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Persons who hold an existing access permission under the Defence Force Regulations 1952 should contact the Woomera Test Range on +61 8 8674 3370 or email woomera.enquiries@defence.gov.au to discuss access to the Periodic Amber Zones 1 or 2 during the upcoming exclusion periods.

Woomera Prohibited Area

The Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) covers an area of 122,188 square kilometres approximately 450km NNW of Adelaide. The WPA is a globally unique military testing range and a key asset in Defence capability development. The WPA is also an area of potential economic importance in terms of its natural resources – and some mining is already conducted in the WPA. The Government favours multiple land use in the WPA to the maximum extent possible.

The WPA has been declared a Prohibited Area under Part VII of the Defence Force Regulations and is used for 'the testing of war material' under the control of the Royal Australian Air Force.

In 2011 a joint Australian Government - South Australian Government WPA Coordination Office (WPACO) was established to administer non-Defence use of the WPA, including the develoment of new management framework arrangements that support co-existence between Defence and non-Defence users within the WPA.

In August 2014 the new statutory access regime for new non-Defence users in the WPA came into force with the passage of the Defence Legislation Amendment (Woomera Prohibited Area) Act 2014 by the Australian Parliament. It amends the Defence Act 1903 (Cwth) by inserting Part VIB of the Defence Act and sets out a permit system, the access management zones with defined exclusion periods, new compliance and enforcement measures, compensation, and a process for review of decisions. The administrative details of the new statutory permit system are contained in the WPA Rule 2014.

Note that the new permit system to access the WPA applies to new non-Defence users including resource exploration and mining companies, opal miners, tourists and environmental/research organisations. Existing miners, pastoralists, Aboriginal persons and traditional owners are defined as existing users whose access will continue to be governed by the Defence Force Regulations 1952.

Two reviews are under way to evaluate the effectiveness of the WPA Rule 2014, including all policies and procedures, along with a review of the WPA Advisory board. More information about these reviews is available from the Australian Government's Business Consultation Hub.

Under new management framework arrangements within the WPA, Defence remains the primary user of the area. The WPA has been divided into Green, Amber and Red access zones, each offering different levels of access or time share to non-Defence users.

A detailed map, including licence overlays and GIS data is available from the South Australian Resources Information Geoserver (SARIG).

Access Zones

Green – Infrequent Defence Use

Non-Defence users may be required to evacuate up to an annual cap of 56 days, in blocks of 7 days duration. Non-Defence users may not need to be evacuated during the course of the year, depending on the frequency and type of testing being conducted in the Green access zone.

Users who are resident in the WPA will be given a minimum of 6 months notice of any evacuation periods. Users who do not have a permanent presence in the WPA will be given no less than 14 days notice.

Amber - Periodic Defence Use

Non-Defence users may be required to evacuate the Amber access zone completely, in blocks of 7 days duration, for 140 days per year in the south-eastern area of the WPA (Defence Periodic User Zone 1) and 70 days per year in the corridor (Defence Periodic User Zone 2). Complete evacuation means no non-defence personnel and activity on the site.

Non-Defence users in the Amber access zone will be notified of the evacuation windows for the coming financial year every March. This is to assist commercial planning by providing a clear indication of when non-Defence users will and will not be able to access the WPA.

Red – Continuous Defence Use

The frequency of Defence use of the Red access zone, the associated safety and security requirements, and the complexity of managing use, means that no additional non-Defence users will be admitted to the Red access zone.

The one exception will be geological survey conducted by the South Australian Government in collaboration with Commonwealth government agencies.

Exclusion periods

The Amber Zone exclusion periods are published in March of each year showing the access restrictions which apply during the following financial year (i.e. 1 July to 30 June).

Restrictions that may take place in parts of the Green Zone are notified at least 6 months in advance for resource production permit holders and a minimum of 21 days prior to the activity for all other users.

More information: www.defence.gov.au/woomera/exclusionperiods.htm

Exclusion periods that remain for the 2017-18 financial year

Amber Zone 1 South-Eastern Corner (Defence Periodic Use Amber Zone 1)
  • 13 May to 30 June 2018
Amber Zone 2 Centre-line Corridor (Defence Periodic Use Amber Zone 2)
  • 03 June to 30 June 2018 Cancellation proposed

Note: The Amber zone includes a section of the Anne Beadell Highway

Green Zone (Infrequent Use Amber Zone)

There are currently no noted exclusion periods for the Green Zone.

Exclusion periods for the 2018-19 financial year

Amber Zone 1 South-Eastern Corner (Defence Periodic Use Amber Zone 1)
  • 01 October to 10 November 2018
  • 11 February to 20 April 2019
  • 01 June to 30 June 2019
Amber Zone 2 Centre-line Corridor (Defence Periodic Use Amber Zone 2)
  • 01 October to 10 November 2018
  • 01 April to 29 April 2019

Note: The Amber zone includes a section of the Anne Beadell Highway

Green Zone (Infrequent Use Amber Zone)
  • Advice to be provided

More information, map and coordinates (PDF)

Notifications and exclusion period variations

Defence will endeavour to give non-Defence users affected by exclusion periods as much notice as possible, including instances where Defence may exercise its right to cancel or amend a published exclusion period.

Non-Defence users are also encouraged to regularly review the exclusion  period information published on the WPA Coordination Office website

Public right of access

Separate to the Green, Amber and Red access zones, there is a public right of access to the north-south railway and the Stuart Highway through the WPA. This access is subject to Defence closing the railway and highway when required.

Procedure for entry into the WPA

Access to the WPA for exploration and mining is governed by a permit issued by the Woomera Prohibited Area Coordination Office (WPACO)

Companies seeking access for exploration activities to the WPA must:

  • Hold a licence or lease issued by the South Australian Department of State Development.
  • Obtain a Resource Exploration Access Permit (Form W001) or Resource Production Access (Mining) Permit (Form W002).
  • Ensure that all persons entering the WPA under the permit hold an Approved Person Status (Form W003) or are an Escorted Person (W004).
  • Request access permission for each instance of access to the WPA using the Access Form (W007).

Applicable forms can be downloaded from Woomera Prohibited Area Coordination Office (WPACO)

Woomera Restricted Airspace (WRX) - new spatial layer available on SARIG

The WRX layer available from the South Australian Resources Information Gateway shows the restricted airspace above the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) and forms part of the RAAF Woomera Test Range (WTR). The layer is a helpful tool when planning to conduct airborne surveys and other airspace-related activities over the WPA.

The layer is divided into individual Restricted Areas (blocks). One or a combination of Restricted Areas can be activated (i.e. airspace above that portion of the WPA becomes restricted) when testing of war material is taking place during an exclusion period.

For more information about the WRX contact WTR on +61 8 8674 3370.

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Further information contacts

Woomera Prohibited Area Coordination Office (WPACO)

Phone:1300 727 420
International: +612 6265 4448
Fax: (02) 6265 5878 
Email:WPACO@defence.gov.au

Address:

WPA Coordination Office
Department of Defence
PO Box 7901
Canberra ACT 2610

Woomera Test Range Operations Office

Phone:08 8674 3370
International:+618 8674 3370
Fax:(08) 8674 3217
Email:woomera.enquiries@defence.gov.au
Address:Woomera Test Range
PO Box 157
Wommera SA 5720

For more information, contact:

Mr Shane Farrelly
General Manager
Licensing and Legislation
Energy Resources Division

(08) 8463 3216
Shane.Farrelly@sa.gov.au
Ms Lee Kinnear
A/Manager
Licensing and Legislation
Energy Resources Division

(08) 8226 5003
Lee.Kinnear@sa.gov.au