Joint media release: Parkes Observatory added to National Heritage List

10 August 2020

The Hon. Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
The Hon. Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology
The Hon. Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Federal Member for Riverina


The most famous Dish in the nation, the CSIRO Parkes Observatory, will be conserved and protected for future generations after being awarded National Heritage status.

The observatory’s 64-metre radio astronomy telescope, famous for the pictures it beamed from man’s first walk on the Moon and for the movie it inspired decades later, will today becomes the 118th site to be added to the National Heritage List.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the National Heritage listing recognises decades of work by Australian scientists, engineers and others involved with advancing our nation’s role in understanding the universe, as well as the Dish itself.

“The role of Parkes Observatory as a ground station (along with the NASA site at Honeysuckle Creek) in the 1969 Apollo 11 mission moon landing to a global audience of 530 million people, showcases a world of Australian science technology and engineering design,” Minister Ley said.

“Along the way it has also shone a unique light on the role of rural Australia and its contribution to scientific discovery.”

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the Parkes Observatory is a key part of Australia’s scientific capability.

“The Parkes Telescope was built at a time when Australia was emerging as a global leader in the ground-breaking field of radio astronomy, and most famously played an integral role in man walking on the Moon,” Minister Andrews said.

“The Dish is part of Australia’s proud cultural and scientific history and to this day continues to serve as an important tool in our understanding of the universe.

“As Australia again plays a critical role in the next efforts to put people on the Moon, and go on to Mars, this listing couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.”

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, whose Riverina seat includes Parkes, said The Dish continued to remain in the hearts and minds of residents in and around the Parkes township long after its famous role in the first Moon landing.

“I congratulate the CSIRO Parkes Observatory on being awarded National Heritage status,” Mr McCormack said.

“This is such a pleasing result for the observatory and the wider Parkes community.

“I was fortunate enough to be at the CSIRO Parkes Observatory in July last year to mark the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing and it was fantastic to see the local community turn out in droves to celebrate their large piece of history.”

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said that CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope is an icon of Australian science and innovation.

“While the Parkes telescope may be old enough to qualify for the National Heritage List, it continues to observe the universe day and night, seven days a week, with the most advanced radio receiver systems in the world,” Dr Marshall said.

“The telescope still holds the record for detecting the most pulsars - rapidly spinning neutron stars.”

More information about the National Heritage List can be found at http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/national-heritage-list