Getting the best quokka selfie is a bit of an Olympic sport.
We’ve all seen THAT Chris Hemsworth photo and we definitely want our own. If you’ve traveled allll the way down under to Perth, the most isolated city in the world, you shouldn’t leave without making the further boat ride over to Rottnest Island…the only place in the world these little guys live in the wild.
Getting a good selfie is hard work. These cute little creatures aren’t as cooperative as they might seem on social media.
Here’s how to walk away with a swoon-worthy selfie with these friendly marsupials.
How to Get the Best Quokka Selfie on Rottnest Island
This post is a part of my Outback Road Trip series.
What is a Quokka?
A quokka is a small marsupial native to the southwest corner of Western Australia. In fact, these days you can pretty much only find them on Rottnest Island (literally Dutch for “Rat’s Nest…love this for them). They used to be on the mainland, too, but their numbers declined due to habitat destruction, hunting, and the introduction of non-native predators like foxes and cats.
They belong to the macropod family, which also includes kangaroos and wallabies. Quokkas are about the size of a domestic cat, with a round, compact body and a short tail. They have brown fur, round ears, and a short (v cute) little snoot. Quokkas are known for their friendly and curious nature.
They are often described as one of the “happiest animals in the world” due to their permanent smiling expression…which is fake btw. They hold their mouths open sometimes…but they ain’t smiling.
How to Get to Rottnest Island from Perth
The most popular way to get to Rottnest Island is by ferry. There are several ferry companies that operate from Perth to Rottnest Island, including Rottnest Express, Rottnest Fast Ferries, and Sealink Rottnest Island. The ferries depart from either Fremantle or Perth City and take around 25 to 90 minutes, depending on the type of ferry and where you leave from.
If you have access to a private boat (aka you RICH rich), you can also sail to Rottnest Island. There are several moorings available around the island, but you will need to book in advance.
For a more luxurious option, you can take a helicopter or plane from Jandakot Airport in Perth to Rottnest Island. This option is more expensive but provides stunning views of the island and the surrounding area. If you do this, call me up in advance so I can come too.
Regardless of which option you choose, remember that there are NO PRIVATE CARS on the island. So you’ll need to explore on foot, by bike, or by taking a guided tour.
Book your trip to Rottnest Island here.
Top Tips on Getting the Best Quokka Selfie
Here’s what you gotta do to get the best ‘gram.
Don’t be afraid to try again
Getting the perfect quokka selfie is hard work. I’m going to show you just a few of my outtakes here, and this is even after deleting literally hundreds of them. I look bad, the lil quokka looks bad, it’s all over the place. When people (looking at you, Chris Hemsworth) post their perfect quokka selfies online, I think there’s a little bit of movie magic happening behind the scenes.
It’s very unlikely (or maybe very likely since it’s Chris Hemsworth after all), that Thor just snapped the perfect Quokka selfie on the first try. You’re going to take hundreds of photos. Make peace with it now. You’ll have at least 45 minutes on the ferry ride back to Perth to go through your photos and decide on the ones that are actually worth keeping.
If you are doing a preliminary look-through while eating lunch and don’t like them…don’t stress. There is likely a quokka sitting at your feet right now begging for a bit of your sandwich. Don’t give it to him (never feed wildlife pls), but do feel free to snap another photo…even if your traveling partners are so over you by this point.
Be willing to lie in the dirt
I spent at least an hour lying down in quokka poo while on Rottnest Island. It is what is, y’all. To get the ultimate selfie with a quokka, you have to be willing to do hard things. And this includes getting mud, poo, and who knows what else crusted into your clothing when one cycle of the hostel washing machine costs $7.
That’s what I call commitment.
These sweet little creatures are significantly smaller than you might think. Unless you stretch your hip flexors every single day and have quads of steel, squatting or kneeling down for as long as it takes to get a good photo is going to become painful.
The best way to get the perfect photo with these little stinkers is to lie on your stomach with your head near where they are. You need to get down on their level for the photos to turn out how you want them. If you don’t, you’ll just get a lot of blurry, out of proportion shots.
Understand the time commitment to getting the best quokka selfie
It took me all day to get a handful of photos that I was proud of. This was, of course, in between biking with my friend, a banging picnic lunch, and enjoying a few coastal walks. Add in some snorkeling, too and you’ll have a pretty full day. But I would dedicate at least an hour to messing around and getting the perfect shot.
You might roll your eyes at me.
This really might seem like overkill.
But are you actually going to come all the way to this far-flung corner of the world and really NOT leave with THE photo?
I didn’t think so. Be patient. Good things take time.
Give them a snack (but not really)
You know the rules just as well as I do.
NEVER FEED A WILD ANIMAL.
Agreed agreed. I would never do this. But would I pick up a leaf from the tree a quokka is already eating from and hand it to her for a lil snack? Maybe.
My friend and I did this at our wit’s end. I noticed this mama quokka was holding a tree branch down and eating from it. So I gave it to her. It was a precious exchange. It felt like a good deed.
So, to review: human food of any kind? NO! Leaves from a tree the quokka is already eating from? MAYBE.
Do with this what you will.
Don’t touch the quokkas
As sweet as these little animals are, don’t ever touch the quokkas while trying to get a picture with them. Don’t pick them up to take a photo of you holding them. Don’t put your hand on them to keep them where you want them.
They are trusting little creatures since they don’t have any natural predators, so we don’t want to take advantage of that.
Know where to find quokkas on Rottnest Island for the best quokka selfie
Most of the quokkas are in and around the town near the marina. That’s where all the shops and restaurants are, so that’s where they hang out. Unfortunately, like many wild animals that interact with humans on the regular, they have taken to begging for food. But remember, don’t feed them.
When I first got off the ferry, I didn’t want to go straight out into the town where everyone else was crowding, so instead I got my bike and my friend and I started exploring the rest of the island. Rotto is absolutely gorgeous, but we didn’t see a single quokka on our lap. They are all in town.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of people “competing” for a photo (totally fair, people can be feral), you can go off and do a bike ride, eat lunch, enjoy a snorkel, etc. Then, when it’s been at least an hour since a ferry last arrived, try your luck to nab your best quokka selfie. Most of the folks should be finished by then and it will be a lot calmer.
You can also walk away from the main town back into the camping/hotel area on the island. There are lots of little friends out and about back there, too and there were way fewer people.
Take quokka selfies in burst mode
This tip is the golden ticket. If you have an iPhone, use the burst feature to get the best quokka selfie. If you have an Android (first of all, WHY?) and second, use whatever similar feature your second-class citizen phone has that’s similar (sorry).
As we now know, quokkas don’t actually smile. It just looks like it when their little mouths are open. Getting a photo mid-chew is going to be your best bet to capture this, but timing it can be tricky.
For best results, just take a burst when you hit a pose you like, then go back through and save the frames where your furry friend looks cute, too.
Spend some quality quokka time
These little guys are natural models, but once you feel like you’ve got your selfie with a quokka, take a step back. I enjoyed just sitting and watching them go about their day, too. They are pretty funny creatures if you give them the chance to be.
Emily’s all over the place. She’s an expert on working holidays, studying abroad, and turning your #GapYear into a #GapLife. Learn how here.
Those little buggers are super cute and so photogenic!
Quokkas seem like very sociable creatures, Emily. But yes, the selfie requires getting dirty. Fun post. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for reading, Hazel!
Hahhaa, what an expereince! I would probably want to stay and live with them, so cute!
Me too! Love them so much.
I am utterly amazed at your diligence in getting the cutest selfie. Your article was hilarious. I think I need to visit this island IF I get to Perth.
the biggest IF hahaha.