Sale of Leeuwin

Update from Peter Morrow 21/09/2016

Good morning trend setters.

Last week I attended a 4 day workshop titled BE VISIONARY: SHAPE LEEUWIN.

For those of you who do not know the story in regards to Leeuwin Barracks and impending sale by defence for $100M.

Last November I attended a meeting organised at short notice [to restrict attendance] by a Defence boffin.   He basically said that Defence did not give a shit about Leeuwin all they wanted was to sell it my March 2017.   He was an arrogant boffin to boot and would not listen to any reasoning.   We all know that there is a radioactive land rover ex Monte Bello Island pommie atomic test buried inside Leeuwin. The Town of East Fremantle then had dialogue with Defence and were given around $150K to put a vision together.   Initially East Freo indicated they could put over 900 houses on the Leeuwin area and it was sceptical whether the JR’s memorial + 3 others would be saved from the bull dozer.

I wrote shit loads of letters to Chief of Defence Chief of army chief of Navy and the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence.   Really no responses of substance.

The City of East Fremantle selected 2 firms of consultants to facilitate the 4 day workshop.   These people were very passionate and made sure that the flag staff, the JR’s monument , the drill hall and the parade ground are going to be heritage listed.   I will go thru some dot point scribblings out of my notebook:

  • Leeuwin site had to be people orientated. The land had to be accessible
  • It had to be comfortable
  • It had to have a great image
  • And it had to be a social place

Currently the Town of East Fremantle has 2.1 people per dwelling with 80% single residential. The consultants have to provide their report to the City of East Fremantle by October and the Town needs to present their report to Defence by December.   Now this is only a vision and Defence can say stick it we do not care and only want our $100M   It is to be sold in 2017.


  • We looked at transport as currently there is NO public transport to the area.
  • We looked at creating a sense of place to remember aboriginal heritage and also the naval heritage as well.
  • We looked at creating and open connected inclusive, safe space.
  • We looked at embracing the evolution and features of the natural setting
  • We looked at creating a place that supports physical and emotional settings
  • Creating communication within a community
  • Concentrating on activities and attractions to create vibrancy
  • Provide multi generation living through housing diversity
  • Creative unique and distinctive places

Two options were put to us on day 3.  An Urban Village or Parkland Living.

Some of the problems with the land layout of Leeuwin.   Up on coronary Hill which is 30 m higher than say the playing fields.   The playing fields are subject to flooding so will have to be land filled to comply with Town rules.

The key area are the memorials and Drill Hall and these will be heritage listed in WA shortly.   There must be a great deal of openness and connection for movement and access.   Buildings will be of apartment type and vary for 2 to 15 stories in height.   Local East Fremantle resident who live on Preston Point road will automatically lose their view of the Swan river.  So sad, too bad……   There will be aged care, a hotel, and a Cafe Tingira.

Because of aboriginal heritage or they were supposed to be lighting fires on the land millions of years ago it will be call Wiergarup Parklands.

On the final night we had a chance it input to the consultative process anything that was considered missing. I mentioned that it was about time Defence gave back something to their troops and wished that a low cost affordable housing for current members of Defence and ex service people for people to chill out who had PTSD.

The way ahead.   If defence goes along with the Vision then it comes back to the Town of East Freo who then have to send it to State Planning for re-zoning.   This could take over two years to happen.  Also the new developer might NOT agree with the vision and just bull doze every thing .

Me thinks that it will be bought by a Chinese syndicate.


Kind regards

Combat Scribes



It was very interesting to read the comments by Minister Bishop and Premier Colin Barnett in last Saturdays West Australian who obviously have very limited knowledge of the history of Leeuwin Barracks that was the RAN’s Junior Recruit Training Establishment, HMAS LEEUWIN between 1960-1984.  They are now both concerned about the sale of prime land in their respective electorates and the forth coming Federal and state elections and are making a huge effort to save the sale of the SAS housing in Swanbourne.

In saying this, I would like to thank Minister Bishop for her previous support for the SAS Regiment and the ADF on other contentious issues.

I joined the RAN as a Junior Recruit on 10 July 1963 and completed 12 months at HMAS LEEUWIN before being posted to my first ship, HMAS SYDNEY III and thus have some very vivid memories of the establishment.

In 2013 the then Minister for Defence, The Hon Stephen Smith, MP, appointed The Hon Len Roberts-Smith, RFD, QC to lead the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce into the physical abuse, bullying/harassment, sexual abuse and sexual harassment of Junior Recruits who were aged between 15 ½ and 16 ½.

