During World War II, low profile, defensive positions were established along many roads throughout Australia, and the Tank Traps at Paddy’s Flat were an integral part of Australia’s defences during World War II.
There are 26 concrete pyramids that were cast onsite and then connected together by steel cable in the river. Timber posts were also buried in the ground on the bank either side of the river. After the war was over, they were dragged up on the bank on the southern side of the river. A flood in 2011 exposed all the concrete pyramids to some degree.
Tank traps were also established at Thunderbolt’s Gully, which was one kilometre north of a major training camp in the Tenterfield region, the London Bridge Army Camp. The site was also chosen as the area either side could not be easily bypassed. The huge boulders on the hillside on the eastern side of the road were considered too much of an obstacle for the light Japanese tanks. The concrete retaining wall prevented them bypassing the holes left by the exploding mines in the road, which was then a narrow gravel one.
To get to Paddy’s flat tank traps, turn off the Bruxner Highway three kilometres west of Tabulam (or 12.5 kilometres east of Drake), onto Paddy’s Flat Road. Follow the road for 28km and the Tank Traps are on the right, just before Paddy’s Flat Bridge crosses the Clarence River. You can continue along Paddy’s Flat Road to Urbenville for a beautiful scenic drive.
This was a line drawn from Brisbane to Adelaide (some maps show it from Brisbane to Perth). It was claimed that as Australia was unable to protect its huge coastline, the more densely populated areas would be protected. Should an invasion occur, the population north of the line would be evacuated south.
Paul Burns’ book ‘The Brisbane Line Controversy’ is a well written commentary on the background to this concept. Due to the publicity given to the Brisbane Line, the local residents, and those of Northern Queensland, accepted it as a fact. In a complicated sort of a way, it was. The Battle of the Coral Sea began on May 5 1942 and stopped the Japanese Fleet bound for Port Moresby. The East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere was to have been all of PNG, Darwin and north Queensland. Had the attempt to take Port Moresby by the Japanese Fleet been successful, the defensive line here may have been put to use just a short time afterwards.
The Tenterfield Visitor Information Centre has reopened following closures due to COVID-19 restrictions. The centre will be operating via a window service for the time being, and is staffed Monday to Saturday. Phone calls will be answered on Sunday.