Regional Development Victoria Delivering for Rural and Regional Victoria logo

Uncovering the secrets of the universe in Stawell


The much-anticipated Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL) is officially complete and preparing to join the global hunt for dark matter thanks to support from the Victorian Government.

The lab more than 1km underground within the Stawell Gold Mine is the new home of dark matter research in Australia.

The project has been jointly backed by the Victorian Government with a $5 million investment through the Regional Infrastructure Fund and a $5 million contribution from the Australian Government.

The Stawell laboratory will be managed by SUPL Ltd., which is co-owned by the University of Melbourne, Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), the Australian National University, Swinburne University of Technology, and the University of Adelaide.

With stage 1 now complete, the lab is ready to host the SABRE South dark matter direct detection experiment, which will be installed over the coming months. SABRE South will run alongside the existing SABRE experiment in Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, Italy.

These experiments are designed to detect a specific particle believed to make up dark matter. By going deep underground researchers hope to block out interference in an ultra-low radiation environment to identify these particles.

Dark matter comprises 85 per cent of universe’s mass, but until now scientists have not seen it and the substance remains a mystery.  This means laboratories like SUPL will help solve questions that have the potential to change our understanding of the universe.

The Victorian Government’s investment has been provided through the Regional Infrastructure Fund which is part of the flagship Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund. The Fund is part of the more than $36 billion investment in rural and regional Victoria since 2015.