By Gary Pearson
Many locals and tourists alike are unaware of Brisbane, Australia’s storied past, in part exemplified by MacArthur Central, an ornate Renaissance-style building heralding the city’s wartime association with General Douglas MacArthur.
Known more for its laidback, short-and-singlet wearing inhabitants than its celebrated history, Brisbanites will often walk by the ornate building unaware of its historical importance.
MacArthur Central, located on the corner of Queen and Edward Street in the city’s core, was the Allied forces’ Southwest Pacific area headquarters during the final two years of World War II.
General MacArthur, according to his biography and other verifiable accounts, arrived in Australia in March 1942 after narrowly escaping the Philippines. He arrived in Brisbane, after a brief stint in Melbourne, where he resided until war’s end.
Brisbane’s daily newspaper, the Courier Mail, never got wind of the General’s clandestine arrival, preventing the daily publication an opportunity to report on a headlining story.
Brisbane celebrated the 70th anniversary of MacArthur’s arrival in July 2012. As Commander in Chief of the South West Pacific region, MacArthur oversaw the Allies’ war efforts from his Brisbane offices.
His offices, now located at MacArthur Museum, were chosen due to the building’s central location and spacious interior.
And while MacArthur Central has since been turned into a commercial shopping complex, the former General’s surname remains inscribed on the building for all to see.
Modernistic and aesthetically pleasing, Brisbane is gaining worldwide recognition for its hip and happening culture, its quaint watering holes and its propensity for fun in the sun, but one needs to claw deeper to appreciate its opulent historical riches.