Balfes Creek RAAF Landing Ground
Balfes Creek Airfield
Flinders Highway, Balfes Creek 4820
Japan’s entry into World War II led to considerable effort in aerodrome construction for the defence of Townsville from early 1942. An aerodrome site at Balfes Creek, west of Charters Towers, was requisitioned by the RAAF on 1 April 1942. Within weeks preliminary surveys had been completed and Main Roads Commission teams were at work with three strips pegged and cleared in the form of a triangle. By May it was apparent that during the urgent rush to establish airstrips west from Townsville along the Mount Isa railway, there had been considerable duplication of effort and overlap in instructions to surveyors and clearing teams. Confusion also reigned in respect of just what purpose various fields were eventually to be put. There was also the problem of how to get them built in time due to the shortage of equipment and men.
Balfes Creek may have been originally intended as a base for one or more of four squadrons of A-24 Dauntless dive-bombers of the USAAF 3rd Bombardment Group (Light), which had been intended for the Philippines, but were diverted to Charters Towers during March 1942. Nearby dispersal strips for Balfes Creek were cleared at Tarangie and Powlathanga. Levelling and construction of the strips was undertaken by the US 46 Engineer General Service Regiment, equipped with a D-4 bulldozer. However, only the No.1 strip running parallel with the road and railway was completed before the US Engineers were transferred to Milne Bay in New Guinea.
By late 1942 the Allied Works Council was formally advised that Balfes Creek landing ground was to remain unsealed until a decision was made on its future role. Eventually both the RAAF and the Department of Civil Aviation decided they had no need for what was in effect a gravel runway alongside the highway. Balfes Creek had become another superfluous wartime airfield.
Pearce, Howard (contributing author).
Main Roads Commission, The History of the Queensland Main Roads Commission during World War II 1939–1945, Government Printer, Brisbane, 1949.
Roger Marks, Queensland Airfields WW2: 50 years on, Brisbane, 1994.
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.