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Rottnest Island

Historic buildings of Rottnest Island

Governor's Cottage and the Hotel Rottnest

The Hotel Rottnest (formerly known as Quokka Arms Hotel) is highly valued by the community of Western Australia as an integral part of their holiday experience on Rottnest Island. It is recognised for its significant vista of Thomson Bay and its social associations as a focal recreation point for many visitors to the Island.

The Hotel was constructed between 1859 and 1864 as the Governor's summer residence, Government House, Rottnest Island. More recently, the Hotel Rottnest is open to the public, offering accommodation and serving as the Island's favoured drinking spot.

The development of the site from 1859 to present day is briefly summarised in the following timeline:

1829-55 - European Settlement at Swan River Colony and Rottnest Island.

1859-64  - Construction and occupation of Government House (Governor's Cottage) used by State Governors as a summer residence.

1913 - Proposed conversion of the Governor's Cottage from a holiday residence to Government House Flats.

1919 - Conversion of Government House to Government House Flats, and use as holiday accommodation.

1953 - Conversion to Hotel Rottnest / Rottnest Hotel and continued use as holiday accommodation.

1966  - Construction of accommodation rooms and bistro.

1966  - Construction of staff accommodation units.

1971  - Construction of additional ablution blocks.

1971  - Construction of a large bar and lounge to the north of the Hotel, along with cool room and loading dock.

1992 - Construction of four new rooms to southern accommodation section; extension of bistro; extension of dining room. Staff quarters were altered and extended, and some new pre-fabricated units added to the south-east corner of the Hotel site.

2004  - The Rottnest Hotel was officially renamed the 'Quokka Arms' by Minister for Tourism, the Hon. Mr Bob Kucera and the grounds and bar facilities undergo extensive refurbishment.

2007 - In November 2007 Garrett Hospitality was granted the lease to operate the Quokka Arms.

2008 - In May 2008 began the first stage of the historic hotel’s transformation. The original central building was restored, the main bar and kitchen completely rebuilt, the courtyard landscaped with a new Island bar added, and the accommodation totally refurbished. The hotel reverts back to its former name as Hotel Rottnest.

Boys' Reformatory

In 1881 the Western Australian Government decided that the Island would be a suitable location to reform young boys who had come into conflict with the law.

The Rottnest Island Boys' Reformatory was opened in 1881 next to the Aboriginal Prison, and operated for 20 years.

Carpenter John Watson was asked to construct the Boys' Reformatory buildings on Rottnest Island and these included a workshop, kitchen, two large dormitories, a school room and four small cells. Upon completion of the building work, Watson decided to stay on as the Reformatory Superintendent and to teach the boys carpentry, joinery and gardening.

The Reformatory closed in 1901. Since 1909 the Reformatory buildings have been used as holiday accommodation, operated as part of the Lodge.

Historic sites on Rottnest Island

Discover these historic sites around Rottnest and find out about the island's rich military, marine and cultural history.
  • Oliver Hill Battery
  • Signal Station and Battery Observation Post
  • Pilot Boat Shed
  • Wadjemup Lighthouse
  • Bathurst Lighthouse
  • World War I Prisoner of War Internment Camp Site
  • Boys Reformatory
  • Kingstown Barracks and Bickley Battery
  • Train and Railway
  • The Lodge – Former Aboriginal Prison known as The Quod
  • Rottnest Island Cemetery
  • Aboriginal Burial Ground
  • Vlamingh Memorial
  • Salt Works
  • Chapel
  • Garden Lake

Further Information

If you would like to find out more information on Rottnest Island historic buildings, please visit the Visitor Centre and pick up a Guide to the Colonial Buildings of the Thomson Bay Settlement.