Your Free Perth Visitor Information Guide

Your Free Perth Visitor Information Guide

Explore. Indulge. Unwind.

Rottnest Island

Rottnest Island is WA’s very own Island getaway, offering a casual atmosphere, stunning scenery and some of the world’s finest beaches and bays. Located just 19 kilometres off the coast of Fremantle, it’s a special place for locals and a popular destination for interstate and international visitors.

Known to local Aboriginal people as Wadjemup, which means ‘place of spirits’ in the Whadjuk language, the island is of significance to Aboriginal communities across the State. Artefacts pre-dating 6,500 years have been found at a number of sites on Rottnest Island, indicating previous Aboriginal occupation of this area prior to the separation of the Island from the mainland. 

The first Europeans took up residence on the island shortly after the settlement of the Swan River Colony in 1829. Almost a century of Aboriginal incarceration on Rottnest Island began in 1838 and the Colonial Secretary formalised the Island’s use as a penal establishment for Aboriginal people in June 1839. The island was used as an Aboriginal prison until 1904 (except for a short period of closure from 1849-1855), and subsequent forced labour camp for prisoners until 1931. Around 4,000 Aboriginal men and boys from all over the former colony were incarcerated on the Island and general public access to the Island during the prison era

Read More