The Opening Ceremony for the NEW Parkes Observatory Visitors Centre

The Opening Ceremony
for the NEW Visitors Discovery Centre.

The Official Party consisted of Dr. Geoff Garrett, Chief Executive of the CSIRO, Dr. Ron Ekers, Director of the ATNF, Dr. John Reynolds, Officer-in-Charge of the Parkes Observatory, Mr. Rick Twardy, Manager of the Visitors Centre, Cr. Robert Wilson, President of Parkes Shire, Mr. Roy Billing, the Parkes Mayor in the film "THE DISH", Mr. Jack Scoble, Mayor of Parkes in 1969 when the original Visitors Centre was opened, and Mr. Doug Reckord, Education Dept. Science Consultant & Trainer for the Bathurst/Orange Region.

Present also at the Ceremony were the members of the ATNF Steering Committee, under the chairmanship of Dr. Russell Canon, and the State member of Parliament, representing the electorate of Dubbo, Mr. Tony McGrane.

Click on images to see the full-size versions

Special guest, actor Roy Billing, finally met his alter ego, Mr. Jack Scoble, who was the Mayor of Parkes in 1969, during the famous Apollo 11 TV Reception. Roy played the Mayor in the recent film "THE DISH". Mr. Scoble is retired now, but still manages to hold the attention of the official party with stories of the opening ceremony for the original Visitors Centre in February 1969.

Dr. John Reynolds, the Officer-in-Charge of the Parkes Observatory, welcomed the guests to the ceremony. He outlined how important the Centre has been over the years, as the public face of the Observatory.

Mr. Rick Twardy, the Manager of the Centre, thanked all those involved in the conception and construction of the NEW Visitors Centre. He said he was sure that the new centre will help to make visitors understand the Observatory's great role in world science. He added: "... a little curiosity goes a long way and leads to great things and enriches the mind."

The President of the Parkes Shire, Cr. Robert Wilson, expressed the council's continued support for the Visitor's Centre. He said it added greatly to the scientific and cultural life of the community. He commended both Dr. John Reynolds and Dr. Geoff Garrett for their contributions to the community and presented them with a plaque and commemorative "Federation of Centenary" medalions.

Special guest, Mr. Roy Billing, the actor who played the role of the Mayor of Parkes, in the recent hit film "THE DISH", said how much fun it was to return to Parkes and revisit the Observatory. He said that he was only in Parkes for four days when filming the scenes for the film and missed seeing the town and its environs. He hoped to see more of it this time. Today he is universally recognised and is often stopped in the street to cries of "Look! there goes the mayor of Parkes" to which he replies, ".. no, I only played the mayor of Parkes".

Roy told of the rave reviews the film is getting overseas, and that with the imminent release of the film in the US and Europe, the Observatory's already high profile is set to rise still higher. He said it was a privilege for him to be associated with the observatory.

Dr. Geoff Garrett, the new Chief Executive of the CSIRO, spoke about how important it was for the CSIRO and the scientific community to communicate the great and exciting research being undertaken, to the wider community. It was important for the public to understand why we do what we do, and what results we've been getting. Science was both exciting and fun, and he was sure that this NEW Visitors Centre will bring that excitement to the general public. Science is not about grey haired old men in white lab coats, but an exciting and fruitful enterprise, he said.

Our four special guests, Dr. Geoff Garrett, Dr. Ron Ekers, Cr. Robert Wilson and Mr. Roy Billing, then shook hands at the focus of the small holography dish. The increase in system temperature was registered by the receiver and activated a latch which opened the boon gate, thus declaring open the NEW Visitors Discovery Centre. As Dr. John Reynolds so appropriately stated: "The energy of their handshake has opened the new Visitors Centre - an excellent example of focus and teamwork in action".


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