The Dish

The Dish

The Dish
Promotional poster
Directed by Rob Sitch
Produced by Santo Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Michael Hirsh
Jane Kennedy
Rob Sitch
Written by Santo Cilauro
Tom Gleisner
Jane Kennedy
Rob Sitch
Starring Sam Neill
Kevin Harrington
Tom Long
Patrick Warburton
Music by Edmund Choi
Edited by Jill Bilcock
Distributed by Roadshow Entertainment (AUS)
Warner Bros. (US/International)
Icon Entertainment International (UK)
Release dates
Toronto Film Festival
15 September 2000
19 October 2000
Running time
101 minutes
Country Australia
Language English, Japanese

The Dish is a 2000 Australian film that tells a somewhat fictionalized story of the Parkes Observatory's role in relaying live television of man's first steps on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. It was the top grossing film in Australia in 2000.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Box office 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The radio telescope at Parkes (Parkes Observatory), New South Wales, Australia, was used by NASA throughout the Apollo program to receive signals in the Southern Hemisphere, along with the NASA Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station near Canberra.

In the days before the 19 July 1969 space mission that marked humankind's first steps on the moon, NASA was working with a group of Australian technicians who had agreed to rig up a satellite interface. That the Aussies placed the satellite dish smack bang in the middle of an Australian sheep farm in the regional town of Parkes was just one of the reasons that NASA was concerned. Based on a true story, The Dish takes a comical look at the differing cultural attitudes between Australia and the U.S. while revisiting one of the greatest events in history.



The Parkes 64 metre CSIRO
ABC news report on the role of the Parkes radio telescope and the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station, broadcast a week before the Moon landing.

Although based on true events, the film uses fictional characters and alters historical details for dramatic effect. NASA's Honeysuckle Creek and Goldstone stations both had the signal first, but Parkes' signal was used from soon after the beginning of the moon-walk. No power failure occurred, there was no friction with the NASA representatives (of whom there were several, not just one), and Prime Minister John Gorton visited Honeysuckle Creek, not Parkes. They did, however, operate in very high winds (110 km/h) at 60 degrees inclination, risking damage to the dish and even injury to themselves to keep the antenna pointed at the Moon during the moonwalk.[1]

Much of the film was shot on location; the "cricket match" and "hayride" scenes were shot on the real dish and researchers often postponed experiments to position the dish for photography.[2] The set reconstructing the 1969 control room was extremely accurate, down to some details as small as ashtrays. Some of the "props" were in fact original NASA equipment used during the Apollo 11 landing, left behind in Australia as they were too heavy (i.e. too expensive) to ship back to the U.S.[2] Staff from that era expressed amazement at seeing the set; they said it was like stepping through a time warp.[2]

The Dish was written by Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner, Jane Kennedy and Rob Sitch and directed by Sitch.

Apart from the radio telescope scenes, the majority of the movie was actually filmed in the small town of Forbes 33 km south of Parkes because of its old historic buildings, and also in Old Parliament House in Canberra, and Crawford Studios in Melbourne.

Box office

The Dish grossed $17,999,473 at the box office in Australia.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "Apollo 11 Moon landing - CSIRO". CSIRO. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Official Site-Production notes (Flash)
  3. ^ Film Victoria - Australian Films at the Australian Box Office

External links

  • Official website
  • The Dish at the Internet Movie Database
  • The Apollo 11 Story on the Parkes Observatory website
  • "The Dish": Fact versus Fiction — a quick comparison
  • Top five Australian feature films each year, and gross Australian box office earned that year, 1988–2005
  • The DishThe Truth about
  • The dish and the great beyond (vodcast)
  • Visiting the Parkes radio telescope (CSIRO website)
  • The DishJosh Olson on at Trailers from Hell