We’ve explored some fairly tall places in the past, but none compare to the Omega Tower at VLF Woodside.
It’s the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere. She towers over Q1 and Eureka Tower, clocking in at 427m from the ground to the topmost point. It took only 30 days to build the tower itself.
Built as the precursor to GPS by the US Coast Guard, the Omega Navigation system broadcast “Pings” at set times from each of the 9 Omega Stations around the globe. This enabled Ships & Aircraft to find their location down to about 2km.
Following the shutdown of the Omega system in 1997, the Omega Tower was gifted to the Australian Navy. They used it to send orders to Submarines until 2004, and “classified” transmissions until 2008, when the tower finally fell silent.
The tower itself, still stands, towering half a vertical kilometer in the sky, totally abandoned. At the base lies the transmitter (almost 15,000 times as powerful as your mobile phone), power generation, offices and the Helix Building – a giant Faraday cage containing a wooden helix coil, engineering porn at it’s finest!
With the sun peaking over the horizon, and some light fog, we made our way past the signs reminding us that this was a military facility, past the radiation hazard signs, past the electrified fences and guard cows, to the base of the tower.
We entered a climbing trance as we climbed up the inside of the tower. Continuously saying “Oh look, we’re only 2 platforms off the top.” from about the 5th platform to the 9th, it’s hard to judge distance.
At the top, we wasted half an hour taking in the view & dropping little parachute army men. At some point it was decided it’d be a good idea to go sliding out and down the guy wires.
After a little jaunt out onto the guy wires, we all clipped on and started the 2 hour long section-by-section rappel back down to the ground. We waved a goodbye to the Omega Tower, and a brisk run for the few K’s back to the car, hoping to god we wouldn’t find any MPs waiting for us at the base…
As we pulled back out onto the main road, and started the 3 hour drive back to Melbourne, knowing we’d done something rather special. For 30 glorious minutes we’d been on top of the world.