The Woomera Range Complex is located in the north-west pastoral region of South Australia, with the operational area of the Range encompassed by the ‘Woomera Prohibited Area’ (WPA), which covers very sparsely populated ‘outback’ land. The range also includes the restricted airspace over the WPA.
The entire Woomera test and evaluation capability is known as the ‘Woomera Range Complex’ (WRC). The WRC is comprised of both the Woomera Test Range (Air Force Test Ranges Squadron), RAAF Base Woomera (20SQN) and the Nurrungar Test Range.
The function of the Woomera Test Range (WTR) is to provide a specialised operations environment in support of directed whole-of-Defence activities for the testing of war materiel and, other directed activities in the wider National interest. However, the range supports a wide variety of trials covering many defence related technologies including ground-based weapons systems, explosive ordnance and hazardous materials, and specialised force preparation activities. The WTR is managed by Air Force Test Ranges Squadron, a command unit of the Air Warfare Centre.
RAAF Base Woomera provides essential operational support to the Range, and includes the Woomera airfield, hangars, technical areas and village. 20SQN, a command unit of Combat Support Group operate RAAF Base Woomera.
The Woomera Test Range includes:
- Woomera Prohibited Area, the large land mass weapons range used for the testing of war materiel
- Woomera Restricted Airspace, the restricted airspace above the Woomera Prohibited Area
- Camp Rapier, the secure garrison support and specialised training compound within the Woomera Prohibited Area
- Nurrungar Test Area, the small specialised testing area just outside the Woomera Prohibited Area
- All other Commonwealth land including test facilities and infrastructure on the WPA.
Principal capabilities include a fully instrumented air weapons range, demolition ranges, live firing ranges and target areas for both aircraft and artillery. Woomera is also the recognised home of military Unmanned Aerial Systems testing in Australia.
Most of the WTR operational area is under pastoral lease or Indigenous ownership.
Base name and motto
A Woomera is an Australian Aboriginal spear-throwing device described as “the most efficient spear-throwing device ever”. It is an enabling device that allows a spear to travel much further than with arm strength alone. The Woomera is still used today in some remote areas of Australia.
The name ‘Woomera’ comes from the Eora people, who were the original inhabitants of the Sydney area, and has proven to be a most apt name, given that Woomera, as a strategic defence enabling capability, exists to enable the testing of war materiel to enhance the war-fighting effectiveness of the ADF.
The Range’s motto 'sharpen the spear', further alludes to its primary function in supporting the enhancement of the ADF’s war-fighting effectiveness.