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Published: August 26th 2014
Frank at the Mt Stromboli Observatory at Siding Springs.
We are one day from the end of our holiday. We have spent the last four days traveling southward home. There isn't much to be said about travelling. On Sunday we arrived at Coonabaraban at around lunchtime, as planned, because we wanted to visit the telescope at Siding Springs. Coonabarabran claims to be the astronomical capital of Australia, so our visit here was of particular interest to Frank, how is a keen amateur astronomer. As we were checking in to the John Oxley Caravan Park, we found a brochure advertising viewings through private telescopes belonging to a former manager of Siding Springs, so we booked in for that as well. The drive up to Siding Springs was very pleasant, offering spectacular views of the Warrumbungle National Park and an amusing array of roadside letter boxes. It was as though the local residents were in competition with each other to sculpt the cleverest mail receptacle being cows, birds, men, telescopes, bombs, etc. I have often been fascinated by rural mail boxes and thought it would be interesting to make a photographic record of them. The trip through the Timor Valley on the way to the telescope held fantastic examples and is perhaps
The Warrumbungles National Park
View from Mt Stromboli Observatory at Siding Springs.
worth a visit some time in the future when time permits. The National Park certainly is.
The telescope at Siding Springs Observatory is massive. It has a 3.9 metre mirror made from a synthetic glass which was cast in Canada and then shipped to England to be ground and polished before transporting to Australia. By way of comparison, the quite impressive telescope Frank uses at home is a four inch Takahashi. It would be like putting a dingy beside a battleship. There is also an interesting discovery centre to explore at Siding Springs.
Our visit to Tenby Astronomy later that night gave us the opportunity to look through three telescopes to observe planets, stars, and nebulas while listening to a commentary about our galaxy and others around it. I am the owner of a star in the Capricornus Constellation which was given to me by my son, Nick, in memory of my sister. We were able to find roughly where in the sky it is, and had we had the coordinates with us, we would have been able to view it through the telescope. I have arranged to send Peter Starr (yes, his real name) the details when
Local Echuca identity, paddle boat Emmy Lou.
we get home and he will photograph it for me. He said that it will take about four hours to photograph. I look forward to receiving the picture of Christine Davies.
Last night we stayed at Narrandera again. It was nowhere near as cold on the way home as it was on the way north. It was at Narrandera where the temperature dropped to minus four degrees overnight and the water froze in the hose. Today we stopped at Echuca early in the day for our overnight stop. We wandered down to the historic Port for lunch and a browse of the shops followed by a stroll along the Murray River in the early evening. The caravan park is lovely as is the area. We are thinking of returning for a long weekend in the near future, with or without the van. We had dinner at the Shamrock Hotel in Echuca, which claims to serve 101 different parmigianas, including a small number of sweet offerings. The waitress we asked said that she had only ever seen an order for three of the sweet parmas, and she thought that that was the result of dares. Really, who would eat crumbed
Sometimes it gets so cold, even the trees have to rug up.
chicken with marshmallows and icecream? We opted for the lamb shanks which were delicious and good value.
As usual, the end of the holiday is a time of reflection. I am always amazed that we can be living in each others shadow for four weeks and not argue. Our time has been very enjoyable, even though we didn't achieve all our goals. The weather was so-so and appears to be improving the further south we travel. The fishing was disappointing, for everybody, not just us. However, I did manage to catch a usable rod and reel, so all was not lost. We saw whales without getting sea-sick or breaking a hip on a fairly rough day. Although we had planned to go to Fraser Island for a day or two, we reconsidered as we have been several times in the past. We met some interesting people, and received an education as we encountered creatures we hadn't encountered before. We listened to four different audio books as we clocked up around five thousand kilometres. And, we planned future short breaks and our next holiday. Next year, it will be Venus Bay on the Eyre Peninsula.
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