Telstra Tower was officially opened on May 15, 1980 by the then Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser. Built on the summit of Black Mountain Canberra, it soon became known to the locals as Black Mountain Tower.
Black Mountain is a sensitive and stunning part of the Canberra environment, a national park of significant interest in the ecological world with its unique collection of flora and fauna. The Tower was clearly going to be a land mark which some people felt would dominate other aesthetic Canberra structures. As time progressed a feeling of outrage and vigorous protest against the project was evident among some people. Protests against the Tower on aesthetic and ecological grounds were strongly voiced during the earlier stages of the approval procedures, and at the various hearings which included a lengthy Supreme Court case.
The Tower saga started in April 1970 when Telecom asked the Department of Housing and Construction to carry out a feasibility study in relation to a tower on Black Mountain, accommodating both communication services and facilities for visitors. The planning of the Tower was carried out by the Department of Housing and Construction while the actual building itself, was the responsibility of Concrete Constructions. The impressive stainless steel work, was by William H. Wilson of Sydney.
The National Capital Development Commission (NCDC) held a unique responsibility for the development of Canberra. Every new structure required their specific approval. The planning skill of the NCDC was reflected in the beauty of the City. Their longstanding authority over the City development had never been seriously challenged. Thus the public clash which ultimately developed between Telecom and the NCDC over the Tower design, was an unfortunate affair for both parties.
Apart from being important as the transmitting station for Canberra television services and FM broadcasting services, and as a base station for other radio communication facilities, Telstra Tower is a key station in trunk communications for Canberra, and an important node in the intercapital broadband network. It is also important in respect of television relaying, catering for up to 5 simultaneous interstate relays as well as national regional relays from Sydney and Melbourne and relays originating in Canberra.
Telstra Tower replaced the previous and inadequate telecommunications system in Canberra by centralising essential communication facilities on the one structure:
– Major trunk line radio-telephony facilities
– Television transmitters for national and commercial services.
– FM radio transmitters
– Radio paging (Telefinder services) facilities
– Mobile radio telephone base station services to vehicles
– Cellular phone base station
From Telstra Tower we communicate, educate, entertain and inform. This magnificent structure cost $16 million to build and attracts 430,000 visitors per year.