flag-qld.gif (891 bytes) ROCKY CREEK MEMORIAL PARK

The Memorial Park is situated on the site of the 2/2 Australian General Hospital laundry and medical stores site at Rocky Creek adjoining the Kennedy Highway near Tolga on the Atherton Tableland. The park has been chosen as the appropriate location due to the cultural, spiritual, historical and sentimental value to the local community. Several Army Divisions camped on the Atherton Tablelands during 1942-45. Approximately 60,000 Australian soldiers were treated for war related conditions at these hospitals, by a caring and efficient staff of approximately 2,000. Many were rehabilitated at the adjoining 2/1 Convalescence Depot. The complex was recognised as the largest military hospital in the Southern Hemisphere. The significance of this campsite was recognised with the unveiling and dedication of a sign on the 25 November 2001 on the Frazer Road site at the rear of the Rocky Creek igloo.

The Memorial Park was established in 1995 primarily through the initial efforts of Tim Foley, Mark Alcock and Myra Jones. The Atherton Shire Council is the custodian of the crown land and the park has been developed in an association between the Council and the Rocky Creek War Memorial Park Committee. There are 94 military unit plaques. The units represented in the Memorial Park have an association with the Rocky Creek Australian Army Hospital or the troops that trained or provided unit support on the Atherton Tableland area during the World War II. There are six allied and community plaques displayed in this park, this area being established for Anzac Day 2001. The majority of the plaques in the Memorial Park have been funded through the Commonwealth Department of Veterans’ Affairs “Their Service – Our Heritage” program in particular the Local Commemorative Activities Fund. New memorial plaques are continually being sought.

Unit plaques are mounted free of charge on a granite obelisk supplied from the local Wongabel Quarries and erected by the Atherton Shire Council. The only cost to units or associations is the purchase and delivery of the plaque.

Council maintains the park with local resident, Tim Foley being the voluntary park curator and Terry Monty as Park Ranger. Tim gets occasional assistance from community service people and participants involved with the “Work for Dole” and the Community Job Plan schemes and the Lotus Glen Correctional Centre. The park would not be the spectacle that it is without Tim’s and his assistants dedicated efforts including Terry Monty.

Development of the park includes additional signage and a relocated toilet block. A grant made by the Reef Hotel Casino Community Benefit and the Gambling Community Benefit Funds to the Lions Club of Tolga and District as a contribution to the relocation and modification of these toilets. As part of VP60 celebrations, the National Servicemen’s Tableland Branch handed over a community picnic shelter to council. A Remembrance Wall is due to be unveiled next VP Day.

For their efforts in establishing and being involved with the ongoing maintenance and development of the park, our Patron Mrs Myra Jones BEM and park curator Tim Foley were both respectively awarded Citizens of the Year for the Johnstone and Atherton Shires on Australia Day 2000. Our Committee was awarded the Australia Day Community Event of the Year 2000 Award for the VP Day Picnic in the Park held on 13 August 2000. Several of our committee members were recognised for their efforts and received awards as part of the International Year of Volunteers 2001.

For further information on the park, contact the Atherton Shire Council convenor of memorial plaques,
May White, 45 Mabel Street / PO Box 573 ATHERTON QLD 4883
(Phone 4091 0746 – Email - asc@athertonsc.qld.gov.au)

The next unveiling of memorial plaques will be held at the park for the “VP Day Military Muster” on 12 August 2007 at 1300 hours.


The Atherton Tableland - A WWII Military History Haven

The Atherton Tableland played an important role for our military forces in repelling the invasion of the enemy during World War II. In 1942, General Thomas Blamey investigated and found that this area was suitable as a tropical training ground and rehabilitation area. Camp and training facilities were set up to cater for 100,000 troops from Kuranda to Ravenshoe and from Herberton to Kairi. For one brief period between September and November 1944, all three AIF Divisions (6th, 7th and 9th) were on the Tableland at one time.

