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Possible evidence of tunnels found on 18 May 2002


There are a number of small independent teams of historians chasing evidence of hidden WW2 bunkers and tunnels in the Townsville area. On 18 May 2002, I was advised by one of these groups that they had discovered a ventilation tunnel that leads into one of the main tunnels in the Townsville area.

A member of this team gave me the following text and photographs. I have not been able to verify some aspects of the information below:-


On 18 May 2002 a small ventilation tunnel was uncovered in the Townsville area.

This tunnel runs parallel to a communications tunnel and was used to act as flue to cause negative air pressure so that the main tunnel would be ventilated by other vent holes.

The tunnel is of red brick construction and the workmanship is of high quality.

Dimensions to follow. (but roughly 1.5m high by 1.25m wide.

This ventilator service tunnel is part of over 400 km of communications tunnel that have been identified and mapped to date in the Townsville - Thuringowa area.

The major routes are from Rollingstone in the north to Mount Low, Mount Louisa, Many Peaks Range near the Bohle River. Many Peaks Range at Pallarenda to Magnetic Island and Kissing Point.

Kissing Point to Castle Hill, to Mount Stuart, Mount Louisa, Clevedon, Cromarty and Dingo Hill.

There are in excess of 15 tunnels ranging across the Bohle Plains heading from Mt. Stuart to Herveys Range and Round Mountain.

From Stuart at least one of these tunnels heads down the Flinders Highway between the road and rail reserve to at least Macrossan.

The mapping and follow up research of these tunnels would indicate that construction began under the guise of coal mining during the 1890s. Building and development was over an 80 year period. They were ventilated by pumps and flues utilising both the Hubert Wells Power Station at Aitkenvale and the South Townsville Power Station. These also acted as common collector points for water which was pumped from the tunnels at these locations. Water was also collected and pumped from many of the wells in the Townsville region. Most wells that can be found in Townsville today can be linked to these tunnels.

Those that built these tunnels were outstanding engineers and artisans and that they were constructed in total secrecy is a credit to themselves and the nation.

The Snowy River Scheme had 130 km of tunnels and it is regarded as an engineering masterpiece, Townsville has many times that length and that this was built in total secrecy says plenty regarding the character, motivation and skills of those that built the "Fortress Townsville".


Inside the ventilation tunnel


Red brick tunnel


Inside the tunnel


Access to the ventilation tunnel


Some of the red bricks used in the construction of the tunnel


Some of the red bricks used in the construction of the tunnel







I have heard stories from a couple of sources about tunnels in Townsville connecting Garbutt airfield, the bunker at Ramsay Street in Garbutt, #2 Depot at Mount Louisa, Sturt Street Quarry in Castle Hill, Ross River near Mount Stuart, 3 Fighter Sector HQ at Stuart, Herveys Range, HMAS Magnetic, etc, etc?? Did any of them really exist??

In about 1997, James Cook University Engineering Department hired a GPS with a depth sounder attached to carry out a hydrographic survey of Ross River. The data showed that there were a couple a positions where the River was 20 metres deep instead of the normal 5 metres. One location was about 400 metres downstream of the Natham Street bridge.

A local water diviner in Townsville investigated these findings and has plotted a number of underground streams that flow in fairly straight lines between a number of World War 2 sites such as some of those listed above. He found a water course approx 6 - 8 metres wide both sides of Ross River at the location where the river was 20 metres deep. The water course heads in the direction of Mt. Louisa. Are these water courses old disused WW2 tunnels?

He found a branch coming off this "tunnel" which goes through the old Duckworth St. (#2 Depot) site and then continues on and goes right beside the Ramsay St bunker and then towards Castle Hill. The stream goes right beside a tunnel decline and chinaman loading ramp observed in a 1944 aerial photo of the Duckworth St. site.

A local Hydro Geologist has stated that the sub-strait surface in Townsville is 20-30 metres deep and below that it is solid granite like Castle Hill or Mt. Louisa. With his knowledge of the natural subterranial water system in Townsville, he indicated that the findings of the water diviner went against any knowledge he ever had regarding natural underground water courses. He indicated that it was likely that if these streams were man-made, that they would be running just on the surface of the granite and that they would have had some engineered support. If they went into the granite itself it would be a more amazing engineering feat.

There have been some stories reported that the Ramsay Street bunker had a secret room below the floor which contained a tunnel entrance. This was reportedly to allow an escape route in the event of major bombing activities by the Japanese. War veterans who were in Townsville for the 50 years celebrations of Victory in the Pacific visited the bunker. Those veterans who had previously worked in the bunker were not aware of the existence of such a room or tunnel. An employee of Maunsell McIntyre's has tried to determine whether such a tunnel ever existed. This included querying the above veterans and the reuse of his water divining skills to see if he could find any old tunnels now filled with water. He was unable to find any nearby underground water courses.

I have spoken to someone who has been inside one of the two tunnels that went from the Officer's Mess of North Eastern area Headquarters in Sturt Street. The Officers Mess building later became the RAAF Recruiting Centre in Sturt Street. He said that he had entered the tunnel that went to the basement of Buchanan's Hotel in Sturt Street and it is unclear where the other one went. There was a flight of stairs down to the entry to these two tunnels. There were no indication of the tunnels found when the adjacent Commonwealth Building was refurbished. This building was used as the North Eastern Area Command HQ and is located between the Officer's Mess building and Buchanan's Hotel. 

On Sunday 3 January 2010, two young boys in Townsville in north Queensland located what is believed to be some live WWII 50 calibre rounds near the Rockpool at Kissing Point in Townsville. Eight year old Mitchell Farley and his ten year old brother Harrison Farley found the found at the waters edge amongst the rocks at the base of Kissing Point near the fishing platform and only about 20 feet from a public footpath.


How many tunnels were built in Townsville during WW2?

Or were they built during the late 1800's as part of the defence
against the "Russian Invasion" and then reused during WW2


WWII Bunker Tour of Townsville


WW2 Bunkers & Fortifications in the Townsville area


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"
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This page first produced 3 October 2000

This page last updated 23 February 2020