Camp Columbia

Camp Columbia in Brisbane was set up by the Americans in 1942 as a staging camp for the liberation of the Southwest Pacific. When the Americans moved on to Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea in 1944, the Dutch took over Camp Columbia. It was used by the Netherlands East Indies Government in Exile as their staging camp for the liberation and recolonisation of the Dutch East Indies.

Prisoners Camp Tanah Merah

 In 1943 the Dutch has moved senior political prisoners from the 1925 uprising to Tanah Merah to Australia.  When The Australian realised, they were political prisoners, the Dutch were forced to release them. These Indonesians became the major force in a foreign country to start lobbying for independence. This among other things led to one of the largest maritime boycotts in history, when the Australian wharfies black banned Dutch shipping to Indonesia, this strike is known as the Black Armada.

Black Armada
Dutch-Indonesian Roundtable 1949

While Australia had supported the Dutch during the war, they didn’t support the recolonisation and in the end became the main supporters of Indonesian independence. We are using the last remains of Camp Columbia to create a Heritage Park where we can tell the story of the international aspects of Camp Columbia (Australia, America, Netherlands, Indonesia). It has been difficult to get support for the Indonesian side of the story and any assistance would be greatly appreciated.


Ross Fitzgerald and Graham Irvine, “The Tanah Merah Exiles in Australia”, Quadrant vol.53 no.11 (2009): 42-44.