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Published: July 11th 2013
Its heyday was in the 60's and 70's a test range for military rockets
Bush Basher - the Late Len Beadell
Roxby Downs - Woomera
We woke up fortunately at Roxy Downs, where we expected to be and thankfully it was a fairly warm night, I raced out of bed to get in the shower whilst Andy concentrated on our morning cuppa.
As soon as we were showered and breakfasted we then concentrated on getting Jack and Gypsy ready to hit the road to Woomera, being careful to make sure the pizza from from last nights dinner was secure in the fridge, no way were we going to lose that on today's journey.
We were all hooked up ready to go and out of there by 9am and driving toward Woomera, a place that seemed so small and insignificant on our original journey around Australia just over 4 years ago. This time we can see the significance of this town and that would be particularly through the eyes of Len Beadell, a surveyor and bush basher extraordinaire. I will have to get Andy to explain this one as he has more closely researched it that I have.
Len Beadell was born in West Pennant Hills in New south
What a great man,
Wales and I have Helen Sheridan to thank for first starting me off by giving me an insight in to this amazing man, who was considered to be one of the very last true pioneers of Australian and he only died in 1995.
I remember visiting Woomera, on the 6 April 2009, which was a Tuesday and it just happened to be Caroline’s Birthday, (I really don’t think it was a Tuesday).
Len Beadells story is very tightly interlaced with Woomera, which is where the British, under Churchill, first decided they wanted a rocket range, due to the threat of those naughty Nazi’s who were sending over V1 and V2 rockets to the UK and bombing the hell out of the Brits.
So a rocket range had to be found as they wanted to test the flight and gather all the telemetry from the rockets over a very uninhabited “corridor” of Australia and they gave the Job to Len Beadell who just happened to be a surveyor in the Australian Army at the time.
The rocket range started from Woomera then progressed to about the 11 O’clock position in Australia which was 80 mile beach, so
effectively the rockets flow a vast distance over nothing, no houses no stations (no people).
Len Beadell was acclaimed for opening up around 2.5 million square kilometres of outback Australia, surveying and cutting about 6000 Kilometres of roadways through the centre of Australia which still exist today, such as the Gun Barrel Highway, the Connie Sue and so on.
On this visit we will be paying more attention to the significance of Len Beadell as this man was a champion, anyone who can spend more than 40 years sleeping in a swag deserves credit.
We have a look around the museum which costs $4.00 per adult and it was a blessing to be in a warm room on this cold day. It seems funny really but there is an old Motorola phone in the museum it looks like one of the original mobile telephones I used when I first started work, x number of years ago, that's when they resembled the size of a few house bricks, it seems weird seeing that in a museum!
Walking over to the visitors centre we have a look around the small displays in there and some of those focus
on the key aspects of Len Beadell and the significance of Woomera when there was a detention centre there and of course what Woomera is today and that is very much a thriving community.
Relaxing over a cup of coffee, we decided that we needed to find the cemetery and look at the monument to Len Beadell and see where his ashes were buried. So grabbing some directions on where they were (on the way out of town toward Roxby Downs) we drove round town and then headed back from whence we came.
The cemetery looks small and in many respects very solitary from the town. The monument is easy to spot, we go and pay our respects and thank Len for opening up outback Australia making it easy for the rest of us to explore. A previous visitor has already left a note here for Len saying quite simply "Thanks Len" and signed by a couple of people from Hobart In Tasmania.
Back in the truck, I am at the wheel and off we set back up to Roxby Downs and the Olympic Dam. We needed to think very carefully about which way we were going
as we did not want to spend so many hours crossing that terrible track that we came down on, so I had a plan for a less direct but quicker route up the Borefield Track, Oodnadatta to Marree and South from there back to Farina.
Olympic Dam, is a town grown out of the money from BHP Billiton (The Big Australian) as there is a massive, Uranium, Gold and Copper reserve here.
There were a couple of reasons for heading back there, firstly we wanted to get back to Witchelina Station to see Chris and Maria tomorrow, we wanted a decent camping site over the weekend as we knew Marree would be busy and finally we were hanging around the area as we were hoping to meet up with some friends who had been up to Alice and were on their way home via Birdsville and as we are in no rush it is the right thing to do.
We top up with diesel at the Olympic Dam Village and just before the no through road at the mine site for BHP we turn right for the Borefield Track, noticing all the signs at the beginning of
the track advising travellers of the remote conditions, all roads are open so we are good to go.
This track is in great condition, but considering this part is owned by BHP we knew it would be well graded, a sign also tells BHP staff to ensure they fill out the correct documentation before heading off on this remote track.
Stopping for lunch just near another part of the South Australia Nature Foundation, we read about the work being done to ensure that native animals such as the Bilby can continue to survive. The contents of the stomach of a feral cat were analysed and they found about 23 different species of lizards which suggest it was just one meal. The numbers of feral cats in these areas make a difference, if they continue to expand, the native wildlife will cease to exist, so much needs to be done to control the numbers, a survey was conducted and they believe there are 12 million feral cats in this Country
This track really is quite busy at the moment, it is the right time of year to be doing this journey and if you do run into trouble,
then it wouldn't really be long before somebody came along.
We make good time and where the Borefield Track meets the Oodnadatta Track we turn left toward Marree, there really is nothing except a long track and rolling landscape for miles, eventually we come across a water tower that has been made to look like a dog, we slow up for a closer look and find loads of other sculptures that have been made out of scrap metal.
We did not stop for long and may stop here again on our way back through, but for now, time was not on our side we wanted to get back to camp before dark.
We got back to camp at around 5.30, it was looking exceptionally busy here again tonight, it had been another long day for us we were both tired and looking forward to eating the rest of the pizza. We thought the best way to heat it up was to heat the camp oven, leaving the trivet in the base, lining it with baking paper and 2 slices at a time placing it back over the hot coals and we had the most perfectly reheated pizza,
it was just as delicious the second time around and I was hoping that the smell of pizza wafted around the camp site.
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