Newsletters – Blog

NEWS LETTER NO 9 December 2016

About 6 weeks has flown by since the fantastic Re-Union at Cooby Creek. Most of that time many have been getting well from the rather severe virus that invaded the Creekers. All in all I think we achieved what we set out to achieve. Meet again, exchange stories and have a nostalgic return to an interesting period in our lives. So, what has happened since. Quite a few things, some of which is already known by some. However here goes.

Probably the main feature has been the meeting at my house with the Senior Curator, QLD Stories, at QLD Museums, regarding where we go from here and where and what we do, if anything. The meeting went for just on 4 hours and at times a lively discussion. I was surprised, by the absolute enthusiasm for one of the small ATS tie pins that we were given, yet the new dish “attention getter” was received, a bit lukewarm really. The dish however, is being offered to those organising the “World Science Fair” in March and for a further 3 years. Brisbane being the only place outside of New York to hold the fair.

There are several possibilities for the future. One problem is Toowoomba does not have a Museum for its heritage. Cobb & Co is in fact virtually a horse and cart joint, as its name suggests. What is super important now is we collect together, or locate where any original memorabilia is. We already have such items as, News Paper clippings;, photographs, some video ex Joe Mather and the Algate family; a tie pin; book mark; Wefax printouts; operation Manuals (Particularly SDS 910Comput and T&C PCM manual) such documents, which are now dog eared by use, are priceless. Tom has some early weather Spacecraft books, Vic Stokes Antenna and of course the educational active model from Joe. We can put together quit a show. Terry is holding the clippings, most of other stuff is with me, which includes a copy of the Transilvania Times from Rosman North Carolina talking about Cooby Re-union and Joe Collins involvement. More on all that later as its location and funding evolve. But we need as much stuff that we can get our hands on. Please help if you can.

The museum also wants a list of all the Creekers we know still exist. They want to, over time, contact each of us in turn and talk about Cooby Creek, our roles, what we liked and anything else we think of interest. This is an important part of us leaving a Heritage behind. Before I do that, I need your approval, individually I think under privacy laws. To make it easier please advise me if you DO NOT want them to contact you. If I hear nothing by 5th January 20I7 I will assume you each are OK with that.

The museum was very interested in the original 40 footer, (which has turned up in the UK at Rutherton Appelton Laboratory, Harwell Science & Innovation Campus, Oxfordshire UK) I noted a gleam in the eye and “it would be good to get hold of that” holy moley what would that cost? How much does the Museum spend? However now we know we have stimulated the Museum and possibly the State Government also. Perhaps we can get something from the ATS Programme. Knowing that PARI ( Old Rosman site) has recently been given an ATS 6 camera and frame maybe, just maybe, we can get something. Should we try?

We have a spy near the Smithsonian, one of the Creeker’s Brother. Guess who?

Another aspect of our heritage intention was to leave an electronic record of Cooby, and put it together as best we could. This is likely to take a bit of time and effort. The good thing is that we have a fair many pics from the 60s not much video. We have been told Channel 7 will give is a copy of their footage. On top of that we had Tom filming the Community Day and there are some excellent sequences there. All we need to do is, review what we have, write the screen play and script, edit and narrate. Yep Ann says “What are we going to do now Cooby is over.” Guess what.

Again we need footage or any pics anyone may have. That includes the re-union. The eventual DVD will be great and certainly available to us all. With regard to the footage shot, thank you to all those that took time to talk to the camera, we will endeavour to lay over your talk, pics of you, 50years ago. So, you can see we need Old Pics, dig out old cupboards and whatever. Go on a Pic hunt around the house. Please do it by the 15th January. We really need to get every scrap of 1960’s stuff we can.

