The 1st Recruit Training Battalion (1RTB) was established at Kapooka in November 1951, with Lieutenant Colonel V.E. Dowdy appointed as the first Commanding Officer. During 1952 and 1953, 1RTB was joined by 2nd Recruit Training Battalion in temporary buildings on the ridge south of the main camp.
Most of the current facilities were constructed during 1965 and 1966 and were officially opened on 6 December 1966 by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Roden Cutler, VC, KCMG, CBE. 1RTB conducted training for both national service and regular Army recruits, and during the Vietnam conflict between 1965 and 1972, in excess of ten thousand National Servicemen trained at Kapooka.
In 1985 Kapooka became responsible for the training of female recruits, who were previously trained at Georges Heights in Sydney and in 1993, Kapooka took on the additional responsibility of training reserve recruits.
The Army Adventurous Training Wing moved from Bonegilla to Kapooka in 1998 and on 1 December of that year the Army Recruit Training Centre was officially established. HQ ARTC commands the 1st Recruit Training Battalion and the Army Adventurous Training Wing. ARTC is appropriately called the 'Home of the Soldier'.
For more information on the history of the Australian Army, please visit the Army History Unit.
Kapooka Tragedy Memorial
In May 1945, Australia suffered a horrific military training accident when an explosion at the Kapooka Army Base resulted in the death of 26 men.
According to ABC's Anne Delaney, "Trainee sappers (engineers) and Royal Australian Engineers Training Centre staff were conducting training in the preparation of hand charges when a massive explosion destroyed the dugout they were in, and killed 26 men."
To view Anne Delaney's story on the Kapooka Tragedy Memorial visit the ABC.