The simple name, Woomera, generally refers to an iconic Australian 'town' located in South Australia's Far North region, approximately 446 kilometres (277 mi) north of Adelaide, the capital of the State of South Australia. In reality, 'Woomera' also refers to the wider 'Woomera Range Complex' (WRC), a huge Defence systems testing range covering an area of approximately 122,000 square kilometres (47,000 sq mi) (roughly an area the size of England). Today, Woomera 'township' is in fact part of a new Australian Defence Force base (RAAF Base Woomera) which, along with the 'Woomera Test Range' (WTR), forms the larger entity known as the 'Woomera Range Complex' (WRC). The WRC is the latest name for this historic aerospace testing range and was promulgated by Chief of Air Force (CAF) in June 2014. RAAF Base Woomera came into existence on 12 January 2015, and No.20 (Woomera) Squadron, was officially reformed as the WRC base combat support squadron at a ceremony at Woomera on 1 April 2015. Woomera Range Headquarters is the primary organisation which operates the facility on behalf of Chief of Air Force. Woomera 'Village' (as it has always been known as) is a Defence owned and operated facility. RAAF Base Woomera, when it was established in January 2015, also included the RAAF Woomera Aerodrome, which is approximately 6 km north of Woomera Village. The aerodrome lies within the 'Red Zone' of the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) and public access to this part of the base is not permitted. Woomera Village, however, is within a 'Green Zone' area of the WPA and thus public access to the facilities and services of Woomera, including the several museums located in this historic site is permitted year round. Visitors may also stay in the Defence operated 'Eldo Hotel', and there is a privately operated public caravan park at the entrance to Woomera Village. Woomera Village initially operated as a 'closed town' between 1947 and 1982, when the facility supported the operations of the Woomera Rocket Range during the Anglo-Australia Project. Since 1982, the general public has been able to visit and stay at Woomera. However, only Australian Government personnel (mostly Defence)and contractors to the Commonwealth are able to live at Woomera on a permanent basis. The current permanent population of the town is 136 (2015). The Woomera Range was first established in 1947 as a Department of Defence rocket testing range. Since its construction over 1947–53, Woomera Village has essentially operated under a specialised Commonwealth/Defence 'township' management model rather than a local government (council) model. At the height of its operations, over 7000 people lived in Woomera Village. To service the needs of the town during its heyday (1947–99), the 'Woomera Board', staffed by members of the Defence community at Woomera 'elected' to the Board by town residents, essentially acted in the role normally provided by a local government council. However, the creation of a Defence Estate management organisation in the 1990s shifted the focus of the Board's activities away for estate and infrastructure management toward principally that of a base welfare organisation supporting the small permanent community and the large number of transit Defence personnel who deploy to Woomera each year. While the WRC operates under the higher management of Woomera Range Headquarters (WRHQ), located at RAAF Base Edinburgh, the operation of the Base itself is co-managed by the RAAF's Combat Support Group (CSG) and Defence Estate & Infrastructure Group (DEIG). CSG focus on the operational aspects of the base's role, while DEIG focuses on ensuring the base's (and the Range's) facilities and general infrastructure remains fit for the purpose it is needed to support the Range's activities. "Woomera Village" as it has been unofficially known since its establishment in 1947 has always been and continues to be the domestic support facility for the Woomera Test Range (formerly called "the Woomera Rocket Range"). The WPA covers an area of approximately 122,000 km2 (as of November 2014) forms the essential ground area of the whole Range Complex. The Nurrungar Test Area (NTA) is 18 km south of Woomera, and although not within the WPA, it is under the operational control of Woomera Range Headquarters in Adelaide. The Range was first established in support of the Anglo-Australian Joint Project. This 'cold-war' project focussed on the development of long-range weapons systems, principally to counter the growing intercontinental ballistic missile threat from the former Soviet Union. The 'cold-war' heyday of the Range was 1947 to about 1972. In 1980 the Anglo-Australia Project was closed and the range itself saw little use until about 1991 when the RAAF's Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) took over the old instrumented range from Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO). Since that time, the RAAF has gradually assumed full control of the entire facility. The Range today is much smaller than it was in 1947, but still covers one-seventh of the State of South Australia. Although there are now several major mines established within the WPA, the Woomera support base is the only permanently established 'township' facility in the WPA. The WPA, which covers an area of just over 122,000 km2 - or an area roughly one and half times the size of Scotland or similar in area to the US State of New York, is the world's largest land-based instrumented defence systems test and evaluation range facility. Wikipedia
Home to pretty treasures, Woomera is Australia's best kept secret. Tour packages of Woomera are of 1 to 2 days duration.
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