Civil Construction Corps camp
Chermside Army Camp 'I Block', 'Florence Park'
- Military camp
- Brisbane City
263-273 Ellison Road, Geebung 4034
In April 1942, the Federal Government established the Civil Construction Corps (CCC) to build defence works. CCC work gangs comprised volunteer and conscripted labour. The Geebung CCC Camp was built adjacent to the Chermside Army Camp in 1942. This CCC Camp supplied the workforce for the Australian defence projects that were built throughout Brisbane’s northern suburbs from 1942 to 1945.
The Australian Government created the Civil Construction Corps (CCC) on 14 April 1942. It came under the direction of the Department of the Interior. The CCC was used to undertake the construction of defence works as directed by the Commonwealth’s Allied Works Council (AWC). Workers were to be paid award wages and their trade union membership retained. Men over the age of 45 could volunteer to join the CCC but conscription was also used to bring the work gangs up to strength. In Queensland, the compulsory call-up for the CCC began in July 1942. The CCC headquarters was in the Commonwealth Bank Buildings at 71–79 Adelaide Street in the City. There was an Allied Works Council office in the same building, though the AWC Headquarters was in the National Mutual Building at 293 Queen Street.
In late 1942, a camp for the CCC was built across from Chermside Army Camp on a site near where Piccadilly Street met Ellison Road. This was the main CCC Camp for Brisbane’s north side and it was responsible for building all AWC-approved defence sites across the northern suburbs. A CCC camp was also established at Rocklea for AWC projects in Brisbane’s southern suburbs. The Rocklea CCC Camp was located at Lillian Avenue and Regis and Bidda Streets in what is now Salisbury. For AWC projects in Brisbane’s eastern suburbs, a CCC camp was established at Bulimba. The Bulimba CCC Camp was located at the corner of Taylor Street and Thynne Road.
Mr. Moffatt, who was second in charge of the Queensland Public Works Department, was made a CCC foreman and placed in initial charge of the Geebung CCC Camp. The local residents unofficially referred to the Camp as 'Florence Park'. The CCC Camp comprised 24 temporary huts used as sleeping quarters together with an administration building, a kitchen servicing two messes, a canteen serving beer, a first aid hut, an open garage, lavatories and bath houses. At the back of the CCC Camp was an area designated for vehicle maintenance that held a few sheds, a vehicle ramp, a battery charger hut, a paint shop and a greasing ramp. By 1944, two sickbays, a laundry and a separate foreman’s quarters had been added to the CCC Camp.
Many volunteer workers had already been undertaking contract tasks for the Allied Works Council when the CCC was created. These men believed that their commitments finished once their contracted project had been completed. While CCC members, many of whom were married, could expect to work in their home states, there was always the possibility that they could be sent anywhere in Australia. For example, Mr. Moffatt was sent to Darwin. He spent 18 months supervising the building of all weather road between Darwin and Alice Springs and across to Camooweal. In July 1943, CCC workers from the Chermside Army Camp went on strike after they learnt that they were to be transferred to a project in northern Australia. The government’s reaction was to suspend the strikers from the CCC and threaten them with prosecution for breaking their contracts. The dispute was resolved when the Queensland senator and Government Leader in the Senate J.S. Collings met with the striking workers’ union leaders on 22 July. The men agreed to return to the CCC if all charges were dropped against them.
Administratively, the CCC Camp became part of the Chermside Army Camp and by 1945 it was designated as the Chermside Camp’s 'I Block'. Among the projects undertaken by the Geebung CCC Camp workers were the excavation of the Nudge AWC Quarry at the St Vincent’s Orphanage site, on Queens Road. The quarry operated from 1942 to 1943. The workers also built the Zillmere Remote Receiving Station on Beams Road. This project lasted from September 1942 until June 1943 under the direction of Mr. G. Major from Hendra.
Marching to the Trains, NA digital file
Jonathan Ford, Marching to the Trains - the Chermside Army Camp Remembered, (Brisbane: Ford, 2005).