The international importance of Camp Columbia
- A border police station was established in 1842, starting a long history of law enforcement in Queensland on this site.
- In 1942 the Sixth US Army headquarters were formed and stationed on this site. They named it “Camp Columbia”. Here they established a camp with an extensive infrastructure, including an officers school, hospitals, sewerage plants and housing for its personnel. This was the main Allied Staging Camp for the war in the South Pacific during WWII.
- In 1944 the site was taken over by the Netherlands East Indies Government-in-Exile. This was the first time that a foreign government was hosted on Australian soil. There was close co-operation between the Australian and Dutch transport squadrons. They looked after all transport, between Australia and the Dutch East Indies, from food and medicines to ex-prisoners from Japanese internment camps. The last Dutch transport plane left Archerfield airport in September 1947.
- After World War II, parts of Camp Columbia were used by the Australian military and then served as a migrant reception and training centre. Other parts are now occupied by the Brisbane Correctional Centre.
- The site of the Camp earmarked for the Heritage Park is the publicly accessible Pooh Corner Environmental Reserve.
Camp Columbia Heritage Association Inc (CCHA)
The aim of the Association is to is to preserve the history of this important heritage site and tell its story. The site is situated in SW. Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It will do so in collaboration, and with assistance of many volunteers and our partners (or supporters) namely Brisbane City Council, University of Queensland, Wolston and Centenary Catchments Inc (managers of the Pooh Corner Environmental Centre), Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, Dutch Australian Cultural Centre, Netherlands Borrelclub in Brisbane, Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Queensland, the MacArthur Museum Brisbane and the Anzac Square Memorial Galleries.
Over the next five years, the aim of CCHA is as follows:
- Have the site Heritage listed (process has been set in motion)
- Preserve and catalogue the last remaining elements of Camp Columbia as well as the artifacts found on site.
- Improve accessibility for visitors to the historic remnants of the Camp.
- Make the historical significance of the site more widely known to the general public.
- Work towards a display and interpretation centre, for example by using the shapes of the military nissan huts.
The CCHA was officially established in January 2023.
The CCHA Board consist of Paul Budde (Chair): Historian Jorien van Beukering (Secretary), Ed Parker, Pooh Corner Bushland Reserve (treasurer) and Professor Ian Lilley University of Queensland (advisor) and Bart Lommerse (Dutch Community).
· The first project was to create our digital presence , being this web site. This will also be the digital hub for other activities planned for the future.
· This Hub is also the depositary for stories, documents, photos and videos. We are actively pursuing centralising all available information of the Camp and are canvassing for personal and other stories of people who have been involved in the Camp.
· Establishing interpretation material for signage at the site, QR codes at the relevant remnants of the Camp with links to the website and exhibition banners and other materials for display purposes.
· We are talking to potential partners and supporters. Both on an international level (Governments of Australia, USA, Netherlands), Local (historical) community organisations and local Dutch organisations. National and International organisations such as museums and libraries involved in the history of the war in the South Pacific focussed on Brisbane as the first Allied Staging Camp of this war effort.
· Securing funds for the five year plan as mentioned above.
· We have submitted the Pooh Corner precinct of the Camp for local heritage listing with Brisbane City Council
Launch of the project by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Australia.
In the presence of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Australia, H.E. Mrs Marion Derckx, at an event hosted in May 2022 by the Pooh Corner Environment Centre and Dutchlink Brisbane a plan was launched to preserve the last remaining heritage items of Camp Columbia (which are situated in the Pooh’s Corner Bushland Reserve). This precinct is of international importance and its history has largely been lost. At the meeting it was suggested to investigate an international collaborative project to save the last remnants of the Camp and tell the very important story of the Camp through the creation of a heritage and cultural site within the Reserve.
The Dutch Government had provided a grant to the University of Queensland for archaeological research at the previous Camp Columbia. At the meeting findings of this project were presented to the Ambassador and representative of Brisbane City Council, Queensland History, Heritage, Military and Environmental Organisations and members of the Dutch Community. Click here for the Archaeological Research Project.
Below, pictures of the Camp Columbia Event 19 May 2022 by Vaughan Kippers