Woomera’s Women: Roles and Rolls of Film

Abstract

In the aftermath of WW2, with the onset of the Cold War, Australia became one of a few global centres for the testing of rockets and other long-range weapons. By the mid 1950s a town named Woomera had been created in the Australian Desert with a population of 7,000 at its peak. Women’s roles at Woomera were initially expected to be traditional – supportive wives and mothers. This paper focuses on women who undertook new roles operating the sophisticated Kine-theodolites that filmed and tracked the rocket firings and other women who assisted in the production and post-production processes.When the range was established at Woomera, the British and Australian governments were both fearful of the future. My research has found that the fear of the perceived “communist menace” and a possible third World War was not shared by the women working on the range. For them, many of whom were still in their teens, life was all about “having fun.” I have been fortunate to have tracked down and met some of the women who worked at Woomera in the 1950s-1970s and have also found film footage of them working on the kine-cameras.My research is part of an Australian Research Council (ARC) discovery project auditing Australian produced “utilitarian” film from 1946-1980.The key investigators are Professor Ross Gibson (University of Canberra), Associate Professor Deane Williams (Monash University), Professor Joe Masco at the University of Chicago and Associate Professor Mick Broderick at Murdoch.



Author Information
Stella Marie Barber, Murdoch University, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: EuroMedia2018
Stream: Documentary History

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