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Rottnest Island

Aboriginal history of Rottnest Island

Members of the Nyungah Circle of Elders and the Rottnest Island Deaths Group Aboriginal Corporation at the removal of an ancient stone tool which is possibly more than 50,000 years old. The tool is being examined and scientifically dated by experts from the Australian National University.

Artefacts have been found at a number of sites on Rottnest Island pre-dating 6,500 years ago and are possibly tens of thousands of years old, indicating previous Aboriginal occupation of this area prior to the separation of the Island from the mainland. Since the most recent rise in sea levels from 10,000 to 6,500 years ago, the Island has been separated from the mainland.

The local Aboriginal people were not sea-faring and did not have vessels capable of making the crossing from the mainland and therefore did not traditionally inhabit the Island following the rise in sea level.

Known to local Aboriginal people as Wadjemup, the Island is believed to be a place of spirits and is of significance to Aboriginal communities.

There are 17 sites on Rottnest Island listed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972-1980. This Act makes it an offence to alter an Aboriginal site in any way without written permission from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.


Pinky's beach, Rottnest Island