Maralinga visit

Submitted: Sunday, Aug 23, 2015 at 16:04
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Just got back home from travelling around Southern Australia. Judy and I went to Maralinga for a tour ( well worth the cost) and the reception from Robin was really friendly and inviting. We arrived at the front gate after travelling up from Colona. Whilst arriving early and waiting for the pre arranged 3.00pm, we decided to travel back to find the "Caravan Track" turnoff. We did find it eventually by the 3 rocks placed on top of each other. Back to the front gate and the cook went into the "Tardis" (an old gate house sentry point and wound the handle on the old phone) this alerted Robin that someone was there, as here could hear us on UHF40, but we could not hear him. On arrival at the campsite he explained in detail what was happening. Robin and his new right hand helper Billy are doing a great job of setting up new facilities for the visitor. At the moment it does not look much, but think and look at the big picture and plans that are slowly happening. What a magnificent job considering he is getting no help from the government, only the finances that come in from tourism. We ended up by being the only couple for the tour as the another group arrived days earlier and done the tour. Our tour was delayed by 1 day due to the arrival of RAAF trucks to off load for the new museum. As we were not in a hurry we got to stay an extra night and done the tour the following day. Robin really could not do enough to help the guests out, including young Billy who kept bringing in loads of fire wood for the numerous camp sites he and Robin are developing including drinking water on tap. There are now 3 brand new ablution blocks and WI-FI now available to the campsite. A night time drive down the runway is a blast and well worth the effort. The history of the area is what was of main interest to me, but the wild flowers that had blossomed was also a special experience. This is a place to visit and I shall return for another visit for a camp over on another trip, as the campsite should be well advanced and be worth it, as the effort that Robin and Billy are putting in to develop tourism in the area is worth another look. A big thanks to Robin and Billy, but also another good mate of theirs Stephen L from Clare S.A who has promoted this activity as a worth while trip
location - Warragul -Victoria
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Reply By: Member - mechpete - Sunday, Aug 23, 2015 at 16:19

Sunday, Aug 23, 2015 at 16:19
Myself an some friends had a couple of trips in to Maralinga in 2011 ,Stephen L
was with us .its an amazing place to visit ,Robin is a walkin encylopedia of the place
an I will be goin back at some time in the future .
cheers mechpete
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Reply By: OBJ - Sunday, Aug 23, 2015 at 19:18

Sunday, Aug 23, 2015 at 19:18
We were there in July this year,and I agree totally with everything you have said. Our tour group was quite large by comparison, but lost nothing. Robin is amazing, and terrific company.
I will also go back.
OBJ
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Aug 23, 2015 at 20:20

Sunday, Aug 23, 2015 at 20:20
Hi Garry

Great to hear you had a great time at Maralinga.

Hope you also enjoyed the Caravan Track drive. As you know, it's an easy drive and there are a few special sites along the way.


Cheers



Stephen
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Follow Up By: GarryR - Monday, Aug 24, 2015 at 12:35

Monday, Aug 24, 2015 at 12:35
Hi Stephen, the "Caravan Track" was as great surprise and a pleasant drive as you stated. It shows how the demographic of the countryside changes so quickly and the vast empty plains that are also there. The lack of wildlife also surprised me. The track was rather good with a few corragations closer to Cook. Here we had the pleasure of taking to some of the relief crew from the train, and how things operate. We have also been looking at some of your other treks for the future. Cheers
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Aug 24, 2015 at 21:20

Monday, Aug 24, 2015 at 21:20
Hi Garry

Great to hear that you enjoyed the Caravan Track drive. Make sure that you do revisit it, as next time I will give you details of how to find the old Rabbiter's Camp and the old caravan, from where this track got its name.

You mentioned " The lack of wildlife also surprised me ". It is not always like that and around four years ago if you drove the track, you would have seen hundreds of rabbits out there, and I have never seen so many rabbits over a very large area of the track. The next year, there was not one rabbit to be seen.

Last year was a very special year along the Caravan Track with very large areas of wildflowers and large patches of Sturt Deserts Pea.

Here are some images taken over the years along the Caravan Track.



