MUSEUMS 

Carnarvon has three major museums, the Space and Technology Museum, Gwoonwardu Mia - Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre and Carnarvon Heritage Precinct, which are great community assets and tourism experiences. All three museums showcase the significant history, heritage and culture of the region. 

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Carnarvon Heritage Precinct

As the pastoral industry developed in Carnarvon in the late 1800s the local population pressured the government of the day to develop a port for the town. By 1897 the jetty had been built and wool and livestock produced in the region began to be exported to Fremantle and essential goods for the town were imported using state shipping. In 1904 the head of the jetty was added and in 1912 the jetty head was widened because of increasing traffic, including passengers. Carnarvon was the first port in Western Australia that loaded livestock on board ships for transport to markets. The One Mile Jetty once boasted an animal race the length of the jetty along which the sheep and cattle were driven from holding yards where the Interpretive Centre is today. The jetty transport system and diesel locos on the tramway ceased in 1966 when state ships stopped calling. Road train transport commenced, and the jetty began to fall into disrepair until 1998 when the community banded together to save what is the longest jetty in the north of the state. Although the jetty is currently closed, you can walk along the boardwalk through the mangroves and down to Dwyer’s Leap. EXPERIENCES AT THE CARNARVON HERITAGE PRECINCT Railway Station Museum - This museum houses the Kimberley Steam Train, which was brought down from Broome in the 1950’s. It was the last steam train to operate in the North West. Shearing Hall of Fame - The Heritage Group in collaboration with The Gascoyne Pastoral and Shearing Museum Inc have opened Western Australia’s first Shearing Hall of Fame. Read about gun shearers and big sheds. Learn about the golden days of the Gascoyne shearing industry in the 1950s. Light House Keepers Cottage - This museum is a cottage which was built around the 1900s to house the lighthouse keeper and his family and used until the 1970’s. The building has now been restored and houses memorabilia from bygone days. One Mile Jetty Centre - The new One Mile Jetty Centre opened in April 2019. The centre is home to the HMAS Sydney II/ HSK Kormoran Display. This famous Australian battle off the Gascoyne Coast in 1941 is remembered and told in the Centre. You can also view one of the lifeboats in which 46 German survivors came ashore north of Carnarvon.

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Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum

Mahony Avenue Carnarvon Western Australia 6701

The Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum celebrates the little known history of the role Carnarvon played in the manned space program and in the Australian satellite communications industry. In 1966, the Casshorn antenna locally known as the ‘Sugar Scoop’ was used for the first television broadcast from Australia to the BBC in London. The program was called “Down Under Comes Up Live”. On 21 July 1969, the day of the Apollo 11 moon landing, the Casshorn antenna which stands beside the OTC Dish relayed Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon from NASA’s Honey Suckle Creek Tracking Station to Perth’s TV audience via Moree earth station – the first live telecast into Western Australia. Later in 1969, the larger 29.6 metre wide steerable antenna was built to facilitate better communication between the NASA Tracking Station and the USA. The Carnarvon Tracking Station (no longer standing) was located 10 kilometres south from Carnarvon. The station was built to support NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and Skylab programs. It was commissioned in 1964 and operated for 11 years. It was the last station to communicate with the space capsules leaving the earth’s orbit, and the last to make contact before splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. At the height of the operation it had a staff of 220 people. The OTC Satellite Earth Station is now the site for the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum, located approximately 6km from the town centre. The OTC Satellite Earth Station was opened in1966, initially the 12.8 metre wide Casshorn antenna known as the ‘sugar scoop’ was part of the global satellite communications system. The museum focuses on two parts, the Carnarvon Tracking Station and the OTC Satellite Earth Station, for which each station played separate roles in the early space industry. Phase One of the museum was officially opened by retired NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin in 2012, Phase Two by Australian born astronaut Andy Thomas in 2014 and Phase Three in 2016 by “The Last Man on the Moon” astronaut Gene Cernan. In 2018 a new display was built to honour the first American in space Alan Shepard. The full size 25 meter tall mock up of a Mercury Redstone sits proudly sits at the entry of the museum. The museum is operated by a small dedicated group of volunteers and is mainly self funded.

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Gwoonwardu Mia - Aboriginal Heritage & Cultural Centre

146 Robinson Street q Carnarvon Western Australia 6701

Gwoonwardu Mia Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre, is a multipurpose centre that celebrates the culture and country of the five Aboriginal language groups of the Gascoyne Region. Based in Carnarvon, the centre has worked with people from each of the local language groups to celebrate and share their stories and culture. The centre features an interpretive centre, Burlganyja Wanggaya - Old People Talking - listen, learn and respect. This multi-award winning permanent interactive exhibition unites and reflects the culture and stories of the five Aboriginal language groups of the region; Yinggarda, Bayungu, Malgana, Thadgari and Thalanyji. As you walk through the interpretive centre, you’ll explore many themes ranging from stories of the land to the ancient and continuing culture of the region, through to station stories and tales from Carnarvon town. Explore exhibits like the Sky Dome, which showcases a timelapse video of a starry sky, with commentary about the ancient art of stargazing for the Aboriginal community. Learn more about the incredible giant, burrowing bees and marvel at the range of artefacts and objects on display. At the centre, you’ll also find an art gallery with local artists pieces on display plus a beautiful ethnobotanical garden.

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