A Visit to Honeysuckle Creek

hsk_1971_tnMy Return to Honeysuckle Creek

It had been 42 years since I visited Honeysuckle Creek. I was still a teenager at the time – 19 years old. I had just been working on comms for Apollo missions and had completed a lot of work wiring up comms for Apollo 11 gear at OTC Paddington. I had been on a pilgrimage to know ground zero zero for the reception of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon – Honeysuckle Creek. Many may have been mislead by the movie “The Dish” that indicated that Parkes had been the site that brought us those first steps. It was Honeysuckle Creek. Parkes did bring us the majority of the moonwalk, just not Armstrong’s first steps. The dish was about 30m and now resides at the NASA Deep Space Centre in Tidbinbilla near Canberra.

I had come to Canberra with my son Jason who had just turned 11. It was a massive space weekend. We came down for the 40th anniversary of NASA’s 70m dish at Tidbinbilla. We visited Mt Stromlo, Had dinner with the Honeysuckle Creek staff and wives, we were live on Canberra’s Fuzzy Logic science show with Robert Brand, Jennie and Len Limpus at Honeysuckle Creek in 1971Rod Taylor (2XX) for a whole hour and then we went to visit the Honeysuckle Creek site. Only foundations and storyboards are left at the site, but we had our own tour guides and what guides they were! Some of the original staff that brought those moon pictures back to earth. This picture (above) is of a young Colin Mackellar who has created a fabulous history of the Honeysuckle Creek site and even the role that my government department (I worked for OTC(A)) played in the the Apollo missions.

I too have a photo from my visit in 1971. I went there with some friends and my new bright red Toyota Corolla. Honeysuckle Creek was out on Apollo Road in the mountains south west of Canberra and south of Tharwa.

Our trip to the site was very pleasant and easy to drive since the entire road was sealed when the NASA site was established in the 60s. It is a campground now and an absolutely beautiful place to visit. The open areas are still grass. John Saxon (Honeysuckle Creek staff) and Hamish Lindsay (Honeysuckle Creek staff) gave us a really great tour of the site, explaining the operations and what the staff had to do. Jason loved rubbing shoulders with those history makers and enjoyed the drive, tour and the entire weekend.

John Saxon and Hamish Lindsay ex Honeysuckle Creek staff

John Saxon and Hamish Lindsay – ex Honeysuckle Creek staff

To visit the Honeysuckle Creek site website: CLICK HERE

Below are some photos from our visit.

“This was the site of the dish that brought the world Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon..”

From Honeysuckle Creek ACT. Moon Central, posted by Robert Brand on 4/15/2013 (12 items)

The mounting block for one leg of the antenna that now resides at the Canberra Deep Space Tracking Centre.

The mounting block for one leg of the antenna that now resides at the Canberra Deep Space Tracking Centre.

The mounting block for one leg of the antenna that now resides at the Canberra Deep Space Tracking Centre.

The mounting block for one leg of the antenna that now resides at the Canberra Deep Space Tracking Centre.

My car parked roughly in the same place as a 1971 picture. I visited the site in a pilgrimage to see the dish that brought us the Apollo 11 first steps on the Moon.

My car parked roughly in the same place as a 1971 picture. I visited the site in a pilgrimage to see the dish that brought us the Apollo 11 first steps on the Moon.

This mentions the simulations that had to be done to get the antenna ready for its lifetime of work.

This mentions the simulations that had to be done to get the antenna ready for its lifetime of work.

John Saxon (Honeysuckle Creek staff) and Hamish Lindsay (Honeysuckle Creek staff) stand in front of pictures showing the staff and operations of the site

John Saxon (Honeysuckle Creek staff) and Hamish Lindsay (Honeysuckle Creek staff) stand in front of pictures showing the staff and operations of the site

John Saxon (Honeysuckle Creek staff) and Hamish Lindsay (Honeysuckle Creek staff) stand at what was one the front door - basement level. The building's first floor extended further back on the rise behind them with the antenna in the distance

John Saxon (Honeysuckle Creek staff) and Hamish Lindsay (Honeysuckle Creek staff) stand at what was one the front door – basement level. The building’s first floor extended further back on the rise behind them with the antenna in the distance

Hamish Lindsay (Honeysuckle Creek staff) stands in front of pictures showing the staff and operations of the site. He is pointing to one of himself at the antenna console looking out at the antenna at night.

