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Dee Why, NSW, Australia
We are back home in Dee Why and I am studying at TAFE.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Woomera and Len Beadell - Australia's last great Explorer

We had to include information on Len Beadell The reason you may ask? During our travels around Coober Pedy, we heard many stories of Len Beadell, a truly remarkable man. Folk who have travelled across and around this vast brown land, have heard of Len, and in particular The Gun Barrel Highway, probably one of Len's most famous/infamous roads, depending  if you have travelled the highway or not!

Len was also the person responsible for selecting the location of Woomera, those of us in our 40s or above will be familiar with the rocket launches that took off from there; even this little Kiwi knew about Woomera!    

For those who may be interested in this wonderful man, why not get yourself an copy of Mark Shephard's book A lifetime in the bush: the biography of Len Beadell. or, go to the link included with Len's name above.

Following is a summary of Len's chronology.

  • 1946 Appointed to find a location for a joint British/Australian government rocket range.
  • 1947 Selects the site of Woomera and the flight path, north-west across the Great Victoria, Gibson and Sandy Deserts.
  • 1948 Surveyed Woomera, and mapped area to the north.
  • 1950 Continued to survey the centreline of the range.
  • 1951 Located and surveyed the 250 mile, 300 mile, 400 mile and 500 mile points along the centreline of the range. Tallaringa Well was located this year. An important Aboriginal waterhole it had not been visited by a white man since Richard Maurice in May 1902. A conservation park has now been proclaimed to protect the area.
  • 1952 Selected the site for atomic bomb tests.
  • 1953 Built access road to the site at Emu, which would become the first section of the Ann Beadell Highway. Later that year he was asked to locate a more accessible site. Maralinga was chosen and named, with access via the Transcontinental Railway.
  • 1954 Prepared contour maps and developed the Maralinga site.
  • 1955 The Gunbarrel Road Construction party was formed. Selected the site for Giles weather station. Originally required to determine the weather for atomic bomb tests, Giles is still operational and is the most remote meteorological station in Australia (25 01' 128 18'E). The Gunbarrel Highway runs from Victory Downs (25 59' 132 58'E) (west of Kulgerra in Northern Territory) to Carnegie Station (25 47' 122 58'E) in Western Australia, which was reached in November 1958.
  • 1956 Work continued on the Gunbarrel Highway. Beadell began reconnaissance of a road from Mount Davies on the Gunbarrel across the Great Victoria Desert to Emu on the Ann Beadell Highway. Sites for mobile meteorological stations were selected at Mount Lindsay in the Birksgate Range (27 01' 129 53'E) and Coffin Hill (27 31' 130 28'E).
  • 1957 Work continued around Giles Weather Station, the Mount Davies Road, and Anne Beadell Highway.
  • 1958 Gunbarrel Highway completed.
  • 1959 Continued survey work at Maralinga. Took five months off on an around the world trip.
  • 1960 Surveyed and constructed Sandy Blight Junction Road from east of Giles, north to Mount Leisler (23 19' 129 21' E), where he re-located a tree blazed by William Tietkens in May 1889.  From here he directed a road east to Mount Liebeg (23 16' 131 16' E), and also to the west (Gary Junction Road).
  • 1961 Kintore Avenue was constructed. This short section linked the Gunbarrel Highway with the Mount Davies road - named after nearby Mount Kintore (26 33' 130 29' E). Another section of the Anne Beadell Highway was constructed from Anne's Corner to Voakes Hill (28 29' 130 34' E). From Voakes Hill he constructed a road south to Cook on the Transcontinental railway.
  • 1962 Anne Beadell Highway was continued west from Voakes Hill to the Western Australia border. With his wife Anne and baby daughter Connie, Beadell reconnoitred a road south from Warburton (26 13' 126 39' E) across the Great Victoria Desert. At what would become the Neale Junction he turned east to link up with the construction party. Later that year he reconnoitred the road south from the Neale Junction to the railway line at Rawlinna. This became the Connie Sue Highway. Anne Beadell Highway was pushed west to Yeo Lake (27 58' 124 21' E). The Anne Beadell Highway now ran over 1065 kilometres from Mabel Creek, near the Alice Spring's railway line, to Yeo Lake in Western Australia. It had taken nearly ten years to complete.
  • 1963 The Gary Highway from Everard Junction on the Gunbarrel Highway was pushed north to Gary Junction (22 30' 125 15' E) near the Canning Stock Route. The Gary Junction Road was built across the Great Sandy Desert to Callawa Station (20 37' 120 30' E).

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