One of the Perth community's favourite holiday spots, Rottnest (or Rotto to the locals), is a small island located 19 kilometres from Fremantle off the Western Australian coast.
Rottnest has a total land area of 1,900 hectares. It measures 11 kilometres in length, and only 4.5 kilometres at its widest point.
The entire island is a listed Class 'A' Reserve and is managed by the Australian government via the Rottnest Island Authority. As such only government vehicles are permitted on the Island, with visitors exploring the local flora and fauna on bicycles, which can be hired on the Island.
Rottnest is one of only two places in the world you will find a Quokka (a marsupial about the size of a cat), the animal that gave the island its name -- In 1696 Dutch explorer de Vlamingh encountered the Quokka and took it to be "a kind of rat as big as a common cat". On that basis he named the island "Rotte nest" meaning "Rat's Nest", which has since been bastardised into its current name.
As it is an A Class reserve there are only three small settlement areas on the northern tip of the Island, named Thompson Bay, Geordie Bay, and Fayes Bay -- where there are a small number of shops, including a supermarket, a baker, and a roast chicken franchise.
To get there, potential tourists can take a 30min ferry ride from Perth's Barrack Street jetty, Hillaries Boat Harbour, or Fremantle Harbour.
Visitors to the Island can camp (in designated camping areas within the settlement, take a room in the converted prison, or hire one of the many historic holiday cabins (of which Gull is a personal favourite) that earlier formed the housing for the settlement during its days as a penal colony for Aboriginal prisoners or its tenure as the Governor's summer residence. Also, YHA now controls the Kingston Barracks site (the army barracks during WWII) for backpacking guests, and the nearby Governor’s Circle is popular accommodation for school camps.
The popularity of the Island during the Summer school holidays ensures that accommodation is so sparse that you must enrol in a ballot to gain a room (though corruption and family connections are also valid means).
Rottnest is also popular during the annual schoolies celebrations -- much to the chagrin of Island residents (employees) and government officials -- when hordes of underage revellers descend on the Island for a week of drinking and casual sex to celebrate the end of their final year high school exams.
Rottnest was also the outermost defence of Fremantle harbour during WWII, though it has never fired its guns in anger, you can still do tours of the gun batteries ride the recently refurbished supply train.
Not a good spot to visit for those who require much stimulation -- there is no television, no internet, and a movie theatre that runs once a week. For the nature lover there are pristine beaches, a slew of shipwrecks, incredible snorkelling and fishing, and an island of unique flora and fauna to explore. There's also a children's playground with minigolf and a famous pub -- the Quokka Arms to keep yourself amused. For those keen on exercise there's the 20km cycle to West End, and if you're really keen there's even an 18 hole golf course on the island.