The bitumen sealing of military airfields and taxiways was an essential requirements for many airfields in Queensland during WWII. One of these Bitumen Emulsion plants was erected by the Queensland Main Road Commission at Oonoonba on the outskirts of Townsville.

Other bitumen emulsion plants were established at Charters Towers and Mount Isa. These plants were operated under license from and under the technical direction of Emoleum Ltd.

Paul Walsh who grew up in Oonoonba contacted me on 19 December 2012 and told me that he could remember, in the late 1960's and early 1970's he and his friends used tar from what they called the "Tar Banks" to seal their home made canoes. They would canoe down Tom Nichol's creek. The Tar was dug up from the ground somewhere in the area east of Findlater Street or Ireland Streets on a salt pan amongst the mangroves, but west of Tom Nichol's creek.

The tar was extracted from rusted steel containers of some sort which Paul assumed to be the rusted remains of 44 gallon drums. These drums were buried and only certain portions were exposed, so he did not know whether they were 44 gallon drums. It would be a reasonable assumption to assume that these Tar Banks were related to the Bitumen Emulsion Plant at Oonoonba during WWII.

Paul wondered if it fitted in with the Civil Constructional Corps being stationed in Oonoonba during WWII.



I'd like to thank Paul Walsh for his assistance with this web page.



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


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This page first produced 19 January 2013

This page last updated 04 August 2018