HMAS Creswell Museum

IMPORTANT: The HMAS Creswell Museum has reopened for visitors, by appointment only. Entry to the Museum is free, however any donations are welcomed.

HMAS Creswell Museum entrance.

Interior of the HMAS Creswell Museum.
Interior of the HMAS Creswell Museum.
Interior of the HMAS Creswell Museum.

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About the Museum

Focus and intent

The HMAS Creswell Museum preserves and displays the history of the Royal Australian Naval College and its graduates. The Museum contains the records of Naval presence at Jervis Bay and a number of significant documents and artefacts that have been donated to the collection over its 100 year history.

As the home of initial officer training, the vast majority of Australian Naval Officers grew up marching around these grounds at the start of their notable careers. Today’s officers under training are immersed in the history, character and values of RAN, embodied in the architecture, artefacts and displays, as they tread the same ground and ply the same waters of the bay.

The Museum also records the unique relationship with the local community. From 1930 to 1958 the Navy vacated the site and it was leased to the public as a holiday resort. A generation of staff, residents and holiday makers fondly remember their years at ‘The College’.

Many of the Museum artefacts are displayed around the base in their historical settings. Visitors, therefore, are often taken on a walking tour of the historic precinct rather than just touring the Museum itself.

A bust of VADM Sir William Creswell, KCMG, KBE sits in front of the board of Cadet Captains.

Visiting the Museum

The Museum is not currently open to the public, except by appointment. Visits by individuals and groups are subject to a case by case approval process due to security issues and availability of guides. Approved visitors will also be subject to the current COVID-19 restrictions.

If you would like to visit or if you have any questions please contact the Visits Liaison Officer on 02 4429 7823 during business hours, or email creswell.vlo@defence.gov.au. Heritage enquiries can be directed to museum staff via navy.heritage@defence.gov.au.

 

Our story

The historical collection commences at the beginning of the College in 1913. Pioneers of the College were keen to establish the College in its place in history as the first officer’s initial training college in the British Empire outside of the UK. Captain Glossop of HMAS Sydney (I), for instance, ensured that the College received the Rangefinder from the Sydney/Emden battle in WWI. All of these trophies and donations over the years were retained as the ‘Heritage Collection’.

In 1990, a permanent home for the majority of the collection was found in Building 126, the original Administration (Command offices) building. Many will remember this building as the Commanding Officers’ and Executive Officers’ offices, which also housed the Paymaster and his ‘walk-in’ safe. The lower ground floor of the building was originally the Post Office, and now holds the archives and offices for museum staff and volunteers.

 

On exhibition

 

Royal Navy Heritage display

This display features the heritage of the Navy’s presence at Jervis bay including the Indigenous significance and Royal navy explorers to the Nelsonian Naval commanders and colonisers.
 

The early years at Jervis Bay

This room focuses on the building of the College and the first few years of RANC activities on the site. It also commemorates three 1913 entry trainees who died in those early years.
 

RANC Graduate firsts

Cadets from the first few College entries went on to achieve significant milestones. Collins, Farncomb and Burnet feature in these college firsts.
 

Holiday period

From 1930 to 1958 the site was leased to the public as a holiday resort, this display features photos and memorabilia from this period as well as items form the College years located at HMAS Cerberus in Victoria.
 

College graduates

Significant individual graduates are featured in these displays, many who lost their lives during World War II.
 

Memorial display

Two tragedies claimed the lives of eight Midshipmen from the 1963 graduation, this display observes these tragedies.

 

Items of particular interest on display

 
The original bell from the HMAS Creswell clock tower.
The original bell from the HMAS Creswell Clock Tower.

Lost for 80 years, the original Clock Tower Bell

When the College was built between 1913-1915, the bell was installed in the Clock Tower by John Danks and Sons of Sydney. It rang out ‘Ship’s Time’, controlled by a unique gravity driven clock movement and chiming mechanism. In 1930 the base became a holiday resort and the College moved to Flinders Naval Depot in Victoria, now HMAS Cerberus. There is some evidence that the chime mechanism, including the bell, was moved with the College.

 

Boxer Rebellion Cannon

This cannon was cast in 1842 in the reign of Chinese Emperor Dao Guang. It was brought back from China as a trophy of the rescue of foreigners in China from the ‘Boxers’, a secret society, known as the Fists of Righteous Harmony. The South Australian ship Protector, commanded by Captain William Creswell, joined allied ships in the operation. It is not known when the Chinese cannon arrived at the Royal Australian Naval College, but it appears in photos from the 1960s.

 

HMAS Sydney (I) Rangefinder

This brass shell damaged framework that once housed the optical range-finding device from HMAS Sydney (I), tells the story of Australia’s first successful sea battle against the notorious German SMS Emden, in 1914. The navigator of HMAS Sydney (I) was Lieutenant Pope, a former instructor at the College. He wrote a first-hand account of the battle for the College magazine.

 
Duncan Grant's Cup.
Duncan Grant's Cup.

Grant Cup

Duncan Grant was the first Executive Officer of the College and later became the Commanding Officer. He donated a three handled silver cup, to be passed around annually on 1 March, celebrating the opening of the College. The Cup was rediscovered in the back of a cupboard in 2013, the day before the 100th anniversary of the opening of the College. It is not known when this ritual ceased but it has been celebrated every year since its rediscovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plan your visit

Opening hours

Monday to Friday, by appointment only.

For groups, civilian visitors and school tours please contact the Museum directly on 0414 489 907 to organise a tour booking.

Admission to the museum is free, however an on-site donation is greatly appreciated.

 

Contact us

Museum Manager LCDR David Jones
Postal Address
HMAS Creswell Historic Collection
Building 126, HMAS Creswell
Jervis Bay ACT 2540
Email navy.heritage@defence.gov.au