New collection takes viewers to space and back

Share Canberra's trusted news:
Catriona Donnelly and David Fricker at the exhibition

FROM the first bleat of Sputnik I in 1957, Australians have been obsessed with space and was, largely because of our geography, at the forefront of space investigation.

Now the National Archives of Australia have launched an historical exhibition drawing largely on their own extensive collection of memorabilia associated with space travel, including a little bit of moon rock and the very first “Mr Squiggle, the man from the moon”, invented by puppeteer Norman Hetherington in 1959.

Mr Squiggle, the man from the moon

The exhibition looks back at the nation’s response to space research and exploration from the 1950s to the 1970s, the show jets through mid-century fashion and flying saucer societies to early satellites and rocket playgrounds, as the space race captured the imagination of ordinary Aussies.

Moon rock

This is one show for which director-general of the archives, David Fricker, is prepared to wear his heart on his sleeve and as he and curator Catriona Donnelly showed press around yesterday (September 30) he was plainly thrilled to show off four tiny moon rocks, collected by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during their Moonwalk in July 1969 and a Sputnik-inspired coffee machine made for roadhouses.

In celebrating Australia’s involvement in the space race, he said, the exhibition would have “something for everyone, from cutting edge scientific research to space-age toys, design, television and much more.”

Duan Phillips with a flying saucer model

The research, Donnelly said, had also thrown up stories of extraordinary individuals, like inventor Duan Philips, still going strong at 92 years of age, who started making a flying saucer in the 1960s and hasn’t given up.

There was also the involvement of nearby Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station, which played such an important part in the success of the Apollo 11 mission, receiving the first eight minutes of live footage from the Moon before the video feed was transferred to Parkes radio telescope.

Sputnik coffee machine

For the more fashion conscious visitors, there is a section on the pop culture representations of space, notably our first sci-fi TV series, “The Stranger” screened on the ABC in 1964 to 1965 and a space-age themed graduation parade at the June Dally-Watkins’ Deportment and Modelling school in 1969.

This is a mixed show which should appeal to both scientific curiosity and patriotism. And if the federal government has anything to do with it Australia might be entering a space renaissance.

 “Out of This World: Australia in the space age”, National Archives National, Kings Avenue, Parkes, Canberra until March 14, then it will tour nationally. Free.


Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleFirearm stolen from AFP vehicle in Fraser
Next articleGallery welcomes visitors with a ‘hub’
Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

Leave a Reply