A former top-secret US military base hidden in Redlands Coast is being remembered for the crucial role it played in announcing that World War II was over.
Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said it had remained relatively unknown that the radio receiving station, built by the United States Army at Birkdale, had been a vital link in receiving and sharing the news that Japan had surrendered – signalling the end of the war.
“As our local community marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day tomorrow (August 15), it is fitting that we acknowledge the crucial role Redlands Coast played in this significant event,” Cr Williams said.
“This site was regarded as one of the most important South Pacific communications centres supporting the Allied Forces, and it played a critical role in connecting General Douglas MacArthur from his Brisbane base to Washington DC.
“High-frequency encrypted radio messages were received at the Birkdale station and then relayed via cable to Brisbane’s war offices.
“To our knowledge this is the last remaining building of its kind in Australia.”
Cr Paul Bishop, Mayor Karen Williams and Redlands RSL Sub-Branch Military Wellbeing Advocate Volunteer Graham Hinson inside the Birkdale radio receiving station.
Division 10 Councillor Paul Bishop said a number of interesting stories surrounding local World War II military activities were starting to be revealed – and many had remained secret for decades.
“When Redland City Council purchased the site from the Federal Government in December last year, it was the first time there had been access by others outside the Commonwealth Government, to what was otherwise a top-secret military site,” Cr Bishop said.
“VP Day is an important opportunity for us to recognise the significant war efforts that went on right within our community.
“For the first time, we are finding out incredible stories that we now need to record and keep for future generations.”
In commemorating VP Day, Cr Bishop likened local efforts during the battle of World War II to current challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Once again we are faced with a global threat,” Cr Bishop said.
“The events from 75 years ago represent a reminder to us of the last time our resilient local community was fighting an invisible enemy, facing austerity and working as one in lockstep with government leaders.”
Redlands RSL Sub-Branch Military Wellbeing Advocate Volunteer Graham Hinson said he had been surprised to discover the secrets of the Birkdale site.
“Having lived on Redlands Coast for 43 years, I did not realise that there was a US Army radio receiver station on the Cotton Farm during WWII – and that it was the first place in Australia to receive the message that the war was over,” Mr Hinson said.
“Redlands RSL has always been community minded, and believes the site to be very important to the history of the Redlands Coast area.
“We at the Redlands RSL Sub-Branch are pleased that it has been heritage listed now for future generations to see.”
Mayor Karen Williams, Redlands RSL Sub-Branch Military Wellbeing Advocate Volunteer Graham Hinson (centre) and Redland City Councillors outside the radio station.
Cr Williams said Council was keen to hear from residents who may have stories to tell about the history of the 61.78ha site.
“The Redlands Coast community has had a long and strong relationship and interest in the Birkdale site over many decades, including its Quandamooka cultural significance and historic role in World War II,” Cr Williams said.
“While much is already known about the land, a great deal of its history is locked in the memories and experiences of residents, with many having childhood stories of the land and the creek.”
To share your stories with Council, visit the Your Say Redlands Coast Birkdale Land page.