Island.
Commonly Asked Questions About Rottnest Island
What’s on Rottnest Island?
Rottnest Island is predominantly a nation park with minimal inhabitation. A small village containing a few cafes, a bakery, general store, pub and a bike/snorkel hire shop. There are lots of walking and cycle tracks and villa style accommodation as well as ablution blocks for the large number of boaties who like to anchor in many of Rottnest’s bays. There are no cars on Rottnest Island, only service vehicles.
How big is Rottnest Island?
How many quokka’s are there on Rottnest Island?
According to Wikipedia, the quokka population is 8,000 – 12,000. Snakes are the quokka’s only predator on the island
How long does is take to get to Rottnest Island?
About 30 minutes by ferry or fast boat, or a 90 minute sail by catamaran
Can you stay on Rottnest Island?
The RIA provides long term accommodation for island staff and a manages a large number of short term accommodation options including camping, villas and backpacker accommodation. These tend to book out 1-2 years in advance for summer and school holiday periods. Live-aboard accommodation via Luxury Catamaran is possible year-round via Charter 1.
How do you get around Rottnest Island?
There is a walking/cycling track that goes right around the island. There is also a regular bus services that travels between the main village square and around to the islands key bays and places of accommodation.
How long should you spend at Rottnest?
That depends on what you want to do! We suggest at least a full day is needed to fully appreciate what the island has to offer, have a bit of a snorkel or a bike ride, and grab your ‘Quokka selfie’. However that would really only be scratching the surface. 5-7 days is a better amount of time which would allow you time to explore and experience all that the island has to offer both on land and in the water. There are so many beautiful bays and beaches worth visiting. These are often best accessed by boat but can be accessed via foot also.
Does Charter 1 go to Rottnest Island?
Absolutely! Capella can practically sail herself there she’s been coming for that long! We know the island and it’s bays like nobody else and enjoy taking people out here to see and experience what we think are some of the best things to do on the island (hint: they aren’t on the island but in the water!). Day Tours, Twilight Sails, School Snorkel Excursions, Private Charters, Surf Tours, Weekenders, Luxury Escapes – there’s nothing we can’t do.
Birthday Sail on Capella Last month my family and I spent 3 nights sailing on Capella for my birthday. What a great way to celebrate! Through their local knowledge Erin and Jules took us to some beautiful spots for snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding and sunsets. We were able to explore remote beaches that we couldn't have gotten to without a boat, which made it that extra special for us.
The accommodation on Capella was very comfortable and spacious and suited us and our two young kids perfectly.
This sailing trip was an amazing experience for all of us and also such a special birthday for me. I was so happy that we as a family could spend that time together and all have such a great time. We were able to do activities that the whole family enjoyed and Jules and Erin made it so easy for the kids on board. There was plenty of things for them on and off the boat to explore and learn about. They really took the time to make it a special experience for the kids too. It was definitely the best birthday celebration I've ever had and such a memorable experience for our whole family. We would highly recommend a sailing trip on Capella, we will be back!Mac F5/31/2018
Incredibly Happy! Our company, Moana Bikini, undertook a live-aboard adventure on Capella for five nights around Rottnest Island to shoot our upcoming Campaign.
From the moment we met the crew until the moment we stepped off six days later, we were incredibly well-looked after, amazingly well-fed and shown incredible sights.
Our large team of 8 (for a live-aboard) were incredibly comfortable on-board for the five nights and the Capella Crew were really warm, enthusiastic and accommodating.
Because were were there for a photoshoot and had a specific job to complete, we were a little different to a standard charter, but the crew truly showcased their intimate knowledge of Rottnest Island, taking us to amazing locations with beautiful scenery and avoiding any crowds.
We were incredibly happy with our trip and are looking forward to getting back over to Rottnest with Charter1 again in the future!Ryan JonesMoana Bikini8/24/2019
GREAT DAY! We had THE BEST time on this boat on an afternoon sail between Fremantle and Rottnest. The captain and crew were amazing! There was plenty of room, the boat and bathrooms were all in good shape. We paddle boarded at Rottnest and they had plenty of snorkeling gear on deck. Luck swam my camera to me while on the island and found quokka for us to take pictures with! This was a highlight of the trip for us!Claire B3/02/2018