The DART have finalised their report and have criticised Defence and named HMAS LEEUWIN as the worst training establishment ever for abuse to trainees in Australia.  Suicides have also emanated from abuse received by ex-Junior Recruits at LEEUWIN during 1960-84.

It is my understanding that The Chief of Navy at the time was told by The Hon Len Roberts-Smith that the report should be read by every member of the RAN.

To my knowledge this hasn’t been done and the current Chief of Navy has much to answer for by shelving the contents of the report and failing to promulgate its finding throughout the Navy and actively seeking to investigate the high rates of suicide in the Navy.

I therefore urge Minister Bishop, the Minister for Defence, the Chief of Defence and the Chief of Navy to reconsider the sale of Leeuwin Barracks, with its black past and consider how the site, either wholly or partially, could be used for the benefit of serving and former members of the Australian Defence Forces and the Australian Defence Community in recreational and commemorative role bearing in mind that there is presently two significant navy memorials on the site.

This in itself would be an appropriate form of compensation to the unknown number of victims from what was a very black and inglorious chapter in the proud history of the Royal Australian Navy.

Jeff Wake, RFD

Vietnam Veteran

7th JRTE Intake July 1963


Taken from email received 28/12/2015

Jeff Wake has two articles under:- 77

Dear Prime Minister,

I regret to advise that I have to resort to emailing you directly as I am not obtaining any meaningful communication from Defence in regards to the sale of Leeuwin Barracks in WA. The site is approximately 14.3 hectares of Leeuwin land and buildings are up for sale with an expected return to Defence of $100M.

On Wednesday 4 November I attended a briefing conducted by a Defence bureaucrat who treated with derision my mentioning of a Landrover recovered from the British Monte Bello Islands nuclear testing being buried on the site.

The article by Steve Grant CEO Fremantle Herald puts paid to doubts about the veracity of my claims plus two other ex RAN personnel.   I have also included two additional articles not supporting the sale to continue.

Three people have contributed information confirming that a ex Monte Bello’s ½ ton Landrover jeep, which underwent the British Atomic bomb testing on the Island was subsequently transported to HMAS LEEUWIN, taken apart and cleaned, then buried due to its still highly radioactive reading.  It was not buried as a whole component within Leeuwin grounds.  Our friendly sarcastic Defence bureaucrat  mentioned that whilst an Environmental study by Defence of Leeuwin Army Barracks had not been done he confirmed that no such vehicle would be found.  This was his first visit to Leeuwin Army Barracks (the former HMAS LEEUWIN Junior Recruits Training Establishment) and acknowledged his ignorance of both the history and heritage of the site.   May I comment on the search of the land ownership was methodically done I do believe that Defence now has a whole new problem on its hands.

All three of us, including myself, are willing to sign statutory declarations to this effect.

So may I remind the CA and CN their duty of care responsibility for all Army Reserve personnel who I have seen spending up to a whole day on the eastern part of Leeuwin undergoing instruction that they now have to be informed of their exposure to radioactive material.  All WA Australian Navy Cadets will also have to be informed of their possible exposure as they use Leeuwin Barracks for their periods of Annual Continuous Training.    Ships Company and Junior Recruits who served in HMAS LEEUWIN from 1960 – 84 should also be warned of exposure to radioactive material.

I understand that land at Campbell Barracks Swanbourne, married quarters may also be up for sale.   This has already been confirmed by Minister Bishop and the WA Premier in a the West Australian Newspaper throwing their support for Swanbourne OT to be sold and Leeuwin Barracks sacrificed instead.

I also note that your government has found some $20M to restore HMAS PLATYPUS before being handed over to the Sydney Harbour Trust.   No doubt Defence will find land contaminated with Gamlen a highly carcinogenic liquid used extensively by the RAN for cleaning grease off equipment.   It was not only used by Marine Technical Propulsion sailors but all ships company to rid themselves of dirt/paint from their body and splashing Gamlen all over your body was normal practice.

This being the case, I feel that at least 50% of the land at Leeuwin could be retained in public ownership for possible use as a RAN memorial park, Defence holiday homes, emergency accommodation for homeless Veterans; (yes we do have them) and a PTSD and Traumatic Injury recovery centre.   Should this not be possible then a caveat be included in the sale document bequeathing the land from the back of the drill hall to the Iron Gates which retain the JR’s Monument [this was built entirely from money raised by us ex JR namely $100,000 without any help from the government of the time] to the Town of East Fremantle as I understand 10% of the sale will have to be available for public access.

