Camp # 50, Days 231 – 234, Parkes, NSW – The Dish

The Parkes radio telescope – “The Dish” which in 1969 played a significant role with NASA in televising the moon landings.

Two things have bought us to Parkes. The Dish and the one the kids are all excited about, The Parkes Christmas Parade and Markets, with wait for it …….. Christmas ponies!

Parkes Christmas Parade was ace – we’ll take any festive spirit we can find!

What a way to kick off the festive season. It’s certainly going to be a different Christmas away from the family so were keen to immerse ourselves in whatever Christmas cheers we can find.

We arrive early afternoon and got set up in the Spicer Park Caravan Park. What a gem. It was quiet and we got a wonderful site next to the playground backing on to the town sporting field. But the best bit was they supply bath mats! Now that might not seem like that big a deal but believe you me it is. I never appreciated the shear luxury of a bath mat. So far this has been the only park we have stay at to do this and what a point of difference.

The Christmas Market and Parade was excellent. Starting late in the afternoon it was just cooling down. Set in a Park in the middle of town there were food vendors, stalls, a few rides and games, an outdoor christmas movie after dark and of course the parade.

The town decorations for the Christmas festival were awesome

The town had gone tinseltastic. All the school children had dressed up, local businesses decorated floats and cars, the emergency services tinseled up their vehicles and the local dragon boat club and pony club didn’t disappoint. The whole afternoon evening was wonderful. Top show Parkes.

The Christmas Ponies Rocked
Check out those glittery shoes!
The Girls had a ball.

The next day we awoke with a couple of additional van guest. Two Christmas Elves appeared without a single note as to what, why or where they had come from. The girls were very excited to have a couple of christmas elves about the van and they were swiftly named, SugarPlum and Cookie.

SugarPlum and Cookie up to no good.

We then spent the day catching up on washing and putting tinsel up and about the Van. It certainly was beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. All the while treated to a great display of country cricket. With front row seat from our Van it would have been rude to note sit down and enjoy our first cricket for the summer.

Parkes is named after Sir Henry Parkes (1815 – 1896), an immigrant from England, of lowly education and standing, that went on to become “the most commanding figure in Australian politics” . He was the longest non-consecutive Premier of the Colony of NSW and became known as the “Father of Federation” due to his early promotion for federation of the six colonies of Australia. You’ll find his image on our $5 note.

Sir Henry Parkes (1815 – 1896)

I knew nothing of Sir Henry Parkes before coming to Parkes and it’s been a great education for us all. We have continued to come across references to him and his achievements particularly while visiting Sydney and Canberra. This is one of the things I love about our travels is, the connection to place and people. It has bought Australia history alive to me and reinforces what a great classroom we have.

The main reason for visiting Parkes was ‘The Dish’ at the Parkes Observatory. Parkes and the Radio Telescopes located here played a pivotal role in receiving and transmitting the images of the moon landing. The story was bought to our screen in the 2000 movies, ‘The Dish’, and was mostly accurate.

The setting of the Dish is most unexpected. There really are sheep in the next field.

The visitors centre was fantastic! We spent half a day there and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. They had a great booklet to keep the kids engaged and watching the, massive, operational, radio telescope dish being moved about by NASA (or whichever scientific body had there aloted time of use), was pretty cool. And you’ve gotta love that little touch of Australian juxtaposition.

This immensely piece of technology listening deep into space, the cutting edge of human scientific endevour, and the sheep in the paddock next door just grazing away, none the wiser.

The Dish moved while we were here to search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence for the SETI program.

We loved our stay here and so glad we made the detour away from the coast. We are all the richer and wiser, from the black stump, to the glittered hooves of the christmas ponies and the investigation of space, our galaxy and beyond, its been a blast.

Thanks Parkes!

One Reply to “Camp # 50, Days 231 – 234, Parkes, NSW – The Dish”

  1. Mum dad hall says: Reply

    OMG this is do do do do it’s fifty years ago that the moon landing took place and you’ve posted it now love it, we are watching the actual landing right now. I love all the make up on the donkey and the parades. You said the dish moved when u where there where they looking for live in WELLINGBOROUGH he he. xxx mum dad hall

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