Canberra & Surrounds - October 2015 - Page 15

Photowords - where photos meet words

Heysen Range from Walkandi Peak, Flinders Ranges, South Australia

©2013-15 Grant Da Costa

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High Court of Australia…continued

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Right: the interior space of the Public Hall is astounding. It is mostly empty. While Court 1 is at ground level, Courts 2 and 3 are huge concrete boxes suspended at different levels inside the vast space. Court 2 is top left, Court 3 centre right.

The mural on the wall of Court 2 is Stenbergs’ States Wall Mural. On Court 3 is the Constitution Wall Mural.

Below: the ceiling in the Public Hall is 24 metres high, supported by two towering concrete pillars.

The courtrooms are used for different purposes and rank in order of importance from Court 3 (lowest) to Court 1 (highest).

Below right: Courtroom 3, with portraits of Chief Justices from 1964 to 2008. This court is the smallest and normally hears cases and arguments presided over by only a single Justice.

Below: school group in Courtroom 2. This court is generally used in cases where a Full Court of five Justices is sitting.

Left: Courtroom 1, the highest of the high. It is used on all ceremonial occasions and for all cases where a Full Bench of the seven Justices of the Court is required i.e. all the juicy ones, most recently the constitutional legality of detaining refugees offshore.

The wall tapestry incorporates the badges of the states from the Shield of Arms of the Commonwealth, surmounted by the crest of the Commonwealth.

Above left: Courtroom 1 doorways feature a silvered bronze grid on plate glass. The theme is a shield, emphasising the Court’s function as a protector of the Constitution and the liberties of the citizen.

Mt Stromlo Observatory and aftermath of the 2003 fire storm

Mt Stromlo Observatory is the headquarters of The Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The first observatory building was constructed in 1911 but development was hindered by WWI so the main Commonwealth Solar Observatory Building was not built until 1926.

Over the next two decades several telescopes were installed but during WWII the role of the Observatory was diverted to designing and manufacturing gun-sights and other equipment to aid the war effort.

After the war the focus was shifted from solar to stellar astronomy. More telescopes were installed. In 1966 the focus was shifted again, to understanding the formation and evolution of the Milky Way.

That the Observatory was in a high fire risk area was realized in February 1952 when workshops and part of the Commonwealth Solar Observatory Building (CSO) were damaged.

On 18 January 2003 Mt Stromlo was devastated by bushfire. Telescopes, workshops, the original CSO building, the Director’s Residence and many of the original houses were destroyed.

Partial reconstruction was completed in 2006, but all except one of the original and historic telescopes remain destroyed. This part now forms a sad but fascinating heritage trail…see next page.

Left: the 1926 Commonwealth Solar Observatory Building at Mt Stromlo, rebuilt after partial damage by bushfire in 1952 and extensive damage in 2003.