Next major issue is the fact that “Cooby Space Trackers Inc” will not wind up now, as intended. We need to carry on for a bit longer, mainly to achieve the final Heritage Legacy with the museums, and finish off the electronic stories. That leaves us with some legal requirements. We have to meet quarterly. Fortunately the quorum is required is small. We will also have to have an AGM sometime. We had a previous meeting at Chermside for a lunch which was fine. Perhaps someone on the South side of Brisbane can suggest a location. It can be a café, picnic spot, Makkas? Use your imagination. Meeting on Southside would encourage those from the Gold Coast or Jimboomba and certainly central Brisbane to attend thus relieving a long travel from Hervy Bay. Mind you everyone will be welcome. At these meetings Associates can come, so wives and girl friends are welcome. Please suggest a location to me. Perhaps late January early February would be ideal. (Can get over medical stuff by then).

Early into the new year I intend to go back to Toowoomba and follow up visit some folk. I am not sure where all this will end up but in Marketing one never shuts a gate and one always keeps the PR bit going. Some doors need to be opened, especially if we can get some items from the Smithsonian. I feel our wishes to place artefacts somewhere in Toowoomba is. the go. Maybe an alternative to Cobb & Co. The Council has brand new library, maybe an option.

We have had contact from another Creeker family, the Gilson’s. We have found “D Gilson” on our master list of names, but there is no indication of section or what job he did. (many entries like that). The question is, can anybody remember D (dave?) Gilson. Also does anyone have a photo with him included? He is not so well at this time and his wife would dearly love to have a pic of him when he was at Cooby. Hopefully someone can help.



Newsletter No. 8 – 9th October 

Hi All Creekers,

It is nearly that time,  Time to start packing.  Don’t forget to pack,Teeth, Glasses, pills, sleep apnia devices, hearing aids, plus batteries, walking sticks and credit cards!

We here are so looking forward o catch up and there will be surprises here for you.  We are suffering from sleep deprivation and a degree of anxiety, but we will be there on the day.    


We are still waiting for some confirmations but hey two weeks to go.  We do know that Hugh Nicholas and Partner are now in Australia touring about.   In about a weeks time Geoff Ball and wife will arrive.  Another long distance traveller will be Don freeman’s  son Rick.  He will be on site Saturday.

If anyone has a need to alter or request polo shirts you have until 10am AEST time tomorrow 7th October. (For Southern States that is 11AM)

We are spending most of our day on Media press releases at this time yep it is all go now.

We did receive an interesting story from Geoff Ball, telling of post Cooby days, very interesting.  Joe Mather has some interesting tales as well.  Me Well I have a few for sure, like Manager of Media Services at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.    I am sure there is plenty more amongst us all.   It is important that we document as many stories as we can as part of our aim is to encourage young folk to take up studies in science.  To that end there will be representatives from USQ on site the Saturday.   You will be surprised to find out courses on offer at USQ in Toowoomba.

The latest Creeker to make contact and will be there from Saturday is Nerida, the young lady  from the Canteen, only 18 at the time. She made contact just a week ago. 

We  will need Creekers to escort folk about the site and explain what went on where.  SUre we have signage, pics etc but nothing like the true story with maybe an embellishment or two.   Media cameras will be about also.  We need stock material to finish  the history of Cooby.  It will take us into 2017 to finish all that.  Cooby Space Trackers Inc will therefore run a while longer than first thought.

Can anyone remember the code used for each shift?  Were they identified by colour, letter?   I seem to remember colour, so what were they?  I guess Red & Blue would feature but what else.  Please reply over weekend as it is important in preparation of a  function.

Don’t forget to cross fingers, legs and anything, that the weather will be fine.  Keep your fingers crossed on the 13th October as well.  Why, not telling yet.

If you use facebook, search Cooby Creek Tracking Station, whence on the page tick that you like it.  Then it goes further. We need to stack up the social media reach. 

Have fun and see you all in a couple of weeks.



Newsletter No. 7 – 16th September

Hi Creekers, Time is fast running out.

It is getting exciting seeing the orders coming in for the various functions. At the same time pressure is building up as all those smaller items that can only be completed close to the Re-union.

We had confirmation yesterday that Don Freeman’s son Rick, will be in attendance at the site visit on Saturday the 22nd October. He is being brought to the site by his son. Rick is confined to a wheelchair, but fantastic he is making the journey all the way from Tasmania. Fortunately Rick’s son is in the RAAF at Amberley and can travel with his Dad.

