Museum holds secrets of days gone by

Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), LSIS Kylie Jagiello (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Stirling, WA

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, Naval Heritage and History

HMAS Stirling Historical Display Curator, Able Seaman Electronic Warfare Submarines Brittany Alexander, with a QR-coded exhibit at Fleet Base West, Western Australia. (photo: LSIS Kylie Jagiello)
HMAS Stirling Historical Display Curator, Able Seaman Electronic Warfare Submarines Brittany Alexander, with a QR-coded exhibit at Fleet Base West, Western Australia.

In a non-descript, red brick building next door to the HMAS Stirling canteen lies one of Navy’s best kept secrets - the WA Naval Historical Display.

Originally established during the 1980s by former Regional Manager Public Affairs Mr Vic Jeffery OAM, the display features thousands of naval artefacts, photographs, mementoes and historical accounts that have a connection to Western Australia, and to Garden Island in particular.

Despite having one of the best collections of Royal Australian Navy historical artefacts in the State, the museum often flies under the radar, however, according to curator Able Seaman Brittany Alexander, that’s all about to change.

“Often, I’m asked the question ‘We have a museum? Where is it?’,” she said.

“But slowly we’re raising the profile of the historical display and making it more attractive to everyone including serving members, former members and the general public who regularly come into the museum as part of an organised tour.”

And just because it’s colloquially known as the Stirling Museum, this doesn’t meant it’s a dusty old relic of times gone by.

“We’re currently upgrading all of our major displays to include QR (quick response) codes,” AB Alexander said.

“This means items will have a barcode on them that visitors can scan with their phones which will then bring up a video or further information relating to that item.

“With the museum being quite small this will allow us to condense the displays while at the same time providing more information to our visitors.”

As well as providing a plethora of RAN historical information, the museum also features displays and in-depth information on Garden Island, known as Meeandip to traditional owners the Noongar People, and the various flora and fauna that can be found on the island.

The base, which was named in honour of Captain James Stirling, RN who landed on Garden Island in 1827, was commissioned in 1978 and recently celebrated its 40th birthday.