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Rottnest Island

Resources and Downloads

Make your learning experience richer. Following are a list of publications about the Island’s Aboriginal history, heritage, colonial buildings, birdlife and terrestrial environment that will help you on your way. There are also a list of websites and lesson suggestions for teachers and camp leaders.

PUBLICATIONS


Rottnest Island – It’s our Heritage by RIA
Rottnest Island allows a number of layers of Western Australian history to be appreciated in the one area, including colonial, Aboriginal, maritime, military, recreational and social heritage.  This publication is intended to provide a ‘snapshot’ of the significant historic value of the Island from first discovery by Dutch navigators to current day.

This RIA Publication is available for purchase either on the Island from the Visitor Centre or by post by completing a purchasing request form.


Rottnest Island – A guide to Aboriginal history on Wadjemup by RIA

Rottnest Island is referred to as Wadjemup by traditional Aboriginal people from the Noongar language group. As custodians of the land the Whadjuk people have strong spiritual connections to Wadjemup and it remains significant to the Aboriginal community today.  This publication aims to tell the ‘untold’ story of many Aboriginal men and boys imprisoned on the Island during the 93 years it operated as a prison, while acknowledging the traditional and contemporary connection Aboriginal people have with Wadjemup. It is also a major step toward reconciliation for the Island.

This RIA Publication is available for purchase either on the Island from the Visitor Centre or by post by completing a purchasing request form.


Rottnest Island – A guide to the colonial buildings of the Thomson Bay settlement by RIA
This publication provides a description of the history of the buildings of the Thomson Bay settlement on Rottnest Island and their architecture. All constructed in the 19th century and primarily of limestone, with the exception of some minor 20th century brick or timber-framed additions, the buildings – most of which are still standing today - provide visitors a step back in time to discover elements of the island’s history and industry.  This publication explains what each of the building’s purpose was and what they are now used for.

This RIA Publication is available for purchase either on the Island from the Visitor Centre or by post by completing a purchasing request form.


A Bird’s Eye View of Rottnest Island by RIA
Rottnest Island provides an idyllic escape from the hectic routine of life on the mainland – and not just for humans. A combination of distinct habitats, lack of predators and minimal human development has enabled many species of birds, mammals, insects and reptiles to prosper on the Island. Birds in particular, have benefited greatly from this isolation. This publication, written in partnership with Birds Australia, describes the main habitats on Rottnest Island – including the coast, salt lakes, heath, woodlands and settlement - and introduces 54 bird species which live on or regularly visit the Island.

This RIA Publication is available for purchase either on the Island from the Visitor Centre or by post by completing a purchasing request form.


Rottnest Island – Terrestrial Paradise by RIA
The Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh described Rottnest Island as a ‘terrestrial paradise’ when he visited it in 1696. He described an island covered in dense woodland with rich wildlife. Since then, human impact has drastically altered the natural features of the terrestrial environment.  This publication explores the Island’s weather conditions, geographical history, vegetation, flora and fauna including an overview of its mammals, reptiles and bird species. The provisions of water, power and waste management are also discussed.

This RIA Publication is available for purchase either on the Island from the Visitor Centre or by post by completing a purchasing request form.


Coastal Plants Perth and the South-West Region by Barbara Rowland and Elizabeth Rippey

Coastal Plants is a guide to the plants that grow along the Perth coastline and on the islands between Dongara and Dunsborough.

There are descriptions of over 130 plant species, from seagrasses to the beautiful Boronia alata, from the mangroves of the Abrolhos islands to invasive Arum Lilies, from the giant Tuart eucalypts to beach spinifexes. Each description yields a wealth of detail on the habits and peculiarities of not only the plants, but also some of the animal life that is associated with them.

Superbly illustrated with line drawings and watercolour paintings of each species, Coastal Plants is an important reference work on this diverse group of plants.



