Defending the North: Frontline Cairns (1940-1946) - an historical overview


  • Timothy Bottoms



The defence of Australia during the Second World War in the Pacific lay in the north of the continent: from Broome and Darwin to Cairns and Townsville. After the Japanese military swept through South East Asia, they were at Australia's backdoor. Initially, there was a quiet period where little appeared to be happening. Then a rapid build-up of Allied military strength began. Cairns, the closest city to the conflict; was only 1000 kms from Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea, and the war that raged in the Coral Sea and Melanesia. The hostilities were closer to the people of Cairns than their State capital, Brisbane, 1800 kms to the south. Roads, bridges, airfields and port facilities had to be greatly improved. All this and trying to keep Allied soldiers from quarrelling - the scene was set for the transformation of the sleepy tropical township of Cairns, where sugar, tourism and fishing held sway, to a busy centre converting to a forward base for the defence of the nation.




How to Cite

Bottoms, T. (2009). Defending the North: Frontline Cairns (1940-1946) - an historical overview. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 8.