If you’re interested in disused railway tunnels then the May 2008 issue of Australian Railway History (it’s out in the newsagents as the moment) has a very interesting article on the old tunnels at Glenbrook, west of Penrith, Clarence east of Lithgow and at Marrangaroo, west of Lithgow.

Australian Railway History magazineBoth localities were used to store mustard gas and other chemical weapons that the RAAF had imported from England in the form of bombs in the early part of World War II.

The article is of particular interest to me because my first wife’s father was in the RAAF during and after the war and was stationed at both localities.

He has since passed away but I can clearly remember him telling my wife and I of the time he and several other stores personnel were actually gassed at Glenbrook and were rushed to hospital.

He was then moved to Marrangaroo and was there when the Japanese midget submarines attaced Sydney Harbour. Evidently the attack caused such a panic that the Marrangaroo depot … which housed a lot of munitions not just mustard gas … received instructions to evacuate all the munitions from the depot and hide them in the rough country behind the depot.

And that was very rough country indeed … evidently at times the trucks transporting the munitions into that country had to be winched up steep inclines. Such was the rush to clear everything out of the depot that no one kept accurate records of where various loads of munitions were dumped and when it came time to recover the hidden bombs etc. not everything could be found.

My father-in-law was very clear about the fact that quite a few of the chemical warfare weapons were never recovered because no one could remember where they had been hidden.

So the bombs are still out there and the area where the munitions depot once stood has become much more populated than it once was.

To read more about Australia’s involvement with chemical weapons go to Chemical Warfare in Australia.