AUSTRALIAN OBSERVATORIES 18 - 26 September 2020
- Duration: 9 Days
- Location: Sydney, NSW
- Product code: AUST2020
DAY 1 – Friday 18 September 2020 - Sydney
Welcome to Sydney. Flying into this beautiful city is a spectacle in itself. Make sure to ask for a window seat, and take in the harbour views as you land. On being met at Sydney Airport from your early morning flight from Los Angeles, you will be transferred to the InterContinental Hotel Sydney.
This area opposite the Royal Botanical Gardens, Conservatorium of Music and Sydney Opera House, are some of the most beautiful in the Central Business District. Later this afternoon you will meet up with your guide for a walking tour of this area with the day ending, with dinner in a local restaurant. (D)
NB Additional nights pre-tour are available at the Intercontinental on request.
DAY 2 – Saturday 19 September 2020 - Sydney
Today we will explore the Northern Beaches of Sydney. The beaches are famous for their golden sand surrounded by National Parks. We’ll take the opportunity to explore some of the bushland, becoming aware of the native flora and fauna in the area. A seafood lunch is included at Palm Beach, home to the rich and famous, before returning to Sydney via the Manly Ferry. This 30-minute journey from Manly Cove to Circular Quay takes you through the Heads, and past Sydney’s inner harbor beaches.
This evening we meet up and head to the highest point in Sydney. Perched on the top of this peninsula, Sydney Observatory has sat predicting the weather, observing the stars, and keeping time for over 150 years. We’ll do an evening tour of this 1859 building and, if the weather is good, some stargazing too, after which we return to the Intercontinental Hotel Sydney for the night. (B,L)
DAY 3 – Sunday 20 September 2020 - Blue Mountains
No visit to Australia is complete without seeing the dramatic sandstone scenery of the Blue Mountains, (1h 30 min by road from Sydney - 79km / 49m) home of Australia’s first nation’s people, the Darug. We’ll visit the famous ‘Three sisters’ at Echo Point in Katoomba, an area renowned for its Steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and villages dotted with guesthouses, galleries and gardens after stopping for a walk in this pristine wilderness area to Pulpit Rock a lesser-known photographers delight. We stay overnight in the Blue Mountains, getting a feel for the old way of life in the rural mountain region with dinner at a local restaurant included. (B,D)
DAY 4 – Monday 21 September 2020 - Siding Spring Observatory
We head north today with the destination of Siding Spring Observatory, (4h 30m by road - 365km / 226m) our resting place for the next two nights. En route we’ll stop in Mudgee, for some wine tasting and lunch overlooking the valley. The area is renowned for its quality red wines; Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
We’ll continue on to Australia’s largest optical telescope facility, recently designated, the home of the Warrumbungle Dark Sky Park. In 1971, Prince Charles declared the Australian Astronomical Telescope (AAT) opened. Since then, this multi-telescope site has featured in many papers on astronomical discoveries. You’ll have the exclusive right to stay in the Astronomers Lodge – within the grounds of the facility. Join together for a special dinner under the stars with Fred Watson. Fred was the Astronomer in Charge of the Australian Astronomical Observatory for over twenty years and has forged a reputation with national radio, television and through his book writing, as a popular science communicator. (B,L,D)
DAY 5 – Tuesday 22 September 2020 - Siding Spring
Breakfast is included this morning in the Astronomers’ lodge before you meet again with Fred Watson, who will conduct a site tour around Siding Spring Observatory. Together we’ll explore the telescopes. During this tour, you’ll learn what amazing science is taking place in some of the 23 telescopes on the mountain.
This afternoon we’ll head to Sandstone Caves in the Pilliga Reserve. This 1.5 km trail walks in the footsteps of the Gamilaroi people along the short Sandstone Caves walking track in Pilliga Nature Reserve. Pass through scenic forest to the impressive sandstone hills, with some containing ancient Aboriginal rock engravings. Take some time to read over the interpretive signage for more of an insight into this special place.
We’ll end the day with dinner in a country bush setting at a local potter home – Pilliga Pottery. There is an optional tour available to Milroy Observatory, the new home of original 40” telescope from Siding Spring. This new observatory offers public viewing nightly. (B, L, D)
DAY 6 – Wednesday 23 September 2020 - Parkes
Leaving Siding Spring, we head south to the home of ‘The Dish’ – the large radio dish in Parkes, (3h 30m by road - 279km /173m) famous around the world for the movie of the same name. An icon of Australian science, the Parkes radio telescope has been in operation since 1961 and continues to be at the forefront of astronomical discovery with its part in the Breakthrough Listen project. We’ll do a behind the scenes tour with Radio Astronomer Dr John Sarkissian and then enjoy lunch and some time in their gift shop. Parkes is also famous for the Elvis Festival that takes place every January. We stay overnight in the country town. (B,D)
DAY 7 – Thursday 24 September 2020 - Canberra
Today, we’re heading to the Australian capital city Canberra, (3h 30m by road - 291km / 180m) via Canowindra (pronounced Ka’now’ndra). This small town offers a fabulous museum of fish fossils giving a unique glimpse into life during the Devonian Period - the 'Age of Fishes'. We’ll arrive into Canberra with time to visit the National Gallery before reaching our centrally located hotel - a short walk to several great restaurants in the CBD. (B)
DAY 8 – Friday 25 September 2020 - Canberra
Tidbinbilla is famous for the part it played in the moon landing 50 years ago. This NASA run base, Canberra Deep Space Complex, will be our first stop for the day. We’ll tour around the telescopes, meet with Glen Nagle and understand the role this southern telescope plays in current exploration. From here, we head on to Mologonolo Radio telescope for a quick visit and a picnic lunch.
Finally, we finish the day with a tour of Mount Stromlo damaged by bushfires in 2003. The shell still remains and is popular with photographers. We’ll discover the site's history; from its use as a World War II optical munitions factory to the Observatory's post-2003 recovery. We’ll finish with dinner on this astronomical site, with some stargazing. (B,D)
DAY 9 – Saturday 26 September 2020
Your journey ends after breakfast. Transfer with the coach returning to Sydney departing at 10 am, or travel on to Uluru to see the magnificent Australian Desert. (B)
Sydney - InterContinental Hotel Sydney Harbour view room
Katoomba – Heritage Hotel Katoomba
Siding Spring Observatory – Astronomers Lodge
Parkes – Station Motel
Canberra – Crown Plaza Canberra
· Coach transport with air conditioning
· Accommodation as stated
· Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D) as stated
· Entry to observatories and all activities
· Siding Spring Observatory tour with Astronomer, Fred Watson
· Tour Manager and local guides
Price per person
$5895 AUD – *twin / ^double share
$7230 AUD per person - single
*TWIN SHARE = two single beds. Twin-share rooms may available for single travellers wishing to reduce the cost and happy to share with another guest of the same sex. If another traveller is not available, the single supplement will be passed on to the guest
^DOUBLE = one double bed
~ SINGLE = One person one bed, may be queen or king size
** Please choose the number of people, not the number of rooms required.