We will be in Toowoomba next week for about 3 days nailing down more items. The site owners Peter and Mary Taylor have agreed to organising the slash and burn of the site, hopefully it will be done by the time we are in Toowoomba so we can begin marking out where the units have to go.

Some interesting pics and slides have come in which is fantastic. We will scan them all and they will give us much entertainment as well as nostalgia. Other bits and pieces have arrived, An ATS1 tie pin, remember them, a small ink sketch of a golfer in front of car, by Joy Cameron, (what was that for?) Social night tickets, silk bookmark featuring the Dish Antenna. All great stuff. We set out to leave a legacy in Toowoomba we are well on the way.

We are about to start the media campaign and do need some help from you guys and girls. Can you please write some of your memories of you time at Cooby and Toowoomba. Please, please, E-mail them to us on either e-mail. We will edit them to fit media requirements. We have some folk to help us with that. At the same time we would like an outline of what happened after Cooby. There are very interesting stories in this category as well.

Here is a Pic of me during a spell in a most fun job, marketing and promotions in the Shopping centre business. It was real cool and you met a very wide range of people, also it was a very fun job. There were many side benefits as well.

This is just an old pic that I found the other day, of a promotion that was a roaring success, delivering significant sales to the shopping centre which paid for it. It was based on March 17th, St Patrick’s day. We had a great day celebrating its success from mid-day 17 March. Man I had real hair back then.

Creekers don’t forget time is running out to get the pre September 30th Price on Package deal. We nee to know numbers ASAP as some venues could be a bit tight. If you need another copy please contact us. Polo shirt sizes needed ASAP.

Today was a SAD day. Jim Bishop informed us that Vince Constable passed away yesterday. Vince had been suffering a bit lately and it all happened as his wife Brenda returned home from Surgery in Brisbane. I am sure all will join me in sending our condolences and prayers for Vince and the family. Brenda will be attending the re-union, she will be most welcome. It is wonderful that she will come.

We asked before if anyone had any documentation on the numbers used to command the spacecraft. Unfortunately we do not have any replies. We ask that you all, particularly the T & C guys, go through any “Stuff” you may still possess which would give us an idea of what the numbers were for commanding.

If anyone feels inclined it is worth a Google to It is the old Rosman Station in North Carolina. No longer on NASA’s inventory it is a self-funded education centre. They are bending over backwards to be part of our 50th. What a complex it is now. It just goes to show what a big population base can deliver. They even have the shadow unit of ATS 6 there. The satellite is on loan from the Smithsonian, which is where most spacecraft, once past use by date, finish up.

I hope to catch up with John Grant-Thomson next week in Toowoomba. John has been touring Europe and will have plenty to tell. More importantly John has been organising the manufacture of our dish. He has done a superb job. Only thing not resolved yet is it getting it set up on site. It will be done though.

Next newsletter will come out when we have more news. Should be pretty soon.



Newsletter No. 6 – 29th May

Hi to all Creekers and supporters.

Time is rapidly approaching whence we shall be getting together. We will have an interesting time and there will be plenty of opportunity to find out who has done what since Cooby. Some interesting tales to tell I can assure you.

We have recently had an offer from Chris Horden to transfer 35mm slides to digital for assembly onto USB sticks. Who is Chris Horden you may ask, well her Maiden name was Christine ALGATE. Yes Len’s daughter. You will meet her at the re-union. So guys we need, ASAP, Pics Slides and any other visual records from Cooby Days. We only have six weeks to get this stuff together and into usable format. Obviously we will return to you the originals once we have transferred them. We recently received some slides from Bob Allen among which were some pics of an international cricket match between Australia and the USA. Remember that? Peter Pistoor was one opening bat, anyone remember who was the other? Please send material to above address.

Something else we would like is visual stories evidence etc of things Creekers have done since Cooby days. I have some interesting items which includes escorting 3 Apollo astronauts on a visit here. Quite an interesting look into what effect the Moon had on them. So guys get to it. If you need help let me know.

