Rottnest Island on foot: exploring the best walking trails on Rottnest

Last Updated: 28 Feb 2024
Ange Snowball

From the rugged West End to the military heritage of Oliver Hill, explore Rottnest at a more leisurely pace with these walking trails that criss-cross the island’s unique landscape.

people hiking on rottnest

Wardan Nara Bidi

Coastal Vistas and Military Heritage Walk

Parker Point to Narrow Neck \ Length: 10km \ Time: Half Day

Beginning with a gradual climb behind Parker Point, take in the 180 degree views before continuing on to Little Salmon Bay, one of the most popular snorkelling spots on the island. The trail then crosses inland to Oliver Hill, an old WWII military battery, complete with guns, tunnels and watchtowers. Staffed by volunteers, it’s a fascinating glimpse into WA’s military history. Continue on to the Wadjemup Lighthouse, the highest point of the island, for stunning island views. Then, head west toward Strickland Bay, one of the island’s most famous surf breaks and down through acacia scrub to the Mammong sculpture by indigenous artist Peter Farmer. Narrow Neck is the final point of the trail, where you can continue your journey west or explore the north coast on the Karlinyah Bidi trail.

Ngank Wen Bidi

West End Coast and Clifftop Walk

Roland Smith to Narrow Neck | Length: 7.6km | Time: 2-4hours

This loop trail takes you to the wilder, western end of Rottnest Island. Look for the purple markers south of the memorial at Roland Smith beach. As the scrub trail winds toward Cape Vlamingh, the scenery becomes more dramatic between the weathered cliffs and if you’re lucky, you can spot osprey nests, dolphins and fur seals. Highlights include the coastal scenery around Fish Hook Bay, Cathedral Rocks, Eagle Bay and the real showstopper – the views from West End boardwalk at the very tip of the island. Look out for the anchor of the Japanese fishing vessel, the Kiryo Maru and concrete shelters from WWII. The trail out of Mabel Cove is on a 4WD track, snaking on to a beach walk at postcard-perfect Marjorie Bay and Rocky Bay. Finish up with a final beach walk at Narrow Neck.

Ngank Yira Bid

Military History and Salt Lakes Walk

Thomson Bay to Oliver Hill | Length: 9.4km | Time: Half Day

Ngank Yira Bidi explores many of Rottnest’s significant WWII military sites as well as diverse coastal landscapes, woodlands and inland salt lakes. The walk starts at Thomson Bay beach (look for the blue marker) and heads southwest to Kingstown Barracks and the refurbished Bickley Battery, with its gun towers and railway. Continue west to Henrietta Rocks, where you can snorkel the Shark Wreck and swim at beautiful Porpoise Bay. From here, the trail turns inland through woodland and the edges of Lake Serpentine. Wadjemup Lighthouse in the distance, towers like a sentry over the island. It’s then a steep climb up bitumen to the gun turrets of Oliver Hill, where you’re rewarded with sweeping views across the island.

Gabbi Karniny Bidi

Hike around the Salt Lakes

Vlamingh Lookout to Longreach Bay \ Length: 9.7km \ Time: 3-4 hours

This walk meanders around the island’s extraordinary salt lakes. Starting from Vlamingh Lookout, one of the best views of the island, the trail includes the Lakes “walk on water” boardwalk, with views of samphire-fringed Lake Herschel and Lake Baghdad, both important migratory bird habitats. The trail continues on Pink Lake Road toward Little Parakeet Bay, arguably one of the prettiest bays on Rottnest. With lake views on one side and ocean glimpses on the other and Wadjemup Lighthouse in the distance, it’s hard to beat. Grab refreshments at Geordie Bay and a then it’s a short stroll to the trail’s end at picturesque Longreach Bay.

Karlinyah Bidi

Beautiful Bays and Northern Beaches Walk

Little Armstrong Bay to Narrow Neck \ Length: 5.9km \ Time: 1-3 hours

With its undulating terrain and summer sunsets, the Karlinyah Bidi trail guides you through this lovely stretch of coast. It’s a favourite for nature lovers, who may spot dolphins, ospreys, fur seals and of course, resident quokkas. Start the walk at the perfect half-moon of Little Armstrong Bay and continue west to the sandy white beaches of Catherine Bay and City of York Bay, named after the ship wrecked here in 1899. The trail and beaches become more rugged as you approach Ricey Beach – take care! There is a shaded picnic bench under the trees at Ricey Beach. Continue on to Narrow Neck via Stark Bay and Rocky Bay and enjoy some of the best views on the island.

*Rottnest Island has an Explorer bus service which makes regular stops around the island and provides a convenient return back to the main settlement at Thomson Bay.

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