There is little visible evidence of the occupation of military personnel that passed through this area until the end of hostilities in 1945. Most buildings were dismantled after the war except for several of them, notably the igloos at Rocky Creek, Atherton and Wondecla. The Advanced Ordnance Depot occupied 170 buildings and 18 large igloos at Tolga. The bush and farming soon reclaimed the camp and training sites.

In order to remember the valiant efforts of these troops, a series of memorial markers have been erected across the Tablelands as a project of the 2nd AIF Memorial Association, the four Tableland Shire Councils, the Tableland Promotion Bureau, the RSL, the Australian Army and the EPA. These markers indicate the campsites of the 6th, 7th and 9th Australian Divisions. In addition, there are numerous markers erected by private individuals such as Mick Henderson of Mareeba. The 7th and 9th Divisions were located in the Kairi and Tinaroo area and the Ravenshoe – Mt Garnet Rd area. Open stone fireplaces are the main visible evidence of the military occupation. The igloo at Wondecla is the evidence of the area occupation by the 6th Division troops.

At the Rocky Creek War Memorial Park on the Kennedy Highway near Tolga, there are 100 military unit plaques. The units represented here have an association with the Rocky Creek Australian Army Hospital and Medical Base 1942 - 46. This hospital complex was the largest in the Southern Hemisphere with a 5000 bed capacity and 2000 staff in support. Those patients that died of wounds or sickness are buried in the 164 graves at the Atherton War Cemetery that is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Information on the campsite locations can be found at the various Information Centres across the Tableland and RSL clubs. Several local museums such as the Beck’s Aviation and Military Museum near Mareeba (Ph 4092 3979), the NQ Warbirds at the Mareeba airport (Ph 4092 7391), the Tolga Historical Society’s Old Railway Museum, the Charles Keeble Military Museum at Tolga (Ph 4095 5232) and the Kairi Hotel (Ph 4095 8250) are good local sources of information.


Rocky Creek Medical Units Summary

19th Field Ambulance arrived at Rocky Creek on 6th October 1942 for the special purpose of preparing a camp area in readiness for the 5th Australian Camp Hospital. They assisted the 5th to settle in when that unit arrived. On 17th October1942, the 19th moved out of Rocky Creek.

5th Australian Camp Hospital under the command of Lieutenant Colonel LA Little arrived by train at Rocky Creek on 14th October 1942. This was a 200-bed hospital that served the area until 5th January 1943. They moved out by road convoy arriving at their new location at North Cairns State School.

2/2nd Australian General Hospital returned from the Middle East to be relocated at Watten near Hughenden. A cyclone caused the hospital to be flooded out and patients were transferred to other hospitals. The unit moved to Rocky Creek on 5th January 1943. This was when Myra Jones joined the unit and served there until she married in June 1944. Myra was then transferred to the 1st Australian Blood and Serum Preparation unit in Brisbane. The hospital was registered as a 1200 bed but most of the time it was 1800 and often extended to 2,000 patients.

2/6th Australian General Hospital after returning from the Middle East was established across the gully from the 2/2nd Australian General Hospital sharing an area of approximately 50 acres. The unit arrived on 20th April 1943 and provided general hospital services like the 2/2nd. Sick and wounded soldiers were received from the Pacific Campaigns, many suffering from malaria and other fevers. Casualties arrived at the Mareeba Airstrip and were transported by our ambulances to the hospitals.

2/1st Australian Convalescent Depot was a 1200 bed unit and was established in August 1943 and supported both the 2/2nd and 2/6th Hospitals. It was located in the vicinity of Rocky Creek.

4th Ambulance Train consisted of several sleeping cars staffed by an army Major doctor and 3 sisters or nurses. It was painted white and identified by a Red Cross on each side and on top to be clearly visible from the air. It travelled around the Atherton Tableland bringing sick and injured from the training camps to the hospitals each day. It also travelled to Cairns transporting casualties from incoming troop ships to the Army Hospitals at Rocky Creek. Once a month, the train took long term patients to Townsville where they transferred to the to the 5th Ambulance Train for treatment in the south.

