Acknowledgments and info about this site

Contact details below.



About this website

(Written in December 2003, for the website launch. The site has grown a little since then.)

This site is an ongoing work by Colin Mackellar as a tribute to the pioneering work of all who were involved with NASA’s Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station.

I was too young to be personally involved in Apollo (if you look at this photo, that’s me in the foreground – standing outside the Honeysuckle gate in 1971. I was nearly 15). But I have always been very interested in both astronomy and manned space exploration. (On holidays our family will often just “happen” to find ourselves at places like Honeysuckle, Tidbinbilla, Parkes or Siding Spring.)

During the Apollo Program, both Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla were household names in Australia (as was the Parkes Radio Telescope) and I followed any media references to them closely.

It is surprising that there is not more information readily available about Honeysuckle (other than the tremendous resources of Hamish Lindsay’s book and Mike Dinn and John Saxon’s websites).

For that matter, there is very little on the Internet about Tidbinbilla, Goldstone or Madrid from the Apollo days. This website is the beginning of an attempt to help correct that.



This “Honeysuckle” website would not have been possible without the kindness and constant encouragement of three well known Honeysuckle identities – Mike Dinn, John Saxon and Hamish Lindsay. They have been extraordinarily helpful in scanning photos, sharing stories, answering questions and so on. (Hamish took most of the photos on this site. If I missed attributing a photograph, it’s a good guess that Hamish took it.)

I am also very grateful to many people – including many Honeysuckle Creek space trackers who have sent me a great deal of other material and given encouragement.

Mike Dinn with Colin July 2002

Mike Dinn and Colin Mackellar at Tidbinbilla, July 2002.

DSS-46 (the former Honeysuckle antenna) is in the background.

at Tidbinbilla July 2015

Mike Dinn, Colin Mackellar and Hamish Lindsay at Tidbinbilla, 22 July 2015.

at Tidbinbilla July 2015

Mike Dinn and Colin Mackellar in the brand new Tidbinbilla Operations Room, 27 September 2017.

Invitation to contribute / Appeal for help!

If you are a former Honeysuckle worker, or if you have information, photos, stories, grafitti, maps, etc. that you would like to share, I would be delighted to hear from you. (See ‘Contact’ below.)

I’m also very glad to hear from anyone who worked at other MSFN, DSN and STADAN stations.

I have larger versions of many of the photos on the web site – feel free to ask.

About me

I was born in Sydney and have lived here most of my life. My father and grandfather introduced me to amateur astronomy and I have continued that interest, even though living in light-polluted Sydney.

During the Gemini and Apollo missions I became closely interested in manned space exploration – and first learned of Honeysuckle in, I guess, 1968.

Colin with Saturn V model
Colin with Saturn V model

Me with the 1/96th scale Revell Saturn V model in 1969.

I studied Geology and Geophysics at University in the 1970s – in the hope that lots of geologists would be needed for interpreting the results of planetary exploration. It seemed like a good idea at the time!

I also remember ringing Honeysuckle in 1976, when the station was supporting Viking 1 – and spoke with several members of the team, who very kindly took the time to explain what was happening.

Apollo 15 sample 15415

Looking at a portion of the celebrated Apollo 15 sample 15415 (dubbed “The Genesis Rock”) in the Pristine Sample Laboratory of the Lunar Curatorial Facility at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

This piece of anorthosite crystallised around 4.09 billion years ago.

After working in exploration Geology (terrestrial only!) for a while, I turned to study Theology at Moore College in Sydney and was ordained into the Christian ministry in 1986.

For many years I was privileged to be the Minister at an Anglican church in Western Sydney.

(If you’d like to read one of my sermons with references to Honeysuckle in it, there’s one here from 2002 – a 100kb PDF.

And at the Apollo 11 35th anniversary lunch in The Canberra Club on July 21 2004, I was very grateful to be given the chance to say a few words – and you can read them here – pdf.)

I’m married to Janelle and we have three children.

In the 2019 Australia Day Honours list, I was surprised and honoured to receive a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division, “for service to community history” (meaning, mainly, this website and related activities, including participation in the Apollo 11 Telemetry Tape search). I’m very grateful to those who worked for that. I hope that our space trackers will see this award as a recognition of their pioneering work as well!


I’d love to hear from you. My contact details are –

Colin Mackellar


phone – 02 6100 6224 (Canberra)



I’d be surprised if there aren’t many mistakes on this site. Please tell me about them so I can get it right.

And if I have used any of your material and haven’t attributed correctly, please tell me so I can fix it.

Colin Mackellar

Site launched Sunday, 14 December 2003. Updated regularly, time permitting. Still going as of 2023, with plenty more to add. Please check the Updates page to see what’s new.

Since 2012, this website has been archived by the National Library of Australia.

HSK sign 1971

I’m outside the main fence at Honeysuckle Creek
on 9th October 1971
. The main gate is to the left, and the road behind me is the track to the coll. tower.

This is a new scan for the 40th anniversary of the photo being taken.

Large (1.1MB), larger (3.4 MB).

HSK sign 1971

That’s me – at the sign at the beginning of what is now called “Apollo Road”, leading up to Honeysuckle Creek – in October 1971.

Honeysuckle main gate 1971

I didn’t expect to be let in the front gate – and I wasn’t.
There was nobody on the gate that day!

(Large 1.5MB version here.)

And just for comparison, here are two photos of me in the same spot

– in 1971 and 2002.

In the 2002 image, the hill is still there – it’s just hidden behing the trees
(and the elevation of the photographer is slightly different).

The sad difference is that the Tracking Station isn’t there any more! :-(


Click image for a larger version.