In October 1998, the Ballaarat Astronomical Society (BAS) applied for a Commonwealth Grant under the Federation Community Projects Program to construct a new reflecting telescope. It was proposed that this new telescope would be designed and housed to enable efficient use by disabled persons, specifically those confined to wheelchairs, the very young and the elderly. The grant for this project was approved in September 1999. BAS received $20,000 towards the project from the program and the final cost, not including 100’s hours of hours of Volunteer work, discounts and donations was closer to $50,000. A remarkable achievement for BAS and for the Community people and Businesses that supported the project.
The telescope at the time, was the latest in a series of novel designs produced by Mr Barry Adcock who is a member of BAS and of the Astronomical Society of Victoria. The telescope is described as a 40 cm Cassegrain reflector, having folded optics arranged in such a way that the eyepiece remains in one fixed position, regardless of where in the sky the telescope is being aimed. Thus, an observer sitting in a wheelchair is able to view comfortably through an eyepiece that never moves.
Pathways were extended to the new telescope and an additional disability access Cafe and Rest Rooms were added to our existing small, well ventilated outside Facilities. The original Garden Superintendents Cottage was moved from Eureka Park and this now houses disability access rooms, including an expanded library, cafe, kitchen, camera obscura, meeting room and restrooms.