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10 - Oliver Hill Battery - Tunnel Passage Exit

Rottnest Island Timelines


April 6 – All accommodation over the Christmas period books out. Thousands of people spend hours waiting in queues online, on the phone or in person. When they finally get through, almost every chalet, bungalow, cabin and camping spot is booked out for the whole of December. The only thing that remains is a single camping spot.   It comes after a technical issue with the website caused an outage until it was resolved at 9.10am.


May 3The reservation system opens at 8.30am and it takes 46 minutes for all self-contained accommodation to sell out. The RIA confirmed more than 9000 people were stuck in online queues earlier in the morning, whilst 3000 people had phoned the call centre and 300 people lined up in person on both Rottnest Island and Fremantle. Many vented their frustration about phone lines dropping out and the website failing to load on social media.


May 20 – Tourism Minister David Templeman reveals a new redevelopment plan for the Rottnest Lodge. Place Development is expected to take over the lease from the current lease holders, Karma Group, in 12 months’ time.


June – The Wadjemup Museum is recognised at the Museums and Galleries National Awards event and wins the 2021 award for Permanent Exhibition or Gallery Fitout for a project budget between $150,000 - $500,000.


November 7 – The RIA release their fourth Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan, which will see an increase in the voices and participation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities in managing the island.


December 9 – A new sculpture called Koora-Yeye-Boordawan-Kalyakoorl (Past-Present-Future-Forever) is unveiled, welcoming visitors to the island. The nine metre high artwork, created by WA artists Jahne Rees and Sharyn Egan with “significant input from the Whadjuk Noongar community,” depicts a Noongar warrior and a breaching whale. The $350,000 artwork was a joint investment made by the State and Commonwealth Governments and is constructed using limestone, concrete and aluminium.

            As part of the Commonwealth’s National Tourism Icons Program that saw $17.2m of funding injected into Rottnest, $4.5m was spent on revitalising the Settlement Mall and $2.2m on constructing “new seating, shade shelters, barbecues and beach showers” in The Basin, the island’s premier swimming spot.


December 29 – The State Government gives the green light for a world-class, a $40 million dollar redevelopment of the existing Rottnest Lodge. Currently leased by Karma Group, 46 new rooms overlooking Garden Lake will be constructed, as well as refurbishing 56 rooms in the Boys Reformatory buildings. The development also includes new food and beverage outlets, a restaurant with a focus on Western Australian produce, “a wellness centre with six treatment rooms, community space, two pools and service centres”. Work is due to begin mid-2022, with completion expected sometime in 2025.

01 - Rottnest Island - Forbes Hill


April 4  – The RIA receive $25,000 as part of a Coastal Adaptation Grant from the Department of Transport to develop a Coastal Hazard Risk Management and Adaptation Plant for the island, which will encompass all 63 beaches and 20 bays.


May 10Berths 4 and 5 on the Main Jetty will be demolished and reconstructed from today, in order to continue providing a service to the ferries for the next 50 years. It’s expected they’ll be complete early in June, with a new concrete deck that is 5m longer and wider. Geomarine Pty Ltd have been contracted to undertake the project with funding received from the State Funded Capital Program – Jetties.


May 13 – Parts of the island is left with little to no running water for several hours, due to the water supply being turned off for a routine pipe inspection. The water is restored upon completion but issues with water pressure results. The RIA issues a statement that the water can only be used for toilets and bathing and not for drinking until it’s been tested. This is the standard protocol following a water outage, which can take up to 24 hours, as the test is done in Perth.

            Toilets on parts of the island are unavailable due to the issues with the water pressure. The RIA informs in-house guests who’ve been affected by the issue, that they can amend or cancel their accommodation booking.


May 30National Reconciliation Week is launched at the WA Maritime Museum with a short film titled “Survivors of Wadjemup” by Perth film maker and Murdoch University lecturer Glen Stasiuk. The film will go on to become:

  • Finalist in the 2022 Collarts Atom Awards for Best Documentary – Short Form (30 minutes or less)

  • Finalist and semi-finalist in the 2023 Australia Independent Film Festival

  • Official selection at the 2022 ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival

  • Official selection at the 2022 British Columbia Environmental Film Festival

  • Winner of the 2022 Short Film for CineFest Oz Film Festival

  • Winner of the 2022 Open Films - Port Shorts Film Festival

  • Winner of Outstanding Achievement Feature Film at the Factual 26th West Australian Screen Awards and nominated for 6 West Australian Screen Awards.


