From out of the tangle of bushland on a western Lake Macquarie peninsula, in NSW's Hunter region, concrete reminders of the fight to defend Australia during World War II have emerged.
The remains of the Wangi Wangi gun emplacement have been conserved by Lake Macquarie City Council, with some vegetation removed from around four octagonal pits and an underground command post that are almost 80 years old.
"This is really something," said Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser, as she looked around the wartime facility perched on the ridge at Wangi Wangi Point.
Cr Fraser said she had never visited the site before.
"It needs to be protected," she said.
"It's such an important part of our history. Most Lake Macquarie residents wouldn't know it's here."
Showing the mayor around the emplacement was Scott Munro, from the Wangi Wangi RSL Sub-branch Club, which for years had been pushing for the site to be conserved.
Scott Munro said the emplacement had been part of the local coastal defence network, at a time when there were still fears Australia could be invaded by Japan.
The emplacement was completed in late 1942, in the midst of World War II. It was designed to operate as an anti-aircraft installation.
"This was a major site, because if offered protection to the RAAF base at Rathmines and the radar station at Catherine Hill Bay," Mr Munro said.
"They were both major east coast facilities, so it was vital this emplacement was here."
Scott Munro explained each of the four octagonal structures held a large 3.7" anti-aircraft gun.
The guns' shells could have reached more than 7600 metres into the air.
Each gun had a crew of 11. In the command post, there were up to 14 military personnel.
At the time, the bushland around the emplacement would have been cleared, Mr Munro said.
The site was relatively isolated, and many of the supplies were brought in by water, with a jetty on Wangi Point.
The guns of Wangi Wangi were never fired in anger, Mr Munro said, and by the end of 1943, as the threat of attack subsided, the facility was decommissioned and the guns were removed.
Gradually time and the bush covered over much of what was here.
"There were very few people living out here who knew about it, so it just got lost in history," Mr Munro said of the site.
The council's conservation and interpretation project, funded by a $50,000 Heritage NSW grant, has been about recovering history.
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Tim Browne, the council's manager of environmental systems, said some vegetation was removed and trees pruned around the emplacement, so that it didn't continue to cause the deterioration of the historical structures.
"We've been able to blend some good environmental outcomes with heritage," Mr Browne said, explaining that as well as weeding and some vegetation removal, about 240 plants had been placed around two of the former gun pits.
"We've got a double bang for our buck, in terms of not letting the vegetation impact on the emplacements any further."
This project is almost complete, with information signs to be installed in March.
But there is more work to be done in saving the site's heritage, as Scott Munro pointed out when the trio explored the bunker in the old command post.
The dank and graffiti-scrawled space could be restored and used as an exhibition area, he said.
Cr Fraser saw the site's potential as a tourist attraction.
"We can showcase Lake Macquarie's history, and they can come up here and have a picnic, go walking, and you've got the beautiful lake there," she said, referring to the water views filtered through the trees.
Scott Munro saw the gun emplacement as playing another role, to commemorate those who served on Wangi Point, for he felt those on home soil were often overlooked.
"The soldiers who were here, they were sort of forgotten," he said. "They were part of the war effort. They were in the service. They could have been attacked. But you don't hear anything about them."
Cr Fraser agreed it was high time to not just conserve the wartime structures but to acknowledge the "unsung heroes" who defended Australia.
"It warms my heart to think we're actually looking at history and bringing it back," she said.
"It's time now for us to reflect and to bring it back to what it was, to talk about history, and to talk about those people who were up here."