Rottnest Island Birding Sites

Key Species : Common Pheasant (introduced), Indian Peafowl (introduced), Eastern Reef Egret (good chance), Wedge-tailed Shearwater (summer), Little Shearwater (chance), Yellow-nosed Albatross (winter), Australasian Gannet, Osprey (nesting), Red-necked Phalarope (summer chance), Banded Stilt, Red-necked Avocet (nesting), Little Ringed Plover (small chance), Banded Lapwing, waders (summer), Great Skua (winter), Roseate Tern (summer chance), Fairy Tern (summer), Bridled Tern (summer), Rock Parrot, Sacred Kingfisher, Rainbow Bee-eater (summer), White-fronted Chat, Red-capped Robin. Mammals : Quokka (Setonix brachyurus). Reptiles : King's Skink (Egernia kingii), Dugite (Pseudonaja affinis).

Rottnest Island is located about 16km west of Fremantle.  There are daily ferries that depart from Perth, Fremantle and Hillarys.  The departure times vary depending on school holidays and the season.  I have listed the main operators at the end.

I usually depart on the first ferry from Rous Head in North Fremantle (UBD Map 325 F9), walk up to the bakery to buy lunch, then walk out to the causeway to inspect the salt lakes for waders, then through the golf course to find the Common Pheasant, then across to Bathurst Point to look for Rock Parrots near the tennis courts, and then back to the settlement to find Indian Peafowl.  I return to Fremantle on the ferry at about 4pm.

You can see most of the key species in a day trip, but for a relaxing holiday I recommend staying for a week.  Contact the Rottnest Island Authority for details.

There is an excellent book The Birdlife of Rottnest Island by Denis Saunders & Perry de Rebeira and there is a WA bird guide brochure for Rottnest Island.


1. Causeway & Lakes


2. Golf Course

The golf course is an excellent place to bird and to look for Quokkas.  Be certain that you don't disrupt any golfers.  Fortunately, the course is closed in summer (December to March) as the fairways are too hard.  I usually enter the golf course from the causeway turnoff to Geordie Bay.  I first look around the second tee and the first sand green, and then walk along the first fairway to near the third sand green, then walk across to the woodland along the sixth hole, then past the small lake near the seventh sand green and finally I leave the golf course near the eighth tee and walk left along the road to the sewage ponds near The Basin.

First Green / Second Tee

The fairways are a chance for White-fronted Chat, Banded Lapwing and Pied Oystercatcher.  This is one of the few sites anywhere that I have seen Pied Oystercatcher away from its usual coastal habitat.  The low scrub near the second tee is a good site for White-browed Scrubwren.  The trees near the first sand green is usually a good site for Red-capped Robin and sometimes Common Pheasant.  Garden Lake has a small island in summer where there is often a pair of Red-necked Avocets.

Near Third Green

I usually walk along the vegetation and salt marsh between the first and the second fairways looking for Quokkas and Common Pheasant.

Sixth / Seventh Holes

The trees along the sixth hole are a very good site to find Red-capped Robin, especially the grove of trees on the right where Sacred Kingfisher is also a chance.  The best site for Common Pheasant is the area between the sixth tee and the seventh sand green.  Rainbow Bee-eaters can sometimes be found in summer on the wire near the sixth sand green.

Rifle Range Swamp

This is the small lake behind the seventh sand green.  Look for White-fronted Chat, Australian Shelduck, Grey Teal and a chance of a wader.

Second Green / Fourth Green / Fifth Tee

I usually don't need to check this area. It is a good area to look for Common Pheasant, and Rainbow Bee-eaters are very likely on the fence behind the fifth tee.  I have seen a dugite in this area.


3. The Basin to Bathurst Point

After the golf course, I walk towards The Basin which is a very popular swimming area.  Before you get to The Basin, there is the sewage treatment plant.  I walk around the fence and then cut across towards the tennis courts and then walk up to the lighthouse.

Sewage Treatment Ponds

Just before The Basin, there is a short sealed road on the right to a gate.  This is the sewage treatment plant for the settlement. I walk clockwise around the fence looking for possible Rock Parrot feeding on the open ground.  I check the ponds for water and the chance of ducks and migratory waders such as Ruddy Turnstone, Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, etc.

Tennis Courts

From the sewage ponds, I walk across to the tennis courts at Bathurst Point.  You pass a grove of eucalypts.  This is the most likely site to find Rock Parrot, and it is also another good site for Common Pheasant.  I have seen Purple-crowned Lorikeet here when the trees were flowering.  The Rock Parrots can sometimes be very close to the tennis courts in the pine trees or on the fence.  Sacred Kingfisher is also a chance.

Bathurst Point Lighthouse

From the lighthouse I look out towards Duck Rock for Bridled Terns which breed during summer.  Also look for Eastern Reef Egret, Fairy Tern, Pied Cormorant, Pied Oystercatcher and Osprey.  In winter this could be a suitable site to look for a few seabirds.


4. The Settlement

From the lighthouse I walk back to the settlement around the coast looking for Rock Parrots possibly feeding on the ground around the houses, and waders on the beach at Thomson Bay.  I look for Indian Peafowl near the bakery, the church and the hotel.  The peafowls were first introduced to the centre of the island but they then moved to Kingstown Barracks and then also into the settlement.


5. Geordie Bay


6. Kingstown Barracks


7. Parker Point


8. West End


 Boat Torque Cruises (08 9430 5844 or 08 9325 3717)

 Rottnest Express Ferry Services (08 9335 6406 Fax 08 9335 6397)

 Rottnest Ferry Service Hillarys (08 9246 1039 Fax 08 9448 6455)

 Rottnest Island Authority (08 9432 9111 or 08 9432 9315)

 Rottnest Island Youth Hostel, Kingstown Barracks (08 9372 9780)

 Rottnest Island Supercat Cruises (08 9325 1191 or 08 9430 5127)

 Rottnest Air-Taxi (08 9292 5027 Fax 08 9331 7142))


Copyright Frank O'Connor 1997-2002 Visits Last Modified 31st January 2002