Purpose built in 1947 as a support centre for a testing range for experimental British rockets, Woomera was off-limits to all but Defence personnel until 1982 when the town was opened to visitors.
The testing range itself and the Defence Department’s nearby Nurrungar communication centre are still prohibited areas, and, although the town is now a free zone, the rockets, aircraft and weaponry on display in Missile Park leave no doubts about Woomera’s origins.
The Heritage Centre, too, contains a wealth of information about what went on in this area when the rocket boffins were pushing the buttons.
Woomera is 490km north-west of Adelaide and if you strike east from the old rocket base, a 107km drive will take you to the Andamooka opal fields. They have been mining the world’s most stable opal fields for more than 70 years and 24 separate fields are still producing high-class gems, some of which adorn Queen Elizabeth II’s priceless jewel collection.