This post takes us right back to the beginning of February. We realised that we’d spent far too much money in January on food, on petrol and on campsites. The initial plan was to spend less time on the move. However, we also wanted to visit the Warrumbungle National Park and Siding Spring Observatory.
I’d been wanting to see the stars from the Warrumbungle National Park since watching Stargazing Live on BBC2. It’s Australia’s only dark sky park and is perfect for stargazing.
We managed a trip up to the Siding Spring Observatory (where Stargazing Live is broadcast from) but we could only get in during the day as it’s a working observatory. The observatory is situated a few kilometres west of Coonabaraban where we were staying on top of a pretty steep mountain. We were able to look around the museum and inside of the Anglo-Australian Telescope.
The only way to view the night sky through a telescope (unless you have one of your own) is to visit a private observatory. We managed to get in to Peter Starr’s observatory inside of the Warrumbungle National Park. The telescopes were housed in domes and we were shown double stars, planets, the Tarantula Nebula and a galaxy 55 million light years away. I couldn’t take any pictures but you have to take my word for it, what I saw was so impressive! The only downside is that our eyes can’t see colour in the night sky so everything was a dull black and white.
Our final night in the area was spent in the Warrumbungle National Park itself at basic campground run by the National Park itself. We paid $12 for the night and spent sunset surrounded by about 30 kangaroos as well as a massive goanna. The next morning we had planned to get up early to hike up to the Breadknife, a huge rock on top of the mountain in the shape of (you guessed it) a breadknife. That didn’t quite work out so we sweated our way through the 13km return hike in the midday sun. It was incredible difficult due to how steep the final couple of kilometres were but the views were definitely worth it.
We’d previously stayed at a holiday park in Dubbo for three nights complete with a pool, waterslide and a jumping pillow. Now that the kids were all back at school we returned for another three nights on our way back south. The heat was 40 degrees each day so it was a godsend that we had a pool to cool down in.
Whilst at the park we signed up to become housesitters for $75 for 12 months. Essentially homeowners with pets advertise their home for free so long as someone looks after their pets. There was a last minute housesit about 2 hours south of Dubbo in Young (the Cherry Capital of Australia) where a lovely lady, Moira, needed someone to look after her eleven year old dog, Lucy, for 12 nights. We jumped at the chance and luckily Moira approved us for our first housesitting gig.
The housesit went really well, practically perfect actually. The house was beautiful, an old 1920’s Australian bungalow with a wraparound veranda. Lucy wasn’t hard work at all so we had a pretty chilled couple of weeks catching up on Netflix shows, reading books and making full use of a proper oven.
After having a few weeks out of the van, we were reluctant to get back in and start travelling again but we’d managed to secure some work fruit picking to tide us over until Sydney. I’d managed to do one day by myself picking sugar plums for eight hours and only earned $52 so we would have to move on to Orange.