Far From Home by Neville Green and Susan Moon 

'Far From Home' identifies more than 3600 Aboriginal prisoners who served time on Rottnest Island. Some were associated with historic events such as the Bttle of Pinjarra (1834), the Flying Foam massacre (1868), the Jandamarra uprising in the Kimberley (1892-94) and the Forrest River massacre (1926). Some travelled with the explorers John Forrest and Francis Gregory, and others, while on parole, severed on the frontiers as police assistants, pearl divers and guides for the telegraph surveys.

Accompanying the biographical listing of prisoners is a historical account of the Rottnest establishment and prison life, describing the experiences of men who were separated from their families and sent to a cold and deary island off the coast of Western Australia. For more than 370 it was a one-way journey, and today, denied the recognition they deserve, they lie in unmarked graves far from home.



Fifty Years Afloat by Hugh Cameron 

Fifty Years Afloat details the Rottnest and Swan River ferry boats and the men who ran them. Hugh Cameron’s interesting and well-written account of his experience in small vessels, particularly ferries in Western Australia, and on dredges in Queensland, makes a welcome addition to the published material dealing with aspects of local maritime history.


Gone to Rottnest by Trea Wiltshire 

Rottnest Island has iconic status for Western Australians, who have always valued it for its relaxed atmosphere and unspoiled simplicity. Gone to Rottnest tells the story of the island, tracing its transformation from a place of imprisonment to a favourite holiday destination. Trea Wiltshire celebrates the natural history and simple pleasures of the island—biking and snorkelling, diving and bird watching. Readers are introduced to the birds that will share their stretch of beach, the vegetation they will ride through when exploring the island, the fish they may catch, and the migrating whales and playful dolphins of the Indian Ocean.


Guidebook to the Geology of Rottnest Island by Phillip E Playford 

Guidebook to the Geology of Rottnest Island by Philip E Playford provides a detailed account of the geology of Rottenst Island, as well as being a handy field guide to key geological localities. It will be of interest not only to professional geologists, but also to teachers, students, and members of the general public who wish to learn something about the geology while holidaying on the island.


Jack’s Island by Norman Jorgensen 

Jack’s family is based on Rottnest Island during WWII while his father helps build an airfield. Jack and his best friend Banjo have the run of the island and a remarkable knack for getting into trouble — but as Jack says, ‘I’m not that bad, I just get caught a lot!’ Dafty, a simple but loveable young boy, dotes on Banjo and Jack. When Dafty seeks revenge against the local schoolmaster for a punishment inflicted on Banjo, life suddenly becomes more serious. This poignant, multi-layered text offers young readers a valuable insight into life in Australia during the war.

Teaching notes are also available


Rottnest Island by Sally Keady, Illustrated by Patricia Negus

This 69 page book covers every aspect of beautiful Rottnest Island, Western Australia’s favourite holiday place. It is an informative travel guide, history book and nature guide all rolled into one easy to read book for people of all ages. More than 100 beautiful watercolour illustrations by well known Western Australian artist, Patricia Negus perfectly captures the relaxed holiday feeling, the wide variety of animals and plants and the historic buildings of the Island. A stunning gift or souvenir for all lovers of ‘Rotto’. 



Wonders of Western Waters: The Marine Life of South-Western Australia by DEC 

Western Australia's temperate waters are alive with amazing and diverse marine life. There are leafy sea dragons resembling pieces of floating seaweed, brightly coloured sea slugs that feed on corals, crabs with pieces of algae and sponge growing on their backs for camouflage, and colourful cuttlefish that can change colour and texture in an instant.

Wonders of Western Waters: The Marine Life of South-Western Australia contains descriptions and photographs, of many marine inhabitants, and gives an insight into their natural history and relationships with other plants and animals in their ecosystems.

Written and photographed by two of WA's leading underwater photographers, Sue Morrison and Ann Storrie, Wonders of Western Waters: The Marine Life of South-Western Australia is a must for divers, snorkellers and anyone with an interest in our wonderful marine life.