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Garden Island Batteries


City of Rockingham

Place Number

There no heritage location found in the Google fusion table.


Cockburn Sound Locations 9 & 696 Garden Island

Location Details

The 'parent' for this record is P4501 Garden Island. The 'child' for this record is P3301 Challenger Battery (also known as J Gun Battery). This is one of the four batteries included in this record & it has also been identified individually. The remaining 3 batteries do not have individual records.

Other Name(s)

Beacon Battery
Challenger (J Gun) Battery
Scriven Hill Battery and Collie Section Battery

Local Government




Construction Date

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
(no listings)

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Municipal Inventory Adopted 24 Apr 2018 Category A

Category A

Worthy of the highest level of protection- recommended for entry into the State Register of Heritage Places. Development would require consultation with the City of Rockingham. Maximum encouragement to the owner should be provided under the City of Rockingham Planning Scheme to conserve the significance of the place. A detailed Heritage Assessment* and Impact Statement should be undertaken before approval is given for any major redevelopment. Incentives to promote heritage conservation should be also be considered.

Register of the National Estate Registered 30 May 1995

Heritage Council

Statement of Significance

Garden Island Battery Complex is a collection of structures constructed in 1943 including gun emplacements, observation posts, operations and ammunitions bunkers, and several other ancillary elements which together were part of a network of defence strategies around the port of Fremantle. The place has cultural heritage significance for the following reasons;
• the place, together with the other elements of Western Australia’s coastal defence system, known as ‘Fremantle Fortress’ erected in response to external threats during WWII and together have the potential to yield information about coastal defence strategies;
• the Battery Complex demonstrates technical achievement in its design – the guns were placed to enable them to cover any shipping approaching within range south of Rockingham and Safety Bay and the western approaches to Garden Island, as well as providing cover for the boom defence which was laid across South Channel;
• the remaining built elements of Garden Island Battery are representative of WWII coastal defence architecture, of functional design and simplistic but robust construction used by the military engineers in a remote sand dune environment;
• Garden Island Battery is associated with members of the Australian Army specifically the Artillery who served at this site or similar batteries. It is also valued by members of this cohort for its demonstration of past techniques and practices;

Physical Description

The four batteries are in various conditions. All are constructed to a military template seen in other sites along the Fremantle Fortress coastline including Oliver Battery on Rottnest, ‘k’ Battery on Point Peron and Leighton Battery. All are functional and utilitarian in design and form, being constructed of brick and reinforced concrete.


In the 1930s seabourne trade, both coastal and overseas was still of great importance to Australia. The incident of the Graman raider the Emden near the Cocos Islands in November 1914 highlighted the vulnerability of the west coast of Australia. The ‘Singapore Strategy’ was adopted in Australian defence policy with reliance on a strong Navy for Australian defence over a standing army and air force. Because of the deteriorating international situation the Commonwealth Government started to construct a network of coastal defences. The 1941 sinking of HMAS Sydney off the coast of Western Australia and the fall of Singapore in 1942 reinforced the feeling of vulnerability of the western coast and the importance of Fremantle. New coastal defences were concentrated around Fremantle.
By 1944 Fremantle was protected by one of the largest and most comprehensive gun systems available for any Australian port—nine coastal batteries manned by 47 officers and 829 other ranks. The defences covered all approaches to the port from seaward. The Fremantle harbour, as well as being a vital trade port for Australia, provided a base to Allied submarines with some 170 submarine making a total of 416 highly successful war patrols out of Fremantle during World War II.
Boom defences were installed at Cockburn Sound in 1942 to protect shipping against enemy submarines—submerged nets attached to jarrah poles into the sea bed at north and south of the island. The German Navy conducted a U-Boat campaign in the Indian Ocean in late 1944 to foil allied ships gaining provisions from Australia for the impending invasion of Europe.
The four gun batteries established on Garden Island as fixed coastal defences were part of the larger network of coastal defences.
Challenger Battery (‘J’ Battery) on the northwest coast with two 155mm guns—was matched by a similar battery on Rottnest and protected access to the Port of Fremantle. Built in 1942 it was also positioned to assist the Peron Battery in the defence of Cockburn Sound.
Beacon Battery on the northeast coast was built second and Collie Battery on the south coast. Both had two 4-inch embanked guns each to protect the submarine booms. Beacon was to protect the seaward leg of the naval boom defence. Collie was to protect the boom defence barrier extending from the island to Cape Peron.
Scriven Battery on the west coast with two 9.2-inch guns. It was the last to be built and its two guns provided the seaward defence system.
To support the batteries the island was developed with roads, water supply, power and communication facilities. Two anti-aircraft search light stations and two anti-aircraft gun stations were also constructed in addition to three forward observation posts. The personnel required to service these facilities were housed on the island, largely in tents and little evidence remains of these elements apart from changes in the landscape as a result of the dug-outs for latrines.
The development of improved air protection for Australia subsequently reduced the need for naval protection and the need for coastal defences during World War II. The Gun covers at Scriven were never completed. By 1945 all guns had been removed apart from Scriven which was placed in combat storage and sold for scrap in 1962.


Integrity: Moderate
Authenticity: High


Fair to ruins

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Original Use MILITARY Fort or Gun Emplacement
Original Use MILITARY Other

Creation Date

16 Jul 2008

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

19 Feb 2020


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