This photo should frighten the kiddies!
It's all very well for you to sit there in you chair in front of your computer screen and wonder why I am in such a state.
For Belougery Split Rock the guide says - 4.6km return, 3 hours, steep grade.
Frankly, when you're hanging on to a chain hauling yourself up bare rock knowing that just one slip could be fatal, you begin to wonder just what some of the walks rated "very steep" must involve!
This is the point where you climb just a few stairs and then get involved with the chain. Since, by the time you reach here, you are already stuffed and have had about four stops minimum it's a good place to take another break before you climb to the peak.
You're a fair way up by this time and it's only about 10 minutes to the top but you'll also be stopping again before you get there.
Remember on walks in this park - always take some form of drink with you.
Fortunately I always do and I make it my treat for when I reach the summit.
A NSW Country town
Well in the end we saw 4 places to buy coffee and enjoy a snack to break our journey. But we are a bit fussy and after looking at two we had almost decided to move on....
The first two had that 'greasy spoon' smell of cheap takeaway when you opened the door... even though.one looked quite nice from outside.
But in 2012 the Lunch Box was clean and fresh and had home made cakes. They made me a special salad which was not on the menu...good yes?
We visit again in 2013 but I am sure there must be different owners....
We only caught a glimpse on number 4 as we were driving off...so who knows? In 2013 I had a look at No 4 but it did not thrill me either.
Some folk like the counter meals at one of the pubs...which one?
Not a town to thrill the taste buds unless another VTer can put us on 'the right track'
The 1st stop you should make is at the Coonabarabran information centre located on the Newell Highway.
Another excellent centre, the lady on duty was most helpful, helping us with our accommodation, and telling us about events and attractions in the area.
There are plenty of brochures and maps, all for FREE, Souvenirs and gifts are available here too. There is plenty of parking, FREE clean public toilets, FREE electric bbqs, picnic tables and chairs, and the "Driver Reviver " is located here as well. Just a gold coin donation for a cup of coffee or tea, plus a biscuit.
As the Siding spring Observatory is NOT OPEN TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC IN THE EVENINGS, we were given information on private people in the area that do astronomy viewings. There are a few to choose from.
The fee if you wish to do this was $15 in 2009.
Website for more info. www.tenbyobservatory.com
When I visited the Coonabarabran Information centre, I picked up the "Easy Walks in Coonabarabran" leaflet.
I always think this is a good way to see a Town.
The walk here, wasn't very long, about 1.3kms, and probably took less than an hour for me to do. The leaflet gave me information on the buildings I were seeing, so I have listed a few I took photos of.
* The West End Bakery.......You can only view from the outside as it is now a private residence. Evidently, the Baking ovens are still in place, although unusable. The Baker used to live next door, and was able to move between the two buildings in order to keep an eye on the rising bread early in the morning.
* No 36 Dalgarno Street........Located on the opposite corner to the Bakery, this home was built by the Hagan family. It has pressed metal external walls and interesting decorative features. The House gables are typical of homes built during that period. The house has been a shop at previous times, but is now a private residence.
* The Court House.......Built in 1861, this beautiful sandstone building is an example of early Australian colonial architecture. There is a Tree located to the right of it which is locally known as the "Tree of Knowledge" particulary by the Aborigines. They have used this site as a gathering place for as long as people can remember.
Yes, a tip about Cartons of Milk, but not actually filled with Milk!
Located in the Siding spring observatory museum, is a row of Milk Cartons. All of them are different weights, representing the weights that the different planets are made of. You will be amazing at the differences, one I could hardly pick up it was that heavy!
Found at a location near Coonabarabran, Diprotodon is the largest marsupial ever to have lived. It is often likened to a giant sized wombat.
The remains of the Diprotodon were found in the creek bed of Cox’s Creek near Tambar Springs in 1979.
Although the remains are believed to be about 33 000 years old, it is thought that the Diprotodon roamed Australia somewhere between one and two million years ago and became extinct as recently as 20 000 years ago.
