Did you know?
During the late 19th century, attempts were made to improve the deteriorating native vegetation. Most failed and it was not until the early 20th century when the island was designated as a holiday resort that resources were allocated for this purpose.
In 1907, landscape gardener A. M. Cowan was granted generous funds to undertake large scale planting across the island. As was the practice of the day, a diversity of ornamental exotic plants were chosen. However the harsh conditions and lack of expertise lead to heavy losses. In 1908, with better techniques and consistent care, more plants survived. The Moreton Bay Fig trees (Ficus macrophylla) on the eastern side of Somerville Avenue were part of this program. This shady street is named after long-term Rottnest Island Board member, William Somerville who took a passionate interest in the island landscape from the 1930s.