Four galaxies just got closer with observatory funding

Susanna Freymark

In March 2021, an ambitious plan to build an observatory at the Mallanganee Lookout was announced.

Years before, former Kyogle councillor Earle Grundy was at a Visions of the Villages meeting and there was a discussion about an upgrade to facilities at the Mallanganee Lookout. Kyogle Council looked at options and engaged consultants Terroir to come up with a concept.

The result was a spectacular design to transform the lookout into a unique observatory that will showcase the landscape and view and an awe-inspiring night sky.

With the announcement of a $2.067 million Regional Tourism Activation Fund grant from the State Government, an observatory inspired by an armillary sphere constructed off the northern end of the current lookout site on the top of the Richmond Range is closer to becoming a reality.

Kyogle Council will contribute $690,000 to the project. The observatory will be built out of metal and concrete and will be semi-enclosed, providing the perfect vantage to the views across the Richmond Ranges to the Border Ranges and Wollumbin during the day and the stars overhead at night.

The observatory will be positioned on the precise latitude where the centre of the Milky Way crosses directly overhead every day.

The project will also include the construction of new public toilets and carpark on the site, upgrades to the access road from the Bruxner Highway, development of a walking track through the Mallanganee National Park and landscaping.

The observatory is expected to welcome its first visitors by the end of 2023.  In the meantime, further work will take place to refine the concept and develop the attraction – including a proposed augmented reality installation.  Further community consultation will be carried out at key stages of the project.

Mallanganee & District Progress Association member Greg Baker said most people didn’t know about the astronomical value of the lookout.

“This is a good area for winter observation because the sky is so clear,” he said.

“You can see four galaxies from up here.”

The story featured in the Richmond River Independent in 2021.
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