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Research Guides


Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia


Defence research and the Anglo-Australian Joint Project

Established in 1946 the Anglo-Australian Joint Project was a combined defence project of the Australian and British governments to research the use of long range weaponry. It was initially a response to the German V-weapons used against London in World War II. Under the joint project, the Long Range Weapons Establishment was formed at Salisbury in 1947, and a testing facility and range were developed at the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia's north. The joint project lasted until 1980.

The Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury was integrated into the Defence Science and Technology Organisation in 1974.

Records about the joint project may refer to Long Range Weapons Establishment (LRWE), Long Range Weapons Project (LRWP), Long Range Weapons (LRW), Weapons Research Establishment (WRE), or Woomera Rocket Range and European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO). Parts of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation were also known as Munitions Supply Laboratories (MSL), Defence Research Laboratories (DRL) and Defence Standards Laboratories (DSL).

Records relating to the joint project held by the Archives include plans, photographs, film, audio recordings and correspondence files.

Selected series relating to the weapons research establishment in South Australia
Sydney
Film and photographs
Recorded by: Weapons Research Establishment, Salisbury, South Australia
Collection of miscellaneous photographs relating to Weapons Research Centre, Salisbury, South Australia, 1947–59 D4648
Colour and black and white slides, 1947–71 D897
Negatives and file prints of trials, 1947–55 D890
Photographs and negatives, 1947– D874
Aerial film of Woomera and surrounding areas, 1948–53 D4960
File print cards of miniature film negatives, 1948–72 D4961
Miniature film negatives, 1948–82 D889
Duplicate negatives, 1949–83 D879
File prints for duplicate photographs, 1949–79 D880
File prints for roll film (35mm), 1949–83 D883
Micro negative roll film, 1950–59 D4969
Documentary films, 1953–88 D4994
File print cards for still photograph outdoor and studio negatives, 1958–78 D891
Aerial photographs, 1965–69 D4633
Aerial photographs relating to various defence exercises conducted by Weapons Research Establishment, 1968–70 D3917
Rolled aerial photographs – key maps, 1975 D4675
Sydney
Administrative records
Recorded by: Weapons Research Establishment, Salisbury, South Australia
Long Range Weapons Board of Administration agenda, 1947–50 D4368
Canberra, Sydney, Adelaide
Administrative records
Recorded by: Weapons Research Establishment, Salisbury, South Australia
Correspondence files, 1947– D174
Adelaide
Administrative records
Recorded by: Weapons Research Establishment, Salisbury, South Australia
Correspondence files (personnel and organisation), 1951–64 D2490
Sydney
Administrative records
Recorded by: Weapons Research Establishment, Salisbury, South Australia
Correspondence files, 1954– D185
Report on the rocket range reconnaissance 11–26 August 1947, 1947–59 D4674
Volumes and folders of newspaper cuttings, Woomera and Salisbury – UK/Australia Joint Project History Collection, 1947–87 D3732
Collection of survey data, relating to work undertaken for or on behalf of the Weapons Research Centre, Salisbury, South Australia, 1951–66 D4651
Record of survey data undertaken on behalf of Weapons Research Establishment, Salisbury, South Australia, by type of survey data, 1961–67 D4644
Board of Management, research and development agenda, 1953–57 D4369
Unnumbered correspondence files, relating to specific technical work undertaken by Weapons Research Establishment, Salisbury, South Australia, 1954–66 D4661
Records relating to Defence Standard Laboratories (Woodville North), 1960–87 D3529
Sydney
General matters
Recorded by: Weapons Research Establishment, Salisbury, South Australia
Visitors books, Island Lagoon Tracking Station, Woomera, 1963–73 D4580
Tapes identified by the Defence Research Centre, Salisbury Historical Collection Committee as being of historical significance, 1978– D2047
Adelaide
General matters
'Bulldust' news sheets, 1953 D2861
Sydney
General matters
Recorded by: Defence Research Centre, Salisbury, South Australia
Audio cassettes of interviews with defence personnel – UK/Australia Joint Project History Collection, 1979–87 D3715
Audio cassettes of interviews with defence personnel – UK/Australia Joint Project History Collection, 1979–87 D3716
Sydney
General matters
Recorded by: Weapons Research Establishment, Woomera, South Australia
Correspondence files, 1956–68 D250
Canberra
General matters
Recorded by: Works Director, ACT
A copy of a brief on the Joint United Kingdom–Australian Long Range Weapons Project in Australia for Senator Armstrong, 1950 A10999
Melbourne
General matters
Recorded by: Department of Supply, Central Office
General correspondence of the Long Range Weapons Organisation, Ministry of Munitions, departments of Supply and Development [II] and Supply, Long Range Weapons Board of Administration, 1946–54 MP1748/1
ELDO papers – JL Knott, 1964–65 MP1472/9
Classified correspondence files of the ELDO office in Paris, France, 1960–73 MP1627/1
Classified documents relating to Australian participation in the ELDO project, 1960–73 MP1627/2
Correspondence files of the European Launcher Development Organisation office in Paris, France, relating to Australian participation in the program, 1960–73 MP1922/1

