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: csiro.au/parkes 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. parkeselvisfestival.com.au Make it happen: Virgin Australia, visit virginaustralia.com, ph 13 67 89. More: centralnswtourism.com.au
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.