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Atherton Performing Arts Theatre (WWII Igloo)

  • 650001
  • 6 Silo Street, Atherton


State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
9 October 2015
Defence: Depot—stores/canteen
7.6 Maintaining order: Defending the country
Construction period
1943, ARMCO hut (igloo)
Historical period
1939–1945 World War II


6 Silo Street, Atherton
Tablelands Regional Council
-17.26724, 145.473919


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

The Atherton Performing Arts Theatre (WWII Igloo) (1943), a rare surviving building from the 13th Australian Advanced Ordnance Depot (13 AAOD) at Tolga, is important in demonstrating the role of the Atherton Tablelands as the principal Australian base for all three Australian Imperial Force (AIF) infantry divisions during the Pacific Campaign of World War II (WWII). The concentration of Australian Army units on the Atherton Tablelands from early 1943 was an important part of Australia’s military strategy, and 13 AAOD was the largest supply depot for those units.

The igloo’s relocation to the site of the Atherton Tableland Maize Marketing Board’s workshops in 1947 illustrates the common post-war practice of selling ex-military buildings for removal and civilian reuse.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

The igloo is rare as one of two known surviving examples of an igloo-style 100ft x 40ft (30.5m x 12.2m) ARMCO hut, erected and used in Queensland during WWII. In retaining its steel segmented-arch frame in its original form, it is important in demonstrating the prefabricated and portable framing system of an igloo-style ARMCO hut.


The steel-framed ‘igloo’ located in Silo Road, Atherton, currently used as a theatre by Atherton Performing Arts (APA) Inc., is an American Rolling Mill Company (ARMCO) hut,[1] erected c1943 at the 13th Australian Advance Ordnance Depot, Tolga. In 1947 the ARMCO hut (referred to from this point on as the ARMCO igloo) was purchased by the Atherton Tableland Maize Marketing Board and was moved to its current location for use as a workshop, and the neighbouring gabled-roof workshop building was probably built at this time. The buildings later functioned as an Atherton Shire Council Depot from c1958 to 1979, before the igloo was refurbished as a theatre in 1982-3. The ARMCO igloo is rare surviving built evidence of an important military facility, and helps demonstrate the impact of World War II (WWII) on the Atherton Tablelands, when the area was a major training and rest and rehabilitation centre for the AIF during the Pacific Campaign of World War II (WWII). The igloo’s original steel segmented-arch frame is also a rare surviving wartime example of its type.

Atherton, the main centre on the Tablelands, was originally known as Prior's Pocket after Thomas Prior, a timber getter who was the first European to camp there permanently. The town, surveyed in 1885, was a staging post for Cobb and Co. coaches between the tin fields of Herberton (established 1880) and Port Douglas, and the railway arrived from Cairns in 1903.[2] Although timber drew many settlers to the area, the maize industry opened up the Atherton Tablelands to agriculture, and was the dominant agricultural industry of the southern Atherton Tablelands up until WWII. Chinese settlers were instrumental in setting up the industry during the late 19th century, but with the inception of the Soldier Settler Scheme in 1917, they were displaced by European farmers.[3]

The Atherton Tableland Maize Board was constituted on 31 August 1923 under the Primary Products’ Pools Act 1922.[4] In 1924, the board erected three storage cluster silo complexes at Kairi, Tolga and Atherton (the latter included a drying plant); but only the Kairi Maize Silos [QHR 602631] survive.[5] Despite the silos, the industry struggled. The state of the industry improved somewhat when the Maize Board in 1936 began manufacturing poultry rations, and the 'Athmaize' brand of stock and poultry feeds was introduced.[6]

The Atherton Tablelands was disrupted by a massive influx of military forces during WWII. United States Army Airforce (USAAF) units were based at Mareeba from mid-1942, along with a US hospital and US Anti-Aircraft units.[7] From December 1942 the headquarters of the Australian Army in north Queensland transferred from Townsville to the Atherton Tablelands, and the main administrative base was established around Atherton and the nearby settlement of Tolga.[8] The terrain and climate of New Guinea meant that Australian troops had to be regularly rested and rehabilitated. The Atherton Tablelands was chosen for this purpose as it was close to New Guinea, near the port of Cairns, was suitable for jungle warfare training, and was mostly malaria-free.[9]

