Cache of the Month January 2020 – Maralinga – Field of Thunder

People sometimes ask me; What is the most unusual place that you have ever visited to find a geocache. Well, the answer would have to be Maralnga. A top secret military base in the South Australian desert, which was used to develop and test atomic bombs, and which is still contaminated with radioactive waste!

This months geocache is Maralinga – Field of Thunder.

At the height of the cold war, Maralinga was the UK’s equivalent to America’s Area 51. However, instead of being in the UK or in America, it was a top secret British base, that was hidden in the outback of South Australia. Why did the British need a base so far from their own soil? Well, to test and develop weapons of mass destruction, of course, well away from any risk of contaminating their own country. More specifically, to develop the atomic bomb.

Operation Buffalo involved the detonation offour fission bombs at Maralinga. More tests wereplanned; however, these were cancelled due to a nuclear de-escalation agreement signed by the British Government. Operation Buffalo was instead replaced by Operation Antler which tested trigger mechanisms and to fine tune components of an atomic bomb.

Interestingly, Operation Antler probably caused more radioactive contamination of the site than Operation Buffalo did.

The cache itself is hidden in the now derelict township of Maralinga. Once a thriving military base, which supported a huge number of scientists, technicians and military personnel, Maralinga is now a ghost town, full of memories of what once was.

Permission from the traditional land owners, the Maralinga Tjarutja people is required to visit the site. It is possible to visit by participating in one of the tours of the Maralinga atomic bomb testing site. The tour is fascinating and is definitely a must-do if you are ever in the area.

This cache was the main goal of my trip. I’d been wanting to get this one for a long time for the D/T/puzzle combination.

After staying overnight around 60m from the cache, we were busting to go and find it. A short walk and we found the location and the container. All in great order.
After staying overnight around 60m from the cache, we were busting to go and find it. A short walk and we found the location and the container. All in great order.

Log by AnyMules

Found at the end of an amazing day at Maralinga. An experience we will never forget, moved and challenged by the whole day. Lunch at a Plutonium dump, a walk around Ground Zero. TFTC. left a penguin.

Log by gentoopeng

This cache has been on my bucket list for quite some time. I had previously visited the area for work but it was not appropriate to grab it at the time (despite being only a few metres away!). It was great to finally have the opportunity to visit the area for leisure with a group of fellow cachers, tour the atomic bomb test sites, learn about the area from Robin, and finally sign the logbook. Thanks djcache for the cache – a fav point from me.

Log by e.gregory1

Inline with Geocaching SA’s goal of promoting the past-time of Geocaching is South Australia, each month the association will be highlighting a cache that warrants recognition. There are no specific criteria, and suggestions are welcome, but final discretion lies with Geocaching SA.

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