Photo:- Peter Dunn 23 March 2008

One of the original early guns from Magazine Battery now on display at Fort Lytton in Brisbane


Prior to 1891, Magazine Island was known by a number of different names including, Redcliff Island, Darling Island and Inch Gordon. After an explosive magazine was built on the island in 1870, its popular name became Magazine Island.

Construction of the original fort commenced in 1890 and it was originally fitted out with two 6-inch Armstrong breech loading (B.L.) 80 pounder guns on traversing slides in about mid 1891. These were later removed between June and August 1896 with one being sent to Brisbane were it was mounted on the Victoria Barrack Square and the other was mounted at the Armoury below the Supreme Court and used for drill purposes. A single Ten-barreled 0.45 Nordenfelt machine gun was also installed at Magazine Battery.

 Two 4.7-inch Q.F. Mark IV guns (Serial Nos. 794 and 795) arrived from England in December 1900 to replace the 80 pounder guns. The old emplacements for the 80 pounder guns were removed and new emplacements installed along with an ammunition lift to the underground magazine. The fort was also fitted out with a Nordenfelt machine gun (Serial No. 188).

Two 155mm M1917 Grande Puissance Filloux (GPF) French made guns on Carriage M3 on Panama Mounts were in use at Magazine Battery during WWII. "D" Australian Heavy Battery left Skirmish Battery on Bribie Island and on 3 May 1943 they boarded a train at Wynnum and travelled to Kalinga Staging Camp in Brisbane, where they boarded buses to move the the railway station to board a troop train to Townsville. They arrived at the Townsville railway station at 10pm on 5 May 1943 and moved to the Magazine Battery overlooking Townsville Harbour. Magazine Hill was originally on what was known as Magazine Island.


Magazine Hill can be seen to right side of this photo taken in the mid 1960's.


Photo:- Thuringowa City Libraries

An older photo of Magazine Hill


On 19 November 1943, "D" Australian Heavy Battery completed preparations to hand over the Magazine Battery to "U" Australian Heavy Battery. At 2pm on 22 November 1943, 5 officers and 111 other ranks boarded a ship for Buna. 

F Australian Heavy Battery (Coast) was based at Magazine Battery from February 1943 to May 1944 using the same 155mm guns.

By early December 1943 "U" Australian Heavy Battery arrived at Magazine Battery for further intensive training, including sub-calibre coastal shoots. By February 1944, "U" Australian Heavy Battery commenced training in using the 155mm gun in a field role culminating in immediate neutralisation and destruction shoots at a range of 10,000 yards. On 19 April 1944 "U" Australian Heavy Battery left Magazine Battery and embarked on HMT Katoomba and sailed for Buna via Milne Bay, New Guinea.


NARA Reference Number:- 342-FH-3A30009-117682AC

38th Bomb Group leaving Townsville by ship for New
Guinea. Magazine Hill can be seen in the background.


Closeup of Magazine Hill from the above photograph


Entrances to Casemate, group store and telephone and lamp room


Photo:- Chris Barton

Entrances to Casemate, group store and telephone and lamp room in 1982


Photo:- Chris Barton

Magazine Battery in 1982


Some demolition work on Magazine Hill was carried out in 1983/84. The final removal of Magazine Hill was completed in 1984/85.



The following article of Tuesday 16 April 1940, in the Townsville Daily Bulletin describes the fate of one of the original 6 inch siege guns that were mounted at Magazine Battery:-

"Instructions have been received from the Northern Command in Brisbane for the demolition and burial of a six inch siege gun which has been a familiar landmark at the drill hall at North Ward. Originally, the gun was one of the defence units at the old Garrison Fort at Magazine Island, near the oil tanks, and was subsequently removed to the drill hall, following the selection of Kissing Point as a more suitable area for the Garrison. The original fort is still in existence."

Michael Christensen believes that this six inch gun removed from the Drill Hall at Mitchell Street was buried in the sandy soil on the block on Mitchell Street near St. Josephs. Old aerials show very little on the block at that time, so they probably just dismantled it and buried in a corner of the block.



I'd like to thank Michael Christensen, Chris Barton and Leigh Deighton for their assistance with this web page.



"U" Australian Heavy Battery Association web page


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"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

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 Peter Dunn 2015


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This page first produced 24 March 2008

This page last updated 05 March 2020