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05 - Oliver Hill Battery - No.1 Gun Views

Oliver Hill Battery

Oliver Hill is named after Adam Oliver, who was a gaol warder on Rottnest in the 1860’s (1) and is located an approximate 3.5km from the settlement.


The Oliver Hill Battery served an integral part of the fortress defending Fremantle Port during World War 2. With an ability to traverse 360° and reach targets in excess of nine and up to 27 kilometres, the role of the battery was largely that of a Counter Battery. This provided protection for vessels anchored in Gage Roads from enemy warships.


During counterbattery training (and incidents had they occurred), the battery was controlled from the Battery Observation Post which was situated at the nearby Signal Ridge, in close proximity to the lighthouse. The four-storey building was also the Fortress Observation Post, which had been constructed in May 1939. It had previously been located within the confines of the Battery but this was found to be impractical.


In 1963, the Battery was stripped of equipment and declared obsolete. The guns were handed over to the Rottnest Island Authority to serve as a tourist attraction. They are the only remaining guns in their original place in Australia.

March 1936 – Contractor FJ Deacon began working on the Oliver Hill Battery site at a cost of £55,344, finishing the work in December 1937. The work was supervised by Frank Hussey of the No.5 Fortress Company, Royal Australian Engineers, who had previously carried out an initial site survey of the island. The civilian army contract was tendered by the Commonwealth’s Department of the Interior, although the “installation of the guns and associated equipment including engines and electric generators” were installed by the 6th Heavy Battery RAA and the Royal Australian Engineers (1).

The Oliver Hill Battery was listed for heritage by the National Trust on 8 February 1980 and the National Estate's Register on 28 September 1982. The listing states, "All constructions on the Commonwealth Reserve both on the surface and underground including the railway installments, tunnel complex and gun mountings and at Signal Ridge near the main Lighthouse, the three storey brick Battery Command Post Building".

Whilst 9.2 inch guns were also installed on Garden Island, both 9.2 inch guns at Oliver Hill remain in their original place, the only place in Australia (2). Globally, the only other original 9.2 guns that remain in the same position, can be found at Robben Island in South Africa.


(1) Oliver Hill Battery Heritage Trail – Rottnest Island Authority (1988)

(2) The Coast Defences of Western Australia 1826-1963: A Study by R. K. Glyde for personal use (Printed 1991).

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