On a recent visit to Toowoomba with my wife we had a lunch at Cobb & Co Museum. Very good. All home made items. Even the chips were from potatoes, trimmed in house. They were great. Our recent decision to move Sunday lunch to the museum was a good one.

For those who wish to go to Church on Sunday we have identified times and locations of the different denominations. They will be in your arrival pack , Friday, 21st October.

Vince Constable is not so well and could do with a line from anyone. You all have his “E” address from the chart Terry sends out. Also Gordon McDonald has some issues. He hopes to come but the medicos might think differently.

We have now cut off on the programme for the weekend. To add anything it would have to be pretty special. All we need now is Creekers to fill in and send the “Package Forms” ASAP as we have to get the polo shirts made delivered, order transport adequate to move attendees. Of course catering is an issue, particularly number of seats. The honour of first to lodge their form goes to Veda Finlay followed by Peter Pistoor and Hugh Nocholas from UK.

Another possible attendee is the grandson of Don Freeman.

The main motive for the re-union is to provide a nostalgic return to a site where we folk made history. True at the time we probably never envisage what it would all lead to, but it did. Appreciate it or not, we who staffed Cooby Creek have made a positive effect on all mankind. Did manned space flight do that? Sure Manned flight explored the Moon and added to humankind’s knowledge but we really did start a “roll on effect’ that effected every person walking this planet. Heady stuff really.

The second part of the motive, to leave a legacy behind for the future generations of Toowoomba will in actual fact take a bit more time to finalise. Sure Joe Mathers active model, Stokes’ antenna and other bits will be on show during the re-union but the final Museum show will take a bit longer to finalise. It will include record of the 50th Anniversary so cannot be finished until we have left. That means we will keep in touch via News sheets etc. into the future.

Those of you who worked in the TV section can you remember if we recorded the Scouts conversation with Goddard on 14th May 1967? If so what happened to the tape? There was another programme we made “Christmas Australian Style” sent to Goddard I think in 1968. It was recorded but what happened to it?

Whilst attending the re-union there will be media about as well as Journalists putting our story together as well as other issues. We ask please you help them. One Journalist is Breanda Cross. Breanda will be producing a book on Cooby, as well as scripting a DVD. So please be willing to give a bit of time. Remember the Legacy bit. Breanda has provided a couple of Audio tracks on the Webb page.

Our web page is very much in the construction phase really. You can get onto it by “” We are also on facebook so get onto it and record “I like” it will then spread further as we would wish to find any other Creekers still out there.

In our programme there is a couple of hours on the Sunday afternoon which can be used for a Nanna Nap or maybe a trip around Toowoomba. You will find that Toowoomba has grown immensely since we Creekers were here. Toowoomba is the second largest, in land, city in Australia. It follows Canberra. It is amazing not only from the point of view of Industrial activity but the size of some of the locations. Most a familiar with BCF outlets. The one in Toowoomba is huge. Bunnings likewise. As a person who managed a few large Shopping Complexes and understands rent per sq metre and required volume of sales to make that rent, the sheer size of some Toowoomba complexes amazes me. I think, Where does the revenue come from? As you drive around the outer areas of the city you see more domestic housing projects and still more Industrial/commercial development also. If anyone would like a couple of hours touring around town Sunday afternoon let us know. If enough we can get a mini bus or something.

On the Sunday morning of our weekend, there is another Toowoomba milestone. The new Wellcamp Airport will stage its first International Passenger Flight. The first direct international flight direct from Toowoomba. It is ironic that 50 years to the day after We put our toe into the water and using space brought the world to Toowoomba, the well-known Wagner family are using their new airport to bring the World to Air passengers of Toowoomba. Incredible when you think about it. Innovation from us and innovation from them. Our success led to huge things, hopefully the same will happen to them.

 The well known quote from Buzz Aldrin, “I salute – from my space helmet – the Range Rats, the unsung heroes of the Space Race to the future.” He would know and that is us.

Talk soon,



Newsletter No. 4 – May 16th

Time is flying by.

