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22 - Signal Ridge - Bush Shed Trek

Rottnest Island Timelines


April 19Tourism Minister Paul Papalia visits Rottnest Island to announce a major redevelopment of the Rottnest Hotel, which will double in size and be rebranded as the Hotel Rottnest Resort. Plans include the construction of “four pools, a restaurant, function room, gym and a rooftop bar”.


May 27 – The new Hotel Rottnest Resort will be a quokka-free zone, with kissing gates to be erected at every entrance of the hotel. Commonly installed on farms, it allows people through the gate but not the animals that follow. Ring lock fences and spiky plants have also been included in the design to keep the quokkas at bay.


August 19 – Toxic chemicals from old firefighting foams has contaminated Herschel Lake, with Perfluoroalkyls and Polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS) chemicals being detected in the surface of the water. An old landfill located in close proximity to the lake, is also found to be contaminated with these chemicals. Many areas in the metropolitan areas that test positive for these types of contamination tend to have previously been landfill sites or former fire-fighting facilities.


September – The RIA agree to spend $400,000 redeveloping the Army Jetty and the surrounding area for a barge landing point and as a reserve jetty for ferries, as part of a new marina hotel project.


September 3 – In a 10 year period, tourists have increased by 50%, with 735,000 visitors being recorded for the 2017-18 financial year. During the peak season, 150 residents live on the island which decreases to 100 during winter. Six children are enrolled in the island’s primary school, which is down from the previous year of 16 students.


October 10 – The Rottnest booking reservation website has been down for a month, as a result of a technical issue with the site. Upgrades to the system were expected to have taken place, with the website reopening for holidaymakers to make accommodation bookings for the 2020 season this week. Following the usual booking traditions, the website crashes and calling the reservation lines is met with a busy tone.

12 - Mud Lake Trench Network

October 24 – Just before 6.30am, the Army Jetty collapses, pinning a 63 year old woman by her broken ankle under a slab of concrete that had collapsed from the jetty. An injured 48 year old mother holds her unconscious 11 year old son’s head above water until a yacht tender (a boat that is used for servicing or providing support to other yachts) takes him back to shore. He’s here with both parents from England, visiting friends of the family, who are the people on the jetty. They had all attempted to help the injured.

             Both women, who are known to each other, are flown to Royal Perth Hospital to be treated for their lower leg injuries. The boy, who is here with both parents on holiday from England to visit the friends he was with on the jetty, is flown to the Perth Children’s Hospital with head injuries and a fractured ankle.

            The previous Government had intended to demolish the jetty as part of their marina development proposal but this was shelved in lieu of financing tourism marketing initiatives. The Army Jetty was previously used for ferry berthing before the currently-used main jetty was constructed in the 1960s.


October 25RIA’s Chairman John Langouland states that “maintenance had been carried out on the jetty from time to time” and that “the authority’s board had never received advice that it was unsafe for pedestrians”.

             Premier Mark McGowan publicly wonders why Rottnest Island is being promoted all over the world as a tourist destination, when there are a number of major issues that urgently require addressing.


October 26Bookings for Rottnest Island’s new eco resort opens today, the first new accommodation to be constructed on the island in 30 years. Costs start from $119 a night in a standard tent during the off-peak season and up to $592 for a deluxe tent per night during the peak season, with ocean views, an ensuite and deck.


October 27 – Rottnest is described as a ticking time bomb, due to the extensive amount of repairs required. From water pipes to electricity, accommodation and its jetties. Despite the RIA being aware of the dangerous Army Jetty crumbling, no action was taken to have it maintained or repaired. Any previous attempts at seeking private investment to address any of the multitude of issues, is seen as an attempt to privatise the island.


November 1 – Premier Mark McGowan discusses the Army Jetty’s collapse, stating that no money had been spent on the jetty in the past seven years and whilst it was closed off to boats since June 2010, it was still open for pedestrians to walk and fish on it.


November 7 – West Australian Tourism Minister insists that whilst the Army Jetty had been deemed unfit for the use of vehicles and boats, engineers had considered it to be safe for pedestrians, including those using it to fish. The 112 year old jetty “was not part of the tourist hotspot’s core infrastructure and there had been no indication of a risk”.


November 19 – Following the election of Mark McGowan as Premier on 17 March 2017, a significant amount of staff had since resigned from the RIA. This included eight staff, who walked away with more than $700,000 in redundancy payments. The highest redundancy payment made to an individual was for $134,448.96, which involved the “abolition of a senior executive service position”. Between 2017-18, seven resigned and 23 ended their fixed-term contracts.

            Details of an internal survey, conducted by the Public Service Commission is publicly released. Results reveal the inside culture of the RIA is “beset by cultural issues and a lack of leadership, with more than half of its workforce wanting to quit”.

            Island accommodation is no longer reserved as ‘exclusive use’ for RIA staff, with the exception of permanent residents such as rangers.

