The MWA is located at Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara, the CSIRO Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), in the Shire of Murchison in Western Australia. It’s exact coordinates are: Latitude: -26.70331940°, Longitude: 116.67081524°
The MWA site is over 200 km inland from the West Australian coast, and approximately 300 km east of the nearest city, Geraldton. This region is sparsely populated, and is characterized by fairly flat, sparsely vegetated, semi-arid terrain criss-crossed by shallow washes and watercourses. The land was previously used for sheep and cattle, but has been destocked since 2016. The nearest accommodation is at Boolardy station, 40km south of site, then Wooleen station, approximately 70km from site.
The land is leased by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Establishment of CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory is an initiative of the Australian Government, with support from the Government of Western Australia and the Science and Industry Endowment Fund.
In addition to the MWA, the MRO is home to CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope, and will be the site for the international SKA-Low telescope.
The Wajarri-Yamaji people are the traditional owners and native title holders of the MRO site, Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara, meaning ‘sharing sky and stars’ in the Wajarri language. This represents the deep connection to sky and Country held by the Wajarri Yamaji, as well as sharing their sky and stars with the global astronomy community by hosting these world-leading radio telescopes on Country. The Wajarri name for the MWA telescope is Gurlgamarnu (pronounced ‘Golga-mahn’) meaning “the ear that listens to the sky.”
This image represents sitting around a campfire, sharing stories on the stars and sky. The fire takes the form of a meteor as it streaks across the sky, the storytellers sit below and observe, and the dots represent their journey through the stars as they relive stories passed down to them through generations.
The Murchison area has excellent views of the sky, with the Galactic Center and the Magellanic Clouds reaching high elevations, and extremely low levels of radio frequency interference (RFI).
This is in part due to the radio quiet zone around the area, over 300km wide, which restricts the use of certain technologies that may transmit at radio frequencies. The Australian and Western Australian Governments established this radio quiet zone to protect our world-class radio-astronomy site.