MEMORIES OF WOOMERA
This is Ian Ritchie and I lived at Woomera with my family of three
children (Stephen-6,Jacqueline-3, & new born, Kerri, in 1966) from
1966 to 1970. I first visited Woomera as a RR rocket engine fitter in
1964 and spent four months there whilst we attempted to launch the
first Blue Streak. It was meant to be three months but we pleaded with
our boss at Spadeadam to let us stay until the launch and he agreed.
Two years later I brought my family to Australia as a UK immigrant and,
in 1966, now working for Hawker Siddeley, returned toWoomera in
time for the launch of F4, which was the
first flight of the multi
stage Europa Vehicle. I took my family up to
Woomera in '66, helped launch F5 in November, and the birth of my
daughter, Kerri, in Woomera Hospital in December topped off a memorable
So we lived there until 1970, when we moved to French Guiana which was
somewhat different from Woomera and 'slightly' wetter.
I've enjoyed reading people's memories of great days at Woomera. I
remember the Hospital also from the time my two eldest children went in
together to have their tonsils removed and ran the staff ragged for a
We did have one episode of heavy rain whilst we were there (not too bad
for four years) where the water was running across the range road in
streams and Lake Hart was flooded. When I returned home that afternoon
my wife, Peggy, and neighbour, Dorothy, had sunk our Simca, parked on
the donga alongside our flat, into the ground up to the bodywork whilst
trying to move it. Ironically, when we had a thirty-year reunion of the
first flight in 1994 in Woomera, it rained the whole weekend.
I remember a fellow technician (John Bosley), 'big noting' to some UK
visitors about the BIG black hairy spiders in the Prep Area tin shed
being harmless and being promptly bitten by one when he poked his
finger at it.
I'll stop before this turns into a novel. Keep up the good work Mark
and I look forward to hearing more memories of Woomera.
(14 February 2006)
Copyright © 2006 Mark T. Rigby
(Last updated: 18 February, 2006)