If you’re looking for a weekend getaway without the kids, Rottnest makes for the perfect holiday destination. In winter, it’s much quieter, and sometimes you’ll have the pristine beaches, bays and winding cycle paths all to yourself. Plus, you’ll easily be able to book in accommodation, which is no easy feat in the peak summer period. In advance of the new Samphire Rottnest hotel opening up later in October 2020, if you’re after something higher-end, Karma Resort’s Lakeside Premium rooms are some of the best on the island having been more recently fitted out, with private verandas looking out onto Governor’s Lake. With over 60 secluded beaches, ample hiking and cycling trails, and a spa offering Balinese massages, in winter you’ll be able to take advantage of everything the Island has to offer, minus the crowds.

Cycle to the West End and see the Osprey Nest

As any Perth local knows, cycling is the best way to get around to the many turquoise bays on the Island, and in winter you’ll mostly have the roads to yourself. If you don’t have your own bike, you can pay a visit to Pedal & Flipper, which also offers snorkels sets if you’re willing to brave the chill. En route, go bay-hopping and stop at popular bays such as Little Parakeet and Parker Point, where you’ll have ample space to spread out and relax undisturbed. If you’re feeling up for more of a challenge, you could ride the length of the Island from the Settlement near Thomson’s Bay to Cape Vlamingh at the West End. As a rough guide, for a person with average fitness level, it takes about 40 minutes to cycle the length of the Island.

If you make it all the way to the West End, you may be rewarded by the sight of the incredible osprey nest, which has been there for many years. There are approximately 20 osprey nests around the island, but only 14 or so are considered ‘active’. If you stop in at Fish Hook Bay, you’ll have a great vantage point from the west end of the boardwalk to see one of the biggest.

Massage at Karma Day Spa

After a full day of cycling, you’ll probably be feeling a little sore. To help ease up those muscles, why not book in for a pamper session at Karma Rottnest Day Spa? Housed in one of the original heritage buildings in the Settlement, if you’re staying at the Resort, it’s just a leisurely stroll around the corner. The spa offers an apothecary bar, two private treatment rooms, a bright, airy lounge, and an impressive shower room that has been carefully designed to complement the calming effects of the treatments. Their spa menu features a range of traditional and signature massages, facials and beauty treatments, including Balinese massage and a full body scrub offering head-to-toe revitalisation. Unwind as you sip on their herbal ‘tea of the day’ and leave feeling a brand-new person.

Image: Rottnest Island Authority

Visit the Rottnest Museum & Lomas Cottage

Did you know that Rottnest has it’s very own museum? It was constructed, like many of the other buildings on the Island, by Aboriginal prisoners in 1857 as a mill and haystore. Rottnest Island has a long an fascinating history, with heavy involvement as a military base in both World Wars. The museum provides insight into the Island’s history, including European settlement, Aboriginal prisoners, and the various shipwrecks that rest in the shallow waters around the Island’s coastline. Although the museum is currently closed for renovations, it is scheduled to re-open towards the end of 2020. In the meantime, Lomas Cottage, set to open within the next month, is one of the Island’s key heritage buildings and definitely worth checking out if you’re a history-lover. Originally the home of ex-convict John Lomas, in 1997 the cottage was refurbished and houses an exhibition detailing the life of John Lomas and a collection of 15 photographs called The Angelo Collection, which capture 19th Century life on Rottnest Island.

Have a drink at Hotel Rottnest’s Pop-up Beach Bar

While they are closed for renovations, Hotel Rottnest have been running a pop-up beach bar right on the sand on Thomson’s Bay. Open from 11am – 4pm on Saturday and Sunday up until the end of August, the bar offers a selection of local wine, craft beer and cocktails, along with some delicious bites from the grill. Alongside the new Samphire Rottnest development next door, the Hotel will be doubled in size when it re-opens in October. After $24million in developments, it will feature an extra 80 rooms, new reception area, two pools and new facilities including a Beach Club.

Catch the footy and dinner at Gov’s Sports Bar

Kept nice and toasty in the winter with overhead heaters, Gov’s Sports Bar is a lively little pub that reminds of a country tavern. Seemingly busy throughout the year with island locals, it offers tried and trusted pub classes such as chicken parmi, fish and chips, and burgers. With winter being footy season, it also offers the one thing that most Aussie sports-lovers can’t go without – a screen to catch the game! Plus, it’s the latest-opening venue on the Island during the winter, so you can enjoy a nightcap after the final whistle.

Tee off at the Golf Course or go Lawn Bowling

Relatively hidden away around the side of Karma Resort, heading up towards The Basin, Rottnest’s Golf Course is probably the Island’s best kept secret. Originally built in 1961 as Rottnest Island Country Club, the course underwent significant redevelopment in 2013 with new greens and tees designed by Australian architect Ben Davey. After years of being overrun with the resident quokkas, the course was fenced off and made quokka-free a couple of months ago. Head over between 8am – 4pm to enjoy a leisurely game of game over 9 holes on fully irrigated grass greens and fairways. If you don’t have your own clubs, you can visit the clubhouse and they’ll sort you out.

For the non-golfers amongst us still keen to hit the green, you can give ‘Barefoot bowls’ a go. Available seven days a week, with twilight bowling sessions over the school holidays, lawn bowling is a fun activity that anyone can have a go at. Plus, the clubhouse is fully licensed, so you can grab a drink (or three) to help get your game on.

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