Believed to have separated from the mainland around 7,000 years ago, Rottnest Island is home to a stunning shoreline, curious wildlife and around 140 native plant species. Consisting of six main habitats including coastal, brackish swamps, salt lakes, heath, woodlands and settled areas, the Island covers an area of 19 square kilometres. With so much to see, the best way to get around is on one of the numerous buses that transport visitors to all the main sights.
Crystal clear waters of Rottnest Island, Western Australia by Kate Sharpe
Traverse the Island in air-conditioned comfort, stopping at all the major highlights, from Henrietta Rocks to Wadjemup Lighthouse and an incredible lookout over the rugged Cathedral Rocks.
More than just a picturesque bay offering panoramic views of the Island, Henrietta Rocks is the location of the shipwreck, ‘The Shark’ that rests a mere 50 metres offshore. A popular place for snorkelling due to the abundance of marine life that explore the wreck, from the viewpoint you can also spot Parker Point and Dyer Island.
The shipwreck of ‘The Shark’ in the waters of Henrietta Rocks, Rottnest Island, Western Australia by Rottnest Island Authority
Originally built in 1849 at a height of 20 metres, Wadjemup Lighthouse was the first lighthouse built of stone in Western Australia. The lighthouse was later reconstructed to a height of approximately 38 metres in 1896 to become the fourth tallest in Western Australia. While you cannot enter the lighthouse, the views surrounding it are spectacular and you may even see the city of Perth on a clear day. You can take a self-guided tour of the nearby buildings including the Battery Observation Post, Signal Station and the Women's Royal Australian Navy Service.
Wadjemup Lighthouse, Rottnest Island, Western Australia by Tourism Western Australia
Oliver Hill Gun Fortification and Tunnels
Not far from the centre of Rottnest Island, Oliver Hill holds military remnants from World War II. The heritage site offers two restored 9.2 inch naval guns, a maze of underground tunnels and breathtaking views of the Island. Taking a guided tour of this significant site, you’ll learn the important role it played defending Australia’s major ports from being overridden by warships during WWII.
H1 Gun at Oliver Hill on Rottnest Island, Western Australia by Rottnest Island Authority
Tunnels at Oliver Hill on Rottnest Island, Western Australia by Rottnest Island Authority
Cathedral Rocks & Cape Vlamingh
Just a few minutes’ walk apart, these two sites are renowned for offering fantastic views of the ocean and a variety of sea and plant life. From the purpose-built viewing platform at Cathedral Rocks, you will discover a colony of active New Zealand seals. Watch these playful creatures as they swim about, looking like a fun yoga class as they thermoregulate their body temperature by alternating their fore and hind flippers in and out of the water.
Aerial view of the Cathedral Rocks, Rottnest Island, Western Australia by Tourism Western Australia
New Zealand Fur Seals near Cathedral Rocks, Rottnest Island, Western Australia by Tourism Western Australia
Taking the Cape Vlamingh Heritage Trail at West End you will reach the western most point, with no landmass existing between this point and Madagascar some 6,436 kilometres away. Here, you will unearth contrasting floral landscape from the eastern end of the Island. Keep your eyes peeled for wedge-tailed shearwaters and fairy terns flying around, quokkas scurrying at your feet and bottle-nosed dolphins surfing the waters below.
Aerial view of Rottnest Island, Western Australia by Tourism Western Australia
Curious quokka on Rottnest Island, Western Australia by
If you are lucky enough to make your way out West, you definitely need to include this fascinating, breathtaking Island in your itinerary.