Point of Interest

National Trust

Australia / The Pacific

The headquarters of the National Trust of Western Australia is in the former Chief Astronomer’s residence at the Old Observatory, 4 Havelock Street.  The Trust works to raise knowledge, awareness, understanding and commitment to Western Australia’s natural and cultural heritage.

The residence was designed by architect George Temple-Poole (1856-19340 in 1896, while the dome and transit circle buildings, containing telescopes and telescopic cameras, were designed by Sir Howard Grubb (1844-1931) in 1897 and officially opened by Sir John Forrest (1847-1918) in 1900.  Once completed, the first astronomer William Ernest Cooke (1863-1947) was appointed and moved into the house with his family. The astronomer was able to accurately calculate the exact coordinates for Perth on the globe and establish a standard time for WA.  The observatory used sun-tracking equipment in the transit circle room to tell Perth time.  A canon was fired daily at 1.00 pm so that people could set their watches.  An electrical signal was also sent to Fremantle each day for shipping to set their clocks. The observatory was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the building of Dumas House, and because excessive light pollution from the growing city had affected the efficiency of the equipment. The observatory was re-located to another site in Bickley. 

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