- THE DOROTHY HEWETT AWARD
A Little America in Western Australia: The US Naval Communication Station at North West Cape and the Founding of Exmouth
by Michael Ondaatje and Anthony Barker
In 1963 the US Naval Communication Station at North West Cape in Western Australia became the first US defence facility to be established on Australian soil in peacetime.
During America’s Cold War struggle against communism, North West Cape’s primary function was to communicate with the US fleet in the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans, especially nuclear missile submarines – the Navy’s most powerful deterrent force. Seen as a vital outpost of US defence throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the whole venture was just as monumental for Australia.
In this important and long-overdue history, Barker and Ondaatje examine the significance of North West Cape for Australia-US relations and Australian politics, but pay special attention to the town of Exmouth that was uniquely created to support the base. Drawing on archival records and oral interviews, A Little America in Western Australia brings to light the experiences of Australian civilians and US Navy personnel in a fascinating and often humorous portrait of life at the Cape.
Praise for A Little America in Western Australia:
By focusing on the lived experience of individuals, the real strength of this work lies in Barker and Ondaatje’s suggestion of a far more nuanced and fundamental dynamic at the heart of overseas military bases.MATTHEW RADCLIFFE, AUSTRALIAN HISTORICAL STUDIES