About the Maralinga Tour

Introduction

There is now an opportunity to visit the Maralinga Atomic Testing grounds, a site out of bounds for decades after the British nuclear program finished in 1963.

Located in the remote area to the northwest of Ceduna, in South Australia, Maralinga has had extensive and expensive cleaning up and rehabilitation, supervised by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). The third and final clean-up was completed in 2000 and visitors can now safely join a conducted tour of the remediated grounds that hosted seven nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s.

Learn about a very, very dark chapter in Australia’s history. One Tree, Marco, Kite, Breakaway, Tadje, Biak and Taranaki: innocuous-sounding names that at the time provided headlines in the British and Australian press that heralded a growing capacity for Britain to offer a nuclear deterrent to the perceived threat of the Cold War. More historical background.

We have a small booklet of information that we provide to visitors, you can download it here: Information for Visitors to Maralinga Village

The Maralinga team on-site, consists of Roger and Priscilla Petersen and Greg and Jacqui Phillips. Roger is the village and site manager and an accredited atomic safety officer as well as airport manager. Priscilla and Greg present the tour together, combining and sharing their knowledge well. Jacqui makes sure that the facilities are neat, tidy and clean and everyone has hand in making sure that your stay is pleasant and informative.

The Maralinga team on-site, consists of L-R Greg & Jacqui Phillips and Priscilla & Roger Petersen

About the Tour

The tour bus can accommodate a maximum of 18 Passengers, at the moment, because of COVID restrictions.

Arrive at the locked gates at Maralinga on the afternoon before your tour begins. Your tour host will rendezvous at the barrier gate, from there it is just a few minutes drive from the gates up to the Maralinga Village campground. There are hot showers, time to use the laundry facilities, to check emails, to recharge phones and laptops and to settle in for the evening.

There is a collection of videos from the National Archives available to play in the museum, along with collected memorabilia and discarded items that were found out on the range, providing a fascinating introduction to tomorrow’s full-day tour.

Your bus will collect you from the campground at around 9:00 am. Visit the enormous airstrip that was built to enable the British, away from prying eyes, to securely and privately fly their equipment into the Maralinga site. The fully serviced, 3,000-metre bitumen strip continues as an emergency strip for aircraft flying across Australia and was chosen as the backup landing site, if needed, for the US space shuttle!

From there you will proceed to the forward area, stopping on the way at various points of interest, and visit a few actual, and a couple of proposed, blast sites and detonated ground zeros.

The tour will return around 5 pm, giving you plenty of time to make a meal, get the fire going and kick back for a yarn.

One or two days?

Roughly a quarter of our tours are "two-dayers". They are usually scheduled for the second and fourth Thursday and Friday of each month. You arrive on Wednesday and leave Saturday.

Though the format of the tour is evolving over time, the main difference between one and two-day tours is that the two-dayer visits more locations, both bomb sites and other points of interest. Both days take you to the forward area and help your sense of direction fall into place.

The other advantage is that having the extra night between the tours when you are not setting up or preparing to leave, gives you a chance to kick back and think about what you have seen and heard on the first day, making the second day a little more familiar and easier to absorb.

As mentioned earlier, museum has a collection of archive videos and the extra time allows you to view these and wander around the village some more.

On the second day on the bus, fellow passengers and our guides are now familiar acquaintances and the tour settles down in to a familiar rhythm.

See our "Getting There" page for directions