Wednesday 11 March 2020
Photos provided by Brian and Helen
Twenty two members and three visitors were treated to a new walk on a beautiful autumn day. The Moruya Bunker Walk involved a tour of four little known bunkers located around the vicinity of Moruya racecourse. These bunkers were constructed during World War Two.
The club was fortunate to secure the services of local war historian Gary Traynor who accompanied the group, providing expert commentary with a comprehensive and informative account of the history of the bunkers. Built by the RAAF, these bunkers served as part of the coastal defence system against a potential Japanese and/or German invasion. By 1944 the concrete bunkers had been established as part of a fully functioning reserve air base where aircraft could refuel whilst looking for submarines or conducting surveillance conveys. The Moruya racecourse was the site of three runways with all four bunkers housed nearby.
The walk began at a bunker which is now used by the Moruya Pistol Club as an indoor range. This underground bunker was previously used as an operations centre. The group was given special access to this bunker and it was fascinating to observe such a well preserved building that still provided a functional service so many years after the war.
We commenced our walk, passing bunker number two, which is an above ground bunker situated in the grounds of Moruya speedway. This above ground bunker would have been used for storage and rudimentary protection against shrapnel. We then continued our walk onto the racecourse proper to bunker number three. This bunker is similar in construction to the previous bunker, also being above the ground. Gary gave another presentation, showing us where an aircraft made an emergency landing during the war close to where we were standing. It was great to have the opportunity to access an area normally off limits to the public.
Following morning tea we made our way to the fourth bunker which is similar in construction to the pistol range bunker. This underground bunker was used as a radio operations centre and was constructed well away from the runways so that it could maintain operations if the aerodrome was bombed. Two rooms were used to house radios, generators and engines and at each end a pill box allowed sentry duty. The bunker was constructed in a giant sand hole and covered with remaining sand to camouflage it.
Whilst visiting each bunker, our guide Gary informed us of many stories relating to the war and Betty recounted her experience as a six year old, with her family sitting around the transistor radio listening to the broadcast informing listeners that Australia was now at war. Betty clearly remembers that day. What a moment in history!
After seeing all of the bunkers we made our way towards Bengello Beach. On the way Betty’s trusty boots decided, after many many kilometres, to call it a day and blow a sole. Bob T was going to be nominated to piggy back Betty for the remaining five kilometres but in sheer desperation to avoid this task he dug deep into the bowels of his back pack and pulled out a roll of duct tape. After some expert repair work, Betty’s boots were ready for another 5000 kilometres and off we went. We continued on to Bengello Beach and back to the cars where we thanked Gary very much for a most unusual and entertaining tour.