Sorry this entry has *heaps* of pictures... Give up now if you're not interested :)
So Friday afternoon I left work super early and headed off into uncharted territory (Lachlan Valley Way - which I don't think I've ever been on in my life before!) and headed north.
It's a three and a quarter hour drive to Parkes, but amazingly pretty (compared to the Hume Highway to Sydney which is quite boring for a lot of it). Had the road to myself for a lot of it, and the sweetie had given me some podcasts to listen to, so was a great drive.
Well that is until the bugs got so bad I couldn't see out the windscreen anymore..
Ha! That's where the bogans come from!
I arrived at my motel at 6:40pm, and had to wait while they tried to find the room key. Had just barely enough time to dump my stuff and go to the loo before Tony and family picked me up to go to dinner. We went to Bellas in town which had good reviews. And we all agreed, the food was delicious. Although I did eat too much and it meant I took forever to get to sleep!
"Pollo Insalata" - proscuitto line chicken breast served on baby spinach and sweet roasted pumpkin with roasted hazelnut butter and crumbled fetta
Fountain next to my motel, by night
Watched a bit of The Mummy Returns while waiting for dinner to settle.
Saturday morning it was foggy. The motel also had a couple of police teams staying the night, apparently to cover the roads to Bathurst.
We were going to have breakfast at Tony's motel, but they don't do breakfasts on weekends. (?????????) Lame. So went into town and found an open cafe, and I had bacon, eggs and a hash brown. It was bigger than I expected but did keep me going all day.
So off to The Dish!!
It was still foggy, but that made for some cool photos.
We wandered through the visitors' centre and joined the queue for the telescope tours. I think we had to wait maybe three quarters of an hour? The queue length really didn't change the entire day.
They did have astronauts on segways, classic cars arriving, and Einstein to keep the crowds entertained..
The tour was pretty cool.
We got to climb up a temporary staircase on the outside to the outside platform.
Here's a view you can't see every day!!
Then you climb *into* the top of the dish support.
And down into the control room!
There were even some real astronomers doing some real observing. Well so they say, I don't know what sort of results they would have gotten with all the people around with mobile phones and video cameras, and moving the dish around all the time..
And finally out the front door
Next we had a wander down the train tracks past the old Kennedy Antenna (not in use anymore)
A quick look back at The Dish at a different angle
Past the earth-air heat exchanger. This is where they take outside air, then pump it underground for eighty metres to get the air to a constant temperature and into the twelve metre dish they have setup for testing for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
Twelve metre dish setup for Square Kilometre Array testing
A Lego version of the SKA (not accurate - the real thing will be a lot more "random")
Then headed back up and had a look around at the classic cars.
One of them gave us quite a surprise - it had wallaby joeys in it!!
The dish from another angle
Then it was time for the official ceremony. So they brought the dish down till it almost touched the ground. So low in fact that it nearly took out a bottlebrush tree as they swung it round.
They attached a banner to The Dish and raised it up during the official speeches by Prof Phillip Diamond (head of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science) (I think) and Dr Megan Clarke (Head of CSIRO).
They also had one of the sopranos for the night's opera lead a chorus of Happy Birthday (Helen Barnett I think)
Then Jess went off to make some Sandtastic art, so I wandered around and took photos as the sun was coming out.
This is Jess' sandtastic art - it's just a sticky bit of card with all these stencils you pull off one at a time and cover with coloured sand. Sand sticks to the card and you shake off the excess. Way cool!
I didn't play cricket on The Dish.. I think maybe I shoulda bought one of these! :)
Another wander while Jess made a paper SKA
Jess and her paper SKA dish
There were a bunch of people there from the Central West Astronomical Society, some of them with telescopes pointed at the sun. Which has some super awesome sunspots going on at the moment!
Then had a look in the receiver room. I never realised that they actually change the receivers all the time! Takes them a few hours to change them over. Dad would have loved all this stuff - he would have understood what the dude was talking about :) These are some of the receivers actually in use at the telescope!
Finally we headed back through the visitors' centre to have a look at the displays.
This is a panel that they made up for the movie The Dish (2000) and donated to CSIRO afterwards.
It's only a model! Shh!
We stopped at a couple of lookout places on the way out.
Then into Parkes to see the War Memorial. It's supposed to be a lookout, but it was all locked up and nothing there to say it ever opened. What's the point of a lookout if you can't go up it? Too many trees around to have any views of the town, so that was a bit fail.
Then headed to Forbes for a late lunch. There were like two places open in the entire town, one of them being Subway, so that's what we had. Then filled the car with petrol and headed home, arriving a bit before 7pm.
So yeah a super fun day away. Pity the sweetie bailed (still feeling too sick). We might have gone to Dubbo for the Sunday, but those plans had to be cancelled. Thanks Tony/Heather/Jess for putting up with me! :)