A new all-terrain wheelchair is purchased using an $8,500 State Government grant and can be pre-booked through Pedal and Flipper Hire. This will enable people with disabilities to access the beach and areas outside the settlement.


June 1 – The booking system is open for holidaymakers to secure accommodation for February but as always, the website crashes. RIA blames a “significant technical issue overnight”.


August 17 – Rottnest officials are calling for expressions of interest for a proposal to develop the 11,000sqm site, which is home to the Family Fun Park. Part of the site includes the movie theatre, mini golf, arcade and trampoline park. With the lease up at the end of October 2023 and in a bid to improve visitor experiences, “new recreation and leisure facilities, cafes, restaurants or accommodation” could take its place.

            Development plans for the Samphire Rottnest accommodation block at the southern end of the Thomson Bay Settlement opens for public comment, although it will only be used for staff. Submitted by Garrett Hospitality, who operate Hotel Rottnest, Isola and Samphire, plans propose rooms for up to “211 people, communal facilities and an outdoor gym”.


October 22 – A beacon will be installed in the Thomson Bay channel, with 11 navigation aids being replaced in time for the summer season. It comes after the current navigational aids are reaching the end of their design life, after more than 40 years. There has since been “design changes and use of high-quality durable products” which gives navigational aids an expected life span of 50 years.


December – Strategies are being developed for the island that will see Aboriginal management of the land increased.


December 6 – The RIA launches a new website called Stay Rottnest. This will see alternative dates being offered when a person searches for accommodation in times when availability is limited. It will also help manage the peak loads, which have for years been a constant problem, resulting in the website crashing and phone calls being met with busy dial tones.


December 8 – Following the closure of the Gov’s Bar, island visitors no longer have a quiet drinking place. The golf courses’ Wadjemup Clubhouse are applying to have their liquor licence varied, so they can offer their hospitality service to the public and not just members.


December 30The island accommodation booking system is set to be overhauled to prevent the reservation system being used to transfer bookings to other parties and will come into effect on January 4.

16 - Cape Vlamingh Signal Station - Living Quarters 1


January 4New booking terms and conditions are enforced that will see those with accommodation bookings being unable to transfer it to another person. Although someone else can be added to the booking, the person who made the original booking will remain solely responsible, liable for any costs incurred for the duration the accommodation is used and are required to regulate the behaviour of guests.


February 6 – The RIA move their head office to 1 Mews Road, Fremantle.


July 18Passengers on board the SeaLink ferry making its way back to Fremantle from Rottnest are caught off guard when a large wave causes a substantial amount of water to enter the ferry through an open door. Children are said to be in tears and hyperventilating, passengers reach out for their life jackets and an electrical burning smell is reported.


March 23 – Bookings made in-person at the RIA’s Fremantle office or the island’s Visitor Centre on Open Days will no longer be accepted. (Open Days are the peak season periods when accommodation can be booked.)


December 3 – Eligible schools in lower-social economical areas will receive a heap of new initiatives, including a 100% subsidy of accommodation fees and ferry transfers. Pedal & Flipper bike hire, Rottnest Volunteer Guides Association education tours and generous camp fees will also be heavily subsided, in a bid to enable school children to experience Rottnest Island during Term 3 in 2024.



February 2 – An Australian mountain duck (also known as an Australian shelduck), is Rottnest Island’s newest celebrity doing the rounds on social media with visitors taking selfies with him. The species are common to the island as they feed on the brine shrimp that are home to the salt lakes. The internet sensation dubbed Neville, was said to have been a hand-reared duck raised by a family that live on the island but it’s believed that many of the island’s ducks could be ‘Neville’. Neville has also recently been “declared the unofficial Chairman of Rottnest Island”.


March 20 – Fifty-one self-contained units in Geordie Bay will receive significant upgrades following the end of the April school holidays which encompass:

  • Modern kitchens and bathrooms

  • Refurbished bedrooms and living spaces

  • New flooring, fixtures and fittings

  • Old windows and doors replaced

  • Balconies and courtyard amenities will be upgraded

Refurbishment is expected to be completed in time for the start of the September school holidays. Ablutions will also be upgrades at Narrow Neck and Settlement Mall.

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