Astro-tourism is totally a thing here in NSW. Even if this is the first time you’ve heard of it, NSW is officially Australia’s premier astronomy state and, since we’re finally coming around to the reality of winter and embracing the cold (from the comfort of our many layers), we thought we would share some of our state’s best places to head for the weekend to escape the light polluted city and enjoy the starry sky.
#1 Skywatch Observatory Domestays
Staying in a large mud brick building has never popped onto my ‘must do’ list, I’ll be honest. But that is exactly what’s happened and the Skywatch Observatory Domestays is now officially on my list. With its quaint local timber features and spacious living areas, this is an ideal spot to visit with the family for a country getaway. Included in the cost are guided tours of the sky from the viewing platform and with telescopes as well as an 18-hole mini golf course.
#2 A Weekend In Mudgee
A sneaky weekend in Mudgee is always a good idea, since it is only a few hours from Sydney and is home to sprawling vineyards, great food and the Mudgee Observatory. We will get back to the food, because it’s obviously very important to us, but we really need to talk about the observatory. Only 15 minutes out of town, this is where you can have the unique experience of stargazing above the vines and learn all about the night sky and space missions. Cold weather + wine + star gazing = romantic bliss.
#3 Dark Sky Park At Warrumbungle National Park
Warrumbungle National Park is the head honcho on the NSW stargazing scene (yes, there’s a scene), having recently received the certification of Australia’s first Dark Sky Park from the International Dark Sky Association. The perfect combination of crystal-clear skies, low humidity and high altitude have made this THE destination for world class astronomy, which is great news for you guys because their night show, which lasts for 90 minutes often includes live video of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn.
#4 Linden Observatory At The Blue Mountains
If a quick trip is all you have time for, then a weekend in the Blue Mountains will never disappoint, especially if you’re in the mood for an adventure or at the very least, a trip to local old school lolly shop, The Candy Store. Sitting in front of a log fire in The Mountains is also an ideal situation when the mercury drops lower than 15˚C, just saying. The heritage listed Linden Observatory celebrates one of Australia’s most famous telescope manufacturers and now operated by amateur astronomers, is used as a centre for education.
#5 Outback Astronomy At Broken Hill
Sit back in your foldable recliner and take a virtual tour through the Milky Way at Broken Hill’s darker than dark desert plains. They offer nightly tours for the novice stargazer (probably all of us) and will get you a personal introduction to famous stars… and constellations and nebulae. There are also special sky shows for children between ages 5 and 12, so they don’t have to miss out on the fun.
#6 Astro Mini Golf At Dubbo Observatory
Located just behind Taronga Western Plains Zoo, the Dubbo Observatory has got you sorted from sun up to sun down (and well after). If you like the idea of starting your day at the zoo (wait, you’re human, of course you like that idea), then head on down to pat some cute fur balls before heading to the observatory. We have deemed this the cool observatory, since the 18-hole astro mini golf course is designed to take you from the sun, through the solar system and straight into a black hole to finish.
For more things to do in NSW, check out visitnsw.com
Image credit: Colin Whelan at Warrumbungles