Lytton Defence Reserve

Lytton Hill from WP 1000x288 v2

0192 Lytton Defence Reserve

The Colony of Queensland was created in 1859. Prior to that, it had been part of the Colony of New South Wales. A few months before the creation of Queensland, the Surveyor-General of NSW surveyed the first part of the new township of Lytton. “Between 1860 and 1863 some Lytton township allotments were alienated, mostly by Brisbane speculators who anticipated the development of wharf facilities at Lytton. Few private buildings were erected there.”[1] Fort Lytton was built in 1880-1881 on a parcel of land on the bank of the Brisbane River, just north of the land allocated for the township.

Lytton Defence Reserve was a 120 acre parcel of land gazetted in 1887 and containing Fort Lytton. The “Reserve” was extended in 1891 and again in 1900 to a total area of 640 acres (almost exactly one square mile or 259 hectares). The extended reserve included the land that had previously been surveyed as the township of Lytton, after individual allotments that had previously been sold had been resumed. The township of Lytton no longer existed. The land around Fort Lytton now occupied almost the entire peninsula that formed the south head of the Brisbane River. It had river frontage to its west, and coastal (bay) frontage to its north and east.

After the colonies became a federation (the Commonwealth of Australia) in 1901, the Reserve was transferred to the Commonwealth. “The land and all military structures at Lytton were transferred to the new Commonwealth Department of Defence, and the Post and Telegraph Office on Lytton Hill was transferred to the new Commonwealth Post Master General’s Department”.[1] The Reserve was used extensively for military purposes from its creation in 1887 until the end of the Second World War (WW2). After 1945 the Reserve’s defence facilities were virtually abandoned, but military authorities maintained a communications base on Lytton Hill into the 1950s. The Reserve was transferred to Ampol Refineries [Qld] Pty Ltd in 1963 for the development of a refinery (now the Caltex Lytton Refinery). “Subsequent construction of the oil refinery and holding tanks has removed most traces of the Second World War defence installation, which included an airfield, with the exception of the top of Lytton Hill and a Second World War anti-aircraft position with concrete bunkers and gun emplacements, in the refinery grounds adjacent to Fort Lytton”.[1]

In 1988 a parcel of land containing Fort Lytton was transferred from the refinery to the Queensland state government and was declared a Queensland National Park in 1990. This was Queensland’s first “historic national park”. In 1998 a parcel of adjacent land was added to the national park. It contained a substantial number of the buildings and wharf from the Lytton Quarantine Station which had been closed in the 1880s. Fort Lytton is open to the public, with guided tours provided on Sundays and certain public holidays by Fort Lytton Historical Association. The Quarantine Station is not yet open to the public.

“Lytton Hill” referred to above was otherwise known as Signal Hill or Reformatory Hill. It was the only significant hill on the peninsular occupied by the Reserve. The top photograph shows the Reserve as seen from Wellington Point. Lytton Hill is in the centre, with the Caltex refinery to the left. The refinery’s tank farm is mainly behind the hill, but white tanks are also visible on either side.

When Fort Lytton was designed, a smaller fortification was designed for Lytton Hill, to act as a lookout that could warn Fort Lytton of approaching enemy ships, and also of the movements of enemy troops should any land. A boys reformatory was to be built on the hill, fortified, and used as a fortification during times of emergency. It was connected to Fort Lytton by telegraph. It was excluded from the original 120 acre Reserve in 1887, and is marked as Signal Hill on the above map. The “Second World War anti-aircraft position” referred to above was a heavy anti-aircraft battery consisting of four 3.7-inch guns. Both Lytton Hill and the anti-aircraft battery site are still located inside the refinery and are not open to the public. The anti-aircraft site is only 300m from the building occupied by Fort Lytton Historical Association, and appears to be still in good condition. A large model of the site can be inspected in the Fort Lytton Historical Association building.

References
[1] The Queensland Heritage Listing for Lytton Hill https://environment.ehp.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=601366

External Links
1. Google Earth View of Fort Lytton.
2. Google Earth View of Lytton Hill. It is the tree covered area near Tanker street.
3. Google Earth View of Heavy Anti-Aircraft Site.

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