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Go Back   IceInSpace > General Astronomy > Star Parties, Club and Community Events

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  #1  
Old 14-12-2014, 09:09 PM
mental4astro (Alexander)
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Dark sky and observing sites close to cities or towns around Australia

There have been many threads started asking about dark sky sites close to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, etc, within two hour’s drive. And these threads are repeated for the same city several times over.

Another problem with these threads, as some are several years old too, the information they contain can be very out of date. Public sites can become inaccessible or poor in quality and others open. Private properties can likewise open and close. And the is next to no information available about privately operated observatories which can provide much needed observing facilities to interstate and international visitors.

There in brings another level of complexity – information for visitors from interstate or international can have a difficult time finding relevant information to their needs.

This thread seeks to centralize the collective knowledge of the Ice In Space community about dark sky sites and observing areas surrounding cities and towns around Australia.

Please feel free to add sites, campgrounds, public and private facilities that all accommodate or cater for our astronomical interests. Also offer updates to listed locations with any changes to facilities or even share your experiences and any photos of the location.

To make things easier to follow, please follow this method of noting information:

Title: State, Region, Nearest Town, Name of Site
Eg: NSW, Sydney metro west, Kings Tableland
Eg: Victoria, Melbourne metro north, King Lake National Park

Body:
• Public or private
• Description of site and facilities
• Restrictions (e.g. no dogs, separate parking, subject to flooding, etc)
• Camping or no camping
• If public – address, directions to get there, distance time wise from CBD, GPS coords, etc, whatever information is required
• If private - best way to contact the owner (think about this people - do you really want your phone number published on a public forum? A PM to the relevant member of IIS would be best).


I’ll get the ball rolling with a location around Sydney.

NSW, Sydney west, Hargraves Lookout

• Public lookout over Megalong Valley in Blue Mountains
• Very exposed as it’s set on a ridge spur, but the view of the sky is very expansive. There is a large shelter between the car park and observing area and fireplaces. Its exposed situation can see it freezing in the depths of winter making fireplaces very welcome. When transparency is good, limiting magnitude can be dimmer than 6.5.
• Restrictions: parking 15meters away from observing area. Public transport as far as Blackheath train station, 8km from Hargraves Lookout BYO everything. Can be kangaroos, stock and other animals on road particularly at night, take care while driving. Very isolated.
• Approx 2.5hrs west from Sydney CBD
• Access is via Blackheath,
GPS co-ords: -33.676783,150.242579

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Notes: The sky on offer is excellent. Being some 900meters above sea level the glow of the Sydney light dome is greatly diminished, though Katoomba is close so lighting from it is more prominent. I’ve been to Hargraves Lookout in the middle of winter. It was the coldest I have ever been in my life! It is totally exposed so any wind coming through the valley is very cutting. Go prepared for the cold.

Last edited by mental4astro; 14-12-2014 at 09:43 PM.
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  #2  
Old 15-12-2014, 09:50 AM
N1 (Mirko)
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Hi Alex that's a great idea. Could this be made into a permanent fixture to the IIS website by the Mods (the least being a thread marked to be always at the top), or something of "article" status except that everyone can add to it?

Excuse my ignorance, but is there a Southern constellation that makes it really simple to give an estimate of transparency/sky darkness, where a certain number of stars seen corresponds to a rough level of sky quality? This would allow the not-so experienced stargazers to contribute if they find what they think might be a good spot - without even needing a telescope. In the Northern hemisphere, that constellation is Ursa Minor and it works reasonably well. But it's obviously not an option here...
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  #3  
Old 15-12-2014, 09:57 AM
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RB (Andrew)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N1 View Post
Could this be made into a permanent fixture to the IIS website by the Mods (the least being a thread marked to be always at the top)
Mirko, this thread is a Sticky, it's always at/near the top of this forum.


Last edited by RB; 15-12-2014 at 05:13 PM.
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  #4  
Old 15-12-2014, 10:21 AM
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AstralTraveller (David)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N1 View Post
...
Excuse my ignorance, but is there a Southern constellation that makes it really simple to give an estimate of transparency/sky darkness, where a certain number of stars seen corresponds to a rough level of sky quality? This would allow the not-so experienced stargazers to contribute if they find what they think might be a good spot - without even needing a telescope. .....
http://www.imo.net/visual/major/observation/lm
http://obs.nineplanets.org/lm/rjm.html
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  #5  
Old 15-12-2014, 11:56 AM
N1 (Mirko)
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Very good thanks for that.
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  #6  
Old 15-12-2014, 06:18 PM
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sheeny (Al)
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NSW, Central West, Oberon, Blue Hill

