DISH­ING IT UP AT PARKES

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel -

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

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