ANU Mount Stromlo Observatory

Mount Stromlo Observatory

Heritage Management Plan

Australian National University (ANU)


The 2003 Canberra bushfires devastated the Mount Stromlo Observatory. But it became a symbol of survival and recovery for the local community—a makeshift memorial of the firestorm.

GML advised the Australian National University (ANU) on innovative heritage solutions for this important precinct to help redefine its future in the wake of disaster.

Mount Stromlo Observatory Precinct is a world-renowned academic, research and scientific facility. One of the oldest institutions in the Australian Capital Territory, the Observatory is the headquarters of the ANU’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and a major tourist attraction for the Canberra region.

The 2003 firestorm decimated Mt Stromlo, destroying many of the precinct’s buildings and leaving others as ruins or façades. The surrounding landscape was irrevocably changed. This profound impact meant that Mt Stromlo and its ruins emerged as a commemorative emblem of community resilience and recovery since the fires.

The ANU engaged GML to develop a heritage management plan that reflected these changes to the site. GML’s plan established a unique approach to the devastated precinct that included options for not only regrowth and rebuilding but also for stabilising the ruins of the observatory’s domes and incorporating them into the site as a memorial to the impact of the blaze.

Our plan also included a comprehensive inventory of the site’s heritage features, an innovative visual ‘Heritage Snapshot’ showcasing the precinct’s evolution, and detailed policies that guide the ANU on Mt Stromlo’s ongoing conservation and development into the future.

The remains of one of the precincts buildings.



ACT National Trust Award for Outstanding Project in 2016