Rectangle: Rounded Corners: GOING PLACES-WOOMERA S.A.

Heading north from Port Augusta in South Australia, we decided to stop for the night at Woomera, some 446 klms up along the Stuart Highway. It was ideal as it is roughly halfway to Coober Pedy, our destination. The area is the traditional land of the Kokatha Aboriginal people.

We booked into the spacious Woomera Travellerís Village & Caravan Park, on the corner of Banool Ave &, Pimba Rd, to set up our camper trailer, which was on its maiden voyage after having been being built by myself & a good friend for just such trips.

We arrived in the afternoon & despite it being quite a warm August afternoon, the fireplace was roaring in the shop, with a glowing fire.

The township was commenced in 1946 after the Australian government received a formal request from Britain to establish a rocket range nearby, ideal for its isolated location & close proximity to the rail siding at Pimba.

In June 1946 the first plane landed on the temporary airstrip.

Woomera was established in 1947 as a site for launching British rockets, with the town to service the military establishment.

A regular RAAF courier service was provided for travel, food, mail and supplies for people who were building the range.

Construction of the village was finished in 1953. The area was a prohibited one for the general public to enter until 1982. By 1970, The height of the cold war, the town had a population of around 7000 people, mainly army & scientific personnel. Today there are approx.150 permanent residents.

Having set up camp, we ventured into the almost eerie deserted township, which was like stepping back into time. The corrugated iron buildings were straight out the 1950ís.

The Woomera Aircraft and Missile Park Museum has a fascinating collection of rockets that were tested in the area, along with other military flight artifacts.

We finally found The Woomera Heritage Centre, by following the sound of people coming from it, otherwise there was no signage to the venue, when we were there. This building was the former recreation center for USAF personnel and their families from Nurrungar. It features a cafe, a tenpin bowling alley (which was installed by the US Air Force personnel stationed there, a modern interactive display and interpretive center covering the full life of the Range, a souvenir shop, and a significant display of regional history.

Other attractions include a movie theatre, swimming center, a well-stocked general store and bottle shop, along with two main clubs which offer counter meals on a Thursday (RSL Club) and Friday (Sports Club) nights.

Recently, tours have been offered from Woomera to the UK nuclear testing site of Maralinga some 9 hours away, after it was deemed safe to do so. Hmmmm pass thanks.

The thing that struck us was the beautiful clear night skies, with millions of stars & the Milky Way visible, along with the many mutant mosquitoes, I swear they were armor piercing ones, as they were penetrating through layer upon layer of clothing.

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† More on the Travellerís Village & Caravan Park facilities