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Winter wonders along the Wadjemup Bidi

Embrace the change in season. Layer up, slip on some sturdy shoes and take to the trails to warm up and bring yourself back to nature.
6 minutes
Hike by the salt lakes

Wadjemup / Rottnest Island takes on a serene quality in winter. Head out on a hike and surround yourself with the sounds of waves crashing, melodic birdsong and the soft crunch of footsteps on sandy trails.

Walking or hiking is a wonderful opportunity to connect with the abundant beauty of Wadjemup during winter.  Encompassing the Noongar seasons of Djeran (May), Makuru (June and July) and Djilba (August), it’s a special time of year that brings out a side of the island that will leave you in awe. Landscapes on the island undergo a remarkable transformation, with kabikarning (salt lakes) filling to the brim, bushland becoming lush with flora and fauna, and churning seas giving the coastline a new dramatic character. You'll also spot more frequent appearances of the island’s most iconic wildlife, the kwoka (quokka).

With five connected hiking trails making up the Wadjemup Bidi, a network that spans 45 km across the island’s terrain, the island offers plenty of opportunity for an intimate experience with all that surrounds. While the mornings are crisp, many of the days are relatively mild with bright winter sunshine that are just perfect for exploring the outdoors. Plus, the temperatures at Rottnest Island are generally a few degrees warmer than mainland Perth in the cooler months, making it the ideal destination for embracing the trails at this time of year.

Walking the trails to explore the refreshing change of season is an experience best shared. From multiple-hour hikes perfect for dynamic duos and groups, to shorter, scenic routes for families of all fitness levels, gather your favourite travel companions and get ready to bring yourself back to nature.


Gabbi Karniny Bidi: Wander the balyan boodja (wetlands)

Take a deep breath, this trail takes you up hills and around the kabikarning (salt lake) systems. Starting at the main settlement, this hike loops and winds its way around the lakes, which are best experienced when bursting with water after the winter rains. Listen closely for the calls of the kwooyar (moaning frog), kwiya (squelching froglets) and kooboolong (motorbike frog) as you weave around this unique ecosystem.

On this invigorating path, you’ll be bathed in the contrasting colours of the bushland against the winter sky. And what better way to end a scenic hike than with a hearty feast? After you’ve worked up an appetite, pull up a chair, rest your feet and refuel with a warming meal from Geordie's Cafe & Art Gallery or Pinky’s Rottnest Island.

Distance: 9.5 km / 3-4 hours

Start from: Thomson Bay

Winter wonders:

  • Full salt lakes
  • Bustling birdlife
  • Seasonal frog calls

Karlinyah Bidi: Explore the northern coastline

The northern coast of the island beckons on this one-way trail. It’s a journey filled with rugged beauty for those with an appetite for the island’s more intrepid experiences. No two days are the same during the cooler months, but all are equally beautiful. Enjoy bright blue hues one day that give way to silver, rain-dappled skies the next. Even if the trail only takes you a few hours to hike, you might find yourselves spending far longer gazing out upon the ever-changing waters that stretch between Little Parakeet Bay and Rocky Bay.

Distance: 5.7 km / 2-3 hours

Start from: Little Parakeet Bay or Rocky Bay

Winter wonders:

  • Wild waves
  • Rugged beauty

Ngank Wen Bidi: The wild West End awaits

Awaken your senses with the salt spray and whipping winds of the West End. While the scenery might be wild, there are new comforts along this trail that provide a welcome respite. Here, you have access to shade shelters, bathroom facilities, a bus hub and all of the warming delights your heart desires at Lexi’s on Rotto, from piping hot coffee to satisfying toasties and baked goods.

Pause and reflect when you come across the interpretive Aboriginal artwork offering insight into the cultural significance of the West End. Head to the viewing platform at Cathedral Rocks where you’ll find binoculars for an up-close look at the manyil (long-nosed fur seals) playing in the waters below. You’ll also have countless opportunities throughout this looped trail for glimpses of maamoong (whales), which can be spotted from August.

Distance: 7.8 km / 3-4 hours

Start from: Narrow Neck

Winter wonders:

  • Seal and whale sightings
  • Large osprey stack at Fish Hook Bay
  • Wild ngobar (coastal) views

Wardan Nara Bidi: See the stunning southern side

This one-way trail which takes you from sweeping coastline to the heart of the island. Witness the waters of summer’s popular swimming bays as they develop deep, moody hues and a frenetic energy. This uniquely seasonal shift also sees surfers flock to ride the rolling winter waves at Chicken Reef and Strickland Bay.

Sit and stay awhile, as you get lost in the hypnotic rhythms of surf and sea. In your stillness, you might also spy the resident yoondoordoo (Eastern osprey), along with the large osprey nest (known as a stack) at Salmon Point. As you head inland towards Oliver Hill, appreciate the visual transition between coast and scrub. History is in abundance here, with WWII guns and tunnels that showcase Wadjemup’s wartime involvement.

Distance: 9.8 km / 3-4 hours

Start from: Rocky Bay or Porpoise Bay

Winter wonders:

  • Hiking and history
  • Lush bushland
  • Seasonal surfer spotting
  • Crashing coastline

Ngank Yira Bidi: Hiking with a side of history

The moody palette of the cooler months sets the scene for reflection of the island’s military history. Without the strong rays of the summer sun, you can take more time to absorb the stories held by Bickley Battery and Oliver Hill. This trail stretches around coastline, taking you past plenty of vantage points for sprawling seasonal views.

At Henrietta Rocks, stay on the lookout for the shipwreck resting amongst the sand and seagrass. Over at Jubilee Hill, the highest point of Bickley Bay, you will be rewarded with 360-degree views of Wadjemup and the winter waves that lap the shores. If you make it to Oliver Hill and your legs are weary or the weather takes a turn, you and your fellow hikers can take the Captain Hussey train back to the settlement.

Distance: 10 km / 3-4 hours

Start from: Thomson Bay or Oliver Hill

Winter wonders:

  • Seasonal sea views
  • Quieter time to reflect

Getting around

To reach the starting point of your hike or to get back to the main settlement, Quokka Coaches offer a convenient hop-on-hop-off bus stopping at 19 different stops around the island to connect you where you need to go.

Guided tours of the Wadjemup Bidi

If you want to learn more about what surrounds you on your walk, let one of the island experts show you Wadjemup’s winter wonders on foot with The Hike Collective. There are multiple tour options to choose from to suit the seasonal experience you and your travel companions are seeking.