With Australia’s largest optical telescope, three beautiful national parks and plenty of country charm, the Warrumbungle region is popular with stargazers and bushwalkers. The town closest to Warrumbungle National Park is Coonabarabran, known as the astronomy capital of Australia.
Coonabarabran is only 100 minutes’ drive northeast of Dubbo, which is five hours’ drive from Sydney. You can also fly to Dubbo and rent a car at the airport. Alternatively, you can drive to Coonabarabran via the Hunter Valley wine region or the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains.
Warrumbungle National Park is Australia’s first dark sky park, where views of the pristine night sky are not obstructed by artificial light. During the day, explore the natural beauty of the wilderness, including the ancient volcanic mountain range, on walking trails to spectacular lookouts.
Check out the events calendar for shows and festivals in the region, including StarFest in October when the Siding Spring Observatory, on the edge of the national park, opens its optical telescope to the public for a day. The Exploratory exhibition at Siding Spring is open Tuesday to Saturday.
For an earthly journey into the prehistoric past, visit the Australian Museum Diprotodon Exhibition in Coonabarabran and see the skeleton of the largest ever marsupial to have ever lived. A short drive northeast of Coonabarabran is Pilliga National Park, with its iconic inland landscapes.
Coonamble, northwest of Coonabarabran, is home to the biggest combined rodeo and campdraft in the Southern Hemisphere and the gateway to the Macquarie Marshes, a beautiful wetlands in the Great Western Plains. The annual Coonamble Rodeo and Campdraft is on the June long weekend.
Accommodation options suit various budgets, including classic country pubs such as Hotel Dunedoo in charming Dunedoo, home to the Dunedoo Bush Poetry Festival and 65 minutes’ drive from Dubbo. Nearby is Coolah, a popular stop on the way to Coolah Tops National Park for cycling.