4 reasons to visit Telstra Tower in Canberra

telstra tower walk
Telstra Tower, Canberra. Photo: Bidgee, Wikimedia Commons

Telstra Tower is Canberra’s seminal telecommunications structure and has been one of the city’s top tourist destinations since its opening in 1980. It boasts around 430,000 visitors each year.

But what’s so fascinating about it and why does it attract so much interest? There are a few reasons it has gained iconic status.

360 degree views

The success of the Telstra Tower in Canberra can largely be attributed to its impressive 360 degree views of the city and the surrounding region. The sweeping countryside, green nature reserve and glistening Lake Burley Griffin are all visible from the outdoor viewing platforms, indoor observation deck and café (as well as some of the meeting rooms!).

The building is open until 10pm daily which means that the sights may be enjoyed during sunset and at night for an extra special experience.

Unique appearance

Jutting out above Black Mountain, the Telstra Tower in Canberra is an impressively tall and curious-looking building. It is white, bright and modern, with a steel mast and 195 metre long spike. One of the first things you’ll notice about the landmark is the large number of white drums positioned on its body, which exist to protect the antennae inside them.

Three of the Telstra Tower in Canberra’s levels are dedicated to housing technical facilities, while the rest are for the enjoyment of visitors. The building’s unique look and sharp point has earned it the nickname “Giant Syringe”. It has also won several awards for outstanding design, in part due to its unique and effective use of concrete.

History of Australian telecommunications

The structure was opened on the 15th of May, 1980 by the Prime Minister at the time, Malcolm Fraser. It was built on Black Mountain, a formation made mostly of quartz-rich sandstone, located in a nature reserve. Protests emerged out of concern that building the structure would result in ecological damage to the area and that it would dominate views of the city in an unappealing way. These protests were especially loud in the early stages of the approval process, including at court hearings.

Yet the building was eventually approved for construction and work on the structure soon began. The structure’s importance to the city’s community stemmed from the city’s need for a better telecommunications system. Since being built, it has served as a highly effective telecommunications structure.

Head downstairs to the foyer at the base of the Telstra Tower in Canberra and you’ll be treated with a heritage exhibition tour. The exhibition showcases the rich history of Australian telecommunications, starting with the nation’s first telephone service in 1879. It features a collection of historical telecommunications devices, an elaborate rotating model of the building, and a video screening. Once you’re done, you can grab a memento at the gift shop and enjoy coffee and a snack at the café.

Functionality

It’s worth remembering that the Telstra Tower in Canberra was built for telecommunications purposes, not just to provide sightseeing opportunities! It was built in the 1970s with the aim of improving services by centralising communication facilities in the one structure – which it successfully did. The structure cost around $16 million to produce, but the cost was worth it considering the impressive facilities it provides to the community, including:

  • A cellular phone base station
  • Radio paging facilities
  • FM radio transmitters
  • National and commercial television transmitters; and
  • Radio-telephone facilities.

Telstra Tower in Canberra is conveniently open from 9am-10pm 7 days a week, including public holidays. And it’s affordable, with adult tickets priced at just $7.50 and free parking available to guests.