Shipwreck Databases Western Australian Museum

A Brief History on the Military Influences in Shark Bay Western Australia

Author/s D. Cooper

Year of publication 1997

Report Number: 122

The military history of Shark Bay is best described as a collection of specific events or events of short duration. During colonisation, Shark Bay was not a focal point of people or farms, the bay being poor in fresh water and with an unfavourably warm climate. Therefore it did not warrant a sustained military presence. It was only with the discovery of substantial natural resources with the potential of providing substantial and timely income for the colony, that the first troops were stationed at a small bay on the eastern side of the Dirk Hartog Island.

This small outpost was the first permanent military establishment in Shark Bay. In the following years the military presence in the Bay would consist of visitations by either land forces or naval units. It was not until the Second World War when a small force of Volunteer Defence Corps were based in Carnarvon that the military would re-establish a permanent presence in the Bay. Since that time, the Bay has been visited by elements of the Australian Defence Force, primarily by the Royal Australian Navy during either coastal or customs patrols. This paper, presented as part of the Western Australian Maritime Museum's Shark Bay Study, focuses mainly on the maritime aspects of the military history of Shark Bay.