Given the southern part of Western Australia can get a bit nippy in Winter, you could be forgiven for thinking there’s not much going on. Au contraire! WA offers a wild and woolly time for the winter traveller, and a trip to Rottnest Island is chief among them.
The change of season brings a change in pace on Rottnest – gone are the summer crowds, bustling marketplace and almost too-full pubs. Instead, island life takes a slow turn, where it’s easy to spend hours exploring Rottnest’s colourful history, changeable natural splendour, and endearingly warm welcome.
#1 Thar be whales
Between April and October is the ideal time to see the annual migration of Humpback and Southern Right whales as they stop over in the warm waters surrounding Rottnest. On land, the best place to catch sight of the ocean’s gentle giants is Cape Vlamingh, on Rottnest’s western-most point. However, to appreciate these amazing animals, it’s best to jump aboard a whale watching tour.
#2 Wartime Rottnest uncovered
From now until the 30th of June, visitors to Rottnest can travel back to the Rottnest Island of WW1 with the ‘Capturing the Enemy’ exhibition. Rottnest’s long – and sometimes dark – history as a prison island was revisited during WW1 when the island was used to house captured enemy sailors seized by the Australian Imperial Forces. Through objects, stories and photographs, the exhibition chronicles the daily lives of those interred, with personal stories stretching from the wilds of the Southern Ocean to the cataclysms of the Western Front.
#3 Surf’s Up
The seasonal storms that traverse the Indian Ocean offer some of the best surfing of the year on Rottnest. Well-known surf breaks like Cathedral Rocks and Strickland Bay up the ante with consistent and larger than average swells.
WA’s top surfers are quick to descend on Rottnest as the temperature drops, with the HIF Pro AM hosted in Strickland Bay every year. More recently, many Stand Up Paddleboard clubs utilise the winter swell to host a series of private and public events.
#4 The wonder of weather
Who said every holiday needs to be palm trees and steamy tropical beaches? Nature on Rottnest is at its most spectacular during the winter months. Depending on the day, visitors could be treated to breathtaking storms and fierce winds, crashing swells against rocky shores, or calm azure waters under a warm winter sun. For the budding nature photographer, Rottnest offers up epic scenery on a plate.
If the weather packs it in, don’t worry, head to Karma Rottnest and rest your bones by our roaring fireplace with a glass of Margaret River red.
#5 Go for a swim… no really!
The Leeuwin Current – a warm ocean current that flows southward along WA’s coast – is dominant during the winter months, and Rottnest is smack bang in the middle of it. While those going for a dip along Perth’s beaches best don their winter wetsuits, swimmers on Rottnest can enjoy a balmy water temperature of 19 Celsius or more. Interestingly, the island’s sea life also changes dramatically – as the Leeuwin current often brings tropical visitors from the north. Snorkelers may just run into a Green Sea Turtle!