Commonwealth heritage places in Western Australia

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, via Augusta

The Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is perched on a rugged granite promontory, surrounded on three sides by the sea. One of its original purposes was to provide a landfall light for vessels crossing the Indian Ocean en route to ports on Australia's east coast. The lighthouse was built in 1896 from locally-quarried ashlar ironstone. It is exceptionally important as its original lens array and rotation mechanism demonstrate the earliest use of the mercury bath system in Australia.

Geraldton Customs House Complex, Geraldton

In 1935, the Geraldton Customs House, Kings Warehouse and the sub-collectors residence were built at a place that allowed control of the port, harbour and railway siding facilities. During World War II thousands of service men were stationed in Geraldton and the Navy used the Customs House as its primary regional base. Kings Warehouse (bond store) was used as the coordination point for investigating the disappearance of HMAS Sydney in 1941. It is the only example of a customs complex from this period in WA.

Geraldton Drill Hall Complex, Geraldton

This complex was built in the mid-1890s to replace an earlier 1880s structure (part of which still survives). It is associated with the Geraldton Volunteer Corps, which had 60 members in its ranks by 1880. The Corps was the oldest unit to have served in WA and, according to the records, the state's oldest country unit. The complex contains one of WA's five remaining colonial period drill halls.

Kalgoorlie Post Office, Kalgoorlie

The Kalgoorlie Post Office was built between 1896 and 1899 in response to the rapid development of the gold fields in the early 1890s. When the Post Office wing was completed in 1899 it completed a significant civic design, which already included the Warden's Court and Offices, the Mines Department and the Courts of Justice. The clock in the prominent central tower was promised by the Premier, Sir John Forrest, in 1899 and set in motion in August 1900.

Northam Post Office, Northam

Built in 1908, the Northam Post Office is a large-scale, two-storey red brick and iron post office building. It is an architecturally distinguished building with high-level clerestory windows adding a sense of height and scale to the building. Its construction was the result of expanded postal services to WA's rural sector under combined administration of the Commonwealth Post Department and WA Public Works Department.

Mermaid Reef - Rowley Shoals, off Broome

This pristine 9600-hectare reef lies 295 kilometres west-north-west of Broome. It is a habitat for species that have not previously been recorded in Western Australia, including 216 fish species, 39 mollusc species and seven species of echinoderms. Many species are at, or close to, the limits of their geographic ranges, including fish known previously to be only from Indonesian waters. A shipwreck off the western edge of Mermaid Reef is believed to be that of British whaling vessel, Lively, which was lost in the early 1800s.

Yampi Defence area

This area covers more than half a million hectares in the Kimberley region. It contains a complex mosaic of landforms as a result of the transition from the sandstone plateaux of the north-west Kimberley to the broad plains and scrub of the south-west Kimberley. It also supports a rich and diverse range of ecosystems including small isolated patches of rainforest.

Lancelin Defence Training area, Lancelin

The Lancelin Defence Training Area covers about 22,249 hectares on a narrow strip of land along the central and south Western Australian coast. Much of it is dominated by Banksia woodlands and heaths. It also includes wetlands such as the Namming freshwater wetland – an important breeding ground for waterfowl and a drought refuge for both waterfowl and other fauna. Lancelin also contains significant vegetation remnants and is rich in reptile and frog species.

Claremont Post Office, Claremont

Built in 1896 on the main shopping street, the Claremont Post Office reflects the town's development during the late 19th century gold boom. It is also located directly opposite the railway station, reflecting Claremont's suitability as a commuter suburb serviced by rail.

Army Magazine Buildings Irwin Barracks, Karrakatta

Following the departure of Imperial troops in 1870, these two conjoined masonry magazine buildings were constructed at Karrakatta near Perth in 1898 to provide military defences under the colonial government of the day. They were used to store black powder and munitions and are of exceptional interest in demonstrating characteristics of magazines before the introduction of cordite-based propellants in first decade of 20th century.

Perth General Post Office, Perth

This monumental GPO with its distinctive columns was built between 1914 and 1923 from high quality local materials – Donnybrook freestone and Mahogany Creek granite. The interiors are also noteworthy for their extensive use of Western Australian jarrah and for the two-storey high postal hall with its large roof lights emphasising the sense of space in this public area. At the time of its construction it was the tallest building in Perth and was recognised by contemporary writers as its most grandiose public structure.

Artillery Barracks, Fremantle

Built at the northern entrance to Fremantle in 1910, the Artillery Barracks are associated with the defence of Fremantle Harbour and the Commonwealth's early defence efforts following Federation in 1901. Subsequent additions reflect the changes to defence strategy prompted by evolving military technology between 1910 and 1963. The Barracks are also important for housing a significant collection of the Army Museum of WA.

Cliff Point Historic Site, Garden Island

The Cliff Point Historic Site is the location of the first settlement in Western Australia. It was the first site inhabited by Governor James Stirling's party when founding the colony in 1929 and was Western Australia's first official non-convict settlement. The party occupied the site for two months moving to the Swan River settlement on the mainland.

J Gun Battery, Garden Island

Built in 1942, this was first gun battery on Garden Island and one of two long-range gun batteries that played a strategic role in the coastal defences of Cockburn Sound and Fremantle after Japan's entry into World War II. The gun mountings and magazine building reflect the main characteristics of coastal gun batteries built during World War II – individual batteries were strategically sited to form a network with overlapping fields of fire.

Garden Island

Garden Island was originally called ‘Meeandip’ by the Aborigines, then ‘Ile de Buache’ by the French following the visit of Nicholas Baudin in 1801. Ile de Bauche was renamed Garden Island in 1829 by Captain Charles Fremantle. This 1100-hectare site has been a naval base since 1911. The absence of feral predators has made Garden Island a significant refuge for animals vulnerable to predators on the mainland, including the Tammar wallaby. It also contains rare coastal vegetation.

Bushmead Rifle Range Commonwealth area, Helena Valley

This 130-hectare area of remnant bushland is in the Perth suburb of Helena Valley. It is one of several strategic bushland corridors within the Perth Metropolitan Region. Small flocks of the nationally threatened Baudin's black cockatoo occasionally visit the area.

Ningaloo Marine Area - Commonwealth waters

Ningaloo Marine Park extends for 260 kilometres along the west coast of the Cape Range Peninsula, near Exmouth from North West Cape in the north to Amherst Point in the south. Two major oceanic currents affect the marine area – the southward flowing warm Leeuwin Current and northward flowing cooler Ningaloo Current. The area is an important feeding area for the whale shark and one of the few places in the world where they are known to congregate together. A number of other whale species are also found here. Eight shipwrecks dating between 1811 and 1923 have been discovered in the area.

Learmonth Air Weapons Range Facility, Learmonth

Covering about 18,954 hectares, 30 kilometres south-west of Learmonth, this area is used for military exercises and as a bombing range. It includes an ancient reef-complex and cave fauna of exceptional importance. The area has many historic associations with European exploration and development of Northwest Cape and northern Western Australia, including pearling and whaling activities.