The troops resting and training on the Tablelands had to be housed and supplied, and so, as an important part of Australian wartime strategy, a huge schedule of construction work (the ‘Atherton Project’) commenced, to accommodate units from the 6th and 7th Divisions of the Second Australian Imperial Force (AIF) returning from New Guinea – and the 9th Division (AIF) returning from the Middle East – plus other fighting units. The project constructed tent encampments, hutments, mess kitchens, hospitals and storage sheds, under the direction of the Allied Works Council (AWC),[10] which formed in February of 1942 to co-ordinate and facilitate the needs of Australian and US military forces in Australia during the war.[11] The AWC’s work on defence projects in Queensland, including roads and airfields, was carried out by US Army engineers, the Queensland Main Roads Commission (MRC), and contractors drawing on conscripted civilian labour from the Civil Constructional Corps (CCC), established in April 1942.[12]

Up to 100,000 troops were present on the Tablelands. Units of the three AIF infantry divisions camped at Danbulla, Kairi, Millstream, Ravenshoe, Tinaroo, Wondecla and Wongabel between early 1943 and 1945, and all three divisions were on the Tablelands at one time in late 1944.[13] In Atherton, the Barron Valley Hotel briefly acted as a headquarters for General Blamey, commander-in-chief of the Australian Military Forces,[14] and in November 1943 a large timber-framed igloo warehouse (now the Merriland Hall [QHR 602016]) was erected at the Atherton Showground for the Australian Army Canteen Services (AACS).[15]

The Atherton Performing Arts theatre was constructed as part of the 13th Australian Advanced Ordnance Depot (13 AAOD) at Tolga, the largest Australian Army storage and repair centre on the Tablelands. Built to supply equipment and weapons to the troops, 13 AAOD was established on the west side of Tolga early in 1943.[16] In February 1943, a schedule of Atherton Tablelands projects included ten 100ft x 40ft (30.5m x 12.2m) ‘ARMCO huts’ at Tolga.[17] According to a report on an October 1944 visit to 13 AAOD by the Joint Parliamentary War Expenditure Advisory Committee, by then the installation consisted of about 170 buildings, including 18 large igloo stores about 200ft x 100ft (61m x 30.5m),[18] 10 steel-framed ARMCO buildings and 22 steel-framed Sidney Williams buildings.[19]

13 AAOD was divided into four depots, including a Returned Stores Depot (RSD).[20] It also included a salvage area, a vehicle park; and workshops.[21] Just to the north was 7 Australian Advanced Ammunition Depot.[22]

The ARMCO igloos at 13 AAOD were probably built in Australia. The American Rolling Mill Company (ARMCO Steel Corporation from 1948) was formed in 1899, to produce rolled steel. The company’s first factory was in Middleton, Ohio, and its first overseas factory opened in 1914 in Brazil.[23] In 1936 the Australian Government announced that ARMCO would join with Lysaght to establish a £1,000,000 company in Australia. This decision was touted as a success for the government’s ‘trade diversion policy’, which aimed to encourage car manufacture in Australia, as ARMCO and John Lysaght Ltd would manufacture steel motor body panels.[24] An ARMCO works was constructed at Port Kembla in 1938, and opened in January 1939.[25]

During WWII, ARMCO (Australia) Pty Ltd manufactured circular corrugated steel pillboxes, and large culvert pipes for use by the Australian armed forces.[26] In addition, ARMCO ammunition storage huts, with a curved structure of heavy gauge corrugated steel designed to be covered in earth, were constructed at Darra and Mount Coot-tha (Brisbane) and Burua (Gladstone).[27] ARMCO also produced igloo-style huts, with a 100ft x 40ft (30.5m x 12.2m) floor area. These were advertised for use storing wool, wheat, farm produce or general merchandise, with the claim that ‘ARMCO pre-fabricated huts are weather and vermin-proof, economical and durable’.[28] ARMCO also produced gable-roofed huts, and these – plus the ARMCO igloos – were advertised well into the post war period, in various spans and lengths.[29]

