Inland Astro-Trail

Cultural Tourism of Galactic Proportions
Imagine visiting more than a dozen world-class research telescopes, numerous private observatories, and hundreds of astro-heritages sites along our Astro-Trail in southeastern Australia’s rural Inland.

Imagine a downloadable app that tells you about these sites, a book with spaces for the astro-stamps your kids will collect along the way and, at night, a sky filled with more stars than you’ve ever thought possible and local astronomers eager to give you a closer view of these and other wonders through their telescopes. Perhaps you’ll even be able to enjoy a few skystories by local storytellers over dinner and a glass or two of local wine …


July 2018: First arts tour of Inland Astro-Trail. Big Skies Collaborator, writer and publisher, Dr David Reiter, is touring the Inland Astro-Trail to research a new creative work, Outer Space, Inner Thoughts. We hope this will be the first of many such tours. More here >>

Certificate of Incorporation as an Association for Inland Astro-Trail Incorporated, an initiative of the Skywriters Project, Big Skies Collaboration,: bigskiescollaboration.wordpress.com10 November 2017: Inland Astro-Trail Inc., which emerged from the Big Skies Collaboration’s Skywriters Project, has now been registered as an incorporated association.  The founding committee is currently developing a business plan and will soon invite observatory operators,  local government authorities, educational and research institutions, astronomical societies, professional and amateur astronomers and astrophotographers and others within our 700 Kilometre Array region to join IAT Inc.

The Inland Astro-Trail concept is one of many outcomes from our Skywriters Project’s Big Gig #1 in Parkes, New South Wales, on 8/9 July 2017. In brief, we want to develop an astro-tourism trail linking all the astronomical sites between CSIRO’s Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) near Narrabri, in northern New South Wales, and Mt Stromlo Observatory in the Australian Capital Territory, within a region we’ve called Southeastern Australia’s 700 Kilometre Array (700KA).

Why? Because we reckon that our astonishingly dark Inland night sky, and the 60,000 or more years of astro-cultural heritage associated with it, need to be more fully recognised and celebrated by Australians and by people from all over the world! We want tens of thousands of visitors to travel our astro-trail to witness the full glory of our sky at night and experience its unique cultural heritage, as told by the Inland’s own diverse storytellers. And along the way, these visitors will also contribute to the social, economic and cultural development of our rural Inland.

InlandAstroTrail Inc members Molong 2017
The executive committee and founding members of Inland Astro-Trail Incorporated.  Front row from left, Vice President Donna Burton (Coonabarabran), President Yvette Aubusson-Foley (Dubbo),  Secretary Margaret Jakovac-Paton (Blayney), Treasurer Nathan Ryan (Molong). Back row, Public Officer Merrill Findlay (Forbes), with founding members Peter Bishop (Katoomba), Cosette Douglas (Gilgandra), and Gai Lander (Grenfell). The new organisation was formally established in Molong on 28 October 2017. Photo by Steve Lander.
Our astro-tourism panel at the Skywriter Project’s ‘Big Gig’ in Parkes, 8 July 2017. From left, astronomer Les Dalrymple (Billimari), the Mayor of Parkes Clr Ken Keith OAM, astronomers Donna Burton (Coonabarabran) and Peter Starr (Dubbo), and cultural astronomer Trevor Leaman (Wiradjuri Astronomy Project, Orange). Photo by Merrill Findlay.

Big Skies Collaboration’s Skywriters Project has now taken the first steps towards making the Inland Astro-Trail a reality!

  • we’ve established a not-for-profit organisation, Inland Astro-Trail Incorporated, and elected our first executive committee at a Skywriters gathering in Molong on 28 October 2017 (See the photo above.)
  • we’ve established a closed FB group (@InlandAstroTrail) for people interested in discussing this project and contributing to it
  • several Inland astronomers, including Donna Burton from Milroy Observatory, cultural astronomer Trevor Leaman, Peter Starr (Tenby Observatory Group), and Ray Pickard (Bathurst Observatory Research Facility) are lobbying fellow astronomers to support the concept
  • our new executive committee is planning a publication and app. to promote the proposed astro-trail
  • and those of us with good business heads are developing a formal business plan as a prelude to seeking grants, sponsors, and more in-kind support

But there’s much more yet to be done before we see our Inland Astro-Trail on Australia’s official tourist maps!

Our proposed trail would, of course, include CSIRO’s Parkes Observatory and the Australia Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri, and ANU’s Siding Spring Observatory, near Coonabarabran, as well as the many private observatories within the 700KA region, such as Millroy Observatory, Peter Starr’s Dubbo Observatory and Warrumbungle Observatory, Ray Pickard’s Bathurst Observatory Research Facility, Les Dalrymple’s new observatory near Billimari, astro-heritage sites throughout the region from where Wiradjuri and Gomeroi astronomers have been gazing at the stars for millennia, and many other sites from which migrants and their settler-descendants have been observing our southern sky since the nineteenth century.

If you’re interested in this project and would like to support it, please contact us at, or via FB messenger, or ask to join our closed FB group @InlandAstroTrail.

Credits for featured image at top of page
Detail of a mural in the corridor of Weddin Shire Council’s Community Hub, in Grenfell, New South Wales, featuring a quotation from the first stanza of Henry Lawson‘s 1888 ballad, ‘A May Night On The Mountains’. Lawson was born in Grenfell in 1867. Photo by Merrill Findlay.

Page established 27 July 2017. Last revised 4 July 2017.

700KA map last updated 22 January 2018.