Night Skies in Central NSW

Get back to nature for a star-gazing adventure in Central NSW. Sleep under star-lit skies, visit world-renowned star-gazing attractions, and learn from the experts at local observatories and events.

Central NSW is one of the best regions in NSW for night skies with less cloud and light pollution than coastal and city destinations. It is also home to a variety of places to stay that are out of town with low light pollution.

The ideal time to travel for night skies is between March and October for the best views of the Milky Way Galaxy, it looks like a cloud but is actually billions of stars!

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 and Abercrombie House, the AMAZING Forbes sign, Utes in the Paddock art Installation, The Dish in Parkes, Grenfell’s Commodities Silo’s, Kanangra Boyd National Park’s awe-inspiring Kanangra Walls in Oberon and Goobang National Park; and Yerranderie at the end of the Oberon Colong Stock route.

Star Bathing

Yes, star bathing! With incredible night skies right above you, star-bathing is as simple as looking up and admiring the stars from wherever you are. It could be reclining on a chair in the garden, toasting marshmallows around a fire pit, gathering for an outdoor movie, looking through a telescope or taking your first photo of the night sky. Star bathe on a floating flamingo on a lake or take a hot warm bath outdoors.

Stargazing Events & Experiences

The region is home to several events which feature star-gazing experiences:

  • 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.
  • Astro-Fest in Parkes (July) – the biggest night skies event in Central NSW, Astro-Fest is a must-do for professional astro-photographers or beginner enthusiasts
  • 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.

Oberon Yerranderie Night Sky (Milkyway) – Ryan Heldoorn

Star-bathing for Nurture and Nourish Weekends – Orange

Lake Canobolas at night – Jenny Davidson

Night Sky Attractions

  • ‘The Dish’ CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope and the Discovery Centre – affectionately known as ‘The Dish’, is one of the largest radio telescopes in the Southern Hemisphere at 64m in diameter. 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.

Where to Stay

The region is blessed with a variety of places to stay that are ideal for admiring the night skies. It’s hard to beat pitching a tent in the region’s caravan and campsites, alongside rivers and in National Parks. Or stay a little out of major towns and away from lights in boutique accommodation, B&Bs and farm-stays.

For example:

  • Hickory Moon overlooking Tarana valley near Oberon
  • Glamping in the majestic surrounds of Mayfield Garden in Oberon
  • Nashdale Lane glamping on a vineyard outside Orange
  • The Fleece Luxury Farmstay at Peak Hill in the Parkes Shire
  • By the Lachlan River in Forbes at GirraGirra eco-retreat
  • In the beautifully renovated Shearing Shed in Cowra
  • With the kids at Barcoo’s Barn farm stay in Bathurst
  • At Bathurst’s new Wilga Station, a luxury hut on a working sheep farm

Stargazing Tips

  • As stargazing is a night-time activity in the dark please ensure you think about your health and safety. Stay on the roads, watch out for trip hazards, invest in a torchlight, and please don’t enter private property without permission.
  • Star gazing apps will help you find and identify stars and planets, try NASA, StarWalk 2, SkyView, Star Chart and Sky Safari.

CSIRO Parkes Telescope – Wayne England

Night Skies Forbes – Paul King

Goanna Sculpture Night Sky – Forbes, Emilie Rogers

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