In Australia most people are aware of the country's role in space exploration, the film the Dish was even made about Australia's efforts in broadcasting the moon-landing. While the dish out in Parkes gets most of the glory, there is another place just outside of Canberra that had its hand in broadcasting this monumental event. The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex was not only also involved in the moon-landing broadcast, but has a fun visitors centre where young and old can learn more about the universe and the history and future of space travel.
When you head up to the visitors centre not only will you catch a glimpse at some of the 'big dish' antennas, but you'll also have to switch off your mobile phones. After all, they are communicating with space and don't want your phone getting in the way. Inside the visitors centre there is a range of space memorabilia and displays. You can find out everything about life for the astronauts who go into space, from the things they do, to the food they eat, and the things they wear. There is some interesting information on all the everyday objects that make use of space technology.
Walk on a little further and you'll start to learn a little about the universe and solar system in general. Find out about what space exploration has already uncovered, and some of the amazing facts about the planets that surround us. It is interesting for people of all ages, but kids especially will marvel at all the cool things. There is a replica of a Mars rover, and some interactive displays.
You can watch movies and short presentations on Space and space travel, and if you're lucky you can even hear from real-life space scientists at special events. There is plenty of information to help you think about science and space travel from a whole new angle. You can take a tour around the centre, or just wander on your own. When you're done head through the shop to find some cool space-themed toys, or let the kids play on the playground while you enjoy the cafe.
The Deep Space Communication Complex is free to visit, and it is open 7 days a week from 9-5. It is about a half hour's drive from Canberra, and you can drive past some really lovely scenery. It may not be the dish that the movies made famous, but it is a pretty cool place to go.