The best star gazing locations in 2021 in Central NSW

By AG STAFF 12 April 2021
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Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight… Central NSW is the perfect place for a star-gazing adventure. Sleep under star-lit skies, visit world-renowned star-gazing attractions, and learn from the experts at local observatories and events.

For time immemorial we humans have been fascinated by the twinkling galaxy of stars above our heads.

It’s vast, rich, ancient and mysterious. So much so that Einstein wrote:

“The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead.”

A pristine night sky far away from light pollution evokes awe. It reminds us that this is the same sky seen by our ancestors who probably felt the same way – full of wonder and awe. Connected to everything, attached to nothing.

Central NSW, which begins two hours drive from Sydney and includes Bathurst, Orange, Blayney, Lachlan, Cowra, Canowindra, Grenfell, Parkes and Forbes, is one of the best regions in the state for experiencing the night sky in all its undisturbed glory. Why? Because there’s less cloud and light pollution than coastal and city destinations. Plus, it’s also home to a variety of places to stay that are out of town with low light pollution.

Grenfells silo art. Credit: Leigh-Kasey-Cameron

Studies show that experiencing awe makes us feel connected to something much bigger than ourselves. Awe makes us more resilient and kinder to each other.

We feel like time slows down. We also get exposed to natural daylight and undisturbed darkness, which improves our mood, resets our circadian rhythm, and releases natural melatonin, so we can sleep better

The ideal time to travel to Central NSW for dazzling night skies – and a Milky Way that looks like a cloud but is indeed billions of stars – is between March and October.

Amazing night sky, Forbes. Credit: Paul King

So where can you revel in amazing star-gazing experiences?

Here’s a selection of the best of the best in Central NSW:

  • Nurture and Nourish, A Taste of Orange Weekend (March, May, September) combines star-bathing in hot outdoor baths, cooking, wine-tasting, yoga, walks, treatments and visiting the farmer’s market
  • Frost in Fire in Forbes is an annual event (June), which celebrates the Winter Solstice under the starry night skies. Frost and Fire features all the elements of a country bonfire night with hearty food and memorable live entertainment.  
  • Dinner under the Stars at Yarrabandai Creek Homestead, Forbes (July) an exploration of the Wiradjuri Night Skies, which features an Astronomer, Wiradjuri dreamtime storytelling and bush tucker catering. 
  • SkyFest in Condobolin (September) – for an unforgettable culturally immersive night skies experience Sky Fest in Condobolin includes a black-tie gourmet dinner with Bush Tucker, stories and Indigenous astrologers
  • Fires in the Sky at Dindima Wines in Orange (August) celebrates the Orange Winter Fire Festival with an Indigenous astronomy and cross-cultural focus
  • Orange Winter Fire Festival (August) a three-day event which features bonfires, food and wine and indigenous astronomy
  • Astro-photography locations – Central NSW icons, historic buildings and attractions provide a stunning unique foreground to night skies photography and the Milky Way Galaxy. Some ideas include historic Iandra Castle, the AMAZING Forbes sign, Utes in the Paddock art Installation, Grenfell’s Commodities Silos, Kanangra Boyd National Park’s awe-inspiring Kanangra Walls in Oberon.
The Dish, CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope. Credit: Wayne England

And while you’re out that way, don’t miss these incredible and historic night sky attractions:

  • This Dish – ‘CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope and the Discovery Centre – is one of the largest radio telescopes in the Southern Hemisphere at 64m in diameter. The observatory played a crucial role in the Apollo 11 Moon landing, receiving and broadcasting live images from the mission. The discovery centre has a range of interactive displays, an astronomy resource centre and educational 3D theatre showcasing awe-inspiring adventures across the Universe. In town the Parkes Public Art Trail has astronomy themed artworks. 
  • Bathurst Observatory – experience an open night star tour (book for Friday and Saturday nights), a great way to get a live view of some of the wonders of the planets and the solar system. They also have special solar telescope tours to view the sun. Watch this space as in 2021 they are building a new museum and visitor centre on site and new ‘tiny houses’ accommodation for a genuine starry overnight stay.

Star bathing

Of course, if you’d rather just star gaze and bath at your own pace, it really is as simple as it sounds. Star bathing is for you if:

  • You always dreamt of laying on a blanket underneath the stars, appreciating the stillness and wonder of it all
  • You want to find peace
  • You want to explore the Moon, distant galaxies, and nebulas through large telescopes
  • You yearn for a deeper connection with nature
  • You’re curious to learn more about night sky and astronomy
  • You want to learn the basics of astrophotography and capture a galaxy or two with your DSLR camera.
Join David for his Milky Way Masterclass workshops along the Canola Trail in the Central West of NSW in September 2021.

Find out more about star gazing and bathing in Central NSW today.