Whaleback Golf Course sits on Crown land. The large open space provides a buffer between the industrial area of Canning Vale and the noise of (the then proposed) Roe Highway and the residential suburb of Lynwood (later named Parkwood).
The private golf course on High Road (adjoining the then Riverton Hotel) was closing down and was to be developed for housing. The City recognised the need to provide for public golfing and in 1976 Council allocated $80,000 for the development of a golf course.
The shape of the land resembled that of a whale and the road running along the north side followed the "whale's back" - hence its name of Whaleback Avenue and subsequent name of the golf course.
Golf Course Opening
On 9 January 1981, then Mayor Ern Clark officially opened Whaleback Golf Course. To the Mayor's left in the photo above, is Peter Hopkins. Peter was the original golf professional and controller of the golf course, and continues today in this capacity.
A re-enactment of the photo taken on opening day was undertaken in 2021 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the opening of Whaleback Golf Course. Pictured is Mayor Patrick Hall and Peter Hopkins, minus his white flared pants and the other onlookers.
On 10 January 1981, the first players took to the greens of Whaleback Golf Course.
The entrance to Whaleback Golf Course on opening day, 1981.
World War II Involvement
While playing the course, you may see some unusual buildings around the 6th, 7th and 8th fairways, and perhaps wondered what they are.
The buildings were originally part of a secret radar station built during WWII as R.A.A.F Ground Control Interception Radar Station No. 144. The buildings are considered integral to each other given their previous use as the operations room and its support generator room.
According to anecdotal advice provided by past service personnel in 1995, the site previously included a number of timber-framed structures used for sleeping and living quarters. The residual structures were the main focus of the Radar Station, hence their concrete construction.
Approaches were made by the City of Canning in mid-January 2018 to the R.A.A.F. Association of W.A. with a view to obtaining information from any surviving personnel who were stationed at the facility in WWII. Investigations revealed that the station came into operation on 16 September 1943 and had seven commanding officers, the last being appointed on 1 April 1946.
On 15 November 1996 as part of "Australia Remembers 1945 - 1995", then Mayor Lekias attended a small ceremony with veterans at the site and unveiled a plaque which reads:
"These bunkers mark the site of R.A.A.F. Ground Control Interception Radar Station Number 144
Operated here 1943 to 1945
This plaque has been mounted as part of 'Australia Remembers 1945 - 1995'
By the Radar Group of the W.A. R.A.A.F.A. with
The assistance of the NSW Radar Branch of the R.A.A.F.A. NSW"
The function included attendance by a group of R.A.A.F. ex-personnel who were stationed here during WWII.
Current use of the Buildings
The bunkers have been re-purposed to accommodate local community groups. Scouts have been in occupation from before 1976 and the Girl Guides' use of the small building commenced some years later.
History acknowledgement: City of Canning Heritage Services, whalebackgolf.com.au
Photo acknowledgement: Australia @ War by Peter Dunn (ozatwar.com)