Cultana Training Range

Cultana Training Range




Government sources

Dead soldier veteran of Afghan conflict, SBS News, 2009-10-21

Lance Corporal Edwards, 30, was shot in the head during live-firing practice at Cultana military base near Port Augusta in South Australia on Tuesday night. Edwards, from Sydney, was a member of the army’s second commando regiment. He was preparing for his third deployment to Afghanistan. Another soldier, who has not been named but is a member of the special forces, was seriously injured in the incident. He has been taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, where he is said to be in a stable condition.

Deputy Mayor Eddie Hughes is calling for community consultation on the expansion of the Defence Force’s Cultana training range and its relationship with the proposed industrialisation of the Point Lowly Peninsula. Hughes said that federal, state and corporate interests are failing to engage the Whyalla community about their intentions and are failing to take into account alternative proposals, which will allow Whyalla to diversify its economic base while protecting important environmental, recreational and amenity values. “It’s almost as though the Whyalla community does not exist and the area has been declared terra nullius,” he said. “The defence training range expansion will see the loss of 20 square kilometres of industrially zoned land on the corner of the Port Augusta, Point Lowly road. “The expansion will also threaten coastal land and shack communities to the north of Whyalla and mineral exploration within the massive expansion area. Senior elements within the State Public Service have described the proposed defence department boundaries as a land grab and economic madness.  Other state public servants are actively promoting the expansion at Whyalla’s expense.” Deputy Mayor Eddie Hughes is concerned about the loss of the scenic area to the public if the development goes ahead.

Heavy Metal: Abrams integrated into combined-arms environment, Gnr Shannon Joyce, Army – the Soldier’s Newspaper, 2007-11-01

A heavy battle group fighting with some of the Army’s newest technology has premiered to devastating effect on Exercise Southern Reach. 1 Bde successfully integrated its new Abrams into a combined-arms environment during the exercise at Cultana in South Australia. While UAV ScanEagles flew missions high above the range, the heavy battle group manoeuvred its mechanised muscle through conventional Combat Training Centre (CTC) scenarios under the lead of 1 Armd Regt. The Commander of Battle Group Paratus, Lt-Col Duncan Hayward, said the first time out for the Abrams in a combined-arms setting proved the tank was harder to hit and hits harder than any of its predecessors.

Amphibious exercise commences in South Australia, Media release, Department of Defence, MSPA 442/07, 2007-11-19

The Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army descended upon Whyalla in South Australia today, commencing Exercise Sea Eagle 07. The training exercise, which is taking place at Cultana Range Training Area, will give the Australian Defence Force (ADF) a chance to show off its amphibious capabilities. The two-week exercise will be conducted from 19 to 30 November 2007, as a part of the ADF’s ongoing efforts to develop its amphibious capability for the defence of Australia and its interests. This is the first time Exercise Sea Eagle 07 is to be conducted at Cultana Range Training Area.  “The exercise will focus on the planning and actioning of amphibious operations, ultimately leading to simulated beach landing and evacuation of ‘civilians’ from the area,” said the Commander of the Australian Amphibious Task Group, Captain Peter Laver, RAN.

Exercise Southern Reach 2007, Army HQ 1Bde, News and Photos

From February to May 2007 over 1100 soldiers from Darwin’s 1st Brigade participated in fire, movement and demolition practices across the dusty plains of Cultana in South Australia. Exercise Southern Reach, the largest 1st Brigade training activity for 2007, culminated in a Mission Rehearsal Exercise for around 520 5RAR soldiers from the Overwatch Battle Group, as they prepared for their deployment to Iraq.

