Western Australian borders may still be up to the rest of the world, but it doesn’t mean West Australians themselves can’t travel overseas.
With Rottnest Island sitting pretty in the Indian Ocean, just 33kms west of Perth, WA folk can literally travel O/S to one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.
A sandy, low-lying island formed on a base of aeolianite limestone, Rottnest is an A-class reserve, which is the highest level of protection afforded to public land. Due to this, the island is well preserved and gorgeously maintained.
While Rottnest has a permanent population of around 300 people, it enjoys approximately 780,000 visitors a year. This year, due to Covid restrictions, those numbers have lowered somewhat but they certainly include a lot more West Australians than years prior.
Recently, Cream ventured to the island to experience the Luxe Island Seafood Cruise hosted by Rottnest Cruises.
Getting there is easy, with ferries leaving Barrack Street Jetty, Perth each morning, along with docking opportunities from both Hillarys and Fremantle.
Once you land on Rotto, it’s a brisk walk to board Rottnest Cruises’ Crusader III where you’ll be welcomed by a gracious and friendly crew, who’ll greet you with a welcome cocktail on arrival before serving a 7-course gourmet menu consisting primarily of locally caught seafood.
Seating around 25 people, the Crusader III features a large open lower deck, upper viewing deck, front sun lounge, and spacious interior cabin with full kitchen facilities.
Guests get to enjoy their first three courses on any one of the three decks, soaking in the sun and breathing in the clean island air while being made to feel very much at home.
Indeed, the Luxe Island Seafood Cruise feels just like a relaxed, private dinner party. Drinks are free-flowing while the menu is continually served.
So, what is on that menu? Plenty of deliciousness!
First up is an hors d’oeuvre of lemongrass crab cake with Mandurah blue swimmer crab, garnished with pickled cucumber and a sweet chilli lime dressing. Yes, it’s as succulent as it sounds. Next is an appetiser of barbecued northwest-caught prawns, seasoned in a Siam-inspired citrus marinade.
In between courses, guests are invited to catch their own lunch, helping the crew to pull up lobster baskets and praying for a catch of the day. I managed to roll up my sleeves and give lobster-catching a go, albeit with no luck. So it’s a good thing the onboard chef was keeping a couple dozen lobster on ice, ready to cook for our mains.
While I can’t say I’m much of a fisherman, it did feel good to try to reel in lunch.
Speaking of which, next came our entrée of Cone Bay Barramundi prepped with coconut and lime ceviche and accompanied by an avocado and mango salsa. The juices of coconut, lime and mango mingled marvellously in the mouth, getting our tastebuds ready for – not one, but two seafood-themed mains.
The first of the mains is a dish of seared West Australian scallops served in a citrus, herb and garlic sauce. With a cresson and radish salad on the side, the added ingredients are not only wonderful in taste but oh-so good for you.
The second main is is the star of the menu, really, with Rottnest Island Western Rock Lobster cooked to perfection in garlic butter on the barbecue, and served with a sweet and sticky chilli rice and delicious papaya salad.
Dessert came in the form of lemon piquant cheesecake squares, served with a coconut sorbet and mint garnish. Crisp, summery dish to round out a glorious spring day.
The Luxe Island Seafood Cruise lasts just over four hours, and outside of lunch there’s plenty of time to take in the stunning views; to enjoy a swim or snorkel off the boat; or to just laze-about on a dingy nearby.
The cruise is the only one of its kind in Australia where you can catch, wine, dine and savour the glorious flavours of one of the world’s most fascinating island locations.
With a little time to kill between the docking of the Crusader III and our boarding the ferry back home, we visited a gift shop and got to pat a couple of cute quokkas.
It may all have taken place in one lazy Sunday afternoon, but golly it felt like an adventure-and-a-half. Holidays outside of Australia. Who needs them, really?
To book a Rottnest Cruises Luxe Island Seafood Cruise, phone (08) 9586 1136 or visit www.rottnestcruises.com. The cost is $279* per adult all inclusive. Enjoy trying to catch your own Western Rock Lobster and relish in a chef-prepared, 7-course seafood degustation menu, with unlimited beverages and stunning island views.
Photography by Tom Davidson (except lobster fishing photograph by Ben Roccamante).
The Luxe Island Seafood Cruise operates from October to March.
- October, November, February & March
- Tours operate 4 days per week (Thursday to Sunday)
- Off-Peak Season rates – $279 Adult | $259 Seniors
- Mid-December to end of January
- Tours operate 5 days per week (Wednesday to Sunday)
- *Peak Season rates – $299 Adult | $279 Seniors