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2018 review of the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) Coexistence Framework

South Australian Government submissionSouth Australian Government submission

2018 Review of the Woomera Prohibited Area Coexistence Framework: Submission from the South Australian Government, September 2018 (PDF 920 KB)

Other published responses are available from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Consultation Hub

Overview of the review

The Australian Government formally announced the 2018 Review of the Woomera Prohibited Area Coexistence Framework (‘the Review’) on 11 May 2018 with Dr Gordon De Brouwer PSM, former Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy, leading the Review.

The Review aims to deliver a contemporary coexistence framework that maintains the primacy of Defence use of the WPA while maximising its significant value to South Australia’s resources sector, pastoral operations, Aboriginal communities, and other stakeholders. The Review includes an extensive consultation and regional meetings with all WPA stakeholders throughout May until July, and a public submission process through the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Consultation Hub.

Free information sessions for interested parties were held where representatives from the WPA Review team, Air Force and the South Australian Government outlined the WPA coexistence framework and the scope of the Review. The sessions included an open panel to answer any queries, and representatives from the resources sector shared their experiences about coexistence in the WPA.

Further information about the Review:

Please refer any queries to the Woomera Review team on 1800 707 440 or

About the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA)

The Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) covers an area of 122,000 square kilometres approximately 450 km NNW of Adelaide.

The WPA is a Prohibited Area regulated by the Defence Act 1903Defence Regulation 2016 and the WPA Rule 2014 is used for 'the testing of war materiel' under the control of the Royal Australian Air Force. The WPA is an important Defence capability and testing and evaluation asset that plays a significant role in Australia's national security.

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 development 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 (Cth) 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 mines (Challenger, Prominent Hill, Cairn Hill and Peculiar Knob), pastoralists, Aboriginal persons and traditional owners are defined as existing users whose access will continue to be governed by the Defence Regulation 2016.

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WPA access zones

Woomera Protected Area access zones
WPA access zones
View larger map

Under the new management framework the WPA has been divided into four access zones (Red, Amber Zone 1, Amber Zone 2 and Green) offering different levels of access to non-Defence users.

Each management zone has exclusion periods during which Defence may undertake testing activities. Access during an exclusion period will not be permitted.

  • Red Zone: continuous use by Defence therefore no public access or resource tenements or activity is permitted.
  • Amber Zones: Defence can exclude on-ground access to all non-Defence users for specified periods of time; for Amber Zone 1 up to 140 days in a year; for Amber Zone 2 up to 70 days.
  • Green Zone: non-Defence users may be excluded for up to 56 days in a year.

Detailed descriptions of the access zones are available from

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:

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)
  • Note: the 03 June to 30 June 2018 exclusion period has been cancelled. You do not need to evacuate Amber Zone 2 during this period.

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

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 to discuss access to the Periodic Amber Zones 1 or 2 during the upcoming exclusion periods.

Public right of access

Separate to the Green, Amber and Red access zones, the Defence Minister under the WPA Rule has granted a standing permission for people to access the Central Australian railway line, the Stuart Highway, the William Creek to Coober Pedy Road, the Lake Cadibarrawirracanna Road (also known as Public Access Route 18), the Olympic Dam Highway (B97) and the Woomera Village. The Defence Minister may however suspend the standing permission over these access routes and close them temporarily when required for the testing of war material.

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Procedure for entry to 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 mineral exploration or mining activities to the WPA must:

  1. Hold a licence or lease issued by the Government of South Australia
  2. Obtain a Resource Exploration Access Permit (Form W001) or Resource Production Access (Mining) Permit (Form W002)
  3. Ensure that all persons entering the WPA under the permit hold an Approved Person status (Form W003) or are an Escorted Person (Form W004)
  4. Request access permission for each instance of access to the WPA using the Access Form (Form W007)

For opal mining and precious stone prospecting in the WPA under the Opal Mining Act 1995, an applicant must hold a Precious Stones Prospecting Permit issued by the Government of South Australia and an Opal Mining and Precious Stone Prospecting Access Permit (Form W006) issued by the Woomera Test Range. The Opal Mining and Precious Stone Prospecting Access Permits are valid for 12 months.

Applicable forms can be downloaded from the WPACO website on

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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.


For more information, contact:

Woomera Prohibited Area Coordination Office (WPACO)

Phone: 1300 727 420
International: +612 6265 4448
Fax: (02) 6265 5878
WPA Coordination Office
Department of Defence
PO Box 7901
Canberra ACT 2610
Woomera Test Range

Phone: Range Operations Office Woomera (08) 8674 3370
International: +618 8674 3370
Fax: (08) 8674 3217
Email for tourist permit applications:
Woomera Test Range
PO Box 157
Woomera SA 5720