close up of quokka smiling perth

Best Places to See Quokkas in Perth: Locals Expert Guide for Visitors

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Want to know where to see Quokkas in Perth Western Australia?

If you’re as captivated by these adorable, smiley-faced creatures as I am, you’re in for a treat. As a Perth local fortunate enough to visit Quokka Island (aka Rottnest Island) numerous times, I couldn’t be more excited to share the ultimate guide on where to see Quokkas in Perth.

For those who may not be familiar, quokkas are small, marsupial herbivores that are native to Western Australia, particularly Rottnest Island, which is just a short ferry ride away from Perth. With their friendly and curious nature, these furry little beings have earned the title of “the world’s happiest animal,” I can assure you that seeing them is nothing short of heartwarming.

In this post, I’ll be spilling all my local secrets on the best spots to encounter these delightful creatures on Rottnest Island. From hidden places off the beaten path to popular locations where you’re almost guaranteed to see Quokkas.

quokka eating green leaf on rottnest island western australia

Where to See Quokkas in Perth?

Short Answer: Rottnest Island is the only guaranteed place to see quokkas in the wild.

Where to See Quokkas on Rottnest Island / Wadjemup

Rottnest Island is a haven for quokkas, and they can be found all over the island. However, some locations have earned a reputation as quokka hotspots due to the higher concentration of these furry critters. Some must-visit spots include:

a quokka in thomson bay rottnest one of the best places to see quokkas in perth

Thomson Bay Settlement

Thomson Bay is the main settlement and arrival point for most visitors to Rottnest Island. Walking around the settlement, you’ll likely encounter quokkas near the bakery, Rottnest Hotel, and possibly the beach. These friendly creatures have become accustomed to human presence, making this an excellent spot for close encounters and adorable photo opportunities.

Discover Rottnest Island

Take the Kingsway Trail from the settlement towards The Basin, one of Rottnest Island’s most popular swimming spots. Opposite Discovery Rottnest are some tall gum trees; here, you may see quokkas in the low-lying shrubs.

3 quokkas under the table at geordie bay cafe rottnest
Quokkas in Geordie Bay Cafe

Geordie Bay

Georgie Cafe sometimes has a couple of quokkas in the garden despite having a gate to keep them out. There are also quokkas outside the cafe in the shrubland opposite. Approach quietly, and you will likely see them in their natural habitat.

Garden Lake

Take the Garden Lake Walk, five minutes from Thoman Bay. This area usually has quokkas, so keep a lookout as you walk along the boardwalk.

Digby Drive, Wadjemup Lighthouse

Before climbing up Wadjemup Road to the lighthouse, look for some tea trees at the intersection of Digby Drive. Here you may see the quokkas who live here.

Bert’s Pond, Defence Road, off Digby Drive

Another population of quokkas live under the trees on Defence Drive, just off Digby Drive. Remember, while these hotspots increase your chances of spotting quokkas, the entire island is their home, and they can be found throughout Rottnest.

close up of a quokka on rottnest island perth

Why Rottnest Island is Quokka Paradise

Rottnest Island is often referred to as a “quokka paradise” due to several factors that make it an ideal habitat for these adorable marsupials.

Isolation and Limited Predators: One of the key reasons why quokkas thrive on Rottnest Island is its geographical isolation. The island is located about 19 kilometres off the coast of Perth. This isolation has limited the presence of natural predators that can threaten quokkas’ survival, creating a safe haven for them.

Abundant Food Resources: Rottnest Island’s diverse vegetation provides a rich and abundant food source for quokkas. They primarily feed on grasses, leaves, and other plants, which are plentiful across the island. 

Limited Human Interference: While Rottnest Island is a popular tourist destination, there are strict regulations in place to protect wildlife, including quokkas. Visitors are encouraged to respect the animals’ space and not to feed or disturb them. This limited human interference has allowed quokkas to maintain their natural behaviours and avoid undue stress.

Conservation Efforts: Rottnest Island Authority has significantly protected the quokka population and their habitat. 

cute quokka perth western australia

Getting to Know Quokkas: 15 Fascinating Facts

1. Quokka are Marsuspials, Not Rodents: Quokkas (Setonix brachyurus) are small marsupials belonging to the macropod family, including kangaroos and wallabies. 

2. Quokka Size: They have a body length of about 40-54 cm (16-21 inches) and a tail around 25-30 cm (10-12 inches) long. Adult quokkas weigh between 2.5 to 5 kilograms (5.5 to 11 pounds), making them a compact bundle of cuteness.

3. That Signature Smile: Quokkas are renowned for their ever-present “smiles,” created by their upturned mouths and friendly-looking faces. While their cheerful expressions have made them famous on social media, this smile is a natural part of their facial anatomy and does not necessarily reflect their emotions.

4. Nocturnal Natives: These charismatic marsupials are primarily nocturnal, which means they are most active during the night. 

5. Herbivores with a Varied Diet: Quokkas are herbivores, and their diet primarily consists of a variety of vegetation, including grasses, leaves, and shrubs. They have adapted to feed on different types of plants found on Rottnest Island and other habitats they inhabit.

