Our Day in Exmouth, Northwest Cape, a very special experience.

In the early 1970’s, Barbara and I and our newly adopted daughter Lisa, were living the Alexandria, Virginia. I was serving as the Chief-in-Charge of the Message Center for the Bureau of Naval Personnel.

A few months before my two year assignment was to end, I was asked by the Chief in charge of duty assignments there at the Bureau, to meet and talk about my next assignment. During that conversation I was offered three choices; Guardamar Spain, a base in Scotland, and the Naval Communications Station Northwest cape, Australia. Since weight restrictions prohibited shipping all of our household to Australia, we opted to select the VLF Transmitter site at Guardamar, Spain, now some 56 years later we will get to visit the site of the Naval Communications, Northwest Cape which was renamed Naval Communications Station Harold E Holt.

The view of the transmission towers from out at sea during our approach to the anchorage for the coastal town of Exmouth, which did not exist until the US Navy Communication Station was built. Now 56 years later it is a thriving community.

A diagram and plaque of he antenna farm. According to our guide the main tower is the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere.

A view from the access road. The tallest structure sits on top of the building on the left, and because of the power of the RF (radio frequency) transmissions, the building is constructed completely of wood to hamper induction.The diesel power plant is to the left of the sign.

This view from the “light house” hill shows how desolate and featureless the terrain is in the countryside. The buildings is the location of a campground for Caravans (Aussie term for campers). One can see the antennas in the distance.

A complete navy facility was built between the town and the transmitter site, and was dubbed Little America by the locals. Housing for navy families were built in town.

Exmouth has a strange USA/Australia military lovefest past, that explains why there is a civil airport smack bang in the middle of the RAAF Learmonth base. (Fun fact: Exmouth was established in 1967 to support a US Naval Communication Station and until the US Navy pulled out in 1993, the roads were still reversed to be US right-side driving.) The Navy also imported 200 left hand drive cars to be used on the base and in town.

Had we been stationed here, we would have been flown directly from the states, probably by MATS (Military Air Transport Service), as well as our household goods.

Just before our tour ended, Carlie, our guide reported that the temperature today was 111.7 degrees!!

I’ll close with this picture, although I did not get this picture today, as our bus was on the way to the antenna farm, traffic was halted, to allow a father Emu and his five half grown children to cross the road. After baby Emus eggs are laid hatch their father takes over the incubation and the raising. Mom just goes “on Holiday”.

Later, Barbara encountered the same “gent” as he held court at a hotel entrance.

Next: Another day at sea, then a visit to Broome, WA

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5 thoughts on “Our Day in Exmouth, Northwest Cape, a very special experience.

  1. Thank you for sharing this interesting piece of history. I could have lived in Scotland? What the heck!!! LOL
    So glad you finally got to see what you were missing out on in Australia after all these years. Having a tour there was probably very interesting. For the record, I think you made a better choice.
    Love you guys! Lisa

  2. I think Spain was a good choice for you. 56 years ago Exmouth would have been a barren waste.
    No shopping for Barbara 🙂
    Love that father emu takes over chicks and mom goes on walk about.

  3. WOW 111.7 degrees ! That would make me very ill. I’m sure NOW that you, and especially Barbara, are glad this place was NOT your choice of post. And no wonder the place is barren. Just how many times do we get this kind of hind-sight experience in our lives ! To actually see how a decision could have affected our lives and that of our family. And now you know exactly how good your choice of Spain was all those years ago.

    Those emus are ahead of their time. She lays the eggs, does her part and goes on holiday! What a life of luxury.

    Thanks Jack.

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