LEARMONTH

 

Learmonth - Western Australia

 

GPS 22 14 01 S 114 05 38 E

 

 

 

 

Learmonth is an RAAF base situated on North West Cape (36km south of Exmouth) and 1080 kilometres north of Perth. It is named after Wing Commander Charles Cuthbertson Learmonth who was killed in a plane crash off Rottnest Island in January 1944. He may have died but not before radioing information that enabled the cause of the crash (and many others) to be pin-pointed and corrected on other Beaufort bombers. To that time there had been 93 similar crashes involving this type of aircraft.

Wing Commander Learmonth could have bailed out but remained at the controls radioing events until the aircraft hit the water. There was a suggestion made to name the Exmouth airport, 'Ningaloo' but as far as we know, this was vigorously opposed and did not eventuate.

Charles Learmonth was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar for his leadership of the 22nd RAAF Squadron during the attack on a Japanese destroyer during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea in March 1943. Charles also took part in the search for HMAS Sydney and was responsible for training other RAAF pilots.

The following text is from the Hansard government record:

"Tourism Western Australia has indicated that it would support a name change to the civilian section of Learmonth Airport; however, it would support such an initiative only on the proviso that extensive community support has been secured by the Shire of Exmouth. The commission board has not taken a formal position on this matter. The airport in question has both military and civilian sections. The commission believes that the military section should retain the name 'Learmonth' to pay tribute to our wartime heroes and service personnel. The Shire of Exmouth owns the civilian terminal leased from the Australian government Department of Defence. The minister understands that an Exmouth tourism operator, Mr Kim Tapper, proposed a name change to the Shire of Exmouth. The council stated at its July 2007 meeting that it may consider a name change if community support was secured. "

The airport is in joint military-civilian use. The terminal opened December 3rd 1999 won a Royal Australian Institute of Architects award for its unusual design that represents a coral reef.

The military facility was established in the 1940s as part of 'Operation Potshot'.

The nearby Learmonth Jetty was an excellent fishing location. Sadly the old wooden jetty has been demolished and replaced by a horrible metal and plastic thing with railings all the way round it. If you do plan to fish from the jetty then remember to put on plenty of RID or other insect repellent as there are millions of sandflies in the area.

Sadly the prawn trawlers no longer come to the jetty to unload their catches and few people use there area now.

A 4 wheel drive leads south along the beach to a creek that can be another good fishing location BUT beware of stonefish in this creek.

 

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