Pius XII Seminary Observation post

Australian Catholic University Banyo Campus

Civil defence facility
Greater Brisbane

78 Approach Road, Banyo 4014

The Pius XII Seminary opened in 1941. In 1942, the Australian army occupied the seminary’s bell tower for use as an observation post to watch for enemy movements in Moreton Bay or along Schultz’s Canal.


The Pius XII Seminary was completed in 1941. It was possibly the last private civil building completed in Brisbane before wartime shortages of both building materials and tradesman forced all construction to concentrate upon military projects. The seminary was named after the Roman Catholic Pope Pius XII, who resided in the Vatican City located in Rome which itself was part of Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Italy. The seminary’s foundation stone was laid on 19 November 1939, the same day that Pius XII was elected Pope, a position he held throughout World War Two, The seminary enrolled its first trainee priests on 22 March 1941 and was officially opened and blessed on 27 April 1941.

The outbreak of the Pacific War on 8 December 1941 meant that Brisbane could face aerial attack or seaborne raids. Japanese tactics in the Malayan Campaign had included infiltrating Allied defences by inserting Japanese troops by small boats or barges along isolated stretches of the coast or along river ways.

Built on Beehive Hill, the Seminary had commanding views across to Moreton Bay. In 1942, permission was sought from the Catholic Archbishop of Queensland James Duhig and the Seminary’s Rector (Head) Father Vincent Cleary for the Australian Military Forces (AMF or militia) to establish an observation post in the seminary’s bell tower. The tower was easily accessible by internal stairs. The army observation post had clear views of a section of Moreton Bay but more importantly could keep watch on the entrance to nearby Schultz’s Canal that fed into Downfall Creek. The observation post was connected by an army telephone line to the Headquarters of Brisbane Fortress Command located at St. Laurence College on Stephens Road, South Brisbane.

The observation post was withdrawn prior to the end of World War Two.


Brisbane City Council records