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Work began yesterday on the conversion of the Rottnest Is land 90-year-old Government House, into an hotel, which should be functioning late this year. The first job was the demolish ing of the wall diving two large, high-ceilinged rooms, which will ultimately be the hostel's public bar. Also yesterday the wood en structure on the second floor -a comparatively recent addi tion-was torn down to preserve the continuity of the old design. The plans for the conversion were made by Mr. E. le B. Hen derson, honorary architect of the Rottnest Board of Control. The work will be done by staff members of the board. The outward character of this stately building, designed in a psuedo-baronial style, with many turrets, battlements and 30 high stone pillars supporting the bal conies, will be preserved in en tirety. The building of a vice-regal summer residence at Rottnest was authorised in the late 1850's by the then Governor (Capt. A. E. Kennedy, R.N.). The plans were prepared by a draughtsman of the Royal Engineers then stationed in Perth. It is thought that the same military draughts man also designed Government House, Perth. But it was not until John Hampton (1862-1868), a naval surgeon who had been in charge of convict tarnsports, became governor, that the decision to build a government house at Rottnest was implemented. About 1863, construction was begun by Henry Vincent, the first superintendent, in 1839, of the then convict settlement. Vin cent, who had lost an eye under Wellington in the Napoleonic wars, had already built most of the seafront cottages, and the sea wall, which are still stand ing. Government House, Rottncst, was completed in 1864 and was used by successive governors until just before World War L

One of the last vice-regal holi dayers at Rottnest was Lord Strickland, who loved it so greatly that he renamed most of the bays and points after him self, his wife, and his numerous daughters. Apart from Government House, a few relics of the vice regal days remain at Rottnest. At the salt lakes are the almost petrified posts and ambushes from which the guns of the gov ernors and their friends once roared at the black and white snipe, which still abound at the island.