IES enviro-scapes | Wadjemup Aboriginal Burial Ground Project Stage 1

In August 2015 IES enviro-scapes was engaged by the Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) to complete stage 1 of this important project.

Rottnest Island (Wadjemup) was a prison for Aboriginal men and boys for almost 100 years. A large burial ground with an estimated 370 graves is located in the main settlement situated immediately north of the Quod building.

The main aim of Stage 1 was to define the burial ground area by constructing an organic pathway around the exterior.


For the IES enviro-scapes team this involved: 

  • Managing all site preparation work, including site survey and path mapping and services location and mapping
  • Heritage Monitoring of all ground disturbance work including undertaking the preliminary anthropological work and liaising with the on-call archaeologist.
  • Aboriginal community liaison and ongoing communications
  • Construction of a 900m long pathway to delineate the Burial Ground area
  • Installation of stabilised rammed earth walls at site entry points
  • Installation of 130metres of fencing
  • The relocation of an existing access road
  • Pedestrian and bicycle traffic management
  • Tree pruning and removal throughout the site and revegetation preparation groundwork.
  • Mulch and erosion control
  • Demolition of several buildings located on the site (with subcontractor).

Due to the significance of the site and community concerns regarding ground disturbance works, the decision was made that the construction team would be made up entirely of Whadjuk Nyoongar men.

The young men, who represented most of the Whadjuk Nyoongar family groups, were provided with nationally recognised training in Skidsteer and Roller operation and chainsaw operation at the beginning of the project.

An engineer with experience in path construction (non-Aboriginal) was appointed to work with the Aboriginal site manager, himself a newly qualified engineer.

During the 12 week construction period, the team lived on the island, arriving on Monday morning and returning on Friday afternoon.

The project was completed in November 2015 and was celebrated with a smoking ceremony and dance performance by the Whadjuk Nyoongar men who 

completed the work.

Download National Trust News article Feb 2016

Download Rottnest Island Authority Brochure

Download West Australian Newspaper Article Dec 2015