Heading to Perth in Western Australia? One of Perth’s popular tours is to visit Rottnest Island from Hillarys Boat Harbour a distance of 29.1 km. If you are staying at Scarborough Beach, Sorrento Beach or at Hillarys this is the best departure point for you.
Rottnest Island Western Australia is 11 km long and 4.5 km at its widest point. Enjoy pristine bays, secluded beaches, coral reefs, crystal clear waters, unique wildlife such as the adorable Quokkas and a semi-arid Mediterranean climate.
Good to know: There is an admission fee of $20 per person which contributes to the conservation of the island.
You can book tickets only from Hillarys to Rottnest Island with Rottnest Fast Ferries – see below or you can book the Bayseeker Tour that we did.
Consider these tips when you visit Rottnest Island to minimise the impact of your visit:
- Carry a reusable water bottle. If you are travelling around the island by bike there will be limited water supplies.
- Take your rubbish home with you to avoid extra pressure on the waste management system
- Do not touch or feed the Quokkas
- Do not bring flora or fauna to the island
- Do not take flora or fauna from the island
- Recycle where you can
- Treat the cultural sites with respect as the island has deep cultural significance for Aboriginal people
- Stay on the island’s cycle paths and walking trails this will help protect the flora and fauna
- There are two snakes on the island – one is a white one known as the Southern Blind Snake and rarely seen the other the Dugite is a brown venomous and potentially lethal snake – it will be more frightened of you than you of it but may attack if ridden over by a bicycle or walked on.
Read our review of our accommodation on Sorrento Beach at Quality Resort Sorrento Beach
How To Get To Rottnest Island from Hillary’s Boat Harbour
Where is Rottnest Island?
Rottnest Island is 29.1 km from Hillary’s Boat Harbour.
Map of Rottnest Island
Hillarys Boat Harbour to Rottnest Island Tickets – 40 minutes travelling time with Rottnest Fast Ferries
Rottnest Island History
Rottnest Island became separated from the coastline of Western Australia over 7,000 years ago during the ice age when sea levels rose. The Aboriginal name for Rottnest is Wadjemup which means place across the water where the spirits are. The traditional owners of Rottnest Island are the Whadjuk Noongar people. When the island became separated from the mainland there is no evidence to suggest that the Whadjuk people stayed on Wadjemup but it remained a significant cultural place for them.
“Today, the Island is known by Whadjuk people as the resting place of the spirits. The Island is considered to be a place of transition between the physical and spiritual world and the spirit of the deceased is believed to travel to Wadjemup during its journey towards to the afterlife. When the spirit is ready to leave the physical world it moves to the west end of the Island, where the whale takes the spirit on to its final resting place known as Kooranup, located on the horizon in the deep ocean west of the Island. From this traditional cultural context Whadjuk people consider the Island to be a spiritual paradise.” Source: Rottnest Island
In 1696 Willem de Vlamingh, a Dutch Sea Captain charted the Western Coast of Australia, and called it “Eylandt ‘t Rottenest” (Rat’s Nest Island) after seeing the Quokkas.
From 1829 the island was used for agricultural, fishing and salt harvesting purposes by British settlers till 1838.
From 1838 to 1931 the island was used as a prison and a labour camp for 3,600 Aboriginals. The Aboriginals were used to construct the buildings around The Settlement under the supervision of Henry Vincent.
There is an Aboriginal burial ground located near the Quod in the settlement of Thomson Bay. It has been said by a number of Aboriginals that have visited the site that they can hear the cries of those buried there.
Our Review of How To Visit Rottnest Island on A Day Trip from Hillary’s Boat Harbour
We visited Rottnest Island as part of the Bayseeker Island Tour which included the day return ferry from Hillarys and a 1.5 hour guided bus tour.
Departure from Hillarys at 10.00 am in the very comfortable Rottnest Fast Ferries. The boarding time is from 9.30 am.
Currently, due to Covid, masks are required to wear as the ferry is considered public transport.
There is a cafe on board.
45 minutes later we were on Rottnest Island and in time to take the 11.00 am Pioneers and Prisoners Free Tour that was departing from the Salt Store just beyond the Visitor Information Centre. We can recommend this tour. Our guide Arlette was very informative and we learnt about the historical buildings around the Settlement and the stories of the people who lived within them.
For those who are wanting to see the Quokkas – you can see them all around the restaurants at The Settlement.
The tour lasted about an hour finishing close to the Museum near the bus stop. The entrance fee to the Museum is a gold coin and it is also well worth a visit.
The Bayseeker Island bus tour was departing from the main bus stop at 1.45 pm. We had time to wander around the buildings close by and to pick up some lunch from the Bakery.
The tour included learning about the bays of the island, shipwrecks, stories of sailing adventures that had gone wrong, stunning scenery and we even got to see an Osprey in its nest and Hump Back Whales. We could not access the Wadjemup Lighthouse due to road closures. There are over 14 Osprey nests on the island and some are at least 70 years of age.
Arriving back at the bus stop at 3.30 gave us time to have a quick happy hour drink at Frankie’s on Rotto before catching the 4.30 ferry back to Hillarys.
Our opinion: The Bayseeker Island Tour covered a lot of the island’s geography and we are glad that we also took the free tour which gave us the history. There are so many other tours available on the island that you could do but you would need to stay a night or two. It was a very smooth ride with Rottnest Fast Ferries and the staff were efficient and helpful. We would certainly travel with them but would stay a night or two.
We hope you have enjoyed our Day Trip to Rottnest Island with Rottnest Fast Ferries on the Bayseeker Tour. You can book the tour here.
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