Photograph of American sailors parading in Brisbane

State Library of Queensland #102768

Brisbane (153.02E 27.50S) is a major port located on the Brisbane River, which in December 1941 was protected by four batteries of heavy artillery. It has a pleasantly warm climate with ample rainfall and was one of the major population centers of Australia, with 370,460 inhabitants in 1941. The city center itself was about 14 miles (23 km) inland, but Moreton Bay at the mouth of the river (153.251E 27.206S) had ample anchorage from ships whose draft did not exceed 33' (10m). Though it was primarily a shipping port for agricultural commodities, Brisbane also shipped out coal from the Ipswich fields to the west. The site was first discovered by Lt. John Oxley in 1824.

The port had several excellent airfields in the vicinity, which were further developed during the war, and Brsbane would become the major port of entry for supplies and reinforcements from the United States. At the time war broke out, it was the headquarters of the Australian Northern Command. The U.S. Navy began establishing a submarine base here in April 1942, and the Cairncross Graving Dock was constructed beginning the same year. MacArthur had his headquarters here for most of the war. Most of the improvements of facilities in the area were done with local labor and materials, but there was some contribution from Seabees rotating through Camp Seabee five miles (8 km) north of town. 

Friction between U.S. and Australian troops led to a serious riot in November 1942, which left one Australian dead and many other Australians and Americans injured.

1 Marine Division recuperated at Camp Cable (153.057E 27.806S), some 25 miles south of town, following the Guadalcanal campaign. It was not an ideal location, since it was marshy, hot, and had poor communications with the city. City officials became sufficiently alarmed by the malaria rate among the soldiers that, fearing a civilian epidemic, they successfully pressued MacArthur to transfer the division to Melbourne.

Rail connections




Climate Information:

Elevation 137'

Temperatures: Jan 85/69, Apr 79/61, Jul 68/49, Oct 80/60, record 110/36

Rainfall: Jan 13/6.4, Apr 12/3.7, Jul 8/2.2, Oct 9/2.5 == 44.7" per annum

References (accessed 2012-8-28)

"Building the Navy's Bases in World War II" (1947; accessed 2012-8-28)

Hoffman (2001)

Pearce and Smith (1990)

"Queensland WWII Historic Places" (accessed 2012-8-28) (accessed 2002; now defunct)

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