MEMORIES OF WOOMERA - 9


I visited Woomera last October (1999). First visit since December 1970. It was no surprise to see the extent of the changes, but it was still recognisably the village in which I had grown up. It was a strange feeling to stand on an empty patch of donga that had once been Goonda St and where our house had been located.

I was there only a day or two after the Government had sent reps to the community to announce that they were going to withdraw all but a handful of staff and put all the remaining facilities out to tender. There was a good deal of depression and fear that the school would have to close and that the theatre etc would be demolished.

I left thinking that I would never return and that Woomera would go the way of many other outback boom towns and gently crumble back into the dirt. I hope that Kistler and SpaceLift can bring some life back, but I remain sceptical. The establishment of a camp for illegal immigrants has perhaps slowed the decline for a while.

Anyway, thanks again for the update (and I still receive regular e-mails from people who have read my contribution - Memories 4). I think you have started something with this site that could get bigger than you intended.

Nigel Whitburn

E-mail:    nwhitburn@cix.co.uk


Greetings Mark!

Great idea this site!

In 1965, when I was only 7 years old I was packed off to "a land carpeted with snakes" kicking and screaming.  I'd heard 'The Flying Doctor' on the BBC Light Programme, I knew the score! Four years later, I was bloody annoyed to be dragged away from my home to return to England.

We were the 'Dean' family (Reg, Doreen, Kevin, Nicola & Lynne) of 29 Carinya Street, living alongside the Williams on one side and Sid, Jean & Christine with Brutus or Caesar on the other. Our street seems, sadly, to be missing from the site photo, is that current or ancient? Across the road were the Cruises! Down the road was my mate Tom Spiess and just a little bit further the donga - a fine place for 7-11 year old pyromaniacs to go with a box of matches. Good for getting 'Sleepys' and skinks as well!

My dad was there with Amos, Macmillan, Gartelle and Ashford clan members et al, working on something to do with radar! As part of our term out there we saw something large and shiny shot off at some un-godly hour of the morning and had a day off school as a consequence, so that wasn't so bad.

I was taught tennis by Rod Laver thanks to the Adelaide Advertiser which was even better. Woomera West juniors was a good soccer team but 'Polly' disappeared and then the 'Red Devils' won everything for a year or two which was better than Rod Laver and almost as good as England winning the World Cup! How many television sets were there in town at that time? Some legend I heard suggests only 3! We also watched the moon landing on a predecessor to the video player at school. This thing seemed as big as a phone box! We also had a command module visit the town not too long afterwards.

The community that prevailed in Woomera is something we cannot forget and indeed miss tremendously. A 20 mile long sponsored walk, middle of summer, from the start of the tarmac of the Port Augusta road to Woomera, all to raise money for the Kindergarten! How hot was it Mrs Scholar?

I tried to remember names from school but only a few popped up. Andrew Measday (marble swallower), Ross Campbell, Joyce Dennett (love of my life - age 8) and Miss Pointer! Have any of those names surfaced on your site? Please let me know. School Houses were Ikara, Malkara, Skylark & Sparta but not all of these get a mention in your history as projects!

Sorry to have rambled but reading the memories of others fires little things in my mind. When the old theatre burnt down the Coke fridge inside was nearly full. As kids we weren't interested in jewellery but the empty and charred Coke bottles we could take back and get the deposit on. Father Christmas did circle the village and for many years I honestly thought that an Aoulette helicopter was the only way he could have done it! The Golf Club roof took a walk as a consequence of a really stiff breeze, my dad and sister arrived to see the whole roof unit making it's way back up the 18th fairway propelled by dozens of little feet inside it! Ansett did provide an alternative to the DC3 which was the Fokker Friendship that was marginally smoother. What a cracking road the Port Road was!  As kids we loved to go down to the gate to see if any cars limped in with busted suspension and then see if there was any frog spawn in the pool.

Anyway, it's late here so I'm off. Hopefully there might be more of the 'old school' out there. Let me know!

Cheers,

Kevin Dean

E-mail:    kevin.dean@btinternet.com



 
Memories of Woomera



 
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(Last updated: 19 October, 2003)