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In 1942, the Medical Superintendent of the Mount Isa Hospital, Edward Ryan, asked Mount Isa Mines to help build an underground  hospital to protect patients in the event of any Japanese bombing raids. By this time the Japanese had carried out their first bombing raid in Darwin on 19 February 1942.

Wally Orton was the foreman in charge of the project to build the underground hospital. Local Miners volunteered to work in their spare time and on weekends. A H-shaped underground "bunker" was dug out of the solid rock in the hill beside Mount Isa's Base Hospital.

A General Ward, Children's Ward and Operating Theatre were set up in the underground hospital. A ladder went up to one of the ventilation shafts to act as an emergency exit for the underground hospital. Timber was used to reinforce the rough rock tunnel walls.


One of the wards in the Mt. Isa underground hospital


The Operating Theatre


In 1999 a committee of ten was established under the leaderships of Margaret Medley to restore the then vandalised underground hospital as a local tourist attraction. The project was overseen by the National Trust. The original timbers in the "Bunker" were to be replaced with Oregon Pine under the supervision of a mining engineer. You can visit the Underground Museum at Joan Street in Mount Isa.


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

Underground Museum, Mount Isa


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

Main entrance to the underground Hospital


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

As you continue to walk into the hospital it then turns left


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

Baby Section


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

WWII photo of the baby nursery area


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

Original WWII Photo on display at the Museum
See photo below for the photo caption


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

Caption for the above WWII Photo of the underground hospital


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

This is the same area as the above two photographs as it looks today.


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

Sleeping Quarters with double decker beds


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

Note the Gelignite boxes at the right. See explanation below.


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

Explanation on use of gelignite boxes


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

10 beds in the sleeping quarters area


Photo:- Michael Musumeci

Patient's bed



 "Courier Mail", 12 May 1999

Mount Isa Underground Hospital and Museum



I'd like to thank Michael Musumeci for his assistance with this 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 11 May 2003

This page last updated 27 February 2020