Coonabarabran is unlikely to be a place on your bucket list, unless you’ve got a serious penchant for astronomy.
See, Coonabarabran is known for it’s dark skies and commitment to low artificial light in the evenings, meaning you can see the FULL Milky Way and more, just standing outside in the dark.
I took a road trip out to Coonabarabran recently thanks to Toyota, who loaned me one of their epic RAV4 GX’s – a necessity seeing as my current car is likely to fall apart at speeds of over 80 km/h. It was a sweet ride – shout out to the little phone charger pad you can just drop your phone onto, and the fact it’s a hybrid vehicle so we saved bulk petrol!
It’s not just Coonabarabran you can head to for some big sky experiences. There are even locations just outta Sydney. Here’s a wrap of where to hit up if you want some solar system action.
Let’s start with Australia’s astronomy capital, shall we! Coonabarabran (Coona to locals) is a town around six hours from Sydney, home to Siding Springs, a very fancy astronomy centre, and the Warrumbungle National Park.
We hit up Milroy Observatory for one of their star gazing sessions – you head up, all the lights are flicked off, and over a period of minutes your eyes adjust to the night skies, spotting everything from the Milky Way to shooting stars.
2. Broken Hill
It makes sense that the further you head into the outback, the less unnatural light there is at night. Broken Hill isn’t a small town, but it is in the middle of nowhere, so travelling a bit outside of the main town will see you copping amazing night skies for star gazing.
Outback Astronomy will not only let you star gaze, you can also stay over in one of their glamping tents.
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I’ve been shooting the Milky Way for a while, but I really know bugger all about the night’s sky – so I spent last night at the Dubbo Observatory with astronomer Peter Starr (his real name) learning more about the stars, planets & galaxies above us! These photos were shot through his 17” telescope with a camera mount – really though they’re all Peter’s handy work to set up the images – thanks! Pictured are the ETA Carina Nebula, Omega Centauri (a globular cluster with over 10 million stars), Triffid Nebula & Lagoon Nebula. The final two images are of the telescope and dome, and Peter using a laser to illustrate stars in the sky, next to some of his smaller mounted telescopes! In conclusion: space is v cool.
A bit closer to Sydney and Newy is Dubbo, which has the Dubbo Observatory. A premium tour will see you sussing the skies with the aid of a proper astronomer, and you can even take pics of the epic stuff you see through the telescope with your DSLR camera.
4. Blue Mountains
Even CLOSER to Sydney and Newy is the Blue Mountains, home of the Linden Observatory which was established in the 40s, so it’s also an epic choice for history nerds.
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Tell me it’s fake and I’ll show you the back of my camera. . . . . . #planets #life #canon #dark #landscape #milkywaychasers #sun #amazing #planet #fun #picoftheday #moonlight #telescope #astronaut #light #alien #bhfyp #nebula #astrophotography #nationalgeographic #lazyshutter
15 minutes outside of Mudgee is Mudgee Observatory for all your star gazing needs when you’re already on a wine weekender. Not into star gazing? You can even book a day tour to check out the sun from their telescopes.Image: Getty Images