PLACES TO GO
Only three quarters of an hour south of Perth, Rockingham offers a lot of fun for water lovers, plus there are great local restaurants, and B&Bs if you’re staying overnight. Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, Penguin Island, Garden Island and Seal Island are all close by. Swim with dolphins, take a kayaking tour, go snorkelling, skydive onto the beach – there’s no end to the pastimes. Secret Harbour Beach is patrolled weekends and public holidays from October to the end of March, and weekdays from the beginning of December to the end of January. Windsurfers, surfers and bodyboarders dig Singleton Beach and Golden Bay, but neither are patrolled. If angling’s more your scene, try jetty fishing or hire a small boat and head out to Cockburn Sound (pink snapper, anyone?). Crabbing’s good around Rockingham, but be sure it’s permitted: check www.fish.wa.gov.au. Visit at the right time in May and you’ll catch the Castaways Sculpture Awards, an annual competition displayed along the Rockingham foreshore that celebrates a fusion of recycling, environmental awareness, and artistic expression. The Rockingham visitor centre can help with questions or accommodation bookings
on (08) 9592 3464.
From mid September to early June, Penguin Island is a great place to visit. It’s roughly 45 minutes from Perth, the jetty where the ferry departs for Penguin Island located in the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Take the five-minute trip and they let you take your surfboard, fishing gear, and scuba and snorkelling equipment onboard. If you’re kayaking and boating over you’ll need to anchor on sand off the beach or book a sea kayak tour. Check out the reefs, which offer great snorkelling; bodyboarders and surfers enjoy the Western side. Kids can swim at the shallow beach near the Discovery Centre. Alternatively, you can spend the day fishing (line fishing’s popular, just keep in mind no spearfishing). Some people mistakenly assume the island will be overflowing with little penguins, but they birds are shy, and generally out in the water feeding during daylight hours. You might spot a few, but if you choose to visit the Discovery Centre you can see rescued penguins up close (they’re fed three times a day). Birdwatchers will be in paradise (and love the pelican rookery). You might also see Australian sea lions or wild dolphins, and king’s skinks get spotted around the picnic area. Use the boardwalks, not just if you’ve got a pram or wheelchair, but because this is a protected location. Barbecuing isn’t allowed on the island, but it’s great for a picnic. There are toilets, but you can’t buy food, so pack ahead or purchase something from the cafe near the jetty before the ferry leaves. The island is closed from early June to mid September, and Christmas Day.
Little penguins at The Discovery Centre (photography Rockingham Wild Encounters).
THINGS TO DO
Diving is great all year round in Rockingham. In winter, once you’re suited up and protected from the chill, you’ll find the diving experience to be as good, particularly on overcast days when the reflective light is dimmed, allowing for unparalleled underwater views. Check with local dive shops for tide information and levels of difficulty, and dive the many wreck sites and reef formations; they start only 100m offshore for beginners. Lessons are available and extend to major deep water sites accessed by boats with professional guides.
People travel from far and wide for close encounters with dolphins offshore from Rockingham. Jump on a tour with the local operator and you’ll be able to swim with the dolphins, visit the islands and spot other animals such as sea lions (there’s a variety of tours available).
Fishing and Boating
Rockingham Jetty, Kwinana Beach Jetty, and Palm Beach Jetty offer everything from herring to scaly mackerel and yellowtail, and the occasional pink snapper. There are sometimes good pink snapper catches but note the season for pink snapper is closed from October 1 to the end of January (so don’t fish for them over Christmas!). Fishing Port Kennedy from the beach in the late afternoons is lovely, when weather permits. The area’s ramps, like the one in Point Peron, include signage that explains sanctuary zones: www.transport.wa.gov.au has a comprehensive Boating Guide to Rockingham. Crabbing is popular, but keep in mind crabbing has been closed in Cockburn Sound until December 15, 2014. Rockingham also provides good squid catches (limits apply). If you’re after abalone, make sure you’re permitted to do so first! When boat fishing, stay clear of the sanctuary zones where fishing is banned. The Shoalwater Islands Marine Park brochure from the Department of Environment and Conservation is a handy tool (visit www.dec.wa.gov.au).
Take a trip to Penguin Island
Cast a line off the Rockingham Jetty
Go on a tour and swim with the local dolphins
Take a sea kayak tour through the Marine Park
Try kite- or windsurfing
All these events and more at
Transperth trains get you there in just over 30 minutes from the city – take your bike on the train and cycle to the foreshore. In the car, take Kwinana Freeway and get off at the Anketell Road exit and turn right. At the end of Anketell Road, turn left and follow the signs to Rockingham. Note: there are plenty of car parks on and around the Rockingham foreshore, compared to Perth’s often congested coast.