DISHING IT UP AT PARKES
BURRAWANG West makes a civilised base from which to explore this region of NSW and top of the must-see list is the radio telescope at Parkes, less than an hour’s drive away.
While the so-called dish is open daily, except Christmas and Boxing days, and attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year, it’s usually not possible to see inside. But next weekend, September 22-23, free open days will be held; there will be continuous tours from 9am to 4pm, but it’s warned that steps inside the 64m radio telescope are steep and enclosed footwear must be worn. (This is a strict requirement; turn up in sandals or thongs and you’ll be turned away.) Also on the agenda: an open-air screening of the 2001 movie TheDish on Saturday at 6.30pm, astronomers and technical experts on hand to field questions, 3-D theatre presentations and special displays.
The radio telescope is just off the Newell Highway, 20km north of Parkes. More: (02) 6861 1777; www.parkes.atnf.csiro.au. Susan Kurosawa scrubby, dotted with gums, roamed by kangaroos, populated by pesky hares.
On the lawn, just removed from the homestead’s trimmed garden beds, is a three-storey star-viewing tower. The skies here are famously clear; hence the chosen site of the radio telescope at nearby Parkes. To a rackety old chorus of trumpeting frogs, we climb up to look at the cold, starry heavens. Doug and Stefanie say the top level is one of the few points on the property where mobile phones work; we have no intention of trying. Susan Kurosawa was a guest of Outback Encounter and Audi.
Seeing stars: The team behind TheDish