On any night of the year observe the Milky Way galaxy through powerful telescopes, weather permitting, at the Warrumbungle Observatory in Coonabarabran. Australia’s stargazing capital is on the edge of a spectacular wilderness with an ancient volcanic range.
On the banks of the Castlereagh River, Coonabarabran is known as the astronomy capital of Australia with its stargazing observatories on the edge of the iconic Warrumbungle National Park. The park is the first dark sky park in Australia because the night sky is free of artificial light.
The grandest observatory in the Warrumbungle region is Siding Spring, home to Australia’s largest optical telescope. You can visit the Exploratory centre at the observatory Tuesday to Saturday and public holidays. The telescope is only open to the public on Siding Spring Observatory Open Day.
The open day coincides with the annual StarFest, a celebration of astronomy on the October long weekend. You’ll find plenty of starry things to do, including Science in the Pub and the Bok Lecture. Check out the events calendar for other fun events, such as the Coonabarabran Agricultural Show.
You can observe the Milky Way galaxy through powerful telescopes on any night of year, weather permitting, at the Warrumbungle Observatory. Enjoy a 90-minute show with an astronomer and you can even hire the main telescope to take pictures of the stars and planets with your camera.
For earthly observations, see the rare crystals and fossils at Crystal Kingdom and the fossilised skeleton of the largest marsupial to have ever lived at the Australian Museum Diprotodon Exhibition. You’ll find plenty of accommodation options, from motels and pubs to cottages, farm stays, caravan parks and campgrounds. You can even stay at Skywatch Observatory, which has a large telescope.
Coonabarabran is 100 minutes’ drive from Dubbo, which is five hours’ northwest of Sydney. You can also fly from Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane or Melbourne to Dubbo and rent a car. The drive from Sydney to Coonabarabran, via the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains or the Hunter Valley wine region, is six hours.