top of page
10 - Cape Vlamingh Signal Station - Radar Tower

Cape Vlamingh - Radar Tower

The Cape Vlamingh Signal Station, located on the West End of Rottnest Island, was known as 'Station 0, Codename Flame'. The facilities were known as SRDF (Secret Radio Detection Finding), as they were of a highly secret nature during WW2 (1)


Instructions to begin constructing radar equipment around Australia was issued on 16 August 1941 by the Army Headquarters (AHQ), who were based in Canberra. Three radar locations were constructed on Rottnest Island and aside from Cape Vlamingh, the other two sites comprised of Tree Hill (Station M) and Bare Hill (Station N) (1)


Orders were given to have them constructed as far apart from each other in order to be a complete solution over a full 360 degrees “because the island is likely to be attacked” (2).


A temporary radar station had been planned for White Hill with an engine room but further research is required to verify whether or not this did occur, although there is evidence of demolition occurring sometime prior to 1955, judging from satellite imagery.


By 22 December 1942, Cape Vlamingh was ready for operation with an RDF station located at the base of the tower, the engine room 134 feet away from the rear wall of the RDF station (2) and two concrete huts to house personnel from the 5 Aust Radar Detachment.


The engine room was said to house a “13KVA petrol set. This was normally a 3 phase alternator driven by a Ford V7 engine” (1) Standby petrol-electric sets were also installed at all three stations (2)

The engine room was said to house a “13KVA petrol set. This was normally a 3 phase alternator driven by a Ford V7 engine” (1) Standby petrol-electric sets were also installed at all three stations (2)


The buildings were all constructed from concrete with steel shutters on the outside of the windows and a steel door, making the building splinter-proof if bombing was to occur (2)


At the top of the 180 feet towers, a revolving 360° aerial system was installed with the whole structure able to withstand winds of up to 193 kms per hour. Constructed on a 30 sq. foot base, a platform at the top measuring 12 feet provided access to the aerial system for maintenance. A ladder with a safety cage on the outside and a hand-operated lift running up the centre of the mast, took personnel up the tower (1)


Personnel were able to plot the movement and locations of ships by using a Course and Speed Table, which was located at each RDF station. Information would be fed into an RO Plotter Type 102 at the Plotting Room (1)


Two men would be assigned to a station at all times unless action was taking place, in which case, four would be required.


Towards the end of 1944 when 5 Aust Radar Detachment had disbanded, the 2nd Aust Radar Station, who’d been posted at Garden Island since November 1943, took over the Rottnest radar stations until its closure, which was said to be on 21 May 1946 (which certainly requires confirmation from a more legitimate source!). The steel towers were dismantled sometime around 1948, with each one taking 16 days to dismantle.


Cape Vlamingh Equipment

  • Depression Position Finder Type "O" MkI

  • No 10 Director MkII

  • Telescope Stereoscopic No 3 MkI (a)

  • RDF Set CA No.1 MkII

  • Plotter, Vertical No.102


Whilst many of the sites on Rottnest Island have memorial plaques, there are none for the remaining radar station buildings in Cape Vlamingh.


During the 1960s and 70’s, the bunks were used by amateur fisherman until the Rottnest Island Board put a stop to that and sealed up both remaining buildings, to which they have remained that way ever since.




1) The Coast Defences of Western Australia: 1826-1963 – R.K. Glyde (1991).

2) Radar – Liaison – Army RDF (Radar Direction Finding) at Rottnest Island – National Archives of Australia – NAA: C3823, E2/14

01 - Cape Vlamingh Signal Station - RDF Station

Cape Vlamingh - RDF Station

All that remains...

bottom of page