The Internet has never failed to be an extraordinary source of inspiration, knowledge, and excitement for me. Last year I was doing some research on missiles for a science fiction story I’m writing about the silo, when a site popped up that ended with the letters au. I was curious, and soon discovered a war museum on the Gold Coast was closing its doors and selling off its displays, one being a full scale model of a Tomahawk Cruise Missile, and the other being a pair of Sidewinder Missiles. I bought them for next to nothing, but storing them until I could decide what to do with them was another thing. The Tomahawk being a beautiful object in its own right, I intended to use it as part of a sculpture exhibition entitled “The Utility of Life.” Luckily, a friend loaned me the use of his joinery workshop, but a year later he needed to move out, and so did the missile. I didn’t have many options, so I hired a forklift and attempted to squeeze it through my 1st floor office. I wish I had a camera handy at the time, because the sight of my friend balancing a six metre long cruise missile, five meters over the passing traffic was truly a Kodak Moment. I clearly remember that swaying motion, and the wheels of the forklift lifting of the ground every time we attempted to manoeuvre the missile into the window. Afraid that somebody was going to get hurt, we lowered it back onto the truck, and scheduled a day to deliver it to the country house. Delivery came a few days later, and I was waiting at the General Store in Kangaroo Valley when I received a call from Carlos. “Where are you?” I asked. “Errr, hi Alex. Look, we’ve had a bit of trouble on the M5.” “What sort of trouble,” I asked with a sinking inflection. “The missile,” he said sparingly, “It’s caused a few problems with the traffic when it launched off the back of the truck.” I never saw my Tomahawk again.
So anyway, although I never saw my Tomahawk again, I still had my two Sidewinders, and this time, I transported them myself. They did look a little odd atop of my 4x4, and I also posted a little sign in the back window, but I’m not about to tell you what it read. It was during the start of the second Gulf War however, and needless to say, I did get a lot of thumbs-up by passing travellers.
Since 9/11, and for reasons that don’t surprise me, I’ve been inundated with questions about the silo and its capacity to protect against nuclear and biological threats. The inquiries are mostly legitimate and reasonable, but that hideously fateful day brought out some scary characters too. Needless to say, the silo became hot property, its value “rocketed”, and vindication was mine!