Orroral Valley Tracking Station, ACT


 

Construction, 1964-65


Bob Leslie writes,

“The Orroral Valley site for a tracking station to support earth orbiting satellites, as part of NASA’s Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STADAN), was selected in late 1963. The land was acquired from Mr Greenfield in April 1964 as notified in the Commonwealth Gazette No. 9 of 30 April 1964. An area of about 40 acres was fenced for the use of the station and the remainder of the land was returned to Mr Greenfield for agistment.

The contract for the construction of the station buildings, power house, antenna foundations, etc., was let by the Department of Works to T.H. O’Connor in August 1964.”

 

Orroral Valley

“Ernie, Laurie and T. O’Connor, Oct 1964.”
is the caption on the back of this photo from the Tidbinbilla archives.

T. H. O’Connor Pty. Ltd was involved with the construction of Tidbinbilla, Orroral Valley, and Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Stations (and many Canberra buildings). From the date, this photo probably related to the work for Orroral. Scan: Colin Mackellar.

 

Getting materials into Orroral Valley wasn’t an easy task. The terrain was rugged, and roads had to be created.

 

Orroral Valley

This photo from the Tidbinbilla archives shows DAF (Data Acquisition Facility – i.e. Orroral Valley) roadworks, 2nd March 1965.

 

Photo series from Richard Collins:

Richard Collins, Department of Supply, writes, “I took these while I accompanied the heavy transport team as they took building materials into the Orroral Valley. One of the slopes required two prime movers in tandem to move one load and this was after some dynamiting some of the rocky obstacles in the track.”

The photos of parts for the 26 metre antenna being transported to the site are probably from late 1964.


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A.


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B. Crossing the Tharwa Bridge.


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C. Crossing the Tharwa Bridge.


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D. Crossing the Tharwa Bridge, with only a little clearance on either side.


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E. Just across the western side of the bridge, in Tharwa.
Continue on Naas Road towards Orroral, or turn right to Tidbinbilla.


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F. Heading towards Orroral.


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H. Dick writes that this is
“Tiger Roach, the chief ganger, with his team.”


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I. “Tiger again, with his senior driver I knew only as ‘Dubbo’, presumably where he was born.”


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J.


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K. Philip Clark writes that this is “Rocky Crossing on the Gudgenby River. I believe that this crossing had to be constructed in order to get the antenna components to the site.”


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L.


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M. “A second prime mover assisted the leading one by pushing.”


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N. Antenna components on site.

With thanks to Dick Collins.

 

Orroral Valley

An unidentified gentleman points to the future location of the “Boresight Tower” (text written on back) in this photo found in the Tidbinbilla archives. This possibly refers to the SATAN Collimation Tower.

The Orroral 26 metre antenna is in the background.
Looking roughly South.

Scan: Colin Mackellar.