  • Public Quarry in State Forest 13 km south of Oberon. Approximately 3 hours west of Sydney.
  • Quarry walls provide shelter from wind, the lights of Oberon, and less frequently lights and bullets from spotlighters. Being on top of the Great Dividing Range, wind is often a factor.
  • At 1279m altitude, this site is above the thickest part of the atmosphere. Due to altitude it can get very cold in winter. It may also be above the radiation fog/mist that can form in the valley below during clear cold nights.
  • When transparency is good, limiting magnitude can be >M6.5. Good view of the western horizon from the quarry entrance. Inside the quarry, obviously the quarry walls obscure views of the horizon.
  • Some light pollution from Sydney to the East. Other light pollution sources are not evident from inside the quarry. From the top of the quarry walls, light pollution is evident around the horizon from Sydney, The Blue Mountains, Lithgow, Oberon (Bathurst is behind Oberon) and Blayney to the west.
  • Restrictions: the quarry is sometimes closed when operations are active. At these times, setup in the quarry entrance/road is possible, or there are suitable alternatives nearby such as log loading areas beside fire trails, though these may be of limited value when the pine trees grow tall.
  • No camping or facilities.
  • Access via Edith Rd, Butter Factory Lane/Shooters Hill Road, Forest Roads. From Sydney, Titania Road is an alternative to Edith Road rather than drive all the way into town and back out again.
  • Location: S 33° 47.672’ E 149° 52.888’
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Last edited by sheeny; 15-12-2014 at 08:45 PM. Reason: Add light 2006 pollution map.
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  #7  
Old 15-12-2014, 08:08 PM
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sheeny (Al)
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NSW, Central West, Burraga, Burraga Dam

  • Public, free campsite 3 km NE of Burraga, approx 3.5-4 hours drive from Sydney.
  • Toilets, free camping, views of the dam, dog ARE allowed, suitable for motorhome, caravan or tent.
  • 1.3 km dirt road - "dry weather access only" is the official line. The road does have a good proportion of orange clay, so in very wet weather it will be greasy. I've only ever once been there in very wet conditions when we needed 4WD, but that's hardly astronomy conditions!
  • Very dark site. When transparency is good, limiting magnitude is >M6.5. Not far enough away to be completely free of Sydney light pollution but you have to go a long way for that!
  • From Burraga: turn left off Arkstone Rd 1.7km East of Burraga
  • From Oberon: 23 km south to Black Springs, continue straight ahead 23 km on Campbells River Rd, turn right and travel 1.4 km on Arkstone Rd, then turn right and follow 1.3 km dirt road to Burraga Dam.
  • Location: S 33° 56' 09" E 149° 33' 08"
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Last edited by sheeny; 15-12-2014 at 08:43 PM.
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  #8  
Old 17-12-2014, 06:15 AM
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NSW, Sydney North, MANGROVE MOUNTAIN, (aka "The Pony Club")

• Crown Land but restricted access (Locked gate)
• Good Flat observing site, easy access, plenty of room, set up next to your vehicle, NO FACILITIES currently (NO Toilets, No Water, No Power)
• Dark sky, some low sky glow to the South from Sydney, some local light from distant street light to the south can be avoided by choosing your setup spot accordingly
• Restrictions (access may be denied when equestrian clubs are holding overnight campouts {once or twice a year})
• No camping
• How to get there: See sticky with directions and maps at the top of this forum. 1 hour north of Sydney, via M1, on Wisemans Ferry Road.
• Several IIS members have access key. Planned meetings Saturday closest to New Moon, a new Thread always posted in this forum. Other times by arrangement upon application can generally be accommodated.
GPS: 33* 20' 17.6" South; 151* 09' 25.6" East.
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  #9  
Old 17-12-2014, 06:47 AM
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NSW, Sydney/Newcastle North, BRETTI Camping Reserve

