Australian Rocketry’s Thunda Down Under 2015

Rocket Panel

DON’T MISS THIS FIRST-TIME EVER EVENT. Australian Rocketry’s Thunda Down Under will showcase the biggest, best and the most spectacular rocket launches from across the globe.

Over the last decade or so, the sport of rocketry has grown significantly not only in Australia but around the world and as such has seen a number of talented individuals and groups build and operate some amazing vehicles. With technology making it ever so easy to communicate globally, a community of like minded enthusiasts has forged internationally.

In recent years, a number of Australian’s have had the opportunity to visit other rocketry launches around the world. From North America to Europe to Asia, many strong relationships have been built and now we would like to invite the world to fly Down Under.

A select few have teamed together to bring you Australian Rocketry’s Thunda Down Under 2015. Whether you are an Australian or from the far reaches of the globe, ARTDU is not just a rocketry event, it is an experience like no other. For international visitors, there is nothing quite like Australia which will also make for an unforgettable holiday. Read on…..

  Ari Piirainen and Queensland Rocketry Society on Totally Wild 16 October 2013

Welcome to “Australian Rocketry’s Thunda Down Under 2015″ (ARTDU) official website. Here you will find all of the relevant information about the rocket launch, as well things to do whilst in Australia. Australian Rocketry’s Thunda Down Under will held between Thursday 12 and Sunday 15 March 2015. Be sure to visit back regularly as information will be posted as it becomes available.

For everyone overseas planning to visit Australia, there is a number Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) available in the menu above. There are also some useful resources including common conversions and just for some fun, some ‘Aussie Slang’ so you can hopefully understand what we are saying Down Under.

Discussions will be open on the Australian Rocketry Forum (www.ausrocketry.com/forum). Whether you plan to fly a rocket or just holiday in Australia, we encourage everyone to register on the forum.

Australia’s representative body for rocketry, the Australian Model Rocketry Society Inc. is proudly the host organisation for this truly international event. To contact Australian Rocketry’s Thunda Down Under 2015 team, simply fill out the form here. Alternatively, you can send an email to thunda@ausrocketry.com.au or call the director on (07) 3333 1655.


Thunda Down Under 2015 visitors have a range of options for their accommodation, with onsite camping preferred. There are 3 hotels within reasonable distance, and a 4th approximately 100km from the launchsite if you get desperate.

You might like to consider the cost of hiring a car and buying camping supplies compared to the cost of a motorhome (RV) which serves as your transportation and accommodation. Keep in mind the launchsite is 400km from Brisbane.

Launchsite location:
The launch property is approximately 15 minutes north of Westmar, for travel planning purposes aim for the Westmar Roadhouse at the intersection of Meandarra-Talwood Rd, and the Moonie Highway, at Westmar. We’re liaising with the farmer as to which field we’re launching from, and the full details including directions within the site itself will be published closer to the launch date.

Staying onsite is recommended – camping under the Aussie night sky is something to be experienced, whether you grab a swag, tent, or motorhome (RV) you’ll have a great time. Toilet facilities will be available.

For the less adventurous, there is limited accommodation available at the following locations however they are at a minimum 20-30 minutes from the launchsite, to over an hour away – driving at dusk or in the early morning is discouraged due to the high likelihood of hitting a kangaroo, emu or pig.

Hotel accommodation:
The Westmar Roadhouse Hotel Motel – Pub, basic cabin accommodation, groceries, fuel (diesel and 91RON only) and alcohol supplies. This is the closest accommodation to the launchsite (20-30 min drive).
Cnr Meandarra-Talwood Rd and Moonie Hwy, Westmar 4406.

Totally Wild watches Ari’s Intimidator 4 take to the skies 

 Full Scale V2 – World Record Largest Model Rocket

Peenemünde Museum replica of V-2 – V-2 rocket

From one of the greatest minds in aerospace, Wernher von Brauhn’s V2 is by far one of the most historic rockets ever made. Karl Hemphill (project leader) is excited that 2015 will see Rocketry Victoria’s creation become a reality with a full scale replica of the infamous V2. This will be launched on a 150mm ‘O’ class motor. A couple of years ago, Karl had a vision – build and fly the worlds largest amateur rocket. With the announcement of Thunda Down Under in 2015, the time and place for constructing and flying the rocket had arrived.

