A day at Rottnest Island (AKA the land of smiling quokkas)

Whenever someone asks me “Why Perth?” instead of the major east coast cities (Melbourne, Sydney, Cairns, etc…) I tell them about Rottnest Island. When moving to Australia on a Working Holiday was still just a little idea rolling around in my brain (an idea I never actually thought would come to fruition), I saw a video on Facebook of these adorable little brown, smiling creatures called quokkas. Immediately, I was fixated and knew I had to see them, even if they lived 11,271 miles (18,139 km) from home in Atlanta, Ga.

Quokkas in action

Well guess what? Yesterday I met dozens! My friend Marina and I spent the day biking around untouched Rottnest that’s surrounded by the vibrant turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. I could not believe such a picturesque place actually existed.

After eating breakfast at our hostel, we grabbed an Uber to the Perth rail station, bought tickets, and hopped on the Fremantle line. The trip lasted 30-45 minutes but the ride was so scenic, time flew by. Once we got to Fremantle, we got pastries to take to the island and boarded the Sealink Ferry to Rottnest. In total, the trip cost about $100 (Ferry: $49 Bike rental: $30 Snorkel Gear: $10, Perth to Fremantle: $10ish). Pretty soon, the dunes of Rottnest came into view and we deboarded onto the island.

Approaching Rottnest

Rottnest reminded me a little bit of Jekyll Island back home in Georgia, which is another small island protected from overdevelopment. Rottnest has a population of 334 people and there are no high-rises or cars (the only exceptions being the occasional tour bus or emergency/service vehicles). It’s still unbelievably quiet and serene despite all of the hype online about it.

Our first stop on our bike tour was Bickley Bay, we were so excited to finally see the bright blue waters surrounding Rottnest! After that, we headed to Henrietta Rocks, perhaps my favorite beach. Perching on the rocks and looking into the Indian Ocean is an incredible feeling (and perfect photo op).

Henrietta Rocks

At Rottnest, you can either rent a bike or ride a bus to get around the 7.3 square mile island. While it doesn’t sound like much, and a beachy bike ride may sound like fun, the island is VERY, VERY hilly, and if you plan to make any stops at the pristine beaches or for quokka selfies, you won’t be able to bike around the island in a day (we had about 7.5 hours on the island). Also, If you’re thinking of going, bring LOTS of water, there are 3 water fountains on the entire island, and they’re all in the same area by the ferry. We realized we were getting dehydrated and low on water while we were at Henrietta Rocks, only to look at the map and see that the closest water fountains were on the opposite side of the island.

We decided to ditch our plan of circling the entire island and biked our way across the middle, past Pink Lake (which wasn’t actually pink). Although it was unplanned and we were a little disappointed to skip some of the 63 beaches on the island, we were rewarded by meeting a group of 5 quokkas that were happy to take selfies and beautiful landscapes that were off the beaten path. Sometimes, when things don’t go according to the plan, it’s actually a blessing in disguise (the blessing in this case being a quokka squad).

My new friends and I

Rottnest Island is one of those places where words and photos just can’t do it full justice. You’ll just have to go experience it for yourself! In the meantime, enjoy the photos below ☺️

Until next time,

Christina πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί