Volunteers and Military Heritage honoured on Wadjemup

Rottnest Volunteers on the beach

On Wednesday 22 November, volunteers and military history enthusiasts converged on Wadjemup / Rottnest Island for two significant events – to give thanks to those who dedicate their time to the island and to honour the military history of the island.

The Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) invited almost 100 representatives from a number of the island’s volunteer groups to Pinky's Rottnest Island.

The Volunteer Breakfast commenced with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony.

One of the strategic focus areas in the Rottnest Island Management Plan 2023-2028 is dedicated to building strong partnerships – and specifically, valuing and supporting volunteers. Volunteer organisations and their members contribute more than 46,000 hours each year to Rottnest Island.

Many of the volunteer groups have been around for decades. They have become part of the island’s fabric in either raising awareness and appreciation of the island’s unique environment, supporting the island’s woodland and coastal management plan, or conducting tours of major attractions and points of interest. Island volunteers work in the plant nursery, undertake surveys to protect the island’s bird populations, provide skilled trade and technical support, and maintain the railway network and much-loved tourist train – the Captain Hussey. The Rottnest Island Volunteer Fire Brigade and associated emergency services also play an important role in protecting people and the environment.
Following the breakfast, invited guests convened at the Oliver Hill Battery for the official opening of the Ghost Engine interpretation space.

Incorporating the reconstruction of one ‘ghost engine’ – a recreation of the original engine that powered the military site – the Engine Room intricately weaves history and innovation, and offers the visitor a glimpse into the mechanical heartbeat of the site. There are reformatted displays to include interpretive objects, personal histories, graphics, sound space, and audio visuals.

Defence Heritage Interpretation Plan (DHIP) and Army Museum of WA representative, Robert Mitchell MA GAID said, “The Oliver Hill Engine Room project respects and honours those who built this site and those who served here…. We have all gained and learned from our contribution to the project. But after all this is said, the Oliver Hill Engine Room project is your heritage, to enjoy, share and understand.”

The Rottnest Island Authority thanks everyone involved in the project including the island’s DHIP group, military historians, and the expert craftsmanship and skilled individuals who worked on the refurbishment.

Further information about the island’s volunteer groups and how to become involved can be found here.

Visit the Oliver Hill Battery, next time you’re on the island.