NSW, CSIRO Parkes Observatory
I travel from Queensland to Tasmania and back every year, and have done since 2005. I would say that for at least the last ten years, I have stopped at the Parks Observatory in at least one direction each time. It’s one of my favourite spots in Australia.
This spot is the nexus of history, iconography, science, engineering, dining, rest and quiet. It has a wonderful interpretation centre that explains both the history and the current missions the dish is working on. It has a cinema that shows amazing cosmology films. It has a wonderful café, and I’ve pushed on some trips to make there for a “Big Dish Breakfast” (yum) before the 4pm closing. There are wonderful grounds and gardens, which likewise make a picnic an enchanting experience with very nice bird life. Finally, the dish itself is an amazing, mammoth structure that imposes and impresses. Yet if you hang around it for a while, you can often see it move. Amazing!
As you might have picked up, I’m quite smitten with the observatory. In fact I often wonder about what might have been if I’d been braver and studied physics instead of IT with its more guaranteed career paths. My kids seem just as enthusiastic about this place – which is great, however I’ve wondered recently whether they’re just reflecting my excitement. Perhaps it’s the prospect of stopping for a while on the long drive. Regardless, it’s always special times.
Seriously, if you get the opportunity: stop in.