Thunderbolt's Gully channels World War 11 tank traps

Posted by barbara on September 4, 2011


A matter-of-fact sign adorns a concrete wall on the eastern 'high side' side of the road that passes through Thunderbolt's Gully

Few people driving up what was the New England Highway until the early 1950s (the only all weather road from Sydney to Brisbane at the time) stop to explore these strategic World War 11 defences north of Tenterfield.

Why would they? On the average Australian's radar, historic infrastructure of this nature fails to register when it comes to the defence of Australia during the Second World War. That this site played a minor part in the so-called 'Brisbane Line' means nothing to most Australians. What was the Brisbane Line for heavens sake, and did it actually exist some ask?


The modest sign makes little impression on anyone racing past who is oblivious to the strategic history of this site.


Rather than concrete impediments, the so-called 'tank traps' were two rows of what look like cut off telegraph poles strategically positioned to halt any invading forces that might attempt to travel south in tanks. 


The worned down timber poles, still clearly visible, were positioned to obstruct any tanks trying to avoid a road block or enemy attack by travelling through the gully directly west of the New England Highway, namely Thunderbolt's.

Strung between the granite boulders and the main road, the timber posts were designed to force up Japanese tanks, in doing so exposing their 'belly' to Australian fire.

Around 10,000 troops were stationed around Tenterfield, including the London Bridge Army Camp to its north.

To what extent one wonders was the construction of this tank trap a practice ground for these troops as they trained for offshore endeavours in theatres of war beyond Australian shores?


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