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18 September 2017

On this day–September 20 1930


Today marked what may be regarded as the closing of the final chapter in the history of the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay.

This morning, the Illawarra Company's steamer Bermagui headed for Sydney with the last consignment of machinery and general equipment which will be taken to Garden Island. This afternoon witnessed the departure for the Flinders Naval Depot of the last motor lorry laden with the personal effects of the small party of naval men who remained behind yesterday to complete the

Dismantling and packing.

For several weeks past, under the supervision of Engineer-Commander L. Carr, the huge task of closing down the college has been steadily carried out. At the end of June, the cadets left the college, and after five weeks' leave resumed their training at the Flinders naval depot, and to those who have not had the opportunity of visiting the training school, its magnitude and beautiful surroundings would come as a revelation. Situated on a small headland on the southern shores of Jervis Bay, the college occupies an area of some 300 acres and was virtually a township in itself. Rows of spacious and picturesque cottages, which would be the envy of many city dwellers, stand back from pine-shaded avenues, while others command an uninterrupted view of the waters of Jervis Bay, guarding the entrance to which are the sentinel-like cliffs of Point Perpendicular.

A walk through the college grounds yesterday afternoon conveyed the impression of a visit to a township from which the inhabitants had suddenly fled. Streets and houses which a few months ago had resounded with the cries and laughter of children and the homely clatter of busy housewives were strangely silent. As if to complete the atmosphere of desertion, blinds were drawn at all the windows, while the gardens and front lawns, which only a short time ago had been so proudly and carefully tended, began to show signs of neglect. A fine playing area and parade ground facing the cadets' barracks, known as the quarter-deck, which to naval men are looked upon as the holy of holies, is now nothing more than a grazing paddock for horses. At nightfall, the feeling of loneliness and isolation is accentuated. The faint glimmer of a few oil lamps now takes the place of the blaze of the electric light, which a little while ago shone welcomingly from the windows, the officers' wardroom, and scores of residences.


Building the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay was bathed in controversy from the time it was first announced in 1911 until the time it was finished in 1915.  After the first cadets graduated with many entering World War 1 and going on to have remarkable careers the facility was deemed a great success. Unfortunately, Australia in 1930 was in the grip of the great depression and the college was seen as an unnecessary expense for the nation.  Most of the college was closed with some of the buildings turned into holiday accommodation.  The Navy still used the facility but in a much more limited way.


The coastal steamer Bermagui, was built by the Ailsa Shipbuilding Co Ltd, Troon, Scotland in 1912. She was requisitioned for naval service as an auxiliary minesweeper on 30 October 1939 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/41311545@N05/5663926754

The images below appeared in the Australian Womens Weekly in 1953.


womans weekly 1953

click on images to enlarge.

REF: http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-bermagui

Continue reading about The Australian Naval College (HMAS Creswell).


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