13 December 2023

Has the earth moved for you? Iconic Questacon attraction set to reopen in the new year

| James Coleman

Questacon opened in 1988 as Canberra’s hands-on, go-to science attraction. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

“Did you feel that?”

They’re the last words former WIN News newsreader Peter Leonard uttered at the Earthquake House at Questacon before the TV screen blanks out and the room begins to shudder.

The good news is that as Questacon celebrates its 35th birthday, director Jo White confirmed the beloved attraction is returning.

“There’s a lot of nostalgia for the Earthquake House … so we’re actually going back and recognising that nostalgia and redesigning the earthquake experience … to match what it has historically been,” she said.

“I can’t give you the date on that, but we’re working hard at the moment, and we’ll come out with more news when we’re ready.”

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The Earthquake House formed part of the long-standing ‘Awesome Earth’ exhibition when Questacon opened in 1988, alongside the Tesla coil that zaps its cage with high-voltage electricity every 15 minutes and a mock tornado of swirling smoke.

Over three decades, the Earthquake House has had several facelifts, but the core mission remained the same: to show visitors what it’s like to be in an earthquake.

Over two minutes of chaos, the mock house would shake and shudder, shelves collapse, cupboard doors clatter, hanging utensils swing, lights flicker and go out, cracks race down the walls before the alarms and sirens sound.

The simulator was set on a platform that moved up to 12 centimetres back and forth, although seismologists note that a real earthquake also adds up-and-down motion.

In early 2015, the house was replaced with the ‘Earthquake Lab’. This allowed groups of visitors to test their engineering skills by designing earthquake-proof structures out of the blocks provided and then seeing how they outlasted several differing levels of ‘earthquakes’.

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A Questacon spokesperson told Region the return of the Earthquake House is “still very much in the early stages of planning” but flagged June 2024 as the potential reopening date.

“Questacon’s iconic Earthquake House is currently being reimagined for a modern audience and will return in 2024,” the spokesperson said.

“This highly anticipated experience is bound to strike a nostalgic chord with visitors who experienced it throughout the 1990s and 2000s and create new memories for the next generation of young people as they rumble through a simulated earthquake in a custom-built ‘home’.”

Questacon will release more information next year.

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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