GRANITE BELT HISTORY: The Big Thermometer record's its first minimum.
GRANITE BELT HISTORY: The Big Thermometer record's its first minimum. Samantha Wantling

Big Thermometer up and running but BoM doesn't recognise it

MORE THAN 100 Granite Belt residents descended on Leslie Parade in the freezing cold Wednesday morning to witness a historical moment nearly 20 years in the making.

The Big Thermometer - the latest Australian big icon - was switched on Tuesday afternoon and the first minimum temperature of -4.2 was recorded at 6.45am Wednesday.

Border Post manager Samantha Wantling braved the freezing conditions from 4.30am, camera in hand to record this moment.

Motorists on their way to work slammed on their brakes and morning joggers back-tracked their routes at the sight of the bright red temperature display to witness this special moment.

Members of the Stanthorpe Chamber of Commerce and volunteers who worked tirelessly on this projected were overwhelmed to see their work come to fruition.

Samantha Wantling said it was a moment the Granite Belt community would remember forever.

"Everyone was out there shivering but the atmosphere was just amazing," she said.

"There was just so much excitement to see the work finally come together."

By the end of this week the Big Thermometer will have LED lights through the centre of the structure.

BoM's cold shoulder to the Big Thermometer

HISTORICAL MOMENT: Chamber of Commerce vice-president Mick Spiller was proud to see the big thermometer light up.
HISTORICAL MOMENT: Chamber of Commerce vice-president Mick Spiller was proud to see the big thermometer light up. Samantha Wantling

THE Big Thermometer may be the perfect place for tourists to visit, take photos and compare frosty minimums, there's just one problem - those temperatures aren't officially recognised.

The Bureau of Meteorology will continue to use the manual weather observations recorded by volunteers at Leslie Parade, along with the Automatic Weather System (AWS) located at Applethorpe.

However on Wednedsay, hundreds of residents witnessed the thermometer show a frosty -4.2 degrees as the minimum, yet the official Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) records had the Stanthorpe minimum at -4.6 and Applethorpe at -3.0.

A BoM spokesman said it had not been formally approached by the Big Thermometer.

"The bureau welcomes discussing the installation of additional weather observation equipment should local organisations wish to fund it, and has previously been in discussion with the Southern Downs Regional Council about installing an AWS in Stanthorpe," the spokesman said.

"Many factors need to be considered before installing an AWS, including a long lease of at least 20 years and exposure requirements that satisfy World Meteorological Organisation standards."

Stanthorpe Chamber of Commerce vice-president Mick Spiller said the bureau had since been in contact with the Big Thermometer steering committee.

"The chamber installed our own unit because (BoM) weren't interested in that when we started," Mr Spiller said.

"They've actually been in contact with us now.

"Given time, we'll be able to work with them."

However the excitement from seeing the first minimum was at the forefront of Mr Spiller's mind on Wednesday.

"It's really showcasing the district, what it's about and what the people can achieve working together," he said.

The Big Thermometer is still waiting on a set of LED lighting to go around the centre of the structure and landscaping around its base.

Mr Spiller said he was keen to finish off the project, working with Southern Downs Regional Council and the local Rotary Club.

The Big Thermometer will have an official opening in August.

Stanthorpe Border Post


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