The Starry Skies program (night tours) has been cancelled indefinitely by the Royal Botanical Gardens of Victoria. We hope that the reinstatement of the program will be considered in the future when the community vaccination process has been completed and the potential risks to public health of conducting indoor activities at Melbourne Observatory are reduced to an acceptably low level.
Melbourne Observatory commenced operations in 1863 and achieved a great deal of practical value for Victoria before it was decommissioned from official Government work in 1945. However it has since remained in use as an astronomical observatory despite incursions on the site reserve by botanical interests.
The heritage buildings of the Observatory were already protected on the basis of architectural merit in 1994 when the Board of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Victoria (RBGV) took over statutory management of the Melbourne Observatory site. The RBGV developed the Observatory Gate plan to turn the site into a new gateway to its Melbourne Gardens, and signposted the place also as Observatory Gate. Substantial losses of heritage took place in Phase 1 of the project, apparently contrary to the then new provisions of the Heritage Act 1995.
More recently, the RBGV released some proposals for Phase 2 of Observatory Gate. Community alarm resulted over proposed additional heritage losses that would have occured, had the plan proceeded.
Melbourne Observatory is now permanently on the National Heritage List since early 2018 and it is understood with its national heritage status that this unfortunate project is rightfully abandoned and that restoration of the whole site should proceed now, including recovering some of the cultural heritage losses that were imposed. It has since been found to be of even greater national and world significance. Following successful precedents set by Sydney Observatory and many others around the world - including another highly significant 19th century observatory at Birr Castle in Ireland, Melbourne Observatory should become a working heritage astronomical observatory museum. The reinstallation of the reconstructed Great Melbourne Telescope of 1869 in its original building at the Melbourne Observatory is underway with the instigation of the ASV, and authentic, sensitive restoration of the entire Melbourne Observatory site should follow.
Join the Friends of Melbourne Observatory: https://www.facebook.com/friendsofmelbourneobservatory/
ASV's official position on Melbourne Observatory is available for reading and download here.
Pictured above, some brand new Astronomers observing the Sun for the first time through the original Photo Heliograph in the South Equatorial Room.
Shown above on the left the Campiche clock and on the right the Shepherd clock.
Shown above is the Melbourne Observatories original Siemens, Halske and Co Chronograph
Shown above is the Fillet Chronograph