United States Naval Base (134 Receiving Station)
New Farm Park
- Military camp
- Brisbane City
137 Sydney Street, New Farm 4006
The United States Navy (USN) requisitioned New Farm Park in September 1942 for development into the major USN accommodation base in Brisbane. The New Farm Receiving Station could house 500 enlisted men and smaller numbers of unmarried officers. It also provided messing, recreation, immediate medical and postal facilities for the sailors. The USN closed the Station in January 1946, about five months after War’s end. The Australian Government then leased the base to the Dutch forces fighting against the Republic of Indonesia.
The arrival in Brisbane of United States Navy warships in April 1942 saw the establishment of the New Farm submarine base. Initially, USN personnel numbers (252) were small and accommodated in hotels or boarding houses. By June, USN facilities had expanded and Brisbane was designated USN Base 143. With increasing numbers of sailors to house, the USN leased Brisbane City Council’s New Farm Park and riverfront land belonging to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company on 14 September 1942. The leases were arranged through the Australian Army Hiring Service offices at Victoria Barracks.
The site was developed into the USN New Farm Receiving Station. It included Bachelor Officers Quarters (BOQ), a Dispensary and an Armed Guard Pool. The Receiving Station also had two barracks, a Mess Hall (seating 50) and Galley (kitchen), a laundry, an enlisted men’s recreation room, a theatre, Ship’s Store, a brig (jail), a seabag storage building, a 2-chair barber shop, a subsidiary post office, an administration building, a wet (alcohol) canteen and a Chaplain’s Office. The USN Dispensary was a 25-bed unit, with a surgery, medical wards, dental facilities and a prosthetic laboratory. The Armed Guard Pool was built within the Receiving Station. The Station serviced both USN personnel allotted to Base 134 plus sailors who were transiting through Brisbane.
Construction was undertaken under the supervision of the Seabees naval construction battalion that had a camp at Eagle Farm. The cost of the two 250-bed barracks, the Mess Hall and Galley and Recreation Room was £23,529.19.0 (Australian). The BOQ was a (88 feet, 6inche by 53 feet, 6 inch) wood frame building with asbestos siding and roofs and provided with electric lighting, plumbing and hot water system. It cost £10,583.7.3. The Mess Hall was equipped with an electrically heated food conveyor, locally acquired food pots, meat dish and hot and cold cupboards. It cost £164.0.0. The two-storey, timber framed Naval Dispensary comprised a Sick Quarters and medical store. It cost £7057.1.5. The USN Laundry included a boiler house and cost £3022.10.4. The administration building, Canteen, brig, seabag storage building, barber shop and sub-post office cost a total of £5658.19.8. All of these buildings were wood framed with shiplap siding and had asbestos cement roofs. The Naval Chaplain’s Office cost £175.0.0.
A high fence that was backed by floodlights and a public address (PA) system (total cost £502.18.8) surrounded New Farm Park. The New Farm USN Receiving station was given concrete stormwater drains (cost £564.9.11). A 1,000-gallon capacity water softener was installed (cost £239.0.0). An incinerator for trash removal was also built (cost £143.0.0). Locally purchased furnishings (1,068 items) for the entire Station cost £13.881.13.3. The entire construction program cost £13.881.13.3 from USN Funds and £51940.6.3 in Reciprocal Aid.
The BOQ soon could not cope with the numbers of USN officers requiring accommodation in Brisbane. On 9 February 1943, another BOQ was established around the Waterloo Hotel in nearby Newstead. In Brisbane, quarters and eating facilities were eventually provided for a Base 134 personnel peak of 6,464 officers and men. The peak was 685 officers on 1 June 1944 and 5,862 enlisted men on 1 July 1944. When the commanders of the 7th Fleet and 7th Fleet Service Force transferred headquarters to Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea, Base 134 and other USN Australian bases were placed under the Services Force 7th Fleet, Subordinate Command, Australia, in Brisbane. This change occurred around 25 October 1944. Commander USN Forces, Australia-New Guinea (HQ was also in Brisbane) succeeded it on 15 August 1945.
In March 1945, an order was sent to all USN Australian bases to reduce activities towards a final closure of the bases. The New Farm Receiving Station closed on 12 January 1946.The Commonwealth immediately leased the facilities to the Netherlands East Indies Air Force then engaged in operations against the Indonesian Independence Movement. It had been planned to decommission Base 134 on 1 March 1946 but this was brought forward to 14 January 1946.
USN Bureau of Yards and Docks Section, Defense Aid - Reciprocal and Review Board Report - General, US Naval Base, Navy 134, Brisbane, (1946).
Brisbane City Council Lists.