Rocketry Victoria has well and truly rallied behind him and the vast array of talents and energy of its members are being brought together. Karl is providing the workshop for the assembly of the rocket and it is a breathtaking sight. Standing next to the fins and having to strain your neck to see over the top of them gives you some impression on how enormous this task will be. Click here to check the progress of the World Record V2 Rocket doing its one and only launch at ARTDU

SUPPORT PROGRAM by Mid North Coast Astronomy

Mid North Coast Astronomy have been selected to be co-sponsors of the event and contributors to the activities. I am doing a full blown Powerpoint lecture one night, we will be going group night viewings through our scopes and during the days safe solar viewing for all visitors and competitors. below is a run down on our activities:

‘Secrets Of The Universe’

How was the solar system formed? What are black holes? Will our sun really die? Will we live on Mars? How are stars made? Are there really other universes? These questions and more will be answered in a fascinating astronomy show called ‘Secrets of the Universe’.  Designed especially for Australian audiences by astronomy writer and lecturer David Reneke, ‘Secrets of the Universe is a full colour audio-visual program detailing the evolution of the Universe and the history of the space program. Dozens of amazing facts and figures about space will be revealed for everyone attending the talk.

Throughout the talk, David will be using the latest, most up to date visual material available from NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope. Audience members will marvel at close-up images of incredible planets, moons, stars, galaxies and black holes. They’ll revisit the Moon landing, examine the latest images of the surface of Mars – they’ll even get to hold a real meteorite, and much more! David Reneke is one of Australia s most well known and respected amateur astronomers and lecturers and has over 40 years experience in astronomy with links to some of the world s leading astronomical institutions.

David is also the publicist and writer for Australasian Science Magazine, he teaches astronomy at college level, is an invited speaker at astronomy conventions throughout Australia, a feature writer for major Australian newspapers, and is currently a science correspondent for ABC and commercial radio speaking on dozens of stations each week across the country on astronomy and space science issues. This unique show will leave you astounded and on the edge of your seat as you discover the ‘Secrets of the Universe.’

Night Sky Viewing

Afterwards, we head outside for telescope viewings. We conduct laser guided sky tours and show people how to identify the different planets, bright stars and constellations. We will have our members out on the field, under these uniquely dark Queensland skies with several high power pro grade telescopes operating to cater for the expected interest. The Moon, planets, stars and nebulae will be on show.

Safe Solar Viewing

During the day for anyone interested, Miud North Coast Astronomy group will also run some ‘safe solar viewing’ sessions allowing attendees unique viewings of the sun’s disc, large sunspots and solar flares if they are happening. This is a BIG crowd pleaser. We have been running these successfully here in NSW for years and we use only the world’s best solar filtering equipment. You’ll be amazed at what you see! Guaranteed. For more info emal Dave Reneke at davereneke@gmail.com or phone 0400 636 363.



The Australian contingent at Balls 2012, Black Rock Desert, Nevada**


 Queensland Rocketry Society on Totally Wild 04/08/2010

Ari Piirainen and Blake Nikolic join Richard Fidler in the studio to talk about rocketry and to promote the 14 March 2010 public launch and the inaugural Australian Youth Rocketry Challenge.

Who doesn’t love a rocket – the bigger the better – and there are no bigger homemade rockets than those at the Queensland Rocketry Society Launch day.


Guess who’s coming to town?

This morning, ARTDU 2015 organisers, Blake and Nic had the pleasure of chatting with an absolute legend of of the rocketry world. A former NASA engineer and well known for his amazing literature, the team at ARTDU 2015 are very excited to announce this very special guest will be coming Down Under in March 2015.

In the rocketry scene, he is probably best known for the book ‘Rocket Boys’ and movie‘October Sky’. If you haven’t already guessed it, Homer Hickam and his lovely wife Linda are now ready to take on an adventure of a life time in Australia.

Homer is confirmed as a guest speaker at the ‘Banquet Under the Stars’, which will undoubtedly be a highlight of Thunda Down Under 2015. For those who have not yet registered for the banquet, spots are almost full, so get in before it’s too late, not to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity: http://thunda.com.au/rocketry-information/registration/

We will be working with Linda and Homer to make sure there is opportunities to grab a photo and autographed copy of one of the fantastic titles on offer. More information will be available in the coming weeks.

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