Hamish Lindsay (Honeysuckle Creek staff) stands in front of pictures showing the staff and operations of the site. He is pointing to one of himself at the antenna console looking out at the antenna at night.

Left to right: Andrew Renee (The Space Show, Melbourne), Colin Mackellar (Honeysuckle Creek historian), John Saxon (Honeysuckle Creek staff), Hamish Lindsay (Honeysuckle Creek staff), Naomi Mathers (ANU Mt Stromlo), Jason Brand (my son and budding deep space comms engineer), Peter Aylward (The Space Show, Melbourne)

Left to right: Andrew Renee (The Space Show, Melbourne), Colin Mackellar (Honeysuckle Creek historian), John Saxon (Honeysuckle Creek staff), Hamish Lindsay (Honeysuckle Creek staff), Naomi Mathers (ANU Mt Stromlo),
Jason Brand (my son and budding deep space comms engineer), Peter Aylward (The Space Show, Melbourne)

Left to right: Andrew Renee (The Space Show, Melbourne), Colin Mackellar (Honeysuckle Creek historian), John Saxon (Honeysuckle Creek staff), Hamish Lindsay (Honeysuckle Creek staff), Naomi Mathers (ANU Mt Stromlo), Robert Brand (me) and Jason Brand (my son and budding deep space comms engineer).

Left to right: Andrew Renee (The Space Show, Melbourne), Colin Mackellar (Honeysuckle Creek historian), John Saxon (Honeysuckle Creek staff), Hamish Lindsay (Honeysuckle Creek staff), Naomi Mathers (ANU Mt Stromlo), Robert Brand (me) and Jason Brand (my son and budding deep space comms engineer).

The mast indicates the focal point of the antenna that now resides at the Canberra Deep Space Tracking Centre.

The mast indicates the focal point of the antenna that now resides at the Canberra Deep Space Tracking Centre.

John Saxon (blue shirt) and Hamish Lindsay (white shirt, grey hair) show us around their old work place at the Honeysuckle Creek site - now a historic monument of markers and building slabs.

John Saxon (blue shirt) and Hamish Lindsay (white shirt, grey hair) show us around their old work place at the Honeysuckle Creek site – now a historic monument of markers and building slabs.

That is me (left) with girlfriend Jennie and school friend Len Limpus (right). It was Mar 21 1971 and I was 19 years old. The Corolla was my first car and I was still in my first year of driving according to the P plate on the front. We were visiting Honeysuckle Creek Tracking station. I knew no one then. Many that work there are now people that I would call friends. The dish (behind the trees) is the one that took the first TV pictures of Amstrong's first steps on the Moon. The dish has been relocated to NASA's deep space Network nearby in Tidbinbilla, ACT, but it has been basically turned into a monument. I Have known my friend Len since Kindergarten and still stay in contact. Jennie I met when I was 18 and also stay in contact.

That is me (left) with girlfriend Jennie and school friend Len Limpus (right). It was Mar 21 1971 and I was 19 years old. The Corolla was my first car and I was still in my first year of driving according to the P plate on the front. We were visiting Honeysuckle Creek Tracking station. I knew no one then. Many that work there are now people that I would call friends. The dish (behind the trees) is the one that took the first TV pictures of Amstrong’s first steps on the Moon. The dish has been relocated to NASA’s deep space Network nearby in Tidbinbilla, ACT, but it has been basically turned into a monument. I Have known my friend Len since Kindergarten and still stay in contact. Jennie I met when I was 18 and also stay in contact.

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