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canada goose There are innovative interpretative signs, a shiny new shelter, and a knock out sculpture featuring the words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Heck, there’s even a “sky lounge” where you can lie down and gaze up into the night sky.And why not? Next Sunday, July 21, marks the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s famous first steps on the moon, which were beamed around the world thanks to the technicians at the Honeysuckle dish.Oh, and best we don’t mention the wayward folk in the NSW town of Parkes, many of whom opportunistically perpetrated the myth expounded by the film The Dish (2000) that it was their tracking station that received the signals from Apollo 11 as Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the lunar surface, and sent them to Houston, USA.While there’s no denying the global significance of the Honeysuckle Creek site, it’s what lies hidden just beyond the footprint of the former tracking station, decommissioned in 1981 and soon after demolished, that really demonstrates the extraordinary effort by NASA to build and manage this facility for the Apollo missions in what was then (and still is) the boondocks of the ACT.Canberra’s role in the moon landing is something that has long fascinated me, so when earlier this week Jenny Horsfield of the Canberra Bushwalking Club and David Wardle of the Brindabella Walking Club invited me to join them on a recce in the bush around Honeysuckle Creek to some of these little known locations, I jumped at the chance.Apart from being a keen hiker, David is also an engineering enthusiast, and it’s not long before he’s energetically leading us through the scrub to the remains of essential infrastructure that kept Honeysuckle operations ticking over, from water tanks on a hillside to concrete fuel cradles in the valley.However, the pice de rsistance at Honeysuckle for any avid bushwalker is the old Apollo Road, a rudimentary track hacked out of some of the most rugged terrain in the ACT in the mid 1960s to allow materials to be brought in from Canberra to build the tracking station.Jenny Horsfield of the Canberra Bushwalking Club navigates her way along the old Apollo Road. Picture: Tim the Yowie Man”When you think of all that equipment, both construction and technical, including the dish and being transported along here, it’s pretty amazing,” says David, as with gloved hands we push through a tick patch of regrowth which has reclaimed much of the track.While David bounds ahead like a kid in candy store, stopping at an old cattle grid to try and decipher markings on the rails and closely examine old bridge abutments, Jenny regales me with stories of the road.”The old road contains many secrets, some still waiting to be discovered, others not so like the rusted remains of an old bus in the creek thought to have come to grief one winter’s day and left there,” says Jenny as we reach the creek after which the tracking station is named.After a landslide closed the new Apollo Road in 1971, staff were ferried down from the station in Ford Falcon sedans and then had to “walk the plank” before heading home to Canberra in buses, seen waiting on the left.
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