MI Forts Walk Pt 2
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Wed 15 Jun 2016 22:47
The Forts Walk on Magnetic Island – Part Two
Up the next set of steps and we found the sign, going left first.
Up some more steps the track looked like it came to a dead end, but through a little gap we saw a metal staircase.
The Command Post. The space between boulder and building was where the commanding officer slept on a bunk between watches.
Women’s work. The disguise taken from a seaweed decorator crab and other creatures.
“Our job was to work with the Navy in identification of ships in Cleveland Bay. The Navy would signal the ship for the signal of the day and then tell them to either proceed or stop,” CO Major Arnold Nicolle.
The artillery command post controlled all battery operations, including searchlights and radar units. It housed the main depression range finder, a long telescope on finely geared mountings seated on the concrete column, used to measure the exact range to a target. The Australian Women’s Army Service plotters used the readings to calculate details for the guns and communicated orders to the battery command on Castle Hill in Townsville.
The boxy building looked very different in the war, concealed by a cloak of decorated netting and concrete rocks to blend into the natural environment. “Camouflage is the art of concealing the fact that you are concealing.” Guy Hartcup. Camouflage: a history of concealment and deception in war.
During World War II, artists, photographers and scientists joined forces to develop innovative three-dimensional camouflage methods to ‘fool the aerial eye’. Better known for his research on Australian sea life than for his 1941 publication Art of Camouflage, late Sydney zoologist William Dakin used his knowledge of cryptic marine animals to research camouflage techniques possibly used here.
Back through the gap in the rocks.
Up the final set of steps to the Signal Station 233 metres above sea level.
From the viewing platform we could look back to the Command Post.
The views. We enjoyed them for several minutes then back down the track we went.
For some unknown reason we didn’t divert off the track at the first sign on our way, so we missed the women’s latrine sign and carried on to the Forts. Knowing we would just see a concrete base, Bear stayed on the track and I nipped off for the information board, so pleased I did.
Here at the women’s latrine and ablution block, the service women had time to themselves, away from the rest of the camp, to freshen up after duty before retiring to the nearby sleeping hut. From 1941, single women aged between 18 and 45 years were encouraged to join the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) to release men – maybe their loved ones – for the distant front line. Women’s work included store keeping, driving, searchlight spotting and signalling. It’s thought that about 12 AWAS signallers held positions here from mid-1943. Off-duty, a young woman may have peered in a mirror here wishing for lipstick while pinning her hair and buttoning up a clean uniform in readiness for a dance at the Arcadia Guesthouse. We can just imagine the chatter after an evening spent with attentive US Army servicemen...... I just had to call Bear waiting on the track – of all the names to see on the information board. Well done Bonnie, a fine age.
Bimbling back down the track gave us new views, high rocky outcrops ahead.
This tree was worth a stop, most of the roots mid-air.
Most impressive was this tree that had literally punched its way through a rock. On we went popping out at the car park, down the main road to reach Koala Village for the two thirty tour.
Final pose before bimbling down the hill.
ALL IN ALL A GOOD WALK WITH LOTS TO SEE
REALLY INTERESTING WITH FABULOUS VIEWS