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Wadjemup Project

The Wadjemup Project is a state-wide Aboriginal-led project facilitated by Rottnest Island Authority with support from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.


Rottnest Island Authority kaadatj Wadjak Noongar moort. Baalap Wadjemup kaaradjiny, baalabang malayin nakolak-ngat wer wirn kalyakoorl noyinang koort boodja-k wer kep-ak. Ngalak kaadatj nedingar, birdiya wer boordakan Noongar moort. Ngalak karnadjil kaadatj maaman wer noba wirn ali kalka nginow noyiyang Wadjemap ngardak boodja-k. Baalabang moort maambart-boort, ngooni-boort, kongk-boort wer Birdiya-boort.

Rottnest Island Authority acknowledge Whadjuk Noongar families. They Wadjemup caring, their culture and spirits always connected Island-to and water-to. We acknowledge ancestors, Elders and future Noongar families. We truly acknowledge men and boys’ spirits who still remain connected Wadjemup under ground-in. Their family’s father-without, brother-without, uncle-without and Elder-without. Translation courtesy of Sharon Gregory .

Delivering truth-telling, ceremony, and commemoration strategies to acknowledge and reconcile the Aboriginal prison history on Wadjemup.

The Wadjemup Project is a state-wide Aboriginal-led project facilitated by the Rottnest Island Authority with support from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

This project aims to formally acknowledge the island’s Aboriginal history through:

  • Truth Telling - to acknowledge Wadjemup's history of Aboriginal incarceration and its role in the colonisation of WA;
  • Ceremony - to facilitate healing in line with Aboriginal cultural protocol; and
  • Memorialisation - of the former prison sites on Wadjemup, including the Quod and the Wadjemup Aboriginal Burial Ground.
Content warning
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this contains material that relates to the island’s prison era and may be confronting and/or challenging. Rottnest Island Authority does not endorse the language and views of the past, and sincerely apologises for any distress this content may cause. The content may also contain images and names of individuals who have passed away.
The Quod

Progress so far

The Wadjemup Project Progress Report

The Wadjemup Project Progress Report details the historical and contemporary events and issues that underpin the Project, including an overview of the long-term concealment of Aboriginal prison history on the island, the impacts on Aboriginal people across generations, and the efforts of the people who have contributed to reconciliation and the search for truth, acknowledgement and commemoration of the Aboriginal men and boys who were incarcerated and died on the island.

Read the Progress Report

Recent achievements

A suite of projects and activities, including state-wide community consultations, have been undertaken since the 1980s. The more recent developments facilitated by RIA are outlined below:

  • 2020: Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Hon Ben Wyatt and Minister for Tourism Hon Paul Papalia announced the commencement of the Wadjemup Project.
  • 2021: The Wadjemup Project established the Wadjemup Whadjuk Cultural Authority Reference Group to lead state-wide consultation regarding the future of the Wadjemup Aboriginal Burial Gound and the Quod. Members appointed are Neville Collard, Herbert Bropho, Farley Garlett, Margaret Colbung, Elizabeth Hayden and Karen Jacobs.
  • 2020–2023: The Wadjemup Project established the Wadjemup Whadjuk Cultural Authority, the Wadjemup Whadjuk Cultural Authority Reference Group and the Cultural Protocol Framework.
  • May 2023: The State Government committed $27.5 million over the next four years to commence Stage Two of the Wadjemup Project, which is Aboriginal-led and facilitated by the Rottnest Island Authority with support from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.
  • 2023: Minister appointed the Wadjemup Project Steering Group (WPSG) to lead the Wadjemup Project Stage Two. Members of the WPSG are Farley Garlett, Neville Collard, Herbert Bropho, Karen Jacobs, Sandra Harben, Glennys Yarran and Muriel Bowie.
  • 2023: Aboriginal Productions and Promotions (APP) are awarded the lead consultant role to work alongside the WPSG to deliver the statewide consultation for the four project elements.
  • 2023: Consultation begins with Whadjuk and Noongar communities.
  • 2024: Regional consultation begins with Aboriginal communities throughout Western Australia.
  • 2024: Quod conservation works scheduled to begin to ensure the stabilisation of the buildings ahead of decisions on future use These milestones and the continued shared journey towards truth-telling, healing and reconciliation would not have been possible without the contribution and guidance of many individuals.

Ground Penetrating Radar Reports

Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is an established geophysical method that transmits radio wave pulses into the ground to stud what is subsurface. It does not disturb the ground and is a useful method of identifying utilities such as pipes, cables, and potential burials.

The boundary for the Wadjemup Aboriginal Burial Ground (WABG) has been mapped over multiple decades through collaboration between Aboriginal representatives, state government agencies and professional heritage practitioners (including anthropologists, historians and scientists).

In 2023, further ground penetrating radar assessments were conducted in proximity to the existing boundaries of the Aboriginal Burial Ground and Quod. These scans revealed anomalies within the soil that indicate additional burial sites.

RIA are currently in the process of programming additional surveys to reconfirm the extent of the Wadjemup Aboriginal Burial Ground, as requested by the Wadjemup Project Steering Group.

The RIA continues to work closely with the island’s Traditional Owners to memorialise the Burial Ground and Quod. 

Results of the ground penetrating radar (GPR) assessments are available below: