Compiled by Ruby Todorovski, Researcher University of Queensland for the Camp Columbia Archaeological Project.

  • October 1942:  Camp Columbia built for the US Army 
  • By April 1943 it is the headquarters for the US Sixth Army which the Camp also holds the Officer Cadet School for the Sixth Army  
  • June 1944: US Sixth Army headquarters moves to Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea  
  • June 1944: The Dutch take over Camp Columbia. Refurbishments begins, includes “accommodation huts having showers and toilets installed and new office buildings and club facilities being erected”. 
  • July 1944: Netherlands East Indies (NEI) Government-in-Exile established at Camp Columbia.
  • May 1946: Camp Columbia, used as the NEI service and evacuee camp, is closed. 300/500 troops and evacuees from Java were housed there and will be transferred to other camps in Southern Queensland. One hundred Dutch evacuees from Camp Columbia left Brisbane on the hospital ship Tasman. 
  • February 1947: State Government has taken over portion of former Camp Columbia to temporarily accommodate 50 families. Last Dutch people vacate the Camp.
  • August 1948: The Department of the Australian Army requests approximately 1016 acres of land at Wacol which includes the site of Camp Columbia: required for Post War Training and/or Demobilisation and rehabilitation centre, 29 owners are affected in this acquisition. 
  • By 1949: it is estimated that one-tenth of the Australian Army’s Camp Columbia area became the Wacol East Displaced Persons Holding Camp. 
  • Early 1950s: the camp was developed to become the Wacol Migrant Centre, the biggest in Queensland. In 1952, the 1600 capacity of the camp was exceeded, reaching close to 2000.  
  • The initial post-war refugee program was transformed into a larger program of re-settling migrants from the United Kingdom and southern European countries.  
  • In 1975 the first Vietnamese refugees came to Wacol.  
  • 1957: HM Prison, Wacol opens (first prison built at Wacol), including a section called Wacol Security Patients’ Hospital. 
  • 1971: The Wacol Security Patients’ Hospital changes name to Moreton Security Patients Hospital. 
  • From 1976: Aboriginal Hostels Ltd. used the southern section of the migrant camp to support people leaving the missions.  
  • 1987:  The Wacol Migrant Centre and the disused Willie Mackenzie Hostel were closed 
  • 1988: The HM Prison, Wacol changes name to Wacol Correctional Centre. 
  • 1990: The Moreton Security Patients Hospital changes name to Moreton Correctional Centre, remaining as a Medical institution for prisoners. 
  • 1992: The Prisons Department took over the site and the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre was opened. 
  • 1996: Both the Wacol Correctional Centre (known also as “Moreton A”) and the Moreton Correctional Centre (also known as “Moreton B”) are brought together under the name Moreton Correctional Centre. 
  • 1999: The “Moreton A” side of the prison closes. The whole site (Moreton A and B) is refurbished and reopens as the Wolston Correctional Centre (next to both the newly opened Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre, and to the Sir David Longman Correctional Centre).

Return to Camp Columbia Heritage Park, Wacol, Brisbane TOC

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