The Honeysuckle Site today


 

Today, the Honeysuckle Creek site is a quiet place. The heady days of Apollo, Skylab, and the Deep Space Network are gone.

Nevertheless, the memories remain.

 

Honeysuckle display
Hamish Lindsay at what is left of Honeysuckle Creek, October 2003.

 

After it closed in 1981, the tracking station site lay abandoned and, in its remote location, the buildings were badly vandalised until the ACT government decided to demolish them.

It wasn’t until 2000 that a permanent display to mark the site was built. John Saxon explains how the display came to be –

“I was somewhat surprised one day to get an invitation from the ‘Minister for everything’ [Brendan Smythe MLA, ACT Urban Services Minister] to attend a breakfast opening of the Camping grounds at the site. Turns out Mike was out of town – at Parkes I think?

As I was the only ex-HSK worker there, the press took rather more interest in me than the Minister. But he took it very well and when I suggested that it was a great shame that there really were no signs saying that some fairly momentous historical events had taken place close to the new camping ground.

Actually there was one small sign that Mike had paid for out of his CDSCC budget. Brendan Smythe said he would see what he could do, and eventually (much to my surprise) allocated $60K for the signs.

The rest as they say is history. My only regret is that we were not consulted on the content and wording of the signs early enough in the process. But at least we were able to correct the majority of errors, but not the concepts.”

The Honeysuckle memorial consists of several displays in various spots on the foundations of the Operations building. In addition, there is a steel spire where the antenna was. See the photos below. It was officially opened in October 2000.

These first photos are from the early 2000s:

 

Honeysuckle partial pan

This partial panorama (approx. 180°) is taken looking back to where the Operations building was.

The mound where the antenna was is on the left. Note the trees burnt by the January 2003 bushfires. This photo was taken in October 2004. (Panorama: Colin Mackellar)

Mike Dinn writes – “Note the bushes to the left of the car. They were adjacent to the front door path (top side) and appear on every HSK picture of the front after the opening. Their size can be used to calibrate at least the relative date of a photo, if not the absolute one.”


Opening of the HSK memorial

Brendan Smythe MLA Urban Services Minister of the ACT (left) and Dr Miriam Baltuck, the NASA Senior Science Representative in Australia officially opening the display on 6th October 2000.

Photo: Hamish Lindsay.


Honeysuckle display
Hamish Lindsay regards the display.

Honeysuckle display

Janelle Mackellar at the display.

 

In more recent years, the signage has been upgraded (photos to come).

For the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 in July 2019:

 

Honeysuckle display

This installation, recalling Neil Armstrong’s first words as he stepped onto the lunar surface, was unveiled on July 20, 2019.

The installation is on the slope leading from the site of the Operations Building up to the Antenna pad. It’s where this post-Apollo 11 staff photo was taken.

In the lead up to the anniversary, the management of the Namadgi National Park went to a great deal of effort to improve the site and to commission this installation. We plan to have plenty more photos when time permits.

Photo: ACT Parks and Conservation Service.