Maralinga Village - A Glowing Report

Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 14:11
ThreadID: 108852 Views:2377 Replies:6 FollowUps:6
This Thread has been Archived

Related Pages

One of the highlights of our recent trip into the Western Deserts, which took us across the Anne Beadell Highway and the Sandy Blight Junction track amongst other places, was a visit to Maralinga Village.

Many will remember Maralinga as being at the centre of the British Atomic testing program in the 1950’s although perhaps it is only in more recent history that much of what transpired at Maralinga has been fully understood by the general public.

You might even recall the band, Midnight Oil, wrote a song about it, but perhaps that depends on either your age or maybe your taste in music…

At the kind suggestion of EO member, Stephen L (Clare SA), I made contact with the Maralinga Village caretaker, Robin Matthews, to make arrangements for a visit. We had not travelled the Anne Beadell Highway previously but were reliably informed that the section from Coober Pedy to Emu had some of the worst corrugations one could ever find, and the crossing experience from a scenery perspective would not be diminished by avoiding this section.

With this in mind and a strong desire to visit Maralinga to take a look at “Ground Zero” we headed to Maralinga via the Telstra Optic Fibre cable road from Glendambo to Ooldea and passing by the small community and pub at Kingoonya.

Much has been said about the right to use this road that seemingly has been claimed by a railway company and is marked as restricted access on a number of maps. We had been assured from a number of directions that it was okay to travel this route and in fact we did not encounter any official vehicles whilst driving it. But on its use, I think one of the telling signs is that we did not see one sign that expressly prohibited its use. A telling sign perhaps, pardon the pun that the particular railway company does not actually have the right to prohibit its use.

Perhaps the confusion or conflict is due to the fact there is actually two roads, a railway service road running right alongside the rail line and the Telstra road, both of which entwine into one for short distances, at times.

However, I will leave others to toss that one around in a camp fire debate.

Robin gave us a great welcome, meeting us at the village gate before settling us into a camping spot nearby to a “donga” we could shower in.

It is worth a walk around the village and even a climb to the top of the water tower for a commanding view of the immediate facility and beyond. Mind you, it might be worth noting that if you want the commanding view gained by climbing a steel ladder to the top, do it sooner rather than later, as the OH&S team masquerading as the “fun police” might put a stop to that eventually.

Being a family of climbers and mountaineers, we relished the chance!

Robin has a strong connection to the area and the Maralinga Tjarutja people and was able to relate in a sensitive way the impact the testing has had on the traditional landowners, many of whom live in the nearby community of Oak Valley. Our tour of the forward area included visits to many of the actual testing sites or ground zero and Robin was able to tell us much about how the tests were completed, where people stood. For all intended purposes many of these people were in effect human guinea pigs.

A visit to the air strip showed just how big this facility was and the focal point where service personnel were flown in and out of the area under a cloak of secrecy. The air strip, measuring approximately 2.5 kilometres in length, was the distance some of the “human guinea pigs” stood from ground zero in one of the tests. Some of these people, many of whom were from England survived to live a long life, others died within a couple of years. But it is reported that health impacts have secreted its way into the younger generations of these service people…

Similarly, it has had health impacts for the Tjarutja people who now mostly avoid the area.

We spent a great day with Robin and towards its end we headed north along the Emu Road to a bush camp before continuing our journey to Emu Junction and across the Anne Beadell Highway to Laverton.

A visit to an Atomic Bomb test site might not be everyone’s cup of tea or ideal holiday destination, but it enabled us to better understand a part of Australia’s more recent history and involvement in the nuclear arms race. And this was enhanced by a character you’d be happy to call a mate, Robin Matthews.

The cost of the tour was $100 per person, and overnight camping cost around $20 for the three of us, and diesel fuel can be obtained at a fair price currently set at $2.00 per litre. You will need a permit to transit the Maralinga Tjarutja land and to enter Maralinga Village, both of which can be obtained with little fuss.

