Planning a trip Rottnest? Whether it’s a daytrip or an extended bliss-out stay, getting your ferry booking right can make a big difference to your holiday, including making the most of your time on the island, access to bikes and snorkelling gear. We’ve compiled a quick guide to Rottnest’s ferries, from choosing the right ferry for you to when the last ferry leaves the island, plus, Rottnest Fast Ferries’ newest addition to their fleet – a high-speed 420-person catamaran.
Tips to find the best Rottnest ferry for your holiday
- Book early! There are three operators and four departure points, each offering a different range of services and departure times. Go directly to their websites to get the best deals and always book in advance – nothing will spoil your holiday more than having to leave late or come home early.
- Book your luggage and bike tags online. It saves having to line up when you get there.
- For various events and special holidays, early and late ferries are available.
- If you are heading to Rottnest on an early ferry, book your bikes and snorkelling gear with the ferry, as the Rottnest ‘Pedal and Flipper’ hire place doesn’t open before 8.30am and their day / half-day rates are expensive. It also saves you time!
- Tickets are flexible, so if you change your mind, you can often change your booking online to a different time, subject to availability.
- The ferries are fast (30 minutes to 1.5 hours from the city) and don’t typically rock around too much, but if you get seasick, sit in the middle of the boat where the boat rocks the least.
Which ferry terminal is best?
There are four ferry departure points from Perth to Rottnest Island. The terminals are B Shed in Fremantle, North Port (Rous Head) in North Fremantle, Hillary’s Boat Harbour and Barrack St Jetty at Elizabeth Quay in the CBD. From Fremantle, the journey is approximately 30 minutes.
B Shed is best if you live south of the river or are coming to the terminal by train or bus. If you’re packing light or spending a day on the island, this is a great option as it avoids expensive parking fees. There is paid parking available but the carpark is unsecured. If you are planning an extended stay in Rottnest and have a lot of gear, then North Port is the best choice as it has a secure carpark and a drive-up luggage drop. Rottnest Express is the only company to run a service from Barrack St in the CBD – currently only a daily service. The journey from the CBD to Rottnest is 1.5hours.
Make sure you arrive 20 – 30minutes prior to departure to arrange baggage and ticketing. You should check individual ferry company sites for other special offers, and note that ferry schedules are subject to change from time to time.
Rottnest ferry operators
Rottnest Fast Ferries
Rottnest Fast Ferries is the only service from Hillarys Boat Harbour, which is perfect for holidaymakers north of the river. Their fleet has just been boosted by the arrival of the Harbour Master, a high-speed catamaran that can seat 420, setting the bar high for smooth and spacious rides to the island. Parking is free at Hillarys, and Rottnest Fast Ferries also offer a free bus transfer from the Perth CBD and Northbridge area, Crown Resorts precinct and Scarborough. Generally, they run two daily ferry services and extra services during the school holiday periods.
To celebrate the launch of the Harbour Master, two kids can travel free per every adult fare, so it’s a great option if you’re travelling with the family over the school holiday period. You can also hire bikes, snorkels and flippers directly through Rottnest Fast Ferries when you book. Check out their whale watching tours during whale migration season.
Sea Link ferries currently run their daily services from B Shed in Fremantle, with their earliest departure from the mainland at 7am and latest return from Rottnest at 4pm (Mon – Fri) and 5.45pm (weekends). This makes it a great choice for early-bird day adventurers keen to get a head start on the island. There are extra ferry services on the weekend and for special events, plus kids travel free during the Autumn school holidays with every full-fare paying adult. Just add a child fare at the time of booking and your free fare will automatically apply.
Rottnest Express ferries operate services from B Shed, North Port (Rous head) at the container terminal in North Fremantle and Barrack St jetty at Elizabeth Quay, Perth (only one daily service). The earliest departure is 7.30am from B Shed, and they also offer bike and snorkel hire for added convenience. It’s worthwhile looking into Quokka Club membership which allows kids under 12 to travel free (Rottnest Island admission fee still applies). This is highly recommended and really helps cut travel costs for a large family. Quokka Club members receive a special travel passport and a complimentary drink and snack on their first journey. Also look out for their $129 Red Rider membership offer that includes 10 trips per year – it’s great for regular Rotto visitors!