Torrens Island InterneesPrint Page Print this page

The Memorial is dedicated to the people of German, Polish and Austro-Hungarian descent who were interned in the camp in 1914 as “enemy aliens” following the outbreak of World War One. 

The Torrens Island camp, ten kilometres from Adelaide, housed around 400 German men during the war.  They lived in tents and slept on groundsheets rather than beds. Food supplies to the camp were irregular and the internees were required to do their own cooking on camp fires. While the conditions were difficult, for the first few months the internees made the best of their situation, making plans for a theatre and organising entertainment for themselves.

The situation changed in early 1915 with the appointment of Captain G. E. Hawkes, under whose command the internees faced ill-treatment and physical abuse as well as the poor living conditions.  After the internees made their grievances publicly known, Captain Hawkes was removed from command, the camp was closed and the internees were transferred to Holsworthy in New South Wales. Two Courts of Enquiry were held into the management of the camp.



Address:Grand Trunkway & Garden Island Road, Garden Island, 5960
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.810194
Long: 138.525306
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Conflict


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Friday 16th October, 2009
Front Inscription
Torrens Island
Internment Camp

This plaque is dedicated to the memory of the 400 German, Polish and Austro-Hungarian "enemy aliens" who were interned on Torrens Island during World War 1.

An enemy alien in law is a citizen of a country in a state of conflict with the land in which he or she is located. 

The camp on Torrens Island was opened on 9 October 1914 and closed on 16 August 1915.

Prior to the internment camp opening, internees had been detained at Keswick Army Barracks, where the fourth military district had the authority to intern enemy aliens.

On 29 October 1914, the Commonwealth parliament passed the War Precautions Act. This gave the military authorities wide-ranging powers to intern enemy aliens. Under the act, any naturalised subject who was disaffected or disloyal could be placed under arrest, searched and interned. Any Australian- born British subject of enemy descent who were believed to be disloyal could also be interned. 

When the Torrens Island Internment Camp closed, the prisoners were relocated to camps in Liverpool, Berrima and Holdsworthy in NSW. They remained there until the end of the war. 

Plaque unveiled by Hon. Patrick Conlon
MP, South Australian Minister for
Transport, Infrastructure and Energy and
State Member for Port Adelaide on
16 October 2009.

Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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