If you are travelling that way and have a curiosity of Australia’s involvement in the “nuclear arms race” or perhaps just to draw some dots to the work that one of Australia’s more experienced contemporary bushmen, Len Beadell, undertook in this region, be sure to give Robin a call, I am confident you’ll enjoy the experience.


Back Expand Un-Read 5 Moderator

Reply By: Les PK Ranger - Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 14:31

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 14:31
Thanks for the post TL, good read, and will do that one of these days.
AnswerID: 536467

Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 16:43

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 16:43
Gday
I thought that your "glowing report " meant that you were radio active and glowing in the dark ...
Muzbry
Great place to be Mt Blue Rag 27/12/2012

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 536470

Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 16:49

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 16:49
Gday Landy
Sounds like a good place for a bit of solitude...I must have a chat with darling,,,,,,,

Muzbry
Great place to be Mt Blue Rag 27/12/2012

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 536471

Follow Up By: The Landy - Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 16:51

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 16:51
For sure, she'll go from radiant to positively glowing!
0
FollowupID: 820578

Reply By: OBJ - Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 18:26

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 18:26
Glad you got to see it. I sent an email asking for permission a few months ago to visit Maralinga and I am still waiting for a reply. Since then I have been through but never got to see it.
AnswerID: 536473

Follow Up By: Member - mechpete - Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 18:42

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 18:42
the person who used to not issue permits , is no longer in the equation as Robin ( caretaker ) does it now , he, s is a very knowledgeable bloke
mechpete
0
FollowupID: 820590

Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 19:10

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 19:10
Hi OBJ

As Pete has just said, you must apply direct to my great mate, Robin.

He is hard to get hold of, but will get back to you. If you have applied direct to Ceduna, you will most likely never get a reply.

Here are Robin's direct contact details, so please use these only...


Email : robin.matthews@y7mail.com

Phone : 08 - 8670 4089

Maralinga is open for business and the country side up there is full of Wildflowers.

Get in contact will Robin and you will enjoy your visit to an area thathas been out of bounds for decades.



Cheers



Stephen
Simpson Desert Colours

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 820591

Follow Up By: Member - Jack - Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 19:31

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 19:31
Thank you for that. I shall go down that path next time I visit the NT.
OBJ
The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. (Lewis Carroll-Alice In Wonderland)

Member
My Profile  My Position  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 820592

Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 19:55

Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 at 19:55
Hi Baz

Its great that you took my advice, and like everyone that I send there, spread the word to get more people there, just as you have.

I was speaking with Robin at lunch time today and it was cold and wet up there, with 10mm of rain having fallen overnight, and as Robin said, so unseasonal.

Robin was also telling me that there are even Sturt Desert Pea out in flower, out near the Taranaki de contamination shed and this is the first time that they have been in flower out there in the 6 years that Robin has been out there on the Range.

I bet you are looking forward for a re visit to see even more special sites.



Cheers



Stephen
Simpson Desert Colours

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

AnswerID: 536482

Follow Up By: The Landy - Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 at 06:53

Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 at 06:53
It was sound advice thanks Stephen, especially after hearing from those who came that way.

I'll be back for sure....

Cheers,
Baz
0
FollowupID: 820629

Reply By: Turbo 1 - Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 at 09:25

Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 at 09:25
We would love to go to Maralinga and have contacted Robin a couple of times and left messages but have never heard back from him.
Is there a secret to getting hold of this bloke ?
AnswerID: 536509

Follow Up By: The Landy - Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 at 14:34

Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 at 14:34
Howdy

As Stephen L mentions above, give him a call on and leave a message if you don’t get through. He is often out on the range, and travels to Ceduna a lot.

I found calling him around 8pm SA time worked best for contact…

Email : robin.matthews@y7mail.com

Phone : 08 - 8670 4089
0
FollowupID: 820664

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (13)