LUNA PARK
(CLOUDLAND BALLROOM)
BRISBANE, QLD
DURING WW2

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visits since 27 July 2002

The military commandeered the 6.5 acres of Luna Park at Boyd Street, Bowen Hills in Brisbane during WW2 for use as an American camp. "Cloudland", Luna Park's Ballroom was opened on 2 August 1940. It was built on the crest of Montpelier at Bowen Hills in 1939-40. An open-air alpine tram type arrangement (furnicular railway) ran up the steep hillside to the rear entrance of "Cloudland". It had two cars, holding thirty passengers each. They would carry patrons 330 feet up the steep hillside from Breakfast Creek road to the Cloudland Ballroom.

Brisbane's Luna Park was opened in 1940. The Rollercoaster at Luna Park was destroyed before the fair grounds were opened. Luna Park was managed by international businessman, T. H. Eslick who apparently disappeared shortly afterwards. Luna Park then floundered until it was commandeered by the military during WW2. 

Luna Park at Bowen Hills, Brisbane. Interestingly enough this map seems to show
Luna Park in the wrong location. If it was at the Cloudland site it should have been
shown just above and slightly to the right of the letter "S" in the words "Bowen Hills"

Technical Sergeant Don Moreland of the 837th Signals Service Detachment slept on cots set up on the floor of Cloudland Ballroom which he knew as Luna Park. Don remembers that there was a cable car there which had carried visitors up the steep hill to the dance hall. It was not in operation when he was there. Don said that the ballroom floor was mounted on top of springs and tended to sway when people walked across it.

Don Moreland helped to establish and then operate the IBM tabulators for General Douglas MacArthur's top secret signals intelligence unit which was known as Central Bureau. The IBM tabulators were located in a large garage behind a large 2 storey house located at 21 Henry Street at Ascot.


Photo:- Charles J. Stehlik

WW2 Photo of Luna Park (Cloudland)

 


Photo:- Charles J. Stehlik

WW2 Photo of Luna Park (Cloudland)

 


Photo:- Charles J. Stehlik

WW2 Photo of Entrance to Luna Park (Cloudland). Possibly
the Boyd Street entrance near "Cintra" Are those vehicles
parked outside the photographic laboratory for the 
Army Pictorial Service, US Army
at the right of the photo?

 


Photo:- Charles J. Stehlik

WW2 Photo of Entrance to Luna Park (Cloudland)
Possibly the Boyd Street entrance near "Cintra"

 


Photo:- Charles J. Stehlik

WW2 Photo of Luna Park (Cloudland)
Entrance to the open-air alpine tram type arrangement.
Note turnstile on right of photo.

 


Photo:- Charles J. Stehlik

WW2 Photo of Luna Park (Cloudland) wall, with 
Capt. Owczykowsky's Dispensary on the left

 

 Telephone Directory (Military) October 1943 Restricted

HEADQUARTERS - USAFFE
   
HEADQUARTERS COMMANDANT:
    C.O. Headquarters Company:
        Capt. Hopkins, H.S.
    Executive Officer:
        Lt. Bryant, E.A.
    Orderly Room
    Dispensary:
        Capt. Owczykowsky, B.J.

 


Photo:- via Jason Harty

Inside Cloudland - believed to be a WW2 era photograph,
probably a US Army Signal Corps photograph

 


Photographer:- Richard Stringer

Inside Cloudland Ballroom

 


Photo:- courtesy of "Odyssey" (see below)

Cloudland Ballroom entrance in all its original glory - now gone forever!
This entrance was not there during WW2.

 


Photo:- courtesy of "Odyssey" (see below)

Cloudland Ballroom

Cloudland Ballroom was then sold in 1947 and the Luna Park title was dropped and it was just called Cloudland Ballroom.

In 1946 Mrs M. Winters and Mrs F. Roach of Sydney purchased Luna Park and renamed the property as the Cloudland Ballroom. It reopened in April 1947 for weekly dances and social functions. Mr. Roy Philips managed the Cloudland Ballroom from 1947 to 1950. Mr Cyril Kerr managed the ballroom from 1950 to 1954.

In October 1954 Apel & Sons purchased Cloudland Ballroom. Mr. H.R. Apel managed the ballroom from 1954 through to February 1964.Mr. Apel commenced to plan and build the Panorama Room adjacent to the ballroom for various functions.

The Alpine Railway was closed in 1962 and the Cloudland Bus Service was introduced to bring visitors up from Breakfast Creek Road. Promoter Ivan M. Dayman of Dance Promotions Pty. Ltd took over the lease of the ballroom and the Panorama Room.

Cloudland Ballroom at Bowen Hills

 

Cloudland Ballroom

Many a romance blossomed at the regular dances held at Cloudland Ballroom after the war years. Many famous musical artists and bands also appeared at Cloudland. For example Buddy Holly played at Cloudland on Monday 3 February 1958. Many a Brisbane school or University student sat for their final examinations at temporary desks on the ballroom at Cloudland Ballroom.

Unfortunately the magnificent Cloudland Ballroom was demolished overnight on  7 November 1982
and has now been replaced by 125 modern home units called Cloudland Apartments.

 

The remains of Cloudland after the Deen Brothers demolition works

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn March 2005

Entrance to Cloudland Apartments

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn March 2005

Note the old concrete steps to the left side of the photo.
This might be the only bit of the original Cloudland still remaining!!

Dan ? told me that he believes there may be a remnant of the Cloudland fence still existing in the thick bush overgrowth that is protected by the sheer cliff face along Cowlishaw St, just before you get to the new development. There is also a Cloudland shrine installed by the Brisbane City Council (BCC), tucked invisibly behind tennis courts overlooking Breakfast Creek Rd. 


Photo:- Peter Dunn March 2005

Apartments on the site of the old Luna Park.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn March 2005

Boyd Street, Bowen Hills. This was the rear exit out of Luna Park.
A photographic laboratory for the Army Pictorial Service, US Army was located in
"Cintra", a historic house, which is located off right hand side of photo.

 


 

National Archives File

Title: Offers of property - Bowen Hills and Luna Park, Brisbane
Series number: MP508/1 
Control symbol: 259/728/370 
Contents date range: 1941 - 1941
Access status: Not yet examined
Location: Melbourne 
Barcode no: 3359573

If anyone does access this above file could you please contact me.

 

Can anyone help me with more photographs
and information on Luna Park during WW2

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Don Moreland, Ovid Di Fiore, Richard Stringer, Kyle Fysh and Jason Harty for their assistance with this home page.

I'd also like to thank "Odyssey" - a non-profit community arts organisation dedicated to establishing and saving live music and arts venues in Brisbane. 

I'd also like to thank Charles J. Stehlik, an ex member of Co. "B", 135th Medical Regiment for his assistance with this web page. While he was at Luna Park, Charles was attached to Captain B. J. Owczykowski, who was in charge of the Dispensary for Headquarters Commandant, Headquarters, USAFFE. 

 

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Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2004

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This page first produced 27 July 2002

This page last updated 16 May 2006