Planning has been finalised for our next trip into Australia’s Outback which will commence in about seven weeks.
And if we are glowing after this trip it may not be just from all that sunshine we have in Australia, but may be from visiting “ground zero” at Maralinga.
Maralinga is famous, or perhaps it should be said infamous, for the British Atomic Bomb test program of the 1950s and 1960s. Between 1952 and 1963 the British Government, with the agreement of the Australian Government, carried out nuclear tests at three sites in Australia, including the Emu Field and Maralinga.
Maralinga was developed as the permanent proving ground site and was the location of all trials conducted in Australia and yes, we will stand on the actual site where the Atom Bombs were detonated!
The area also holds significance for Janet as her aunt worked for the Australian Weapons Research Establishment and spent time at Woomera in her role as a scientist.
The expedition will take us across some of Australia’s remotest country, covering arid desert lands to gorges flowing with life giving water.
The primary aim of our expedition is to visit the “bomb tracks” that were made by the legendary Australian Surveyor, Len Beadell and his team during the 1950s and 1960s in preparation for the nuclear testing program.
The Anne Beadell Highway, the first of Len’s tracks that we will travel covers a distance of 1,350 kilometres and traverses the Great Victoria Desert, from Coober Pedy in South Australia to Laverton in Western Australia.
And it is anything but a highway.
At best, it is little more than two-wheel tracks passing through arid desert and scrub country and punctuated by many sand dunes.
On reaching Laverton we will travel along the Great Central Road to the aboriginal community of Warakurna before heading along the Sandy Blight Junction Track. This will be a highlight of our western deserts trip and is another track built by Len. Completed in 1960 the track takes its name from the eye disease that affects many of Australia’s indigenous population and now referred to as Trachoma.
Len contracted the ailment and is most likely the reason the track took this name.
After a brief stop in the West MacDonnell Ranges, we will travel to Alice Springs and bid farewell to Janet and TomO before heading eastwards across the Plenty Highway and eventually down through the channel country to the well-known outback town of Birdsville.
Our departure from Birdsville will mark our arrival into the Corner Country which is situated in the north-east corner of South Australia and extending to the north-west of New South Wales.
And after four weeks of travel on corrugated roads perhaps the bitumen will be a welcome relief as we pass through the central west of New South Wales making our way home to Sydney!
So who said it is all work and no play?
And don’t worry, I’ll let you know before we go, and you’ll be able to track our progress across this remote and arid wilderness…
Strewth, Australia, you just got to love the place, hey?