July 21st 2009 (in Australia) marked the 40th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon. Forever the first time that man has set foot on a body other than earth. Even more amazing was the live TV broadcast, watched by an estimated 600 million people. All of Australia's TV coverage, and almost all for the rest of the world, came from Australia. The first few minutes was from Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station, located outside Canberra. The remainder came via the Parkes radio telescope, which had a larger dish, and thus better signal levels.
As part of the 40th anniversary celebrations, CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope held Open Days over the weekend of July 18th and 19th, 2009. This seemed like a good excuse to visit a part of New South Wales that I have not seen recently. Although mid winter is not the most pleasant time, weather wise, for a visit, the weather conditions were excellent - clear sunny days, though cold (at or near freezing) nights. Accommodation was scarce in Parkes on Saturday night, so I stopped in Forbes, only 33 km further from the telescope.
The journey over was via Katoomba to Bathurst, with a stop at the top of Mt. Panorama and the race track, then on to Forbes for the night. Sunday was off to the telescope (early!) for an inspection tour, followed by a trip to Condobolin before returning to Parkes for the night. Monday was a return to Sydney, stopping only briefly in the Blue Mountains for lunch.