The geographical history of Rottnest Island has been dominated by changes in sea level, occurring either
as the sea water became trapped and released when ice sheets advanced and retreated or as the land slowly rose and fell in response to changing stresses in the earth’s crust.
It is believed that Rottnest Island was separated from the mainland 7,000 years ago. The sea level rose, cutting the Island off from the land mass, and it is now the largest in a chain of islands (which includes Garden and Carnac Islands) on the continental shelf opposite Perth. The limestone base of Rottnest Island has an effect on all life on the Island, including the types of plants which can grow on it, the species of animals which can feed upon the plants, and the extent to which humans can make use of the Island.
Rottnest Island is referred to as Wadjemup by traditional Aboriginal people from the Noongar language group. As custodians of the land the Whadjuk people have strong spiritual connections to Wadjemup and it remains significant to the Aboriginal community today.