Black Mountain is probably the most visited (over 430,000 visitors per annum) of the three main lookouts in Canberra. The other two are Mount Ainslie (my favourite) and Red Hill lookouts. Given vegetation around the base of the Tower you will see nothing unless you pay and go up the tower.
The fact that some of the bush/trees cannot be trimmed back to give you a view without having to go up the Tower, obviously the local government pandering the to profit motives of the Tower and associated facility owners, irks me somewhat but let me leave that aside for this review.
The Tower itself is a 195m telecommunications tower atop Black Mountain at 812 metres. It was opened, despite a feeling of outrage and vigorous protest on aesthetic and ecological grounds (including a Supreme Court challenge) by vocal protesters, in May 1980 by the then Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.
While long used as a meeting place and food source by local Aboriginal people, the first Europeans, explorers Charles Thorsby, his son Charles Thorsby Smith and policeman James Vaughan, to climb Black Mountain did so in 1820.
Black Mountain got its name from 1832 sketches of the mountain made by surveyor Robert Hoddle under which he wrote ‘Black Hill’ because, at the time, it was burnt (black) as part of the local Aboriginals’ land management practices. These ‘back-burning’ techniques, originally used by Aboriginals, are widely used throughout Australia today in an attempt to limit the impact of bush fires, especially in urban areas.
In addition to a viewing gallery the Tower incorporates a theatrette, Panorama Cafe and a gift shop. Since I originally wrote this review the five star Alto Tower Restaurant, Canberra’s only revolving restaurant has closed down. This does not surprise me. As I formerly wrote, the restaurant “….I feel, owes its success more to the views than its overpriced and unspectacular food’. The café is also overpriced for the basic fare on offer and the gift shop carries a large range of mostly tacky souvenir’s (better value elsewhere).
Once up the tower the views are excellent. A 360 degree panorama of Canberra and its rural surroundings.
The viewing gallery, cafe and gift shop are open from 9.00 am until 10.00 pm, 365 days per year.
The Tower used to accessible by an infrequent though adequate bus service (Action Bus routes 81 and 981( the latter, weekends and public holidays)). This service is currently not operating (Sept 2017). Now you can drive to the Tower, take a taxi, cycle (hard ride) or preferably (assuming an average level of fitness) walk. Black Mountain has numerous walking tracks including a summit walk from the beautiful Australian National Botanical Gardens or Firth Road. See my separate review of the Summit Walk which gives details on both starting points.
While I locate my photos of the view from the top, the attached photos are exterior views taken on a more recent walk up the mountain, apart that is the one obviously taken from Lake Burley Griffin.
Adult : $7.50
Child : $3.00 – Children under 4 free
Family : $17.00 – Two adults and two children
Concession : $3.00
Address: Black Mountain Drive, Acton
Directions: On top of Black Mountain. Hard to miss.
Phone: Freecall 1800 806 718