Cultana’s expansion prompts concerns, Whyalla News, 2007-10-18

Whyalla City Council will discuss concerns related to the proposed expansion of the Defence Department’s Cultana Training Range with State and Federal Government officials. While moving a notice of motion during the council meeting on Monday night, Deputy Mayor Eddie Hughes said the State Government should adopt a general position in relation to any negotiation that there be no economic, recreational or environmental disadvantage to Whyalla as a result of the expansion. He said some of the area lost in the expansion had high scenic and environmental values. “Apart from insisting on no additional coastal alienation the State should seriously entertain negotiating the return of the 22km coastal strip controlled by the Defence Department and the range of hills extending from Blanche Harbour to Fitzgerald Bay. “The area contains some of the most stunning scenery in the State with views across the Upper Spencer Gulf to the Flinders Ranges. “The retention of this important area as a national park deserves serious consideration.

Some motions that the council will put forward to the State and Federal Governments for consideration are:

– That there is no loss of zones industrial land and specifically the area originally set aside for titanium dioxide manufacturing be retained as industrial land

– That there is no further loss or intrusion upon the coastline of the north of Whyalla

– That there is no impingement upon development to Whyalla’s west

– That given the massive expansion of the training range the State Government enter into discussion with the Federal Government to examine the acquisition of the coastal strip controlled by the Defence Department and the coastal escarpment with a view to creating a national park based on the escarpment and the coast as compensation for the massive loss of land to Whyalla’s north and west

– That mining exploration/development not be disadvantaged as a result of the expansion.

A coastal road between Whyalla and Port Augusta is unlikely, according to defence representatives in Whyalla on Tuesday, April 3. The possibility of the relinquishing of a corridor of land for a coastal road was raised by Councillor Eddie Hughes at a presentation on the Cultana expansion by defence and State Government representatives. State Government defence unit land force director David Searles said that he could only respond from a State Government perspective, but that his experience with the army suggested it would not be a project the army would be considering. “From a State perspective I certainly understand the value of a coastal road,” Mr Searles said. He that that his experience, after being in the army for 21 years, was that if that coastal corridor was reduced it would significantly reduce the viability of the Cultana expansion. With limited opportunities for training between army, navy and airforce, he said Cultana provided a training ground where amphibious exercises could take place. Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Hoskin said there would be more rather than less amphibious and complex army training exercises and that it is not looking at an option to relinquish land for a coastal road.

Expansion planned for Cultana, Army – The Soldiers’ Newspaper, (1124), December 2005

Cultana Training area, located between Port Augusta and Whyalla, in northern South Australia is set to triple in size within the next five years. “Defence officials will shortly enter detailed discussions with current pastoral leaseholders and traditional landowners before recommending a final proposal to Government,” Senator Hill said. The planned expansion would increase the scope of combined arms training for large mechanised formations, and allow for larger joint live firing exercises, provide a larger area to manoeuvre the new Abrams tanks as well as the new generation of Army assets such as the new Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and Australian Light Armoured vehicles (ASLAVs). In recent years 1 Bde from the Northern Territory and 9 Bde from South Australia have used the Cultana Training Area for live firing exercises and light armoured vehicle operations.

Defence: Competitive Advantages, rationale, Northern Regional Development Board, Port Augusta

The Cultana Training Area is used by Defence for year round Army training and equipment testing.  It comprises 470 km of rugged country suitable for both land and shore line operations between Port Augusta and Whyalla. Cultana’s location close to the main road and rail corridors connecting the north of Australia through to Darwin makes for an ideal location for major training exercises for Defence brigades based in the north that may be impacted by the northern wet season.  The use of Cultana by Army is growing significantly each year as it becomes more and more integrated into Army’s training network. 

The value of the two ranges to the adjacent communities, in particular Port Augusta, Roxby Downs and Coober Pedy, is significant given the flow-on effects of the spending by Army and their personnel in these centres during their training.  By way of example over a six-week period in early 2004 over 900 people spent time at the Cultana range and expended substantial sums throughout the Port Augusta community.  This was repeated in 2006 with a further 600 training at the start of the year.

Army has committed to enhancing their force structure by establishing a new mechanised battalion in South Australia. Importantly for the region the majority of their training  is likely to be in northern South Australia. Supporting the ongoing training activities particularly at Cultana will require new infrastructure to handle the intermodal shift of goods and equipment particularly army vehicles such as tanks and ASLAV’s.


