The secretive CIA base in the middle of Australia

Matt Lillywhite

The true story of Pine Gap...
Photo byCanva

Pine Gap is a CIA facility located near Alice Springs, in Australia’s Northern Territory. Since being established in the 1960s, it has been the subject of intense scrutiny and controversy.

Right now, the specific nature of many activities conducted at Pine Gap remain classified. However, it’s believed to play a key role in helping the United States to monitor satellites, gather intelligence, and perform other important tasks. Quoting an article published by The Nautilus Institute:

“Its original and still principal purpose is to serve as the ground control station for geosynchronous signals intelligence (SIGINT) satellites developed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It remains the CIA’s most important technical intelligence collection station in the world.”

But why did the United States Central Intelligence Agency choose the middle of Australia as a spy base? And how has Pine Gap affected international politics? 

In this article, we’ll answer both questions (and more)!

Here’s Why The United States Chose Australia For A Highly Secretive Base

Pine Gap’s strategic location is one of the primary reasons it is under CIA control. The Northern Territory is close to key satellite orbits, making it an ideal location for monitoring and intercepting communications.

It’s also worth mentioning that Pine Gap’s remote location makes it hard for adversaries to spy on the base. After all, it’s located in the middle of nowhere and is surrounded by world-class security.
Photo byGoogle Maps

Another reason Pine Gap is under CIA control is the sensitive nature of the activities that take place there. For example, in the 1960s, “the base’s main role was to spy on Soviet missile tests at the height of the Cold War,” per 9News.

According to whistleblower Edward Snowden, Pine Gap collects data to guide drone strikes against terrorists. That’s because it’s a joint facility with the NSA (National Security Agency).

Another interesting fact? NSA documents leaked by The Intercept suggest Pine Gap sometimes spies on China to help maintain the regional balance of power. “Increased emphasis on China will not only help secure the security of Australia, but also synergize with the U.S. on its renewed emphasis on Asia and the Pacific.”

Pine Gap Is The Subject Of International Controversy

Pine Gap is highly controversial due to the secretive nature of the activities conducted at the facility. But also, the implications of the surveillance activities could have disastrous consequences for Australia.

North Korea has threatened Australia because Pine Gap gathers military intelligence. So, if Kim Jong-Un ever decides to start a new war, Pine Gap will play a huge role in defeating the rogue nation.

“Pine Gap hardwires us into the activities of the American military and in some cases, that means we will cop the consequences,” said Richard Tanter, a professor at the University of Melbourne. “Pine Gap will be contributing hugely in real-time to those operations, as well as in preparation for them. So whether or not the Australian government thinks that an attack on North Korea is either justified, or a wise and sensible move, we will be part of that.”
Photo byWikipedia

Unfortunately, Pine Gap’s intelligence-gathering role makes the Australian base a prime target for missile strikes. Even if North Korea doesn’t cause trouble, other countries in the region pose a massive threat.

“We need to plan on the basis that Pine Gap continues to be a nuclear target,” said Emeritus Professor Paul Dibb. “If China attacks Taiwan, Pine Gap is likely to be heavily involved. We need to remember that Pine Gap is a fundamentally important element in U.S. war fighting and deterrence of conflict.”

Pine Gap Allegedly Led To The Downfall Of A Prime Minister

Gough Whitlam, the 21st Prime Minister of Australia, wanted to close the CIA base. But the intelligence community was reportedly prepared to do everything within its power to keep Pine Gap open.

According to Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer who helped run Pine Gap, Whitlam’s desire to close the facility “caused apoplexy in the White House, and a kind of coup was set in motion.”

Marchetti also claimed the CIA and British Intelligence collaborated to bring down the Australian Prime Minister. “We were told the Australians might as well be regarded as North Vietnamese collaborators,” said a CIA officer after Whitlam’s government condemned the U.S. bombing of Vietnam.

Surprisingly, it didn’t take long for a historic chain of events to be set in motion. The Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, dismissed the Prime Minister on 11 November 1975. However, it was later revealed by Congress that Sir John Kerr had close ties to the CIA and British Intelligence.

Coincidence? I'll let you decide.

What do you think? Leave a comment with your thoughts. And if you think more people should read this article, share it on social media.

Authors note: All information in this article can be verified by reputable mainstream news outlets.

Comments / 23

Published by

Matt Lillywhite publishes national news and local stories. He can be reached via email at


More from Matt Lillywhite

Comments / 0