The upside-down Kangaroo sign on the road from Pioneer site – by Don Gray.
It was erected when the DSS42 crew were at Goldstone checking out the equipment to be installed at Tidbinbilla led by Bob Leslie, the first Station Director. (I was there at the time with the late Jack Dickinson checking out the new maser system which was to be installed at DSS41).
The crew were contractor personnel from Spacetrack Pty Ltd, a consortium of three English companies – Elliott Automation, Hawker Siddley and De Havilland. Most of them were expatriate Poms and most of them had very little driving experience. Bob Leslie was worried that accidents could result from the daily journeys to and from Goldstone in rental cars – all big Yank Tanks with all the road handling performance of Dunlopillo mattresses. He arranged for the Barstow Highway Patrol to come out to Goldstone and give a road safety presentation at the complex headquarters.
At the appointed time, one of the DSS42 crew was missing – the RF Engineer John Heath, a young Welshman who was one of the regular drivers. The call went out for him to get himself smartly to the lecture. It was discovered that he was deep in the bowels of the receiver sub-system trying to locate a fault and had forgotten the presentation was on. John jumped into his car and came barrelling out of the Pioneer site but failed to negotiate the first bend and wound up nose down in a dry creek bed.
The next day the kangaroo sign appeared on the roadside where the accident had occurred. It was a standard Australian warning sign, diamond shaped with a black kangaroo on a yellow reflective background and was the cause of great hilarity for some years – however it had been rotated 90 degrees to have the kangaroo standing on its nose.
We never did find out who was responsible but suspected it was one or more of the Americans who had spent time at Woomera and included Walt Larkin, the Complex Director, Howard Olsen and Jack Buckley, Station Directors of the Pioneer and Echo stations, and Chuck Koscielski, JPL’s chief tracking station troubleshooter.
No, this isn’t the real sign.