Going home to an atomic test site
Robert Milliken; 30/1/10
From the air above Maralinga you can still see the sites where Britain tested nuclear weapons in the South Australian desert 54 years ago. At least one is still contaminated with plutonium. The township that once hummed with Australian and British servicemen and nuclear scientists is just a shell. But if the new owners have their way, this secret place, once an unlikely flashpoint of the Cold War, may soon have a fresh life. The new owners are really the old owners: the Maralinga-Trarutja Aborigines, who were pushed aside when their traditional lands became an atomic testing ground. Late last month dignitaries again flew in, this time to witness a ceremony marking the symbolic closure of one of Australia’s most bizarre stories.