Coonabarabran is one of my favourite towns, it has that old fashioned feel where the locals are likely to strike up a conversation with travellers over icy beer in one of its main-street pubs. It is one of those towns where is plenty to see and do as well.
Like most things in Australia we give things nick names so it was no surprise be me when Coonabarabran was referred to as Coona. It is the perfect place to enjoy stargazing, thanks to its pristine air, high altitude (505m) and low humidity, and several observatories have been established in the area.
Coonabarabran was traditionally owned by the Gamilaroi people and it sits in Warrumbungle Shire and sits between the Central West and North West Slopes regions of New South Wales.
Thing to see and do...
- Dinosaur lovers will love the Diprotodon at Coonabarabran Visitor Information Centre, located on the Newell Highway at the southern end of town.
The Australian Museum Diprotodon Exhibition displays the skeleton and skull of a Diprotodon, it 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. The exhibition also provides information on other mega fauna that were believed to have existed at around the same time. It is believed that the Diprotodon roamed Australia between one and two million years ago and became extinct around 20,000 years ago.
The museum is open daily from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (02) 6849 2144.
- Visit the Crystal Kingdom, it houses 'Minerals and Fossils from the Warrumbungle Ranges' and proudly claims that it was "the first collection in Australia to display minerals and fossils from one local area only". The collection includes rare zeolite crystals, a huge crystal cave, as well as local fossils. It also sells opals, sapphires, amber, topaz, garnet, amethyst and many other gemstones.
It is located at 16 Chappell Avenue, 700 m north of the centre of Coonabarabran and is open from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm daily, tel: (02) 6842 1927. For more information click on the link http://www.crystalkingdom.com.au
- Coonabarabran's Markets are held in Dalgarno Street on the fourth Sunday of the month.
Local shopping treats include native plants, jewellery, clothes, cakes, jams, nuts, honey, olives and olive oil, vegetables, old wares, dog products, furnishings, craft, seeds and books.
- Go Stargazing.
One of the reasons Coonabarabran is on my favourite town list is because it is the stargazing capital of Australia. Coonabarabran is on the edge of the iconic Warrumbungle National Park, which was officially recognised as an International Dark Sky Park in 2016, the first in Australia.
The visit NSW website explains how the pristine night sky is free of artificial light that limits celestial views in cities. Some observatories near the park are open to the public all year for amazing night sky experiences through large telescopes, weather permitting.
Inside the park is the Siding Spring Observatory, home to the Anglo-Australian telescope, Australia’s largest optical telescope. You’ll learn about the solar system and the Universe at the interactive Exploratory centre, which is open during the day time only. Enjoy a 90minute walking tour which is led by astronomers, technicians and engineers of the Anglo-Australian Telescopes.
You can also observe the galaxies of stars through powerful telescopes at the Milroy Observatory and the Warrumbungle Observatory. Both observatories offer experts to guide you through the stars. Booking is essential.
Places to camp...
Camp Blackman at Warrumbungle National Park was where I camped. It's equipped with barbecues, picnic tables, hot showers and my favourite animals the resident kangaroos. This campground is suitable for caravans, camper trailers, campervans, motor homes and tents. Camp Blackman can be a popular place during school holidays, so in addition to lots of kangaroos, sulphur crested cockatoos, white-winged choughs, kookaburras and butcher birds, there are bound to be lots of family groups.
For more information and to book click on the link...https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/campgrounds/camp-blackman