While ARMCO huts could be purchased new after the war, civilians also purchased and removed used buildings from former military facilities. All the igloos at 13 AAOD were removed after the closure of the depot in 1946, including the 10 ARMCO igloos, and the area reverted to farm and grazing land, although many of the slabs of the large timber-framed igloos are still visible.[30] An advertisement for a February 1947 auction of 55 buildings at 13 AAOD and 7 Australian Ordnance Vehicle Park at Tolga, by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, listed six Sidney Williams buildings of various sizes, five 200ft x 100ft igloos, (61m x 30.5m) two 100ft x 60ft (30.5m x 18.3m) igloos, and ‘five ARMCO All-Steel Igloos, overall 101ft x 40ft, approximately half terne and half black iron’.[31] Another four ARMCO igloos, 100ft x 50ft (sic), were advertised for auction in April 1947.[32]

One of the ARMCO igloos from 13 AAOD was purchased by the Atherton Tableland Maize Board, which had been renamed the Atherton Tableland Maize Marketing Board by January 1947.[33] The Maize Board had been considering obtaining a steel framed igloo since September 1945, to expand its mash manufacture.[34] Such an igloo at Tolga was soon inspected by board members and deemed suitable, and at the October monthly meeting of the board the acquisition of a nearby site, for relocation of the igloo, was discussed.[35] Although an application from the Maize Board for a government loan to purchase the igloo was withdrawn in early 1946, due to the cost of disassembly and re-erection,[36] the purchase later went ahead, and by June 1947 the ARMCO igloo purchased at Tolga was being erected in Atherton ‘for a workshop and storage for the field working plants’.[37]

Survey plans reveal the ARMCO igloo’s current site in Silo Road, Atherton, was part of a larger allotment obtained by the Atherton Tableland Maize Board during 1946.[38] This allotment was subdivided in 1949, and the igloo site was later occupied by the Athmaize Workshop Co-op Association Ltd.[39]

The relocated ARMCO igloo began its new life as part of a workshops complex for farming equipment. The workshops were opened on 8 October 1947 at an annual meeting of maize growers. It was noted that the ‘workshops were ‘installed under cover of a reconstructed igloo and are adjacent to the Board’s offices’.[40] The manager of the Board (WJ Brett) said the workshops had been equipped with modern machinery and competent staff; charges on repairs to grower’s machinery would be kept to a minimum, and the onus was on maize growers to ‘use the shops for all their repair work’.[41] No mention is made of the adjacent gabled workshop building on the northwest side of the ARMCO igloo, but it may have been erected at the same time the ARMCO igloo was re-erected.[42] Another metal-clad, gable-roofed building, adjacent to the igloo on the southeast side, was constructed on the site between 1949 and 1951,[43] but was demolished after 2013. The workshops complex was used by the Maize Marketing Board for almost 11 years.

Between approximately 1958 and 1979 the site was used by the Atherton Shire Council as a depot.[44] A Reserve for Local Government Purposes was gazetted in September 1958,[45] and again in 1973, after the northeast corner of the site was excised.[46]

The current use of the ARMCO igloo and the attached gabled building, as a theatre and props store respectively, resulted from the formation of the Atherton Performing Arts (APA) group in June 1979, when the Atherton Choral Society and Atherton Players combined.[47] APA was granted a lease of the workshops c1981.[48] The igloo was cleaned and refurbished, with removable additions, lighting and internal fixtures. A stage was built inside the igloo in 1982, and plans from that year include an office and kitchen (taking up half of the igloo’s floor-to-ceiling space) at the front (southwest end) of the igloo, either side of an entry foyer, with a lighting gallery above. The stage area in the rear (northeast) half of the igloo had a backstage area behind it, with two dressing rooms in the rear corners. Apart from new double doors at the front and rear of the igloo, a new exit to the northwest side of the front half of the igloo passed over a drain and between the rear of the adjacent gable roofed building and a ‘future toilet block’.[49] An exit is also shown on the northwest side at the rear of the igloo. A roller door was later added on the southeast side, at the rear of the igloo, about 1997.

