Fifty years ago this year, some 600 million people watched as American astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon and uttered his famous words, "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind".
The black and white television images of Neil's historic walk on the moon were received first here in Canberra, at Honeysuckle Creek NASA tracking station (and not in Parkes, NSW, as popularly believed) before being relayed across the globe.
However, the tracking station closed in 1981 and the dish that had captured Neil's walk on the moon was transferred to Tidbinbilla. Today Honeysuckle Creek is no longer part of NASA, but it's been transformed into a wonderful space for camping that's just perfect for you and your family.
Camping at Honeysuckle Creek
Located about 17km south of Tharwa, Honeysuckle Creek Campground is located within Namadgi National Park.
The campground is divided into four separate areas with sections allocated for small parties of up to 4 people, campervans and camper trailers, and organized groups such as school groups.
Facilities include: a covered shelter with seats, fireplace and two gas BBQs; wood fire BBQ pits, picnic tables, composting toilets, rainwater, sealed road access to the campground, wheelchair access, walking track to Booroomba Rocks/Orroral Ridge, and of course, access to the former NASA space tracking station.
The Honeysuckle Creek Space Tracking Station
Honeysuckle Creek Space Tracking Station was opened by NASA in 1967. It played a vital role in supporting NASA's Apollo Program which succeeded in landing the first humans on the moon between 1969-1972. A 26-metre dish once stood on the site. The dish captured the historic images of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon on July 21, 1969.
Following the conclusion of the Apollo program, Honeysuckle Creek tracking station supported NASA's Skylab program which involved conducting scientific experiments in space. It also supported NASA's deep space program including supporting the Voyager and Pioneer missions to the outer planets in the Solar System, the Viking landings on Mars, Pioneer Venus, and Helios around the sun.
NASA closed the tracking station in 1981, and the famous dish was relocated to the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Communication Complex.
Remnants of the old space tracking station are still visible on the site, in particular, its concrete foundations. An outdoor display commemorates the site and provides a very informative background to its once glorious past.
But there's lots more to do at Honeysuckle Creek. The campground is also close to Booroomba Rocks which offer stunning views of Canberra and the Brindabella Ranges. And it's also close to the Australian Alps Walking Track which gives you the opportunity to explore the Orroral Valley.
If you're not feeling particularly active, then there's a lot of bush to explore at the campground itself, with lots of friendly kangaroos and wallabies to keep you company.
Honeysuckle Creek campground is the perfect place for a weekend getaway with the family. And with this year being the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing, then there's no better time to camp at a place where history was made.
To camp at Honeysuckle Creek campground, you must book your campsite and pay fees in advance. Fees are $10 per adult per night, $8.00 for seniors card holders and $6.50 for concession/student. No charge for children under 15 years of age. Fees can be paid online here
or at the Namadgi Visitor Centre. You can contact the Namadgi Visitor Centre
on 02 6207 2900 for more information. Once you make your booking, you will be sent a permit to camp at the campground, or you can collect your permit at the Namadgi Visitor Centre
in person. Your permit will include a tag to attach to your tent or campervan.
A few important things to know before you go.
Dogs are not allowed on the campsite or anywhere inside Namadgi National Park.
Firewood is not supplied so please bring your own or purchase your supply from the Namadgi Visitor Centre.
Fires are restricted to designated fireplaces.
Bins are not provided so you must take your rubbish home with you.
Phone reception is not reliable.
Drinking water is not provided. Please bring your own drinking water with you.
And please keep your food and food scraps locked away at night time. Otherwise, kangaroos, wallabies and possums will come along and have a feast!
Honeysuckle Creek Campground is located at Apollo Road, Namadgi National Park, Tharwa.
To find out more about the old Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station, go here.