A night at the Opera

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October 8th 2011
Published: October 13th 2011
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A night at the OperaA night at the OperaA night at the Opera

The Parkes Radio Telescope.illuminated Pink, for the Mgrath Foundation.
A Night at the Opera

We had our showers and made up the picnic bag of goodies to take for the evening’s entertainment (The Opera at The Dish). What we found most strange, and I suppose it comes from this ambulance chasing society is that, absolutely no alcohol was to be taken in, along with no umbrellas, no metal knives and forks, etc.

Back home, when we used to go to Highclere Castle for the Battle Proms or Middle Wallop for Music in the Air, we always used to take a good bottle of bubbles and all the cutlery to eat our dinner, anyway, those were the rules and we had to abide by them.

We all set off from Camp and travelled in together, we had been concerned about the weather for this evening after such a foggy morning, but right on cue the sunshine had put in an appearance to give us a glorious evening.

We arrived and managed to park our vehicles with ease, we had all decided to drive, as we did not know how the evening, was going to turn out, there were park and ride buses from Parkes, but figured that there would be a lot of people catching those.

We arrived just after one of the park and ride buses and as the gate was not yet open there was a bit of a queue to get in, but soon we had positioned our chairs and set up our picnic bags. The afternoon sun was just lovely, and we felt lazy, the guys did sound checks on the stage, whilst we all just chatted and watched the world go by.

The evening entertainment started about 5.30, with some local talent that was quite good, and by 7.00 pm the Orchestra was readying themselves and the evening kicked off in full force at 7.30.

The evening was spectacular, the Dish had been illuminated in pink to represent the McGrath Foundation, (Breast Cancer Nurses). Two of the opera singers were local people (professional singers I hasten to add), one from Narromine and one from Dubbo. They were all amazing.

The Opera finalised with fireworks, we all had a great time, I have to say, Opera is not really my thing, but I did enjoy it, more than anything the thought of being at such an Australian Icon as Parkes Radio Telescope for its 50th Anniversary was quite special.

We all got back to camp at around 11.15 and wandered off to our respective beds, we all needed to be up early for an 08.30 get away as we needed to travel another 280 Kilometres to the Warrumbungle National Park, where we were going to stay.

Morning arrived, we had both slept soundly in the TVAN all nice and warm, the sun was up and it was time to pack up, which took no time at all with our new set up.

Just before we left we had a quick briefing to go over the travel plans, Caroline and myself were trip leaders today so ensuring that radio’s were set on Channel 20 and we were off, next stop Macca’s in Dubbo for a coffee. Our newly kitted out truck sailed along without any bother, it was its first time out, with the new back and the drawers so this was an important shake down trip, so far so good.

We arrived together in Dubbo for a welcome stop, stretch, and that all important coffee and a bun.

After our coffee break, we headed
Listening to the OperaListening to the OperaListening to the Opera

In his classic Car
off on a short hop to Gilgandra, which was only 70k’s away we stopped at the information centre where they had a small museum, about the Coo-ee march from Gilgandra to Sydney in 1915 to generate support for the war.

The Coo-ee’s left Gilgandra to a great fanfare. There were just 35 starters, all medically passed as fit, with Bill Hitchens as their leader. The youngest Coo-ee was Leslie Greenleaf, aged 17 years and 11 months and the oldest was John McNamara and Bill himself, both aged well over 40 (Bill would have been 51 at the time but like many recruits, possibly lied about his age to join up). They were ordinary men from all walks of life – stockmen, farmers, shearers, cooks, businessmen, eager youths and swagmen.

Two boy scouts, Masters Harry Finch and Cob Hitchens, Bill’s own son, with one bicycle between the two, accompanied the group to Sydney as dispatch riders and buglers. The aim was to cover 10 miles a day.
We had a look around this interesting little museum then re grouped and set off again, next stop the Warrumbungle National Park.

Caroline and myself were so looking forwards to being
Contregated in Macca'sContregated in Macca'sContregated in Macca's

Having a coffee, in Macca's Car Park
back in the Warrumbungles, this would have been our third time and have got very fond memories, of this place and of people we have met, who have made significant impact on our lives. (Yes Jan and Ted) we do mean you guys.

As soon as we arrived, we phoned Peter Starr, as we had booked an evening with the very enthusiastic Astronomer, but as it was a cloudy afternoon thought it may not be suitable for star gazing. (If you want to read another blog with what I consider excellent, Deep space images) then look at our Blog, Twinkle Twinkle Little star, the pictures are awesome. Peter starr had confirmed the Star gazing was still on and we were to be at his place at 8.00pm.

The girls, obviously had too much energy, so Caroline, Sue, Leslie, Kim, and Sandra all went off for a walk, whilst some of the boys, watched the V8 supercars and listened to the Rugby.

I did some blog work in the aid of catching up as we seem to be so far behind. The girls came back invigorated and we set about getting our dinner ready as we needed to
In GilgandraIn GilgandraIn Gilgandra

Stopped at the COO-EE's exhibit
be at Peter Starr’s place at 8.00pm, so we had to leave the National Park at 7.30.

It seemed further than we thought, it took us about 35 minutes to get to Peters place but we had to go fairly slow as there were kangaroos in abundance on the side of the road but soon we were pulling up at his property and the sky was nice and black, but not that clear which was disappointing, when we left the sky didn’t really have a cloud in it, but how things had changed.

We were really excited about seeing his new telescope a 20 inch beauty from the United States, which is where most decent telescopes come from. It was good to see Peter again, as enthusiastic as ever, though shame the night sky wasn’t that enthusiastic.

With our group of twenty or so people, he had set up four telescopes on the concrete pad and his large telescope in his observatory.

Peter’s helper Chris, encouraged people to have a look at a star that appears to be just a normal star through the naked eye, (Alpha Centuri) but through the big telescope, you can see
Parked at NeptuneParked at NeptuneParked at Neptune

On the Solar System Drive.
clearly that it has a twin.

In the view finder of the telescope they were about 10mm away from each other, Chris said, that in fact the distance between these two stars is about the same distance as the length of our universe, (I think that’s what he said) and because they are so far away, we only see the image as one.

As the weather was patchy, we had to be patient, but Peter with his laser pointer tried his best to make it as interesting as possible, being an astronomer, he must be fully aware that he can only work with a clear night sky.
Caroline tried to get some images through the large telescope of the moon, but her and Peter had difficulty with the exposure time, with a full moon, it was very bright, and of course there were a lot of people so he could not spend too much time fiddling around with exposure times.

We left the Tenby observatory at about 10.00 pm and had to take a nice easy drive back in to the Warrumbungles as there were just so many Kangaroo’s around, which of course means that there is
Some of the GangSome of the GangSome of the Gang

John, Cheryl.Robyn and Richard, had a walk in the interval
a lot of food around, if you remember when we were here on our original trip, the kangaroos were sparse and they were so hungry they would come into camp begging for food.

Well back at camp, everyone was talking about getting a fire on, but it was 10.45 and then everyone changed their minds and decided they were off to bed instead. A good idea as once again the night had turned exceptionally cold so a warm bed beckoned.

Additional photos below
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13th October 2011

Congratulations on christening the new truck setup - after all the work that\'s gone into it, I\'m sure it will be well used!

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