In the post World War 2 years, South Australia played a key role in national and international defence research and development. Two establishments in particular, Salisbury's Weapons Research Establishment and the Woomera Rocket Range brought Britain and Australia into world prominence in rocket technology following hotly on the heels of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. To many people, the goings-on at these establishments have been shrouded in secrecy. This, of course was by design, not by accident. Public entry to these areas was prohibited and the comings and goings of staff and visitors were closely controlled. My family have been involved with WRE/DSTO and Woomera from 1966 until recently. My father and I still take an interest in the continuing space developments at Woomera where we lived for ten years. (1966-76). My father, mother and sister worked at the Defence Science & Technology Organization (DSTO), Salisbury until a few years ago. I visited Woomera for it's 50th anniversary in April 97, and two reports with pictures can be accessed from the internal links below.
Woomera's 50th Birthday Reunion with pictures.
My Dad's report
My dad's web site contains a wealth of pictures of the various missiles and rockets developed and tested at Woomera.
Rocket/Missile/Telemetry photo's from Woomera on my Dad's philatelic site.
The following animated gif of the ELDO launch from Woomera in the 1960's was put together using original photo's of the launch. You may have to wait a while for it to load and then the rocket will be launched.
I can't help but think... what great things were done in Woomera all those years ago. What very learned and dedicated people were employed there. I think of the world and it's people and the select few (in relative terms) who are at the pinnacle of the development of our civilization. We had many of these people up there in Woomera. But I guess our politicians were not equal to the task and it was let slip and other nations took the lead. There have been some tenacious people who still held on to the dream... that Woomera could be once again at the fore... that there would always be another project on the horizon, and there always has been the odd project and there still is today. But Woomera the town is now only only a shadow of it's former self. The Americans have finally pulled out. And Australia still sees itself as a big player in the Western world but acts small. It does not assist it's visionary and able people to reach their potential and make the country prosperous. Britain and the U.S. have seen our potential and helped us develop our facilities and given our people the chance to show their capabilities and we have excelled. We have been offered multi-million dollar hardware by the Americans but we have sold it as scrap (Tracking dishes). Over the years, the governments of the day have not had the courage to commit the funds and allow our own big projects to take wing. They have preferred to let others do the job and they still look overseas to buy defence hardware instead of capitalising on the decades of invention, research and testing carried on at Woomera. Our first satellite, WRESAT was successfully deployed in 1967 after only 11 months of work by our own dedicated people, using a donated American Redstone rocket. After this success Australia should have had the foresight to enter the satellite business which was then in its infancy. Today we are waiting for some progressive and speculative Americans to gather the funds to launch satellites for us and our neighbours, at Woomera. Wheras this is a great development for us, it is a case of too little, too late. We should have been launching our own decades ago. I'd rather we were world renowned for our technology than for our ability to play cricket and rugby. If our Universities can encourage the young to take up the technology baton and then if the politicians can finally get behind their projects then maybe one day we can rejoin the ranks of those who change and develop our civilisation.
A University driven Australian space effort surging ahead at present is 'The Australian Space Research Institute' and Dad has attended most of their firings at the Woomera Range. His site contains pictures of these launches. You can visit the ASRI website also.
Woomera launches by ASRI, on my Dad's philatelic site.
Woomera Web Site
Australian Space Research Institute