Straya On The Moon!

So apparently Australia is getting it’s very own Space Agency. Who knew? If only it had happened earlier. Perhaps this story — written, I think, while I was at least partly drunk — might have been closer to the truth…
The year is 1973, in an alternate universe. Here, America very sensibly decided that a moon mission was an expensive waste of time, and left the heroics to the Soviets, who promptly blew up a string of Soyuz missions before declaring the moon to be a Capitalist hoax. For a while, it looked as though Lunacy would be left to the Chinese, or even worse, the French — but the world had forgotten about the stalwart scientists of Woomera, toiling tirelessly in the desert heat until one day…

“Klaatu barada nikto!”

“Unknown call-sign, please identify. This is a restricted frequency!”

“Nah, bugger ya! Ya reckon we was born yesterday? We identify ourselves, next thing we know you bloody Yanks will be sending in the B-52s to prevent Commie forests infiltrating our precious bodily fluids!”

“Is — is that you, Commander Wilson?”

“Nah, it’s Harold Holt. Long swim, eh? Aww, come on. Who else would be on this frequency, calling from the bloody moon, Houston? Ya grand-mum? Course it’s Wilson. Call me Davo, will ya? I hate that Commander Wilson bullshit. Makes me sound like some kind of Pommie pooftah.”

“Some kind of… look, is this a joke? This is Tracking Station 54 Houston, monitoring the progress of the Nulla-Nulla VI moon mission, operating on a restricted frequency. Please identify yourself at once.”

“Strewth! Typical bloody Yank. No sense of humour. Right-o, then. This is Commander David Wilson of moon mission Nulla-Nulla VI, reporting on restricted frequency to Tracking Station 54 Houston.”

“My God. It is you! Why are you on this frequency already? Aren’t you supposed to be in contact with Canberra?”

“Yair, but we’re a bit ahead of schedule. See, the bastards in Canberra went and got on the piss didn’t they? Anyway, me and Macka and Woz decided we’d just take ‘er on down by ourselves.”

“Take her… you mean to the moon?”

“Now you’re getting it. Yair. Brace yourself, Houston. The Budgie has landed.”

“The what? You’re on the — how?”

“Too bloody easy. Like I told yez, we got tired of floating around airy-fairy up here, so we threw ‘er into gear, pointed ‘er at a flat spot, and let ‘er rip. Dead simple.”

“Have you informed Canberra of your situation?”

“What’ve ya got between ya bloody ears, mate? We can’t raise Canberra, ‘cause they’re pissed as newts and they’re on the wrong bloody frequency anyhow, so we’re calling you. Now get on the blower, call some bastard in Canberra, and tell them what’s what. Next thing ya do, ya switch on the secondary frequencies so we can send a bit of telly. Macka’s getting dead bored up here, and if he doesn’t get outside soon we’re all gonna regret it. Have I gotta tell yez everything? Useless bloody Yanks. Couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery. No wonder ya got yer arses kicked in Viet Nam!”

“Hey! That wasn’t called for! Look, my people have just been doing the figures, and according to what they tell me there’s no way you could have made a landing at this time without burning some of your return reserve. This is another joke, isn’t it? Like the time your people made those cardboard ICBMs and shipped them into Cuba on Soviet-marked boats?”

“Heh. Yair, that was a good one, wasn’t it? Your bloke Kennedy near bloody shat himself! Nah, mate. This is dead-set dinkum. The Budgie — sorry, I forgot — the Albatross is down, and we wanna go for a walk.”

“What about the fuel situation?”

“No worries, mate. Woz is a bit of a mechanic. He stuck a new carbie in the Budgie before we took off. Took it out of an old FX Holden and machined a new valve for it. Gets about twice as much per gallon now. We’ve got fuel coming out of our arses. Literally, in my case. Whose bloody idea were these space rations, anyway? Man could just about blow himself to the moon eating this stuff.”

“New carbie? I’m sorry, Albatross, your signal is unclear. Say again.”

“Aw, fer — new bloody carburettor, ya drongo. Woz stuck an FX Holden carbie in the thing, and she goes just like a bought one. Bloody good cars, those old Holdens. Makes your Ford look like tits on a bull. Hey — ya got the telly up yet?”

“Ahh… that’s a roger, Albatross. Television frequency receivers are in the pipeline five by five.”

“Right-o, we’ll just check ‘em out for ya. Wouldn’t want the world to miss man’s first steps on the moon, eh? Okay, here goes. Cabin camera on. Macka, Woz — show Houston what we think of Fords!”

“My God!”

“Ha! First brown-eyes in space! Good one, lads. Get your kit back on. We’re going bush. Ya got the cricket gear, Macka?”

“Cricket?”

“Ya didn’t think we was gonna play bloody golf up here, did ya? What kind of fairies do yez take us for? We’re Australians, mate. First men on the moon. We’re gonna have a proper barbie.”

