Around 1910 to 1913, a huge 1190 hectare Submarine Navy Base as part of the Commonwealth’s long term defence strategy was proposed for Port Stephens and work commenced in 1916.
The area included was Salamander Bay from Corlette Point (where the Anchorage Resort is now), the entire Soldiers Point Peninsula and down past Cromarty Bay almost to Taylors Beach. The Commonwealth had gazetted the entirety of the Mambo Wetlands and past where the Salamander Shopping Centre is now located.
Work began in 1916 with 250 unemployed miners from Newcastle used to blast rock from the base of Wanda Wanda Head (and anecdotally destroying Aboriginal Artwork in caves there). Surveyors were hard at work and drainage ditches and roads were constructed as well as a wharf to berth Australia’s then two RAN Submarines.
After the finish of the first World War and the loss of our only 2 submarines, work on the base slowed and stopped completely in 1922. The Naval Base land was sold by the Commonwealth to the Port Stephens Shire Council for a bargain £50,000 or about $1.6 million in todays money.
Source: Mike Scanlon, Port Stephens Examiner