Moorooka War Workers Housing Estate

The 'Cottage' project (later used by the Royal Navy)

Military accommodation
Brisbane City

Beaudesert Road, Moorooka 4105

In 1943, the recently built Rocklea Munitions Works converted its operations from Australian army ammunition production to aircraft engine repairs for the US forces. Both the urgency of this work plus the large workload required by the USAAF meant that more civilian war workers were required. Brisbane was suffering an acute wartime accommodation shortage. A planned modern housing estate for married war workers, known as the Cottage Project was built at Moorooka in an effort to attract workers living outside of Brisbane. Over 100 cottages were completed before the end of 1944 with the total reaching 200 before the end of the war in 1945.


The Rocklea Munitions Works was constructed during 1941. It began operating in November 1941. Initially the factory complex manufactured small arms ammunition and artillery shells for the Australian army, with the workforce mainly drawn from Brisbane and surrounds. In 1943, the Rocklea Munitions Works ceased ammunition production and switched to undertaking engine overhauls for the US Army’s Air Force (USAAF). General Kenney’s 5th Air Force, based in the South-West Pacific Area required a rapid turnover of engine repairs so that the maximum number of planes could be employed in offensives against the Japanese.

The factory’s workforce was expanded and recruitment for more workers was conducted intra and interstate. By 1943, with the large number of Allied service personnel based in and around Brisbane, accommodation was in very short supply. So to attract more war workers to the Rocklea factory complex, there was a need to offer modern, affordable accommodation located within close proximity of defence works sites.

The Commonwealth War Workers Housing Trust requested that the Allied Works Council build a cottage housing estate for married war workers and their families. This project was to be built in conjunction with the planned hostels for single war workers in nearby Tonks Street and Nettleton Court at Moorooka. The initial cottages would be built along Beaudesert Road as it was connected by tram to the city and the Clapham Junction (now Moorooka) railway station was nearby.

The married workers would be engaged in engine overhaul or airframe repair duties at the Rocklea Munitions Works, or at nearby joint USAAF and RAAF Archerfield air base, the RAAF engine overhaul workshops on Hamilton Road, Moorooka. Centrally located in Moorooka, the workers living in the Cottage Project could be employed at other local defence works such as the Clapham Junction Transport Office, the QANTAS engine overhaul hangar in Colebrook Avenue, Moorooka or the Commonwealth Marine Engine Works at the corner of Beaudesert and Evans Roads, Rocklea.

Approximately 100 cottages were built by October 1944. Only male war workers and their families were allotted cottages. This project effectively was designed as a postwar housing estate. The latest town planning principles were used to design the street grid of the Cottage Project. The whole estate was to have carefully laid-out roads and footpaths, concrete stormwater drains, reticulated sewerage plus water main, gas and electricity connections. Each timber cottage sat on low concrete stumps. Roofs were of terracotta or asbestos tiles. Heating both internally and externally was provided through a combination of asbestos cement or fibrous plaster. The Cottage Project would also provide sports playing fields, children’s playgrounds, individual gardens and plenty of tree plantings. Half the cottages were designed as 3-bedroom homes, while the rest had two bedrooms. All cottages were provided with a sleep-out space and a verandah.

The total number of cottages planned for this project was 200. It was expected that the remaining cottages would be completed by early 1945. The last building proposed for construction was a sewerage treatment plant that would service both the 200 homes of the Moorooka Cottage Project but also the two Rocklea War Workers’ Hostels.


National Australian Archives, File Series: BP262/2, Item: 9178, Joint Parliamentary War Expenditure Advisory Committee visit to Queensland, October 1944.