Woomera to Whyalla
The next morning we drove the short distance to the Woomera Heritage and Visitor Centre were we had a tour. It is in two parts, you view the museum before walking down the road to the rocket park, where some of the rockets, decoy targets and the planes that launched them are sited.
The museum is an interactive one with lots of buttons to press giving some idea of what went on before, during and after launches. Not only did it give information about each of the rockets tested there but there was also a human touch of accounts from some of the workers about the role they played and their day to day life. It brought the visitor up to date with what is happening now, the Japanese Government has been doing some work there and tests have been carried out on the next generation of supersonic passenger planes which they expect to travel at Mac 3.
BAE Systems UK is testing the HERTI UAV nicknamed 'Gabby'. This vehicle is expected to identify targets smaller than a sheep, from altitudes of 5000ft above ground. Some of the simulated targets have been prepared by the Australian and British Defence specialists to represent the types of explosive devices that are causing great difficulties to our troops in the current theatre of war.
The weather at Woomera has not always been good for testing 'Gabby', with a great many windy days preventing flights but this has not been the only problem. On one test day 'Hissing Sid' a Western Brown Snake showed an interest in what was going on. It was lucky the snake catcher was on hand.
As you drive up the Stuart Highway towards Coober Pedy you are passing through the range itself and notices along the side of the road inform you that you are not allowed to leave the Highway and you travel at your own risk.
The town of Woomera has only been opened to visitors since the 1980's and what we found interesting was that all the residential streets had notices saying residents only, thus stopping tourists encroaching on the local population. For a small place in the desert it is very well equipped with a bowling club, 10 pin bowling alley, theatre, cricket club and shopping centre. We picked up a local community news paper and there seemed to be a lot going on.
After lunch we set off for Whyalla a town located on the western shore of the upper Spencer Gulf, and at the top of the Eyre Peninsula. The Eyre Peninsula is the vast triangle that faces the Southern ocean breakers of the Great Australian Bight on the west to the Spencer Gulf on the east with Port Lincoln at its southern most point.
We were now looking for a Fiat Dealer as our van was requiring its 10,000 klm service and we thought a large town would be our best bet.
As we drove into Whyalla we passed the massive steel works which we later heard on the news causes problems with dust in the area.
We found a camp site on the sea front and parked ourselves there. We decided today was the day we would get the awning up, it was sunny and no wind about, so much to the entertainment value of all the campers around us we managed it. About 30 minutes later a strong wind got up and we had to bring it in again. At least we now know it works. We spent the evening watching the cricket, no, not the disappointing English side but the family from the van along from us who put up a better display and who played with a lot more enthusiasm and enjoyment than the English team.