Off the Tourist Trail #3 – Woomera, Outback South Australia

Woomera? Or Stepford?!?!? Was our July 2008 visit during a particularly slow time, or are the wide, open streets normally this neat, quiet and uninhabited?

I guess we’ll find out next time we visit – and there WILL BE a next time, because this unusual outback South Australian town just off the Stuart Highway en route to Roxby Downs and Andamooka is full of surprises.

Especially if you’re interested in international pioneering space exploration and missile testing – think Deep Space Station 41, Nurrungar and the ‘Europa’ rocket!  BUT … still well worth a visit even if you’re not!

For us, this unexpected detour was gold! From the excellent Woomera Travellers Village, fascinating museum and exhibits, to the uniquely significant place Woomera holds in Australian history we were amazed and intrigued.

Start at the Woomera Heritage and Visitor Information Centre – if you can drag yourself past the outdoor Missile Park that is! Incorporating the Rocket Range Museum, social history display and Len Beadell – the pioneering outback road surveyor and builder – memorabilia, it’s an eclectic mix of space technology, indigenous and pioneering history, and such blots on the Australian historical landscape as Maralinga and the notorious Woomera detention centre, scene of riots, breakouts and demonstrations.

And for our next visit? Definitely a tour of the Observatory, History Museum, Marine Centre (no, you’re not mistaken, it really IS that far from the ocean!) and a few other points of interest. There’ll probably be photos of attractions other than missile park too – my film and the light ran out simultaneously on this trip!

AND … who in their right mind would pass up the opportunity to legitimately enter the Woomera Prohibited Area?  Come on – ANYTHING prohibited has just GOT to be a drawcard – and this one’s the size of England!!

SO … was it Stepford or Woomera for you??  Let me know!!

PS  Since this visit, I’ve been to Woomera a couple of times.  Most recently we stayed a couple of nights and drove out to Andamooka!  Read about my Andamooka Adventure HERE!

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15 comments

  • I can’t believe there are so many people interested in woomera. I can tell you in all honesty there’s not a lot there…lol
    I know this because I grew up there. There are still things that I love to talk to friends and family about though, because for some reason they think it’s fascinating.
    For instance
    The lions missile park, a couple of those displays I actually helped sand and paint. The jindavik which is the target drone I assisted in the repair and repainted of that.
    The Canberra bomber that is in the forefront of the display park, I helped push it down the Main Street to where it sits now.
    Did you know that Woomera in the 70’s was a closed town? You needed a security pass to enter and leave the town.
    I must admit that Woomera still holds a special place in my childhood memories.

    • I’m one of the people who finds it fascinating, Mark!! I know there isn’t much there – but what IS there is so weird and unusual it’s cool!! I’m not surprised it has great childhood memories for you – but what was ‘normal’ to you is absolutely amazing to those of us who weren’t brought up there! I mean, how many people have actually handled a Jindivik? It’s so great you have shared your memories – thank you for dropping in!! PS More recently this year we stopped at Woomera for a couple of nights (it was raining) and drove out to Roxby and Andamooka – just because we’d never seen them! I wouldn’t want to live there, but the whole area is fascinating!! Thanx again 😀

  • I haven’t been there yet but Woomera is definitely on my list of Australian places to visit, and it is good to see some more information on what is there fore tourists to see.

    One of the reasons why the area is prohibited is because there is lots of unexploded bombs and missiles and it is also still a live weapons firing range.

  • @River – it sure surprised us!
    @Jayne – you’re welcome, thanx for dropping by!!

  • Been wanting to have a gander out there for years, thanks for the tour 🙂

  • I had no idea there was so much of interest at Woomera.

  • @Betty – Thanx for your good wishes, same to you!
    @Mary – if you’re marking destinations, then my work is done!!

  • Another destination marked with a push pin 🙂 I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  • Betty Manousos @ CUT AND DRY

    Thanks for sharing these interesting pictures!
    The place looks such an interesting place to visit too.

    Happy Holidays!
    Big hugs!

    B xx

  • @~Cheryl – yes, that just appeals to my maverick spirit!!

  • Interesting bit of history. And how delicious to to visit someplace that is prohibited! Yay!

  • @Cathy – there’s a fair bit of distance between some attractions though!!
    @Carolyn – you’re not alone in not having gotten there …
    @Kath – Crikey! You know other people who have been there?? You’re right – ‘Crikey’ is the perfect word for so many situations …

  • Crikey…… you’re the first person who has visited Woomera and raved about it. In a positive way I mean!

  • Sounds an interesting place to visit, its one area I havent got to…yet 🙂

  • I had no idea that Australia is such an interesting place to visit. Hope to see all the interesting spots myself one day.

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