Skip links and keyboard navigation

Find some ANZAC spirit in Queensland's national parks

Explore Fort Lytton on the southern bank of the Brisbane River. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland.Explore Fort Lytton on the southern bank of the Brisbane River. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland.

Remembering the ANZAC's

Australia’s ANZAC spirit was born on the shores of Gallipoli in 1915. Since then, Australian servicemen and women have kept the ANZAC spirit alive with their continued and dedicated service all over the world. Every year, ANZAC Day is a timely reminder to gratefully remember those who have given so much.

ANZAC history preserved

Gun crew standing by their 4.7inch QF Mark IV naval gun at Fort Lytton, 1943. Source: Australian War Memorial Photo ID 060050.

Gun crew standing by their 4.7inch QF Mark IV naval gun at Fort Lytton, 1943. Source: Australian War Memorial Photo ID 060050.

Entertaining re-enactments are sometimes presented at Fort Lytton. Photo: Queensland Government.

Entertaining re-enactments are sometimes presented at Fort Lytton. Photo: Queensland Government.

Embrace the ANZAC spirit in Queensland’s national parks! Some of our parks protect fascinating remnants of once-thriving bases for military defence and troop training, recreation and rehabilitation.

Training the troops

Explore Fort Lytton—established to defend the Port of Brisbane—and immerse yourself in our military past. Built in 1881, Fort Lytton was a defensive battery and training ground for all regular and volunteer soldiers of the new colony of Queensland. Almost every Queenslander in the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) had a connection with the fort.

Upgraded during WWII as part of Fortress Brisbane, Fort Lytton remained an operational defence zone into the 1960s. Today, the fort is dedicated to portraying Queensland’s rich military history. Go Back in Time and enjoy a guided tour, cannon firing, school holiday activity, special History Alive re-enactment or unique promenade theatre performance at night.

The beginning of the new interpretive trail leading to the WWII forts on Magnetic Island. Photo: Queensland Government.

The beginning of the new interpretive trail leading to the WWII forts on Magnetic Island. Photo: Queensland Government.

The camp kitchen at Magnetic Island Forts with fireplace and support for a 44-gallon drum remaining. Photo: Queensland Government.

The camp kitchen at Magnetic Island Forts with fireplace and support for a 44-gallon drum remaining. Photo: Queensland Government.

Protecting the coast

Other coastal defence batteries were established along the east coast of Queensland, mostly during WWII, to strategically protect important harbours. Moreton Island and Bribie Island national parks have remnants of the gun emplacements and searchlight buildings.

Magnetic Island was home to a WWII signal station and battery, built to protect the Townsville harbour. Take the educational Forts walk to experience panoramic ocean views and discover how service personnel lived and worked on the island.

Communication personnel of Z Special Unit who trained at the Fraser Commando School, 1944. Source: Australian War Memorial Photo ID P01134.002.

Communication personnel of Z Special Unit who trained at the Fraser Commando School, 1944. Source: Australian War Memorial Photo ID P01134.002.

Z Special Unit…top secret!

While there was no defence battery on Fraser Island, it had an exciting role to play. During WWII, Fraser Island hosted the famous Fraser Commando School—where personnel were trained for the Special Operations Australia unit (sometimes referred to as Z Special Unit or Z Force).

Hand-picked personnel were trained here (and other locations around Australia) to operate undercover behind enemy lines. On assignment, they gathered intelligence, organised guerrilla warfare and led raids on Singapore Harbour. All operations were top secret and it wasn’t until 1980 that they could share their experiences openly and finally be thanked for their courage and service. See remnants of these training endeavours on the walk south of Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village.

The hospital ship Maheno during World War I. Photograph taken by John Dickie. Alexander Turnbull Library. Ref: 1/1-002212-G.

The hospital ship Maheno during World War I. Photograph taken by John Dickie. Alexander Turnbull Library. Ref: 1/1-002212-G.

Officers ward on the hospital ship Maheno. Photograph taken by John Dickie.  Alexander Turnbull Library. Ref: 1/1-002219-G.

Officers ward on the hospital ship Maheno. Photograph taken by John Dickie. Alexander Turnbull Library. Ref: 1/1-002219-G.

The Maheno today on Fraser Island's Seventy Five Mile Beach. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland.

The Maheno today on Fraser Island's Seventy Five Mile Beach. Photo: Tourism and Events Queensland.

A New Zealand connection

Also on Fraser Island is the Maheno shipwreck. Once a lauded WWI New Zealand hospital ship that treated countless Australian and New Zealand soldiers, it ran aground (after it was decommissioned) on the eastern beach of Fraser Island in 1935, but remained relatively intact. During WWII the Z Special Unit used the Maheno wreck for explosives training. The RAAF declared it a live bombing range and it was pounded by 250 and 500 pound SAP bombs. Afterwards, it was left to decay on site with a broken hull and both masts gone. Today it’s a popular tourist attraction but visitors are warned not to climb on the wreck.

A special ANZAC day service was held at the site in 2015 when the original ships bell was rung in remembrance. The bell was brought from namesake Maheno township on New Zealand’s south island, where it is now kept.

Flame thrower demonstration, 2/28th Infantry Battalion, Ravenshoe area, 1945. Source: Australian War Memorial, Photo ID 088363.

Flame thrower demonstration, 2/28th Infantry Battalion, Ravenshoe area, 1945. Source: Australian War Memorial, Photo ID 088363.

Remains of the fireplace in the WWII Officer's Mess at what is now Millstream Falls National Park. Photo: Tamara Vallance, NPSR.

Remains of the fireplace in the WWII Officer's Mess at what is now Millstream Falls National Park. Photo: Tamara Vallance, NPSR.

HQ 1 Corps troops swimming at Lake Eacham after a 12 mile march, 1944. Source: Australian War Memorial, Photo ID 084917.

HQ 1 Corps troops swimming at Lake Eacham after a 12 mile march, 1944. Source: Australian War Memorial, Photo ID 084917.

Northern tactics

In far north Queensland, a large base for defence training and rehabilitation was established during WWII on the Atherton and Evelyn tablelands. Walk the WWII Heritage track through an old military camp at Millstream Falls National Park near Ravenshoe and imagine the daily lives of the soldiers who spent time there. Visit Lake Barrine where soldiers convalesced in the historic guesthouse and ‘do as the soldiers did’ and enjoy a swim, or relax at Lake Eacham—an AMF amenities centre from 1943–1945.

Last updated
3 March 2016