Would it be possible, just for once to have your government and Defence put the best interests of all serving, former and future members of the ADF above the maximised dollar return to the Commonwealth?

My best wishes to you for your term as our Prime Minister.

Kind regards


J G Wake, RFD

Vietnam Veteran

7th Intake JRTE July 1963

Attadale WA

Isn’t it nice.  The Liberal Department of Finance want to sell off Leeuwin Barracks for $100MIL so that they can develop ex HMAS PLATYPUS.  Minister Bishop has made the papers along with the WA Premier trying, crying to save the sale of DHA land at Swanbourne which houses SASR personnel and their spouses.   A knee jerk reaction because a Federal and state election will happen within the next 2 years.  They support the sacrifice of Leeuwin Barracks so they can retain their seats in Parliament.

An email will hit the Min for Defence, CDF, VCDF, CofN, CofA shortly enclosing a press statement from the Fremantle Herald last Saturday as to the ex Monte Bello’s jeep which was sent to Leeuwin after the British atomic testing site and brought to Leeuwin onboard an RAN ship.   Personnel at Leeuwin took the jeep apart and cleaned all the parts.   They were still highly radioactive and will be for over 100 years +.   The parts of the jeep were buried at HMAS LEEUWIN.  So all ARES personnel who have done training on the ovals at Leeuwin have been exposed to radioactive material.  So have the Australian Navy Cadets and to a lesser degree the 151/2 to 161/2 Junior Recruits who trained at Leeuwin from 1960 to 84.   So Defence have NOT done an Environmental study of Leeuwin.   They will also find asbestos from the old buildings buried on the site as well.   Wouldn’t you like to be the new owner of Leeuwin?   The Mayor of the Town of East Fremantle reckons 900 houses can be built at Leeuwin.  Perhaps not if they cannot find the radioactive material!

A copy of the email will also be sent to Worksafe WA so that Defence can communicate with them as to their liabilities and duty of care to personnel who have been exposed to radioactive material and might I say those personnel were never measured for exposure.  Another Defence stuff up.

Kind regards


J G Wake, RFD

Vietnam Veteran

7th Intake JRTE


Sale of Leeuwin

Feedback to date that I have read is;  Sending this as general info for all.

  • I suspect some of the buildings will be heritage listed – Drill Hall & Wardroom. I understand that the cost of maintaining and upgrading the accommodation blocks means it would be cheaper to knock them down and start again. Realistically, the base is all but empty and occupies valuable land. I heard, many years ago, that Leeuwin is on a number of titles, some of which were resumed for Defence purposes and have to be handed back to the original owners if Defence no longer requires them. I don’t know if it’s true.
  • Probably another boat people motel in the making id say
  •  heard quite a while ago that if Leeuwin were to go the memorial will take pride of place outside TS Perth just up the road. These fine young boy’s and girl’s maintain the memorial for our members.
  • Been stated several times in years gone by. Sooner or later it will happen, cause it’s a valuable piece of land.
  • Would make a great university campus.
  • Regardless of the outcome, LEEUWIN, as it was, will never leave our memories.

 Update from email received:


Defence is going to sell off Leeuwin Barracks and are arranging briefing meetings at the East Fremantle Football club at 1200 and 1730 on Wednesday 4 November.  There has been no recognition by Defence in regards to the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART) report on the sexual abuse and Basardisation of JR’s[aged 15 ½ -16 ½] at HMAS LEEUWIN during 1960 to 1984 so the quickest way of getting rid of the problem is to sell off Leeuwin Barracks.  HMAS LEEUWIN has been mentioned by the DART team as the worst defence training establishment ever.  13000 of us went through HMAS LEEUWIN.   I urge all ex JR’s to attend the meeting.  There are two memorials inside the gates of Leeuwin Barracks, the Memorial to JR’s which was dedicated at the 50th Anniversary and a stone memorial to LCDR MCDO Glen Kohler, RAN, who passed away whilst diving on a merchant ship in Fremantle harbour.  What happens to the memorials is anyone’s guess.  Jeff Wake 1963 7th Intake

My details are :

J G Wake, RFD

Lieutenant Commander RANR (Ret’d)

Vietnam Veteran

1/113 Stock Road ATTADALE WA 6156



Follow up Letter:

Letters to the  Editor West Australian

Copies to:

Min Bishop

Min Def


C of N




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