6. Survival Skills: Quokkas have adapted to thrive in harsh environments to last long periods without food or water.

quokka rottnest island

7. Conservation Concerns: Despite their endearing popularity, quokkas face some conservation challenges. While they thrive on Rottnest Island, their mainland populations are at risk due to habitat loss and threats from introduced predators such as foxes and cats. Consequently, efforts to protect their habitats and implement conservation measures are essential for long-term survival.

While not currently classified as endangered, quokkas are classified as vulnerable.

8. Quokkas are Native to Australia: They are found primarily on Rottnest Island, with some on Bald Island and Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve in Albany.

9. Quokkas Are Friendly: Quokkas have gained a reputation for their seemingly friendly and approachable behaviour. While they are curious animals, it’s important to note that they are wild creatures and should not be fed or approached closely.

10. Quokkas Can Swim: While quokkas are known to be good climbers and jumpers, they are not well adapted for swimming. However, they can swim; they prefer not to.

11. There are around 10,000 Quokkas on Rottnest Island: About 10,000 to 15,000 quokkas are estimated to be left in the wild, with about 10,000 living on Rottnest Island.

12. Average Lifespan of a Quokka is 10 Years.

13. Quokkas cannot be pets: Quokkas are protected wildlife and are not allowed to be kept as pets. They have specific dietary, environmental, and social needs that cannot be met at home. It’s essential to prioritise the conservation of wild populations and respect the laws and regulations that protect these animals.

Attempting to keep wild animals like quokkas as pets can harm their well-being and the ecosystems they belong to. If you’re interested in experiencing these animals, do so through ethical and responsible means, such as visiting reputable wildlife sanctuaries or observing them in their natural habitat while practising responsible wildlife viewing.

14. The Aboriginal Name for Quokka is Kwoka.

15. Quokkas Sacrifice their Baby: If predators threaten a quokka, she will relax her pouch muscles so the joey is expelled. This gives the mum time to escape. 

quokka in the wild rottnest island wa

The Quokka Selfie Craze: Understanding the Do’s and Don’ts: Best Practices for Ethical Quokka Interaction

In recent years, social media has witnessed a trend that has captured people’s hearts worldwide – the quokka selfie. While it’s understandable that you want to capture a Quokka selfie, we must approach these interactions ethically and responsibly. We should try to admire them from a distance and let them remain wild animals.

The Do’s: Best Practices for Ethical Quokka Interaction

1. Maintain a Respectful Distance: Quokkas are wild animals and should be treated as such. Always maintain a safe distance from them. It’s recommended to stay at least two metres away from quokkas to avoid causing them stress or anxiety.

2. Let Quokkas Approach You: Quokkas are naturally curious and usually approach humans out of curiosity. If a quokka chooses to come closer to you, it’s an opportunity for a responsible interaction. Remember, they should always have the choice to engage or disengage.

3. Use Natural Behaviour Cues: To take a selfie with a quokka, use natural cues to encourage their engagement. Smile, talk softly, and avoid sudden movements. This helps create a non-threatening environment for the quokka.

4. Capture Photos Respectfully: If a quokka approaches and seems comfortable, you can take a photo but avoid using flash. Bright lights can startle or distress these nocturnal animals.

rottnest island quokka

The Don’ts: Avoid Harmful Practices

1. No Forced Interaction: Never chase or corner a quokka to force an interaction. This can cause them to stress and negatively impact their well-being.

2. Avoid Touching: You can be fined A$300 for touching a quokka.

3. Feeding Restrictions: While sharing a snack with a quokka might be tempting, it’s essential to refrain from feeding them human food. Human food can harm their health and disrupt their natural diet. Let them forage for their food.

4. No Invasive Behaviour: Don’t invade a quokka’s personal space. If they retreat or show signs of discomfort, give them space immediately.

5. Respect Their Habitat: When seeking them out, stick to designated paths and boardwalks to minimise environmental impact and avoid disturbing their natural habitat.

quokka chocolate from margaret river chocolate factory
Chokka the Quokka from Margaret River Chocolate Co

Quokka Conservation Efforts

Due to their limited distribution in the southwestern corner of Australia, quokkas face several threats to their survival, including habitat loss, predation by introduced species, and climate change.

Introduced predators, such as foxes and feral cats, pose a significant threat to quokka populations. DPAW implemented predator control programs to reduce the impact of these invasive species on quokkas and other native wildlife.

Understanding quokka behaviour, population dynamics, and habitat requirements is crucial for effective conservation. Researchers study quokkas to gather data that informs conservation strategies, and monitoring programs help keep track of population trends and threats.

The popularity of quokkas has led to an increase in tourism to the areas where they reside, particularly Rottnest Island. Responsible tourism practices, such as adhering to guidelines for respectful wildlife viewing and minimising human impact, help protect both quokkas and their habitats.

Help ongoing conservation by purchasing a Chokka the Quokka from Margaret River Chocolate Co – part of the sale of every chocolate quokka go to The Rottnest Foundation, to fund quokka projects on Rottnest Island and the mainland.

quokka western australia

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