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Acacia Ridge Air Raid Shelter

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  • 602487
  • 174 Mortimer Road, Acacia Ridge

General

Classification
State Heritage
Register status
Entered
Date entered
6 April 2005
Type
Defence: Air raid shelter
Theme
7.6 Maintaining order: Defending the country
Builder
Allied Works Council
Construction period
1942–1943, Acacia Ridge Air Raid Shelter (1942c - 1943c)
Historical period
1939–1945 World War II

Location

Address
174 Mortimer Road, Acacia Ridge
LGA
Brisbane City Council
Coordinates
-27.57704117, 153.01599998

Map

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Significance

Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

The Acacia Ridge air raid shelter is important as part of the Air Raid Precaution activities undertaken for the defence of Brisbane during World War Two. Designed to afford protection for military personnel from the Archerfield aerodrome in the event of a Japanese air attack, the air raid shelter, located on a rock ledge in the north face of the Archerfield Quarry, is important in demonstrating the impact of World War Two on Queensland.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

Although many air raid shelters were constructed during World War Two in Queensland, comparatively few survive. As a shelter that was built for military personnel, and which still includes its outer curtain wall, the Acacia Ridge shelter is uncommon.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

The shelter's solid construction, and its siting near a military installation, demonstrate the principal characteristics of a World War Two military air raid shelter.

History

The air raid shelter is built into the north face of the old Archerfield Quarry, or Carr's Quarry, in the southwest corner of the Mortimer Road Reserve, which is bounded by Mortimer Road and Beatty Road, Acacia Ridge.

Archerfield remained largely undeveloped well into the twentieth century, being used for cattle grazing, fruit trees, cotton and maize cropping. A branch railway line reached the quarry, used to extract bluestone to be used for roads and ballast for the Kyogle railway line, in 1913, but the pit was flooded at the end of that year. Although it was closed after this event, the mine may have been used during the 1920s or 1930s. In 1922 there were about a dozen houses nearby, mostly along Beatty Road and the quarry branch line. In 1929 the Commonwealth Government resumed land at Archerfield for the construction of an airfield, and Archerfield Aerodrome later became an important base for the Australian, British, American and Dutch air forces during World War Two.

On 7 December 1941, the United States of America entered World War Two following the bombing of the American fleet at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii by Japanese carrier-borne aircraft. England and its Commonwealth had been at war with Germany since September 1939, but now the war was truly global. Darwin was first bombed on 19 February 1942 and 14,000 Australians were taken prisoner following the fall of Singapore. Plans to defend Australia from an anticipated Japanese invasion and to use Queensland as a support base for the conduct of the Pacific war were implemented quickly. Australian and American personnel poured into Queensland and urgently required a wide range of new buildings and facilities.

While the American Forces were based at Archerfield, the area to the west of the intersection of Mortimer Road and Beatty Road was occupied by Camp Buckley, and large igloo hangers were built to the north of the quarry. A taxiway linking the igloos to the main aerodrome to the west passed close by the northern side of the quarry, and the air raid shelter was constructed to provide protection for military personnel stationed nearby. World War Two aerial photographs show that the water level in the quarry used to be below the rock shelf on which the shelter was built. They also indicate that the building was freestanding at that time, in the middle of a cleared platform. Earth has since collapsed or been moved onto the shelf around the bunker, giving it the appearance of having being built into the quarry wall. The quarry side of the bunker was protected by an outer curtain wall, which contained entrances to two tunnels leading into the main bunker. There was about a metre between the curtain wall and the edge of the rock shelf. The Allied Works Council Minutes of 8 January 1943 record that a bomb proof building for United States Air Corps Operations had been built near the American camp, and this may refer to the shelter in the quarry.

At the end of the war military debris was dumped into the quarry. In 1963 the area was purchased by the Brisbane City Council for recreation purposes, and in 1992 amateur military historians partially drained the quarry, retrieving a number of military artefacts, including World War Two machine guns, ammunition, and aircraft parts. This operation also enabled an interior inspection of the shelter, which discovered that the two entrance tunnels are 20 feet long, with doorways turning into the main bunker. The remains of four-inch thick wooden sliding doors were found, along with three one-foot diameter holes in the ceiling of the bunker. The present water level in the quarry prevents internal inspection.

Description

The Acacia Ridge air raid shelter is a rectangular concrete bunker built on a rock shelf cut into the north face of the former quarry. The currently exposed part of the bunker consists of two concrete walls, with a space between the two, running along part of the quarry face and returning into the quarry wall. The outer curtain wall is lower, is buttressed with concrete props, and has rectangular openings at each end. The inner bunker wall is shorter, taller, and has no visible openings. Only the top of the curtain wall is visible above the water in the quarry, and vegetation obscures the main bunker.

Image gallery

Location

Location of Acacia Ridge Air Raid Shelter within Queensland
Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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