::Woomera, South Australia


Woomera::range    Defence::range    Record::which    Facility::village    Support::project    South::systems

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Woomera is an outback town in the far north of South Australia established in 1947 with a population of 136 (2015).<ref>ABS via local stats</ref> It was established in 1947 as a Department of Defence rocket testing range.<ref>Explore Australia Woomera</ref>

Woomera Village has always been a Defence owned and operated facility. Since its construction over 1947-53, it has essentially operated as a 'township' but always under a Defence model rather than a local government (council) model. The 'Woomera Board', staffed by members of the Defence community at Woomera 'elected' to the Board by town residents has essentially acted in the role normally provided by a local government council. However, the focus of the Board's activities today is really one of welfare for the small permanent community and the large number of transit Defence personnel who deploy to Woomera each year. The main operation of the Base is now co-managed by the RAAF's Combat Support Group (CSG) and the Defence Support and Reform Group (DSRG). CSG focus on the operational aspects of the base's role, while DSRG focuses on ensuring the base's (and the Range's) facilities and general infrastructure remains fit for the purpose it is needed to support the Range's activities.

RAAF Base Woomera, and in particular, 'Woomera Village', lies in the extreme south-east corner of the Woomera Prohibited Area Z(WPA). The WPA essentially defines the ground area of the Woomera Range Complex, which, in simple terms, is itself situated in the "north-west pastoral region" of South Australia. The base lies within the bounds of the Woomera Prohibited Area with the northern (airfield) sector located within the 'Red Zone' (prohibited access areas) of the WPA, while the southern (village) sector is located within a 'Green Zone' (public access) area of the WPA.

"Woomera Village" as it has been unofficially known since its establishment in 1947 has always been and continues to be the domestic support facility for the Woomera Test Range (formerly called "the Woomera Rocket Range"). The WPA covers most of South Australia's North-West Outback Pastoral Region, and the defined area of the WPA (approximately 122,000sqkms as of November 2014) forms the essential ground area of the whole Range Complex. The Nurrungar Test Area (NTA) is 18 km south of Woomera, and although not within the WPA, it is under the operational control of Headquarters, RAAF Woomera Test Range.

The Range was first established in support of the Anglo-Australian Joint Project. This 'cold-war' project focussed on the development of long-range weapons systems, principally to counter the growing intercontinental ballistic missile threat from the former Soviet Union. The 'cold-war' heyday of the Range was 1947 to about 1972. In 1980 the Anglo-Australia Project was closed and the range itself saw little use until about 1991 when the RAAF's Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) took over the old instrumented range from Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO). Since that time, the RAAF has gradually assumed full control of the entire facility.

The Range, today, is much smaller than it was in 1947, but still covers one-seventh of the State of South Australia. Although there are now several major mines established within the WPA, the Woomera support base is the only permanently established 'township' facility in the WPA. The WPA, which covers an area of just over 122,000sqkm - or an area roughly one and half times the size of Scotland or similar in area to the US State of New York, is the world's largest land-based instrumented defence systems test and evaluation range facility.<ref>Area of WPA was recalulated by Defence in June 2013, pending new legislation, and reduced in size by 2000sqkm in November 2014 when Section 400 at Maralinga was officially excised from the WPA and handed back to the traditional owners. Note: The updated area is promulgated on the WPACO website</ref>

Woomera, South Australia sections
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