My Video I Made Of My Squadrons Leopard AS1 Tanks In Action At Cultanna [sic] Training Range 2006,BSHEVLIN, YouTube, 2007-07-21


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Special forces commando Lance Corporal Mason Edwards shot dead at Cultana base in South Australia during live-fire training exercises, Sam Rodrigues, AAP, 

The Army has defended the use of live ammunition in training exercises after the death of a soldier last night. Lance Corporal Mason Edwards, 30, who has served in Afghanistan twice, was killed and another soldier was injured at Cultana Military Base near Port Augusta during live-fire training exercises last night, AdelaideNow reports. Chief of Army Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie said the 30-year-old soldier was preparing for his third deployment to Afghanistan. Lance Corporal Mason was killed when shot in the head, and another soldier was seriously injured, while taking part in a night-time firing exercise at Cultana training area at 9.30pm yesterday.  The injured soldier was a member of the special forces and has not been named, but Defence said he was a in a stable condition. “The activity was associated with mission-specific training in an upcoming Afghanistan deployment,” Lt-Gen Gillespie told reporters in Canberra.

Lance Corporal Edwards was a member of the Second Commando Regiment. “The military task being refined at the time was that of close quarter or confined space direct action task,” Lt-Gen Gillespie said, adding it was for use of lethal force in a complex environment. “Such a task … precludes a demanding mission rehearsal exercise always conducted by special forces.” Most of the soldiers involved in the training were veterans of multiple operations tours in the Middle East.

A veteran told AdelaideNow this morning that live-fire exercises at Cultana are generally held outdoors, with soldiers given a specific target. Live machine gun fire is generally volleyed overhead and from behind to give the soldiers the impression of being fired upon. The veteran, who has trained at Cultana, said the firing was usually done from a machine gun mounted on a tripod, requiring precision angles from safety co-ordinators and firing soldiers. “Definitely there are angles involved, somebody has to coordinate the firing over the top of their head,” the former elite soldier said. “If they got angles wrong, because it is generally coming from behind, then it’s firing at head height,” he said.

Army’s Cultana base near Port Augusta used for Afghanistan exercises, Advertiser, 2009-10-21

The 470sq/km Cultana Army Base in the state’s Mid-North is considered one of the Australian Defence Force’s most important assets and is used for both land and sea training and equipment testing between Port Augusta and Whyalla. Main roads and the transcontinental rail corridor are used as part of major military exercises and the terrain is similar to parts of  Afghanistan. Helicopters, tanks and armoured personnel carriers are used  in major exercises. Cultana is in the process of a three-fold expansion to cater for live-fire exercises, but the project has been significantly delayed since being announced in 2005. The ADF is proposing to buy all, or part of, six stations in the area: Corunna, Katunga, Pandurra, Lincoln Park, Tregalana and Roopena.

Cultana to triple in size, Whyalla News, 2006/01/31

Cultana defence training area could triple in size within the next five years, according to parliamentary secretary for defence Teresa Gambaro. The Defence Minister has approved land acquisitions between the existing training area and Iron Knob. This land, in addition to the current 48,000 hectares, would make Cultana one of Australia’s largest military training areas. Just how much land was acquired would depend on negotiations with leaseholders of nearby stations. However, the defence department proposed to acquire all of Tregalana Station and all or part of Roopena and Katunga stations.

A brief history of the 9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

9RAR was the youngest battalion of The Royal Australian Regiment. LTCOL A.L. (Alby) Morrison formed the battalion on 13th November 1967 at Woodside, in South Australia and completed its raising and training in nine months. The unit left Australia for service in Vietnam, fully trained and operational, in November 1968. In Australia the battalion trained in Woodside, Cultana and the Flinders Ranges in South Australia.

See also

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Updated: 21 October 2009