Air Raid Shelters

Air Raid Shelters

Image: Air raid shelters down Elizabeth Street, Brisbane, 1942 [SLQ 166469]

Air Raid Shelter in City for 11,670

The Courier-Mail, Saturday 3 Jan 1942, Page 3*:

Plans for the construction of 168 air raid shelters to provide protection for more than 11,670 persons in the city, South Brisbane, and Valley areas, were approved by the coordination committee of the City Council yesterday.

Many of the shelters will be so constructed that with slight remodelling they will be suitable, after the war, for use as colonnades, garages, public lavatories, garages, or public waiting sheds.

Apart from pill-box shelters, such as those now being erected in Elizabeth, Eagle, and Ann streets, the approved plans call for digging 15 zig-zag trenches in the Botanic Gardens, as protection for students attending the University and Central Technical College, and for covering the City Hall lane so that it can be used as a shelter.

The trenches in the Botanic Gardens will extend the full length of Alice Street, and will cater also for the floating population from Charlotte Street to Alice Street.

Sides and floors of the trenches will be concreted. Altogether the trenches will provide accommodation for 1000 persons.

The City Hall lane shelters, to accommodate the floating population of the City Hall and the city markets, will be of special design. They will be constructed of reinforced concrete, on columns with intermediate heavy baffle doors. Accommodation will be provided for 400 people.

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Brisbane was never bombed by the Japanese and the air-raid shelters remained mostly unused throughout the war. Of those converted, at least 20 survive today and are still owned by the Brisbane City Council, serving as bus shelters or shade structures in parks.

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Onsite Accessibility
Wheelchair access. Access to the building and all public areas are wheelchair accessible.
Public toilets are located in the Museum premises. Male and female toilets have wheelchair access.
Cafes and eateries. Located conveniently inside the adjacent MacArthur Central precinct, you will find a number of cafes and restaurants and a food hall upstairs. Alternatively, the Queen Street Mall offers a number of cafes and food outlets.

Museum Entry

17+ years
  • 1 day pass
  • Access to all exhibits
  • Free tour guide
  • Video, photo & audio material
with valid ID
  • 1 day pass
  • Access to all exhibits
  • Free tour guide
  • Video, photo & audio material


Excellent exhibition of MacArthur and life in WWII Brisbane- his HQ office is well preserved. You can self guide or go with a guide at no extra cost. Choose the guide he knows his stuff.
Gerald Varley
December 2021
This is an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to learn more about general MacArthur's tenure in Brisbane. Not only because of the video, photo and audio material, but because the museum is staffed by people who lived through the time. Thank you for such a wonderful exhibit.
Chris Read
September 2020
Just as it says, General Douglas MacArthur's HQ in our own Brisbane. Great volunteer staff who greet you and guide you to MacArthur"s office/museum and very helpful and informative. Good information, videos and displays of the war and of course MacArthur's office itself. Walk where MacArthur walked and worked during this terrible time in our history and feel the history and perhaps the man's presence from a time past.
Mike Smith
July 2018


May 2022
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