Rottnest became an island around 7,000 years ago due to rising sea levels. Aboriginal people used the land prior to that and, apart from fleeting visits by passing explorers, the place was not occupied again until the 1830s. Since then early settlers, Aboriginal prisoners, internees, POWs, the military, WA families and tourists have spent time here. Each have left their mark; some easier to read than others. This paper explores the tensions and opportunities which interplay in an attempt to protect and present this multi- layered history.