Ravenshoe Army Entertainment Hall
Ravenshoe Army Camp Theatre Floor Slab
- Atherton Tablelands
Corner Kennedy Highway and Millstream Falls Road, Millstream National Park, Ravenshoe 4888
As part of the construction program for Ravenshoe military camp a large timber truss igloo theatre was erected at the entrance to the camp. Only the concrete floor slab of this building now remains to provide an indication of its former dimensions.
From December 1942 the headquarters of the Australian Army in north Queensland transferred from Townsville to the Atherton Tableland with the main administrative centre around the town of Atherton. A huge schedule of construction work under the direction of the Allied Works Council was commenced in January 1943 involving the building of tent encampments, hutments, stores, bakeries, mess kitchens, hospitals, sewage plants and entertainment theatres.
Like similar military camp theatres in north Queensland at Rocky Creek, Wondecla and Danbulla, the Ravenshoe theatre was about 42 metres in length and 22 metres wide and stood about 7.5 metres in height. It was clad in corrugated iron and composed of two major elements-an igloo auditorium with a stage area attached. The theatre was a communal centre of the camp and was regularly used for church services, picture shows, reviews and concerts.
Units of the Australian 6th and 7th Divisions began arriving on the Tableland in January 1943 and started occupying tent encampments around the settlements of Wongabel, Wondecla and Ravenshoe. Units of the 9th Division returned to Australia from North Africa during February and by April had begun reforming at camps around Kairi and Danbulla. Ravenshoe military camp was home to infantry battalions and support units of the 7th Division in 1943 and the 9th Division in 1944.
By March 1943 up to 17,000 men of the 7th Division were camped along the Ravenshoe-Mount Garnet road (now the Kennedy Highway) from Millstream Falls to Archer Creek. During July 1943 the 7th Division took part in training with US Army paratroopers before departing from Ravenshoe for amphibious landing exercises near Cairns, where the battalions began boarding transports for Port Moresby in readiness for landings on the north coast of New Guinea.
The 9th Division began returning to Australia from New Guinea in 1944 and in March the Division was reformed at the vacant Ravenshoe camp. Due to rapid development of the Pacific war and strategic uncertainty over the role of Australian forces in the region, the 9th Division remained at Ravenshoe for over a year. For the men of the units training endlessly, 1944 was the most frustrating year of the war. By the time they embarked on their final campaigns in March, April and May 1945 some units had not seen action since 1943.
After the Japanese surrender in August that year Ravenshoe and the other Atherton Tableland camps were decommissioned. Buildings and structures were disposed of at auctions and this may have been the fate of the Ravenshoe camp theatre.
Pearce, Howard (contributing author).
Peter Nielsen. Diary of WWII North Queensland, Nielsen Publishing, Gordonvale, 1993
Howard Pearce. WWII: NQ: A cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, 2009
PD Wilson. North Queensland: WWII 1942–1945, Department of Geographic Information, Brisbane, 1988.