HMAS Nirimba

On 1 April 1953, the Royal Australian Naval Air Repair Yard (RANARY) Schofields was commissioned as HMAS Nirimba, a joint RANARY and technical training establishment for RAN Fleet Air Arm. HMAS NIRIMBA was formerly the home of a Royal Naval Air Station during World War II (HMS NABTHORPE and HMS NABSTOCK, Royal Australian Air Force Station Schofield and Royal Australian Naval Air Station). The Aircraft Repair Yard was short lived however, and was closed down in early 1955 and HMAS Nirimba and the airfield were reduced to "Care and Maintenance" status. In September 1955, preparations began to re-commission HMAS Nirimba as the RAN Apprentice Training Establishment (RANATE) for Naval Apprentice training. The establishment reopened in January 1956, Captain F L George RAN assumed command on 4 January 1956.

The traditional naming of the Royal Naval Air Stations was after sea birds, so it was originally intended to name the facility 'Station FALCON'. However, the name had already been assigned to the Royal Naval Air Station at Malta, so the name NIRIMBA was submitted as the alternative. The name NIRIMBA is derived from an East Coast Aboriginal word meaning Pelican, and the Pelican became the main theme for the HMAS NIRIMBA crest. It was worn for over twenty seven years of naval tradition with the motto of the ‘SUCCESS FROM ENDEAVOUR’ which is pertinent to HMAS NIRIMBA’s prime role of training.

With over six thousand naval technical trainees and several thousand more members of the Royal Australian Navy serving at Nirimba. NIRIMBA was the daily work place for around 1300 Defence personnel and 130 civilians. NIRIMBA covered an area of 300 hectares, and housed some 200 buildings.

HMAS Nirimba had four separate technical training streams, specialising in training at varying levels carried out in the fields of Marine Engineering, Marine Hull Engineering, Weapons Electrical Engineering and Aviation Engineering.

HMAS Nirimba was finally decommissioned on 25 February 1994, having trained some 13,000 young men and women from the RAN and other Commonwealth Navies.

HMAS NIRIMBA from the air
HMAS NIRIMBA's commissioning company being inspected by Rear Admiral Henry Showers, 1 April 1953
Nirimba Education Precinct Memorial Garden
Nirimba Education Precinct Memorial Garden

Nirimba Precinct

In 1992 the University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury and TAFE NSW - Western Sydney Institute prepared a joint expression of interest in the North West Sydney Education Precinct. The expression of interest proposed the establishment of the North West Sydney Education Precinct at the HMAS Nirimba site at Quakers Hill NSW.

The University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury and TAFE NSW - Western Sydney Institute consulted with the NSW Department of School Education and the Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Parramatta who agreed to be members of the education precinct through the establishment of two senior high schools on the site.

It was believed that the benefits from the acquisition of the site by the Precinct partners would generate 'a significant educational advantage to the western suburbs community' and would provide a 'major spur to education innovation in the region'.

In 1995 University of Western Sydney Hawkesbury, TAFE NSW - Western Sydney Institute, Department of School Education and the Catholic Education Office, Diocese of Parramatta signed a memorandum of understanding. The signing of the document demonstrated the shared commitment of the partners to the establishment and development of the Nirimba Education Precinct.