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01 - Kingstown Barracks - 40,000 Gallon Water Tank

Rottnest Island Timeline - Incidents

5 November 2003 – The Rottnest Island Authority release a Media Statement into the management of sick and injured quokkas. Although very few quokkas are euthanized, times require it when there are no other alternative for the marsupial if they’re suffering. Most sick and injured quokkas are cared for on the island until they can be released back into their nature environment. In some cases, they are transported to the mainland. Sadly once they’ve regained their health back, they are unable to be released into the natural environment again and spend the rest of their lives in captivity.


The method of euthanasia used is a single, quick blow to the back of the head, causing immediate death from a cervical fracture. This method is accepted by the Department of Conservation and Land Management, as well as the RSCPA. The island authority is trialling an alternative, which is the use of carbon dioxide as a method of euthanasia (6).


26 January 2007 – A fire is ignited from a flare launched off a boat in Fays Bay at around 9.45pm. Holiday makers are evacuated from nearby accommodation, as Rottnest Voluntary Firefighters attend the fire within minutes. They’re able to contain it before it starts to burn out, although had a south/south easterly wind been blowing, sparks from the blaze could have ignited the whole island.

09 - Kingstown Barracks - Detail Issue Depot Store.JPG


June 23  – A whale becomes badly tangled up in fishing gear just off the island and attempts are made by Parks and Wildlife Officers to free it but they’re unable to do so. After fitting it with “new satellite technology that will monitor it and track its real-time location,” officers would try again to free the whale over the next coming days.  


June 28 – A 32 year old man is fined $200 for posting a video on Instagram that shows him giving, what appears to be alcohol, to a quokka. The man is seen bending down with a cask of Vok Pina Colada, which the quokka appears to drink from. Word was quick to get out and island rangers used CCTV footage to locate all the people involved in the incident. The man at the centre of the video was issued the infringement for interfering with fauna before being evicted from the island.


October 7 – With an island population of approximately 10,000 quokkas, 200 are set to be trapped, fitted with microchips and ear tagged. It will be the biggest quokka monitoring program undertaken on the island to date. The program will “examine the body condition, presence of parasites, general health, weaning and the survival rates” of the quokka. Seventy traps will be laid out over three areas of the island on four nights to capture the quokkas, with the trapping program set to be repeated annually for three years to establish enough data to understand the health of the marsupial. The program will be partly funded by the Margaret River Chocolate Company’s Chokka the Quokka, with $2 from every bar sold being donated to the conservation project.


December 26 – A fire takes hold of a 16m cabin cruiser near Rottnest Island. Five adults and a five-year-old child (who aren’t wearing lifejackets) jump into the water and are picked up by a passing vessel before transferring on board a Fremantle Volunteer Marine Rescue boat. It’s believed the fire had started in the engine room, causing the boat to eventually sink.



January 9 – Perth man Rohan Lewis is cray fishing from his inflatable boat in Geordie Bay when he finds himself being stalked by three tiger sharks and a great white. They proceed to swam to his vessel before circling it.


February 25 – A 47 year old woman, who’d been participating in the Rottnest Channel Swim, is in the water near the finish line when she suffers a serious health incident. She receives medical support before a rescue boat brings her to shore to be airlifted to Fiona Stanley Hospital. The woman is put into an induced coma, where she remains in a critical but stable condition.


December 28 – A 42ft boat moored in Geordie Bay catches on fire. The two people on board attempt to put it out but upon being unable to do so, jump into the water. It’s unknown what caused it.



January 20 – A 3.8m great white shark charges two spear fishermen, who are fishing in Geordie Bay, a few times. They make it back to the boat but let the shark take their catch before they get out of the water. A few hours earlier, Surf Life Saving WA had received reports of three 3m sharks in the vicinity of Geordie Bay, posting the alert on their Twitter account.


February 28 – An 18 year old man is rushed to Fiona Stanley Hospital after suffering lacerations to his leg from a boat propeller on the island.


November 26 – Seventeen year old Max Freedman returns to the safety of his boat, west of Geordie Bay, seconds before two sharks are caught on video. He’d been surfing for the past few hours with mates, when the sharks appeared out of nowhere.


