Woomera was established to accommodate and support scientists, technicians and workers who came to the Woomera Rocket Range following its development in 1947 as a joint Australian and British project for testing experimental rockets, weapons and missiles.
Later the range was used as a test and development centre for the joint European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) – a partnership between the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and France. Between 1964 and 1970 Belgium, Holland and Italy launched the Europa series of rockets from the Range.
Woomera, which is named from the Aboriginal word for a spear-thrower, has also supported the Narrungar tracking station established under the joint defence program between the Australian and American governments. This facility closed in 2000.
During the 1960s Woomera’s population would fluctuate between 3,000 and 5,000 depending on the test programs but with the closing of the Narrungar facility has reduced to a present level of 400.
The establishment of the Detention Centres for asylum seekers did provide some population support but these have now been closed.
Until 1982 access to Woomera was restricted to the public but it is now an open town and the Commonwealth Department of Defence, which administers the town through the support contractor BAE Systems, welcomes visitors to view and enjoy its significant and impressive facilities.
Essential town services are managed through the Woomera Board and the OCA provide limited assistance through grants and subsidies including support for the local Youth Group. The Woomera Board meets on a monthly basis.