According to its own website, Rottnest Island was voted as “Australia’s top destination to visit in 2014” which I found quite frankly astonishing when you consider all that Australia has to offer. However, dig a little deeper and you find that this is actually a Western Australian award; dig a little deeper still and you realize that the (decidedly underwhelming) Perth Bell Tower is at number 3.
Why the introduction. Well, for anyone who is relatively well travelled including in Australia will find that the Island is a little underwhelming.
Located about 20 km off the coast of Western Australia take the 45 minute (expensive for what it is) ferry from Fremantle or Sorrento, the Island apparently has around 500,000 visitors a year and is famous for having a number of very pretty swimmable bays and of being the home of the (large rat like – less kangaroo like, Quokka). There is no traffic on the Island other than service vehicles although given its around 10km end to end it relatively easy to cycle in a few hours (depending on the amount of time spent on viewing stop offs – of which there are many).
A few handy tips for cyclists, firstly, for novices the route around the Island is relatively hilly and the East-West route is pretty windy due to the prevailing wind. The inland itself is relatively dull and the scenery is a rather uninspiring mix of beach hinterland. In addition, the inland salt lakes lack the scenic beauty of the surrounding coastline.
Nevertheless, the coastline is spectacular and there are miles and miles of bays which are suitable for snorkeling, swimming or simply lazing about on the white, clean sand. Find your own bay (the place is not crowded at all) and settle in for the day.
The really disappointing thing about Rottnest is the facilities or rather scruffy nature of what’s there. Mostly a day destination there are a number of holiday chalets which appear to be akin to a very poor man’s version of Club Med. In addition, the day facilities (eating, bars etc) are badly in need of some modernization.
So as a day out its worth going but only for the beaches and take you own bike if possible as the hire versions are decrepit with probably the least comfortable saddles this side of a bucking bronco!