ACT Heritage Library Manuscript Collection

HMSS 0260 Italians at the Blue Range Huts During World War II Oral History Project


Scope and Content Notes


Call Number

HMSS 0260


Italians at the Blue Range Huts During World War II Oral History Project

Date Range



0.09  (1 manuscript box)

Access Conditions


Copying Conditions

to be determined

Related Collections



Historical information from Michelle Couzens, Blue Range Camp 1943-1954, 1992. H 994.7 COUZ.

Blue Range Camp, in the Uriarra area, was first European settlement was in 1843 when the McDonald family were the first European family to settle in the area.  Prior to the McDonalds, the Uriarra area was a ceremonial gathering place for local Aborigines.

The Commonwealth resumed the Macdonald's land in 1912 and in 1926 it was decided to solve the erosion problem resluting from over-grazing by sheep and rabits, by planing pine trees (Pinus radiata).  The planting of pine trees continued and in 1943 the labour for this task was provided by establishing a camp at Blue Range for interned Italian Nationals.  At its peak the camp comprised of a galley (Blue Range Hut), a show hut, a wash room and toilet, approximately 20 two-man huts, various tents, a tool shed and an equipment store.  The men there were working for the Forestry and Timber bureau replanting trees and keeping down the scrub in the forest areas. 

The ACT Trades and Labour Council protested against the introduction of italian labour into the ACT.  The Prime Minister's Department in 1945 replied by saying that the camps were without guard and they felt it was safe to let them remain where they were.  They were employed on work of national importance because of the grave shortage of man-power and that none of them would be allowed to remain in Australia unless they were likely to make desirable citizens.

The camp was closed in 1954 and some of the huts moved to the Uriarra settlement. In 1966 ACT Forestry began to develop the Blue Range Camp site as a picnic and camping area and in 1985 a marble plaque was unveiled by the Italian Ambassador to commemorate the Italian contribution to the area.

All remaining buildings on the site were destroyed in the bushfires of January 2003.

In 2003, an ACT Heritage Grant was awarded for the oral history recording of Italian Internees at Blue Range Huts During World War II. 

Partners were the World Neighbours Education project, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad, the Multicultural Arts Officer at Arts & Recreation Training ACT, and the Australian Society of the Study of Labour History, Canberra Region. 

The only former internee available for interview was Ralph Panucci.  He was interviewed by Rose Costelloe, an administrative assistant assisting the ACT Multicultural Arts Officer. 

Transcriptions of of the interview along with some documentation of the project were produced and bound together and made available in the ACT Heritage Library as part of the grant acquittal in 2004. Italians at the Blue Range Huts During World War II.  The Story of Ralph Panucci.  A report of the oral history project Italian Internees at Blue Range Huts During World War II, 2004. H 940.531794 ITAL

Copies of the audio cassettes oral history recordings and video recordings of a television interview with Ralph Panucci were discovered in the Noel Butlin Archives Centre, ANU and transferred to the ACT Heritage Library in June 2011.  There are no permission forms in any of the reproduced documentation, nor with the material at ANU.  The ANU Archives does not require the material and has transferred responsibility to the ACT Heritage Library, although it will offer excess copies of the recordings to COASIT.







Oral History Interview with Ralph Panucci.  Cassette 1 Side B, Cassette 2, Sides A and B

3 copies of each cassette

4 November 2003


Recorded conversation between Ralph Panucci, Rose Costelloe and employees from ACT Forests including Dave Jamieson, Grant Cameron, Nadia Kuzmanoski and Samantha McKay.  Cassette 1, Side A

3 copies of each cassette

4 November 2003


Interview concerning the project with Andrea Close on ABC Local Radio 666

3 copies of each cassette

6 November 2003


Video Recording of interview with Ralph Panucci by SBS Television?

2 copies of video cassette