Hamish Lindsay

Hamish Lindsay 2014

Hamish Lindsay, April 2013. Photo: Colin Mackellar.

Hamish Lindsay was born in London in 1937 and his first port of call was the west coast of Scotland, before shipping out to Bombay (now Mumbai) in India, where he first went to school.

The family moved to Tasmania, on an oil tanker in 1946. In Tasmania he finished his schooling and trained as a Technical Officer with the then Post Master General’s Department (PMG). As soon as he finished his training he became a senior Technical Officer with the Radio Installation Group – and his first major assignment was a survey to draw the complete field strength contour maps of all the radio stations in the state.

In 1960 he moved to Sydney as a commercial photographer before joining Amalgamated Wireless Australasia’s (AWA) Field Installation Group where he was on the teams to install the first country television stations in Australia. While with AWA he was responsible for the design and installation of all the RAAF Control Towers around Australia in preparation for the new Mirage jet fighters.

In 1963 Hamish joined the Muchea tracking station team for training for the new Carnarvon Gemini Project tracking station where he was responsible for the maintenance and operation of the voice receivers and time standards. With an empty building in Carnarvon he began as the station telephonist and draftsman until the equipment arrived and they began the installation phase. The equipment at both Carnarvon and Honeysuckle were assembled according to Hamish’s drawings.

Hamish Lindsay at Carnarvon

Hamish at his station in front of the voice receivers at Carnarvon during the Gemini V mission. Scan: Colin Mackellar.

In 1966 Hamish left Carnarvon and completed a three month course at Collins Radio in Dallas, Texas, before joining the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station team as the Ranging and Timing technician in the Unified S Band (USB) area. Again it was building a station from scratch, working with the American Collins Radio installation team. He rode the antenna on its first move, checking for obstructions as it rolled around the limits.

In 1968 he was promoted to Supervisor of the Technical Support Section (TSS) with a staff of six, but joined the USB team for shift work on all the Apollo missions.

Hamish Lindsay 1969
Hamish at work on the Honeysuckle Tracking Data Processor in the USB area – from an Australian Information Service film – July 1969.

Hamish Lindsay 01 Oct 2003

Hamish (right) chats with Australian Prime Minister John Gorton at Honeysuckle site about two hours after the first manned lunar landing, Monday July 21st 1969.

Click the image to go to the section on the Prime Minister’s visit.

HSK Antenna

Here’s Hamish standing on the apex of the Honeysuckle Creek antenna with his theodolite, surveying the Horizon profile. August 1971.

2021 scan of 4x5 inch negative by Colin Mackellar.

Hamish with theodolite

Hamish Lindsay writes, “The Technical Support Section (TSS) had many varied jobs. As I had a theodolite, one job was limited surveying – such as the station boundary and the antenna horizon profile.”

Photo: Hamish Lindsay,
2018 scan of 4x5 inch negative: Colin Mackellar.

Hamish at servo control

Hamish at the servo console that controlled the antenna during an ALSEP track, 10th February 1974.

ALSEP was the Apollo Lunar Science Experiments Package left behind by each Apollo mission. The signal from the ALSEP is clearly visible as a blip on the screen of the oscilloscope sitting on top of the console.

He writes, “Controlling the antenna was one of my duties during unmanned flight tracking periods and during the Deep Space era.”

The USB section was the only equipment room at Honeysuckle Creek with an outside view – to see the antenna.

Hamish at servo control

Here’s another view of Hamish at the servo console, 10th February 1974.

Scan and image repair by Colin Mackellar, 2019.

Hamish Lindsay

Hamish Lindsay with Astronaut David Scott, who flew on Gemini 8, Apollo 9 and Apollo 15.

Hamish Lindsay

Hamish Lindsay at the Transmitter controls, turning the tuning knob to capture the Voyager 2 spacecraft’s transponder.

“The downlink from the spacecraft was fed from the antenna to the receivers to the right of me.  

Once It took four hours for my tuning to get to Voyager spacecraft at Saturn and back to the receivers. In those days it was manually tuned (it is automatic now) and once I had to turn it carefully for 35 minutes, turning at one and a quarter turns a second watching the clock right in front of my eyes, wait one minute, then tune back for ten minutes to what we called Tracksyn Frequency. And that at the end of a midnight shift.”


When Honeysuckle Creek left the Manned Space Flight Network (MSFN) and joined the Deep Space Network (DSN) he was put in charge of the dismantling of the station.

During the Deep Space era he was assigned to develop a Canberra Space Centre for the public at Tidbinbilla, and carried out the duties of a public affairs officer. At the same time he was called on to the operational shifts for relief work, at times the duty shift supervisor in the absence of the regular supervisor.

In November 1981 he was on the last track of Honeysuckle Creek and was one of the last eight personnel to pull the station apart and walk out of the door to close the era of Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station.

To document the story of Honeysuckle Creek he wrote a book called Tracking Apollo to the Moon but no publisher was prepared to print it until Springer Verlag in London called it a ‘fantastic book’ – but they wanted it to be re-written as an international book – so a lot of the Australian material had to be removed. Reviews of the book are elsewhere on this website.

Hamish has many memories of the ‘golden era’ of space exploration, but the main events to him were Ed White’s first American space walk, the 14-day Gemini mission, Apollo 8, Apollo 11, Apollo 13, the Viking landing on Mars, and the Voyager encounter with Saturn.

Perhaps the Apollo 8 mission when humans left the earth for the first time and headed into the unknown was the most exciting of all the missions, though the tense atmosphere in the operational areas during the moments before Armstrong stepped on the Moon are embedded in his bones.

Hamish Lindsay 01 Oct 2003

Hamish at the Honeysuckle site in October 2003.

Behind him is the silver monument marking the location of the Honeysuckle 85 foot dish. Photo: Colin Mackellar

Hamish Lindsay

Hamish Lindsay with Neil Armstrong in Sydney, August 2011.

Photo: John Sarkissian.

Hamish Lindsay 2014

Hamish Lindsay at Tidbinbilla, April 2013. Photo: Colin Mackellar.

Hamish Lindsay 2014

Hamish Lindsay with his trusty Linhof Super Technika 4x5 camera.

Portrait © William Hall, 2014.


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