• FREE Camping Reserve (signposted rest area)
• Good Flat observing site, easy access, HUGE amount of room, set up next to your vehicle, Limited FACILITIES provided courtesy of Gloucester Council (Pit Toilets, Garbage Bins) No Water, No Power, Closest Supplies 26k at Barrington and Gloucester.
• VERY Dark sky, absolutely no sky glow, BUT there may be lights from other campers, however from experience, these normally go to bed early.
• No Restrictions - Dog Friendly. 30 Day Camping Allowed.
• Camping suitable for Tents, Caravans, Motorhomes, etc.. Swimming in rivers (Manning and Barnard converge at this spot).
• Neighbour often lets cattle graze freely over this reserve, bring a shovel
• Avoid School Holidays (esp Christmas Easter and Long Weekends) as this is a VERY popular free camp.
• Can get very Hot in Summer days and Very Cold in Winter nights.
• How to get there: 3-4 hours north of Sydney, take M1 and Pacific Hwy to just past Heatherbrae, then The Buckets Way to Barrington, then 26k north along Thunderbolts Way.
• Several IIS members have regular 4 day trips around selected New Moon watch for Threads in this Forum
GPS: 31* 47' 22.0" South; 151* 55' 7.0" East.
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  #10  
Old 17-12-2014, 09:30 AM
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Allan
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Good write up Allan, I will let you do the same for Chaffey Dam . I will ad SQM readings. Pony Club is about 21.4, Bretti and Chaffey Dam can exceed 21.8 so are very dark. Bretti has no light domes, Chaffey Dam has a small dome to the north but has star reflections off the water which make the site appear a bit brighter.
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  #11  
Old 17-12-2014, 04:48 PM
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Allan_L (Allan)
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NSW, New England Region, South of Tamworth, CHAFFEY DAM

• $5 per car per night Camping Area
• Good Flat observing site, easy access, HUGE amount of room, set up next to your vehicle, GOOD FACILITIES (Flushing Toilets, $1 Hot Showers) Some Water available {its a Dam afterall, but best to boil before consumption}, No Power, Closest Town Nundle 14k
• VERY Dark sky, good horizons, BUT there may be lights from other campers, however most of these normally go to bed early.
• Restrictions - Pets Allowed (under supervision). 7 Day Camping Maximum.
• Camping suitable for Tents, Caravans, Motorhomes, etc..
• Swimming, Fishing, Boating, allowed in the Dam (recommend water boots due to rocky nature)
• Avoid School Holidays and Long Weekends as this is a VERY popular Day Destination and camping area for Locals and Tourists
• Power Boats are allowed and can be accompanied by rowdies out for the day(or two)
• Can get very Hot in Summer.
• How to get there: 400 kilometres north of Sydney (56 kilometres southeast of Tamworth) - 5 hours north of Sydney, take M1, M15, and New England Hwy. Look for turnoff to Nundle just before Quirindi.
GPS: 31* 21' 39" South; 151* 07' 50" East.
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  #12  
Old 18-12-2014, 07:21 PM
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The Mekon (John B)
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I see many of the sights are quite distant from main cities.

There are plenty of sites in the Southern Highlands south of Sydney that can gibe decent dark skies. Problem is many of them are hard to find and remote from the main roads.

I have just inspected "Jurd Park" at Colo Vale which is around 35 minutes south of Campbelltown on the freeway. Turn off the freeway at the Colo Vale exit and then turn right across the overpass, Drive about 2.5km on until you see the sign "Colo Vale Public school" then turn left to the car park at Jurd Park.

Site is away from street light and offers good horizons. Only problem is the tennis courts which may be in use until around 21:00. No problem in summer but in winter can delay dark skies.

I only post this suggestion as it is closer to Sydney than many of the other sites. Anyone wishing to know a more remote location in the Southern Highlands could p.m. me. I use a property at High Range, about 15km west of Mittagong. Though the glow of Sydney is apparent to the north, it is till quite dark.
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  #13  
Old 19-06-2015, 05:57 PM
JtPhotographer (Jacob)
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Thumbs up Observation Camp near Siding Spring Observatory

We live on a 400 acre property about 15 k WEST of Siding Spring Observatory. Open space on high plateau with great vistas of the Warrumbungle NP during the day and unobstructed total dark skies during the night. Easy 4WD access but most 2 WD should not have much issues unless it is a low sports model. We have been playing with the idea to create a few dedicated astronomers camp sites. With sheltered observation platforms and basic camp sites. Anyone interested to give some advise is welcome. Currently there are NO amenities at all but with enough interest we could give it a go.
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  #14  
Old 09-10-2015, 09:39 PM
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Another member sent me this link but no sites for nsw listed yet. Seems like a good idea if we can populate this can be a usefull resource
http://www.australiandarkskyregister.com/
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  #15  
Old 21-10-2015, 02:14 PM
kenwishaw (Ken)
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South East Queensland site

Just thought i would add my preferred site near Maleny on the Sunshine Coast and an hour north of Brisbane.

Howell Knob lookout is about 7minutes drive west of Maleny, off the Reeseville Rd.

