They came, they ate lunch and they departed for Guam. Fifty years ago the Apollo 11 astronauts visited Sydney.
Following their historic flight to the Moon Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins embarked on a whirlwind tour of planet Earth. Sometimes called their “victory lap” in 45 days they visited 24 countries. They flew into Australia from Bangkok landing first in Perth for a 2-hour stopover and a drive through the city among crowds of people.
At 11:00pm on Friday October 31st they arrived in Sydney. After an official welcome to the country by the prime minister (John Gorton) they headed to the Wentworth hotel for the night. In case you’re curious their route was via Third, Shiers and Ross avenues, O’Riordan Street, Joyce Drive, Botany Road, Wentworth Avenue, Southern Cross Drive, Dowling, Flinders, Oxford and College streets, Queens Square, and Macquarie, Hunter and Phillip streets – but you will need an old map to find a few of the first streets named.
The next day they were up for a 9:00am press conference followed by a call on His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales (Sir Arthur Roden Cutler) at Government House. A 15-minute drive, among more crowds, took them to the Archibald Memorial fountain in Hyde Park for a short Civic Reception by the Lord Mayor of Sydney (Sir Laurence Emmet McDermott). Another short drive brought them back to the Wentworth for a 1pm lunch.
Lunch consisted of Hawkesbury river oysters natural, roast saddle of lamb, Australian fresh fruit in season with cream followed by coffee, and the wines and drinks were a Hardy’s Siegersdorf Rhine Riesling, McWilliams Pinot 1964 Hermitage, a Seppelt Great Western Imperial champagne, brandy and liqueurs.
The afternoon and evening were free of official engagements although the ABC has footage, some recently unearthed, of the astronauts taking a quintessential Sydney Harbour cruise.
On Sunday morning at 9:00am the three astronauts departed Sydney aboard the Presidential Boeing 707 aircraft bound for Guam!