RAAF Remote Receiving Station
Cabbage Tree Creek Remote Receiving Station
- Radar/signal station
- Brisbane City
441 Beams Road, Zillmere 4034
The Zillmere Remote Receiving Station was built in late 1942 for the RAAF. The station was operational by 30 June 1943 and staffed by combination of RAAF and WAAAF personnel.
On 9 July 1942, the Australian Government requisitioned a Zillmere horse paddock of 78 acres, 3 roods and 10 perches from the carrying firm of Messrs R. Jackson Pty Ltd. of Eagle Street, Brisbane. This was for the construction of a RAAF remote receiving station. The government offered Jackson £640 for the site but the cartage firm was not interested in selling. On 18 September 1942, a National Security Regulation took control of the site for the Commonwealth, paying Jackson £3/9/- rent per month.
By September 1942, the Australian Chiefs of Staff gave construction of the Zillmere Remote Receiving Station, also known as the Cabbage Tree Creek Remote Receiving Station, the status of a priority A1 project. It cost £10,232 to build, using Civil Construction Corps workers under the direction of Mr. G. Major of Hendra. Delays in having petrol tanks installed meant that the station only became operational sometime after 30 June 1943.
The Zillmere Remote Receiving station monitored radio traffic using nine large, steel aerials radiating from a semi-underground concrete receiving room. This operations bunker housed two 9 KVA 3 phase generating sets, a 1,000 gallon underground fuel storage tank and fuel storage pump. Two oil tanks were placed outside of the bunker. The bunker was staffed 24 hours a day by three RAAF personnel, who lived in barracks on the site. Eight masonite sleeping huts were erected around the receiving room/bunker. A cookhouse, shower and two lavatories completed the above ground facilities. Female personnel were employed at the site as one of the lavatories and two of the huts were designated for the Womens’ Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) use. A fence with a 100 feet clearance surrounded the receiving room/bunker, while 68 coils of barbed wire were used to surround the site.
The station was camouflaged to thwart aerial surveillance. Loam was used to surface the receiving station’s road to make it appear as yet another farm track. Zillmere dairy farmers were encouraged to contribute to the military’s efforts to disguise the receiving station’s visibility from the air. The Federal Government decided:
that the immediate vicinity of the [operations] building should be fenced and cattle allowed to graze in the balance of the area. This should cut down the area to be acquired and contribute to the camouflage of the whole location.
A restricted area was declared within a two-mile radius of the station and no civilians had access to the station. Local resident Hugh Carseldine remembered seeing the radio aerials on his daily trips along the North Coast rail line but it remained a mystery to the passengers:
We could see those big radio masts sticking up…Everyone speculated on what it was and no-one knew what went on there. Obviously being a radio place, it was some sort of transmission thing but nobody knew if it was for planes or ships or what it was.
Hugh estimated that the radio masts were nearly 150 feet high and that they were nearly hit twice by aircraft during the war. He said that an US B-17 Flying Fortress bomber almost flew into a mast during a cyclonic rainstorm in February 1943. Another local, Mick Werda remembered that the site was well guarded that gave it an aura of a “hush-hush affair".
At war’s end in September 1945, the site was abandoned and not inspected again until 1948.
BCC Heritage Citations
National Archives of Australia