Wednesday 27 April 2011

Snowy Mountains Trip - Day 3

Day 3 - 27/4/2011 - Parkes to Young

Yet again another 8am start.  At least this time it was feeling more like holidays as we were going to start doing more “touristy” things instead of just driving for hours on end (and this is where the blog entries are going to start getting longer ;-) ). It was a beautiful clear day - couldn’t ask for better weather.  Due to the slope of the site, Jodie felt a lot safer staying hitched up to the Pajero last night!

Parkes Caravan Park

Upon leaving the van park we decided we’d drive up to the lookout over Parkes before heading to Parkes Observatory aka “The Dish”.  We took some shots of the beautiful white memorial tower against the clear blue sky.  Perfect time of day.

War Memorial at Parkes Lookout
Once finished at the lookout we headed for the Observatory.  Despite our little detour to the lookout we still made it there for the 8:30am opening time.  You can see the Dish from the road as you drive towards the turn-off.  It is a really impressive sight - but even more impressive once you arrive and see the whole thing up close.

Viewing "The Dish" from the road in
Just as we were pulling into the carpark, there was a crop duster spraying the fields.  It was amazing to watch the agility of the plane and the skill of the pilot.

The Parkes Visitor Information Centre was surprisingly interesting.  After reading that there were no guided tours on offer we were expecting a very boring “museum” type experience.  But we were pleasantly surprised.  One of the highlights was in the garden area before entering the Information Centre.  They have two huge “whispering dishes” (3.5m in diameter) set up about 50 metres apart from each other - the dishes demonstrate how the big dish works using its parabolic shape to catch and amplify the sounds from outer-space.  Steve and I both went and stood in front of one each and you could whisper into the dishes and the other person could hear every word you said perfectly clearly.  I could even hear the click of the camera button when Steve was taking a photo of me (50 metres away!)

The other interesting thing is that they have a small globe of the earth in the garden.  It is positioned so that the areas in sun on the model globe exactly replicate the areas in sun on the earth.  So as the shadows changes on the model globe the same areas are going into shadow on the earth.

Jodie in front of the other "whispering" dish and the globe
They also had some great 3D movies to watch - again, I didn’t expect much - but I was really impressed by them.  One gave you a virtual tour of the Dish - which is good because they don’t actually allow the public into the Dish at all, (although it is the 50th anniversary of the The Dish in 2011 and they are holding an open day in October that we want to try and get down too to go through it  Another movie gave some really amazing comparisons of the size of our Milky Way when compared to other objects in “outer space” - when you start comparing these things it just blows your mind!  Impossible to comprehend really and just makes you realise how small and insignificant we really are in the scheme of things and helps you put things in perspective.

We also got to see the Dish move while we were outside watching it - there was a change of roster at 9.30am -which meant that new scientists were going in to the Dish to set it up for their research.  Researchers have to apply to a committee of astronomers who allocate time to use the Dish. They have the weekly schedule of who is using the Dish and for what research purpose listed on the back doors of the Information Centre.  Makes for interesting reading!

"The Dish" upclose
After spending a couple of hours at The Dish’s visitors information center it was time to hit the road again.  Next stop was Forbes, Grenfell and then finally Young.  We stayed at the Young Tourist Park, Zouch Street - it is actually behind the BP Petrol Station on the way into town.  It was a really lovely park - the grass in the unpowered area was thick and green and the trees were all looking post-card perfect in their autumn leaves.

Young Caravan Park
Today was the first day that we arrived early enough in the afternoon that we could do a bit of exploring around the town.  After we had set up camp we drove into the CBD.  We parked across from the RSL in town and walked through the main street.  The town had a nice feeling to it - lots of hustle and bustle - but friendly enough.

Afterwards we went for a drive up towards the Young High School and St Marys Church.  The old Courthouse of Young was transferred to the Dept of Education at some stage - it now forms part of the Young High School grounds and really make the school look impressive.  The park next to the High School is absolutely beautiful - worth walking through, especially on a sunny day.  The St Mary’s church across the road is also worth a look.  Very photogenic.

Old Court House and School in the background

St Mary's Church
Once we got back to the van park it was time to set up the Weber and threw some T-Bones on - made a few of the workmen staying in the cabins jealous with the smell of the steaks cooking while having a few beers!

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