While Perth is quite spread out, there are many places accessible by public transport where you can see many of our native animals. Here are just a few to explore on your visit….
Rockingham has an abundance of bottlenose dolphins most days they can be seen from the foreshore. We have in the past been swimming at some of the local beaches and had them come and swim around us, it truly is an amazing experience. However is you are wanting a guaranteed, close up experience, Rockingham Wild Encounters offer a Swim with the Dolphins experience. They guarantee you will swim with dolphins or have another swim for free within the same season. While I have not personally done the tour I have had friends and family do it and they have all returned very excited about their experience.
How to get there:
Trains to Rockingham take 45 minutes and leave regularly. There is a connecting bus (500) from the Rockingham Station to the foreshore.
Swimming with the Dolphins cost: $205 ($215 with transfer)
Penguin Island is a short ferry ride across Shoalwater Bay from the terminal near Rockingham. The island is home to a colony of Little Penguins who live and raise their young. There is a Penguin Discovery Centre on the island where there a few rescued penguins live. They are not able to be sent back to the wild for a variety of reasons and now provide visitors with some close up experiences. They have huge personalities and are very active when it is feeding time at 10.30, 12.30 and 2.30 daily.
There is also boardwalk around the island, so you can explore the whole island. From here you can often see penguins in their burrows, in nearby caves or under the boardwalk itself, you just need to look carefully. Along the boardwalk you will see nesting colonies of sea birds, we have also seen seals and sea lions both on the beach and swimming close by. The island has some excellent beaches suitable for swimming and snorkeling. There are no shops so you need to take al your own food and drink, including water.
When visiting Penguin Island you can also do a cruise, seeing wild dolphins and the rare Australian Sea Lions before spending time on the Island,
How to get there:
Train to Rockingham run regularly from Perth, take bus 551 to the ferry terminal then the ferry
Ferries depart hourly between 9am and 3pm, the last ferry returns at 4pm.
Cost of ferry is: $16 ($25 includes entry to the Penguin Discovery Centre for the feeding)
Do not be tempted to walk across the sand bar, people have drowned in the past as the tides turn very quickly.
The island is closed during the breeding season from early June to September.
About an hours walk along the banks of the Swan River from Perth is Heirsson Island. While there is only a small kangaroo population they are easy to spot and quite relaxed as they are used to visitors. There is a well signposted walking trail around the Island where you can take in views of the city and Swan River.
Heirsson Island can also be accessed by bus ( 72, 910, 930, 935) from St Georges Terrace.
Entry is free
Known as Perth’s favourite holiday island, Rottnest Island is a short ferry ride from Fremantle and well worth a visit for a day or even to stay overnight. There are a variety of accomodation options from camping to luxury, and the bonus of staying overnight is once the day visitors go, you get to enjoy the islands tranquillity.
Of course the most famous inhabitants are the Quokkas, who are now world famous for their ‘selfies’. They are cute little marsupials, very friendly but remember they are still wild animals and have been known to scratch people. They are also a little light fingered so do not leave bags of food around as they will grab them and you will lose your lunch.
The island is also home to a colony of New Zealand Fur Seals and a large variety of sea birds so there is a lot of wildlife. During the Whale Watching season(late August to November) you may also be fortunate enough to see whales, both on the ferry and from the island.
The island is also known it’s beautiful beaches suitable for families and some really good snorkelling spots. There are lots of transport options on the island from hiring a bicycle to taking a bus or segway tour. So it is the perfect place for a day or two.
Ferries to Rottnest leave from both Perth (90 minutes) and Fremantle (25 minutes) numerous times a day. Tuesdays are normally the cheapest day to go from Fremantle but they often have specials so check out their website.
Cohunu Koala Park is about an hour from Perth by public transport. A visit here will give you the chance to not only see but get up close and personal with a Koala (for a cost of $30 per person using your own camera). There are also a variety of other Australian animals there including dingoes, deer, emus (don’t get too close they can bite). You are also able to handfeed kangaroos and wallabies which is always a nice experience..
Take train to Armadale then a bus 252 towards Mundijong.
Entry is :$15 for Adults
There are of course other places to see animals in Perth, the best thing about Australia’s wildlife is you never really know when you will encounter it so keep your eyes open.