The old Swan Barracks is a location located directly next to Perth’s CBD. Although the building itself now sits nearby to a variety of different, clubs pubs and entertainment, the barracks in this corner of Perth was once responsible for a very different task.
The old Swan barracks was originally built by British forces and the building itself predates the Australian Army. The structure was first built to occupy a military presence in Western Australia that was moved out of this area in 1863. The Army first came to Swan River in the year 1829 and established the base with the idea of training various militia. The barracks stood as a military training ground that was first built in 1896.
The first structure in this area was the drill hall which was built on Francis Street located right across from the structure that stands today. The drill hall would have been built with a domed roof and corrugated iron. It was year later that the main administration building was added directly in front of the drill hall.
The barracks and the administration building was created using local limestone and the goal was to create the look of the place that was a romantic version of a fortress. In 1901, after a ration the Australian military Incorporated the barracks and founded it as a fifth military district headquarters.
Added on to the barracks in the year 1905 was an ordinance store in an L-shaped architecture format. The ordinance store was separated directly by the drill hall in a narrow alley. More improvements would come in World War II, in which new developments were built onto the West Wing as well as the East wing. These improvements were built in a 1930s style architecture and have distinctive features which are very different from the rest of the old Swan barracks and the fortress façade.
These barracks were actually in use up until 1992 when the Australian Army moved its operations to an HMAS Leeuwin site in Freemantle. In 1999, we acquired the hotel and converted our portion of this historical building into a hostel. Other buildings throughout the barracks are now owned by a private college for regular lessons.
The old Swan barracks stand as the only surviving military barracks complex within Western Australia from this time period. You will not find a more extensive military heritage anywhere else on the west coast of Australia. With buildings and architecture that tell a past through training generations of Western Australian militia, soldiers and directing military operations throughout Western Australia, this is a building worth preserving.
By staying in the old Swan barracks, you are reliving a true piece of history with administration buildings dating back to the early 1900s and grounds that have been dedicated to military service since 1829.
If you are interested in learning more about the old Swan barracks or the history of the surrounding area, do contact us today or book your stay with us!