There’s more than meets the eye in Rockingham!
Nestled on the coast just 40 minutes south of Perth, Rockingham offers holidaymakers a relaxed, beachside escape, perfect for a romantic weekend away or family escape. Although the urban spread has developed Rockingham far beyond the beach shacks and holiday cottages on which it was founded, it’s retained a laid back, beachside cool. Popular with young couples, families and retirees, it’s the perfect getaway for anyone looking to enjoy the aquatic pleasures of Western Australia’s vast coastline.
Fishing is a popular past-time amongst locals and tourists, with an abundance of fishing options available including beach, boat and jetty fishing. Grab a rod and a handful of bread (yes bread!) and try your hand at catching a few herring off the beach or the Palm Beach Jetty. Schools of whiting frequently swim up and down the beach too. Pink snapper are also a popular, delicious fish that are easy caught in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds; you’ll need to hire a dingy but there are plenty around – try Tinnie Boat Hire. If you’re on a family holiday, take the kids out squidding in the Sounds – it’s easy and you can eat your yummy catch when you get back to shore. If you’re an avid angler, there’s plenty of pelagic and ‘deep sea’ fishing to be had; fishing charters leave from nearby Fremantle to the north and Mandurah to the south. If you’d like to head out with a ‘Rocko’ local, try Shikari Charters.
From the Rockinham Foreshore, you can look out over Cockburn Sound towards several islands: Garden, Penguin, Karnac and, in the distance, the world-famous holiday island of Rottnest. Each island offers visitors a unique, nature based experience.
Garden Island has some of the best squidding in Western Australia, with a long stretch of (usually) empty beach located on the eastern side of the island. It’s sheltered from the daily sea breeze, affectionately known as the ‘Freo Doctor’ that whips up around lunch time and blows steadily throughout the afternoon up and down the Perth coast. Its sheltered position makes it perfect for visiting all year round and the calm waters are an excellent squidding ground. Public barbeques and picnic areas are available just off the beach however visitors should take care; Garden Island is home to a protected population of dugite and tiger snakes, both of which are extremely venemous. Visitors should also note that exploring Garden Island on foot is not allowed. While the beach and adjacent bush are accessible to the public, the rest of the island is a restricted area for both environmental and security reasons due to the HMAS Stirling Naval Base co-located on the island.
Penguin and Seal Island
Just a five minute ride across Shoalwater Islands Marine Park sits Penguin Island, home to a population of the world’s smallest penguins. Penguin Island is open to the public and is a wonderful spot to explore the native flora and fauna, swim, snorkel and picnic with penguins. Over 1000 pairs of penguins nest on the island each winter while during the warmer months the spend their days in and around the aquamarine waters surrounding the island.
Take a peek into the lives of these tiny, curious birds at the island’s Discovery Centre, where they hold feeding sessions at 10.30am, 12.30pm and 230pm daily. Penguin Island is open September to early June but is closed from June to September for the winter breeding season. You can either make your way to Penguin Island by ferry or hop on a Rockingham Wild Encounters tour; RWE also offer visits to nearby Karnac Island, famous for its population of friendly seals, and swimming with dolphins.
Swimming & Surfing
You can’t go past the beaches in Rockingham and the surrounding areas. There are nine main beaches in the area: Rockingham Beach, Palm Beach, Mangles Bay, Waikiki Beach, Warnbro Beach, Safety Bay, Secret Harbour Beach, Golden Bay and Singleton Beach. Every beach offers exceptional swimming and lounging but Rockingham Beach has the added bonus of being accessible from the city foreshore; Rockingham Beach is also extremely popular with windsurfers in the afternoons when the Freo Doctor blows in. Waikiki and Safety Bay beaches are great for children; Safety Bay beach also has a large playground adjacent to the main beach access with shade, picnic areas and an ablution block. Body boarders and surfers will love the Rockingham coast, especially Singleton, Golden Bay and Secret Harbour.
Food & Drink
After a long day of saltwater and sun, cap it off with fish and chips on the Foreshore. Rockingham Beach Fish & Chips is extremely popular with locals, with lines out the door most evenings. Get in early and snag a spot near the jetty or in the shade of the big trees to watch the sun set over the sparkling Indian Ocean. Since Rockingham’s a laid back, ocean oriented place, it’s not a bustling hive of ‘evening’ activity, however, there are a few places to wet your whistle. For a taste of down to earth Australiana meets England, head to The Nag’s Head Tavern in Coolongup, which has a Bistro/Lounge and separate Sportsbar, complete with TAB. For cocktails on the beach, head to either The Pink Duck or R-Bar.
Rockingham Foreshore is easily explored by foot, however a car is recommended to get you to the stunning beaches further south. Check out Europcar’s car hire deals, perfect for exploring Rockingham and it’s beautiful surrounds. Take advantage of Western Australia’s stunning sun-drenched days and sapphire waters with a visit to Rockingham; make sure you pack your bathers and your sunscreen and enjoy a water lover’s paradise.