December 23A scuba diver drowns off the Rottnest Island coast. CPR is performed but the diver passes away.

06 - Signal Ridge-Wadjemup Hill Views


January 4 – A teenage girl is thrown from her out-of-control dinghy in Longreach Bay. John Wheeler, who watches on from his own boat, tries to stop it by ramming the boat’s motor with his big vessel, which doesn’t work. He throws some rope into the water to trap the propeller, causing the dinghy to stop, preventing any damage to the other boats in the vicinity, as well as any potential tragedies. Fremantle Sea Rescue later shared the video of the incident to their Twitter page, commenting that it could have been avoided if “the skipper was simply wearing their safety kill cord”.


November 16A 12m whale carcass, 100m north east of the Thomson Bay ferry jetty, attracts a feeding frenzy with around 30 sharks. The dead whale had been seen 1km north of Bathurst Point the day before. Officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development had tagged the carcass with a tracking device to monitor its movements.



January 13A spate of stolen bicycles and electric scooters have been brought on by the “annual summer holiday migration”. Many of the bikes are being taken for a ride and then dumped, particularly those belonging to the Rottnest Island Authority or the ferry companies.


September 26 – Self-proclaimed animal whisperer Allan Dixon, posts a video on Instagram about his experience on Rottnest, “a town in Australia that is full of rats”. As any local would expect, a flood of condemning comments results, although many posts question his daft reference as just an attempt to feed his starving ego, as he’d visited the island many times in the years prior and had correctly referred to them as quokkas.


December 28A fire ignites on a vessel moored 100m from the island’s north shore. Two people on board the boat manage to jump into the water. Despite attempts from the Rottnest Island Private Volunteer Fire & Rescue Service to put the fire out with a fire hose and pump, the boat is destroyed and later sunk. The source of the fire is unknown.


January 11 – Police are on the hunt for a man who sexually assaulted a teenage girl in broad daylight. Whilst lying on a beach towel on Thomson Bay Beach, she was attacked by the predator between 10.15am and 12.30pm.


February 7 – Whilst visiting Rottnest Island, UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev films his entourage feeding a quokka. The illegal act, which attracts a $300 fine, is publicly condemned because foreign food can harm quokkas and “the only viable nutrition is the food on the island that they collect themselves”.


December 18 – A 14 year old boy is arrested after sexually assaulting a 15 year old girl in the toilet block. Located near the Rottnest Hotel, the teenagers were known to each other.



January 15Married at First Sight’s TV star Al Perkins posts a photo of himself on Instagram, touching a quokka. An official from Rottnest Island contacts him by email, informing him an infringement would result from the photo, with a request for him to remove it from his account. With some 285k followers, it’s understandable as it could encourage others to touch the quokkas too, which are not only at risk of salmonella contamination but can also make them sick, spread other diseases and even cause mothers to abandon their young if they carry an unfamiliar scent”.


January 18 – A visitor to the island posts a photo of himself on Instagram holding a quokka. Rangers are quick to trace the man down, after recognising his island location in the background where he was staying and issue him with a $200 fine.


March 18 – A 2.5m shark, 200m from Fays Bay, is reported by the Surf Life Saving Westpac helicopter. It’s the second shark to be reported in less than 24 hours, with a 1.5 metre shark seen 500m off Bathurst Point a day earlier. Large marine predators, particularly sharks, tend to frequent areas close to the shore when large schools of fish are around.

Government officials have launched an app called SharkSmart WA, which they recommend beach goers to regularly check when they’re at the beach or marine waters, which gives “real-time information on shark activity”.


(1) Oliver Hill Battery Rottnest Island – Conservation Management Plan

(2) Rottnest Island Management Plan – Volume 1 The Plan (August 1985)

(3) Rottnest Island Annual Report 1998-1999

(4) Rottnest News Spring 2003

(5) A Sustainable Future for Rottnest - A Report by The Rottnest Island Taskforce - 31 May 2004

(6) Rottnest Island Media Release

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