Princess Royal Fortress, Forts Road (off Marine Drive), Mt Adelaide
The Old Forts are home to many interesting military memorabilia including artillery shelters, bunkers, guns, torpedos and more.
Princess Royal Fortress was built to house 2 Mk VI six inch guns dug into the side of Mount Adelaide. Plantagenet Fortress that was built at the same time housed just one gun and sits much lower down the hill.
Between 1893 and 1956 these guns were on duty in the defence of Australia but never fired a shot in anger.
The guns were maintained by a permanent garrison stationed at the fort from 1893 to 1956 and were never used to fire a shot in anger.
In 1956, with the advent of the missile era, Princess Royal Fortress was one of many Commonwealth coastal defence units made redundant.
Many defences were demolished or dismantled, but the 11acre Albany complex limped on after decommission, firstly being used as a school, a migrant hostel then a holiday camp, until eventually becoming vacant in the ‘70s and succumbing to vandalism.
A faithful restoration, based on the original 1893 complex, but incorporating later additions, began in 1987 and continued slowly for many years. The fortress now boasts several collections including a display illustrating the involvement of local Noongar people in the Australian Defence Forces and information and artefacts belonging to Padre Arthur Ernest White, the priest known as ‘the Father of the Anzac Dawn Service”.
The Reverend White held a service for the dead at St Johns Church in York Street at 11am on February 24, 1918. Although there is no detailed record of the event, legend has it that after the church service, White and many of the congregation walked from St Johns to the summit of Mt Clarence where they held a short ceremony. It’s also believed White arranged for a boatman to cast a wreath into the harbour to coincide with the service.
Other exhibits well worth viewing are the Ellam-Innes Collection which covers histories and accounts of individual soldiers from the 11th Battalion and the 10th Light Horse, the HMAS Perth Interpretive Centre and the Australian Light Horse Museum.