That first step on the moon was our’s damnit!

johnboy 16 July 2009 49

With all the hoopla surrounding the 40th anniversary of the first landing on the moon (a feat we’re unable to replicate today) the Courier Mail has a definitive piece explaining how the ACT’s Honeysuckle Creek was the real hero of those iconic images, and not Parkes which stole the glory in “The Dish“, and from thence into popular culture.

    After years of confusion and controversy over whose pictures were used when, most now agree Honeysuckle Creek relayed the pictures of Armstrong’s historic first step.

    Houston then switched to Parkes for all but the first eight minutes or so of the two-and-a-half-hour broadcast.

    The reason? Armstrong caught everyone on the hop by deciding to venture out ahead of schedule.

    The astronauts were supposed to sleep for six hours, but who could sleep? They had just landed on the moon.

    Parkes was set up to be the main Australian station, but the moon had not quite risen there yet.

Sure, they did two hours and twenty odd minutes of astronauts goofing around on the lunar surface, but who gives a toss about that compared to the one small step?

[Photo courtesy of Colin Mackellar’s Honeysuckle Creek tribute page]

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49 Responses to That first step on the moon was our’s damnit!
astrojax astrojax 9:54 am 18 Jul 09

bingo berra, suggest anna watches the re-run of stateline, on abc (is it midday today?) which had an excellent piece on the matter last night – bet those chaps involved still pinch themselves to think ‘that was me!’

[an ex-ms astro’s father was the doctor at military parkes monitoring the astronauts; but wasn’t lampooned at all in ‘the dish’ and was most peeved ; ) ]

BerraBoy68 BerraBoy68 9:46 am 18 Jul 09

My understanding (more than happy to be corrected) is that Parkes was meant to do the transmission but due to Armstrong’s keen-ness to get down that ladder (who could blame him) Parkes weren’t ready with the link so our guys (yes, our guys!) at Honesuckle just sucked it up and did the job! When Parkes finally got their act into gear (some 8 minutes late) responsibility for the transmission was passed to them.

Anna Key Anna Key 7:04 am 18 Jul 09

Pardon my ignorance, but can someone explain the Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek roles? I thought Parkes carried the tv footage but Honeysuckle handled the actual mission control stuff.

BerraBoy68 BerraBoy68 3:28 pm 17 Jul 09

Danman said :

50km south from Tuggeranong, on Apollo Road – off Naas road is it ?

It’s not that far away, only on small step for (a) man really. It’s not like it’s on the moon or anything!

I can’t say I saw the moon landing (I was only 1) but I’m so very I’m glad I can tell my kids it happened in my lifetime. I was explaining to my son only this morning that out of all mankind that ever lived, only 12 people have ever been to the moon. Amazing, truly amazing.

Maybe its because it’s Friday, or maybe it because I’m tired, but I will never cease to be both amazed and proud that 1) we’ve been to the moon! and 2) that those few minutes of amazing grainy, black and white footage – seen around the world – was relayed around the world FROM THE MOON by this beautiful city. Parkes be damned.

Rebos Rebos 2:31 pm 17 Jul 09

Gungahlin Al said :

My dad had a friend who worked in the Deakin phone exchange (at least that’s what they *called* it 😉 )
He was able to sit with him and listen in on the transmissions between our bases and NASA.

I have PMG (Telstra)technical circuit diagrams and documents/operational journals of the NASCOM system which PMG managed on behalf of NASA, most equipment then housed on a floor at the ‘old’ Deakin exchange. (PMG provided the links and equipment for NASA) PMG played a major part in getting the images from Honeysuckle to the USA. These journals were written in 1969 and show exactly how the signals were derived and split to various endpoints. Signal was sent via radio from Honeysuckle to Williamsdale through to Red Hill, (when the radio masts were still inplace)down to Deakin exchange, then through the PMG terrestrial network to the OTC exchange in Sydney. A split was made at OTC for the benefit of Australian viewers. The signal was then sent via Hawai to the US. Puts any end to debate on who sent the first signals, go Honeysuckle!

In 1986 I was on a project where we had to re-commission the then ‘Telecom’ telco links and equipment through to Honeysuckle for comms for Army manouveres. At this stage the buildings had been vacant for a couple of years but were still in good condition and the generators were still working. Booners had not valdalised them yet.

churl churl 2:28 pm 17 Jul 09

Gungahlin Al said :

Thanks for the links. Looks like a great 4WD day tripping around all those old tracks. Maybe even a big loop through there then back up via Mt Franklin to home (after a snowfall…).

Nice idea but it’s “wilderness” so you cant even mountain bike, let alone drive from Franklin to Orroral. Pity as it is one of the best ACT rides…

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 12:05 pm 17 Jul 09

(Or just walk into their shopfront at Symnonston… Be sure to take some small chldren along to see the shinypretties in the foyers)

Pandy Pandy 10:55 am 17 Jul 09

Danman Danman 10:49 am 17 Jul 09

Unfortunately, Vandals have zero appreciation for the historical significance of buildings like this, and Orroral Valley.

I have it on quite reliable information that they were both being seriously considered as museums before the vandals had their way…

Such a waste to ruin something of such high sceintific significance…But then vandals only care for the hear and now sound of things breaking.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 10:10 am 17 Jul 09

Thanks for the links. Looks like a great 4WD day tripping around all those old tracks. Maybe even a big loop through there then back up via Mt Franklin to home (after a snowfall…).
Where can you buy topo maps in Canberra?

GardeningGirl GardeningGirl 11:41 pm 16 Jul 09

Spectra said :

Such a shame that all that’s left of such an historic site is a bunch of concrete slabs and a couple of signs 🙁

So true 🙁

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 11:25 pm 16 Jul 09

Here’s a pic of the Honeysuckle Creek site I took back in 2006…

I’ll add a few more in another post which jb will need to approve.

Thumper Thumper 10:50 pm 16 Jul 09

Yeah caf, I studied this sort of thing at uni and the way to stop it is to restrict access. Indeed studied the actual site in question.

Simple as that. Sadly, if people can get somehwere easily then they will vandalise it…

Isn’t that sad…

caf caf 10:43 pm 16 Jul 09

It’s staggering to consider that someone could be so committed to the cause of vandalising abandoned buildings, that they’d drive all the way out there just to smash some toilets.

Danman Danman 9:07 pm 16 Jul 09

Crappy… My links work not…



Danman Danman 9:05 pm 16 Jul 09

50km south from Tuggeranong, on Apollo Road – off Naas road is it ?

Google maps does deliver…

Right Here

And dont forget Orroral Valley Tracking Station…On Orroral Road – which is off Boyoban Road which is off Naas Road…Confused??? Shrouded by clouds on this day unfortunately.

Felix the Cat Felix the Cat 7:58 pm 16 Jul 09

Gungahlin Al said :

And where is Honeysuckle Creek anyway (he says knowing he should just google it…) – I know I went there as a kid because I recognise it from the photo above.

Head out south past Tharwa and turn right into Apollo Rd – about 20km to Honeysuckle Creek from Tharwa.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 6:24 pm 16 Jul 09

PS: my new 6 x 4m patch of turf is starting to look like that now too – yay for tank water.

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