Canberra Tour   Leave a comment

Sunday, 11th November, 2012

Gail and Ciara are returning to the UK in a few weeks and this weekend was our last chance to explore Canberra and its surrounds before they leave. As usually Ciara wasn’t interested in coming out with her parents and had arranged a day out with her friends. After a bit of discussion we decided to take a drive down into the Namadgi National Park and visit the old (disused) Honeysuckle Creek NASA Tracking Station, then drive on to the newer (working) Deep Space Tracker Station at Tidbinbilla and finish off with a look round the Cotter Dam Reserve on the Murrumbidgee River.

After a forty minute drive we arrived at the Honeysuckle Creek where we parked up and took a walk around the site. Like the old Orroral site (that we’ve previously visited) a little further on, all of the buildings that stood on the site are long gone to be replaced by some panels that tried to describe some of the activities that were performed here in support of the Apollo Moon Landing in the late 60’s. It’s a strange feeling but you do get a sense of excitement that must have prevailed here when you read about what was doing here all these years ago. Up where the main tracking dish was located we read that when the dish was dismantled and removed, it was taken to the Tidbinbilla site which was our next port of call.

The Tidbinbilla site is a live working NASA site and as we approached we was warned to switch off mobile phones etc. As the site is sat well back from the road you cannot see the main 70 metre dish that dominates it until you drive over the hill and into the valley in sits it, it certainly is an impressive sight. Next to it is the old 19 metre dish (now disused) from the Honeysuckle Creek site. We parked up outside the main gates and headed toward the visitors centre, as we did and elderly couple coming out of the visitors centre crashed to the ground in front of us. Gail, myself and several other people in the vicinity rushed over to help them to their feet. The old man didn’t seem to badly hurt, but unfortunately his wife had some pretty bad cuts to her hands, knees and face. I decided to call for an ambulance on my mobile but couldn’t get a signal (maybe something to do with the millions of dollars of electronic equipment surrounding us) and just as we were about to approach the guard house to ask for help an off duty paramedic came over to see what was going on. He quickly took control of the situation and after a few minutes he had sorted out both of the couple and they were on their way. As he was doing his stuff, Gail and I got chatting to the old men and it turns out that but he and wife were from Lancashire and emigrated to Australia after the war. We also discovered that a young couple who came over to help were also from England and had just got married the previous day and were touring all the old NASA sites as part of the honeymoon.

Anyway, after all that excitement, we entered the visitors centre and spent an hour or so wondering round the excellent museum before grabbing a coffee and something to eat in the little cafe attached to it.

On the way back into Canberra the road drops down into Cotter Dam Reserve on the Murrumbidgee River, where there are a several beautiful places to explore. We choose to stop at the main Cotter Avenue, where the large trees provide a degree of shelter from the sun and families can picnic or BBQ by the side of the river. At the end of the avenue, they have recently completed a discovery trail that leads up to the, still being built, dam wall and then back to a viewing platform that provides great views of the dam as well as informing the visitor with facts and figures about the dam itself. Finally, the trail brings you along the river bank and back to the start point. The trail is only a km or so long but is well worth a visit as it packs in so much into that short distance.


Posted November 11, 2012 by yermandownunder in Out and about

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