Exmouth is a port town in Western Australia, located on the North West Cape's tip. The town is approx 1270 km (789 mi) north of the state's capital Perth, and approx 3360 km (2090 mi) southwest of Darwin NT. Exmouth's population is around 2200, but at the tourist season's peak it increases to around 6,000.
The town was founded in 1967 to support nearby US Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt. Beginning in the late-1970s, Exmouth started hosting US Air Force personnel assigned to Learmonth Solar Observatory (defence science facility operated via Australia's Ionospheric Prediction Service). During WW2 (1939-1945), the location was used as a military base.
Following the retreat from Java (March 1942), Allied naval forces needed a base for replenishing submarines against Japan. Both Broome (Western Australia) and Darwin (Northern Territory) were too exposed to air attacks. A 500-ton non-motorized lighter was positioned as refuelling barge close to the mouth of Exmouth Gulf, while the Allies had already maintained a seaplane tender there.
Nowadays, Exmouth relies more on tourism than on the Navy for its existence. Cape Range National Park (sized around 506 km2 / 195 mi2) has its main area concentrated on the west coast, providing various camping sites on the coastal fringe.
On March 22, 1999, Tropical Cyclone Vance stretched out to Category 5 storm and made landfall close to Exmouth. The result was the highest ever wind gust reported on mainland Australia - 267 kph at Learmonth, approx 35 km (22 mi) to the south. The storm caused significant property damages and flooding. In April 2014, the town was hit by a flash flood, nearly destroying the caravan park and damaging much of the infrastructure.
Exmouth WA cruise terminal
In 2016, Pacific Eden (P&O Australia) made Exmouth a major port destination on its Western Australia itineraries. In 2017, 3 new cruise ships are scheduled to visit the Exmouth port. These are Silver Whisper (Silversea, in Feb 2017), Artania (Phoenix Reisen, in March 2017), Sirena (Oceania, in March 2017) and ms Maasdam (Holland America, in Nov 2017).
Among the factors hampering cruise port's growth is the lack of all-weather docking facilities. There are future plans for the construction of a dedicated cruise ship terminal. A new deep-water wharf will be built within Exmouth Gulf (south of the Boat Harbor).
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