hline.gif (2424 bytes)


Customs House, The Strand, Townsville, QLD


Customs House in Townsville was used by the Military during World War2. There is a maze of passageways and cellars underneath Customs House. They were originally installed as storage areas but have the look and feel of a cellar for prisoners. The area earned the nickname of "The Dungeon". 

During WW2 the Department of Defence extended the main Customs House building and modified some of the interior. A two- storied timber framed extension was added at the rear of the main building and a mezzanine floor was constructed in the long room. All available spaces were converted into office space.


customshouse02.jpg (40221 bytes) Rear of Customs House
customshouse03.jpg (60720 bytes) Note the concrete slab near the centre of the photo. Is that of WW2 origin?
customshouse21.jpg (52860 bytes)
(Photo - June 2003)
Rear of Customs House
customshouse22.jpg (55458 bytes)
(Photo - June 2003)
Rear of Customs House


"The Dungeon" area may have been used as an air raid shelter during WW2. Can anyone please confirm? A tunnel was dug from the rear of the dungeon through to Wickham Street in case the main entrance was destroyed.

There are also rumours of another escape tunnel being built to the Queens' Hotel, which was used as an American Officer's Club during WW2. There have also been rumours of a red brick tunnel running from the Customs House to under the Townsville Post Office.


customshouse01.jpg (39003 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
Ventilation hood near the front entrance of Customs House to ventilate the basement.
customshouse02.jpg (43837 bytes)
(Photo -May 2003)
Front entrance to Customs House
customshouse03.jpg (59839 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
Old drawing for Customs House - Wickham Street Elevation
customshouse04.jpg (46953 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
Close-up of "Dungeon" area
customshouse05.jpg (50025 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
Old drawing for Customs House - The Strand Elevation
customshouse06.jpg (28511 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
The locked ground floor gate to stairs to the basement "Dungeon" area. This is located behind the main staircase to the first floor.
customshouse07.jpg (46261 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
Sign on a wall at the bottom of the stairs to the "Dungeon" area
customshouse09.jpg (27652 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
One of the low doorways in the basement. Note the groove hacked out of the concrete to allow more headway to walk through the opening.
customshouse10.jpg (42832 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
A timber and iron wall to create a small long room
customshouse11.jpg (45314 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
The centre of the basement area
customshouse12.jpg (45840 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
A room with a heavy steel door
customshouse13.jpg (48809 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
A short tunnel type passageway to a locked cage type door
customshouse15.jpg (29983 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
A short tunnel type passageway to a locked cage type door
customshouse14.jpg (49423 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
Close-up of the above steel caged door
customshouse16.jpg (23814 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
Another close-up of the above steel caged door
customshouse17.jpg (34595 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
Photo through the steel caged door. It was dark and I did not have a torch. Appears to be a filled in area. This is the tunnel to the Queens' Hotel.
customshouse18.jpg (423883 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
A larger version of the above photo
customshouse19.jpg (30297 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
An old bed in one of the areas in the "Dungeon":
customshouse20.jpg (39502 bytes)
(Photo - May 2003)
Yet another passageway in the basement "Dungeon" area of the Customs House in Townsville. (May 2003)
customshouse26.jpg (33279 bytes)
(Photo - June 2003)
View from Wickham Street looking towards The Strand


WWII Bunker Tour of Townsville



"In the Shadow of Castle Hill"
by Margaret Heuschele and the William Ross State High School Year 10 Leading Learner Social Education Class


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 5 November 2001

This page last updated 10 June 2023