“Barbie?”

“Sausage sizzle. Piss-up. Barbecue. Strewth, sometimes I wonder whether you Yanks speak English. Right-o! Make sure that telly’s running. Woz has got the door open, and I’m gonna take man’s first historic steps on another world. Here we go… I’m just now… aww, shit a brick! I’ve dropped the bloody Esky!”

“Commander Wilson. You are aware this broadcast is going live to the world?”

“Aw. Yair. Umm… that’s one small step for a man, but a bugger of a hop without a Saturn Five up ya clacker. Mind that first step, Macka, it’s a bit steep.”

“Commander Wilson. What is that object that Lieutenant Greene is carrying? It looks like some kind of scientific package.”

“Wozza? Scientific package? Not bloody likely! That’s a Darwin Stubby: four litres, more or less, of En Tee’s finest produce. Woz is gonna crack it open and christen the place.”

“Do I read you correctly, Commander? You’re referring to that carboy as a Darwin Stubby? Why is he tucking it under his arm like that? What’s that tool he’s using?”

“Whaddya reckon, ya drongo? It’s an opener. Crikey, anyone would reckon youse Yanks didn’t drink beer! Oh, that’s right! I almost forgot. You’ve only got that sex-in-a-canoe Budweiser shit. Might as well drink nun’s piss, you ask me.”

“Commander Wilson — you’re telling me that’s beer?”

“Too right, mate.”

“But beer is carbonated! It’s stored under pressure. Does Lieutenant Greene realise that in the vacuum —”

“Stone the flamin’ crows! Look at the bastard go!”

“Why doesn’t he let go? He’s being carried away!”

“Let go? Not bloody likely! That’s our whole beer supply he’s got. Well, except for the emergency reserves in the lox tank. And the six-pack in the beer fridge. But that’s gotta last us all the way back. Bastard! He’s not gonna share it, is he? Crikey! I can’t even see the bugger any more!”

“We’ve got our people trying to track him, Commander. At this point it does not appear that he has achieved lunar escape velocity, but he may well move into low orbit.”

“Serves him right, the dog. Come on, Macka. We’ll get started on the cricket without him, eh? I’ll have a bowl.”

“Commander Wilson: our people advise me that they’re uncertain of the physics of lunar cricket. Are you certain this is a good idea? Shouldn’t you be trying to track Lieutenant Greene?”

“Bugger off. I’m gonna give him a googly. Aww, crikey! He’s put it away for six!”

“Analysis of the trajectory suggests that the ball did achieve escape velocity, Commander Wilson.”

“Right-o. New ball, then. I’ll go with the long run up and give him some Thommo chin music!”

“Chin music? Googly? Your signal is deteriorating again, Albatross. Oh, good lord! What was that?”

“Ha! About a hundred-forty kay pee haitch, that’s what it was!”

“His helmet, man! His faceplate smashed!”

“Yair. Big sook. Look at him! Anybody would think he was a bloody Pom!”

“No, you fool — it’s the vacuum! He’s undergone explosive decompression. He’s… you’ve… dear God…”

“Hang about a moment, Houston. I’ve just gotta let Fluffy off the chain. Don’t want that going out to all the viewers, eh?”

“Commander Wilson? Commander Wilson! Your signal cut out momentarily. Are you still there, Commander Wilson?”

“Yair. Crikey, those space rations, eh? Strewth, that’s rank. I mean, bloody hell! You could choke a brown dog with that. Aw, cripes it’s thick in here. Bugger me! I’m… uck… too… awww… jeezus flamin’ christ… I… ackh… ackhh…”

“Commander Wilson? Commander Wilson? Come in Commander Wilson.”

“…”

“Lieutenant Greene! Are you receiving this signal, Lieutenant Greene? Dear God. Is this still going out live? Quick! Shut down the transmitter! Shut down the —”

Historical Note: in the immediate aftermath of the infamous Wilson Broadcast, controversy raged as to whether or not the Australians had successfully achieved a lunar landing. Memories of the Cuban Missile Prank were still sharp in the minds of the Americans, and the attempt by entrepeneur Dick Smith to tow England outside its own territorial waters in order to claim it under the legal doctrine of Terra Nullius was still being debated in the English Supreme Court. However, the Second Australian Moon Mission, funded wholly by Queensland developer Keith Williamson (with generous assistance from the Bjelke-Petersen Foundation and the Queensland Industrial Development Fund) established beyond doubt that the crew of the Albatross did indeed reach the moon, albeit briefly. The monument to their heroism can still be seen today, next to the golf resort established by Mister Williamson prior to its acquisition by Daikyo Corporation…

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One comment

  1. Yep, that sounds about right. Came across this (warning: apparently an ad for t-shirts) site:
    https://spaceaustralia.com.au/
    We’ve got a bit of catching up to do though. The Kiwis already have working rockets.

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