Deep Light Learning Resources

COVID-19 Education Update

The WA Museum is now accepting bookings for school excursions to all of our Museum sites. Please take the time to read our COVID-19 Education Update to find out what the Museum is doing and any impacts this may have on your planned excursion.

Further Information


Deep Light: Illuminating the Wrecks of Sydney and Kormoran

Deep Light: Illuminating the Wrecks of Sydney and Kormoran
Image copyright WA Museum 

The World War Two encounter between HMAS Sydney (II) and the disguised German raider HSK Kormoran off the Western Australian coast stands as Australia’s worst naval disaster. 81 men from Kormoran were killed and 318 survived. All 645 men on Sydney were lost.

For more than 66 years, the location of the two ships remained a mystery. Then, in 2008, the Finding Sydney Foundation and shipwreck expert David Mearns found the wrecks off Shark Bay.

In 2015, the WA Museum and Curtin University, with vital assistance from DOF Subsea, the Commonwealth Government and other supporters, returned to the wreck sites. Using remotely controlled equipment, the team captured stunning underwater images that revealed the fate of the ships on the seabed, over two kilometres beneath the waves.

In this poignant exhibition, remarkable images and footage allow us to witness this tragic moment in World War Two history, preserved in a remote world of solemn loss, wondrous creatures and surprising colour.

Education Group Bookings

There will reduced capacity of six people for the 3D film in Deep Light exhibition and it will only run every half an hour. We advise calling to make a booking to Deep Light so that we can create a rotation through the exhibition

We welcome school groups to visit Deep Light: Illuminating the Wrecks of Sydney and Kormoran but bookings are essential.

Please contact your local museum for further information.

Museum of the Great Southern
Location: Albany
Dates: 14 August 2021 - 17 October 2021
Booking number: (08) 9841 4844
Education website

Curriculum Links

Deep Light: Illuminating the Wrecks of Sydney and Kormoran may be of particular interest to Year 10 History students and Depth Study 1: Investigating World War II (1939-1945).

Year 10 History Curriculum
Content Description Elaborations
The impact of World War II, with a particular emphasis on the Australian home front, including the changing roles of women and use of wartime government controls (conscription, manpower controls, rationing and censorship) (ACDSEH109) investigating the impact of World War II at a local and national level (for example, significant events such as the bombing of Darwin; the Japanese submarine attack on Sydney and the sinking of ships off the Australian coast; the ‘Battle of Brisbane’; the Cowra breakout and the Brisbane Line)

The exhibition themes and content lend themselves to other learning areas and year levels. 

Learning Resource

The Learning Resource for Deep Light: Illuminating the Wrecks of Sydney and Kormoran was developed for use by Year 10 History students while studying Depth Study 1: Investigating World War II (1939-1945). The activities can be used and adapted by teachers for other year levels.

The Learning Resource can be used in two ways:

  1. to support a visit to the Deep Light exhibition with the activities being used pre- and post- visit
  2. by incorporating the battle between Sydney and Kormoran into your existing program and utilising the activities in the resource

The Learning Resource contains the following activity themes:

  • Whose History?
    Students are provided with information about the battle and a timeline of events and are encouraged to predict what was happening on the bridge of Sydney as they approached Kormoran.
  • Censorship During Wartime
    Students investigate the role the Government and mass media played in the aftermath of the battle between Sydney and Kormoran.
  • Examing the Images
    Students use images from the 2015 expedition to the wreck sites as source material to investigate the battle further and any further evidence that it provides.
  • Commemoration
    Students look at how we commemorate the crew of Sydney in the past and in the present.
  • In gallery reflections
    This activity takes place inside the Deep Light exhibition and is designed to see how the exhibition impacts their understanding of the battle.

Download the Deep Light Learning Resource - 20MB

The Learning Resource is presented in a higher resolution to allow students to enlarge pages on their screens that have images. Online image galleries are located here.

In Conversation Videos

How the wrecks reveal their historic battle

This video features expedition members Wes Olson (historian and author) and Dr Ross Anderson (Curator, Maritime Archaeology, WA Museum) in conversation with Robyn Johnstone.

Imaging the wrecks

This video features expedition members, Associate Professor Andrew Woods (Manager, Curtin HIVE) and Dr Ross Anderson (Curator, Maritime Archaeology, WA Museum) in conversation with Robyn Johnstone.

HMAS Sydney II online exhibition

This website expertly documents the entire Sydney story, from its construction and early battles in the Mediterranean Sea, to its final battle with the HSK Kormoran, and right through to its eventual discovery and the ensuing Cole Inquiry.

This website was developed as both a memorial those who did died on that fateful November day in 1941, and to also provide an educational resource for students to learn about the Sydney tragedy.

Online Exhibition

Accompanying the online exhibition are five student activities. Included in each activity is a number of self-evaluation multiple choice questions. The activity Codes and Communication has an interactive element built in and is a good one for students to try first. The activities also offer a range of research projects, an art activity and creative expression opportunities through writing and drama.

Online Student Activities

From Great Depths Publication

From Great Depths: The Wrecks of HMAS Sydney (II) and HSK Kormoran

The publication From Great Depths features absolutely stunning underwater photography and fascinating new discoveries from the 2015 expedition, brought together with inspiring and heartrending personal accounts of wartime service on the ships, and their fierce battle with the devastating loss of over 700 souls from both sides. Published in 2016, From Great Depths was edited by WA Museum Maritime Archaeologist Mack McCarthy. 

This publication is available from the Museum Shop or it can be purchased online.

Purchase the book online

From Great Depths exhibition in Geraldton

Exterior of the Museum of Geraldton

Museum of Geraldton
Image copyright WA Museum

The Museum of Geraldton has a permanent exhibit exploring the history of both ships and the exact moment they engage in battle off the West Australian coast. Students will view a 3D film featuring the underwater footage captured during the 2015 survey expedition to the wreck sites, along with personal accounts and historic images of wartime service related to both crews.

Contact the Museum of Geraldton on (08) 9431 8388 to make a booking or click below to find out more

Museum of Geraldton Education

Fire on the Water at Shark Bay Discovery Centre

Fire on the Water at Shark Bay Discovery Centre
Fire on the Water at Shark Bay Discovery Centre

The Shark Bay Discovery & Visitor Centre is home to the 'Fire on the Water' exhibition. The 15 minute 3D film and accompanying exhibit tell the story of the battle between HMAS Sydney II and HSK Kormoran, tracing the events of this World War II Naval battle 200 kilometres off the coast of Shark Bay.

Astonishing deep-sea 3D imagery from the 2015 expeditions to the wreck sites, undertaken by WA Museum, Curtin University and DOF Subsea have been used to create an interpretative timeline of the battle and to offer insights into what happened when the ships met off Shark Bay 77 years ago.

The exhibit is permanent, free and screens every half hour during the Shark Bay Discovery & Visitor Centre's opening hours.

In collaboration with the West Australian Museum, 'Fire on the Water' is part two of an historical maritime trail which begins with 'From Great Depths' at the Museum of Geraldton, commemorating this significant Australian Naval disaster.

Shark Bay Discovery Centre


Images courtesy of Curtin University and the Western Australian Museum.
© Western Australian Museum