THERE is no doubt Rottnest Island, in particular Salmon Bay, holds significant memories for the Watson family of Cottesloe.
Don Watson’s father lived on Rottnest Island in the 1880s, he had his first holiday on the Island as a five-year-old and met his wife Shirley there.
The family recently donated $10,000 towards a shelter at Salmon Bay.
At an informal ceremony on the Island recently, Mr Watson (93) recalled his close family ties to Rottnest.
He said his father Edward (Ned) Jack Watson lived on the Island as a 16-year-old and was shown Salmon Bay by an Aboriginal prisoner, who called it mindabie.
“My father looked out at a bay writhing with at least 10,000 salmon twisting and turning and occasionally leaping clear of the water,” Mr Watson said.
“My father first brought me and my brother Peter here in 1927 when I was five and Peter three, and we camped a few hundred yards away in a tent.
“For six weeks we were often up at dawn on fishing trips exploring the best way to reach way out reefs, and special fishing pools.”
The peace of Salmon Bay was shattered in the lead up to WWII when the guns on Oliver Hill were loaded and fired at a target being towed across Salmon Bay behind the Fremantle work launch, Dauntless.
“I came back to Salmon Bay in early 1946 as a Catalina Flying Boat Captain… on a lovely day I made a flight to Rottnest and yes, I beat up Salmon Bay at 10ft and drew up above where we are standing,” Mr Watson said.
“What a thrill that was.”