The jaw and another part of this extinct animal is on display here, as well as other fossils.
OPEN daily from 8 - 5pm
On the John Renshaw Parkway that takes you into the National Park from Coonabarabran, watch out for some unusual Letterboxes. Some people have been pretty creative in this area.
These are on private property before you reach the national park.
The observatory is used by Professional Astronomers to study the southern skies.
It is AUSTRALIA’S LARGEST OPTICAL ASTRONOMY RESEARCH CENTRE, with a total of 11 telescopes housed here.
This IS THE HOME of the giant 3.9metre ANGLO AUSTRALIAN TELESCOPE.
You can visit the observatory during daylight hours.
We took the walk up the hill to the 37metre domed observatory, then the lift to the 4th floor where you can take a look at the telescope through a glass window. It is huge!
Outside, there is a viewing area which overlooks the Warrumbungle ranges, nice views!
Included in the price is the Exploratory centre, which enlightens you on the facts and figures of the Universe.
If hungry or thirsty, there is a café which sells light meals, drinks, and souvenirs.
If you are coming to the observatory, remember that it is a lot cooler up here, even on a warm summer’s day, and it can be quite cold if a wind is blowing, so, throw in a cardigan, just in case!
The observatory has an open day ONCE A YEAR IN OCTOBER.
REMEMBER, THE OBSERVATORY IS NOT OPEN AT NIGHT as it is a research instrument. If you wish to view the stars, then you have to book in with a private astronomer.
Open 9.30 -4 pm weekdays and 10 – 2pm weekends
ADMISSION IN 2009 WAS $5.50 adults.
TRAVEL THROUGH SPACE FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF LIGHT!
You can, when you tour ...........
"THE WORLD'S LARGEST VIRTUAL SOLAR SYSTEM DRIVE."
A different idea has been adapted to road travel in this area.
It's called "whirl through space," a scenic road journey taken by car, following different Planet signs until you end up at the Siding spring Observatory, which is the planet "Sun."
All the tours end up at the "sun."
Along the way, there are 3 dimensional planet models attached to starry billboard signs that have been scaled to 38 million times smaller than outer space!
The distance between each sign has been scaled also.
Pick up a brochure at the info centre for the routes that you can do.
There are 5 different routes....
* route 1 departs from the town of Dubbo......
* route 2 departs from the town of Gulgong.....
* route 3 departs from the town of Merriwa.....
* route 4 departs from the town of Tamworth..........
* route 5 departs from the town of Moree.........
So, here we go, .........travelling at 100kms per hour by car.........
meaning......we would be virtually hurtling through space at a ........
million kilometres per second.....................
MORE THAN 3 TIMES FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF LIGHT!
e.g...........START FROM DUBBO,
* sign 1 is PLUTO at 190ks from Coonabarabran....
* sign 2 is NEPTUNE at 119ks.........
* sign 3 is URANUS at 79ks.............
* sign 4 is SATURN at 40ks........
* sign 5 is JUPITER at 21.5ks......
* sign 6 is MARS at 5.5ks.........
* sign 7 is EARTH at 4.1ks.........
* sign 8 is VENUS at 1.9ks....
* sign 9 is MERCURY at 1.2ks..........
and the final destination is the SUN (Siding Spring Observatory)
The distances are approx. only.
This is the only route with all the planets, others have less.
This was quite an interesting way to see the sights around the countryside of Coonabarabran.
Unbelievable, but this EXCELLENT small Museum was FREE!
Well worth going into for a look, there is a well set out display of local minerals and fossils, plus displays of Crystals from the U.S.A., China, Africa and Europe. Lots of Crystals in all shapes and beautiful colors are on display.
"The WORLD'S MOST COLOURFUL CRYSTAL" - "ZEOLITE" is on display here.
The displays are done, so that you take a journey through time, starting on the side the arrow points to, you walk your way around , passing through the ages. Looking at the fossils, it was amazing that they were so intact and well preserved.
