~ A Jewel in the Ocean, Rottnest Island, WA ~

Making the most of our time with Laurence and Maddy, we all decided to have a day trip to Rottnest Island. I had not been to Rottnest for over 15 years and it was a high time for a visit. We were booked for the 8 am ferry and they all wanted to hire bikes. Rottnest has a no car policy, navigating the island is by bike or on the island bus. I declined the bike riding, can’t remember the last time I was on a bike, and did not want to chance any mishaps before my trip to the UK!

A map of Rottnest Island, the ferries dock at Thomson Bay. Some of the beaches and also the shopping area are within walking distance.

The ferry is around a 30 minute ride over and can at times be quite bumpy. As there were no online bookings for bikes left just walk-ins, Laurence and Maddy headed off super quick to get in line. They were successful.

After hiring the bikes we headed into the main settlement to have breakfast and decide on the day’s itinerary.

Two very happy munchkins in their wagon

We went to The Basin as our first stop, a few minutes ride and a ten minute walk for me. By the time we arrived around 10.30 am it was pretty packed. A spot near the water was found and it wasn’t long before we were all in. The water is very shallow and you have to walk across rocks and seaweed to reach the deeper parts. I attempted this but then realised I wouldn’t be able to haul myself out onto the rock again! What a waste of effort.

The Basin

The water is crystal clear and various shades of turquoise

We parted ways after this and agreed to meet back at the pub for lunch around 1.30 pm. I decided I would walk to the next beach and they headed in the other direction to Parakeet Bay. I was wearing my new solar top for swimming as the sun is so strong here.

Pinky’s Beach

This was a much better swimming beach and I was able to swim without my feet touching the sand, also no rocks. I had a glorious swim here, but wanted to see more of the island so thought I should get a move on.

There aren’t too many affordable places to stay on this island so most people come for the day. There is a very expensive hotel called The Samphire. In the high season it’s around AU $800 per night. Other options are glamping, also expensive, camping and cabins. For people who have their own boats, it’s a wonderful place to anchor for the day.

About Rottnest Island

The island is a Class A Reserve, home to the Quokka. These small marsupials roam freely around and are very tame. There are notices everywhere not to feed them, they can be found around the bins and under tables in the cafes! You can pet them although there are warnings not to go too near, it is hard to resist though.

As you can imagine Lachie and Rosie were beside themselves looking for them. Not just the kids though, I saw many people in the strangest poses, lying on their backs to get selfies with them.

Rottnest has a very shameful past and was originally called Wadjemup, meaning place across the water where the spirits are”, and belonged to the Noongar People. From 1838 until the 1930s it served as an annex of Fremantle Prison. It was used to incarcerate thousands of Indigenous men and boys from the ages of 8 to 70, often for minor offences such as stealing food. The name Rottnest came from the Dutch invaders in the 1600’s who thought the quokkas were rats and called it Rat Nest Island.

My husband’s family has connections to Rottnest, with one of Anthony’s Great Uncles (times 3 or 4) being the second Governor of Western Australia from 1839 to 1846. By the time he was Governor things between the indigenous people and the settlers had deteriorated very badly, with extremely harsh punishment meted out by the previous Governor. John Hutt implemented a policy of protecting the rights of Aborigines, and educating them where possible.

Most places in Australia have a dark history I’ve found, after travelling to many of the states.

The top left photo is the Wadjemup Museum for Children. The top right photo is The Chapel, built around 1860, not just a place of worship but a school too. It was constructed by Aboriginal prisoners.
The two bottom photos speak for themselves. I had a wander around but this was the only grave I could read, quite sad.

Salt Lakes

As you can see from the map the island also has many salt lakes dotted around. This one was called Garden Lake. There are 12 in total and have four times the amount of salt that is in the ocean. Despite this the plant life continues to thrive.

The church was next on my walk around and I saw that it was open so went in to look at the fabulous stained glass windows.

By now it was time to meet up for lunch. The sun was beating down and I needed to sit after walking so much. I didn’t get to see half the island and definitely making plans to come back.

Photos from Elena of Parakeet Bay.

Our ferry back was leaving at 4 pm, so time for a leisurely lunch, where many cocktails and beers were consumed. My dear son ever the prankster filled an empty beer bottle with sea water and said to Damian I can’t finish this, so Damian said I’ll finish it! Laurence laughed just in time that he didn’t swallow any. Revenge is being planned.

We all had the most wonderful day and I’m so glad I motivated myself to go.

I hope this post “piques your interest” I’ll be linking it to Marsha’s Wednesday Quotes.

I did a fair amount of walking so I will link to Jo’s Monday Walk. As it was an island a link for Jez’s Water Water Everywhere.

☀️ Thanks for reading ☀️


  1. Isn’t it the most beautiful place, Ali? A paradise for kids! And big kids as well. I’ve obviously seen photos of Rottnest before but I very much enjoyed the swim and walk around with you. Thanks so much for the link.

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  2. I’ve heard a little bit about Rottnest Island from a Virtual Tourist friend who visits fairly often, but never seen so many photos of it, especially those beautiful beaches. I can see why it’s such a draw 🙂 A sad history though, as you say, like so many places colonised by Europeans. We have a lot to answer for.

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  3. What a fabulous outing, Ali! I have always wanted to see a Quokka, and it would be hard for me not to pet one if I saw it. The water and the beaches are so beautiful, as is the island itself. Wish I had been walking with you.

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  4. How wonderful! We spent this Tuesday at Rottnest with my daughter and son in law who are visiting from Germany. I love Rottnest, such a beautiful and relaxing place, a real paradise for kids too. I’ve never been inside the church or the cemetery.

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  5. You got my interest piqued by the name of the place, Rottnest! Australia has some of the most “interesting” names on the planet. As it turns out, nothing about this place looks rotten, it’s gorgeous. I loved the rock with the peek hole, and of course, all the adorable grandkids having fun in the sun. Both the water and the sand drew me in, as well. I was more than happy to join in on your virtual walk, but not without feeling a bit envious as we are expecting snow again this weekend! Thanks for linking to WQ this week, Ali.

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  6. Unfortunately, we never managed to visit Rottnest Island, it was interesting reading your account from a visit with your grandchildren, it looked fun and we can’t have enough of that.

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  7. You had a much nicer day for a visit than we did in July when it was pouring rain and freezing cold. We said at the time we would like to go again because we hardly saw anything and this post confirms that opinion. It’s such a beautiful place.

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  8. If I ever manage to get to Australia Rottnest Island is one place I want to go to as I’d love to see some quokkas, I think they are so cute 🙂 I saw Rottnest on a Billy Connolly programme several years ago and got the impression it’s just a small uninhabited place so reading this post has been quite educational.

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