Cape Pallarenda Coastal Battery


The Esplanade, Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park, Pallarenda 4810

The two gun 4.7-Inch coastal battery at Cape Pallarenda was built in 1943, to defend the northern entrance into Cleveland Bay, between the mainland and Magnetic Island. The battery elements are currently located on the lower slopes of Mount Marlow, and are reached by following Cape Pallarenda Road and then The Esplanade north past the former Townsville Quarantine Station, before walking into the Cape Pallarenda Conservation Park.

The two gun emplacements are constructed of reinforced concrete, each with a cantilevered concrete roof, and a shell store and cartridge store at the rear. A reinforced concrete two-level Battery Observation Post (BOP) is located southwest of (above) the guns, and two reinforced concrete searchlight emplacements are located closer to the shoreline to the northwest and southeast of the gun emplacements. There is also an open stone Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft gun emplacement west of the BOP and an MG pit north of the BOP.

There are numerous concrete slabs in the accommodation area, between the BOP and the track to its south, drainage systems along the paths and a substantial piece of curbing and guttering along the track to the gun emplacements. A levelled area below the BOP is surrounded by a stone pitched wall and steps, and the remains of a tennis court are located southwest of the BOP.


In late 1942 Townsville was the principle port for those Allied troops serving in the New Guinea campaign and Cleveland Bay between Magnetic Island and Townsville was an important assembly point for shipping. The Australian forces chose Townsville as the Area Combined Headquarters for the North East Area, while the American forces used Townsville as the headquarters of the United States Army Base Section Two and the Fourth Air Depot of the United States Army Airforce (USAAF). Between 1942 and 1945 the Townsville and Charters Towers region became one of the largest concentrations of airfields, stores, ammunition depots and port operations in the South West Pacific Theatre.

Townsville was heavily defended from air attack, with searchlights, anti-aircraft guns and radar, while its coastal defences were initially located at two 19th century forts: Kissing Point and Magazine Island. The Kissing Point Battery, constructed in 1890-1891, defended the northwest approaches to Townsville’s harbour. The battery’s ordnance originally consisted of two 6-inch Mark V guns, plus two 64 pounders. The 6-inch guns were replaced with two Quick Firing (QF) 4.7-inch Mk IV guns by 1940, and in 1943 these 4.7-inch guns were moved to Cape Pallarenda.

The other 19th century gun battery at Magazine Island (now levelled and joined to the mainland by land reclamation) was constructed in 1891-1892 to cover the northeast approaches to the harbour, between Magnetic Island and Cape Cleveland. The Magazine Battery was armed with 6-inch guns to 1896, and then with 4.7-inch guns from 1901-02. During World War II two 155mm guns were stationed at this battery. The fort, which was located at the Port of Townsville, southeast of the intersection of Lennon Drive and Jetty Road, was demolished in the 1980s.

To supplement Kissing Point and Magazine Island, new coastal defences were constructed at Cape Pallarenda and Magnetic Island, to cover the northwest and northeast entrances into Cleveland Bay respectively. The Cape Pallarenda Battery was armed with two 4.7-inch Mk IV guns, while the armament of the Magnetic Island Battery, built 1942-43, consisted of two 155mm guns on circular concrete mounts.

The Cape Pallarenda battery was built in 1942-43, and included two reinforced concrete gun emplacements for the 4.7-inch guns moved from Kissing Point; a two-level Battery Observation Post; two searchlight emplacements; a Bofors AA gun emplacement, two machine gun posts; officer’s quarters and latrines; tennis court; artillery store; general mess; kitchen; recreation hall; Quarter Master’s store and AWAS quarters. The complex was probably constructed by the Main Roads Commission which, as the principal agent of the Allied Works Council, was the senior construction authority in Queensland for wartime installations such as roads, airstrips and coastal defence fortifications.

To the south of the battery was the Townsville Quarantine Station, established in 1915-16 using buildings relocated from West Point on Magnetic Island, where a Quarantine station had been constructed in the mid 1880s. The Quarantine Station at Pallarenda was used as part of a military hospital (2/14 Army General Hospital) in World War II, which mostly consisted of tents spread along the foreshore at Pallarenda.


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National Archives of Australia, ST256. Cape Pallarenda - Position of guns, heavy battery. 1943

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