Fort Lytton - History and Facts | History Hit

Fort Lytton

Bulwer Island, Queensland, Australia

Fort Lytton 19th century garrison which helped protect Brisbane until the end of World War II.

Peta Stamper

01 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Fort Lytton

Fort Lytton is a 19th century fortress which formed the focus of Queensland’s defensive forces, protecting Brisbane until the end of World War Two. Fort Lytton today is a heritage-listed site, located in Brisbane’s suburb of Lytton.

Fort Lytton history

Built from 1880-1882, Fort Lytton was originally a response to fears of colonial naval attacks on Brisbane from powers such as Russia or France. At the time, colonial Australia shared the competitors of the British Empire, and recognised that Brisbane was particularly vulnerable to attack from the French naval base of Noumea, a three-day-sail away.

The fort was designed by Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Scratchley, a British colonial officer, and was constructed in typical pentagonal shape, hidden within a grassy mound and surrounded by a moat on the mouth of the Brisbane river.

The fort’s purpose was to prevent enemy vessels accessing the river, initially achieved with a remote-controlled minefield across the river mouth and heavy artillery. Fort Lytton also served as a major training base, training soldiers for the Boer War, World War One and World War Two there, as well as Queenland’s reserve soldiers.

Fort Lytton took on new significance during the Second World War, now part of a much larger defence system. One of Fort Lytton’s roles was as ‘Inner Inspection Station’ due to its inner defensive position: the fort sent inspection parties to board ships, ensuring they were safe to continue up river.

At the war’s end, Fort Lytton quickly closed down, and only a signal station remained in operation during the Korean War until 1965. The fort’s last defence operation was in the same year, when the signals gathered information of an ‘Indonesian coup’ resulting in the rise of General Suharto. Soon after, the fort was handed to Ampol oil company to build the Lytton Oil Refinery.

Fort Lytton today

Today, Fort Lytton is Queensland’s foremost military exhibit, offering well-preserved and extensive historic fortifications, Queensland’s largest military museum and regular military re-enactments to be explored by visitors. Admission, guided tours and car parking are free from 10am-4pm including Sundays and most public holidays. An interesting day out for families to history lovers.

Getting to Fort Lytton

If driving from Brisbane, Fort Lytton is a 25 minute journey via State Route 23. Via public transport, the buses 111, 169, and 555 will take you to Buranda Station, where you can get the SHCL train to Wynnum North and walk 2.4km to Lytton.

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