Revisit Canberra : Telstra Tower | HerCanberra

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Revisit Canberra : Telstra Tower

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I grew up in Canberra and as a Canberran sometimes I (accidentally) take this city for granted. But who doesn’t it?

With relatives visiting a few weeks ago, I found myself reminded of all the things Canberra has to offer—Parliament House, the Mint (whose slogan seriously is ‘It makes cents’), Questacon, the War Memorial, National Museum… the National Gallery, Film and Sound Archives…the list goes on.

Typical of a travel brochure, many of these places I’d only ever visited for school excursions, complained about being dragged to as a kid…or have actually never even checked out. So once my relatives left to return home, I decided to make a re-visit and live it list—for Canberra that is. Over the next few months, I’m going to revisit these Canberra tourist attractions, (the ones we’re all guilty of driving by each day without giving a second thought), but with new eyes, fresh enthusiasm and the determination to reinvigorate an appreciation for my home town all over again.

First on the re-visit and live it listTelstra Tower.

Rising 195 meters above the summit, the tower sits atop Black Mountain and is one of the most iconic symbols in the nation’s capital. Yet its significance to Canberra is so much more; it’s the capital’s telecommunications hub. But atop this very mountain, it is where the memories of visiting here as a child coming flooding back…

Eating (just once) at the fancy revolving restaurant…feeling ever so small on the outdoor viewing platform as I peered out over my home…Being enthralled by the hologram of Flacco in the downstairs ‘Making Connections’ exhibition.

It’s this memory that sticks with me. Flacco—the alter ego of comedian Paul Livingston and who had my brothers and I utterly transfixed with the short, holographic presentation featuring his birthday celebrations.

The ‘Making Connections’ exhibition itself was all about the history of telecommunications educating visitors about its significant role as a transmitting station for Canberra’s TV and FM radio services and its relays, both interstate and regionally, from Sydney and Melbourne.

“At the third stroke, it will be eleven- nineteen and twenty seconds.” And the very moment I remember earlier childhood encounters with the very same clock that speaks the time out loud, not just tells it.

You can still dial 1194 on any phone, regardless of the provider, to hear the same message—although it’s not free anymore.

Sure you probably note the time before you even dial the number as it generally appears on your phone (well digital ones at least), but it’s fun to hear and a real throwback.

In some ways revisiting Telstra Tower was strange. The revolving restaurant, Alto, closed its kitchen in 2013. And the ‘Making Connections’ exhibition is long gone, although it’s currently been replaced with the Telstra Heritage Exhibition, which does offer similar information (although sadly no Flacco).

The elevator ride is the same jolt I remember from younger years and of course the 360 degree panoramic views are still spectacular. The indoor viewing area helpfully pinpoints key Canberra landmarks and locations, so as you take in the panorama you can search for familiar spots you know, (start by finding your car in the carpark, hopefully that one’s pretty easy).

From this height, Canberra shines as a planned city—you see how the roads and suburbs connect and the close proximity of everything. After a proper stroll indoors, it’s up the stairs to the outside viewing platforms. A beautiful clear day, I could see all the way across Canberra and out to the mountains, and despite the blisteringly cold winds it did nothing to hinder my enjoyment of the view. I think I’ll have to come back, because I realise I’ve almost always been to the tower during the day, yet never at night.

Occasionally, the entire tower will flash different colours whether to support local sporting teams, charity days or just to brighten up the Canberra cityscape. A trip up Telstra Tower reminds you just how beautiful our city is and how easily it nestles into the mountains and surrounds. As a bonus, the tower definitely has some of the best phone reception in Canberra…

The essentials

What: Telstra Tower
Where: Black Mountain, access from Black Mountain Drive, Acton
When: Open 9am to 10pm every day
Admission: Adults $7.50, Pensioners & Children (4-16) $3, Under 4 free and family passes $17

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One Response to Revisit Canberra : Telstra Tower

Melita says: 21 August, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Great article!
The tower is magical at night (although a little chilly if you are wanting to go outside at the moment).
I think we’re really blessed with attractions in Canberra – so much to see and do that doesn’t cost a lot of money.
We have taken our kids to National Film and Sound Archives and we all loved it, same for the many Galleries and Museums in Canberra.
We particularly like to go to a lot of these “indoor attractions” in winter – when the weather isn’t so nice.

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