Australian Army Ration Stores
Golden Grove Ration Stores
- Supply facility
- Atherton Tablelands
Grant and Grove Street, Atherton 4883
By the 1930s north Queensland had developed as one of Australia’s important food producing regions, especially for sugar, bananas, vegetables, meat and dairy products. The seasonal nature of agricultural production meant that the region was able to take advantage of the available farm labour that had softened the impact of the Great Depression among local growers. However, the outbreak of World War II saw many rural workers enlist in the services, causing shortages in production. Added to this, the internment of Italian farmers as Enemy Aliens meant produce supplies were barely adequate by 1942, and food was severely rationed. By 1943 the heavy demand from the mounting number of Allied personnel stationed in the region outstripped local production and supplementary supplies of fresh food had to be obtained from Brisbane and the southern states. Storage and distribution of fresh fruit and vegetables was based around partly-prefabricated ration stores designed in Townsville for the Australian Army in north Queensland. These stores were basically a timber-framed and iron-clad shed with a low-pitched gable roof, sitting on a concrete slab floor with large sliding doors at each end. The sheds were open for ventilation below the eaves and covered with bird-proof wire-mesh. Most were erected on railway sidings such as the early Golden Grove butter factory siding opened in 1914 about two kilometres north of Atherton, where four ration stores survive. Of these, several sheds have been moved and modified for use as workshops and storage, but two still occupy their wartime sites.
Provision of fresh fruit and vegetables to Australian and US forces in north Queensland and New Guinea was co-ordinated by the Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing (COD). With large concentrations of troops at military camps throughout north Queensland, COD depots were established at Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns in December 1942, and Atherton by March 1943. Service demands required a substantial increase in the growing of vegetables in Queensland. At one stage during 1943, 109 tonnes of vegetables were railed weekly to Atherton. The US Quartermaster’s Depot in Townsville received a further 68 tonnes and Australian Army depots in Townsville and Cairns another 54 tonnes of vegetables weekly. South-east Australia’s rail system was overstretched, hauling heavy consignments of troops and munitions, as well as foodstuffs to Queensland and the Northern Territory. As rail transit time from Melbourne to north Queensland was seven to eight days, careful co-ordination was required between the COD, the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and the railways to ensure that fruit and vegetables arrived in edible condition.
The Allied Works Council during meetings in Brisbane in September 1942 considered requisitions for army ration stores at Atherton, Townsville (Stuart), Cairns (Queerah), Hughenden. Baronta and Pentland. Construction of stores for Atherton was ordered in November 1942 and work commenced on the first four stores at Golden Grove in January 1943. Today, other relocated examples of this design of Australian Army Ration Store can be found in Evans Street, Atherton; another stands adjacent to the Kairi Hotel; and a third serves as an equipment shed on a farm on the Tinaroo Falls Road.
- Pearce, Howard (contributing author).
- Allied Works Council (Queensland), AWC Minutes 1942–1945, BP1/1, National Archives of Australia, Brisbane.
- Atherton Centenary Book Committee. Tall Timber and Golden Grain: Atherton 1885–1985. GK Bolton, Printers, 1985.
- Clem Lack. Three Decades of Queensland Political History 1929–1960, Government Printer, Brisbane, 1962.
- Peter Nielsen. Diary of WWII North Queensland, Nielsen Publishing, Gordonvale, 1993.
- Howard Pearce. WWII: NQ: A cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, 2009.
- PD Wilson. North Queensland: WWII 1942–1945, Department of Geographic Information, Brisbane, 1988.