What's this project all about?
A state of the art astronomy facility is being constructed in Tamworth. Located in 'big sky country', the centre will become a fast growing astro-tourism attraction.
The Tamworth Regional Astronomy and Science Centre will include a large observatory with a roll-off roof to house:
- Multiple medium to large telescopes
- Multi-functional space for the display of instruments and educational instruction
The Centre will provide an opportunity for amateur and professional astronomers to carry out international quality research and be available for school, university and public education.
It will offer local, regional, state, national and international visitors the opportunity to view, use and learn about the local spectacular clear dark skies.
What is an Astronomy Centre
An Astronomy Centre is an astronomical observatory for both amateur astronomers and the general public to see and learn about the incredible astronomical sites. The great thing about astronomy is it’s probably the only science where amateurs can still contribute valuable work that can have a profound impact on what we know about our place in the universe.
Unlike other astronomy facilities, this project offers the integration of observatories, a planetarium and a multi-purpose science centre where students and visitors can have a hands-on astro-science experience. The Centre is supported by a very active Tamworth Regional Astronomy Club (TRAC) who have an extensive mix of executive members from the science and astronomy field, and strong connections to leading Australian and international researchers and astronomers.
The Centre will include:
- a large observatory with a roll-off roof to house multiple medium to large telescopes
- planetarium for presentations/lectures
- multi-functional space for the display of instruments and educational instruction
- a small observatory with a roll-off roof to house a rare historic Hewitt Camera telescope
- ancilliary services such as an amenities building, car park and utility infrastructure
- An Ordinary Council Meeting was held on Tuesday 15 December 2015, Council agreed to amend the draft Plan of Management for Victoria Park and the Victoria Park Masterplan to reflect the inclusion of an Astronomy Centre. The draft plan was on public display for comment.
- A development application was then lodged for the Tamworth Regional Astronomy and Science Centre at Victoria Park, Tamworth on 4th February 2019.
- The centre is being made possible through a partnership between the State Government’s RestartNSW program, Tamworth Regional Council and Tamworth Astronomy Club with Councillors approving an interest-free loan of $40,000 to Tamworth Regional Astronomy Centre for part of its contribution to the Tamworth Regional Astronomy and Science Centre. The club is also contributing $38,000 in-kind to the project. The club will repay the loan to the Council over 15 years. The State Government’s RestartNSW is providing a $1.8m grant under Round One of the Regional Growth – Environment and Tourism Fund. Council is contributing $105,000.
- The centre will be part of the developing network of the NSW Inland Astronomy Trail.
- Further funding of $460,000 was announced in September 2020 as part of the Australian Government's Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, which will fund the new Hewitt Observatory and planetarium theatre separate from the main centre.
The development of a Regional Astronomy and Science Centre in Tamworth will achieve the primary outcomes of:
- Diversify the tourism opportunities available within the Tamworth Regional area
- Provide an attraction that will generate new tourists clientele to the region, resulting in an economic benefit
- Offer a place for research and collaboration with amateur and professional astronomers
- Offer a learning centre and a hands-on site for students (school and university) to explore and undertake practical study of sciences including astronomy, maths, physics etc
- Raise the communities appreciation of the study of science
When constructed, the facility will have impacts that need to be considered and managed such as:
- Staffing – The TRAC have committed to staffing the facility on a minimum of four days of the week. The TRAC have sufficient expertise and experience to undertake this task.
- Operational management – The facility will be operated by the TRAC and report through the Victoria Park Section 355 Committee of Council
- Lifecycle and Renewal Costs – Tamworth Regional Council will manage the lifecycle costs of this facility through its annual Asset Management Plan
The resulting deliverables of the construction of this facility will see:
- Increased tourist visitation to the region (through a new tourist market)
- Development and growth of a new field of study / interest to be located within the region
- Increased educational opportunities for students
- Growth of the TRAC membership leading to increased social cohesion
It is firmly believed that the combination of the growth in tourism, research and education opportunities for the community will generate a strong return on investment.