The Big Skies Collaboration brings together arts practitioners, astronomers and local communities to creatively explore their relationships with the Cosmos as experienced from inland rural Australia within an area we’ve defined as the 700 Kilometre Array.


The project’s Creative collaborators include (to June 2016) visual artist and project co-founder Christine McMillan, musician/composer Peter Kennard, theatre director David Clarkson, cultural astronomer Trevor Leaman, new media artist Kate Richards, producer Virginia Hyam, and  writer and co-founder of this cultural intervention, Merrill Findlay.

Organisations we have professional relationships with include CSIRO Parkes ObservatoryAustralia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri;  Central West Astronomical Society (CWAS); the Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA) at Mount Stromlo; Centre for Creative and Cultural Research, University of Canberra;  The Australian Indigenous Astronomy Team, University of NSW and Monash University; the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO); Sydney Observatory; Parkes Shire Council; Cementa Contemporary Arts Festival; NSW Writers’ Centre; ACT Writers CentreStalker Theatre; Art Engineers; Wiradjuri Arts Group, Condobolin; Lachlan Arts Council; Central Tablelands Local Land ServicesCentral West Libraries, Macquarie Regional Library, Lachlan Libraries, North Western Libraries, Narrabri Library, and other libraries within our 700KA; the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and Arts OutWest and other regional arts organisations. Other institutions are expected to join us as our Collaboration progresses.


The Big Skies Collaboration’s expected outcomes include

  • a series arts events in inland rural NSW to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 2019 and humanity’s ongoing exploration of the cosmos
  • a major performance program by David Clarkson and his Stalker Theatre
  • new research on Wiradjuri people’s relationships with their sky country by astronomer Trevor Leaman and colleagues
  • images of Wiradjuri constellations by Wiradjuri artist Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney of Peak Hill, to be exhibited, printed on t-shirts and other merchandise, used for educational purposes and uploaded to Stellarium
  • a literary nonfiction book by Merrill Findlay drawing on interviews with cultural, optical and radio astronomers who have explored, and are continuing to explore the cosmos from the 700 Kilometre Array observatories
  • a visual arts program coordinated by Christine McMillan, in association with the Cementa Festival of Contemporary Art
  • a digital sound program coordinated by Peter Kennard
  • a ‘constellation of inland’ Skywriters groups hosted by Merrill Findlay and local libraries
  • a Skywriters anthology of creative works about people’s with the stars, planets and other cosmic phenomena
  • a series of podcasts by Merrill Findlay and Peter Kennard featuring the Big Skies Collaboration interviews and original electronic music
  • inspiring stories about astronomical discoveries and the people who made them
  • a re-invigorated awareness of the diverse astronomical heritages we’ve inherited over the past 60,000 years  in inland rural Australia
  • a new astro-tourism experience, the 700KA Astronomy Trail, through inland NSW and ACT
  • new visions of inland rural Australia’s rich pasts, presents and possible futures
  • and many shattered stereotypes, preconceptions and assumptions

While some of our projects are now partly funded (Skywriters, Wiradjuri Constellation Art, and Wiradjuri Astronomy), others remain unfunded, so we are still looking for cash and in-kind sponsors. If you would like to support us, please message us via our contact form, or email bigskiescollaboration[at]gmail.com.

RuinsOfStromlo'sOldMelbourneTelescope_MerrillFindlay_2015-06-13 15.00.21
All that remains of Mount Stromlo’s old Melbourne Telescope built for the Melbourne Observatory in 1868. This historic instrument was destroyed in the firestorm that ravaged the Mount Stromlo Observatory in 2003. Photo by Merrill Findlay, June 2015.


Consent form download: BigSkiesCollaborationMediaConsentForm v4March2016

WordPress site created 3 January 2016 using content first posted on merrillfindlay.com in May 2015. Content updated 2 March 2016. Minor revisions made 3 and 4 March 2016. And on 5 March 2016 most of the content about the 700KA and Astronomy Trail was removed and reposted as Introducing the 700 Kilometre Array in response to the very high level of interest in this idea. Revised 18-19 April 2016 with the addition of a couple of new project associates, some minor editing, and reference to ‘Sauce’ Towney’s images of Wiradjuri constellations. Updated 26 June 2016 – when major renovations began. Last updated 21 February 2017.

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