I spent a day on a self-guided biking trip around Rottnest Island, exploring different beaches and viewpoints along the northern coastline, and of course; looking out for the local wildlife! This part of our journey to Australia was a solo trip for me, and here is my review and recommendations. Enjoy!
The place, the legend and the myth
Rottnest was named after a Dutch explorer visited the island and met the cutest inhabitants of the island; the Quokka.
Somehow these creatures reminded him of rats, and due to their abundance on the island he named the place ‘rottenest’ or now Rottnest, after ‘rats nest’.
How to get to Rottnest Island from Perth
Visiting Rottnest Island is possible by ferry from either Perth or the coastal town Freemantle. Ferries frequent the islands with several departures daily, and some shuttles are longer due to either being a ‘cruise style’ introduction to the area; others are faster and sail non stop from Freemantle to Rottnest.
I departed from the pier at Barrack Street Jetty close to Elizabeth Quay station in Perth at 8:30. The catamaran by Sealink was due to arrive at Rottnest by 10:15 and the journey with a slow, guided cruise along the river before picking up further passengers at Freemantle ferry terminal.
Picking the right ferry company for my trip
I chose Sealink because their website was much more user friendly than Rottnest Express, and I found that Sealink was a bit cheaper. I think that the crew onboard was super professional and there was a little café with drinks and some snacks. On the journey out I sat upstairs in the fresh air but sheltered from the winds, knowing that I usually get cold easily out at sea. On the way back the wind and waves had picked up quite a bit, and I sat downstairs to relax as much as possible and be closer to the bathroom.. Which was not needed, fortunately! 🙂
From Freemantle we crossed for about 45 minutes to reach the port at Rottnest Island. From here the other ferry company (and competition) Rottnest Island Express had already arrived by their early departure, and their guests were setting off on the ferry company’s own red rental bikes.. FOMO instantly set inside me, as my time on the island was limited!
Getting to the bike rental company – where’s my bike?!
The downside to traveling with Sealink (and being on a tight time schedule) was that I had to first locate the rental bike shop ‘Pedal and Flipper’ (thanks Google Maps!) and then wait my turn to have my bike. I had pre-ordered my bike online – but so had everyone else!
The crew at Pedal and Flipper were helpful and guided me to my bike, but being an experienced Danish bike rider, I already had in mind what bike I would need.
It is really important you pick a bike that is comfortable for you. The island feels safe to bike around, and there were no cars except for the shuttle busses and tons of other tourists on bikes.
I was surprised by the ruggedness of Rottnest Island, be prepared to get some exercise! The gear on my bike was a bit weird, but it did the job. The bike felt sporty enough and I was able to move swiftly around the island, up and down all the hills.
In case of a puncture or other issues with the bike there was a phone number to call for assistance on both the helmet and on the bike. Luckily, this was not needed.
Lets hit the road!
It took me rouhgly 40 minutes before I had collected my bike (and helmet!), bought lunch at the bakery and within the first hour I had already been introduced to the local celebrities; the Quokkas!
I almost couldn’t believe my eyes; the Quokkas were crawling around our feet, searching for scraps of food and looking super scruffy.
After being satisfied with seeing these little beings, and equipped with a map, helmet, my camelbak full of water, sun screen and hat; I headed north past the golf course to Bathurst Lighthouse in search of the Rock parrot.
The Rock parrot is restricted to coastal habitats in Southwestern Australia. The population had diminished on Rottnest Island and it was a difficult task to look for it single-handedly. I regret not putting more effort into locating them on the island, but I was more determined to make it all the way to the western point to Cape Vlamingh.
Which bike route or path to choose for a day trip
I chose to follow the suggested bike ride 3 (see above map) in order to see many small beaches along the coast and end up at the western most tip. But instead of going south around the island I thought it be safe I took the same way back in order to make it to the ferry.. otherwise it would have been expensive!
On my way I took a short peek at The Basin, Geordie Bay, Parakeet Bay, and the lakes Baghdad and Herschel. I decided that on the way back to town I would go for a swim at Parakeet Bay. But it was not an easy choice, there were many places to choose from!
I continued to Little Armstrong Bay, and then I pedaled non-stop until I came across this gorgeous spot called Eagle Bay, where I decided to have my lunch.
At Eagle Bay beach, I was delighted to watch an osprey foraging in the shallow waters before me, while I sat on this beautiful white beach with piercing blue waters. The place was so quiet and unspoiled that it could be called paradise!
Unfortunately my moment was ruined by a pair of other beach-goers. Some dude had brought his drone (fine enough, I have tried to learn and live with those things now), but he was determined to harass the osprey and distract it from its foraging behavior, until the Osprey gave up and flew elsewhere. Idiot.
If you can’t respect wildlife, you should not be allowed to use the drone in the wild.
Cape Vlamingh and the Fur seals
When I had finally conquered all the hills, the loops and my fitness challenged, I reached my goal: Cape Vlamingh.
Before the actual Cape I went wildlife spotting at the Cathedral Rocks Viewing Platform, from where you may spot the fur seals. Here there are viewing scopes you can try to look through (they did give me a googly eyes feel), and see if you can find the fur seals.
When I parked my bike I was happily told that the seals had just been spotted. When I looked through my binoculars I was thrilled to see the fur seals swimming around in the ocean. One was just hanging out on the rocks (see the next photo). After enjoying the seals and the views from the platform, I continued to the cape.
For an extra bonus at the viewing platform, there are public bathrooms and a small café (Lexi’s On Rotto) offering cool drinks and snacks.
The view from Cape Vlamingh was stunning. Park your bike as close as you can, and enjoy the walk out to the cape. Make sure you walk all the way, it is absolutely worth it – but it is super windy out there, so be prepared!
When I was finished watching the views and the old osprey nest situated there, it was time to get back on the bike and head back.
Thankfully, the way back to the main town seemed faster – especially when you know what is to come.
After sweating all day I rewarded myself with a swim at the small and lovely Parakeet Bay Beach. Make sure not to swim alone, as the waves and current can be strong! This goes for any beach in the World.
Generel impressions – my take on the island experience
To me it was a wonderful experience to visit Rottnest Island. I was lucky with the sunny weather and mild winds while I was biking around. The island was clean, there are several water outposts to refill your bottle, and there are several ways of getting around the island (bus, bike). Biking around was fun, but be prepared for the hills.
The ferry ticket is not the cheapest, and unless you haven’t had any good beach experiences in Western Australia, a one-day visit to Rottnest Island may just be enough for you. Otherwise looking into cheap accommodation, perhaps camping or simple studios. It also seemed quite popular for local Aussies to go there on weekends and holidays.
All in all; big recommendations from me 🙂
To see my ebird checklist from the day, follow this link
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