Skip to main content

Oliver Hill

Come face-to-face with an integral part of Western Australia’s military history

Head west from the main settlement, between the salt lakes and through the bristling scrub towards the centre of the island, and you’ll eventually start the steep climb up Oliver Hill. And it’s not just another natural vantage point — Oliver Hill is one of the three locations on Wadjemup / Rottnest Island that showcases its wartime history.

Constructed in 1937 to defend Fremantle Port from potential enemy seaborne attacks, the battery of two 11-metre 9.2-inch naval guns at Oliver Hill is now a significant heritage icon. In fact, it’s the only intact emplacement of its type left in Australia.

Sited to take advantage of panoramic views over the island, the guns were capable of firing an armour-piercing shell up to 28 km away, ensuring Fremantle’s safety from enemy attack. Decommissioned in the 1960s, the guns and infrastructure still remain. And while the threat of seaborne attack is long gone, visitors can explore the site, and appreciate the lingering stories from yesteryear. 

After viewing the battery, take a guided tour underground to explore the tunnels that burrow into the sandy hillside, used to house the gun’s engine room and ammunition supply. These tours are run by Rottnest Island’s volunteer guides, and are conducted daily. You can purchase a ticket for your tour at the Visitor Centre, through Quokka Coaches or on arrival.

An incredible natural lookout, Oliver Hill offers a panoramic view over the entire southern side of the island. It’s particularly stunning at sunset, when the fiery colours in the sky silhouette the iconic Wadjemup Lighthouse in the distance.

Due to the secluded nature of the area, however, the setting sun signals time to return to your accommodation, or make it safely back to the main settlement before nightfall.


Be on the lookout for...

Interpretive signage

Guided tours

Captain Hussey historical train

Sunset views of Wadjemup Lighthouse

Where to find Oliver Hill Battery

Oliver Hill is located in the centre of the island, somewhat out of the way. It’s a 4 km, 15 minute cycle from the main settlement, through the salt lakes and peaceful bushland.

The Captain Hussey historical train provides a unique way to get there. Using infrastructure originally built to transport equipment, building materials, and ammunition to the guns, the train runs from Thomson Bay, passing Bickley Point and on to Oliver Hill.

Alternatively, keen hikers can make a stop at Oliver Hill on their way along the Wardan Nara Bidi and Ngank Yira Bidi. This can be a challenging trail in parts, so it’s recommended for experienced hikers only.

 

Train Out of Service
Please note the Captain Hussey Historical Train is currently out of service until Monday 11 December.

Learn more about the role Wadjemup played in the Second World War

The Oliver Hill battery is just one location on Wadjemup that was used for military purposes.

On the nearby Signal Ridge, a 20-minute ride from Oliver Hill, you’ll find the Battery Observation Post and the Signal Station, buildings that helped turn the sandy hill into a secret communications hub. The eastern corner of the island is home to Bickley Battery, whose two 6-inch naval guns also played a part in Western Australia’s coastal defence system. The Kingstown Barracks complex, just north of Bickley Point, was built during the late 1930s to accommodate military personnel stationed on Rottnest Island, who helped man the guns.

For those interested in learning more about the island’s military history, the Ngank Yira Bidi is an engaging place to start. Wander from the main settlement, past Kingstown Barracks, through Bickley Battery, and around the coast, cutting inland to arrive at Oliver Hill.

Learn more about Military & Maritime History
Aerial view of Oliver Hill
Aerial view of Oliver Hill

Frequently asked questions

There are toilet facilities at Oliver Hill and bins on site, but be sure to pack food and water to fuel your adventure. Alternatively, Kalli’s at Rotto is nearby at Wadjemup Lighthouse, providing food and drink options for those exploring the centre of the island.

It’s a steep hill in parts, but at just 15 minutes from the main settlement it’s quite an accessible ride. You can also get to Oliver Hill is on the Captain Hussey historical train.

The Oliver Hill guided tours are run by trained volunteer guides. They take around an hour, where you get to descend into the tunnels underneath the gun emplacement and learn more about how the battery operated.

At $15 per adult, $7 per child, and $34 for a family (two adults, two children), tours depart daily on the hour from 10 am to 2 pm.