In the 1982 plan, new sliding glass windows were to be added to either side of the rear doors, and new glass louvre panels above the doors (to supplement the existing two windows); while the front elevation was to be re-sheeted, with two new sliding glass windows to be added either side of the front doors, and one sliding glass window above the doors (replacing the original two windows). Neither of these configurations match the existing window arrangements in 2015 at either end of the igloo. The 1982 plans do not show the ventilators that currently exist along apex of the igloo.

The additions indicated on the 1982 plan were implemented in stages. In 1983 the roof metal was replaced at the front of the igloo, and a mezzanine floor for lighting was added at the front, while theatre lighting and auditorium carpet were later added. The kitchen was installed in the late 1980s;[50] dressing rooms, a makeup area and upstairs wardrobe areas were added in 1998, and a new backstage area was opened in 1999. New interlocking theatre seating was installed in 2009, and new carpet in 2011.[51] In its ongoing role, the ARMCO igloo has been used for youth theatre, concerts, plays, musicals, poetry, play readings and musical instrumental events, as well as regular Eisteddfods (festivals of literature, music and performance, originating in Wales).

Of the 10 ARMCO igloos erected at 13 AAOD, the APA theatre igloo is the last known surviving example on the Atherton Tablelands. The segmented-arch frame profile differs from the other steel-framed igloo types erected in WWII Queensland, such as Nissen or Quonset huts. Another ARMCO igloo, of the same size and framework structure, survives at Dutton Street in Cairns, and this may also have been moved from 13 AAOD.[52] Two other 100ft x 40ft (30.5m x 12.2m) ARMCO igloos, located at Ergon Energy’s McLeod Street Depot, Cairns were demolished in 2007. [53] A third igloo at the McLeod Street depot (frame type unconfirmed) survives, measuring 100ft x 60ft, (30.5m x 18.3m).

Other WWII igloos survive on the Tablelands at the Malanda Showgrounds (former theatre igloo, from Danbulla);[54] Rocky Creek (theatre igloo, timber frame) [QHR 601815]; and Wondecla (theatre igloo, timber frame); along with larger timber framed igloos at Mareeba (Beck’s aero museum); and Atherton (Merriland Hall) [QHR 602016]. There is also a steel-framed igloo at Malanda (a Mitre 10 store in 2015), which is possibly a larger (100ft x 60ft) ARMCO, but it was purchased post-war in a kit form;[55] and a steel-framed igloo (purchased in kit form, post-war)[56] exists on Railway Lane in Atherton (about 120ft x 90ft [136.5m x 27.4m]).

The ARMCO igloo and the adjacent gabled roof former workshop building are the last remnants of the Atherton Tableland Maize Marketing Boards’ complex in Atherton, as the silos and office were demolished between 2002 and 2010. The theatre buildings are now surrounded on three sides by car parking for the Silo Shopping Centre, located on the opposite side of Silo Road.


The Atherton Performing Arts Theatre (WWII Igloo) occupies part of a 1098m2 allotment on the western edge of Atherton’s central business district in the Tablelands Region of northern Queensland. The allotment is bounded by Silo Street to the southwest, Hopkins Road to the southeast and car-parking for the Silo Central Shopping Centre to the northeast and northwest. The buildings face southwest and comprise a steel-framed, igloo-style ARMCO hut, and a gabled-roof workshop (former) on the northwest side of the igloo. The two buildings are separated by a concrete surface drain. A low, skillion roof shelters the doorways that connect the two structures. Additional car-parking for the shopping centre is located in the southeast section of the allotment.

