Like a walk in the park

By Natsumi Penberthy 10 December 2009
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Beaming our national parks and icons straight to your computer in 360°.

The Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) is showcasing three of Australia’s most significant natural-heritage sites and a cultural icon using 360° panorama ‘virtual tours’.

Royal NP and Ku-ring-gai Chase NP are Australia’s oldest national parks — one is the second oldest in the world — but they’re keeping up with the times magnificently on the DEWHA website – displayed beautifully in 360° panoramas. In addition, the 157 year-old Melbourne Cricket Ground, VIC, is featured, as is the Cobourg Peninsula RAMSAR wetlands site, NT – the world’s first designated Wetland of International Importance.

It’s a small but appealing selection of some of Australia’s most important sites of natural and historic interest. 

Gazing up through droplets of water that are paused mid-air as you sweep through a 360° view from the rock shelter of National Waterfall in Royal National Park, the world’s second oldest national park, one cannot help but marvel at how, in just a few short years, broadband has transformed our lives.

“The panoramas were chosen because some of the locations are not accessible and therefore a 360° panorama is the only way to view them,” explains Loic, from Ultimedia in Hobart, who produced the images for DEWHA. “At National Falls ordinary visitors cannot go under the waterfall, as it’s too dangerous to access.”

DEWHA put up the four panoramas in mid-2008. They work more or less like ‘streetview’ on Google Maps, but in this case only from static locations and with an emphasis on picture quality. For those familiar with the Google Maps vans, the technology is largely the same — the image is made up of pictures taken from different angles and stitched together, and the quality of the picture dictates how close you can zoom-in to get a closer look.

See them from a few new angles:
Royal National Park
Ku-ring-gai Chase NP
The Cobourg Peninsular RAMSAR Site
The Melbourne Cricket Ground

See Ultimedia’s other 360° landscape panoramas.