More than $30 million will be spent on upgrading Rottnest Island’s ageing water supply and road network to provide better holiday infrastructure and prepare for future growth.
Tourism to the Western Australian Island has increased by 21 per cent from 2017 to 2019m thanks in part to the popularity of ‘quokka selfies’, approving accommodation projects and the opening of 17 small businesses on the island.
The island’s first glamping offering, Discovery Rottnest Island, opened last year and new luxury resort, Samphire Rottnest, opens in October, with the high-end redevelopment of The Lodge set to begin in coming years.
Major water improvement works will overhaul the island’s fringing water network and wastewater system, which are under increased pressure from sustained visitor growth and increased business activity.
This will include replacing ageing pipework, upgrading pump stations and overhauling the desalination plant to shore up both drinking water supply and firefighting capacity. The project begins later this year and is expected to be completed by 2024.
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Road upgrades will begin later this month and see more than 10 kilometres of the island’s road resurfaced with more than 47,000 square metres of dense graded asphalt. This aims to improve the road surface for busses and improve cyclist and pedestrian amenities.
WA Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said the projects represent the biggest infrastructure investment Rottnest Island has ever seen.
“We have worked hard over the last three years to elevate Rottnest to the status of a true tourism icon for Western Australia, with the quokka selfie among our efforts to market the island paradise to the world.
“Attracting record visitor numbers is great for the State’s tourism industry, but it has put pressure on the Island’s water supply.
“This investment will allow us to plan for future tourism growth and business activity. We are firmly focused on increasing accommodation, hospitality, experience and tour options on the Island, while preserving its natural wonders.
The State Government, through the Department of Transport’s Regional Airports Development Scheme, has also allocated over $15,000 for the purchase and installation of an Aerodrome Weather Information Broadcast system, which will provide pilots in the area with real-time weather information, helping improve safety at the airstrip.
The $31 million investment is in addition to the State Government’s $16.2 million funding over four years for maritime infrastructure upgrades at Rottnest Island, including reconstruction of the fuel jetty.
This brings the State Government’s infrastructure investment up to $47.2 million in the last three years, on top of recurrent capital funding.
WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the investment into the island’s roads will ensure safer, easier access for residents as well as improving the visitor experience for the 700,000-plus tourists visiting each year.
“There may be some disruption for visitors while works are ongoing – however long term they will help improve the amenity of the island.
“The installation of the Aerodrome’s new weather broadcast system is so important for aircraft using the airstrip, improving aircraft safety, particularly between dusk and dawn.
“Currently pilots have to call up on their mobiles to get the latest weather but this new system means pilots can automatically be updated on weather conditions via radio, while they are in the air.”