A proud history and bright future
to meet the challenges of soldiering in the 21st century, as part of the 11th Brigade.
Locals and tourists visiting The Strand only to have to look up to the fortifications of Kissing Point to be reminded of the city’s early military history. The first priority of the former colonial government was the protection of coastal ports, and Townsville was no exception. Construction work began at Kissing Point in 1890, and by 1891 the site was ready for its guns — two 6-inch g u n s a n d a 1 0 - b a r r e l l e d Nordenfeld machine-gun.
At the same time, fortifications were completed at the former Magazine Island ( also known as Magazine Hill) in the Port of Townsville, enabling two guns and a machine-gun to be placed there.
Townsville’s role during World War II was a pivotal one – crucial to the success of Allied operations in the Pacific. At one stage, more than 90,000 United States and Australian service personnel were based in the city, far out-numbering the civilian population. The city’s importance was not lost on the Japanese. In July 1942 they conducted three separate bombing raids on Townsville, inflicting very little damage. Some reminders of those days can still be seen – the ‘ forts’ on Magnetic Island are one of many.
The major Defence milestone after World War II was the establishment of Lavarack Barracks. Prime Minister Harold Holt officially opened the barracks on July 29, 1966 announcing that it marked ‘ the beginnings of an outstanding military establishment in Australia, adding to the security, strength and diversity of life in the North’. The subsequent arrival of large numbers of soldiers and their families played a direct role in Townsville’s expansion as a city and vibrant regional economy. And when Cyclone Althea struck the city in 1971, the army and air force swung into action to play a key role in helping those in need. Further Defence growth occurred in the late 1980s with the establishment of the Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment at RAAF Base Townsville. Currently operating Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters, the regiment has close ties with the city. In the mid-1990s, Ross Island Barracks was opened in South Townsville and the 10th Force Support Battalion – one of the biggest units in the Australian Army – was established here, bringing more Defence personnel to the city.
In recent years, Lavarack Barracks and RAAF Base Townsville have undergone a series of major re-developments, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The redevelopment is ongoing, providing new facilities and adding to operational capability in the North.
Another major increase in personnel and resources will occur when 3RAR relocates to Townsville at the end of this year.
The local community has supported its Defence members like no other city in Australia, welcoming home personnel from overseas deployments to places such as Somalia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bougainville, Timor Leste, Iraq, the Solomon Islands, Afghanistan and post-tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia. It even goes back further to the Vietnam era, when battalions deployed from Townsville.
A s C o m m a n d e r o f t h e Lavarack-based 3rd Brigade, Brigadier Stuart Smith is the senior Australian Defence Force officer in North Queensland.
The 3rd Brigade traces its direct lineage back to World War I. Under the command of Colonel Sinclair Maclagan, 3rd Brigade troops were among the first to storm the beaches at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915.
1967 was a significant year with the formation re-raised as the 3rd Task Force and primarily structured for operations in South Vietnam. 1981 saw 3rd Brigade again connecting with its roots, taking up its original title and rejoining the 1st Division.
While proud of its traditions, the 3rd Brigade is also forwardfocused and versatile, able to adapt to meet new challenges as they arise in complex security environments worldwide.