As you leave the Museum, you will pass through the Gift shop where gems, specimens, jewellery are for sale, have a browse, buy if you wish, there was NO PRESSURE AT ALL TO BUY, I didn't.
It is amazing that it is FREE, and it was EXCELLENT!
OPEN daily from 8 - 5pm
At the local excellent tourist information centre you can get a brochure on the historical buildings of the town. The pamphlet is supported by the Dept. of Ageing Disability and Home Care. Far be it from me to belittle their efforts but one suspects that there isn't too much money in the kitty and, for an outlay of a little more, the Coonabarabran Senior Citizens Inc. members who actually put it all together could have a much more presentable item.
The opening shot shows the excellent sandstone court house that was built in 1861 and the tree framing the shot is known as the "Tree of Knowledge", particularly by the indigenous community members.
The second shot is the facade of the Masonic Lodge built in 1923 and, though extended many times, retains the original portal and is still in use.
The third shot shows today's Coonabarabran Community Centre but it was originally the Bank of NSW (now Westpac) and, of course, we all know what banks think about customers these days.
The last two were taken on the Kamilaroi Highway and show a dilapidated farm house and surrounds, the latter being the classic outdoor dunny.
Situated on the Castlereagh River, the name Coonabarabran is a corruption of the original sheep run called "Cooleburburan" which became "Coolabarabyan" when it was owned by James Weston in the 1840's. He planted wheat and established a mill. The name came from the Kamilaroi aborigines who inhabited the area but its exact meaning in their language is not known.
Wool and wheat where once the economic mainstays of the town but it has embraced tourism, firstly backing the Warrumbungle then finally seeing the potential of itself as an astronomy base.
Timber also has a base here in the Pillaga Scrub situated to the north west. The first European to discover the Castlereagh River was George Evans, a member of John Oxley's 1818 party which passed 25 km to the north during the expedition which led to the European discovery of the Liverpool Plains.
The tower on the right is a clock tower built in 1928 as a war memorial for returned servicemen from the Great War and other names have been added following further conflicts.
On the left is the Imperial Hotel, an example of early Aussie pub architecture though changes have been made to the original design.
This is one of Australia's most famous astronomical sites. Though you can't view anything from the telescope shown here atop the mountain, there is an excellent facility in Coonabarabran called "Skywatch" that I can heartily recommend.
If you have ever had any inclination to see what all the fuss about the stars is, then Skywatch is for you. It takes about an hour, is very informative, gets you access to a few different telescopes and you can buy souvenirs. The whole thing ended up costing me about $400 because I ended up buying my own telescope! Such was its influence on me.
There is a lookout up near Siding Spring and there are tours of the facility though, as previously mentioned, you can't look through their telescopes.
This view comes around halfway up the Split Rock walk.
You don't have to go far from your accommodation at Camp Blackman to come across some wildlife. In fact, it will come right to you! Remember, don't feed the animals. What may seem cute and innocent all too easily ends up in aggression and nastiness.
Besides, you're sure to kangaroos as they are literally in plague proportions and one of their favoured grazing sites is the camp ground.
If you get lucky some of the emus will stroll in as well and I can guarantee you that there are scores of birds just waiting for an opportune moment. Look up in the trees and you will undoubtedly notice currawongs, magpies and crows.
Going for a stroll also gets you a nice long perspective on the Warrumbungle as well as some photogenic close-ups such as rocks (pics 2,3 & 5) with moss growing on them.
Belougery Split Rock is one of the closest walks to the National Parks office where you pay your $7 entry fee to access the park.
A word here about our National Parks. Entry fees differ greatly. You'll pay more than triple that to get into the Snowy Mountains Park and, in some other places, nothing at all. It's all dependent upon the popularity of the park, i.e. more people wanting access equals more money to get in.
By that equation the Warrumbungle is a popular place to visit.
I digress. The walk up Split Rock takes you to the highest point (on left). Here it is shown with a foreground of native wattle (known as mimosa overseas) that blooms profusely from mid-winter to spring.
Belougery comes from the name of a property that was handed over to the public by a philantropic farmer.