Hiking Warrumbungles National Park

Last weekend, we went camping at Warrumbungle National Park, Australia’s first Dark Sky Park. Australia in general already enjoys really low light pollution; even in Sydney, we can see the faint band of the Milky Way with our naked eye. But out there in Warrumbungle, my goodness. We could see, quite clearly, those billion little stars that made up the Milky Way. It was most mesmerizing, and we only tore our eyes away at the end to get out of the cold.

For it was cold. We’ve been in Sydney for 2.5 years now, and have already acclimatized to the mild winters here. In Warrumbungle, the temperatures dipped down to -8 degrees C. Thank goodness that the temperatures climbed as soon as the sun rose.

Rose, our trip leader, planned a meticulous itinerary for the short weekend trip. The first day, we did a hike around Breadknife and the Grand High Tops Circuits. Gah, I haven’t been hiking in so long, I was quite winded and opted against joining the others for the slog up Lugh’s Throne. So I was very glad that she decided to swap another long hike the second day for a much shorter – but no less scenic – hike up Split Rock.

We went to one of the many private observatories surrounding the National Park, where we squinted through telescopes at the distant galaxies and planets. The owner of the observatory, Peter Starr, even let us stick our camera to the end of a telescope to shoot this nebula.

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