Abandoned National Treasure

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by BCI
25/10/2011

The Government is under fire as the Bankstown World War II Bunker remains abandoned.

Closed since 1947, the bunker served the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) as the Allied Forces’ Command Post for the South-West Pacific.

Director of the Military Bunker Museum, Daniel Hultgren, believes the Government needs to take a proactive approach for the heritage to be brought to life.

“Our forefathers died for this and these underground facilities, there is a whole chapter of Aussie military history not even documented.”

In 1971, then Bankstown Torch editor, Phil Engisch, discovered the Bunker, hidden beneath a paddock on the corner of Edgar and Marion Street, and published the detailed find.

Not long after, in 1972, the Bunker was set on fire by arsonists.

Bankstown City Council is in a bid to preserve the bunker, however, lacks funding from the Government.

Department of Planning manager of the listings team, Cameron, highlights the bunkers significance, “...so people could have an understanding of what we did in defence of Australia in the Second World War.”

“There is limited funding available for state listed places with 75000 per place; some grant assistance might be possible for conversation works,” Cameron said.

“I don’t think that’s possible, not without millions of dollars being poured into it”, Daniel said.

Federal Member for Blaxland, Hon Jason Clare MP, made representations on behalf of Bankstown City Council.

Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support, Hon Dr Mike Kelly advised Mr Clare the bunker was disposed of in 1977 by predecessor agencies, to the Department of Finance and Deregulation.

“The Bunker at Condell Park is a historically significant site and is an important reminder of Bankstown’s war time history,” Mr Clare said.

“If you get in there early enough and save the facilities before they are vandalised to the point where they do become dangerous to the public or present structural problems, then they become an asset instead of Pandora’s Box”, he said.

Developed by the NSW Department of Housing in the late 1970's, the bunker currently resides beneath a bed of town houses.

Daniel believes the Bunker poses a threat to its surrounding neighbours, “you’ve got these things giving off toxic gases which could cause serious health problems and subsidence to buildings,” he said.

MP Jason Clare is confident that “local residents would like to see the site protected.”

“Why can’t the diggers who were working inside these bunkers, have their dying wish and have them opened?” Daniel said.

“If you don’t promote what you’re proud of and defeat what you have achieved over time, everybody just forgets and that’s the reality” he said.

The Australian military bunker museum is a self-supporting organisation, aimed at locating and preserving bunker sites across Australia.

“A whole heritage trail could be started. The history has been lost at an alarming rate and it cannot be replaced.”

This article was originally published on Bankstown Community Information, bansktown.weebly.com.


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