I've just moved from Adelaide to the southern Riverina. A few nights ago I went out for dinner with a number of more "senior" folk. I took the opportunity to ask them what they remembered of the launch of Sputnik and the Cold War activities at Woomera.
A few said that they were very aware of Sputnik 1, and even went out to watch it. There was no fear, nor a special sense of excitement; it was just an interesting thing going on. As for Woomera, no-one had been particularly aware of what was going on there at all.
What people did talk about was the bombing of Darwin in WW II. At the time it was downplayed, because the government did not wish to alarm people, and it is still not widely known even among Darwin residents, said Rachel who had lived in Darwin for the last few years.