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Rottnest redevelopment receives Heritage commendation

Today is World Heritage Day – a day that encourages us to celebrate all the worlds cultures, bring awareness to important cultural monuments and sites and to espouse the importance of preserving the world’s cultures.

Officially known as the International Day for Monument and Sites, recognition first began in 1982 by the International Council for Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS); an organisation established on the principles set forth in the Venice Charter, otherwise known as the 1964 International Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites.

To coincide with World Heritage Day, we’re bringing you good news from the 2019 Western Australian Heritage Awards, which were recently announced at the World Heritage Listed Fremantle Prison late last month.

In their 27th year, the awards recognise the exceptional contribution by heritage professionals, volunteers and organisations and celebrate their commitment to heritage conservation, adaptive reuse, interpretation and tourism across the state.

While the big winner was the adaptive and imaginative reuse of the historic Katanning Roller Flour Mill into the Premier Mill Hotel, which was recognised across three categories, the Rottnest Limestone Sea Wall Conservation project received a commendation in the ‘Conservation or Adaptive Reuse of a State Registered Heritage Place’ category.

Wood & Grieve Engineers, now part of Stantec (WGE) were appointed as Project Superintendent for the stabilisation and masonry conservation of the 150-year-old limestone sea wall. WGE’s Structural Engineers worked closely with the Conservation Architect, Archaeologist and Arboriculturalist to preserve the historically significant structure, which was partly constructed by Aboriginal convicts in the 1800’s.

The $1.5 million project took over four months to complete, which saw the project team address soil retention pressure and the impact of tree roots whilst conserving areas to the front and rear of the wall.

“The Rottnest Limestone Sea Wall project was an exciting and uniquely challenging project to be involved with,” WGE Director and Structural Section Manager, Rowan Stokes, said.

“The structure extends 300m across the Thomson Bay frontage and was originally built using as an ashlar limestone construction, and over time historic tree roots and slender geometry combined to make the seawall unstable.

“Juggling wall stability issues, public safety concerns, tree preservation, social heritage and archaeological considerations, our team worked closely with experts to identify the optimal solution.

“A highlight of the solution was the 300m³ of subsurface grouting used to ensure longevity in the stability of the wall.

“There were some fascinating finds made throughout the project – animal bones, old clay pipes, mysterious voids and blocked up doorways in the wall were all uncovered during the work, which was both a privilege and humbling experience to be involved. All discoveries were documented and conserved by the project Archaeologist in consultation with the Aboriginal Heritage Liaison Officer, who was present throughout the redevelopment.

“I’d like to congratulate the Rottnest Island Authority, Annabel Wills Architect and all the team members involved in the Sea Wall Conservation project on the State Heritage commendation. It’s a wonderful acknowledgement of the collaborative efforts and respect for the site we all had.”

For more information on the winners and commendation recipients, please visit the Heritage Council’s website:

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