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  • Writer's pictureOut and About

Rottnest Wadjemup History - A Day on an Island

Updated: May 20, 2023

Rottnest Island has so much interesting history and a short walk around The Settlement will showcase most of it with the heritage buildings and interpretive signage guiding you.

Did you know that the shopping precinct used to be the the Stable Yard? The Hay Store is now the Museum and next door is the shell of the Boys Reformatory which housed boys as young as 8 between 1881 and 1901.

The Chapel, built in 1860, doubled as the school during the day until the Island School House was built in 1890. The Chapel served many other purposes from 1904 until it was reconsecrated in 1865. The Holy Trinity Catholic Church sits up on the hill.

The infamous Quod was built in 1864 and housed the Aboriginal prisoners: 373 died in custody and are buried in the Aboriginal Burial Ground.

Nearby Lomas Cottage was originally a one room cottage but later a second room was added on. It has always been the home of gardens growing produce for the island residents and still grows figs, mulberries, lemons and muscat grapes.

The houses along the front of Thompson Bay North were where the important citizens lived and although they now serve as accommodation you can read about their history along Vincent Way.

It is a short walk past the Island Cemetery to the Garden Lake Walk which features a horizontal palm tree!

You can also catch the Island Bus, cycle or walk from The Settlement at Thompson Bay to Kingston Barracks built in 1936 and an important part of our defence during World War 2. We walked past the Oliver Hill Train Station and followed Parker Point Road to Army Jetty. From there we joined the Ngank Yira Bidi along the coast to Kingston Barracks.

On our way back we walked along the beach between Army Jetty and the settlement passing the hotel jetty at the historic Hotel Rottnest, Thomson's Restaurant and the Dome Cafe before checking out the old Salt Store.

By this time, being day trippers, it was time to head home on the ferry. We enjoyed the stunning view across the harbour with Perth's CBD in the background before bidding goodbye to the island, ready to scan the ocean for whale sightings.

We certainly made the most of our day having walked the Gabbi Karniny Trail in the morning before exploring the settlement! Next time we come we will finish the Ngank Yira Bidi which follows the southern coastline to Oliver Hill.

You can pick up comprehensive maps of Rottnest at the Visitor Centre on arrival.

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In the spirit of reconciliation Out and About- Family Nature Connection acknowledges the traditional owners of the Wadjak boodjar (Perth land) and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

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