Cairns ‘Z’ Experimental Station (Z.E.S.) Commando Training School

Fairview Farm, “The House on the Hill"

Training facility

Munro Terrace, Mooroobool, Cairns 4870

During WW2, the military commandeered “Fairview House” on Fairview Farm at Mooroobool in Cairns. The address was used as a training facility for used “Z” Special Operations Commandos, and its secretive nature led to the home becoming known as “The House on the Hill".


Used between 1942 and 1944 by Z Special Unit as an Experimental Station or Z.E.S., the house saw training programs that included demolition and explosives, unarmed combat, signals, map reading, weapons and physical training aspects.

Planning for Operation Jaywick, the mission to blow up Japanese shipping in Singapore Harbour, was undertaken at the location. Fourteen British and Australian Commandos trained in the Barron River and on the beaches north of Cairns. An old Japanese fishing vessel called The Krait was used for the mission to offer some anonimity. The Japanese flag was flow en-route to the mission. The team left Cairns on 9 August 1943 and travelled the nearly 4000 kilometres to Singapore. Once at the destination, the commandos attached limpet mines to shipping in the harbour, using collapsable kayaks, with the result being the sinking of three major vessels and damage to a number of others.

There is a plaque at the right hand side of the main gate at HMAS Cairns base commemorating the Z Special force role during WW2.

"The House on the Hill” later became a popular night club location, but later burnt down. The location is now the site of a luxury, gated residential complex.


  • Courtney MBE; MC, G.B. (1993)."Silent Feet - The History of “Z” Special Operations 1942–1945"; McCrae Publishers, Victoria
  • Dunn, P. Australia @ War