ARMCO igloo (State heritage significance)
The ARMCO igloo is a long, steel-framed structure that is semi-circular in section, has profiled and corrugated metal-clad end-walls, a corrugated metal-clad roof and a concrete slab floor. The metal wall and roof cladding is modern. The building is approximately 38ft 9in (11.81m) wide x 98ft 9in (30.10m) in length. It is primarily accessed via the front (southwest) elevation, with secondary entrances from the other three elevations. All doors, windows and external awnings are modern additions or replacements; with most moved from their original locations.

The steel framing structure is exposed to the interior. It is comprised of 21 D-shaped arches aligned at 1.5m intervals; with the feet of the arches set into the concrete slab. Each arch has eight 7ft 5in (2.26m) long, heavy gauge steel members of an 8x2in (20x5cm) channel (C)-section. The members are fastened to each other by a cleat and interlock at an angle – creating the overall, semi-circular form. The interlocking joints are each secured by nuts and bolts. Metal battens connect the external cladding to the arches.

The interior is divided into areas established by the building’s functioning as a performing arts hall. These areas include: a foyer, kitchen and office space at the southwest end; an auditorium and stage area in the centre; and a backstage area with dressing rooms at the northeast end. Separated from the external structure, modern lightweight partitions define each of the spaces. The floor of the auditorium is lined in modern carpet, and the modern stage area is raised with a timber structure.

Gabled-roof workshop (former) (not of state heritage significance)
The gabled-roof workshop has a corrugated metal-clad gable roof and a concrete slab floor. The interior comprises a single, open space that is two-storeys in height. At the rear of the workshop is a later skillion-roofed section, which includes a corrugated metal-clad passageway from the igloo, and a toilet wing with concrete block walls and a concrete slab floor.


