Private U.S. WWII History
Private U.S. WWII History
You will meet your friendly, local and knowledgeable driver directly at the pier area in the morning and set off for a day of walking in history’s footsteps in Brisbane. Your comfortable, air-conditioned transportation will take you and your small group on this private and intimate tour option, allowing for a very personalized day while in port.
Within days of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. military planners began examining the possibility of pursuing the war against Japan from a base in the southwest Pacific. On December 14, 1941, Brig. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed the construction of a military installation in Australia, and that plan was approved three days later by U.S. Army chief of staff George Marshall. On December 22 a convoy led by the USS Pensacola disembarked more than 4,000 troops at Hamilton Wharf in Brisbane. Nearly one million U.S. troops would pass through Australia between 1941 and 1945, roughly 80,000 of whom were stationed in Brisbane at the height of the war. Brisbane’s population in December 1940 was estimated at 335,000; the American presence in the city would have a significant demographic impact. Between 1942 and 1945, Queensland became a support base for the war effort in the South West Pacific. With the rapid capture of Singapore by the Japanese forces and the subsequent bombing of Darwin and Townsville, Queensland felt vulnerable and many anticipated an invasion. Fortifications, airfields and civil defense became an immediate priority. Industry and the population were mobilized to provide workshops, depots, factories and the necessary recreation and medical facilities. New camps were required for the United States forces and Australia’s Divisions returned from the Middle East. Queensland became a training area and eventually Brisbane’s population doubled as it became the headquarters for the South West Pacific campaign. The legacy of many of these places remains in the landscape.
Your first stop will be at what was the US Submarine base during WWII. Experience the Submariners Walk Heritage Trail, located at New Farm on the Brisbane River, where the US Navy's Task Force 42/72 was located during World War II. This area is dedicated to the memory of Submariners of all nations who have given their service, and in many cases their lives, in the defense of freedom and the protection of Australia.
Continue next to the MacArthur Museum and this WWII Headquarters. General Douglas MacArthur was an American five-star general and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army. A highly decorated soldier of both world wars, General MacArthur played a prominent role in the Pacific theatre during World War II. The Museum looks behind the front lines of the war, here you can discover the role Brisbane played from 1939 – 1945. The Museum also focuses on the developing alliance between Australia and the US brought about by the cooperation between the armed forces of both countries.
From here you will next enjoy the panoramic and sweeping views over Brisbane from Mt Coo-tha Lookout. The mountain is 287 meters above sea level and has the highest peak within the urban footprint of the city. During World War II, anti-aircraft guns and searchlights were located on the lookout. Mount Coo-tha was also the site of US Naval Ammunition Depot (Navy 134) supplying submarines at the Capricorn Wharf at New Farm (Teneriffe) in Brisbane. By now you will have no doubt worked up an appetite, so make your way to The Summit Restaurant for a delicious lunch with scenic views.
Travel next to the Queensland Maritime Museum. This Museum tells the story of naval history in Australia, especially in Queensland. The main attraction of the museum is the HMAS Diamantina (K377), which served at the end of the Second World War. The port of Brisbane was selected by the US Navy as one suitable port to support a major submarine offensive, and facilities were quickly established at both to provide the necessary infrastructure. Brisbane proved highly suitable, with well-established port facilities and a dry dock capable of handling most US submarines then in service. It was also out of range of Japanese aircraft based in New Guinea.
Your day of history will continue as you next explore American memorials on the grounds of Newstead House, Brisbane’s oldest house and base for US Signals Regiment during WWII. Brisbane’s earliest surviving home, the Newstead House dates from 1846 when it was built as a simple single-story dwelling for pastoralist Patrick Leslie who had pioneered settlement in the Darling Downs region. As with a majority of Brisbane’s prominent historical properties, the house was occupied by American forces during World War II and afterwards was opened to the public as a historical museum.
From here you will make your way to Hangar No.7 and the Allison Engine Testing Stands at TradeCoast Central Heritage Park. The story of this Eagle Farm site from convict women's prison, through early aviation events to wartime support base and International Airport. This is where you can tour Hangar No.7 and learn wartime secrets of how the Allies beat the all-powerful Zero. Behind the barbed wire fence, Hangar No.7 evokes a time when Australia was under threat and Brisbane was in danger of becoming the frontline in World War II.
You will then be returned to the pier area and your ship upon completion of this remarkable day learning of WWII history while exploring Brisbane up close and personal.