Only 19 km off the coast of Fremantle, but an entire world away, lies the sunny holiday island of Rottnest. Blessed with a casual atmosphere, picturesque scenery, dazzling marine life and some of the world’s finest beaches and pristine bays, Rottnest Island is Western Australia’s very own island paradise. It covers 1,900 hectares and can be considered one of WA’s must-see destinations, attracting over 500,000 people each year.

So we were quite excited when we were asked by the Programmed Group to deliver driver training to their team on the Island, specifically customised to fit their business requirements and the unique hazards and issues encountered on the Island.

“But cars aren’t allowed on Rottnest?” Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Programmed provides facility and operational management of all aspects of the island. In addition, Programmed supports and maintains the Rottnest Island Authority’s commitment to minimise damage to the environment through managing waste, power generation and water supply.

Their fleet contributes to a total of more than 90 vehicles on the Island: cars, buses, luggage trucks, rubbish trucks, gophers, golf buggies, tractors and wharf vehicles. They even have All Terrain Vehicles, an ambulance and fire trucks.

And just so you know, vehicles have to give way to EVERYTHING.

RAC DTEC’s Steve Olsen begrudgingly jumped on the Rottnest Express for three glorious spring days on the Island.  Despite loyally serving as a Sergeant in the WA police for 30 years and working as a driver trainer for six, Steve was still required to obtain a waiver from the Rottnest Ranger which allowed him to drive on the Island without a Rottnest Driver’s Licence.  All drivers must comply with the policies and regulations; Rottnest take their responsibilities to the Island and its inhabitants extremely seriously.

Once authorised to proceed, Steve delivered customised driver training to all levels of Programmed employees including their management team. RAC DTEC’s Defensive Driving courses cover a broad range of scenarios supporting safe drivers across many ages, abilities, geographical regions and road and traffic conditions. However, due to the Island’s unique hazards the course was modified to prepare drivers for their Island experience.

Some of the obstacles staff regularly have to navigate include:  children and school groups throwing caution to the wind; local and foreign tourists laying across the road to get the perfect picture of a quokka; the large volume of cyclists, some of whom may not have been on a bicycle in years; low branches (the new Renault luggage trucks are taller than the previous vehicles); the many and varied fauna (quokka’s, ducks, crows, snakes); and of course the incredibly beautiful scenery.

The training consisted of manoeuvring the vehicles through these challenging obstacles, ensuring that the safety to both visitors and staff remains paramount; pre-starting and caring for their vehicles and Rottnest rules and regulations for driving vehicles on the Island.

Chris Derrick (Programmed’s Island Operations Manager) had this to say about the training he organised for the team:

“Driver behaviour on the Island is an important element of ensuring our visitors have an experience which exceeds their expectations. Most visitors to the Island simply don’t expect vehicles – which unfortunately are a necessity to provide the logistical support required to operate the Island’s infrastructure and services. The training “begrudgingly” provided by Steve was excellent, and timely as visitation increases throughout the coming weeks. Thanks to Steve and RAC DTEC for making Rottnest an even safer, more relaxing and child-friendly place to visit.”

The participants got a great deal out of their training and Steve is looking forward to returning to the Island to conduct more training… especially as Rottnest shines over the summer!

RAC DTEC offers a broad range of driver training from motorcycles to road trains and everything in between!

If you are interested to know more please visit dtec.com.au or call 6189 4646