test

Emu Field

At the time of the two ‘Totem’ nuclear tests at Emu Field in South Australia, the area was used, as the 1983-85 Royal Commission reported, for “hunting and gathering, for temporary settlements, for caretakership and spiritual renewal.”

Operation Totem (Emu Field, South Australia)

  • Totem 1 – 15 October, 1953 – 9.1 kilotons
  • Totem 2 – 27 October, 1953 – 7.1 kilotons

Totem 1 test, 15 October 1953

A major test named Totem 1 was detonated on October 15th, 1953. The blast sent a radioactive cloud – which came to be known as the Black Mist – over 250 kms northwest to Wallatinna and down to Coober Pedy. The Totem I test is held responsible for a sudden outbreak of sickness and death experienced by Aboriginal communities, including members of the Kupa Piti Kunga Tjuta and their extended families. The Royal Commission found that the Totem 1 test was fired under wind conditions which a study had shown would produce unacceptable levels of fallout, and that the firing criteria did not take into account the existence of people at Wallatinna and Melbourne Hill down wind of the test site.

Above: Yami Lester was permanently blinded by the 15 October 1953 test at Emu Field. Photo by Jessie Boylan

In relation to the two Totem tests, the Royal Commission found that there was a failure to consider adequately the distinctive lifestyle of Aborigines and their special vulnerability to radioactive fallout, that inadequate resources were allocated to guaranteeing the safety of Aborigines during the Totem nuclear tests, and that the Native Patrol Officer had an impossible task of locating and warning Aborigines, some of whom lived in traditional lifestyles and were located over more than 100,000 square kilometres.

More information on the British nuclear tests in Australia: www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/links#6

Kevin Buzzacott, Lake Eyre, 2011 from jessie boylan on Vimeo.

Avon Hudson – nuclear veteran 2011 from jessie boylan on Vimeo.

Avon Hudson – Nuclear Veteran pt2 from jessie boylan on Vimeo.

Maralinga (Rainy Land) Lyrics
Paul Kelly

This is a rainy land
this is a rainy land
no thunder in our sky
no trees stretching high
but this is a rainy land

My name is Yami Lester
I hear I talk I touch but I am blind
my story comes from darkness
listen to my story now unwind
this is a rainy land

First we heard two big bangs
we thought it was the great snake digging holes
Then we saw the big cloud
then the big black mist began to roll
this is a rainy land

A strangeness on our skin
a soreness in our eyes like weeping fire
a pox upon our skin
a boulder on our backs all our lives
this is a rainy land

this is a rainy land
no thunder in our sky
no trees stretching high
but this is a rainy land

My name is Millipuddy
they captured me and roughly washed me down
then my child stopped kicking
then they took away my man to town
they said do you speak English?

he said: I know that Jesus loves me I know
because the bible tells me so
I know that Jesus loves me I know
because the bible tells me so