Sydney (10:30am) - Katoomba - Lithgow - Mudgee - Gulgong - Coolah - Binnaway - Coonabarabran (7:45pm)
Left Sydney at 10:30 am. Got stuck in the Easter traffic in the Blue Mountains for a couple of hours, but shed the worst off after Katoomba. Lunched at a neat little Trattoria in Blackheath. Taara loved the cosy log fire and its bright licking flames.
Hit Mudgee at 4 ish, breaking for coffee at Maccas. Got some good maps and onward directions, with instructions to watch for suicidal kangaroos . Revised route through Coolah and Binnaway.
Taara got really antsy towards the end. Sitting in the car seat for 6 hours was just too much for her. At about 7 pm We stopped at Binnaway to give her a break/nappy change.
The sky was just mind blowing. The moon wasnt out yet so we saw the LMC and SMC for the first time. The coal sack stood out loud and clear, and the milky way glimmered in all its magnificence. Just that glimpse made the trip worth while...
The drive was great. Vast open countryside and tree lined roads. We did have one major scare when we came up to a bunch of kangaroos wanting to cross the road. They waited nicely by the side to let us pass, and at the very last second decided to leap out in front of us. I think we missed them by less than an inch!
Reached our motel in Coona just before eight. 461 kms and nine and a half hours on the road.
Went to the Skywatch Observatory and Thai restaurant for some observing and Thai food :). The moon was up by 8:30 so the seeing wasn't as great as it could've been, but we still managed to get some good views. The scope was a gigantic 300mm newtonian built in 1994. No GoTo, so the resident astronomer manually manouvered the huge OTA, sometimes not successfully. We were hoping to see the Tarantuala nebula, but the scope did not co-operate. Views were quite good - saw all the usual suspects. Saturn was the clear winner in spectacularity.
Ended the evening with a lovely Thai dinner at their restaurant.