It is the highest point of the Southern Sunshine Coast (500m) . Only the low west is obscured by trees and some skyglow low south from Brisbane.

It has a large covered picnic table but no other amenities. It would comfortably fit 8-10 scopes.

There are occasional visits by people at night but is generally unknown. it is a popular place for sunsets as you can see out to sea, the Glasshouse Mountains and up to Noosa and Kenilworth.

There are two of us who go up there on appropriate Friday nights, so plenty of room for others.

Ken Wishaw
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  #16  
Old 23-10-2015, 09:27 AM
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NSW, New England Region, North of Tamworth, GLEN RIDDLE RESERVE

• FREE council run Camping Area
• Good Flat observing site, easy access, HUGE amount of room, set up next to your vehicle,
• Good clean but Minimal FACILITIES (Long Drop Toilets, Picnic shelters, Few Trees, Water available (from tap) {Signposted "Do Not Drink"}, Rubbish bins, Fireplaces, No Power. Council workers visit three times a week, remove rubbish, clean toilets, replace toilet paper, mow.
• Good Phone and Internet reception (Telstra and Optus)
• Closest Town Barraba 14k
• GOOD VERY Dark sky, good low horizons, No Light Domes in any direction, (may be lights from other campers, however most of these normally go to bed early).
• Western side of ranges, avoids coastal weather and humidity.
On my visit, the weather was very Dry. Low humidity every day. There was No Dew to speak of.
• Restrictions - Pets Allowed (under supervision). 13 Day Camping Maximum.
• Camping suitable for Tents, Caravans, Motorhomes, etc.. But ground is dry and hard and requires good tent pegs and big hammer.
• Currently, No Swimming, Fishing, Boating, (although permitted, 94% of dam water released for farming)
• Bird watching is good, limited walking trails.
• Can get very Hot in Summer.
• May be some wondering dairy cattle.
• How to get there: 500 kilometres north of Sydney (1 hour northwest of Tamworth) - 6 hours north of Sydney, take M1, M15, and New England Hwy. From Tamworth take Fossickers Way through Manilla. Turnoff Pera Linton Rd. Follow signs. Bitumen all the way.
ALSO 6 hours drive from Brisbane.
GPS: 30* 27' 3.2" South; 150* 41' 32.7" East.
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  #17  
Old 09-12-2015, 04:39 PM
PeterHA (Peter)
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East Melbourne Site

East Melbourne Site - Johns Hill Reserve Ridge Rd. Kalista, Dandenongs

This is an easy accessible picknick spot with car park for 15 cars on a east west ridge.
Two picknick benches a grassy slope to the south and very good view to the south, good to east and north and ok to the west.
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  #18  
Old 03-02-2016, 09:57 PM
Tristan
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QLD, Lake Moogerah Dam

G'day, there is a beautiful dark sky about an hour south of Brisbane at lake Moogerah Dam, some of the eastern sky blocked by trees and a small portion of the northen sky by mountain, but no sky glow, amenities and plenty of room for scopes.
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  #19  
Old 03-02-2016, 10:51 PM
bigjoe (Joe)
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I've actually set up a scope near the boat ramp late at night at DEVLIN RD Castelreagh , just off Castelreagh rd north of Penrith but before Richmond .
Even though my property was nearby I just had to try it ; and it was a terrific spot only 35/40 mins from Concord, Sydney at night going on the motorway ; nice enough dark skies- you could easily spot 47 Tucanae , M11 naked eye!!! Site not exactly level.

Petrol station/grocery/liquor in walking distance but it closes early.

bigjoe.
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  #20  
Old 02-05-2016, 07:45 AM
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Wyangala Waters

Wyangala Waters is about 4.5 hours from Sydney (30 minutes south of Cowra) and sits under beautiful dark skies! We camped here for 8 nights just after Easter.
The site has big open areas for unpowered camping (like we do), nice facilities and amenities as well as a "caravan park" section with power for those that prefer.

We had our 6" Table-top Dob out on about 5 nights, and for a city-dweller this type of sky is an absolute treat!
We did get our timing great this time too, as we were treated to easy views of LMC, SMC, Eta Carinae, etc. along with magnificent Jupiter at zenith and rising Mars and Saturn!

Cowra and surrounds are pretty cool too, with lots to see (Japanese Gardens, POW Camp, nearby Canowindra, Peace Bell, Lachlan Valley) , and friendly people

Highly recommended for anyone that likes to combine living under canvas and skywatching

PS - no need to mention Roo Poo EVEYWHERE!
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