Cyril Fenwick – Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla


Cyril Fenwick, 1936 – 2024, is remembered by all his friends as an enthusiastic member of the Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla space tracking teams.


In this three minute clip from a Zoom gathering to commemorate Apollo 8’s 55th anniversary in December 2023, Cyril recalled how he became involved in space tracking.

He shares more of his story below.

Watch above, or on Vimeo.


In 2019, Cyril wrote a brief autobiographical outline for an Apollo 11 50th anniversary photo exhibition in Canberra. Here is a lightly edited copy:


Cyril Fenwick

Cyril Fenwick, November 2020.
Photo by Barry York.


“I was born in August 1936, in Cooroy, Queensland, which is the hinterland and rail head for the Sunshine Coast of Noosa, Tewantin and Noosaville, etc.

I was the second born of three sons, followed by three daughters. My grandparents were early pioneers of the Cooroy district where my Grandfather, in conjunction with his brothers, owned and operated the timber mill.

I enjoyed a good childhood, but in 1951 my world came crashing down with the sudden death of my beloved father. My mother was left widowed at 34 years of age with 6 children to support. I was 14 years old when my older brother and I needed to leave school to help support the family.

I was able to secure a job with the then Postmaster’s General Department as a Junior Postal Officer and trainee Telegraphist, which meant I had to learn to send and receive morse code over a landline, which in those days was used to send and receive telegrams.

I remained in that position until 1953 when I left to join the Royal Australian Navy.

After 12 months basic and communications training at HMAS Cerberus at Crib Point, Victoria, I joined HMAS Murchison (Garden Island, Sydney) which had just returned from active service in the Korean War. I later served at HMAS Harman (Canberra), HMAS Tarangau (Manus Island), HMAS Kuttabul (Sydney).

It was my last tour of duty at HMAS Harman, 1958-1960, that I met and married my beloved Shirley in 1959. We obtained a block of land and were one of the first homes to be built in Lyneham. However it was in 1960 that I was medically discharged due an ear infection I caught while swimming in the waters of New Guinea. This had prevented me from wearing earphones.

After discharge I then found a position at Navy Office Communications and in 1967, one morning, a car pulled up outside my house. After answering a knock on the door, the person said they were from Orroral Valley tracking station and had instructions to pick up a Mr Fenwick. I told them that must be a mistake. Later on I found out there was also a Fenwick working at Orroral.

A bit later, a position was advertised at Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station for a Communications Operator, I thought that would be interesting so I applied for and got the position, and then later as a Computer Operator.

At the time I was told by the Admin Officer that, if I was lucky, I would have a job for 6 to 12 months, as this was just after Apollo 1 disaster. 27 years later I retired after a wonderful career working on the various NASA Space Projects both manned and unmanned. I was fortunate to have served time mostly at Honeysuckle Creek and later Tidbinbilla after the closure of Honeysuckle Creek – but I also did small stints at Deakin Switching Centre and Orroral Valley Tracking Station.


Harrison Schmitt

Cyril is second from the left in this photo of Apollo 17’s Dr. Harrison Schmitt signing the Honeysuckle master signature sheet in the canteen during his visit on 3 May 1973.

Standing L–R: (obscured?), Gerry Spear, Jim Kirkpatrick, Bill Waugh, Les Paal, Les Hughes, Martin Geasley, Don Gray (Station Director), Bernard Smith.

Seated L–R: Bryan Sullivan, Cyril Fenwick, Tony Gerada.

Photo: Hamish Lindsay. Scan: Bryan Sullivan.


In 1994, after working shift work all my working life, it was starting to tell, so I retired – and after 5 years of doing nothing and making home brew, I felt a sea change was in order, so we decided Ulladulla was a good choice.

Apparently there were a couple of ex-trackers at the local Volunteer Coastal Patrol, and when I registered my little fishing boat with them for rescue purposes the Commander asked me if I would be interested in helping them out. I was immediately hired as the Radio Officer, which entailed teaching new recruits to obtain their communications licence and looking after and maintaining the electronics on both the life boat and radio room. I rebuilt the radio room for them but, unfortunately, vandals set fire and destroyed the building sometime later.

It was here that I went back to Tech and obtained a diploma in small computer construction.

I was awarded the National medal for my 15 years service to the Ulladulla Volunteer Coastal Patrol (Later Marine Rescue N.S.W.).

In 2014 while visiting my family in Canberra my eldest daughter said to me, ‘Dad it’s about time you stopped having a good time and came back to Canberra’. At the time The Goodwin Independent aged living village [in Crase] was being built so we inspected and purchased an apartment on the spot.”


Cyril Fenwick

Over the last few years, Cyril took up the hobby of model-making, and used his considerable skill to recreate not only a wide range of space vehivls, but also a model of Honeysuckle Creek (above).

Click the image to see a page on his space-related models.



Cyril brought his copy of the Apollo 17 Flight Plan to an Apollo 17 50th anniversary gathering at Tidbinbilla on 08 December 2023.

At right, Cyril holds his copy in front of the huge DSS43 dish which he drove for many years.

At left, Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan onboard the spacecraft consults his Flight Plan. (Image AS17-162-24084.)


In loving memory of Cyril Fenwick, 1936 – 2024.

4th February 2024.