16 July 2021

Telstra Tower, Canberra's global tourism icon, is currently unavailable

| Sally Hopman
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Telstra Tower

Telstra Tower is closed for fire safety systems to be investigated and other works. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Telstra Tower, described by one tourism leader as being in an “appalling state”, has been temporarily closed to the public.

Telstra made the announcement on Wednesday (14 July), saying the closure would allow for fire safety systems to be investigated and any other works to be undertaken.

“We know this will be disappointing for many as it is a tourist attraction and an iconic building, but the safety of visitors to the Tower is our main priority,” a Telstra spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said all works would be carried out as soon as possible but did not say when the Tower would reopen to the public.

Chair of the Canberra Region Tourism Leaders Forum, Dr David Marshall, said yesterday (15 July) that rather than leave the iconic Canberra building to deteriorate further, everything should be done to reinstate it as one of the region’s greatest tourist attractions.

“Yes, it will cost millions of dollars to bring it up to scratch,” he said, “but that is what must happen.”

READ MORE Tourism body calls for major upgrades of Canberra’s ‘neglected’ icons

He said Canberra’s promotional advertising material, much of which was distributed around Australia and the world, featured the Telstra Tower as a leading tourist attraction in the capital.

The tower, which opened in 1980, rises 195 metres above the summit of Black Mountain.

“Yes, it is a telecommunications tower,” Dr Marshall said, “but it is so much more than that.

“Around the world, in places like Seattle, in Tokyo, people are flocking to see such towers. People want to know why we’re not using our Tower to its full potential.

“We call on the Federal Minister for Communications to do something about this.

“From a branding point of view, it is a poor advertisement for Telstra.”

The famous revolving restaurant in the Tower, which provided spectacular views across Canberra, has been closed since 2013, along with the attached gift shop. The lower level featured a Heritage Exhibition and a theatre.

In 2019, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr called for public comment on the future of the Tower, with suggestions ranging from a giant water slide to a cable car. More recently, social media commentators have suggested the giant Tower needle be used to encourage people to get COVID injections.

Dr Marshall said a professional Canberra restaurateur offered to take over the once-popular revolving restaurant in 2019, but it was rejected by Telstra.

Sign on door

The sign saying Telstra Tower is closed temporarily. Photo: Supplied.

Earlier this week, printed signs appeared at the entrance to the Tower saying the tower was closed until further notice, apologising for the inconvenience. Its website also advises it is temporarily closed.

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Maybe Base jumpers could get some use out of it.

Tom Worthington2:34 pm 16 Jul 21

I doubt anyone comes to Canberra to visit Telstra Tower. It is a telecommunications tower, and not much more than that. Tourists might like to look at the view, but mostly they look at such edifices, not from them. Inside it is not that exciting. The revolving restaurant is a gimmick who’s time past decades ago. A gift shop seems a bit pointless, as does a Heritage Exhibition or theatre. If someone thinks they can make money out of any of those activities, then good luck to them, but neither Testra, nor the ACT Government, should be subsidizing it.

Capital Retro11:52 am 16 Jul 21

It’s ironic that because most people are now totally engrossed in their social media devices (many hosted by Telstra), they don’t have time or motivation to visit such places anymore.

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