Best for stargazing:


The Parkes tele­scope is 52 years old, but the movie The Dish in 2000 made the pub­lic aware of this world-lead­ing sci­en­tific fa­cil­ity, and has brought vis­i­tors to its doors ever since.

Just coming to ad­mire the dish, balanced el­e­gantly atop a three-storey tower, is worth the jour­ney.

At the vis­i­tor cen­tre, take a look at NASA ex­hibits and movie props, be­fore tak­ing off in the theatrette’s Ely­sium Tourist Ex­press to a 3D Mars. An­other pre­sen­ta­tion, In­vis­i­ble Uni­verse, fo­cuses on the achieve­ments of Parkes sci­en­tists.

The vis­i­tor cen­tre ex­plains why this is such an im­por­tant re­search sta­tion. ‘‘ The lo­ca­tion, large col­lect­ing area of the dish and its tech­nol­ogy give Parkes the best tele­scope any­where for pul­sar as­tron­omy,’’ CSIRO’sDr Simon John­ston says. ‘‘ Aus­tralia leads the world in the field.’’

Most of the world’s known pul­sars – rapidly spin­ning re­mains of old, col­lapsed stars – were first de­tected here in­clud­ing quasars and in­ter­stel­lar mag­netic fields.

‘‘ They push back our un­der­stand­ing of the ori­gins and com­po­si­tion of the uni­verse,’’ John­ston says. ‘‘ A visit to the dish isn’t just a trip to ru­ral NSW, but to the far reaches of space.’’ More: More Parkes: A star of an­other sort is cel­e­brated in Jan­uary, when Parkes hosts a fun­filled get-to­gether of Elvis Pres­ley trib­ute artists and im­per­son­ators. parke­selv­is­fes­ti­ Make it hap­pen: Vir­gin Aus­tralia, visit vir­gin­aus­, ph 13 67 89. More: cen­tralnsw­

TASTE OF THE PAST: (clockwise from top) Re­lax­ing in the study at Bishop’s Court in Bathurst; tuck into a tasty pizza at Roth’s Wine Bar in Mudgee; and in­side Gul­gong Pioneer Mu­seum.

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