Where to Stargaze in Central NSW
Roaming at home in Australia has never looked so spectacular as you sleep under star-lit skies. Learn from the experts at observatories, astrophotography workshops and join celebrations such as SkyFest in Condobolin and An Exclusive Night Under the Stars in Forbes. The ideal time to travel is between April and October for the best views of the Milky Way Galaxy.
Starting from a two hours’ drive from Sydney, astro-photographers will be spoilt for choice. Here are some of the best places to star-gaze in Central NSW:
‘The Dish’ CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope and the Discovery Centre, Parkes
This is one of the largest radio telescopes in the Southern Hemisphere at 64m in diameter. There are displays, an astronomy resource centre and 3D theatre showcasing awe-inspiring adventures across the Universe. A top spot for learning by day and astrophotography at night.
Astro Photography Workshops, Orange
New to Orange, this unique evening combines beginner to intermediate astrophotography lessons, clever and quick on-site postproduction of your images, together with indigenous dreamtime storytelling from aboriginal night sky expert Ian (Doug) Sutherland, and traditional bush tucker food. Sat 10th July, Sat 7th August, Sat 4th September.
Night Safari at High Country Trail Rides and Farmstay, Oberon
Accommodated guests of the Farmstay will be treated to a sunset and night safari experience. After watching the sun go down venture into the bush to see local wildlife and enjoy stargazing experiences in the open-air 4WD ranger.
Tours at Bathurst Observatory
Experience an open night star tour (book for Friday and Saturday), to get a live view of the wonders of the planets and the solar system. In 2021 they are building a new museum and visitor centre on-site.
Star-bathe at ‘Nurture and Nourish’ in Orange
Yes, star bathing! This May and September Nurture and Nourish, A Taste of Orange Weekend combines star-bathing in hot outdoor baths, cooking, wine-tasting, yoga, walks and treatments. However, with incredible night skies right above you, you can star-bathe from anywhere. Call Cath on 0425 259 350.
Historic buildings and iconic attractions provide the perfect foreground to night skies photography. Grenfell is a great place to start with Grenfell’s Commodities Silo’s, historic Iandra Castle and views of Weddin Mountains; Bathurst’s Abercrombie House; the Cowra War Cemetery; the AMAZING Forbes sign; Utes in the Paddock art installation in Condobolin; and Oberon’s Kanangra Boyd National Park’s awe-inspiring Kanangra Walls.
- ‘Frost and Fire’ in Forbes (19 June) is an annual event which celebrates the Winter Solstice under starry skies at Forbes Ski Dam. Frost and Fire features all the elements of a country bonfire night with hearty food and drinks together with memorable live entertainment. amazingforbesnsw.com/
- ‘An Exclusive Night Under the Stars’ at Yarrabandai Creek Homestead, Forbes (10 July) an exploration of the Wiradjuri Night Skies which features an Astronomer, Wiradjuri dreamtime storytelling and a 15-course bush tucker feast. yarrabandai.com.au/events
- Orange Winter Fire Festival (first weekend August) – Enjoy bon-fire celebrations, char grilled feasts, campfire cook outs and rich red wines under expansive starry night skies.
- ‘SkyFest’ in Condobolin (3-5 September) – for an unforgettable culturally immersive night skies experience Sky Fest is a must-do. It includes a black-tie gourmet dinner, special sky-dances, music compositions, a parade of illuminated sky-lanterns, stargazing with professional astronomers and indigenous food stalls. bigskiescollaboration.wordpress.com/projects/condo-skyfest/
- Central NSW is blessed with a variety of places to stay that is away from lights and perfect for stargazing. Choose from glamping, B&Bs, farm-stays, or simply pitch a tent along rivers and in National Parks.
- As stargazing is a night-time activity please ensure you think about your health and safety. Stay on the roads, take someone with you, watch out for trip hazards, invest in a torchlight, and please don’t enter private property without permission.
Central NSW includes Oberon, Bathurst, Orange, Blayney, Lachlan, Cowra, Canowindra, Grenfell, Parkes and Forbes.