National Library of Australia

Japanese map of Western Australia

From Java to Fremantle

Tokyo, Japan: Daisuke Suejima, National Geographical Institution, 1942

coloured printed map; 108.2 x 76.7cm

J S Battye Library of West Australian History, State Library of Western Australia
From Java to Fremantle

The war had come to Australia with the bombing of Darwin. How much closer it might have come is revealed in a detailed map produced in March 1942 by the Japan National Geographical Institution.

The map shows parts of Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia) and Western Australia, from the Kimberley to Geographe Bay near Busselton, along with strategic information such as major roads and railways.

The Japanese text details major towns and cities along the coastline, such as Derby, Broome, Port Hedland, Carnarvon, Geraldton and Perth, and inland towns like Meekatharra, Kalgoorlie and Marble Bar.

It is more likely that the map was used for bombing raids on Western Australian towns such as Broome and Port Hedland, rather than being created for a potential invasion.

From February 1942 until August 1943, northern Australia was subjected to about 100 air raids, from Exmouth in the west to Townsville in the east.

On 31 May 1942, Japanese midget submarines entered Sydney Harbour, sinking HMAS Kuttabul. A week later, Japanese submarines bombarded Sydney and Newcastle with their deck guns for 10 and 20 minutes respectively.

The submarine attacks caused little damage and appeared to spark defiance rather than fear.