8 reasons I love Rottnest: Perth’s best nearcation

I’m taking part in The Lost Backpack’s Blog Carnival today, and it’s all about Nearcations – a holiday which doesn’t take you too far from home, but still feels like a great getaway. Regular readers will know that I have raved about Rottnest Island a time or two before, and no wonder because it fits this whole “nearcation” idea so perfectly. But let me summarise it for you, in case you need convincing – “Rotto” is amazing for all of these reasons (and more):

  1. It’s only an hour away from Perth, but it feels nothing like being in the city. Whether you take the ferry from Hillarys in the north or Fremantle in the south, it’s a quick hop across the Indian Ocean and on a (rare) cloudy day, you might not even be able to see Perth back across the water.
  2. Quokkas. Apparently these animals can also be found in a few spots on the mainland but I’ve never seen them anywhere but Rottnest. They’re a marsupial which looks like a cross between a rat and a kangaroo. They’re meant to be nocturnal but even during the day you can see plenty of them.


  3. There are almost no cars on Rottnest Island – just a few vehicles related to the shops and accommodation, and the shuttle bus, but that’s it. Rotto is all about bicycles and it’s one of those rare places where you can ride your bike happily down the middle of the road and not stress about a heap of cars coming along.
  4. The beaches of Rottnest are plentiful and amazingly white. Rotto is a long skinny island, about 11 kilometres (almost 7 miles) long, and the entire coastline is formed from perfect beaches. If you ride your bike to the far end from the main settlement then it’s really easy to find a beach just for you.

    Relaxing at Rottnest. Hi, gull!
  5. Rottnest has an interesting history – from long-ago Aboriginal inhabitants (they stopped living there about 7,000 years ago when the sea rose enough to completely separate it from the mainland) through the colonisation era (Dutch saw it first, and the quokkas which they thought were rats) and then during World War Two when Oliver Hill had guns installed to be a defence point before ships reached the mainland. There’s a great volunteer guide programme which means you can learn all about these different aspects of the island from some really passionate experts.
  6. The beachside accommodation at Rottnest – simple houses – are perfect. People sometimes complain they’re old and need more renovations and mod-cons, but that’s not why you go to Rottnest. It’s a place where you can feel like you’re sleeping in a shack (they’re much better than shacks though) and spending your day at the beach.
  7. Swimming and snorkelling (and, although I don’t do it so have only heard from others, diving) are excellent at Rottnest. The water is so clear and inviting and it’s a place I’ll swim even on the fringe of summer, when I know the water won’t be quite as warm as I’d like it, just because it looks so lovely.
  8. Last, and possibly also least, a little known fact that I just discovered on Wikipedia: if you dug through to the other side of the earth from Rottnest, you’d end up in Bermuda!  Cool or what??

There’s one drawback to Rottnest: it’s only a “nearcation” if you happen to live in Perth, the most isolated city in the world! I’m guessing that’s one of the reasons it hasn’t been completely overrun by foreign tourists – its major focus, especially for those who spend a few days or a week there, is on local holidaymakers – and I like it that way.

Now, if you’ve enjoyed my nearcation post, you might want to check some of the other bloggers taking part in this carnival – their nearcation suggestions are scattered across the world so there may be one near you.

Click on over and discover some great travel blogs you may not have seen along with some interesting destination tips, too.


  1. Thank you for a lovely post. I absolutely love the Quokkas picture!

  2. What an interesting post about Rottnest. I visited when we’d first arrived in Australia in 2009 on a very hot day. We cycled all around the island and saw Quokkas (so cute – loved your photo of them), and I’d love to go back again.

    • Cycling all round Rotto is gorgeous, though on a very hot day it’s probably a bit exhausting – yes, you should definitely go again. It’s definitely a place that can be enjoyed multiple times 🙂

  3. Oh man. Someday….Oz. Great write up!

  4. I liked Rottnest – but I did notice if you were staying a week it was probably cheaper to fly to Bali!

  5. If you’re lucky enough to have a boat or know people who do, one of the best Rotto experiences is to go over by boat and moor in one of the bays. Jumping into the cool, clear water on a hot day and swimming to shore or just around the boats and watching the vacuum cleaners of the sea (sting rays) hoover along the bottom of the water is AMAZING.

    Most of my memories come from my childhood, so they might be dated but I also can’t go past the bakery (apple turnovers!), and cycling around the island. Sometimes you never knew what you’d find around the next corner – including a sub-species of the dugite snake sunning itself on the road!

    • Very good point – I had a childhood friend whose family had a boat and I loved going over with them.

      And on his very first trip there my husband saw a snake (dugite too if I remember rightly) – thereby confirming his fear that there are snakes “everywhere” in Australia.

  6. Emma Anda says

    I am itching to go and jump on a ferry after reading that, lovely to be reminded of beautiful Rotto, thank you! I lived behind the pub for 3 months one Uni summer holiday, working as a kitchenhand, now that was fun! Heaps of childhood holidays too, would like to get over there more than I do, I will take this post as an inspiration. 🙂

  7. Elmer Cruz says

    Rottnest reminds me of North Stradbroke Island in Queensland. So many similarities and I think this is something that is uniquely Australian. I’ve never been to Perth but have heard so much about the place. I am now thinking of including it in my itinerary when I come to Australia again in November. Will be staying in Sydney but you got me at diving in your post!

    It won’t be a nearcation for me but I guess it will be a fantastic experience to add to my travel hit list.


    • Amanda Kendle says

      Ooh in that case I definitely have to check out North Stradbroke Island – I haven’t been to Queensland since I was a kid. Hope you make it to Perth (and “Rotto”!).

  8. It is on my bucket list!
    I have always wanted to get to your side of the world. Maybe when the kids are a bit bigger we will do a long trip.
    Looks relaxing on that beach, and I could totally appreciate your nearcation location.

    • Amanda Kendle says

      I can well understand waiting til your kids are older – it’s such a long, long way from the rest of the world!

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