First look: Plan unveiled for Gold Coast planetarium
THE sky is the limit for a new starry-eyed tourism attraction to be built on the Gold Coast, according to the local start-up behind the plan.
TM Universe, a Tamborine Mountain social enterprise group, has revealed its vision to build a one-of-a-kind science and space centre in the hinterland.
The plan, which has the backing of the Tamborine Chamber of Commerce, will include a state-of-the-art planetarium, an interpretative centre with interactive displays and an observatory with the original telescope used in a former observatory on the mountain.
A futuristic steel-clad globe design, which has been rendered as a virtual reality walk-through for investors, was inspired by a similar project in Gwacheon, South Korea.
Indigenous Astronomy, Australian Space Research and Life in the Universe will be the main themes for the project, which will feature the "Cosmic Sphere'' globe structure - a first for the Southern Hemisphere.
The group has already secured four acres of land (1.6ha) with tourism development approval in Long Road, Mount Tamborine, near the area's glow-worm caves.
TM Universe president Jaap Vogel, a scientist specialising in artificial intelligence, said investors were needed - including members of the public who could "buy a brick'' for $200 to help with fundraising for the project.
"We have been working on these plans for the past four years. Now we are at the stage where we are looking for others to invest," he said.
The group began working on the plans in April 2017 after Vanessa Stanley and her husband, rocket scientist Dr. Ross Paul who has since died, donated the former Tamborine Mountain telescope from the Arthur Page Observatory back to the community.
The couple had salvaged the equipment from a storage shed years earlier. It has been the biggest amateur telescope in the southern hemisphere.
Mr Vogel said the telescope became the "seed'' for the science and space centre idea.
"It has taken a long time to find the location and fundraise but we are now at the point where we have a prospectus for investors,'' he said.
"We have architects, accountants and other professionals volunteering their time to get this off the ground.
"This will run as a social enterprise (and) as a not for profit. We hope to eventually have grants and funding to have the project completed in two to three years."
Although international tourism had been impacted by COVID-19, the group said domestic visitor numbers on the mountain had picked up.
"Tamborine Mountain Universe will have a real science base, but can still be a major drawcard to serve as an addition to the theme parks and other attractions on the Gold Coast," Mr Vogel said.
Originally published as First look: Plan unveiled for Gold Coast planetarium