Mount Isa Underground Hospital and Museum


Useful Information

Location: Beth Anderson Museum building, Joan Street, Mount Isa.
Open: APR to SEP daily 10-14.
[2005]
Fee: Adults AUD 10, Concession AUD 8, Student AUD 4.
Groups (+): Adults AUD 6.
[2005]
Classification: ExplainWorld War II Bunkers
Light: electric
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Mount Isa Underground Hospital, Joan Street, Mount Isa, Qld 4825, Tel: +61-7-4743-9156. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History

1942 bombing of Darwin.
1995 it was decided to conserve and develop the underground hospital as a tourist attraction.
1997 begin of restoration works.
2001 opened to the public.

Description

The Underground Hospital is a remains of World War II. After the bombing of Darwin in 1942, precautions were taken to protect the top end of Australia in the event of an air raid. Also thousands of American troops were relocated into Northwest Queensland from April 1942.

It was decided to excavate a large air-raid shelter, designed to function as a fully equipped underground hospital. The place was the hospital reserve, where a 40 bed Community Hospital was opened in 1929. Miners, working in their spare time and at the weekends, excavated the hospital in only 15 weeks. It was equipped with a surgical theatre and a delivery room. Once a week there was an air-raid drill, and nurses and orderlies wheeled less-seriously-ill patients to the underground hospital. No Japanese bombers ever came to Mount Isa, so the hospital was never needed.

After the war, before air conditioning was installed at the above ground hosptial, the underground rooms were used by the nurses as a rest area, as it was naturally cool. But the underground hospital fell into disuse and became dilapidated and vandalised. When it was reconstructed in 1997, there was little left and no surveys existed. Obviously nobody had thoght to map the hospital durinfg war times. So they used old photographs to reconstruct it as cole as possible. Mount Isa Mines provided timber and labour for the renovation.

The underground hospital is completed by the Beth Anderson Museum. This museum of local history was opened in the renovated Kuridala hospital building. This building was erected in 1931 and served as the Mount Isa hospital until 1960. Then it was replaced by a new four storey building with 81 beds. The old hospital is located on top of the entrance of the underground hospital.