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Rottnest Island

'Rotto' – or Wadjemup to Noongar Aboriginal people – has long been the go-to destination for Perth families on holiday, and a coming-of-age promised land for local teens. Although it's only about 19km offshore from Fremantle, this car-free, off-the-grid slice of paradise, ringed by secluded beaches and bays, feels a million miles away

Cycling, snorkelling, fishing, surfing, diving and wildlife-spotting are excellent on the island. There's not a lot to do here that's not outdoors-oriented, so postpone your day trip if the weather isn't looking good.

Overriding all the holiday good times and beachy leisure, there's a grim history here: 3700 Aboriginal prisoners were incarcerated on Wadjemup between 1838 and 1931. Around 370 boys and men died, many from flu or measles, and at least five were executed. People suffered here: there's a disquieting vibe on the island, even on the sunniest of days.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Rottnest Island.

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