WWII bombs found in state forest in routine patrol
Three bombs from World War II have been round in Bilwon State Forest in Queensland. Photo: AAP/Department of Environment and Science
Rangers are no strangers to danger.
But even these workers were surprised when a routine patrol of a far north Queensland park unearthed an unexpected threat – three 80-year-old World War II bombs.
And while the 25-pound unexploded ordnances (UXOs) were rusty, they were still potentially as deadly as ever.
Rangers were quick to alert the Australian Defence Force when they came across the bombs lying in the Bilwon State Forest near Cairns.
“Last year we had a series of firebreaks constructed through the Bilwon State Forest to assist with our fire management program,” Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Ben Finnerty said.
“The new firebreaks gave rangers better access to different parts of the state forest and during a routine patrol we discovered several unexploded ordnance in a remote part of the forest.”
After seeking advice from the ADF, it was decided the best move was to detonate the bombs which were still considered dangerous despite their rusty appearance and age.
“Two members of the defence force travelled from Townsville and met rangers on site to make the UXO safe to the public and it went up with a bang,” Finnerty said.
“According to the defence force members, old UXOs become more unpredictable and prone to explosions if they are moved or tampered with.
“It shows even though these objects have been sitting on the ground for around 80 years they are still highly dangerous and ready to explode.”
It was the first time rangers had found UXOs in the region since 2016.
Finnerty said rangers would remain wary of where they step considering the nearby Mareeba airstrip’s WWII history.
It was built in 1942 and served as a base for the Australian and United States air forces.
“We believe the UXOs were either used for war-time drills or accidentally discarded in the bushland,” Finnerty said.
The ranger said several UXOs had been found in the nearby Atherton Tablelands and warned the public to be vigilant.
“Remember, if it looks like a bomb, it probably is,” Finnerty said.
“Anyone who finds a suspected UXO in the region is urged to leave it alone and immediately contact police.”