HMAS Cerberus

HMAS Cerberus is a naval establishment on the western side of Western Port Bay, 7 km south of Hastings and 65 km south-east of Melbourne.

During the 1880s Port Phillip Bay was fortified against invasion and attention shifted to the prospect of Western Port Bay being an alternate point of invasion. A railway line was built in 1889 from Frankston, past a military camp at Langwarrin, to Crib Point which adjoins HMAS Cerberus. In 1911, after the Commonwealth Government had assumed responsibility for naval forces, it was decided that Fremantle and Western Port Bay would be the two main naval ports for the Western Division. (The Eastern Division’s ports were to be Sydney and Brisbane).

Land was acquired around Hanns Inlet and during 1912-20 HMAS Cerberus – then named Flinders Naval Depot – was built. It was opened in 1921, with a wharf, torpedo school, gunnery school and various mess rooms and blocks. A hospital and a memorial chapel were later added. The adoption of the name HMAS Cerberus commemorated the colonial iron-plated ship which was the leading vessel in the colonial Victorian Navy. After 50 years of service Cerberus was converted to a breakwater at Black Rock.

The built up part of HMAS Cerberus adjoins the Crib Point railway station on the north side of Hanns Inlet. There are married quarters separate from the general facilities which include recreation areas, training schools, a health centre and Catholic and Protestant chapels. There are also a golf course, a museum and gardens open to the public. HMAS Cerberus occupies all the land south of the inlet, including Sandy Point which has a high conservation value. Access to Sandy Point is prohibited.

HMAS Cerberus’ census populations have been:

census date population
1947 536
2006 1151
2011 1085

At the 2011 census, the median age of residents was 21 years. Technical and trades workers accounted for 54.2% of employment and 93% were employed in defence (2011 census).

Further Reading

Adrian J. Martin, History of Westernport and the establishment of Flinders Naval Depot, Spindrift Press, 1927

L.G. Wilson, The historic grounds and gardens of HMAS Cerberus, 1991

Arthur Woodley and Bruce Bennett, Morradoo about nothing: a history of Crib Point and Bittern: neighbours in destiny, Crib Point, 2007

Crib Point entry