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25 - Oliver Hill Battery - No.2 Gun 9.2in Mk X

Rottnest Island Army History

Please note: REFERENCES for all Rottnest Island pages will be added shortly!

Complete research will be completed in the near future

This project is not affiliated with the Rottnest Island Authority

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A big thankyou to our Major Sponsor of the Rottnest Project!

A big shoutout to our awesome supporting sponsor for his support in this Rottnest Island Battery project with his help with two visits to the island in January! Whilst he prefers to remain anonymous, he has this to say:


"With support from fellow urbexers and this one guy who used to crawl out of his bedroom window at 2 in the morning to explore the abandoned Victorian era birdhouse, East India Railway Hoteland any other manner of dusty abandoned buildings he could find as a kid.“

May 1935Rottnest Island is inspected by Lieutenant-General Sir JJ Talbolt Hobbs, Brigadier Martin, Major Pain and Lieutenant Hussey for potential sites to install 9.2” and 6” gun batteries.


July 1934 – Sir Colonel Vernon Ashton Hobart Sturdee (1890-1966), Director of Military Operations and Intelligence, travels from Melbourne to Rottnest for a further inspection of the island for potential sites to construct barracks, workshops and other facilities that would be required for the future coastal defences (Oliver Hill Battery Rottnest Island).


1935 – The original jetty located at the southern end of Thomson Bay, built in 1906, is extended by 47 feet and strengthened to enable a heavy lifting overhead gantry to be installed. This would unload the ships of their deliveries, particularly the building materials for constructing the military instalments (Oliver Hill Battery Rottnest Island).

Rottnest Island Jetty

June 1935 – The Commonwealth Department of Interior is “authorised to proceed with fortification works on Rottnest Island” which consists of the emplacements for two 9.2” guns, two 6” guns and four searchlights, as well as magazine shell stores, the powerhouse and directing station.

September 1935 – Army Engineer Lieutenant Hussey is transferred from Sydney to the island to supervise construction work of the railway and early works on the island, which is being carried out by private contractors under the supervision of army personnel (Oliver Hill Battery Rottnest Island).

December 1935 – A new submarine communications cable is laid from Cottesloe to Bickley Point for the Department of Defence (Oliver Hill Battery Rottnest Island).


1936 - The Wadjemup Lighthouse is connected to power.

1 April 1936 – The submarine communications cable enables the first telephone exchange on Rottnest Island.

July 1936 – The land forming what would become Bickley Battery is acquired by the Department of Defence.


October 1936 – Construction begins of the main barracks at Bickley Point, to house personnel attached to the Coastal Defence Battery.


September 1937 – Todd Brother Builders begin constructing the emplacements for the Bickley Battery at a cost of £8,471 (Oliver Hill Battery Rottnest Island – Conservation Management Plan).

Military preparations of 11th Battalion on Rottnest Island, 10 November 1937

Military preparations of 11th Battalion on Rottnest Island, 10 November 1937

05 - Oliver Hill Battery - No.1 Gun Views

April 1938 – Construction of the Bickley Battery gun emplacements is complete.


1939 – Troops from the 5th and 10th Australian Garrison Battalion are stationed on Rottnest (Oliver Hill Battery Rottnest Island).


September 1939 – Two 6” MK XI guns are installed at Bickley Battery on PV6 mountings.

1940 – The Department of Defence takes over control of Rottnest Island, also using it as an internment camp and later for POWs.

1 February 1940 – All cameras brought onto Rottnest Island by military personnel are to be collected and retained until their departure from the island (AWM52 4/19/7/1).

07 May 1940 – Hutments will be made available to those quartered at Bickley Bay and rationed at Kingston Barracks (AWM2019.366.2875).


23 June 1940 – Rottnest Island is declared a prohibited place under National Security (General) Regulations (AWM52 4/19/7/1).


16 July 1940 – Relatives of troops stationed at Rottnest Island will now require passes to visit (AWM52 4/19/7/1).

1941 – An indicator loop is installed between Swanbourne and Rottnest Island (Oliver Hill Battery Rottnest Island).

16-23 June 1941 – Camouflaging is continuing on the directing stations (AWM2020.71.3758).

19 February 1942 – The Rottnest Lighthouse will be required to remain, as it’s not known when shipping will continue and it is most essential that ships are kept moving. Despite this, it was also put forward that the lighthouse serves as a navigational beacon to help identify the location of the port to potential enemy submarines. The Navy Board is to be consulted on this issue (NAA: A1196, 12/501/94).


26 February 1942 – 3” mobile AA guns move to Rottnest (AWM2019.366.2873).


18 March 1942 – Direct telephone lines are to be immediately installed, connecting Rottnest to the Extended Defence Office (XDO) and from Area Combined Headquarters (ACH) to Combined Defence Headquarters (CDH) (NAA: A1196, 12/501/94).


17 October 1942 – 100% of civilian mail being posted from Rottnest Island will be subject to a censorship test (AWM2019.366.2949).


02 November 1942 – Operation Order No.18 orders that Oliver Hill and Bickley Batteries is to be manned as counter-bombardment batteries from dawn to sunset and as close defence batteries from sunset to sunrise (AWM2019.366.2949).

Rottnest Island Australia 1942-11-24 Observation Post Rottnest under construction

Observation Post Rottnest under construction at Rottnest Island
- 24 November 1942

25 November 1942 – Two 18pr MKII guns are transferred from Rottnest to 12 Aust Tng Bty. They are replaced with two 18pr MkIV guns (AWM52 4/19/7/5)


11 December 1942 – Water restrictions are in place on Rottnest Island to ensure the supply of water can be maintained throughout the summer months (AWM52 4/19/7/5).


23 December 1942 – A fire on Rottnest Island causes some considerable damage on the northern side, including damage to a searchlight (AWM52 4/19/7/5).


17 July 1984 – The Department of Army are considering alternative sites for their Rottnest training area. It’s been suggested that the WA Government should find them a replacement site for the 55.7 hectare area but in a joint statement made by Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Premier Brian Burke, the army will be taking responsibility for finding a new training area, which could leave WA having to pay $2.2 million to help replace the army’s facilities (Army Studies Other Sites, The West Australian).


AWM52 4/19/7/1 - [Unit War Diaries, 1939-1945 War] Fremantle Fixed Defences, September 1939 to February 1942

AWM52 4/19/7/5 - [Unit War Diaries, 1939-1945 War] Fremantle Fixed Defences, October - December 1942

AWM2019.366.2873 - Commander Coast Defences Western Command - September 1939 to February 1942

AWM2019.366.2875 - Commander Coast Defences Western Command - January 1940 to December 1941 – Appendices

AWM2019.366.2949 - Fremantle Fixed Defences - October - December 1942

AWM2020.71.3758 - 8 Anti-Aircraft & Fortress Company - May to July 1941

NAA: A1196, 12/501/94 – Command Planning Committee - Western

Oliver Hill Battery Rottnest Island: Conservation Management Plan. Completed on behalf of the Rottnest Island Authority by Palassis Architects (December 2005).

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