“I think it is fun because of where you are‟: people's experiences of physical activity on Rottnest Island, WA

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Sibson, R, Ryan, M, Scherrer, P, Sheridan, L, Nagorski, J, Henley, N & Ganeshasundaram, R 2008, '"I think it is fun because of where you are‟: people‟s experiences of physical activity on Rottnest Island, WA', in M Craike & DJ Coleman (eds), Conference program and abstracts: 8th Biennial ANZALS Conference - Leisure is the key: unlocking people and communities, Melbourne, Vic., 9-11 January, ANZALS (Inc), Vic., p. 34. ISBN: 9781862726765


Many holiday destinations provide people with different social, cultural and natural environments that promote opportunities for participation in a range of physical activities. Holiday-makers also generally have more commitment-free time which can provide for increased levels of physical activity. There has, however, been limited research which explores the link between holiday-makers and physical activity and, more specifically, how an individual’s leisure behaviour is influenced by their social and physical environments. This paper explores people’s physical activity experiences on the popular, and fairly unique, holiday destination of Rottnest Island, off the coast of Perth, WA. Thirty intercept interviews were conducted with people of differing genders, ages and physical activity levels at various locations within the Settlement area of the island. The most common physical activities undertaken included cycling, walking and swimming and the main reasons for participation were linked to the environment of the island, and for the social, and health and fitness aspects that the experience provided. There was a strong response that physical activity on Rottnest was a leisure experience and it was associated with notions of pleasure, fun, enjoyment, refreshment and stress relief. In contrast, participants’ thoughts on whether physical activity at home was a leisure or work experience varied, with strong indications that those who were less active at home than on Rottnest perceived home-based physical activity as a work experience. This paper suggests that an individual’s social and physical environments are particularly important in having them perceive physical activity as a leisure experience, and that this perception is then important in actually facilitating their participation.