Woomera Rocket Range

Image 21: The anti-tank weapon Malkara in flight during a demonstration at Woomera, South Australia, 1959. Malkara was put through exhaustive tests at the Woomera Rocket Range

Image 21: The anti-tank weapon Malkara in flight during a demonstration at Woomera, South Australia, 1959. Malkara was put through exhaustive tests at the Woomera Rocket Range
NAA: A1200, L32882
Enlarge image - View image gallery

Established in 1947 as part of the Anglo-Australian Joint Project, the Woomera Rocket Range played a key role in the development of rocket technology. The first missile from Woomera was launched on 22 March 1949. Since then, Woomera has been used for atomic weapon testing, satellite launches and tracking spacecraft, including the Mercury manned mission. Aviation support by Woomera was provided from the former Royal Australian Air Force base at Mallala.

Selected series relating to Woomera in South Australia
Sydney
Recorded by: 1 Aerial Photographic Unit, Salisbury, South Australia
Aerial photographs, 1946 D4630
Sydney
Recorded by: Long Range Weapons Establishment, Salisbury, South Australia
Aerial photographs, 1947–53 D4631
Sydney
Recorded by: Weapons Research Establishment, Salisbury, South Australia
Aerial photographs, 1955–60 D4632
Folders containing photographic record of Deep Space Stations Goldstone, United States of America and Island Lagoon Station, Woomera, 1958–72 D4585
Photographs, prints and proofs of equipment, personnel and space craft taken at Deep Space Station 41, Island Lagoon Station, Woomera, 1960–71 D4581
Range E Woomera colour negatives and prints, 1966–67 D4958
Sydney
Recorded by: Weapons Research Establishment, Woomera, South Australia
Register of official correspondence (inward), 1965– D263
Correspondence files, 1968– D246
Sydney
Recorded by: Defence Research Centre, Salisbury, South Australia
Deep space network progress report 42–46, 1978 AP1336/1
Sydney
Recorded by: Woomera Hospital, South Australia
Burial register (register of burials), Woomera, 1952– D5086
Melbourne
Recorded by: Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology, Regional Office, Woomera, South Australia
Woomera correspondence files, 1964– D3326
Melbourne
Recorded by: Eric Leslie Cook MBE
Miscellaneous records relating mainly to atomic and long range weapons testing, 1929–69 M3881
Selected items relating to the Anglo-Australian Joint Project in South Australia
Canberra
Weapons Research Establishment
Joint United Kingdom–Australian Long Range Weapons Project, 1948–49 A816, 3/301/661
Melbourne
Weapons Research Establishment
The Joint United Kingdom–Australian Long Range Weapons Project in Australia – photo album, 1947–49 MP1922/3, 1
Canberra
Woomera
United States of America/Australia Deep Space Communications Station, Woomera, 1969–70 A5882, CO609
Sydney
Woomera
Account of the first atomic bomb test on Australian mainland, recorded at Woomera rocket range, South Australia – sound recording, 1953 C102, SCP8
Adelaide
Woomera
Anonymous and eccentric letters, 1949–60 D250, 56/486 part 1
Skylark Project – experiments – National Aeronautics and Space Administration – Ultra Violet, 1959–61 D174, J5555/16/2 part 1

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Chapter 15
Science and research