30 - Stark Bay Radar Station - Camp Bush

December 20 – Animal activists, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, are protesting against the use of fireworks for New Year’s Eve celebrations on Rottnest Island. In a letter penned to authorities, they state that loud bangs can be terrifying for the quokkas and other native animals on the island. The RIA has been monitoring quokka behaviour since the fireworks first started 2015 and to date, they have shown no signs of distress. Furthermore, the “activity on the island from the music and people would have more noise impact than the fireworks”.


December 23 – Discovery Rottnest Island, who are set to open up a boutique eco-tent getaway in February, begin recruiting 70 staff, with 50 to be housed on the island and 20 commuting from the mainland.



February 8Discovery-Rottnest Island is preparing to accept guests in three weeks. Consisting of 83 eco-tents with ensuites, the new resort also comes with a “swimming pool, alfresco bar and licensed dining areas”. At a cost of $25 million, the joint venture is a product of Baileys Group and Discovery Parks.


February 14 – A report on the Army Jetty is tabled in State Parliament, which finds that the State Government couldn’t provide any evidence of an inspection taking place, other than in late 2014, on the 112 year old jetty,


February 15Pinky’s Resort glamping accommodation (luxurious camping) officially launches with Channel Seven’s Adrian Barich hosting the night’s formalities. A number of high profile media, influences and tourism partners are in attendance, including ex-TV host Jo Beth Taylor, who recently moved back to Perth from Noosa.


March 5 – During an underwater inspection on the Geordie Bay Jetty, three rotting timber piles are discovered. It has since been repaired with the surrounding concrete cases being replaced at a cost of $52,000.

           Weekly inspections are being carried out, which has already identified minor maintenance issues on a number of other jetties, as well as the need for “corrosion protection to steel pipes and steelwork”.

           Recommendations have been put forward for a major refurbishment of the Fuel Jetty in Thomson Bay.


August 1 – Rottnest Island’s website booking reservation system crashes, as holiday makers try to secure accommodation for next year’s Christmas. Lil Paskos is interviewed and reports that on all three attempts she was able to get through on the website to pay, the website would crash. Any attempts she made to call the phone line were met with a recorded audio message stating they (the RIA) were inundated with calls, before the line disconnected. Lil reflects on the days when a ballot was used to book accommodation, a process that was certainly a lot less stressful.


December 7 – An airport billboard welcoming travellers to Perth, indirectly advertises Rottnest with a smiling quokka and features coordinates for Barcelona, Spain instead of the island.

06 - Black Hill - Bunker Dorm.JPG


January 21 – A $1.9 million redevelopment of Rottnest Island’s West End is one of many tourism infrastructure projects that are set to begin, as a result of $17.2m funding received from the Federal Government.  In an attempt to attract more young adults to the island, a backpacker’s precinct will be created. This is in addition to the McGowan Government’s $16.2m funding for a new fuel jetty and barge landing.


February 12 – Sixty year old concreter Frank Barbatano suffers a broken ankle and fractured vertebrae after formwork on the second floor of the Hotel Rottnest collapses. Frank and his 29 year old colleague are both airlifted to hospital after falling to the ground below. The $24 million Hotel Rottnest redevelopment will see its size doubled, with “80 luxury rooms, two pools, a reception pavilion, grassed areas and function facilities to the venue”.


March 23The McGowan Government announces that Rottnest Island will be used by those required to quarantine. As of 11.30am, the island refuses anyone coming onto the island. Those currently there, both staff and residents, are required to return to the mainland.


March 27 – With the arrival of 800 Australians on board the Vasco da Gama at the Fremantle Port, passengers including 200 West Australians will be required to quarantine for 14 days on Rottnest Island, as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise on other cruise ships. For the remaining passengers, who comprise of 150 passengers and 550 crew, including 109 New Zealanders, they will remain on board until arrangements can be made to fly them out of the country.


May 13 – More than 200 people return to the mainland after finishing their quarantine on Rottnest Island.


June 2The Wadjemup Project is announced, providing the motivation and a commitment to the community to work towards achieving “formal acknowledgement, memorialisation and reconciliation”.


June 6 – Following the re-opening of Rottnest Island for tourism a week earlier, 2210 accommodation bookings have since been made.


September 6 – Rottnest Island see a 67% jump in August accommodation bookings, compared to August of last year.


December 5The new Fuel Jetty opens at 7am, providing a range of improved facilities and island access, including extra power and water outlets. The $3 million project was constructed by Fremantle-based company Total AMS.


December 22 – WA Senator Matt O’Sullivan officially re-opens the Rottnest Island Museum after it underwent a $1 million refurbishment and is renamed the Wadjemup Museum. Located in the Old Mill and Hay Store, it was funded through the Commonwealth Government's National Tourism Icons program.

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