It will be October before we know it. Lots has taken place. One problem is we creekers keep getting into difficult medical situations. Surgery hurts, physically and economically. However things are really beginning to take shape.

Ann & I spent two days in Toowoomba last week and had a pretty successful time. First we met with the site owners who are great people and most helpful in bringing the Special day on the 22nd October on site into fruition.

They are about to start preparing the site by removing rather long grass. (May be by fire) we then can keep it low for October. We have to solve insurance issues and they are helpful. However there will be a significant cost one feels. The idea is to make the site visually recognisable to the mid 60s. Yes we will have a dish, not 40ft but 3M will have to do. Thanks to Win9 TV we have a microwave dish which will be painted and modified to look the part. We have even identified a black cat to be another “Darcy”. The site owners are going to paint the gate white and hey maybe some rocks.

The pic on the right is the Dish which will be moved

Next week. John Grant-Thomson is organising the move to Men’s shed. Then the fun begins. We have worked out how to install it as the original base has some hand steel anchor points which will take a dynabolt without drilling. It will certainly be nostalgic on site.

Since early in the piece we decided to try and leave behind in Toowoomba a legacy of Cooby Creek and what was achieved. To that end there will be an active model of the site, together with pics story boards and artifacts placed at the new Toowoomba Welcamp Airport. The model is being made by Joe Mather with the cabinet to hold it made by the Men’s Shed. See progress pics:-

We ain’t done yet. The Cobb & Co Museum, which is owned by Queensland Museum, wants an electronic history of Cooby for its new Science section. Oh boy that will take a bit of putting together. Last November we did not think that we could manage a three dimensional display but hey presto a perfect scale model of the 40ft dish has turned up. It was made by Vic Stokes back in the 60s and has been in the hands of the “Space Pilots Club”, (Remember them ?) Well that is to be cleaned by Tom Parkinson and his friend John. So we are now thinking of a display there as well. So an active time will be had at the re-union. We are leaving as much time as we can for talk and tall tales.

OUR SKELETON PROGRAMME AT THIS TIME (Subject to change and addition)

Friday 21st, 1300 Meet and greet until ?? Dinner available at Motel restaurant.

Saturday 22nd AM, Breakfast at Motel followed by bus ride to Cooby Site.

PM 1400 leave site for Motel, Nanna nap.

PM 1800 bus ride to Welcamp Airport for unveiling of display and Dinner.

Speeches etc. return 2100 sleep

Sunday 23rd AM Breakfast at Motl, Stroll to Cobb & Co Museum

PM not planned yet some ideas but loose right now

Evening farewell dinner at Motel.

Monday AM Bye bye. No tears please

All this is very wonderful and will put Cooby Space Tracking back on the map. However it will cost a fair bit to stage. We are currently putting proposals and packages together for raising funds via grants or sponsor ship. If anyone has any idea who might be sympathetic please contact us and we will do the honours. If you have any leads please be quick.

We have been fortunate until now, as interested Creekers have covered the costs incurred so far, car stickers, registration as Inc association travel etc. We will continue to cover travel, phone calls etc. Our reward? Meeting you all again. We have quite exciting happenings but we will detail those when concrete arrangements are set. As they say watch this space.

In a couple of days the next news letter will come out with accommodation information.

The last circular ask Creekers to register as members (legal requirement) so far the response has been pretty slow. Disappointing that. Please follow up if you have not so far. It also gives us an idea of numbers attending.

Regards, Patrick, Terry, Joe, John GT and Nev


Newsletter – February 2016

Hi Creekers

February almost over. I am somewhat behind in sending out Newsheets and I am determined to make it for this month. So much has been happening. So much changes almost daily, from new contacts achieved and obstructions that pop up to cause changes or deviation. However some things are now set in concrete others are still our aims and intentions. So here we go.

Early in the piece Joe Mather rang up the Historical Society, who told him they knew nothing about Cooby Creek. He was incensed and said we must aim to leave a legacy behind. Hence the plan has developed a bit beyond what might have been.

