The Atherton Tablelands has a rich history from World War I, through World War II and in more recent times honouring the fallen in Afghanistan. Take a journey for a window into the past and also the present as we remember what was done for our country in preserving what we consider so important and also contributed to what defines us as a people.
Rocky Creek War Memorial Park
Located a few kilometres along the Kennedy Highway north of Tolga, the Rocky Creek Memorial Park is situated on the 2/2 Australian General Hospital laundry and medical stores site. During World War II, the Tablelands area became the largest military base in Australia with camps at Tinaroo, Kairi, Atherton, Wongabel, Herberton, Wondecla, Ravenshoe and Mt.Garnet. Rocky Creek was the site of the largest military hospital in the Southern Hemisphere – a 3000 bed hospital which treated over 60,000 patients from 1943 to 1945. The first plaques dedicated in the park occured on VP Day in 1995. A special wall of remembrance was erected in 2009.
Australian Armour and Artillery Museum
Open daily, The Australian Armour and Artillery Museum offers aspects to interest every age. View tanks, armoured personnel carriers, anti-tank vehicles, anti-tank guns, anti-aircraft guns, field guns, howitzers, self-propelled guns and specialist vehicles. Book a ride in our Armoured Personnel Carrier or join us downstairs in our WWII shooting gallery. There’s even a Kids corner to keep the little ones entertained!
Kuranda War Memorial
Stone memorial opposite the markets, displaying a large Rising Sun badge. Dedicated in 1993, relocation of the brass Honour Boards from the railway station, that represented names from World War I, World War II, and Since World War II, were located in a new covered niche near the memorial.
Mareeba Airfield, also known as Hoevet Airfield by the Americans after Major Dean Carol "Pinky" Hoevet who was killed 16th August 1942. 100 Squardron RAAF moved from Richmond to Mareeba in May 1942 and then to Laverton in July 1942. In October 1942, twelve B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 19th Bomb Group relocated from Mareeba to Townsville.
WWII Camp Mareeba
The stone fireplace and chimney now incorporated into the Mareeba Scout Hall are said to have been constructed as part of a log cabin hut which formed the quarters of the commanding officer of the First Australian Army, Major-General Murray. Another stone fireplace and chimney standing nearby in the grounds of a house at 1 Kilpatrick Street may have been constructed as a mess and recreation hut for other officers of the First Australian Army. The buildings probably formed part of a complex of officers' facilities overlooking the Barron River at Mareeba during World War II.
Avenue of Honour, Yungaburra
The Afghanistan Avenue of Honour is a living memorial dedicated to the memory of all who served in the fight against terror in Afghanistan and to those brave and selfless Australians who made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of freedom and liberty.
WWII Camp Ravenshoe
Ravenshoe became a key training centre in World War II and all over the district there are wooden memorial sign markers placed showing the location of various Divisions and units which trained there. Many fireplaces of former World War II training camps are also preserved and signposted.
Barron Valley Hotel
The Barron Valley Hotel is a fabulous pre-war hotel right in the heart of Atherton. Enjoy the unique atmosphere while you relax with a drink or meal. Counter lunches and dinners are served every day and the hotel's bistro has an extensive a la carte menu. Enjoy your meal in the bar, dining room or out on the downstairs or upstairs deck.
Our journey begins with World War I, when like so many towns in Australia, our men and women answered the call to fight in far off lands. As you drive through most of the towns on the Atherton Tablelands, the cenotaph will be in a prominent position as is befitting of the memory of those “Tablelanders” that did not return home. Take a minute to look at the names, many from the same family who paid the ultimate sacrifice. James Spranklin who won the Military Medal in France, was fortunate to return home. He won a balloted farming block at Kairi, before moving his family to manage the Hotel at Innot Hot Springs.
During World War II the Atherton Tablelands was home to one of the largest staging basis in the Pacific. Beginning in 1942 with the Mareeba Airstrip being sealed and home to both Australian and American Airforce Squadrons, Mareeba airfield became the main operational airfield in Far North Queensland. Such was the perceived threat that the Gillies Range was mined in case of invasion.
Later that year General Blamey ordered a survey of the Atherton Tablelands for combined recuperation and jungle warfare training for Australian troops of the 6th and 7th Divisions AIF, heading for New Guinea. This was known as the Atherton Project. From that point on, there was a steady increase of more troops from both Australia as well as the US. There were both Australian and US serviceman based in Kuranda, Mareeba, Atherton, Herberton, Ravenshoe and Tinaroo.
Driving through the Atherton Tablelands, you will easily see signs depicting the relevant division that was camped at that location. The Barron Valley Hotel in Atherton became the Officers Club and at Rocky Creek the 19th Field Ambulance prepared a camp area in readiness for the 5 Australian Camp Hospital. Rocky Creek today lists every Division that was based on the Atherton Tablelands and is well worth a stop as you explore the Atherton Tablelands.
Fast forward to present day and in 2013 the Avenue of Honour was officially opened. The Avenue, located on the Tinaburra Peninsula, follows the path of fallen Commando Ben Chuck’s Gun Carriage on July 1st 2010 and symbolises the “final journey home” of the Fallen of
Afghanistan. It is a timeless memorial and preserves forever the gratitude and respect we have for our fallen.
It is an incredible moving memorial and is a must experience of your Anzac Trail.