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  • Writer's pictureTrekking Downunder

Top Secret - U.S Air Force Base - WWII Tour

Top sectret WWII Tour

Everyone is aware of the fascinating nature of WWII and the heroic efforts of our service men and women who gave their futures for our freedom. But did you know that with everything happening offshore during the war- that little old Charleville in outback Queensland Australia, played host to a Top Secret US Air Force Base? In 1942, 3500 American personnel descended on Charleville, commandeered the airport and took up residence in the tiny town- the number of soldiers who resided during this time is the equivalent to the town population today in 2018.

Taking up 25sq km with 101 Australian purpose built buildings, 3 runways and many large unique planes flying in and out on a regular basis- this little town was sworn to secrecy. All in a massive effort to conceal and protect the location of this TOP SECRET AF base. But what made it so special was the object that was being so heavily protected, ‘The Nordon Bomb Sight' the prize piece of the American’s upper hand in the Battle of the Coral Sea..... And not even the base soldiers knew it was there - Just Incredible!

Norton bomb sight

What made it so special for us on the day?

A great plus to this tour is you get out and actually explore the American Base by car- it is a convoy tour. Visiting a number of the sites spread over the current airport grounds, you get to explore buildings that still stand (and were not blown up by the Americans on departure post WW2), the foundations of large buildings, incredible bitumen baths that bring a whole new meaning to the idea of being clean and all this is narrated by a passionate and knowledgeable tour guide. Ryan and I have always been interested in learning more and more about the incredible wars that have shaped who we are as a nation today. We visit many memorials, war collection museums and without fail we attend the ANZAC Dawn Service closest to us every year. There is as much benefit here for us as there is for our mini Trekkers. We want them to take an interest and keep the past history alive. And that is what we felt was so amazing about this tour. The mini’s got to walk in/ on/ and around these special top secret sites, see and touch the incredible Nordon Bomb Sight in the flesh (or metal) all whilst taking in parts of the history that appeal to them at their specific age levels. We all left with a piece of war history we would never have gotten from anywhere else.

Bitumen baths

Attraction related fact.

During the War the vast majority of the American Airmen lived in multiple canvas camps of around 300 men per camp, some sites with only one ablution block. The Battle of the Coral Sea, saw the men and 160 flying fortresses stationed at the base ready at all moments to be marshalled out to war. The brave men endured incredible physical, emotional and situational stress and all the while they were bound by secrecy. How do you think you could cope?

What was it all about?

The Top Secret WWII Tour was created by Charleville to bring an opportunity for this piece of history to live on. With more and more site's being located and information being sourced and discovered, the WWII tour is ever growing; with the stories and recounts at each site getting more and more detailed. The American Base has been so tightly wound up in its secretive nature for many decades, that it has been due to the hard work and persistence of the co-ordinators’ efforts that have brought the site locations and historical knowledge out of the sealed files.

Ablution block

Price and Appeal

At $15/A, $5/C or $35/F, you will be lead in convoy around the incredible remaining sites of the American base, with a full guided history and recount of each building which once stood or is still standing. Lasting approximately 1.5hrs, with only two tours a day, take the bombardiers oath and jump on board this historical wonder, but ‘ssshhhh’ don’t let them know Trekking Downunder sent you- remember it’s TOP SECRET.

To book your tour contact - Charleville Cosmos and Observatory on 07 46547771


A massive thank you to our tour guide on the day James, who has a clear passion into the history of World War II and the connection to Charleville. We will definitely have to come again not only to check out as more sites are unearthed and reconstructed, but to have another go to absorb more of the information you were able to share with the group.

Dance Hall


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