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Whereis > WA > Rottnest Island

Map of Rottnest Island, WA 6161

Rottnest Island (Nyungar: Wadjemup), often colloquially referred to as "Rotto", is a 19-square-kilometre (7.3 sq mi) island off the coast of Western Australia, located 18 kilometres (11 mi) west of Fremantle. A sandy, low-lying island formed on a base of aeolianite limestone, Rottnest is an A-class reserve, the highest level of protection afforded to public land.

Together with Garden Island, Rottnest Island is a remnant of Pleistocene dune ridges. Along with several other islands, Rottnest became separated from the mainland around 7,000 years ago, when sea levels rose; the traditional Noongar name for the island is Wadjemup, which means "place across the water where the spirits are". Human artefacts have been found on the island dating back at least 30,000 years, but visitation and habitation of the island by the Noongar people appears to have ceased following its separation from the mainland.

The island was first documented by Willem de Vlamingh in 1696, who called it 't Eylandt 't Rottenest ("Rats' Nest Island") after the quokka population. Following establishment of the Swan River Colony (now Perth) in 1829, the island was initially used by British settlers for agricultural purposes, and a permanent settlement was built in Thomson Bay. From 1838 to 1931, Rottnest Island was also used as a prison and forced labour camp for over 3,600 Aboriginal people, who were subjected to extremely harsh conditions on the island. Other historical uses of the island include as a military site, and for internment camps housing enemy aliens. Many of the island's buildings date from the colonial period, often made from locally quarried limestone, and are now used as accommodation for holidays.

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