Victoria Barracks

HQ Aust Army Northern Command/Aust Army Hirings Branch/Qld Lines of Communications Area - PABX/CIB (RAAF command)

Brisbane City

83 Petrie Terrace, Brisbane 4000

Victoria Barracks was built in 1864 and served as the Queensland headquarters for the Queensland colonial forces and then after Federation (1901) as the Queensland state headquarters for the Australian Military Forces (AMF). Over the next five decades, the barracks site received additional buildings. The major expansion occurred during World War I (1914–18) when 15 buildings were either constructed to or received additions. Blackall Street (now defunct) separated Victoria Barracks from the neighbouring Queensland Police Barracks.

On 3 September 1939, at the outbreak of World War Two, signals were despatched by telephone, radio, telegram and even across cinema screens to mobilise the small permanent forces based in Queensland plus the local AMF (militia) units. The inner-city, Petrie Terrace site had been effectively been built-out so there was no room for the type buildings (e.g. motor garages and workshops) required for the new war effort. Victoria Barracks retained its importance as a command headquarters but was responsible for the less-glamorous tasks associated with army administration or 'red-tape'.


Queensland was designated as 1st Military District. The District commander lived in a two-storey residence (the former hospital superintendent’s residence built 1869) within the Victoria Barracks. The original 1866 commander’s residence had become three-storied administrative offices. Among the units occupying these offices was the Australian Army Hiring Service. It requisitioned private property throughout Queensland for military use, arranging lease agreements on behalf of the Commonwealth. The arrival of US troops in 1942 placed a heavy workload on the Army Hiring Service.

During 1940, two small buildings were added to the Barracks complex. These were a general canteen and a Sergeant’s Mess. In August 1941, new officers’ quarters at Victoria Barracks were completed. A Department of Defence ordnance stores warehouse was proposed for a site at the corner of Blackall and Countess Streets but this did not proceed.

In 1942, Victoria Barracks became the headquarters for the Queensland Lines of Communications Area. PABX machines were installed that linked Victoria Barracks to all Australian Army units based in Queensland. Teletype machines connected the headquarters to all Australian Army state HQs as well as the Allied Central Intelligence Bureau (CIB), the RAAF commands in Queensland and the Australian military representatives in London and Washington. The RAAF installed an intelligence unit at Victoria Barracks. The unit was staffed by members of the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF). While largely dealing with office work, Victoria Barracks was still an army establishment and it continued to follow the daily routine of army life. Each morning, the daily parade and roll call was announced by the swirl of bagpipes from a military piper.


National Archives of Australia

BCC Heritage

Scott, Eve, A Woman At War, (Greenslopes, Brisbane: McCann Publications, 1985).
Architecture & Building Journal of Queensland August 1941 p.17.