Rhyndarra...Life,Times and its People...

Rhyndarra/1st Camp Hospital/1st Military Hospital - Its Life, Times and its People...(More in depth)

 

The part of Brisbane at the now pleasant leafy affluent suburb of Yeronga,where  the mansion, 'Rhyndarra' was originally the only home in the middle of a rural property, has had a rich history, dating from the time when the Jagera people of Australia's Indigenous Nations originally lived there.

‘Rhyndarra’was established in 1888 by a wealthy farmer called William Williams, on 140 acres of land along the picturesque riverfront at Yeronga, about 1.3 kms to the south west of the site of the Rhyndarra Memorial Tree planted on 4th October 2015 on the banks of the Brisbane River on The Corso.

In 1905 Williams was declared insolvent and the Rhyndarra estate passed to the principal mortgagor and subdivided into 13 allotments, each having a street and river frontage.

Rhyndarra, on a reduced site of approximately 12 acres, was transferred to William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, in 1907.

Between 1907 and 1942 it functioned as the Salvation Army Girls' Industrial Home for orphaned, homeless and ‘wayward’ girls.

In 1938 Rhyndarra grew with the addition of a two-storeyed timber and masonry extension at the rear of the house which was used as a recreation hall on the first floor, with bathrooms and toilets at ground level.

In 1942 Rhyndarra was occupied by the Australian Army for training purposes for the Australian Women's Army Service. At first,  it was actually used as a place to treat Military Services women who had contracted sexually transmitted illnesses. This is a little known and long hidden fact. Then gradually it evolved for other uses as well, for training and the treatment of all Military personnel, women and men alike.

In 1944 the 2nd AWH which was previously situated at Redbank, in association with the 2/4 Australian General Hospital (AGH), was moved from Redbank to Rhyndarra at Yeronga. 

No record was found in the Unit Routine Orders of  the 2nd AWH having an RSM. This appears to be confirmed by the book “No Man’s Land (A history of the 2nd Woman’s Hospital)” by Lesley M. Williams.

The book (No Man’s Land) also indicates that MAJ Alan Mostyn Bradford Grant and LTCOL John Lloyd also Administered Command of the 2nd Australian Woman’s Hospital. Records held indicate that MAJ Grant was posted to the unit 12 May 1944 to 12 May 1945 as a Surgeon.

The Unit back then had a Colour Patch of  three horizontal stripes – chocolate, light brown, chocolate – on a grey background. 

During WWII, Rhyndarra was  used as a staging area for members en route to places further north and west. Soon after, a formal hospital was constructed in the grounds surrounding the house, for Australian servicewomen and for the training of the Australian Army Medical Women's Service (AAMWS) members.

Following WWII , the Department of Social Services established the site as a centre for civilian rehabilitation, however due to the acute housing shortage after the war, the site was briefly allocated to the Queensland Housing Commission from the late 1940s to early 1950s as temporary accommodation for homeless people. 

By the early 1950s the Army reoccupied  the site and it was used as the Northern Command Personnel Depot (NCPD). Part of it became a hospital for National Service recruits and trainees. It was then named the National Service Training Hospital in 1951 and by 1961 it was again renamed as 1 Camp Hospital.

By 1970, 1 Camp Hospital was renamed  the 1st Military Hospital. The old mansion named Rhyndarra was established as the Officers Mess. By 1970, 1st Mil Hospital was providing medical facilities for injured soldiers or those who had become sick during training. This necessitated the construction of a number of additional buildings, mostly accommodation and storage, a pool and tennis court. Many Vietnam Veterans who had long term hospitalization ahead were treated there. 

By the 1980’s and into the mid 90s, the main hospital buildings such as the wards and the operating theatres were still there, but had been adapted and altered several times. An Intensive Care Unit even existed for a time during and shortly after the Vietnam War. This building was later repurposed as a Pathology Unit. The admissions building, Outpatients Department, Dental Clinic and covered walkways remained, along with various other structures around the site.There was even a Petrol Pump located to the Southern side of the entrance to Rhyndarra just above the Brisbane River bank.

So, from 1942 until 1996 it continued to function as a military hospital. Rhyndarra was important for its strong association with all elements of the ADF. Many Navy, Army and Air Force personnel have attended courses or been treated there at some time.

The "Digger James Club" was originally  the SGTs Mess. The SGTs Mess from the later period in the 1980's was originally the Male Officers Mess in the 1970's. Rhyndarra - the house - was the Female Offers Mess and the OR's had one Male Club located at the top of the hill under the Outpatient’s Department and one Female  OR's Club known as “The Pussy Bar”, which   was located at the far end of the Female ORs Accommodation Block which was to the North Western side of Rhyndarra. It is believed that John Taske as CO at the time decided that the troops could actually work AND 'play' together. So co-ed Army barracks began with the 1st Military Hospital!

For just a few short weeks in 1974 the 1st Military Hospital actually had its own M*A*S*H Style Chopper Pad – Sadly it was washed away in the floods that year. 1 Mil became a refuge for many during and after the floods. The troops at 1 Mil earned much respect and admiration for all the hard Yakka they put in to help the locals who were flood affected.

In the 1990's the  Officers Mess - Rhyndarra - and the old Stables (later used as a Quartermasters Building at the 1st Military Hospital) were sold to private owners and the rest of the 12 acres of grounds that contained the hospital wards and other buildings were demolished and redeveloped as a premium subdivision within Yeronga. Part of the riverfront of the original property is now a reserve for park purposes, under the trusteeship of the Brisbane City Council.

 

A new hospital, constructed at Gallipoli Army Barracks Enoggera, was commissioned in September 1996 and the former 1 Military Hospital was vacated. Subsequently the hospital buildings were demolished, leaving only the house, stable and significant trees, prior to the property being subdivided into residential allotments.

 

1 st Military Hospital was initially known as the 1st Camp Hospital and was re-designated as 1st Military Hospital on 1st September 1967. Unit didn’t have a colour patch.