Birkdale Olympic Whitewater Venue Faces Controversy Over WWII Radio Antenna Removal

Birkdale Olympic Whitewater Venue

Plans for the construction of a $100-million Birkdale Olympic whitewater venue have ignited a heated debate due to the revelation that a heritage-listed World War II radio antenna, along with associated structures, could be dismantled to make way for the project. 

The State Government has initiated a 60-day cost analysis for all proposed Olympic projects in Brisbane’s bayside area, with the fate of the Birkdale Olympic whitewater venue hanging in the balance. 

Heritage Protection Clashes with Olympic Aspirations

The historic World War II radio receiving station building, along with its antenna and radio poles, enjoys heritage protection. Whilst the tower in question was built after the war and is not listed, the building itself has been safeguarded for years. 

The controversy arises from the need to remove the heritage-listed 1943 radio antenna with four posts to facilitate road construction and other project works to prepare for the Olympics. The Birkdale location is also complicated by the Willards Farm, raising environmental concerns, including the presence of koalas in the area.

Supporters of other locations contend that choosing the Penrith site for the Olympic whitewater venue could save $100 million, highlighting that Olympic venues can be located outside the host state.

Historical Significance of Birkdale Site

Situated on Old Cleveland Rd East, the Birkdale site holds historical significance as the place where Australia received the first message of the Japanese surrender, marking the end of WWII in the Pacific. It includes an original brick building that once served as a Postmaster-Generals office.

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In 2020, it was added to Queensland’s Heritage Register after the Redland City Council acquired the land for community purposes from the Federal Government in 2019. The agreement with the Federal Government stipulated the development of a heritage management plan and protection of the radio station, which comprises an antenna and four posts in a rhombic array.

US Army Radio Receiving Station
Photo Credit: Queensland Heritage Register

Redland City Council asserts that the diamond-shaped antenna array, whilst heritage-listed, is located east of the receiving station and away from the proposed whitewater centre. It will be removed to simplify the construction of the precinct’s access roads. 

The Council compiled a costings briefing of the Birkdale Olympic whitewater venue as three of the site’s four antenna posts are at risk of being damaged. The plan underscored that these posts will be stored temporarily whilst the construction is ongoing. These posts will later be re-erected in the same location under the guidance of an expert from the Australian Heritage Specialists contracted by the council. 

Meanwhile, locals are encouraged to have their say on this plan, as well as other plans for the Olympic venues by emailing

Published 21-Jan-2024