The name of Perth base HMAS Stirling was selected to honour the name of Captain James Stirling, Royal Navy, the naval officer who landed on Garden Island in 1827 and returned in June, 1829 to found not only the first European settlement in Western Australia, but also the first free colony anywhere in Australia.
The Governor was given a tour of the island and regaled of stories from the past and the importance Garden Island has played in WA’s history by Captain Ainsley Morthorpe, CSM, ADC, RAN.
From the South of the island upwards, the tour started at Collie Head at the two Anti-aircraft guns sites. During the Second World War, Cockburn Sound was protected by anti-aircraft guns on Garden Island and the mainland. The first of these to be established – J Gun Battery or Challenger Battery, in 1942 – was located at the north western tip of the island.
Next, was over to Quarry Beach. This is where the Navy have established a renewable power site.
Heading further north, Captain Morthorpe showed the Governor the 9.2 inch gun battery site at Scriven Battery. This location was built in haste under secretive conditions during 1942 when Australia was under the threat of attack from the Japanese.
Moving right to the top of the island and our next stop was at the Beacon Head battery site where the Governor had the great view over to Fremantle, Perth and the Sound.
Arriving at Cray Bay, a picturesque, untouched beach that looked right out of a movie set. Captain Morthorpe explained that visitors are welcome to visit Garden Island to picnic, swim, fish, surf, sail and experience these outstanding locations for themselves, but they must travel by private boat and leave before nightfall.
Last but by no means lease, the final stop was at Lagoon Cove. This location was a sight to behold with the reflection off the water providing a breathtaking sunset vista. Abundant with natural beauty, the site is also home to fossilised eucalyptus tree roots that have stood the test of time.
The fragility of Garden Island and its environment had been recognised and some 50,000 Indigenous trees and scrubs were planted to stabilise the soil and enhance the wildlife’s habitat.
Other major additions have been the helicopter support facility located on the southern end of Garden Island, extensions to the RAN Submarine Training and Systems Centre, the Training Centre – West complex and a trials, research and support facility.
HMAS Stirling‘s primary purpose is to provide operational and logistics support to the RAN ships, submarines and aircraft based in WA.