20 March 2024

Telstra removes signage, but assures plans to resurrect the Canberra Tower are 'still ongoing'

| James Coleman
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Black Mountain Tower

Telstra revealed plans to turn the tower into a “premier destination” in March last year. Photo: James Coleman.

A year after Telstra first revealed plans for its iconic tower atop Black Mountain, a work crew finally arrived at the site last week.

But only to remove the graffiti.

Earlier this month, a Canberra Notice Board Group member on Facebook publicly slammed the condition of Telstra Tower (now ‘Canberra Tower’, according to the company).

Telstra Tower graffiti. Photo: Josip Sladic, Canberra Notice Board Group, Facebook.

“Can anyone in charge please explain why Black Mountain Tower has been closed for more than a year and is not being maintained, rubbish and graffiti not being removed?” Josip Sladic wrote.

“For something that was once in our top three tourist attractions, it is kind of embarrassing to watch tourists step out of their cars briefly and express disgust at the sights and smells that confront them.”

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The 157-metre-high telecommunications tower has been closed to the public since July 2021 for “upgrades to the building interior”.

In March last year, Telstra reiterated it had not been forgotten and revealed plans to resurrect it as a “premier destination”.

The viewing platforms would be fitted with digital technology to show Canberra as it appeared to the First Nations people, and the base of the tower – which has always housed a museum of sorts – would be complemented by “education programs on cultural history”.

sign outside Canberra Tower

Telstra Tower graffiti. Photo: Josip Sladic, Canberra Notice Board Group, Facebook.

Outside, there would also be “community engagement activities” such as market gardens, bush-tucker programs, art exhibitions and cultural demonstrations.

And yes, food and drink would be coming back with “culturally inspired dining facilities”.

“Our vision is for the Telstra Tower to be an iconic world-class venue that celebrates and embraces both the Ngunnawal culture and the role the Tower has played in the history of telecommunications in Australia,” Telstra general manager for NSW/ACT Chris Taylor said.

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Consulting company Deloitte was contracted to liaise with local Indigenous traditional owners, tourism providers and government agencies.

In March 2023, Mr Taylor said this stage was complete and Telstra was “currently considering next steps on bringing this vision to life”.

However, over the past year, the only movement at the site appears to be from vandals.

Last week, Telstra organised a work crew to remove the “old and now severely damaged” signage from the site and said what remains is now “graffiti-free”.

Curated Bisuals – one of the best rated aerial photographers in Canberra. Photo: Curated Visuals

Telstra was “currently considering next steps on bringing this vision to life”. Photo: File.

The company is only responsible for maintenance of the tower itself, together with a patch of land about 1.5 metres around the outside of it. The rest, including the car park, falls under ACT Government jurisdiction.

A spokesperson for the government told Region ‘City Presentation’ crews remove litter from the car park twice a week, and empty the four rubbish bins in the area once a week.

“Other maintenance activity includes clearing vegetation and removing graffiti when required and monitoring the drinking station,” the spokesperson said.

“Major cleans in the area are scheduled three times a year that include high-pressure washing, brush cutting, pruning, dead shrub removal, and clearing vegetation to allow clear access of roads and carparks.”

As for the future of the Canberra Tower, Mr Taylor said “this is a big and expensive project with many aspects that we want to get right and discussions are still ongoing”.

There is no reopening date confirmed yet.

What would you like included in the ‘new’ Telstra Tower?

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Sir Q. Mozart-Sprong2:38 pm 19 Apr 24

BUNGEE JUMP!!!
They could add a bungee-jumping platform about halfway up the tower, extending out over the viewing platforms. That would bring in the tourists from all over the country! Currently, there’s only one place in Australia you can do a bungee jump, at that is way up in Cairns. How could it fail?

Capital Retro10:08 am 16 Apr 24

It would make a good site for pumped hydro.

All that need to be done is to use the old restaurant level as a reservoir and cover the roof with solar panels (Australian made, of course).

Mini turbines like the ones used in the $155 million Murumbidgee River to Googong Dam pipeline could be installed.

Not much power I know, but oh, the virtue signaling symbolism would be enormous.

And it could be paid for by Albo!

Problem is that we all interact with this space as a tourist attraction and thus love it but it was built as a microwave antennae and this technology isn’t used any more so Telstra don’t have the financial incentive to maintain the site.The viewing platform and coffee shop and souvenirs were only a small amount of the use of this building.We need to find a way to revitalise the technical side of the building then the other will follow otherwise it will continue to be a white elephant and not be the loved icon it is.

“it was built as a microwave antennae and this technology isn’t used any more”

There’s a dozen or more organisations you had better inform. Even the police seem to think it is still working.

https://maprad.io/au/search/site/9580?s=887

I worked at TT in the ‘80s (tried to have much better than mediocre service. / food!)
Was running perfectly well with history stuff, souvenirs space, viewing spaces, cafe and The Tower (revolving) Restaurant.
Sad and embarrassed that it’s so messed up
Telstra…i’m in the industry..get in touch and we can work on an awesome revitalisation!!

Mike Holland3:18 pm 22 Mar 24

Until they start renovations, why can’t they keep it open? Definitely want to see the restaurant reopen.

Ever since I moved to Canberra in the mid 80’s Telstra Tower was always been on the list of where I would take visitors. Sometimes just for viewing, sometimes for viewing and coffee shop and more often than not…the fantastic revolving restaurant. The food and service was slightly above mediocre, enough to keep you coming back but nothing spectacular, but the view you got more than made up for it! I miss it.

Whatever was going to revive this site, a re-education centre was not it.

I guess that’s why it’s on indefinite hiatus.

Peter Graves5:11 pm 20 Mar 24

This has to be a joke. Telstra originally said “we don’t operate restaurants” as an excuse for not getting the restaurant up and running. Well – it never did.

In 2013, it was operated by a lessee Mickey Gubas, who ran Alto for eight years, closed it suddenly in February this year, after a long-running rent dispute with landlord Telstra. He took his team to Lonsdale Street for a complete change of tack, and opened the Autolyse bakery. https://www.smh.com.au/goodfood/eating-out/tenant-sought-for-revolving-restaurant-20131001-2upyz.html

Not exactly a promoter of pride in the nation’s capital, are you Telstra ? Shame on you.

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