Irwin Barracks

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Irwin Barracks
Karrakatta, Western Australia in Australia
Hobbs Artillery Park, Irwin Barracks, May 2021 02.jpg
Hobbs Artillery Park, Irwin Barracks, in May 2021
Shown within Western Australia
Shown within Western Australia
Irwin Barracks
Shown within Western Australia
Coordinates31°57′56″S 115°47′55″E / 31.9655°S 115.7985°E / -31.9655; 115.7985Coordinates: 31°57′56″S 115°47′55″E / 31.9655°S 115.7985°E / -31.9655; 115.7985
TypeMilitary base
Area62 hectares (150 acres)
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defence
Operator Australian Army
Site history
BuiltNovember 1948 (1948-11)
In use5 December 1948 (1948-12-05) – present
Garrison information
Garrison13th Brigade

Irwin Barracks is an Australian Army military base located in Karrakatta, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia. It occupies a 62-hectare (150-acre) site on the western side of the Fremantle railway line.[1]

It was previously known as Karrakatta Camp and Irwin Training Centre.


The barracks were originally named the Irwin Training Centre[2] on 5 December 1948 in honour of Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Chidley Irwin, the first military commandant of Western Australia (1829–1833).[3][4]

Prior to this the area was known as Karrakatta Camp and was set-aside as a military training area by the Western Australian Colonial Government in 1895. The site was used for short camps (in tented accommodation) and courses for Militia and School Cadet units[5] until the beginning of World War II.

In 1896 a rifle range was constructed at Karrakatta[6] and equipped with seven sets of Jeffries patented "Wimbledon" targets – only the fourth range in the world so equipped. The range replaced the original rifle range located at Mount Eliza,[7] which was used by all metro-based troops including the Western Australian contingents, which trained at Karrakatta camp for the Second Boer War (1899–1902).[8][9]

On 6 October 1898 completion of buildings for use as magazines for storage of powder and ammunition for Perth No.1 Battery were completed.[10][11] The buildings were constructed of local coastal limestone with slate roofs. These buildings have walls 698.5 millimetres (2 ft 3+12 in) thick and floors of concrete lined with timber flooring. They still exist within the Barracks.[12] The magazine buildings are included on the Commonwealth Heritage List as evidence of colonial defence infrastructure.[10]

Following Federation, the site was transferred from the State of Western Australia to the Commonwealth for 750.[10] The site formed part of the 5th Military District and was also used for the training of citizen forces (militia) under the Commonwealth.

In 1913 the range was formally closed as it was deemed "unsafe",[13][14] following the earlier death of an army cadet in November 1909,[15] with the range relocated to a new site in Swanbourne.

The camp was modernised and expanded during World War II, housing various units, as well as 1,000 Italian prisoners of war. After the war the camp served as an accommodation centre for former members of the Polish forces who had elected to migrate to Australia. In mid-1948 the camp was chosen to serve as a training camp for the Citizen Military Forces, and on 5 December 1948 it was ceremonially renamed the Irwin Training Centre. Most of the original wooden buildings were replaced by modern brick buildings during the 1950s and 1960s, though the last wooden buildings were not demolished until the 1980s.[16]


Irwin Barracks is the headquarters of 13th Brigade, an Army Reserve formation of the Australian Army.[1]

The 13th Brigade currently consists of the following units:

The barracks also house:

Stolen tank incident[edit]

On 27 April 1993, 27 year old Gary Alan Hayes stole an M-113 armoured personnel carrier (APC) from the barracks. He drove it through the Perth CBD, ramming police targets and government buildings, causing damage to police and government buildings, 7 police vehicles, 5 private vehicles, and a bus stop.[17][18] He was subsequently forced out of the APC via tear gas dropped into the tank. Hayes was charged with 19 counts of criminal damage, burglary and assault of police officers and was sentenced to four and a half years in Casuarina Prison with the possibility of parole after 17 months.[19] He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Welcome to Western Australia" (PDF). Defence Community Association. 2011. p. 7. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  2. ^ "Army Instruction". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 14 February 1949. p. 17. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  3. ^ Mossenson, David. "Irwin, Frederick Chidley (1788–1860)". ADB. ANU. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Renaming Camp". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 6 December 1948. p. 6 Edition: 2nd Edition. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Military – The Karrakatta Camp". The Daily News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 10 June 1903. p. 1 Edition: Second Edition. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  6. ^ "General News – Rifle Shooting". The Inquirer & Commercial News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 12 June 1896. p. 8. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  7. ^ "Local and Domestic Intelligence". The Inquirer & Commercial News. Perth: National Library of Australia. 6 August 1862. p. 2. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  8. ^ HRRC (1900), Kit inspection for Lighthorsemen in camp at Karrakatta training for the Boer War, retrieved 12 March 2013
  9. ^ "At Karrakatta Camp". Western Mail. Perth: National Library of Australia. 2 February 1901. p. 28. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  10. ^ a b c "Army Magazine Buildings Irwin Barracks, Brallos Pass, Karrakatta, WA". Australian Heritage Database. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Public Buildings". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 7 February 1899. p. 7. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  12. ^ Australia. Dept. of Works. Perth Branch. Architectural Division (1968), Stone magazine buildings at the Irwin Training Centre, Karrakatta W.A. : report, Dept. of Works, retrieved 12 March 2013
  13. ^ "Rifle Shooting". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 14 July 1913. p. 10. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  14. ^ "Karrakatta Rifle Range". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 31 July 1913. p. 9. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  15. ^ "Tradegy at Karrakatta". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 1 November 1909. p. 7. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  16. ^ Galliott, Ray (October 2011). "What's in a name? : Irwin Barracks history" (PDF). Artillery WA. Royal Australian Artillery Association of Western Australia. 11 (3): 4–5. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
  17. ^ "Rampage in the City". Western Australian via Geocaching. The Western Australian. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  18. ^ Hughes, Judy (29 April 1993). "Army Vehicle in two-hour city rampage". The Canberra Times. p. 1.
  19. ^ "Jail for 'rampage'". The Canberra Times. 19 December 1993. p. 4.

Further reading[edit]

  • Birch, Helen; City of Nedlands Library Service (2005). A Guide to Historical Military Sites in the City of Nedlands. Nedlands Library Service.