- North and Cape York
Adjacent to old Telegraph line (near Elliot Creek), Elliott 4874
The existence and exact location of Elliot Airstrip is a 'mystery' as outlined by Roger Marks in 'Queensland Airfields WW2'. All that is known is in July 1950, the RAAF 87 (Photo Recon) Squadron, flying probably a DeHavilland Mosquito aircraft, took a direct vertical showing clear evidence of two cross strips with further clearing near the junction. As was the recording procedure of the day, a Flight Diagram (FD) was drawn, based on available mapping. A photo located in an obscure part of the National Library of Australia’s (NLA) extensive print library, was 'filed' with a similar photo edge marked “Austin Air Strip” (sic), taken the day before.
Upon further investigation at AUSLIG, (now read Geoscience Australia) in Belconnen, ACT, a senior officer presented a number of FDs which had gravitated to them from the RAAF’s Central Photographic Establishment (CPE) Laverton Vic. Amongst these were FDs for both Elliot and Austin, which turned out to be Snake Bay on Melville Is near Darwin, NT.
While research is on-going, at present it appears possible Elliot was cleared during WW2 but with no further advanced, allowing it to return to nature.
During WW2 large numbers of military aircraft were ferried northwards along the Queensland coast to New Guinea and beyond. Many such flights were interrupted by bad weather or mechanical difficulties and so there was a need to offer pilots information on available ELGs - Emergency Landing Grounds. It is possible Elliot was one such ELG though it seems strange no such record has surfaced.
After WW2, extensive mineral exploration work was carried out through much of Cape York and possibly Elliot sprang from that activity. Roger Marks’ research in the early 1990s, gave him access to civilians involved in such clearing and associated earth moving for both mineral exploration and pastoral development ventures. While several 'possible WW2 ELG sites' were considered in that context, Elliot remains a mystery.
To summarise, it’s obvious an RAAF photo recon mission (#74 - see 'Index No' at base of FD) was tasked to overfly Austin on 21 July 1950 and next day to include an over-flight of Elliot, on probably a south-bound transit through Garbutt, Townsville. It’s likely only two frames were exposed over Austin (5045-5046) and the one over Elliot (5048). It was a 'tasked mission' - no chance sighting was involved.
- Marks, RR. 1994. Queensland Airfields WW2—50 Years On, (QAWW2), R and J Marks, Brisbane.
- National Library of Australia aerial photo collection, Canberra, ACT.