Cheers


Stephen


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Follow Up By: GarryR - Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 11:34

Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 11:34
Great pics Stephen. Yes there were a lot of wildflowers around, no rabbits, but you could see the old burrows. The track still the same, and the old car is a great stop. We stopped at that eagles nest to have a look and photograph, as it was not in use. I was trying to work out what the old skeletons at the base of the tree were. May be old chicks thrown out? Next time I would like to try the Maralinga mystery tour coming in from the Woomera area, as Robin said he could meet us there on his rounds. This place is just magical.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 14:44

Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 14:44
Hi Garry

You will find that the old skeletons below the base of the net will be the remain of what the young chicks were feeding on. It would be very interesting to see if they still breed as they did in the past with no rabbit out there now.

There are a number of other ways to get to Maralinga and from Woomera, there are 2 may way. The first and eastiest is to head out through Kyngoonya and then west along the Trans Line, which is a great easy drive.

The other way is to head out through the Station Country and get their permission. This way will bring you out to Dingo Flat Gate and you travel west through to Narwa Junction, which is a great drive.

Last year we went another way to Dingo Flat Gate, following the Dog Fence from Kingooya, which way our best drive there yet. The only problem with this route, is permission is hard to get, as there are 4 Pastoral properties that you travel through, as well as the Dof Fence Board.

Either way it is always great to travel there in ways that the average person will never know exists.


Cheers


Stephen



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Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Sunday, Aug 23, 2015 at 21:33

Sunday, Aug 23, 2015 at 21:33
Another vote for the Maralinga experience - we were there in May and the whole trip was thoroughly interesting.
I reckon a loop up Googs Track, along the railway line and then in to Maralinga from the North could be turned into one of the great Aussie outback jaunts - and much of that is thanks to Robin's enthusiasm and knowledge.
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Follow Up By: Member - Leigh (Vic) - Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 12:02

Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 12:02
Have to agree with your trip route. Having done this twice I will do it again and not tire of it.
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 05:54

Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 05:54
Wifi, and 3 abulution blocks. Wow Robin has been doing some work.

I'm back there in 4 weeks. Can't wait.
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Follow Up By: GarryR - Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 11:27

Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 11:27
Yep WI-FI was working off the generator as the new inverter failed as was waiting for a new one to arrive. Solar hot water was terrific as well as power solar panels. Each abulution block has 2 thrones, urinal and shower. Robin was going to detele the urinal and put in an extra shower. There were only 2 blocks set up whilst we were there, and Robin got confirmation the other was ready to pick up from Port Augusta. Fresh drinkable water was now in place, and Billy and Robin were bringing in sand to place onto the new camp areas. The concrete pads are still there for those with caravans. Yep a lot of work is being done.
location - Warragul -Victoria
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 13:18

Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 13:18
Brilliant Garry.

Did Robin manage to get the washing machine in the camping ground yet?
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Follow Up By: GarryR - Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 13:46

Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 13:46
Yes. there was a washing machine (cold water) but was not yet placed in position. Including a s/steel wash tub and bench top. I think he is struggling for time to get every thing organised. Young Billy got to start permanent part-time on the Monday after we left. He is good value help for Robin. We were very lucky to be invited to his residence on the friday night for an evening bbq with the maintainance electricians servicing the generators, and the GPX surveyors that were staying. Judy and I had a ball, most relaxing. We did find that if Judy stood on the roof rack she got telstra reception instead of walking over to the top of the old swimming pool hill.
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Reply By: Member - Warren H - Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 14:15

Tuesday, Aug 25, 2015 at 14:15
Maralinga is a place I'd love to visit. A few years ago I was lucky enough to do a post conference camping trip by 4WD bus around the Woomera prohibited area. I'd never been in the arid zone prior to that and nights under the stars in a swag in the sand dunes certainly wet my appetite for the area. I'll just have to see how reliable my old Maverick turns out to be following it's refurbishment. A couple of my colleagues worked in the Maralinga area in the 90's doing soil physics research in preparation for the in-situ vitrification attempt at clean up and also at Woomera for the now defunct plan to establish a low level waste repository. They had some good stories to tell particularly about being chased by security who wouldn't accept the validity of their permits to take samples in various places especially around Nurrungar and the tricks they used to sneak back in - it was going to delay their work by days if not weeks to get it officially sorted out even though they were govt employees doing govt work!
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