[1] Although the term ‘igloo’ is widely used to describe any corrugated iron-clad building with a roof that forms a complete arch to the ground, in the Queensland context it has been more specifically applied to buildings with open-lattice box truss arches made of nailed hardwood timber. Although originally intended to be covered with camouflage netting and used as aircraft hideouts, in Queensland these igloos were sheeted with iron and used as warehouses, hangars, workshops and recreation halls. (Howard Pearce, 2009, ‘WWIINQ: a cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II’. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, pp.73-4; Margaret Pullar, July 1997, ‘Prefabricated WWII Structures in Queensland’, Report for the National Trust of Queensland, pp. 20-21). These timber-framed igloos generally had wider spans than prefabricated steel arch buildings such as Nissen, ARMCO or Quonset huts, which people also call ‘igloos’. Gable-roofed steel-framed prefabricated buildings used in Queensland in WWII included Sidney Williams huts, Bellman hangars and Butler hangars.
[2] ‘Barron Valley Hotel’, QHR 602587.
[3] ‘Kairi Maize Silos’, QHR 602631.
[4] Queensland State Archives Agency ID10965, ‘Atherton Tableland Maize Marketing Board’.
[5] ‘Kairi Maize Silos’, QHR 602631.
[6] ‘Newspaper articles also refer to ‘Athmaze’. In 1993, due to deregulation of the maize industry, the Board was dissolved and its assets and liabilities were transferred to the Athmaize Producers' Cooperative Association on 1 March 1994. Athmaize went into liquidation in 2002. (Kairi Maize Silos’, QHR 602631). The maize industry continues as a small section of the local economy, and dairy farming is now Atherton’s main industry.
[7] Vera Bradley, 1995. I didn’t know that: Cairns and Districts Tully to Cape York, 1939-1946, Service Personnel and Civilians, Boolarong Press, Moorooka, p.409. During 1943 USAAF units at Mareeba airfield were replaced with Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) units (‘Mareeba airfield’, Queensland WWII Historic Places,, accessed 9 July 2015).
[8] The Headquarters of the 1st Australian Army was in Atherton, and the HQ of 1st Australian Corps was at Tolga. (Bradley, I didn’t know that: Cairns and Districts Tully to Cape York, 1939-1946, Service Personnel and Civilians, pp.409-410.)
[9] ‘Australian Army Canteen Services warehouse’, Queensland WWII Historic Places,, accessed 12 June 1015.
[10] ’13 Australian Advanced Ordnance Depot’, Queensland WWII Historic Places,, accessed 12 June 2015. Australian Army General Hospitals were established at Rocky Creek, north of Tolga (‘Rocky Creek Hospital’, Queensland WWII Historic Places,, accessed 8 July 2015). In addition, a RAAF Advanced Chain Overseas (ACO) Radar Station operated from Bones Knob, west of Tolga (‘RAAF 220 Radar Station, Bones Knob’, Queensland WWII Historic Places,, accessed 8 July 2015).
[11] ‘Australian Army Canteen Services warehouse’, Queensland WWII Historic Places.
[12] Pearce, ‘WWIINQ’, p.59.
[13] For unit locations and dates, see: PD Wilson, 1988. North Queensland WWII 1942-1945. Department of Geographic Information, Brisbane, p.14; Bradley, I didn’t know that: Cairns and Districts Tully to Cape York, 1939-1946, Service Personnel and Civilians, pp.409-413; and Pearce, ‘WWIINQ’ pp. 21-27. The total Australian Army strength, including Militia divisions, peaked at 476,000 in August 1942, before being reduced.
[14] An Australian Army cordial factory was also built in Atherton. This was moved to Hopkins Road, east of the rear of the theatre igloo, sometime after WWII, but it was demolished in 2006 (Pearce, ‘WWIINQ’, p.118).
[15] After WWII the warehouse became a community centre, was renamed Merriland Hall, and was used by the Atherton Choral Society and the Atherton Players, amongst others (‘Merriland Hall’, QHR 602016).
[16] It was located north of Griffin Road and either side of Tate Road. The AWC also built Ordnance workshops for the Australian Army at Brisbane, Toowoomba, Townsville, Charters Towers and Baronta. (National Archives of Australia, Series BP262/2 Control Symbol 9178, Joint Parliamentary War Expenditure Advisory Committee visit to Queensland and Northern Territory 1944-45, ‘Appendix A, List of principal projects in Queensland,’ p.3.)
