Inland Defence Road Bridges
- Civil defence facility
Defence Road (between Cracow and Camboon), Cracow 4719
The Inland Defence Road between Ipswich and Charters Towers, via Blackbutt, Nanango, Gayndah, Eidsvold, Banana and Clermont, was built by civilian labour during 1942–1943. Some of the work was also done by Queensland Italian and Albanian internees who had been rounded up as “enemy aliens".
The internees worked on a section of the Inland Defence Road between Eidsvold and Banana. This 68km section branches off from the Eidsvold-Theodore Road, about 15km east of Cracow, and heads north and then northwest before joining the Leichardt Highway northeast of Theodore.
Twelve bridges (four still in use) were constructed on this section. The bridges are timber or composite girder bridges, most with stone abutments (loose or set in cement), some with piers of stone set in cement. There is also a 50m causeway (concrete and stone set in cement) and culvert 4.5 km north of the Eidsvold-Theodore Road.
The bridge at Grants Gully, (10.4km north of the Eidsvold-Theodore Road), has cemented stone abutments and a cemented stone central pier with concrete capping. The timber components are recent, and the bridge is still used.
The Cracow Creek Bridge, (11.5km north), is approximately 30m long with two piers of stone set in cement with concrete capping. There are cemented stone abutments at both ends. On the western side the timber decking has been reduced in width. The bridge is no longer used. However, a bridge over Delusion Creek, (28km north), with cemented stone abutments, three piers of cemented stone and one pier of timber, is still in use.
At least five of twelve bridges on a section of the Inland Defence Road between Eidsvold and Banana were built by Italian and Albanian internees in 1942–1943, as part of the effort to provide an inland road link to North Queensland during World War II.
The Inland Defence Road was proposed prior to World War II and was built or upgraded (sections pre-dated the war) during 1942 and early 1943. It ran north from Ipswich via Esk, Blackbutt, Nanango, Goomeri, Gayndah, Eidsvold, Banana, Duaringa and Clermont, and was designed as an alternative route for military supplies if the coastal route was cut by enemy action. The New South Wales Department of Main Roads was responsible for the Duaringa to Charters Towers section, while the Queensland Main Roads Commission (MRC) was responsible for the Ipswich to Duaringa section.
During the 1930s road construction had provided relief for the unemployed. However, by 1942 the enlistment of men in the armed services created a shortage of labour. A solution was the employment of “enemy aliens” (residents of Australia who were not citizens and whose country of origin was at war with Australia). In early 1942 a round-up of enemy aliens occurred on the North Queensland coast, which was considered to be in danger of Japanese attack. Interned Italians and Albanians were then put to work on the Inland Defence Road. On a heavy rock section at Camboon 120 non-refugee enemy aliens were employed, initially under a military guard which was soon taken away.
The Ipswich to Duaringa section of the Inland Defence Road required many new bridges to accommodate heavy military traffic. Complete bridge gangs were brought from north and southern Queensland, with 155 men employed on bridge work at the peak of construction. The internees also worked on the bridges, as the work by the “aliens” on five bridges near Camboon was recognised by the Main Road Commission as 'remarkable for the fine workmanship shown in masonry piers and abutments'.
Work on five A class composite bridges was approved in April 1942 by the Commissioner for Main Roads, to be carried out by day labour under the Army Defence Road Scheme. In April 1942 nine men were required for work on Boam Creek bridge, which by September had excavations taken out for abutments and cylinders in place for founding concrete piers, one of which was completed. By September 1942 Cracow Creek bridge had piers completed and one span of girders in place. Horse Gully (Horse Creek) bridge was trafficable on 17 January 1943.
In late 1943 most Italian internees were released to return to their farms to assist food production or to continue working in the Civil Alien Corps (for male refugee aliens or enemy aliens), formally established by the Allied Works Council in early 1943.
Defence Road Bridges, Reported Place 30169, Queensland Heritage Register
Camboon Defence Road and stone culvert (Banana Road), Reported Place 25059, Queensland Heritage Register
Queensland Main Roads Commission, 1949. The history of the Queensland Main Roads Commission during World War II, 1939–1945. Government Printer, Brisbane.
Casey, Hugh J., ed. 1951, “Volume VI: Airfield and Base Development", Engineers of the Southwest Pacific 1941–1945, Washington, D.C., United States Department of the Army.
(The five bridges on the Defence Road between Theodore and Camboon are timber girder bridges, four with stone pitched or rubble abutments. The girders are round logs. The bridges have five girders between the kerbs. All conform to the Queensland standards.)