A freelance writer new to Perth. Katie has written articles about her hometown in the UK for five years and is keen to see how Perth compares
Published September 1st 2012
Discover science at Gingin
I fell in love with the innocence and simplicity of Gingin Gravity Discovery Centre and the adjoining observatory. It's a bit of a drive out from the city, so I expect this means it doesn't get the volume of visitors through its doors that many other tourist attractions in Perth have. I suppose that this then affects the up-keep of the centre, which admittedly wasn't perfect, but as my Nan would say: it has 'character'.
Now, I'm not saying it's terribly maintained, but the Gravity Discovery Centre does feel a bit like a large school science fair. I have found in recent years that I have a love for the less commercial places and this certainly is one of them. Some of the displays are a bit crude in appearance while others are quite complex and complicated enough to take a few moments to grasp. The best thing about it though? Everything is hands-on.
I would recommend that if you are visiting with children that already have an interest in science you should allow a good half of a day to get around, otherwise a couple of hours should be enough (enough time to play with all the fun stuff and bypass the more wordy displays).
There are two buildings that house the exhibits; the first contains a café, gift shop, toilets and the earlier mentioned 'science fair' style of displays. The second building is not only more fancy in its contents, but also the architecture (a large dome structure) is far more like what you'd expect at a science museum of sorts. Even the walkway between the two buildings has a giant hands-on exhibit or two to keep young ones amused.
Gingin tower is perhaps the icon of the Gravity Discovery Centre and is separate from both buildings. Not only is it fun to climb but visitors can also drop provided water bombs off the top: great for little (and big) children alike.
The observatory is a great experience and within a stone's throw away from the gravity centre. However, if you are planning to do these two attractions in one day it is worth noting that the centre closes at 5pm and the observatory doesn't open until 7.30pm. There isn't much to do in between, we used the time to drive around the area and find a place to eat, as the café closes at 4pm (another handy piece of advice that I wished I'd known).
When the doors of the observatory open, the staff begin by providing lots of information for the novice star-gazer, including playing a slideshow and a video. Of course there is no guarantee of exactly what each visitor will see, but with four telescopes there is a good chance of seeing something interesting. On the night I visited we got a perfect view of Saturn.