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Glenelg Air Raid Shelter

Home > Adelaide > Remembrance Day | Places of Interest | Museums | Historic Houses | ANZAC Day
by Kat May (subscribe)
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Published April 8th 2018
An important piece of Adelaide's history for you to view
Adelaide has a number of air raid shelters, built during World War 2. After the bombing at Darwin, the government of the day became concerned and decided to build at great expense, shelters all over Adelaide. They are about eight located all over Adelaide. One is in Unley right next to the local Town Hall, now painted in a bright mural you would not know what it was in the past. The shelters were built for a communications network, with the head office secretly located in the basement of the Savings Bank of SA in King William St.

Glenelg Air Raid Shelter
Visitors to the museum reading the information about local history. Image by Kat May.

The plan was that if Adelaide was to be attacked, top government officers and communications people would be sent directly to the shelters. But the worst never happened. The shelters were never used for the purpose they were built, but they were used by air raid wardens and as emergency supply stores. The buildings were then used by the community or closed up and never used at all after the war.

Glenelg Air Raid Shelter
Image by Kat May

Glenelg Air Raid Shelter
Image by Kat May

Now owned and protected by the City of Glenelg after a long history of various owners. It was even once been used as a change room for the football teams playing at nearby Glenelg Oval which backs onto the property.

Glenelg Air Raid Shelter
Mind your step! Image by Kat May

The air raid shelter at Glenelg is the only one in Adelaide that is open to the public. The deep solid underground bunker now houses a small museum and is open on the 3rd Sunday of the month. Also open ANZAC Day 1-4pm and Remembrance Day November 11th 1-4pm. From the outside, the shelter just looks like a large concrete block above ground, but once you walk down the steep stairs, you are in a man-made underground cave, which is much bigger than it looks from outside.

A visit here is a must if you are interested in local history or war nostalgia. For me, it was a visit more interesting than I thought it was going to be. Take a look at the old photographs and war collectables on display. There are posters with written information about local soldiers and a very grand photograph of a battalion gathered on Mosely Square, with all the local resident and dignitaries there to see them off to war.

Glenelg Air Raid Shelter
The photograph of the 43rd Battalion in Mosely Square, Glenelg 1916.

Glenelg Air Raid Shelter
Friendly volunteers have all the answers on local history. Image by Kat May.

There are always some volunteers on duty to tell you the role of the shelter during wartime and they know a lot of local history. This place is worth a look if you are taking a visit to Glenelg or after doing the Glenelg Mansions Walking Tour.

Those interested in local war heroes would enjoy combining an outing here with the Bay To The Battlefield exhibition on until end of November 2018. There is so much more to do in Glenelg than visit the beach. Glenelg is the birthplace of modern Adelaide and there are many stories and secrets spots to learn about.
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Why? For war and history buffs.
When: Open 1-4pm 3rd Sunday of the month, Anzac Day and Rememberance Day
Where: Rugless Terrace, Glenelg (next to the Glenelg Football Oval)
Cost: Gold coin donation
Your Comment
Great article thanks. There are actually two other shelters that are open to the public on occasion, at Prospect and Thebarton.
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11307) 1295 days ago
The Prospect Air Raid Shelter is also having a tour as part of History Festival - Sunday 6th May at 3pm - bookings essential, via Eventbrite. Hosted by Prospect Local History Group.
by pauli (score: 0|2) 1294 days ago
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