Mount Stromlo ruin rises from the ashes

30 January 2015

Stromlo is no longer rebuilding, it has been rebuilt.

One of the most iconic ruins of the 2003 Canberra bushfires, the Mount Stromlo Observatory Director’s Residence, has re-opened to the public following a major restoration project after being closed for 12 years.

Professor Matthew Colless, Director of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, said the restoration of the building marked the end of the rebuilding period at the Observatory.

The January 2003 bushfires destroyed the Residence along with five telescopes, workshops and several other major buildings at Mount Stromlo, which overlooks Canberra.

“The Residence is the last building at Mount Stromlo to be restored after the 2003 fire, since we will be leaving the burnt-out telescope domes as memorials. Stromlo is no longer rebuilding, it has been rebuilt. We are now focussed entirely on the future,” he said.

The façade of the Residence has been restored to its original 1920s condition while the interior, which remains in its post-fire state, features some 21st century additions, with a series of state-of-the-art audio-visual installations examining the history of Mount Stromlo.

Click here to see a video of the refurbished building.

The building forms part of the Mount Stromlo Interactive Heritage Trail walking tour which features a downloadable app incorporating augmented reality to showcase the history and scientific achievements of the mountain campus.

“The revival of this significant historic building, combined with the Heritage Trail, site tours, public astronomy evenings and the natural beauty of the mountain and its views, provides people with plenty of reasons to visit Mount Stromlo,” Professor Colless said.  

Funding for the Residence and the Heritage Trail was made possible with the assistance of the Australian Government’s Your Community Heritage Grants Programme.

ANU Heritage Officer Amy Jarvis said the ANU received two grants, worth more than $520,000, to help fund the projects.

“These grants have provided us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to preserve an iconic piece of ANU and Canberra's history,” she said.

The restoration of the Mount Stromlo Director’s Residence has been a collaboration between ANU Heritage and the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.