In April 1970, the then Postmaster General (PMG) commissioned the Commonwealth 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 tower was to replace the microwave relay station on Red Hill and the television broadcast masts already on Black Mountain.
Design of the tower was the responsibility of the Department of Housing and Construction, however a conflict arose with the National Capital Development Commission (NCDC) which, at the time, had complete control over planning within the Australian Capital Territory.
During the approval process of the tower, protests arose on aesthetic and ecological grounds. Some people felt that the tower would dominate other aesthetic Canberra structures due to its location above Black Mountain and within a nature reserve. A case was brought before the High Court of Australia arguing that the Federal Government did not have the constitutional power to construct the tower (Johnson v Kent (1975) 132 CLR 164). The decision was made in favour of the government and construction was able to commence.
Telecom Tower was opened on 15 May 1980 by the then Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.
Prior to the construction of the tower, CTC-TV (now called Southern Cross Ten Canberra) had its studios located at the top of Black Mountain. Also located on the top were two guy-wired masts, one for CTC7 and the other one for the local ABC TV station. These were demolished in 1980 after the tower had opened
Black Mountain Tower provides vital communication facilities for Canberra along with both indoor and outdoor observation decks, a café and a gift shop as well as the revolving Alto Tower Restaurant. There are three floors of business, sales and radio communication facilities located between the 30.5 metre and 42.7 metre levels providing space for communication dishes, platforms and equipment for mobile services within the tower.
The viewing platforms provide 360 degree views of Canberra and the surrounding city and countryside. Visitors to Black Mountain Tower can see the city unfold from the enclosed viewing gallery or from the two open viewing platforms. Besides the telecommunications facilities the tower includes also a souvenir shop, a relaxing coffee lounge, and Canberra's only revolving restaurant which rotates 360 degrees in 81 minutes to provide diners to experience a different view throughout their meal. In the lower level of the Tower's entrance foyer, there was formerly an exhibition "Making Connections" which traced the history of Australian telecommunications from the earliest days into the 21st century but this has since been removed. There is a theatre which provides a video, produced shortly after the tower opened, on the tower's design and construction.
Black Mountain Tower has become one of the most symbolic landmarks in Canberra and a major tourist attraction with a total of over six million visitors. In 1989 the World Federation of Great Towers invited the tower to join such distinguished monuments as the Blackpool Tower in England and the Empire State Building in New York.
Black Mountain Tower is one of the most visually imposing structures on the Canberra skyline, visible from many parts of Canberra and Queanbeyan.
Black Mountain Tower is situated at the summit of Black Mountain in Canberra.
- Black Mountain tower website
- Alto Tower Restaurant website
- Telstra Tower at Structurae
- Canberra Tourist Website