Iron Range National Park

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Iron Range is a National Park located in Queensland, Australia, 1940 km northwest of Brisbane and 100 km east of Weipa in the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland.

Within the National Park is the Iron Range (Lockhart River Resources Reserve), Scrubby Creek mining area and Lockhart River Aboriginal Reserve.

During WW2 there were a number of Australian Army units located at this base.


History of airbases

In March 1940, Val Augenson of the Department of Civil Aviation inspected a possible site for an Emergency Landing Ground for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He reported to the RAAF that a suitable all-weather Emergency Landing Ground could be built in the area.

On about 18 April 1942, Walter Maiersperger, the Commanding Officer of 33 Bomb Squadron of the United States Army Air Force's 22nd Bomb Group, carried out an aerial reconnaissance flight over the Iron Range area. He had been tasked with surveying coastal airfields in Queensland that would be suitable for operation of the B-26 Marauders used by the 22nd Bomb Group.

Air Commodore Lukis, Air Officer Commanding, North East Area, reported on 28 May 1942, that Pilot Officer Trench, RAAF had inspected the countryside near Portland Roads (also known as Weymouth Bay), with Colonel Mills and Captain Herman G. Cox of the USAAF. Their first attempt to fly to the Iron Range area from Coen was not successful. An engine failed in their Rapide and they returned to Coen. After being repaired they took off the next morning and landed on a beach at low tide a few miles south of Portland Roads. As the plane slowed down upon landing on the soft sand the Rapide swung towards the sea. The tips of the propeller started to thrash in the water but the skilful pilot was able to turn the aircraft back onto the beach.

The inspection party reported to Lukis that there were good jetty facilities at Portland Roads but that there was no suitable site for an aerodrome near the jetty. They reported that a fairly extensive site just to the west of Iron Range and east of the Claudie River was suitable for the construction of several airfields.[1]

On 7 June 1942, an advance party of the US 46 Engineer General Service Regiment and 26 Operational Base Unit RAAF boarded the SS Wandana in Townsville headed for Portland Roads. 26 OBU arrived at Portland Roads and established radio communications with Townsville on the evening of 10 June 1942.

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