With airfares skyrocketing, flights getting cancelled and the price of fuel going through the roof, more and more West Aussies are looking to holiday on their own doorstep. For my inaugural Travelling Dad report, I have stumped up for a big one — a day trip to Rottnest Island as part of a mid-week break in Perth. My hope is to give fellow travellers, particularly mums and dads, a few tips and insights into having a great holiday, without going too far and breaking the kids’ piggy banks to fund the fun. So, for a family of two adults and three kids to go to Rotto for the day, it cost us $433 as a whole family, including the Rottnest Express ferry charges and taking advantage of hire bikes. It’s a pricey day out, but — with a few tiny niggles — so worth it. At 9.30am, our trip started at boatshed B in Fremantle, ready and raring to catch the Express over to the island. Parking was a doddle, the Wilson car park is only a five-minute walk and had plenty of space when we arrived. At $10 for the full day, this was cheap by Freo standards. The journey was smooth, we were fortunate to have calm seas. Boarding and departure were also smooth and quick. The addition of on-board snacks didn’t seem needed as the entire journey was only 30 minutes and there were a couple of people feeling a bit worse for wear by the end. Off the ferry and onto the jetty for our bike pick-up, and here is the only negative about the entire trip. The hire bikes were less than average to say the least. Of the five we hired, three needed a lot of maintenance and the other two were only slightly better. Each bike had three gears which suited the terrain, but the brakes and chain were not in tip top condition. But as a far as the trip went, this did not dampen our spirits at all. Departing the jetty, the first thing we noticed were the number of facilities on the island itself. Around the ferry area there were several cafes, including Dome, and a few visitor buildings dotted around. With the addition of well over a hundred holiday chalets and hotels, it wasn’t the deserted island this uneducated Pom expected. However, the scenery changes dramatically as soon as you get a couple of kilometres away from the hustle and bustle. The island does have a few hills but everyone we came across managed them on bikes, even if it meant walking the last few metres. Rottnest itself is simply stunning, with beaches and activities to suit all needs. Large sprawling areas suited for family games to small secluded out of the way bays if you want some peace and quiet away from the crowds. The island also offers tours and for the thrill seekers, speedboat rides. Of course, you can’t talk about Rottnest without mentioning its most famous residents, quokkas. I must confess we were all anxious about whether we would get to see one, thinking they were this reclusive marsupial that only came out on the rarest of occasions. Far from it! They are everywhere that people are — in the picnic areas, in the cafes and right in front of you when you are trying to navigate some of the trickier bends on the island. It was a little sad to see a few people ignoring the “don’t touch and don’t feed rules”, but I guess big yellow signs just are not clear enough for some? The little mini ‘roos’ are gorgeous and getting a customary selfie was no drama at all. We were all utterly exhausted at the end of the day, but loved every second. If I was to give my top three pieces of pre-trip advice it would be these: 1. Bring empty water bottles. There are filling stations all over, save your pennies on bottled water. 2. Bring some snacks. The prices on the island were (I guess understandably) very high. For example, we were fleeced $10 for a very small box of hot chips. 3. If you want to bike, either bring your own (the ferry makes this easy for you) or wait until you are on the island to hire one of the more expensive e-bikes. It was our first time and we would recommend it to anyone and everyone — if you have been before, try it again but maybe stay over this time? Rottnest was awesome but we couldn’t go all the way to Perth without trying some other family-friendly places to visit. Kings Park, the zoo, the wildlife park are all great, but I thought I would share some less visited places. Here are my top three family-friendly things to do in Perth. 3. AQWA: At $90 for a family of five, the aquarium at Hillarys is a great option for an educational and relaxing half day out. With its location next to the boat harbour it’s great to combine with a swim in the secluded man-made bay, a few funfair rides and a meal at one of the great family restaurants. We love Little Caesars for its unique pizza choices. 2. The Nostalgia Box museum: Located in the centre of Northbridge, and on the blue CAT route. The museum features a game console exhibit where you can look over retro consoles and an interactive games area where you can see what these retro games were all about! This was perfect for me, and my “geeky” kids and we ended up staying here for a full afternoon. At only $45 for an adult and two kids, this was great value. 1. Do an Escape Room! Whether it’s the Escape Hunt in Fremantle, Escape This in Northbridge or one of the other dozen or so rooms in the Perth area — there is an escape room to suit all levels. At $190 for a family of five for only an hour’s entertainment it is certainly not one of the cheaper list of activities in Perth to do, but you will be talking about it for days afterwards. Who needs Europe, who needs America, who needs the east coast fun parks? Get out and explore our wonderful State.