Toogoolawah Airfield

Watts Bridge airfield


Mount-Beppo Road, Toogoolawah 4313

Known during the war years as Toogoolawah this pair of intersecting strips survives albeit with foreshortened runways today under the name of Watts Bridge (Memorial) Airfield. It doesn’t appear to have been so named during the war years, although the Military Survey Mapping dated 1943 shows a nearby bridge over the Brisbane River as Watts Bridge. The site was chosen primarily as a base for an RAAF Army Cooperation Squadron activity. Indeed No.5 Squadron did occupy the airfield for some months prior to moving to North Queensland and beyond.

No substantial buildings appear to have been constructed during war service, although records do suggest remnants of a CCC camp remained at site for some time.

Significantly, the natural earth at this site suggested to the designers a cost saving opportunity by way of employing, then early technology, cement stabilisation. While the intention was good the authority eventually opted for traditional importation and construction of gravelled pavements. The fact that good care was taken to install drainage for the main 120deg runway has proven an important factor in the present day use. Bitumen sealing was never carried out here and with significant period of low use the gravelled pavement became well grassed over.

The Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield is well used by private recreational flying organisations and a degree of take-up by leases of air chalet allotments has occurred. Money is always a problem and hence the road and drainage infrastructure is still troubled through periods of high traffic such as the traditional last weekend in August when the Queensland Vintage Aeroplane Group - Australian Flying Museum mounts its Festival of Flight.


Roger Marks