WYARALONG BOMBING AND GUNNERY RANGE
WYARALONG, QLD,
USED DURING WWII

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Part of a property called "Wyaralong" was used as a Bombing and Gunnery Range by the RAAF during WWII. It was located about 20 miles SSE of Goolman airfield. "Wyaralong" was owned by the Philp family. 

 


NAA Item Barcode 6678099

Wyaralong Bombing Range

 

On Wednesday 14 January 1942, RAAF Avro Anson W.1948 of 3 SFTS at Amberley made a forced landing in a paddock at Wyaralong, about 1 mile west of the Wyaralong Bombing Range.

In May 2005, "Wyaralong" was owned by Heather Philp, the grand-daughter of the former Premier of Queensland, Sir Robert Philp. "Wyaralong" has been in the Philp family for over 100 years, since it was purchased by Colin Philp, a Boer War veteran. 

Prue Firth, a grand-daughter of Colin Philp, told me that when she moved to "Wyaralong" from Brisbane in the late 1950s, there were numerous red and yellow signs warning of unexploded bombs. The signs gradually rotted away, but there is still a paddock called "the Bombing Ground". Prue remembers her brother did some ploughing there - probably in the 1970s - and came rushing home to say he was turning up dozens of bombs. Fortunately for him none of them exploded. 

In late April, the Peter Beattie State Government announced that a new dam would be built at "Wyaralong". The present owners of "Wyaralong" and about five neighbours do not want to lose their land and the family and local history that goes with it. Prue Firth stated that:-

"Sadly, "Wyaralong" and the site of the WW2 encampment by the lagoon and the bombing ground further away from the homestead are now likely to disappear under a dam to service the rapacious Gold Coast. Peter Beattie and his treasurer announced yesterday (27 April 2005)  in parliament that Qld would spend $149 million on the proposed Wyaralong Dam. The site is manifestly unsuitable, located in a rain shadow, and would result in a very shallow dam prone to evaporation and algal development."

"The unjustified loss of homes, livelihoods, and heritage is a tragedy."

During Geo-exploration work for the Wyaralong Dam UXO was encountered down to 4 metres below the surface. Concern was raised that vibration from freight rains on the nearby railway line could set off the UXO. In 1941-43, four large artillery guns fired shells south west up Woollaman Valley from 22SP164832 at Wyatt Rd.

The encampment at the Wyaralong lagoon was not a permanent one. Prue Firth believes that the camp was set up in tents for a week or so each month to support the bombing training. The personnel arrived by tender, probably from Amberley. The only permanent structures were huts on the hill overlooking the Bombing Range. This would have been where observers would have assessed the trainee pilots during their bombing runs.

On 24 June 2011, the Governor of Queensland, Ms Penelope Wensley AC, unveiled a bronze sculpture of a Wedgetailed Eagle and a Memorial plaque dedicated to the WWII connection of 23 Squadron RAAF to Wyaralong at the new Wyaralong dam site. Two F/A-18 Hornets flew overhead and a Wedgetailed Eagle circled overhead. The ceremony was covered by the Channel 10 Brisbane TV News.


Photo:- George Hatchman

Governor of Queensland, Ms Penelope Wensley AC

 


Photo:- George Hatchman

Two F/A-18 Hornets flying over the ceremony

 


Photo:- George Hatchman

Two F/A-18 Hornets flying over the ceremony

 


Photo:- George Hatchman

Wyaralong Sculpture by Cathy Anderson

 


Photo:- George Hatchman

23 Squadron Wirraway on the Sculpture

 


Photo:- George Hatchman

Wedge Tailed Eagle

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Prue Firth for her assistance with this web page. Prue's father was a WWII RAAF pilot and her parents met at Evans Head during the war.

I'd also like to thank George Hatchman, 23 Squadron Association Historian, for his assistance with this web page.

 

 

 

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 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 1 May 2005

This page last updated 04 May 2013