To the Stars AND BACK
Camp beneath australia’s most dazzling night sky at Warrumbungle national park.
There’s an old dad joke about camping being ‘million-star accommodation’, but nowhere does that ring more true than in the Warrumbungle National Park (NP). Spend a night here and you’ll almost need sunglasses to shield your eyes from the radiant Milky Way above.
It’s no accident that this is the site of Australia’s premier astronomy facility, Siding Spring Observatory, home to $100 million worth of research equipment including 52 telescopes. Positioned high in the Warrumbungle National Park some 1160m above sea level, the site was chosen for its crisp, clean air with minimal humidity, its non turbulent atmosphere, its lack of light pollution and its high percentage of clear nights.
And while these conditions clearly excite astronomers both professional and amateur, they’re not too bad for campers, either.
And then there’s the scenery. The Warrumbungle Ranges is the crumbling remains of an ancient volcano that erupted some 14 million years ago. It rises from the surrounding plains like an unlikely cluster of icebergs, its jagged peaks and spires visible for many miles in all directions. And when viewed from the top of the range those endless plains stretch on for hundreds of kilometres; you’ve likely never seen so far.
These giant, lava-born structures rise from
“there are fire pits, barbecues and picnic tables, but our favourite part was the scenic outlook; the camp seems to be nestled in against a rocky outcrop”
the park’s savannah grasslands and dense bush still recovering from the catastrophic 2013 fires that tore through the park in 2013. Travelling at 80km/h the fire consumed everything in its path and was quite a site for local residents living in nearby towns. A friend from Coonabarabran told me the mountains alight at night closely resembled Mordor from
Lord of the Rings. Scary stuff.
And while the bush is restoring nicely and the landscape is now lovely and green, the upside to the bushfire and the thinning of the vegetation is that it has exposed previously unknown intricacies in the rock formations. Swings and roundabouts, I suppose.
The camper you want is now easier to find
CloCkwise from lefT: It’s hard to believe that such an expansive view is within easy reach at the Whitegum Lookout; Bring your boots as the big adventures here are found on foot; Charred trees flush with new growth reveal nature’s restorative valour; The large campsites are close to amenities.