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An underground Operations building was built at Coffs Harbour in New South Wales in about 1943 to house the Operations Room for No. 12 Operational Base Unit RAAF. After about 1980, the bunker was abandoned and was trashed. In 1984 the area where the bunker is located was designated as City Hill and the bunker was under serious threat of demolition.

The Coffs City Rotary Club recognised the heritage value of the bunker and it was converted into a gallery to house the Coffs Harbour Cartoon Collection, which is the largest contemporary collection of original cartoons in Australia. The Coffs City Rotary Club started an annual cartoon competition in 1989.

The Bunker Cartoon Gallery is now run by the Board of Management of the Bunker Cartoon Gallery Inc. It is a not-for-profit, registered charity formed by the Coffs City Rotary Club in 1995 in preparation for the restoration work.

The Coffs Harbour Bunker Cartoon Gallery changes its main cartoon display every few months. Their collection has risen from 10,000 cartoons in early years to 22,000 cartoons in August 2016. The Bunker Cartoon Gallery has a Gallery administrator who is assisted by a team of about 30 volunteers.


Entrance to the Coffs Harbour Bunker Cartoon Gallery as it looked on 28 April 2011


Photo via: Fran Stephenson

The front entrance as it looks in 2016


Coffs Harbour Bunker Cartoon Gallery
This is a link to another site on the Internet


The Bunker Cartoon Gallery (Ph. 02 - 6651 7343) is open every day from 10am to 4pm except Christmas Day and Good Friday. Take the airport turnoff from the Pacific Highway. It is located opposite the Coffs Harbour racecourse.


Plaque for No. 12 Operational Base Unit which operated from the bunker


Inside the Coffs Bunker Cartoon Gallery


The top of the WWII Bunker


12 Operations Base Unit Operations Room moved to another hut at Coffs Harbour Airfield on 20 November 1942 due to congestion in the Signals Hut, its previous location.

On 8 February 1943, F/Lt K.G. Caldwell (A1491) ceased attachment as relieving Operations Room Officer and returned to Headquarters Eastern Area by train at 1539 hours.

On 11 February 1943 Pilot Officer A.C. Giles (A15638) arrived from 71 Squadron at Lowood, Queensland for Operations Room duties.

9 June 1943, Group Captain W.L. Hely (Air Board) arrived by air for an inspection of the Operations Building facilities.

3 July 1943, Squadron Leader Charles Edward Izett Beurle, Flight Lieutenant Pockley and Flight Lieutenant Downie arrived by air and inspected the new Operations Room and Transmitting Station.

30 July 1943, Meteorological, Operations, Signals and Cypher sections completed their transfer to the new Operations Building.

12 August 1943, Flying Officer Leonard Stafano Pozzi (G.D.) (412872) arrived on 14 days attachment to Operations Room duty from eastern Area Headquarters.

17 August 1943, Flying Officer Laurence Hector Trinder (408214 A&SD) arrived on 14 days attachment for Operations Room duties from eastern Area Headquarters.

8 October 1943, Flight Lieutenant Arthur Bashford (270527) arrived from eastern Area Headquarters for Operations Room duties. His attachment from eastern Area ceased on 18 April 1944.

12 April 1944, Flight Lieutenant H. Smith (274893) (A&SD) was posted from 3 E.D. for Operations Controller duties.

16 April 1944, Squadron Leader James Thomas Cahir (406345) G.D. was attached from Eastern Area for Controller duties.

1 May 1944, Flying Officer Leslie Errington Morris (266655) A&SD was attached from Eastern Area Headquarters for Operations Room duties.

On 17 July 1944 work commenced to lay cable from the H/F-D/F station to the Operations Room.

21 July 1944, work commenced on exhausts for receiving and transmitter station.

27 October 1944, Flight Sergeant Hudson, D.W.C. arrived to effect repairs in the underground Operations Room.

20 November 1944, a bushfire threatened the Transmitting Station, but damage was averted by the prompt action of the 12 OBU fire-fighting party.

26 December 1944, arrival of Squadron Leader Colin Stewart Francis (407544) and Sgt John Ethelred Robert Moylan (36028), a clerk, from A.O.R. Eastern Area, for temporary duty Operations Coffs Harbour.


The following is part of a document showing the status of semi-underground buildings in Australia by November 1943:-


Original on 171 56/1        

this copy for 171/1/1493       



Herewith is list of above buildings as requested in your minute dated 29th November, 1943.

signed W/Crd.    
for G/Capt.    



(a) COMPLETED AND IN USE Building Details

Drawing No.

Locality Plan

Drawing No.


Operations Building
Transmitting   "      (less air





(R.S. 1053
(R.S. 1053


Bunkers that were built using the same Drawing Nos. as Coffs Harbour were as follows:-

Mallacoota, VIC
Mohuya, NSW

Albany, WA

Lowood, QLD
Camden, NSW
Pearce, WA

Can anyone tell me if any of these bunkers are still in existance?


Photo via:- Fran Stephenson

Inside the bunker after WWII when it was used by DCA


Photo via:- Fran Stephenson

Inside the bunker prior to redevelopment


The following photos are of the Lowood Underground Operations Room in Queensland which was built to the same plans as the Coffs Harbour bunker.


Lowood Underground Operations Room. Photo taken 31 Dec 2000.
The bunker is very long with a semi-circular roof still partly
Photo taken looking towards the old Lowood airfield


Front view of the Lowood Underground Operations Room


Coffs Harbour Transmitting Bunker


Another Coffs Harbour Bunker


Yet another Coffs Harbour Bunker


Did you work in this Operations Building?


Bunkers, Tunnels, Fortifications
In Australia during WWII


Can anyone help me with more information?



I'd like to thank Fran Stephenson, the Chair of the Board of the Bunker Cartoon Gallery Inc., for her assistance with this web page.

I'd also like to thank Margaret Bridgman who was the previous Gallery administrator back in January 2003. 


"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

I need your help


 Peter Dunn OAM 2020


Please e-mail me
any information or photographs

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This page first produced 8 January 2001

This page last updated 05 March 2020