FORT KISSING POINT BUNKER
TOWNSVILLE, QLD
DURING WW2

 

Fort Kissing Point was located overlooking Cleveland Bay, just behind the Rock Pool on the Strand in Townsville. It was actually built as a Fort in the late 1800's as a defence against the Russians.

By 1880 a Volunteer Garrison Artillery battery was formed to man two 64 pound guns on wooden platforms that were positioned at the top of the cliffs at Kissing Point in Townsville. These two 64 pound guns are now located at the entrance to the Jezzine Barracks HQ building. In 1888 work began to upgrade the battery position at Kissing Point, Magnetic Island and build a magazine at Brookhill. Two new 6" Mark IV breech-loading guns and two Nordenfeldt ten-barrelled machine guns were installed at Kissing Point by 1891 as part of establishing an operational fort at the site.

In 1905 a new battery command post was built. In 1936 the two 6" guns were replaced with 4.7" quick firing guns.

During World War 2, the Queensland Main Roads Commission built permanent foundations and engine rooms for two searchlights at Fort Kissing Point along with 4.7 inch gun emplacements with shell and cartridge magazines, ammunition stores of re-inforced concrete with steel-lined doors and window shutters, a battery command post, anti-aircraft gun positions, and access roads.

 

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Fort Kissing Point at bottom of the photograph which was taken by a Catalina A24-82 of 11 Squadron RAAF while it was flying from Rathmines to Cairns on 30 Oct 1945. 

 

In 1943 the guns and the coastal artillery searchlight unit were relocated to a new battery at Pallarenda. The Fort ceased operations in 1945.

In 1968 the Fort was partially destroyed and backfilled as it had become a hangout for vagrants etc.

In 1980 the old Fort was restored and was used to house the North Queensland Military Museum.

 

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United States L.S.T. Landing Craft at Kissing Point
in the location of today's Rock Pool in early 1943

 

I can remember there used to be a few concrete block houses (pill boxes) half way up the slope almost directly behind the Restaurant buildings at the Rock Pool.

I spoke to someone in Brisbane October 2000 who told me that he remembered:-

"one day breaking into the Kissing Point pill boxes and someone had removed a bricked up passage. I remember entering the passage and coming out around on the Rowes Bay side, and also there was a large underground room which the Army had Land Rovers stored in.  I also remember the big concrete building on Ingham Rd you talk about on one of your web pages , I went for a wander around that and also the buildings down at the far end of Pallarenda."

When John Barr was a small child, coming to Townsville from Ayr was a big deal. After seeing Dr Shelberg he would go to The Strand. They would explore the Forts on the hill at Kissing Point. One of the lookouts (now destroyed) had a tunnel which ran back into the hill. John said:-

"It was a scary thing but we used to crawl along it to the Ammunition storage area. There was a large long thin room with three other rooms attached. These rooms were locked with huge locks and they had steel mesh over them. They were directly under the Gun positions. We were told that they were where the shell, powder bags and projectiles were kept. The next room up was where the rounds were assembled then sent up to the Gun. Existence of these deeper rooms is now deigned. However, the Fort at Kissing Point was built to a set British universal design. If you go to Singapore and visit the forts (or any British late 19th. Century Fort anywhere in the world) you will find the same design, complete with the three levels and explanation of how it all worked.

 

So folks. What happened to all these Jeeps? Are they still there?

Unlikely!

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

Old accommodation huts at Kissing Point in June 2003

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

Old accommodation huts at Kissing Point in June 2003

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

Jezzine House at Jezzine Barracks, Kissing Point, June 2003

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

Part of the bunker system at Kissing Point now part of the North Queensland Military Museum

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

Old gun emplacement at Kissing Point

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

The Rock Pool on The Strand below the Fort at Kissing Point

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

Old gun emplacement at Kissing Point

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

Old gun emplacement at Kissing Point

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

Bunker system at Kissing Point

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

Inclined tunnel in underground bunker system at Kissing Point

 


Photo: Peter Dunn

Fortifications at Kissing Point

 

In 1972, teacher Mel Dundas-Taylor took a year 10 Science Class on a field trip to the rocks below the Fort during the extreme spring low tide. The students could walk dry for about 30m out from the cliff to investigate the tidal marine life in the littoral zone.  They found not only .50 calibre cases but also the remains of six inch shells. The shells were almost corroded to nothing but the wooden nose shields (to make them more aerodynamic) were still there attached to the blobs of rust. They also found several brass nose timer fuses, some still in their metal containers. The Type 56 fuse in the photo below was donated by Mel Dundas-Taylor to the Townsville Military Museum at Kissing Point.

 


Photo:- Mel Dundas-Taylor

Type 56 fuse found at low tide in front of Fort Kissing Point

 

It would appear that when the guns were removed from the Fort, all the leftover ordinance was dumped over the cliff into the sea. One of the gun mounts was found stuck half way down the cliff when Mel Dundas-Taylor was doing a recce of the area for the student field trip. Mel told the Museum and they organised the Army Engineers to recover it a few years later. It was badly corroded and damaged and was used as a pattern to make some new gun mounts. Only the top part of the gun mount was found. The recoil slides and mechanisms were never found. The gun barrels are now mounted on these replica mounts in their original positions.

On Sunday 3 January 2010, two young boys in Townsville in north Queensland located what is believed to be some live WWII 50 calibre rounds near the Rockpool at Kissing Point in Townsville under the old Fort Kissing Point. Eight year old Mitchell Farley and his ten year old brother Harrison Farley found the found at the waters edge amongst the rocks at the base of Kissing Point near the fishing platform and only about 20 feet from a public footpath.

 

Amazing Aerial footage of the new Development at the
 site of the former Jezzine Barracks at Kissing Point

 

WWII Bunker Tour of Townsville

 

North Queensland Military Museum
Jezzine Barracks, Kissing Point, Townsville

 

WW2 Bunkers & Fortifications in the Townsville area

 

Anti-aircraft Batteries in the Townsville area during WW2

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Mel Dundas-Taylor and John Barr for their assistance with this home page.

 

REFERENCE BOOK

"The History of the Queensland Main Roads Commission"
"during World War II, 1939 - 1945"

"The History of Townsville Harbour 1864 - 1979"
By H.J. Taylor

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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"Australia @ War"
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This page first produced 3 October 2000

This page last updated 07 April 2016