The traditional owners of Rottnest Island are the Whadjuk Noongar people. The name for Rottnest Island in the Noongar language is Wadjemup, which means ‘place across the water where the spirits are’. 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 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 Koorinup, located on the western horizon in the deep ocean west of the Island.
2. It’s made up of a variety of unique habitats
Rottnest Island is made up of six major habitats – coastal, salt lakes, woodlands, brackish swamps, heath and settled areas. These, plus 63 beaches, 20 bays and various snorkelling sites make for a pretty diverse and naturally breath-taking experience!
3. It’s home to two lighthouses
Rottnest Island is home to not one, but two lighthouses. Bathurst Lighthouse is located on Bathurst Point, on the north of the Island, and first shone in 1900. The lighthouse was erected in response to a series of shipping disasters in the area, which included the loss of the City of York in 1899. It serves as the rear light in the pair of Kingston Reef’s leading lights, which guide ships departing from Fremantle through the reefs near the Island. Its light is characterised by a group of four flashes that occurs every sixteen seconds.
Wadjemup Lighthouse, in the centre of the Island, was completed in 1849 and the original 20-metre structure was Western Australia’s first stone lighthouse. It was built to provide a safer sailing passage for ships to Fremantle Port and the Swan River Colony. A second and larger replacement tower was built on the same site in 1896. It is the fourth oldest remaining lighthouse in Western Australia and was Australia’s first rotating beam lighthouse.
4. It’s where the happiest animal on earth hangs out
The Quokka is the only mammal which is native to Rottnest Island and can be found almost everywhere on the Island. The Island habitat supports the largest known Quokka population and is essential for the survival of species. There are around 10,000-12,000 of these animals living on Rottnest. Though they’re known for their smiles, it’s thought they make this expression to help keep themselves cool, similar to a Dog panting!
A colony of New Zealand fur seals live and play on the rocks at Rottnest Island’s far western end. There are viewing platforms at Cathedral Rocks and Cape Vlamingh where you can see the Seals basking and rolling in the sun or bobbing about in the water.
6. It’s world-famous for snorkeling
If you’re a fan of diving, Rottnest Island is one of the most amazing places in Australia. Slip into your wetsuit and explore the crystal-clear water, more than 400 species of fish (including 135 species of tropical fish),20 types of coral and even a shipwreck! You’ll find healthy corals in shades of purple, pink and brown, meadows of seagrass, schooling butterfly fish, and huge colourful lobsters scuttling past. You can hire dive tanks and wetsuits from Pedal and Flipper.
Rottnest is a popular destination for day-trippers and holiday-makers, with more than half a million people visiting every year. But did you know Rottnest is a permanent home to around 100 people who live on the Island? Imagine waking up in paradise every day!