Tag Archives: Historic Location

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Excursion: Honeysuckle Creek

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Categories: Australia, Hobbies, Normal, Personal, South Pacific, Tags: , , , ,

This morning Damian and I took a little science excursion and visited the former site of the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station, south of Canberra.  It’s only about a 40 minute drive from the heart of the Nation’s capital, and this unassuming location played a huge role in the Apollo program of the 1960s and 1970s:

The Honeysuckle Creek station is most famous for being the antenna which received and relayed to the world the first historic TV images of astronaut Neil Armstrong setting foot on the Moon on 21 July 1969.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honeysuckle_Creek_Tracking_Station

Ever since we re-watched the seminal Australian film “The Dish (2000)” (which I  highly recommend), I was curious about this other Australian tracking station which played a part in the famous Neil Armstrong moonwalk.  Being so close to Canberra, it’s a wonder I waited this long to explore!  The trip takes you south past the southernmost tip of Tuggeranong, out past Tharwa and across the rustic one way bridge and into the Namadgi National Park.

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There’s a decent sign pointing the way to former Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station (HSK), above – but nothing leading to or from the T-intersection hints at the historic location buried within the National Park. 
Once you make the right turn west, it’s nothing but rolling hills and winding road..

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It’s only a few minutes from the turnoff that you arrive at what is now known as the Honeysuckle Creek camping grounds, and at first it’s a bit hard to get your bearings.  Once a thriving centre of scientific exploration is now home mostly to concrete and scattered bush.  There’s a few decently appointed plaques and photos erected on top of the foundations of the former station, but not much else remains.

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Despite completely clearing the grounds, the terrain was untouched and looks as it would have back in the station’s heyday.  The information on site shows a floor plan of the station as well as aerial photographs of the facility when it was opened back in 1967, by the then Prime Minister – Harold Holt (who obviously wasn’t getting too carried away…).

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Properly orientated, the view from the foundations towards where the dish would have sat was quite emphatic. 
There’s still concrete stairs which would have linked the station to the dish, as depicted in the old photos. 

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One the way there’s another console style information panel with information on the constellations above.  It must be some view of the heavens out here at night, free of the city lights..

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We’re challenged by the information to locate the shower – it’s still there, to a degree.

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The steps leading from the driveway to the front of the station still exist to this day – but time has not been particularly kind to them.
It seems like we’re the only people for miles around, we have the whole place to ourselves, and the weather presented us with blue skies and the heat of a low 30s early March day.

After exploring the facility foundations, we made our way up to the location which once accepted man’s first video transmission from the moon: the antenna.

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Finally, a pan of the foundations of the antenna.  There’s some additional stands around the base of the foundation, although nothing which would replace the height and impressiveness of the original antenna, which is only a few kms away now, resting in retirement at Tidbinbilla Tracking Station.

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If you’re interested in further reading about Honeysuckle Creek, this website dedicated to HSK is worth a look.

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Day 12 – Wanaka, Arrowtown

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Categories: New Zealand, South Pacific, Trip 2014, Tags: , , , ,

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The day started a little late yet again, courtesy of a 2am Jake panic attack.  By the time breakfast had wound up (as it were), we were staring down the barrel of 10:30am/11:00am and Toni was not much better than yesterday.  I made the call to go to the town chemist to see if there was anything we could get her.  On the way back to the resort, we had to stop at the local playground for some playtime for Jake and Damian.

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Empty pool/On the way south

Upon our return, the resort seemed positively deserted, the once heavily populated pool and slide now empty.  The forecast called for slight rain and clouds, so – in short – not a pleasant day at all.  Once back in the room, to the protestation of the boys, we fed each of them lunch and I diligently went about putting together a travel bag.  In the end I asked Toni to stay at the Wyndham and to rest up in the hopes that some rest and time away from the boys (who are very clingy) might be the cure.

Just after 1pm the boys and I set off for Arrowtown, driving back via the Crown Ridge passage.  The trip took just over 45 minutes and was longer due to the terribly poor driving skills of some other drivers.  I did not stop along the way, rather just focused on reducing the total drive time and also to try and time a catch up with Toni and Matt who are staying nearby in Queenstown.  Let’s just say that in the South Island, there seems to be two types of drivers: those who tailgate and those who drive 20 km/hr under the speed limit.  Both are equally annoying.

Arrowtown

We arrived in Arrowtown a wee bit before 2pm.

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Markets/Main street

Once we arrived in Arrowtown we found it quite crowded.  There were markets on in the main gardens area, and parking was sparse.  Luckily we found a spot almost immediately upon turning past the information centre.  We got out and visited said centre where I bought the boys a wooden jigsaw type toy each, and picked up a local guide.  I looked at the map and figured out where to meet Toni and Matt, and together we explored the town.

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Jake investigates telephone booth/Damian at attention

First stop was the local markets where they had clothing, food and keepsakes on offer.  It was quite nice and I think Toni (Sanders) would have liked to browse here.  We did a circuit of the markets before returning to the main road and walking back up to the (Queenstown) end.  Here we let the boys loose on a green area called the Village Green, which was framed nicely by old timey restaurants in stone buildings.  There was also a rather large (and off kilter) Xmas tree at the end of the green.

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View from town/Village green

After a good run around, we gathered the boys and went on a walk down to see the former settlement house of the Chinese immigrants who worked these areas when they were gold fields.  The house was tiny on the inside and served as a general store.

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Chinese Settlement/Store

After we’d visited the settlement, we walked down to the nearby Arrow River and Jake took a semi dip in the well flowing river.  It wasn’t particularly deep, but the water was a beautiful azure colour, and pretty clear at that. 

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Arrow River

After a while we headed back up into town and bought some ice creams at the town’s Patagonia (a franchise we’d visited in Queenstown).  I had cookies and cream + caramel and cream, Jake had Hokey Pokey and Damian had Strawberry Sorbet.

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Patagonia

It started to rain slightly as we sat outside, so we moved indoors.  Damian decided he’d give the coffee grinder a run for its money competing for noise, so Toni took him for a stroll while Matt, Jake and I finished our ice creams.  When Damian and Toni returned it was time for goodbyes as we’d just clocked in at 4:40pm and we had at least an hours’ drive back. 

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Our itinerary in Arrowtown

We said our goodbyes and I departed back towards Wanaka.  Instead of going via the Crown Ridge I decided to take the route via Cromwell – this added about 15-20 minutes, but I wanted a change of scenery.  On the way, we briefly stopped at a large rapids called ‘roaring meg’ which was quite impressive.  The road was only slightly less mountainous than the Crown Ridge, but really only had one overtaking lane, so no net benefit.

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Roaring Meg

Here’s a look at the overall route for the day:

Route

Tune in to see what we get up to tomorrow… if anything Sad smile

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