Australia’s atomic testing ground
We arrive at Maralinga late afternoon on the 9th of November 2011. It’s nearly a full moon; sort of eerie, just strange mostly. Using the old phone box at the gate, we call the caretaker Robin and his partner Della who eventually come down and let us in through the gates. We follow his truck along the old Maralinga road, turn left at the junction < Village – Forward Area > and into the remnants of the Maralinga village, once host to over 10,000 servicemen over eleven years.
Road to Maralinga
Travelling to Maralinga for the first time after hearing so much about the effects the British nuclear blasts had on Indigenous people and Australian and British personnel, I didn’t really know what to expect. I think I imagined I would find some sort of overwhelming obvious physical evidence of the blasts, but what finallyappeared for me was a space full of so much remnant history and memory.
Between 1952 and 1963, the British government tested twelve atomic bombs and hundreds of smaller ‘minor trials’ at Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia and on Monte Bello Island, off the Coast of Western Australia. The reason for this is that after the end of WWII, Britain, Australia’s ‘mother country’, was losing power and was eager to become part of the global nuclear arms race. Australia of course complied readily, with the then Prime Minister Robert Menzies pushing it through without even consulting the cabinet.
Read the rest and watch our video ‘Maralinga Pieces’ on the latest issue of timemachine: