In March 2019, Discovery Rottnest Island will open its tent flaps.
It's 30 years since a new accommodation option has been established on the protected island. Developers have taken great pains to minimise environmental impact and harness local talent in creating the first eco glamping resort in Rottnest Island history.
What's Eco Glamping?
Spread behind the sand dunes above popular Pinky's Beach are 83 eco tents, but the canvas is where the similarity to camping ends.
These luxurious tents are fully serviced 'rooms', with floors, ceiling fans, real beds, private decks and ensuites. Not only that but you're provided with comfortable bedding and your own kitchen facilities in all but Standard Tents. This is glamorous camping - hence the 'glamping' label.
The tents are connected via boardwalks to the private 30m resort pool (with bar) and Pinky's Beach Club - the resort bar and restaurant, which looks set to become a popular meeting spot on the island.
This is a Rottnest Island hotel, without the walls, where the quokkas are free to roam! And just like a hotel, the resort provides guest laundry, concierge, tour desk and Rottnest Island ferry booking services.
The boardwalks aren't just for guests' convenience; they intentionally protect the dunes from erosion. The developers even went so far as to reinforce the dunes and create revegetation and wildlife management plans. During construction, pre-approved tracks were designated for machinery, and the ensuites were prefabricated to minimise impact on our beloved island.
The tents are made from natural, high quality, insulated canvas with wooden framing, have extended eaves to protect you from direct sunlight, and harness the breeze for natural ventilation, with ceiling fans for added heat relief. The resort is designed for low energy and water use, using rainwater harvesting and wastewater irrigation wherever possible.
In brief, Rottnest Island's new hotel standard accommodation under canvas, created with such sensitivity to the environment, is defined as 'eco glamping'.
There are five tent styles, all of them with ensuites and private decks.
- The Standard Tent is 3 square metres in size, big enough for a queen size bed, and has a small deck.
- At 4.2 square metres, the Superior Tent has room for a king size bed, and can be reconfigured with two singles. It also includes a kitchenette and has a larger deck.
- The Superior Family Tent has an annexe with bunk beds, sleeping up to five in total.
- Universal Access Tents are designed to accommodate people with disabilities, in line with Australian Standards. You can choose to have an added bunk annex for one or two adults.
- Lastly, the Deluxe Tent is a comfortable 6.3 square metres and houses a king size bed, interior day bed, walk-in robe, double vanity and kitchenette. A floor to ceiling glass sliding door leads to a large private deck, and you win best ocean views.
Pinky's Beach Club
The brand new, fully licensed Pinky's Beach Club is open to the public, and hanging out here is likely to become a favourite thing to do on Rottnest.
Pinky's Beach is popular with Rottnest Island holiday makers for good reason. Not only is it a fabulous bathing beach below the Bathurst Point Lighthouse, but it's a great spot to watch the sun go down. Discovery Rottnest Island makes the most of this by positioning Pinky's Beach Club for perfect views while you enjoy sundowners.
Pinky's will serve fresh light food all day long, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner, cocktails and some of the best WA wines and brews. As a guest, you can buy a bottle of wine here to take to your tent, and there are barbecue packs to use on the shared facilities around the resort.
The cuisine matches the location by focusing on quality seafood, with plenty of other options and an extensive kids' menu.
Pinky's is the new little sister to Thomsons restaurant at Thomson Bay, which serves seafood, burgers, pasta and pizza - something to please everyone.
When you arrive on Rottnest Island and put your feet up, all your cares slip away ... This isn't a place for frantic sight-seeing, although Rottnest Island history is quite fascinating. The site of shipwrecks, an Aboriginal prison, and World War II fortifications, the island has a unique mix of stories to tell.
When you feel like a stroll, wander down to Thomson Bay and browse the Rottnest Island Museum and historic buildings around the settlement. The Visitor Centre can give you information on free guided walking tours and walk trails.
The Wadjemup Trail takes you up to the lighthouse, where tours run every half hour from 10.00am to 2.30pm - great fun for kids and you can see for miles. The trail is named in honour of the traditional owners of Rottnest Island, and showcases cultural and environmental points of interest. If you're not up for the walk, take the hop-on hop-off Island Explorer Bus.
Rottnest Island was once a key stronghold used to defend the mainland during World War II. The guided tour to Oliver Hill Battery tells you the stories and takes you to explore the maze of tunnels beneath.
Other fun ways to see the island are by boat, bike, Segway or snorkel. Segway Tours take you around the settlement, up to Kingstown Barracks, inland and along to Bathurst Lighthouse - a hilarious, easy and engaging way to see and learn about Rottnest Island history and landscape.
Alternatively, do like the locals and hire a bike! This is the iconic Rottnest Island experience, and a wonderful way to enjoy the traffic-free island, pottering from bay to bay, stopping for a swim, exercising those legs, and enjoying the breeze as you freewheel downhill.
To explore the coastline and marine environment, hop onto an adventure cruise or a more sedate glass bottom boat, or hire a boat and do it yourself. Better still, hire snorkelling gear and get right into Rottnest Island's spectacular underwater world.
At Little Salmon Bay and Parker Point, underwater signage takes snorkellers along trails with stories of shipwrecks and marine life. The more adventurous can join scuba diving trips further out from the island.
If you're visiting with kids during the school holidays, Rottnest puts on lots of fun activities to keep kids busy, many of them free. At any time, you'll never get bored on Rottnest! Just messing about on the beautiful beaches is enough to keep children happy for hours at a time.
Among family favourite things to do on Rottnest Island are fishing, watching a movie at the Picture Hall, hunting for crabs among the rocks, playing tennis or mini golf, and leaping around at the Aqua Park.
Just 4 Fun Aqua Park in Thomson Bay will have kids and kidults jumping, sliding, splashing and even catapulting around the huge inflatable playground. There's a shallow area for under 7s and spectators can hire a beach chair and umbrella.
For anyone aged 12 or up, the latest adventure on Rottnest Island is above it. This is your chance to experience a tandem skydive, starting with a breathtaking flight over the island and finishing with a gentle landing on the beach and free drink at Hotel Rottnest. The instructors of Skydive Geronimo are professional and experienced, so you're in safe hands.
Lastly, and one of the best things to do on Rottnest Island, is quokka spotting. The world's most adorable creatures hop around the island without fear and are happy to be photographed. It's vital that visitors treat them with respect, to preserve this delightful innocence. If you want to snap an iconic quokka selfie, go for it, but please be patient and considerate.
This article has some great tips for where to swim, snorkel and spot dolphins or quokkas: A Journey Around Perth's Secluded Island Escape.
Other Accommodation on Rottnest Island
The traditional way to holiday on Rottnest Island is in a heritage cottage, chalet or cabin, giving you the freedom of your own place and the joy of feeling as if you're living on the island.
Rottnest Island hotels includes Karma Rottnest in what used to be the old lodge, close to the wonderful Rottnest Bakery, and Hotel Rottnest, a popular venue for evening drinks, live music and events.
Once you arrive, your bags are transported to your accommodation while you either walk or cycle. The Visitor Centre is right in front of you when you walk along the pier. This is where you collect your keys if you have rented a cottage, pick up a map and tour information, or request transport to your accommodation if you are unable to walk or cycle.