Yampi Sound Training Area consists of 566,000ha, 35km south of Koolan Island on Yampi Sound, Western Australia. It was acquired in by the Defence Department in 1978. Defence reports state that access difficulties and requirements for environmental rehabilitation have led to minimal use for its intended purposes. In 2005, the Australian government announced its intention to develop the site as part of the networked North Australian Range.
Yampi Sound Training Area consists of ca 5,600 km2, 130 km northwest of Derby by road. Formerly comprising Kimbolton and Oobagooma Stations, it was acquired by Defence in 1978 for use as a training area, for which it has received little use largely owing to the fact that it is difficult to access and is unsuitable for mechanised operations. Its poor fit with military exercise needs apparently led to the purchase of Bradshaw Field Training Area (29). This limited use, combined with an almost total lack of Defence infrastructure and the removal of introduced animals, has helped to make Yampi Sound Training Area a place of extremely high natural heritage value. Situated at the confluence of three distinct bioregions, Yampi displays an unusual richness of faunal associations and vegetation communities, amongst them a number of threatened or endangered species and species confined to small refugial habitats(27).
- Australia-US MOU on Ballistic Missile Defence
- Australia-US Joint Combined Training Centre
- Australia-US Joint Statement of Principles on Interoperability
“Enhancing” the Australian-U.S. Defense Relationship: A Guide to U.S. Policy, Thomas-Durell Young, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, November 17, 1997.
As a result of the July 1996 Australian-U.S. Ministerial Meeting and the ADF’s shift to the north, new and old areas are being developed and/or considered for exercises by the ADF. However, just as there are a number of general limiting factors concerning exercises in Australia, so are there specific restrictions. One shared both by Bradshaw and Yampi Sound is that they are located within heavily used civil air corridors. Yampi is located approximately 130 kilometers by highway/minor sealed road northwest of Derby, Western Australia. Defense officials claim that the Department of Defence purchased this area in the mid-1970s without a survey, let alone a visit by ADF personal to ascertain if it were suitable for exercises. One-third of the area is suitable for dismounted maneuver. Yampi’s limitations are formidable. It is located within the cyclone belt. There is only one limited sealed road from the Gibb River Road from Derby, but that only gives access to Oobagooma in the southwest of the range. This access road is currently prone to wash-outs. There is no cross country driving ability. Defense infrastructure development is essentially nonexistent. From the 1970s until recently, the range has only been used by reserve Regional Surveillance Force Units and the Special Air Service Regiment. The 2nd Cavalry Regiment, based at Robertson Barracks, deployed to the range in 1994. Following this deployment, the Australian Army determined that the area was unsuitable for mechanized operations. Amphibious operations are difficult due to extreme tidal ranges and the lack of suitable hydrographic surveys. Tidal ranges are so severe as to require ships to stand seven miles off shore to conduct naval gun fire support. Due to the area’s unsuitability for ADF exercises, the Australian Army determined the requirement to purchase a new range which led the purchase of Bradshaw Station.
Yampi Sound to become major military training ground, ABC News, 18 July 2005.
The Yampi Sound defence base, north of Derby in Western Australia’s Kimberley, is set to become a major training ground for Australian and allied armed forces. Federal Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill says there is a global shortage of suitable training areas for mechanised units. “We are developing, at the moment, Bradshaw in the Northern Territory, our principal base is Shoalwater Bay in Queensland and in the years ahead we want to further develop the Yampi Sound site,” Senator Hill said. “This will give us three options, across the north of Australia, not only for the training opportunities for our forces but also for our friends and allies.”
Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Updated: 24 September 2013