RAAF 21 Inland Aircraft Fuel Depot
- Supply facility
- Darling Downs
Millar Street (west of former Yarraman Railway Station), Yarraman 4614
The RAAF 21 Inland Aircraft Fuel Depot (IAFD) was built by the Queensland Main Roads Commission (MRC) in 1942, as part of a plan to store aviation fuel away from the coastline and possible enemy air attack. Four tanks are built into the side of the hill to the west of the former railway station, on the east side of Yarraman.
The former depot is surrounded by a ruined security fence, and includes four tanks of welded steel plate set within reinforced concrete walls, floors and rooves. The tanks are accessible through concrete lined tunnels. One of the two northern tanks has been used as the base of a house.
There is also a semi-underground concrete building at the base of the hill, between the northern and southern tanks, possibly the pump house. Two associated pits, one lined with concrete and the other lined with corrugated sheeting, access underground storage.
During 1942–1943 a series of Inland Aircraft Fuel Depots (IAFD) were built for the RAAF, for bulk storage of fuel in tanks, plus storage of drums of T.E.L (tetra ethyl lead) spirit to boost the octane level of the fuel. Trains delivered the fuel to the depots, from where it could be trucked to nearby airfields. The depots were built on inland railway lines, as it was thought that the North Coast railway line was vulnerable to enemy air attack. Six such depots were built in Queensland: 7 IAFD Toowoomba, 8 IAFD at Gayndah, 9 IAFD at Charters Towers, 21 IAFD at Yarraman; 22 IAFD at Roma and 23 IAFD at Cloncurry.
Yarraman was built at the end of the Brisbane Valley Branch railway line, and like the depots at Gayndah and Charters Towers, Yarraman was also on the Inland Defence Road between Ipswich and Charters Towers. The latter was built or upgraded (sections pre-dated the war) in 1942–1943 by the Queensland Main Roads Commission (MRC) and the New South Wales Department of Main Roads (Duaringa to Charters Towers section). The Inland Defence Road ran north via Esk, Blackbutt, Nanango, Goomeri, Gayndah, Eidsvold, Banana, Duaringa and Clermont, and was designed as an alternative route for military supplies should the coast route be cut by enemy action.
The depot at Yarraman was constructed by the Queensland MRC and consisted of four steel tanks - three of 200,000 Imperial Gallons (909,218 litres) and one of 54,000 gallons (245,488 litres) - built into the side of a rocky hill. The rock was excavated, a reinforced concrete base was poured, and the steel plates, delivered without handling holes and without being shaped, were set by hand. Upon completion of the bottom and first row around the sides, the section of plates was water tested. The rest of the plates were then placed, welded and tested. After the steel sides were in place, concrete sidewalls a minimum of 8" (20.3cm) thick were built, along with a 12" (30.5cm) concrete roof supported on four steel-cased concrete columns. Manholes were included in the rooves of the tanks.
A well ventilated semi-underground concrete structure at the base of the hill between the two northern tanks and the two southern tanks was probably the pump house. Two pits nearby lead to underground storage, probably for the drums of T.E.L spirit.
The depot is currently derelict, although one of the tanks has been used as the base for a house. The adjacent railway station is also abandoned, although the Station Master’s house and camping quarters survive east of the railway line.
Yarraman Railway Complex, Reported Place 2452, Queensland Heritage Register
Buchanan Architects, 2002. “QR Heritage Survey, Brisbane Valley Line", Volume 5, Brisbane to Toowoomba
Queensland Main Roads Commission, 1949. The history of the Queensland Main Roads Commission during World War II, 1939–1945. Brisbane, Government Printer.
Casey, Hugh J., ed. 1951, “Volume VI: Airfield and Base Development", Engineers of the Southwest Pacific 1941–1945, Washington, D.C, United States Department of the Army.
Charlton, P. 1991. South Queensland WWII 1941–45, Boolarong, Brisbane.
National Archives of Australia LS239A, Yarraman Oil Depot - Pipeline Bore to Elevated Tank, 1942.
National Archives of Australia LS150A, Yarraman - rail station [terminus of Brisbane Valley Railway, Queensland, plan of yard layout] 1942
Survey Plans, DERM.