The Maralinga bomb test site. Photographer: Max Mackinnon
The Maralinga bomb test site. Photographer: Max Mackinnon

‘No bubble wrap’: Differences growing up in 50s highlighted

ABC television is now showing a six-part series titled Operation Buffalo on Sunday evenings.

The basis of the story is set in the 50s at Maralinga, South Australia, where the British were undertaking atmospheric nuclear tests in what was considered unpopulated desert, all this was under the approval of the Australian Government at the time.

Whilst the series does not purport the story to be entirely true it does in fact have some truisms as this really did take place.

It would be easy for a viewer to see it as a sick comedy as it shows our politicians as incompetent fools led by the nose by Britain as we were then part of the British Empire.

This part of the story is probably true.

The acting is first class and I would recommend that it be watched on Iview.

The way that this testing was allowed to be carried out just shows how fortunate we were to have survived a very bad situation.

In watching this programme made me recollect on my own childhood in the same era and how lucky us kids were to survive the incompetence of our government early in the new nuclear age.

The case in point was set at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney.

In what I remember was the Horden Pavilion at Sydney Showgrounds that was visited by thousands, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission had an information display that on exit, kids had to pass a pile of what looked like gravel on the floor.

The pile was huge and the attendants told us that it came from a place called Rum Jungle they encouraged each and every kid to grab a handful of the “gravel” and then proceed to the walls that had a battery of Geiger counters installed and hold the handful of gravel in front of a chosen counter.

We were then told that if there was a crackling noise emitted from the counter that we were in luck as we were holding radio active material.

The excitement in having this fabulous treasure was too much for some kids like me so we went back and grabbed some more, actually filling our pockets.

Could you ever imagine that happening today? Where kids are bubble wrapped.

Us 50s kids thought that it was all marvellous and it was the main subject of conversation at school for ages.

So as you will find out by watching Operation Buffalo there was a great unknown lurking to the newfangled energy and the excitement created by it was comedic by today’s standards even if only part of it was true. A must watch.

Charles Brown, Burnett Downs