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The Woomera rocket range

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Thank you to everyone who has read or contributed to The Bucket during the last 5  years, especially Snowy who encouraged me from the very beginning and introduced me to the following exquisite video about happiness , thankfulness and appreciating this wonderful world in which we live.    Take care of yourself, others, and the planet.

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It must be that I am an unrecognised and untapped keg of astute political potential. An unhatched egg of statesmanship, just waiting to be sat upon for 28 days by some warm maternal stateswoman before I hatch into a consummate fully-fledged featherer of my own nest.

Sir Robert Menzies was Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister.  His bushy eyebrows reigned imperiously and paternally over my generation of baby boomers during the 1950’s and beyond.
Menzies and I have something very important in common.

We both issued identical public statements.

“I did but see her passing by, and yet I’ll love her till I die.”

Menzies grovelled this to the Mother Country in 1954 after Queen Elizabeth’s first royal visit to Australia.

Queen

Some time later, coincidentally and auspiciously, I came out with the same phrase in appreciation of the following, although etymological nit-pickers could perhaps technically argue that I arrived at the word ‘love’ after a slightly less rigorous thought process than Menzies.

So now we’ve established conclusively that Sir Robert and Sir (potentially) GOF are really just two peas in the same leadership pod.
Except that he is dead and to the best of my knowledge I’m not.

Therefore I am a Prime Ministerial time bomb just waiting to be detonated.

Be that as it may. Let’s now return to Menzies and the Woomera story.

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Sir Robert loved the Queen so much that he allowed her English subjects to come and test their nuclear weapons and fire their rockets in our Australian backyard instead of their own.
This was necessary because the only piece of vacant land in all of Great Britain, M.C.C. Lords, was occasionally being used for games of cricket, and radioactive explosions were deemed to be potentially detrimental to both the hallowed turf and spectator attendance.

map4

This establishment in South Australia was originally named the Woomera Test Facilty but was eventually given a name change. Something to do with an embarrassing anagram, so it became the Woomera Test Range, but I think it should remain WTF forever.

1. WTF was the Government of the day thinking by ever allowing nuclear testing at Maralinga in this pristine albeit remote environment.

2. WTF were they thinking by gathering unprotected men together on top of a sandhill to watch the atomic blasts for the purpose of shooting publicity films. “Just to be safe boys, backs facing the blast, but then immediately turn around to watch the pretty mushroom cloud.”

3. WTF was the unconscionable disregard for the traditional aboriginal landowners, many of whom suffered the consequences of downwind nuclear fallout.

When the nuclear nonsense ended, Woomera was used to test-fire missiles. Skylarks, Black Knights and Europas. Like naughty little boys playing with gunpowder rockets in the backyard, debris came crashing back to earth causing annoyance to the neighbours……in this case, a handful of broad-acre pastoralists.

In response, the Government supplied each farmer with a ‘bomb shelter’ in which to safely hide, along with advance notification of missile test-firing schedules.

Woomera rocket shelter

In the words of one pastoralist;

“These ******* shelters provided an excellent ******* cellar in which to store food, wine and machinery spare parts, as well as being a perfect viewing platform.  We would grab a beer and sit on top of the ******* shelter and watch all the ******* rockets whizzing overhead.”

The laconic Aussie outback spirit was alive and well back then.

It still is.

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P.S.  Woomera is now a tourist attraction. The National Missile Park.

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