The Big Skies Collaboration is an open source community initiative bringing together arts practitioners, astronomers and communities in southeastern Australia’s rural and remote inland to creatively explore people’s relationships with the cosmos and to catalyse new cultural, social, economic and educational opportunities for inland people. It is led by writer Merrill Findlay.

Our current projects are set in a zone we call the 700 Kilometre Array (700KA) between Narrabri, in northwestern NSW, and Mount Stromlo in the Australian Capital Territory (a distance of approximately 700 km), which hosts some of Australia’s most significant astronomical research observatories, private telescopes and astro-heritage sites.  These include the Paul Wild Observatory and Australia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri, Siding Spring Observatory and Warrumbungle International Dark Sky Park near Coonabarabran, Parkes Radio Telescope, Molongolo Observatory near, Honeysuckle Creek and Ororral Tracking Station sites, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, Mount Stromlo Observatory, dozens of private observatories, hundreds of First Nations astro-sites, and countless backyards and public places where people gaze at the night sky. 

For 2018/19 our most active initiatives are

  • The Inland Astro-Trail, a community-driven astro-tourism, cultural heritage, community development and STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Outreach project to benefit inland communities
  • The Skywriters Project to support inland writers and publish their work in the forthcoming Skywriters Anthology
  • the Condo SkyFest to celebrate and revitalise Wiradjuri cultural traditions, including astronomy, in the small remote town of Condobolin
  • Seven Sistas Weavings, an exhibition by master weaver and Big Skies Collaborator Bev Coe and the fibre artists of the Condo SistaShed inspired by local Seven Sisters songline sites
  • From Carnarvon to Narrabri: a literary journey, which has produced our first guest long-read blog post, Staring At The Sun, by Big Skies Collaborator, novelist and documentary maker Tracy Sorensen

(See the dropdown menus above to explore our other initiatives.)

Most of our projects are self-funded with in-kind support from project partners. We have, however, received funding from Regional Arts New South Wales through our partner organisation Arts OutWest, and the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund through another partner organisation, the Wiradjuri Study Centre. We are very grateful for this support.

Our in-kind supporters include ANU’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics; Centre for Cultural and Creative Research, University of Canberra; Destination Network Country and Outback; Parkes Shire Council; Central West Councils (CENTROC); Lachlan Inn (Bathurst); local libraries throughout inland NSW; and dozens of individuals who have contributed their time and energy. Our thanks and gratitude.

You can also find us on Facebook: @InlandAstroTrail; @SkywritersProject; and @BigSkiesCollaboration.

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WordPress site created 3 January 2016 using content first posted on merrillfindlay.com in May 2015. Last updated 11 April 2019.

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