Out west where the stars shine bright
There’s a light wind blowing across the Mundi Mundi Plains north of Broken Hill as the sun dips to kiss the horizon. It’s another picture-perfect dusk, dusted with gold and apricot, and I’m lazing on my sleeping mat by the campfire. I’d pulled it out of my tent so I could watch this pastel spectacle unfold.
An hour or so later, the sky is black and a riot of stars wink down at me. I swear I’ve never seen so many sparklers before.
While I’d come to outback NSW to soak up its country charm and characters, I’ve been most taken by the astronomical sights above me.
So much so that two nights earlier I’d booked an evening at Outback Astronomy, a stone’s throw (well ok, 5km from the outskirts) from Broken Hill.
The venue hosts regular sky encounters, which include a deck chair, telescopes, binoculars, ear phones and a knowledgable guide revealing the many gifts of the cosmos.
On the night I visited it was a balmy 24 degrees and the sky was clear of clouds. The guide pointed out the usual suspects – the Southern Cross, the big dipper, the teacup, and then moved on to a range of other lesser-known constellations and explained the idea of light speed and stars so far away that my mind boggled.
If you’re so inclined you can camp on site at Outback Astronomy. The tent is all set up for visitors (two person maximum) and includes electricity, queen size bed, bedding, fridge with bottled water, electric fan and electric blanket., and deck There is a gas barbecue and outdoor setting nearby. Outback Astronomy’s Sky Dome Cafe stocks BBQ packs for glampers who’d like to cook their own dinner. Deck setting includes upright camp chairs or reclined lounges.
But for me, a sleeping mat and a campfire on the Mundi Mundi Plains is as much as I need. Well, that, and the dazzling blanket of silver sequins overhead.
Other top star-gazing spots
- WhiteCliffs where the sky is clear of ambient light and the landscape is free of buildings – everything from houses to hotels has been built underground to escape the outback heat. White Cliffs is Australia’s oldest commercial opal field.
- Broken Hill Outback Resort now offers star stays. With spectacular views of the Barrier Ranges, it includes self-contained deluxe cabins, 80 grassed powered caravan sites and 20 grassed unpowered caravan or camping sites.
- Eldee Station has camping and cabin accommodation. It is the only working sheep and cattle station and farm stay welcoming tourists in the Mundi Mundi Plains/Barrier Ranges region in Outback NSW.
- Warrawong on the Darling has camping and cabin accommodation. With an abundance of wildlife and unspoilt tranquility, you can simply sit and watch the amazing variety of birds and the ever-changing colours of the sunsets.
- Bindara on the Darling. The historic homestead and the guest accommodation are set in the shade of big old river red gums, a few paces from the riverbank. The river plays an enormous role in life at Bindara. Not only is it a source of food (fish and yabbies) but it’s teeming with birdlife, and is a Mecca for wildlife.
To find out more about this stunning region head to Visit NSW.