To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic Moon Landing, we’re flashing back to 1969. On Monday 21 July at 12.56pm, Eastern Standard Time, Queenslanders were among the estimated 600 million people watching the Apollo 11 Moon landing television broadcast across the world.
The event received extensive coverage in television, radio and print media. These editions of Brisbane’s Courier Mail, published on 21 and 22 July, feature articles about the Apollo 11 mission and crew, along with public and political views on the Moon landing.
The newspapers show the broader impact and excitement around the event, with advertisements for “prices out of this world” at David Jones, and cameras with a lunar connection such as “Minolta lands on the Moon!” The Courier Mail also highlighted a Queensland connection to the Apollo 11 mission, with titanium from the Tin Can Bay area used in the manufacture of the command ship, lunar module lander, and the Saturn V rocket. At that time, a large percentage of titanium used around the world was refined from Australian rutile.
A Letter from Neil Armstrong
The story of the landing on the Moon was not only a global event but a personal one for all who waited and watched. Michelle Cooke was a 16 year old school girl from Scarborough, Queensland, fascinated by space. When Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, she sent a letter congratulating the astronauts on their massive achievement. To her delight space hero Neil Armstrong replied, thanking her for her best wishes and ensuring these would be passed on to ‘Mike and Buzz.’ She still treasures this letter to this day, alongside her copy of the National Geographic magazine commemorating this historical event.
Next stop, the Moon
Can you imagine the excitement of a crowd chanting “Go! Go! Go!” while a rocket ship tears up the sky on its way to space? Perhaps, you were actually there amongst the crowd as a young child, or know someone who was? On July 21, according to The Montreal Star that’s exactly what was happening down on Earth as the population, and traffic stood still. Motor vehicles came to a grinding halt in a 50 mile long traffic jam around the Cape Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, as people flocked to see history in the making.
These old newspapers were courtesy of Queensland Museum’s Event Manager, Luke Diett’s Mother. Do you still have any Moon landing mementos?
Your Moon landing memories
Do you remember the excitement of watching Neil Armstrong’s first step foot on the Moon? Share your Moon landing memories with us along with any images by using the hashtag #SpaceQM and tag @qldmuseum for a chance to be reposted on social media and featured on our blog.
Here’s some helpful prompts to jog your memory:
- Where did you view the Moon landing on 21 July 1969?
- Who were you with?
- How did you feel seeing the rocket ship launch into space?
The ultimate Moon landing memory, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s footprints, are probably still etched into the lunar soil thanks to the lack of atmosphere on the Moon.
Make sure to stop by NASA – A Human Adventure to explore the extraordinary collection of more than 250 artefacts from the United States and Soviet Union space programs including items that have actually been to space. Skip the queue and book online here to save time.
Branch Commissioner (Cub Scouts) Tim Gibbings received a signed photo from Neil Armstrong as a child with a letter. Since that time 12 men have stood on the surface of our nearest celestial neighbour, 10 of them were Scouts, 1 of them was a Cub Scout and the first, Neil Armstrong, carried a World Scout Badge with him in his pocket during his historic walk. NASA even notes that 2/3 of past and current astronauts were in Scouting!
Alison Mann, Assistant Collections Manager at Museum of Tropical Queensland was 10 years old and at Garran Primary School in the ACT. “That day all 317 pupils were herded into the school hall and made to sit and wait for this momentous occasion. There was one black and white TV perched up on some blocks way way way down the front of the assembly hall. I was in almost the back row of chairs, unable to see the TV, mucking around with my friends and missed the whole thing.”
“I was almost 23 years old at the time and working at the American Embassy in Canberra. The whole staff, the majority of whom were Americans, as well as those of us who were locally employed were all crowded into the Boardroom to watch the Moon landing. What made it special for me was the pure excitement and pride of my American colleagues that their country had achieved what many thought was an impossible dream. I was also the only Queenslander in the room!” – Claire M
“We had all the grade 1 and 2 classes jammed in a room together, watching it on a little B&W TV during and after lunch. And despite the lack of amenity, we still saw it as utterly astounding.” – Barry R
“With 300 or so crowded into a double teaching space watching it on a small portable tv. Then my mother came and collected my sister and I to go home to watch it as we had only recently purchased a tv in order to watch this.” – Kim A
“Grade 8. We had a sleepover at a friends and stayed awake all night..had to go to school next day. We were all half asleep. Ah, no TV, only radio.” – Susan J
“I was in grade 9. We watched it at school on a TV on a high trolley. All TVs were black and white then. I clearly remember the moment Neil Armstrong stepped down and said those immortal words. There was a wonderful feeling that the whole world was stopping to watch it. The tension of the cold war just melted away. That tension was very real, all pervasive, rather like the fear of climate change today. I remember my Mum telling me about what to do if an atomic bomb dropped and when President Kennedy was shot.
That day all seemed safe and wonderful. We were all sent home early from school. I remember people watching TVs in shop windows in town on the way home.” – Geoff T
“I also watched it at school on a tiny black-and-white TV, with a bunch of other over-excited 7 year olds! Later at home, my dad got out our little moon globe and showed my sister and I the Sea of Tranquility.” – Janelle G
“I remember being allowed to go home from school to watch on our tv. Even At 9 years of age I knew it was an amazing thing. 😀My mum made me go back to school after the Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.🙁” – Lynette G
5 thoughts on “We remember the first explorers on the Moon, do you?”
Was a 14 year old and we watched it at school,on a tiny black and white television.We all piled round it and the excitement, like for most people in the world,was unbelievable.It has fascinated me ever since and the first moon landing became my greatest childhood adventure. Neil Armstrong became my childhood hero that day.
My father, 83 year old Royston Skinner was working for NASA at Cooby Creek tracking station the night they landed on the moon. We recently attended a special ceremony of a replica NASA dish installed at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba.
I’m very proud of my dad and the small part he and his NASA workmates played in bringing these memorable pictures to the world.
I can’t wait to take him to the museum to see this exhibition.
It’s wonderful to see all this paraphernalia. I listened to the moon landing while working as a governess on a remote outback station in the desert country in Western NSW on the HF radio we used for School of the Air. I was joined by the two children I was teaching and their parents. It was a strange feeling sharing the moon landing in such a remote place with noone else for hundreds of miles, almost like being on the moon.
IIRC I was at school (I was in primary school at the time) when the big event happened. They had sent all of the “big kids” (Grade 7s, which included my big brother) home to watch on their TVs, but we were all gathered together (Grades 1-2) in three classrooms at Nashville State School on Brsibane’s northern bayside suburbs which had folding doors (the blackboards were on the doors) which all opened up to create a big space. There were three B&W TVs there, and we all sat on the floor and watched what was going on. I have to admit I really didn’t understand what was happening, but I do remember the event clearly as it was such a big change to our usual riutines that day.
I remember it clearly. I was seven years old at primary school in Newcastle. Various classes crammed into a couple of class rooms to view the shared TVs. I wrote about it here: https://boomingon.wordpress.com/2019/07/17/celebrating-the-50-year-anniversary-of-the-moon-landing-to-the-moon-and-back-via-canberra/
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