History: The secret tanks of Lake Bathurst

One of Australia’s best wartime secrets is a series of abandoned fuel tanks in the country’s inland regions. 

BUNKER: The surviving concrete bunker at the site. Photo: Bob Piper

BUNKER: The surviving concrete bunker at the site. Photo: Bob Piper

Goulburn’s number 16 Inland Fuel Depot, located near Lake Bathurst, was one of 32 dispersed around the country.

These tanks were designed to ensure sufficient fuel was available should the country’s supply lines be cut off by the invading Japanese during WWII.

The tanks were top secret, partly funded by the US government and had guards stationed around the clock.

They were built in 1942, when Japan’s war threat to Australia was very real.

The remnants of four such tanks are still there, on private land not far from railway land.

The tanks remain camouflaged and hidden with their own small barracks.

Aviation historian Bob Piper said the tanks were deliberately sited in remote areas and close to railway lines.

“This was so large quantities of fuel could be brought by train and distributed to them in road tankers,” Mr Piper said. 

“Constructed in concrete and then covered in soil, except for brown painted vents and pipes, they look very much like the hillside.

“Even today, they are hard to see.

“The remnants of camouflage paint are on the cement-roofed bunker house, once used by the air force guards.

“There is also a flat natural aerodrome nearby area that could be used for emergency landings and refueling.”

The 3.64 hectare Lake Bathurst site had total storage of 3,023,640 litres, built at a cost of 50,000 pounds. 

Disposal of the site was recorded by Commonwealth Gazette number 94 on June 17, 1948.