I have been to Shepparton on many occasions hoping to climb its famous tower, only to discover it closed. Not this time!
Shepparton is a regional city of 51,500 people located in the north of Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state. In the centre of town stands a large telecommunications tower operated by Telstra. It’s 76.2 metres tall and has a viewing platform at 35 metres.
I’d always imagined grand views up there but every time I went to have a look, the tower was closed. I had reason to travel to Shepparton again this week so decided to take another look and alas, the tower was actually open this time. So up I went!
The fact that I had to climb 160 steps over 8 flights didn’t phase me, so up I went. I do admit to becoming a little weary at the midway point but the strong winds and sense of adventure carried me to the top.
The tower is unstaffed and the observation deck is a simple steel structure with glass windows and chain-mesh around the edge. Much of the glazing is wire glass but thankfully enough panes have been replaced with clear to allow photography.
This is the sort of facility that wouldn’t exist in Melbourne. It would be deemed “insecure” or “dangerous” and would likely be closed to the public. Not here, thankfully. I was able to wander around freely and enjoy the views of Shepparton.
Shepparton is located in a fairly flat part of the state, so there aren’t any grand hills to admire in the distance. But the view of the city is excellent and well worth the climb for those who can make it. I spent quite some time up there taking it all in.
What the tower really lacks is informative signage. What signals does the tower transmit or receive? Is the tower used purely for telecommunications or other purposes as well? It’s actually been very difficult to find out because Telstra have nothing on their website and neither does anyone else. Everyone is so tight-lipped.
The sign at the entrance – which is clearly very old – reads:
This observation platform was made possible with the generous assistance of the Tourist Development Authority, and the co-operation of the Post-Master Generals (sic) Department which allowed the platform to form part of this Radio link tower. Observation platform height 29 metres. Radio tower height 77 metres. The tower radio is a vital link for communications such as telephone calls, direct radio and television broadcasts. The Comptulux Clock mounted above was erected as a community project by the Lions Club of Shepparton.
The telecommunications function of the Post-Master General’s department was renamed Telecom Australia in 1975, has been privatised and is now known as Telstra. The Tourist Development Authority of Victoria was abolished and replaced in 1970. The Comptulux clock is also long gone. A search of the Australian Communications and Media Authority website suggests that the tower is neither used for radio or television purposes anymore, which is very disappointing. Perhaps that is why there is so little signage?
Apparently the tower was built between 1967-1968 (although there is nothing to indicate this on-site).
Despite these shortcomings, I enjoyed my climb of the Observation Tower in Shepparton.
Would I recommend the Shepparton Observation Tower to a friend? Yes!