Woke to sunshine though it was cool, only about 10’C but after the previous day that was wonderful and it very soon warmed up.
After breakfast left for The Warrumbungles only a short 27km drive to the Siding Spring Observatory. There was a small exhibition about the work they do and a lot of information about the solar system.
Strolled up to the observatory dome itself and took the lift to the 4th floor where there was a viewing gallery to see the telescope itself. There is now a panel about the 2013 bushfire when they thought they had had a repeat of the Mt Stromlo disaster and lost their telescope(s) to the fire. Apparently it was a close run thing and it was only their own clearing of the area previously and the concentrated efforts of the local Bush Fire brigade that saved most of the equipment.
The view from the base of the telescope building is spectacular too.
The observatory is the centre of a virtual solar system laid out to scale. The starting point is the dome of the big telescope, it represents the Sun while at various points over many kms are boards representing the scale and location of the planets. I think the scale is 1:38million.
After coffee in the souvenir shop we set off for the Warrumbungles National Park. First stop was the Whitegum Lookout – a great place to stop – the lookout itself was only a 500m walk from the car park.
Then on to the visitor’s centre – still in demountable accommodation after the 2013 bushfires though, at last, a new centre is being built on the site of the destroyed old one. The helpful lady there recommended a couple of the shorter bush walks for us. Decided on the Wambelong Nature Walk which was a moderate 1.1km circuit. I have to say that it is a definition of ‘moderate’ I was previously unfamiliar with – the last section of the walk involved a lot of walking over very steep rock formations. It was worth it for the scenery but it was hard work – afterwards our backs, knees and ankles knew that they had been working.
After this returned to Coonabarabran, filled up with fuel at the local Coles Express before returning to our site at about 3pm pretty well exhausted.