I got back from a two-month trip to Australia and South East Asia last month. Fortunately this wasn’t an astronomy trip, although I was hoping to fit some observing in of course, because the weather was – let’s not beat around the bush here – frankly bloody awful! I joined some friends from the Texas Star Party who were visiting Australia for the ‘Deepest South Texas Star Safari‘ being held in Coonabarabran. We met up in Sydney and had a nice meal at a restaurant in The Rocks before meeting up again the following morning at Sydney Central railway station. The weather omens were already bad – it rained all day and we drove from Dubbo to Coonabarabran under leaden skies and driving rain.
Unfortunately I could only stay one night because the next day I had to return to Sydney and then travel onto the southern town of Wollongong 80kms south of Sydney, for a pelagic birdwatching trip which was scheduled for the Saturday. This one night was a complete washout, it rained all night, which was pretty disappointing. It became even more annoying when I got to Wollongong and the f*cking pelagic was cancelled due to high winds! Aaargh! So infuriating! I could have stayed in Coona and got some observing in a few days later as the weather improved. As it was, my sorely depleted finances wouldn’t allow me to return to Coona and I was flying to Thailand a few days later in any case. In the end, I consoled myself with some binocular observations from light-polluted Sydney. Scant consolation, but at least I got to poke around among what stars were visible.
We did, however, attend an interesting meeting of the local astronomy club and I got to see the famous Siding Spring Observatory, albeit from the road.
It wasn’t a complete disaster, it wasn’t as if I’d travelled 12000 miles just to observe, and I had been to Australia and pretty much scoped out the Southern Hemisphere winter skies in 1997. But one thing’s for sure – I am going back to Australia and the DSTSS properly in a couple of years’ time!
And I never did hear from the Astronomy Society of New South Wales, which is very disappointing.