June 19th was the 60th Anniversary of the final Atomic Test at Monte Bello. The last test code named Mosaic 2 was detonated at 1014 hrs on Tuesday June 19th 1956. It was a tower mounted device erected on Alpha Is, which was meant to yield 56 KT. At a later time we were informed that the yield was in reality closer to 96 KT. leading to speculation that there is no feasibility of "Safe Zones " against nuclear fallout due to the unpredictability of test conditions and the uncertainty of the weapon itself.<\p>
These things were not on our minds in 1956, since we had little knowledge of atomic warfare, mere learners in fact, but these matters were close in mind as we cruised from Dampier to the Monte Bello Group on June 15th. 17 of us, all returning to this historic island group where Britain flexed its nuclear muscles on our soil, with many Australian service people as labourers and guinea pigs. As we cruised in and around the Islands, there was little evidence of those by gone days, a scrap here and there, two time worn concrete plinths marking the spots. We were most impressed by the peaceful, tranquil feeling all around. Our trip from Perth was uneventful. Our welcome at Karratha airport was almost heroic in the manner we were greeted by our hosts, Chad and Leah from "Blue Lightning Charters," then taken to the Dampier Mermaid Hotel. It would take too long to provide the plaudits deserved to the hotel. Nothing was too much trouble and everything was above our expectation.
Wednesday we were awake and fed before the sun greeted the day, and we were taken by the bus to the harbour, loaded onto the cruiser, all 19 (including the media) and away we sailed to our destination. Along the way we were fed, rested, talked, interviewed, even had time to admire the Islands as we cruised for 6 hours, reaching our floating camp area in time for afternoon tea, before we move off again to Trimouille lsland, the site of Gl. Little remains apart from the memorial cairn, but we walked into the inner area and back to the cruiser, about an hour and a half. We moved away again to Alpha Island, had quite a wander around there but without finding our site, where G2 was detonated and where we had a pre-erected steel stand, well organised and well-constructed by RCR, a local steel structures company who fabricated and provided the stand at no charge to us. Our thanks to RCR ! !
The stand had been then taken to the site by the Dept. of Parks and Wildlife and erected firmly in place. Our appreciation here to Rachael and her crew from DPW, who saved us much anguish, not only in organising this, but also in marking the spot for us. There was a moment or two of worry, before we found the spot.
All our plans proved to be spot on and the previously arranged bronze plaque is now firmly fitted to the stand, where I hope it will remain for many years. The only criticism or worry I see now though is the two concrete memorials of years before. They are in a bad shape and require a bronze or copper sheath over the existing concrete soon, or they will be no more. But who will do it?? The Australian Government??
Our labours complete, we returned next morning to "unveil" the plaque. Photos etc and we headed back to Dampier. A little fishing along the way, a few drinks, a lot of talk and we were at the hotel for dinner.
While we still have our sea legs we must record our delight at the assistance provided by Blue Lightning Charters. Two long and busy days of looking after some 16 old salts. Well done Chad and Leah and gang. Our many thanks to you.
Friday, more interviews at the local ABC studio. Then @1430 we boarded a Pilbara Regiment bus out to the army barracks. Greeted and treated like heroes, a long but enjoyable afternoon before we were on the bus again and to the RSL Club. Greeted by the City Council and the RSL and again wined and dined. A very long, exhausting day, but there is no way we would have forgone the hospitality and warmth of the Karratha people.
Saturday , a little bit of homework, but mostly a day of leisure. Watched four games of AFL in the bar, ate too much, probably drank too much, but a very enjoyable last day.
Sunday, morning preparation, then the bus again at 1430, back to the airport and the flight home.
To recap, what began as idle thought developed into an extremely satisfying, most enjoyable and memorable event. We fulfilled our ambitions at MB, paid our respects, and having taken with us 8 members who had joined us from the East Coast and Tassie . My thanks to you all for being part of this event. It was much the better by your presence and your enthusiasm, support and advice, will stand us in good stead.
We meet at 1100 hours each 3rd Monday of February, April (AGM) June, August, October and December at the RSL Hall, Cnr Gt Eastern Highway and Leake St, Belmont, Western Australia.
All those nominated on the Govt issued "Roll of Nuclear Participant" may attend, with notice of intent being with the Secretary by the day preceding the Meeting.
We do appreciate the time you have taken in reading this message and would be quite prepared for you to call any of our contacts.