CC LogoWe have applied to QLD Gov for registration as an Incorporated Association. We intend to be known as “Cooby Space Trackers Inc”. We will be operating under letterheads etc. using the Name “Cooby Space Tracking Station Reunion 2016” and in smaller font “promoted by Cooby SpaceTrackers Inc. It is all recognition as marketers. Executive being Myself, John Grant-Thomson and Sheridan Hetherman as Secretary. Sheridan is a student in Event Management. She has previously run many events mostly in the realms of Motorsport

We also now have a bank account. It is with ANZ and is actually an old account I had which has now been altered to included the name Cooby Space Trackers. This moved saves all the trouble of new accounts, lodging identification passports etc. The Group has three signaturies, Myself, John Grant-Thomson and Nevil Harris. (We three live relatively close to each other) John is listed as Treasurer in the registration application. We will send out banking details once ANZ has sent us Pin Nos and we have set up Internet Banking. We need the account and Incorporation to apply for grants etc.

To achieve the above we had a meeting at Chermside of the ms what live nearby. It was titled “Cooby Creekers Association” Those attending were – Myself and Ann, Terry & Shirl Newman; Joe Mather & Pat; Chris Southgate; Bob Birch & Elizabeth; Roy and Vivienne Skinner. Various motions were passed to set up the Incorporated Association.

We have almost decided to establish ourselves in Toowoomba 21st-23rd October at what was the Travelodge. A nostalgic return to a place we all stayed at upon arrival in Toowoomba. A couple of whiskers have grown on that since our last visit to Toowoomba in November. However Roy Grace tells me, persist, the nostalgia of returning to Travelodge is too great to give up.

Talking of nostalgia the skeleton programme is well on the way. It goes something like this

Potential Schedule

Friday am., 21st October, arrive
Friday PM Meet and greet at Motel running into Dinner.

Saturday am Breakfast

Bus out to the site where we hope to recreate a vision similar the mid 60s. The antenna will not be 40ft more like3M ; There will be radio communication to the world and hopefully veterans from Mojave& Rossman

There will be plenty of time for taking selfies and bragging on. Oh yes we will have a snake hunt as well. Possible a display of rockets from the “Space Pilots Club” (remember them?) Some form of catering. Our Policy to give as much time for Chat and family members are welcome. We have a large number of Pics which will be set up adjacent to the trailers set out as they were in mid 60s.

This will be huge and will attract media, There are some big iffs with this day, Insurance is one of them. We have a good plan B if the big one become too hard.

Saturday pm return to Motel for Nanna nap.
Saturday evening bus to New Airport, Welcamp, for social dinner and unveiling of a model of Cooby Creek Tracking Station. This will remain at Welcamp to welcome and inform inbound passengers to Toowoomba.

Sunday morning relax or tour or visit Cabarlah (maybe) or other interesting items around Toowoomba.. Maybe Lunch at Picnic point and then afternoon tea and farewell. If anyone has any suggestion please put it forward, we need help

We still have heaps to do and negotiations for grants and sponsorship are now hot on the agenda. Council Elections have slowed that a tad. The Mayor is behind us and media is gathering speed. The site owner has approved us going on site and any hope of keeping it quiet dissolved because his daughter is Editor of 7news on the Darling Downs.

So to recap as who is involved at this time. Myself Ann & Daughter; Terry and Shirl Newman, Keeping records of Creeker Contacts and in think tank. Joe Mather & Pat in think tank, and progressing model plus publicity on Central Coast; John Grant Thomson, Treasurer and liaison with Toowoomba Chronical; Roy Grace, advising on Accomodation. And liais Cabarlah. So it goes on.

In next circular we will detail accomodation options. If any of you intend coming with RVs, caravans etc we want to know. We will have something special for you.

By now you should have all received a car sticker “Cooby Space Trackers”please advise if you have not.

We are getting outside help as wel. l Colin McKeller of “Honeysuckle Creek” web site fame has helped with contacts and is the main person helping prise open the doors at NASA.

We have lots more to get off our chest but this will do for tonight

Keep on Creaking on