Shoal Bay Receiving Station

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Shoal Bay Receiving Station
17 km (11 mi) from Darwin
Site information
Controlled byAustralian Signals Directorate
Open to
the public

Shoal Bay Receiving Station is a signals intelligence-gathering facility, located on the shores of Shoal Bay, 17 kilometres (11 mi) from Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory. The site is managed by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).


One of the major purposes of the station has been to intercept and monitor Indonesian satellite communications and gather intelligence on the activities of the Indonesian military. The station was a major source of intelligence on the role played by the Indonesian military and associated militia groups in the violence in East Timor following the 1999 Referendum of Independence.[1] The site may also have intercepted conversations regarding the planned murder of Australian journalists in East Timor by the Indonesian military, in 1975, prior to the killings taking place.[2]

The site is suspected to be a part of the global SIGINT network ECHELON, operated under the UKUSA Agreement. It is also a major contributor to the U.S. National Security Agency's surveillance program codenamed XKeyscore.[3]


As of 2005, the Shoal Bay Receiving Station operated 17 antennas.[4]

While the ASD manages the site, it is staffed by a combination of Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force and civilian personnel. As of 2007 it had a staff of 73 personnel, which was lower than the staffing of 85 personnel in 2005 and 120 to 150 personnel during the East Timor crisis in 1999.[4]

Bureau of Meteorology[edit]

The Bureau of Meteorology installed 3 weather satellite receiving antenna systems at Shoal Bay in October 2016 through a subcontractor, Av-Comm. According to Av-Comm, these accessed China's Feng Yun-2 series of geostationary satellites, Feng Yun 2E and Feng Yun 2G as well as Japan Meteorological Agency's HimawariCast service broadcast from a Himawari 8 Satellite.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cuban American National Foundation - CANF". Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  2. ^ "Balibo Killings 1975 and Intelligence Handling – A Report of an Inquiry by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security". Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Annual Report 2001–2002. Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008.
  3. ^ Philip Dorling. "Snowden reveals Australia's links to US spy web". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Shoal Bay Receiving Station". Nautilus Institute Australia. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
  5. ^ "Bureau of Meteorology's Darwin Weather Data Earth Station | Av-Comm". Av-Comm. Retrieved 26 April 2017.

Coordinates: 12°21′32″S 130°58′56″E / 12.3588°S 130.9822°E / -12.3588; 130.9822