[17] NAA Series A5954, Control Symbol 286/3, Atherton Tableland Base Area, 14/12/42 - 23/11/44,
‘Appendix E. Schedule, Atherton Tableland Projects’. No other ARMCO huts of this type seem to have been erected by the Allied Works Council in Queensland, according to a list of buildings compiled by Margaret Pullar (‘Prefabricated WWII Structures in Queensland’, pp. 52-61). The three ARMCO ammunition stores ordered for Queerah (Cairns) in 1943, noted on this list, were most likely of a different type.
[18] The unit that supervised work on the AACS igloo in Atherton, the 54th Australian Deputy Commander Royal Engineers (Works), also constructed the large timber framed igloos at (13 AAOD) at Tolga., accessed 7 July 2015 (the AACS igloo);, accessed 8 July 2015 (13 AAOD igloos).
[19] NAA, Series BP262/2 Control Symbol 9178, Joint Parliamentary War Expenditure Advisory Committee visit to Queensland and Northern Territory 1944-45, ‘Memorandum, Joint Parliamentary War Expenditure Advisory Committee. Record of proceedings in Queensland, 5th October 1944 - 13th October 1944’, p.25. However, a 1944 plan of 13 AAOD (NAA FOLDER T FOLIO 31, Tolga – N’Q’land A.O.D. and A.E.M.E. Installations, 1944) shows 16 buildings 200ft x 100ft (61m x 30.5m); with the other two being about 100ft x 100ft. The location and size of these 18 large igloos is confirmed in a post-war aerial photograph of the site (QAP21-94, dated 14.8.1949, DNRM) There also appears to be 10 concrete slabs of about 100ft x 40ft (30.5m x 12.2m) in the 1949 aerial (in the Returned Stores Depot and Ordnance areas), which match the size of the 10 ARMCO igloos.
[20] ’13 Australian Advanced Ordnance Depot’, Queensland WWII Historic Places; Bradley, I didn’t know that: Cairns and Districts Tully to Cape York, 1939-1946, Service Personnel and Civilians, p.279.
[21] NAA FOLDER T FOLIO 31. Tolga – N’Q’land A.O.D. and A.E.M.E. Installations, 1944. Units at 13 AAOD included 5 Australian RSD, 1 Australian Advanced Workshop Salvage Unit, 7 Australian Ordnance Vehicle Park, 3 Australian Advanced Base Workshop Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (AEME), 124 Australian Forward Ordnance Depot, and 73 Australian Field Ammunition Depot. (Bradley, I didn’t know that: Cairns and Districts Tully to Cape York, 1939-1946, Service Personnel and Civilians, pp. 279-80, 409, 414; NAA Series A5954, Control Symbol 286/3, Atherton Tableland Base Area, 14/12/42 - 23/11/44, ‘Appendix A, Funds approved for Atherton Area’.)
[22] NAA, FOLDER T FOLIO 32. Tolga - Field Ammunition Depot, 1944; Bradley, I didn’t know that: Cairns and Districts Tully to Cape York, 1939-1946, Service Personnel and Civilians, p.280.
[23] ‘ARMCO Steel’,, accessed 19 June 2015.
[24] ‘Early start. New industries for Australia. Lysaght-ARMCO. Trade Diversion Policy Praised’, Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 19 September 1936, p.11.
[25] ‘ARMCO Works, start made’, Illawarra Mercury, 14 January 1938, p.9; ‘ARMCO works’, Illawarra Mercury, 13 January 1939, p.9.
[26] ‘Steel in the shape you need’ (advertisement), Sydney Morning Herald, 16 April 1943, p.3; NAA Series MP508/1, Control Symbol 305/715/897, Armco Pillbox, 1940-41.
[27] NAA Series MP150/1, Control Symbol 525/201/753, Construction of Armco shelters at Burua, Gladstone and Darra, Brisbane and their disposal after the war, 1942-48; Peter Dunn, ‘US Naval magazine and mine assembly depot at Camp Coot-tha at JC Slaughter Falls Mount Coot-tha, Brisbane.’ accessed 23 June 2015. Some examples of these ARMCO ammunition storage huts, with a floor space of 1000 square feet, survive on Mount Coot-tha. They did not use an arched framework system, as the corrugated steel provided sufficient structural support.
[28] ‘New constructional methods; save time, labour and materials in ARMCO pre-fabricated huts’ (advertisement), Sydney Morning Herald, 25 August 1943, p.5.
