WA BOMB SHELTER SELLS

The converted bomb shelter is on 2 hectares in Bullsbrook, north of Perth.

Article Lead - wide997805163gi2fl6image.related.articleLeadwide.729x410.gi2fe3.png1435797619913.jpg-620x349The arched ceiling and use of the existing 100-square-metre space has created roomy living areas.

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How much would you pay for an old bomb shelter?

This property at Bullsbrook, about an hour north of Perth, just sold for $490,000. For the price, the new owners have a one-bedroom, one-bathroom bunker converted to a hills hideaway with all the comforts of modern life.

But they didn’t just buy a house, they also bought a piece of Australian military history dating back to World War II – and with a mysterious past.

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The HF/DF station in the Wheatbelt, visible from the Merredin-Chandler Road, played a key role in wartime radio communication.

Officially, the building is an RAAF high-frequency direction-finding station built in 1942. HF/DF was used during WWII to detect enemy radio signals and provide navigation aid for friendly aircraft.

But no one knows for sure what went on behind its thick, reinforced walls, built from hand-mixed concrete and designed for serious protection.

Another former HF/DF building dating back to the 1940s still stands on private property near Merredin, east of Perth in WA’s Wheatbelt region, and is now used to store farming supplies.

Merredin Military Museum curator Rob Endersbee said the history of the building, and others like it, was vague. They were used to track enemy radio signals and were known as radar huts.

“From what we can tell, there were seven across Australia,” Mr Endersbee said. “They were top-secret at the time.”

Other military structures, including fuel tanks, hangars and munitions bunkers, also remain in and around the town, finding new popularity in the 1960s and 70s among local youth as illicit party venues.

Mr Endersbee said the structures had walls up to 40mm thick, reinforced by steel or jarrah, and built to be bomb-proof.

Some were covered in gravel to look like hills. According to rumour, pieces of corrugated iron were also used to help disguise the buildings and reflect upwards so they appeared as puddles of water from the air.

The Bullsbrook house is about 5 kilometres from RAAF Base Pearce, WA’s main air force base.

Today, the thick walls are a selling point as insulation against WA’s hot summers and the cold Perth Hills winters.

Agent Samantha Hill, of Peard Real Estate, sold the property last month. She said the listing attracted plenty of interest, especially among people just keen for a look inside.

As Australia commemorates the Anzac centenary, there is renewed interest in the nation’s military history.

Residential properties incorporating preserved relics of wartime can still be found, even in urban areas.

Bombs away …

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This art deco property in the Perth coastal suburb of City Beach, reportedly housed US Air Force personnel during WWII, with its roof terrace serving as a lookout over the Indian Ocean. It once had a big air-raid shelter accessible from the backyard.

A wooden outhouse-style structure covered in potato vine conceals the entrance to the original WWII bomb shelter at this property in Williamstown, Victoria.

The bomb shelter built as part of this stately clinker-brick house in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda now serves as a wine cellar and a safe.

And, more than 60 years after it was built, a former munitions bunker on a property in Gawler, SA, continues its tradition of active service as a teenagers’ retreat.

 

Thanks domain.com.au

Photos: Peard Real Estate Swan Valley