This book is a biographical history of Rottnest Island, a small carceral island offshore from Western Australia. Rottnest is also known as Wadjemup, or "the place across the water where the spirits are", by Noongar, the Indigenous people of south-western Australia.

Through a series of biographical case studies of the diverse individuals connected to the island, the book argues that their particular histories lend Rottnest Island a unique heritage in which ​Indigenous, maritime, imperial, colonial, penal, and military histories intersect with histories of leisure and recreation. Tracing the way in which Wadjemup/Rottnest Island has been continually re-imagined and re-purposed throughout its history, the text explores the island’s carceral history, which has left behind it a painful community memory.

Today it is best known as a beach holiday destination, a reputation bolstered by the "quokka selfie" trend, the online posting of photographs taken with the island’s cute native marsupial. This book will appeal to academic readers with an interest in Australian history, Aboriginal history, and the history of the British Empire, especially those interested in the burgeoning scholarship on the concept of "carceral archipelagos" and island prisons.

chapter |18 pages


chapter Chapter 1|18 pages

Willem de Vlamingh

Explorer, 1696–1697

chapter Chapter 2|21 pages

Henry Vincent and Louisa Vincent

Prison Superintendent and Prison Matron, 1839–1845

chapter Chapter 3|16 pages

Jane Elizabeth Green

Female Prisoner, 1840–1842

chapter Chapter 4|17 pages

Henry Vincent and Louisa Vincent

The Later Years, 1846–1866

chapter Chapter 5|18 pages

Lady Mary Anne Barker

The Governor's Wife, 1883–1884

chapter Chapter 6|24 pages

Benjamin, Bob Thomas, Brandy, Yadthee, Harry, Jumbo, and Weeti Weeti

The Commission of Inquiry Attestants, 1881–1887

chapter Chapter 7|20 pages

Karl Lehmann and Martin Trojan

Civilian Internees, 1914–1915

chapter Chapter 8|16 pages

Herman August Kuring

Commandant, 1940–1941

chapter Chapter 9|16 pages

Fay Sullivan

Nurse and Host to Holidaymakers, 1960–1984

chapter |4 pages