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Between late 1942 and early 1943, about 500 Chinese labourers arrived in Townsville. They were known as the "Native Labour Company". They were professional labourers who were evacuated from Nauru Island and Ocean Island in the Central Pacific in February 1942.

They were initially employed in Wolfram mines near Alice Springs for about 18 months and then moved to the Townsville area in about November 1943.

In about March 1944, part of the unit, about two hundred and forty Chinese, were transferred to the USA Barge Assembly Depot on Apollo Road at Bulimba in Brisbane. The depot was also known as the Bulimba - Apollo Barge Assembly Depot (USASOS). It was also known as the Engineer Boat Yard, Bulimba. Another group of the "Native Labour Company" moved to Cairns in June 1944. 


(Photo via Russell Miller)

The Apollo Barge Assembly Depot was located in the vacant land at the centre bottom of the
photograph which was taken on 4 August 1942. It was located opposite
the Hamilton Wharves on the other side of the Brisbane River.


Approximately 800 Chinese lived in barracks at the Chinese Camp, Camp "A", near Apollo Road at Bulimba and were involved in building landing barges for the Americans who lived in nearby Camp Bulimba Camp "B". These were the men of the 534th Engineer Amphibian Regiment, 4th Engineer Amphibian Brigade.

Five igloos and a slipway into the Brisbane River were built for the landing barge production facility. The tea-tree swamp in the area was filled in.

I was told that there was a breakout of Chinese from the Camp "A" one day and a few of the Chinese were shot. (can anyone confirm the voracity of this story?)

After the barge making facility left the site, the Navy (was that US Navy?) used it as a Radar Base.

Barry Carr told me "At Bulimba, adjacent to the ferry, was a workshop for repairing small boats, run by the Yanks and there were quite a few Chinese labourers with the area fully enclosed in barb wire, to prevent them from getting out." 


Chinese huts for labour gangs to construct buildings (huts at rear). 


Can anyone tell me some more about
the Chinese Labour Company at Bulimba and the breakout



I'd like to thank Barry Carr for his assistance with this web page.


Can anyone help me with more information?


"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

I need your help


 Peter Dunn OAM 2020


Please e-mail me
any information or photographs

"Australia @ War"
8GB USB Memory Stick

This page first produced 15 October 2001

This page last updated 22 February 2020