Push to heritage list Bibra Lake WWII site amid doubts

Cockburn Councillor Phil Eva and Bibra Lake Residents Association president Christine Cooper at the site. Picture: Jon Hewson        www.communitypix.com.au   d441970
Cockburn Councillor Phil Eva and Bibra Lake Residents Association president Christine Cooper at the site. Picture: Jon Hewson        www.communitypix.com.au d441970

A FORMER army camp site in Bibra Lake will be added to the City of Cockburn’s Local Government Inventory (LGI) and Heritage List, despite uncertainty over the role it played during World War II.

The camp, on Hope Road, was believed to have been used as a searchlight station by the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS), a non-medical women’s service established to release men from duties at home so they could be deployed elsewhere.

But in a submission made to the City, military historian Graham McKenzie-Smith refuted the camp was ever a searchlight site.

Instead, Mr McKenzie-Smith said the site was a camp used by the anti-aircraft regiment which had just been formed and were training in the area.

He said the camp was built for up to 60 people, with some AWAS members situated there.

“There is no justification for this area to be given any special heritage status on the basis of such a blatantly incorrect draft place record and for this proposal to proceed further could cause significant damage to the integrity (of the) whole heritage-listing regime,” he said.

Contrary to that, other first-hand accounts from people living in the area at the time argued the camp was used as a searchlight station.

Despite uncertainty over the exact role of the camp, Cockburn’s strategic planning manager Andrew Trosic said there was enough evidence to support it being included in the LGI and Heritage List.

Until the Bibra Lake Residents Association brought the camp to the council’s attention earlier this year, little to nothing was known about it.

The Council is also set to nominate the site for inclusion on the state heritage registry, and call for an archaeological assessment to ensure the site does not impede on the highway reserve for the Roe Highway extension.

Mr McKenzie-Smith expressed concerns with the project being used to campaign against Roe 8.