PM, CDF tour historic fort
28 August 2015
ARMY Reservist Second Lieutenant (2LT) Vanessa Seekee has had the rare chance of touring the Prime Minister and Chief of Defence Force through a historic site on Thursday Island.
The officer from C Company, 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment (51 FNQR) explained the history and showcased the Green Hill Fort site as part Prime Minister Tony Abbott's tour of the Cape York Region with Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin on 25 August.
2LT Seekee is a local historian and an expert on the military history of the region.
She explained Thursday Island has played an active role in the defence of Australia from before Federation and during both world wars.
"I showed them around the fort and we had a chat about how and why it was built and the men who served here," she said.
"It was lovely to have the Prime Minister of Australia come and see one of the far northern coastal defences and talk to him about the fort, about the significance it played during World War II in the Torres Strait, about the people who volunteered in such numbers and who served their country with such honour."
C Company is a Regional Force Surveillance Unit that supports ongoing border security operations in the top end.
During the recent ADF support to the Prime Minister's visit to the Torres Strait one of C Company's members, 2LT Vanessa Seekee, gave the Prime Minister and Chief of the Defence Force a guided tour of the site. 2LT Seekee is a local historian and an expert on the military history of the region.
Green Hill Fort on western Thursday Island was built as part of a network of coastal defensive positions around Australia.
With Britain cutting back its military support to Australia and an increasing fear of Russian invasion it was decided to build the fort and the now demolished Queen Victoria Barracks between 1891 and 1893.
Construction of the fort and barracks was completed on time and on budget despite dealing with more than 3000 mm of rain during the wet seasons.
The fort was built into an exposed hilltop contained three six-inch breech-loading guns as well as nine-pounder field guns deployed on the surrounding hillsides providing cover to all approaches to Thursday Island’s harbour.
During World War 1 the fort's role was to control maritime traffic through the Torres Strait. One ship that failed to identify itself caused the only shot fired in anger from the fort - the ship soon complied.
The fort was operational until 1927 when the barracks were demolished, guns spiked and the fort abandoned.
The fort was used as a Signals' and Wireless station during World War II with nearby Horn Island hosting a greater military presence which drew eight Japanese air raids. Thursday Island was not targeted during the war.
To cap off the day, a commemorative service was held to recognise the military service of Torres Strait servicemen and women.
It was also attended by three Torres Strait veterans from World War 2 who were presented campaign medals by the Prime Minister and Chief of the Defence Force.
Today the fort is a major tourist attraction on Thursday Island. The interior of the fort has been refurbished and contains a museum detailing the fort’s history and has panoramic views of the Torres Strait.