Apollo Barge Assembly Depot
- Military camp
- Brisbane City
167 Apollo Road, Bulimba 4171
The US Army Transportation Service was allocated the former Apollo Candle Works site at Bulimba for the establishment of a supply depot which included warehouses and assembly of small boats and barges. Later known as the US Engineer Boat Yard at Bulimba Point, it received prefabricated barges from the USA for local assembly.
Around the time of the arrival of the first American forces in Brisbane, the Australian military forces established a mobile anti-aircraft battery on the site adjacent to the Apollo Ferry terminal. Three sheds belonging to Vaccum Oil were used to house the crews of two 40mm Bofors guns.
In 1942 initial survey work at the former Apollo Candle Works site was undertaken by the Department of Interior’s Works and Services Branch Queensland, for the establishment of a US Army Transportation Service depot. A single requisition from the USASOS provided for the work to be undertaken by the Allied Works Council at two sites, known during construction as Camps A and B. Camp A included barracks and the barge assembly works, and comprised a 100′ x 200′ workshop, mooring buoys and floating pontoon erected by US troops, and forty seven barracks 20′ x 54′ (some supplied prefabricated from Sydney); two messes 40′ x 100′, kitchen 30′ x 45′, supply 20′ x 63′, forty-seven barracks 20′ x 54′, four 10-head bath houses, and four 10-hole latrines. Float dock construction site, a 20′ x 60′ jetty, an outfitting and repair wharf, a barge launching marine railway, greasing ramp, concrete wash, fencing, gates, roads and site reconstruction, drainage, water and electrical supply, hot water and sewerage were also included in that project. One repair shed 20′ x 60′, and two warehouses 100′ x 400′ were contracted to A & S Taylor (completion 8 weeks). Two 100′ x 200′ workshops—one with pilings—and a 20′ x 100′ administration building, and were allocated to MR Hornibrook Pty Ltd with a completion time of 8 weeks. The US Army provided unskilled labour who worked under the supervision of foremen and leading hands provided by the Allied Works Council. MR Hornibrook Pty Ltd offered some of its staff for the supervisory role.
The construction of Camp B, which was located on Lytton Rd, was initially contracted to PR Ayre and J Young. It appears US Army labour may also have been used on this camp site to build a headquarters building, infirmary, various supply huts, nine kitchens, messes and recreation rooms, 99 barracks buildings with bathhouses and latrines, and eight sets of Officers quarters.
Once operational the Barge Assembly Yard received prefabricated 300-ton steel barges, and 200-ton wooden barges shipped in from the USA, and commenced their assembly. Floating cranes, were also constructed at Bulimba to facilitate the barge assembly. The completed barges were launched at Bulimba and fitted out for their particular task, which included refrigeration barges and oil barges. US Army engineers and a civilian workforce constructed the barges. Despite the desire of the Australian Government the US employed 'Asiatic labour' be not permanently based on the Australian mainland, approximately 750 Chinese labourers (including some former POWs) worked directly for the US Army on the barge assembly lines. The Chinese workers camp had an entrance from Hood Street, with barracks accommodation along and on the lower side of the present Baldwin Street
The boat yard also outfitted specialist small ships with radio communication equipment during the war years. The staff, facilities and slips of local boatbuilding firm Watt and Wright, were employed at many of these tasks by the US Army.
By early 1944 the US Army advised the Australian authorities’ of its intent to curtail some of its operations at Bulimba. Earlier proposals to construct floating dry docks and floating workshops may not have been carried to fruition. Later that year the US military moved out of the Apollo Rd facility, and the site was taken over by the Australian army for a variety of purposes.
The former 'Barge Assembly Depot' was formally acquired by the Commonwealth of Australia on 15 March 1945, and remained part of the Australian military site infrastructure for the remainder of the 20th century.
NAA digital plan; US Army Telephone Directory May 1944
Allied Works Council - Queensland - 1943 - Minutes of Meetings, BP1/1 Volume 21, NAA item barcode 5223300
A989 1944/735/260/1/1 PWR [Post War Reconstruction] - Oil installations - War-time installations in Australia, post-war use, Bulimba project, NAA item barcode 185377
Roger Marks, “Brisbane - WW2 v Now, Vol 7 Brisbane River - upstream from Bretts", Brisbane, 2005
Burchill, Dennis, Wartime Memories of Bulimba, April 2004.
Additional sites: Camp Bulimba: Camp ‘A’: US Army Small Ships Section Apollo Barge Assembly Depot & Chinese Workers Camp (Hood St), Camp B: US Army Services of Supply (USASOS) Supply Division;1944–45: Australian Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (AEME) Area small craft workshops & water store & jetty; !st Australian Army Ordnance Corps (AAOC).