1st Australian Camp Hospital It is difficult to find much accurate history as it is reported by some that this unit was at Rocky Creek. A member of he 115th Reserve Transport Company reported that they had 3 trucks, 3 drivers and a Corporal sent up to prepare the Rocky Creek Hospital site. He contracted measles and was sent to the AGH in the Atherton Show Grounds so it is assumed that it was the 1st. It is also documented that the 1st Australian Camp Hospital arrived at Horn Island from the Atherton Show Grounds on 15th November 1942.

47th Australian Camp Hospital was the last to leave the Atherton Tablelands in 1945. It arrived after all the other units had left.

Australian Red Cross Society played a big part in providing amenities for the patients. They had access to certain rationed food lines needed for the satisfaction of some medical cases. Their white bed covers with a huge red cross in the centre covering those drab army blankets gave the tented wards a more civilised appearance. Red Cross played an important part in the lives of the next-of –kin by arranging accommodation and transport when necessary. They also provided transport for patients and staff for patients and staff for outings. Their contribution was endless. Lady Blamey was attached to the 2/2nd AGH.


Rocky Creek War Memorial Park

The Memorial Park is situated on the site of the 2/2 Australian General Hospital laundry and medical stores site at Rocky Creek adjoining the Kennedy Highway near Tolga on the Atherton Tableland. The park has been chosen as the appropriate location due to the cultural, spiritual, historical and sentimental value to the local community. Several Army Divisions camped on the Atherton Tablelands during 1942-45. Approximately 60,000 Australian soldiers were treated for war related conditions at these hospitals, by a caring and efficient staff of approximately 2,000. Many were rehabilitated at the adjoining 2/1 Convalescence Depot. The complex was recognised as the largest military hospital in the Southern Hemisphere. The significance of this campsite was recognised with the unveiling and dedication of a sign on the 25 November 2001 on the Frazer Road site at rear of the Rocky Creek igloo.

The Memorial Park was established in 1995 primarily through the initial efforts of Tim Foley, Mark Alcock and Myra Jones. The Atherton Shire Council is the custodian of the crown land and the park has been developed in an association between the Council and the Rocky Creek War Memorial Park Committee. There are 77 military unit plaques. The units represented in the Memorial Park have an association with the Rocky Creek Australian Army Hospital or the troops that trained or provided unit support on the Atherton Tableland area during the World War II. There are four allied and community plaques displayed in this park, this area being established for Anzac Day 2001. The majority of the plaques in the Memorial Park have been funded through the Commonwealth Department of Veterans’ Affairs “Their Service – Our Heritage” program in particular the Local Commemorative Activities Fund. New memorial plaques are continually being sought.

Unit plaques are mounted free of charge on a granite obelisk supplied from the local Wongabel Quarries and erected by the Atherton Shire Council. The only cost to units is the purchase and delivery of the plaque.

The park is maintained by Atherton Shire Council with local resident, Tim Foley the “Mayor of Rocky Creek” being the voluntary park curator. Tim gets occasional assistance from community service people and other volunteers. The park would not be the spectacle that it is without Tim’s dedicated efforts.

Recent development of the park includes additional signage and the relocation of a toilet block. A grant made by the Reef Hotel Casino Community Benefit and the Gambling Community Benefit Funds to the Lions Club of Tolga and District as a contribution to the relocation and modification of these toilets. Volunteers and donations are required to assist with these projects.

For their efforts in establishing and being involved with the ongoing maintenance and development of the park, the following committee members have been recognised on Australia Day:-

  • Patron, Mrs Myra Jones BEM, Citizens of the Year, Johnstone Shire, Australia Day 2000
  • Park Curator, Tim Foley, Citizen of the Year, Atherton Shire, Australia Day 2000
  • Chairman, Wilf Merefield, Citizen of the Year, Herberton Shire, Australia Day 2003
  • Member, Cr. Louise DeMarzi, Citizen of the Year, Atherton Shire, Australia Day 2003
    In addition the Committee has been awarded the following for Australia Day:-
  • Australia Day Community Event of the Year 2000 Award - VP Day Picnic in the Park
  • Australia Day Community Event of the Year 2002 Award - VP Day Military Muster

The next unveiling of memorial plaques will be held at the park for the “VP Day Military Muster” on 15 August 2004 at 12noon.