[29] Gabled ARMCO huts were 12ft, 20ft, 30ft or 40ft (3.7m, 6.1m, 9.1m, 12.2m) wide, and could be built in multiples of 10ft (3m) long. ARMCO igloos could also be 60ft (18.3m) or 100ft (30.5m) wide. (‘Safe storage in an ARMCO pressed steel hut!’ (advertisement), Sydney Morning Herald, 29 August 1944, p.5; ‘In your post-war plans include this ARMCO pressed steel frame hut’ (advertisement), Queensland Country Life, 16 August 1945, p.5; ‘ARMCO pressed-steel buildings’ (Advertisement) The Argus, 17 October 1945, p.6; ‘ARMCO pres-steel buildings’, (advertisement) The Argus, 8 January 1947, p.4; ‘Pre-fabricated steel buildings’ (advertisement) Queensland Country Life, 27 February 1947, p.10; ‘ARMCO pre-fabricated steel buildings’, (advertisement) The Courier Mail, 3 August 1954, p.8.)
[30] Regarding other known surviving buildings from 13 AAOD: a Sidney Williams hut from Tolga existed near Railway Lane, Atherton, in the 1990s (Pullar, ‘Prefabricated WWII Structures in Queensland’, p.70); while in 2009 a Sidney Williams hut survived on Hastie Road, Atherton. (Pearce, ‘WWIINQ’, p.118). A Sidney Williams hut and a cookhouse also survived in Tolga in the 1990s (Pullar, ‘Prefabricated WWII Structures in Queensland’, pp.74-5), but these are not mentioned in Pearce’s 2009 report.
[31] Cairns Post, 18 February 1947, p.8. Terne is a lead-tin alloy coating for steel cladding; black iron is steel without a protective coat.
[32] Courier Mail, 15 April 1947, p.12.
[33] ‘Correspondence: Atherton mash factory’, Cairns Post, 20 January 1947, p.5.
[34] ‘Atherton Maize Board: monthly meeting’, Cairns Post, 28 September 1945, p.4.
[35] ‘Maize Board; proposed igloo purchase’, Cairns Post, 25 October 1945, p.7.
[36] ‘Maize Board: monthly meeting’, Cairns Post, 25 March 1946, p.4
[37] ‘Serious bag shortage: Maize Board Concerned’, Cairns Post, 24 June 1947, p.4.
[38] Survey Plan A31931: 11.9.1946, DNRM. The land between the igloo site and the railway had previously been obtained by the Maize Board in 1941-42. (Deed of Grant, 20361058, DNRM; Deed of Grant 20364147, DNRM).
[39] Survey Plan A31935: 13.10.1949, DNRM.
[40] ‘No export license will cost Maize men £5 ton’, Townsville Daily Bulletin, 10 October 1947, p.10. The Board’s offices were in a building (demolished between 2002 and 2010) to the northwest of the workshops.
[41] ‘No export license will cost Maize men £5 ton’, Townsville Daily Bulletin, 10 October 1947, p.10.
[42] The igloo and the adjacent gabled building to its northwest are both present in a 1949 aerial photograph of Atherton (QAP21-167, 14.8.1949. DNRM).
[43] See aerial photographs QAP21-167, 14.8.1949, DNRM; and QAP140-138, 21.6.1951, DNRM.
[44] Information from applicant.
[45] See annotation on Survey Plan A31935, 13.10.1949, DNRM; also Title Reference 49008274, DNRM.
[46] See annotation on Survey Plan A31949, 13.10.1972, DNRM; also Title Reference 49008274, DNRM.
[47] Information from applicant.
[48] Information from applicant.
[49] ‘Alteration and improvements to building for Atherton Performing Arts: at Silo Road, Atherton’, N.W. Johnston, drawing No.915, 1 June 1982.
[50] Photographs provided by the applicant indicate that the kitchen, and its window to the left of the igloo’s front doors, was added c1986-7. The rest of the igloo’s cladding also appears to have been replaced at some point.
[51] Information and dates supplied by applicant.
[52] The ARMCO igloo in Dutton Street, Cairns was moved to the site after 1952.
[53] The McLeod Street igloos were apparently surplus military buildings relocated from the Martyn Street council depot after WWII. (Gordon Grimwade, November 2004, ‘Heritage Assessment of the McLeod Street, Cairns Depot’, Gordon Grimwade and Associates, Yungaburra, pp.12-16.) The two igloos, which were at the McLeod Street site by 1949 (aerial photograph QAP81-108, 14.11.1949, DNRM), are identified as Quonset huts in the Gordon Grimwade heritage assessment, but the framework matches the ARMCO style; 100ft x 40ft Quonset hut arches form a smooth curve, and are spaced 4ft (1.2m) apart.
[54] Pearce, ‘WWIINQ’, p.119; ‘Malanda show: meeting of committee’, Cairns Post, 20 July 1946, p.4. The Malanda theatre igloo is steel framed, according to ‘WWII Igloo’ (Reported Place) EHP.
[55] Information (regarding post-war purchase) from applicant.
[56] ‘Home hardware Igloo’ (Reported Place) 638907, EHP.

Image gallery


Location of Atherton Performing Arts Theatre (WWII Igloo) within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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