Bourke, New South Wales (1915–18)

Internees inside the Bourke gaol, 1915 (AWM P00595.14)

Bourke in far north-western New South Wales became the wartime residence for German families deported from the Straits Settlements (now Singapore and Malaysia), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Fiji and Hong Kong, as well as some local internees. They were not housed in an enclosed camp as in other locations. Those who could afford it rented small cottages in the town, while others were accommodated in the gaol and later in a disused hotel.

The families could move around the town during the day, but there was little for them to do there. The small number of internees meant that camp community activities did not develop as they did elsewhere.

In 1918, the internees were moved from Bourke to the newly-built camp at Molonglo, outside Canberra, in the then Federal Capital Territory.


The National Archives holds records about the Bourke camp. A selection of these is listed below.

Collection references

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2018