For further information on the park, contact the park committee chairman, Wilf Merefield, Herberton (Ph. (07) 4096 2595) or convenor of memorial plaques, Secretary John Hardy, c/- Post Office, Walkamin Q 4872 (Ph (07) 4093 3591).


Unit Date Unveiled Unit Date Unveiled

2/2 AGH and 2/6 AGH

15 Aug 1995

2 / 4th Australian Field Regiment

25 Apr 2000

Gnr Arthur CT Keller MBE

25 Apr 1996

2 / 4th Pioneer Battalion

25 Apr 2000

132 Australian Gen Trans Coy

8 June 1997

2 / 8th Australian Infantry Battalion

25 Apr 2000

S/Sgt Tina W. Jones

15 Aug 1998

14 / 32nd Australian Infantry Battalion

25 Apr 2000

Malaria Research Volunteers

15 Aug 1998

2 / 32nd Australian Infantry Battalion

25 Apr 2000

6th, 7th and 9th Div POW’s

15 Aug 1998

3rd Australian Div Signals (AIF)

13 Aug 2000

17th Australian Infantry Brigade, 2nd AIF

15 Aug 1998

2/4th Australian Infantry Battalion

13 Aug 2000

2/2 Australian Field Regiment

15 Aug 1998

2 / 3rd Machine Gun Battalion

13 Aug 2000

2/3 Australian Field Regiment

25 Apr 1999

5th Australian Farm Company

13 Aug 2000

2/2 Australian Infantry Battalion

25 Apr 1999

12th Army Troops Coy RAE

13 Aug 2000

15th Australian Infantry Brigade

25 Apr 1999

1st Aust Infantry Troops Ordnance Field Park

13 Aug 2000

2/11 Australian Infantry Battalion

25 Apr 1999

15th Field Company Engineers RAE

13 Aug 2000

8th Australian Infantry Battalion AIF

25 Apr 1999

3rd Division AASC

25 Apr 2001

TPI Ex Personnel Association

25 Apr 1999

2 / 9th Australian Infantry Battalion

25 Apr 2001

13 Australian Army Ordnance Depot

25 Apr 1999

2/10th Australian Infantry Battalion

25 Apr 2001

1st Australian Army Regimental Training School - AWAS

15 Aug 1999

2/25th Australian Infantry Battalion

25 Apr 2001

2/43rd Battalion, 9 DIV AIF and
2/2nd Field Regt 6 DIV RAA

15 Aug 1999

1st Australian Parachute Battalion 2nd AIF

12 Aug 2001

2/12 Australian Infantry Battalion

15 Aug 1999

2/1st & 2/2nd Pioneer Battalions

12 Aug 2001

13th Australian Field Regiment

15 Aug 1999

2/3rd Australian Infantry Battalion

12 Aug 2001

21st Australian Infantry Brigade

25 Apr 2000

2/6th Cavalry Commando Regiment

12 Aug 2001

26th Australian Infantry Brigade

25 Apr 2000

9th Australian Division Cavalry Regiment

12 Aug 2001

39th Australian Infantry Battalion

25 Apr 2000

9th Australian Infantry Battalion

12 Aug 2001

2/ 1st Heavy Artillery Battery

25 Apr 2000

Signals 9th Australian Division 2nd AIF

12 Aug 2001

Allied and Community Plaque Section


Freemasons Brethren

13 Aug 2000

New Guinea Volunteer Rifles ACMF

12 Aug 2001

ATS&SSI Plaque

25 Apr 2001


Jenny Kelling introducing Lois Garlin to Simpson and his Donkey. Simpson and his Donkey attend the Rocky Creek Ceremony every year.
Fred Cave, Phil Pearce, Alex Garlin, George Palmer, waiting their turn to lay wreaths at the memorial.
Fred Cave, Don locarnini, Phil Pearce, Alex Garlin saluting the memorial after laying their wreaths.