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Sky’s the limit

Saturday, 22nd September, 2018

Outback Astronomy’s Linda Nadge sits out on the “sky dome”, overlooking where a cafe and an observatory will be built. PICTURE: Myles Burt Outback Astronomy’s Linda Nadge sits out on the “sky dome”, overlooking where a cafe and an observatory will be built. PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Myles Burt

Outback Astronomy is following the lead of the universe and expanding to include a cafe and an observatory.

Director Linda Nadge has been given City Council DA approvals to improve and develop facilitates to cater for an increasing tourism market.

After recognising the appeal of stargazing whilst eating and drinking, Ms Nadge decided to seize the opportunity with plans to construct a cafe.

They will offer supper during tours in the form of cheese boards and even barbecues for astronomical events.

“The idea is that we have visitors come to our place after dinner for a star gazing experience,” Ms Nadge said.

Her vision also includes to expand Outback Astronomy’s timetable further by opening up daytime tours for lunar or solar viewing, and informational lectures. 

“We found people are very interested in aspects of astronomy like photography or even how to use their telescope,” Ms Nadge said.

“People have that kind of request of us all the time.”

With the expansion in full swing, Ms Nadge said the focus is now on improved lighting for their existing “sky dome” and constructing a brand new open air observatory.

The observatory is currently in stage one of the planning process and will be built adjacent to the sky dome.

“It’s an observatory which will have a couple of powerful telescopes in it and a roll-off roof,” Ms Nadge said.

“Dome observatories only allow the telescope to peer out and you see through an eye piece what’s in the sky.

“Whereas with this observatory, you’ll still be standing under the dome of the sky but there will be wall enclosures that will be enhancing comfort from the elements.”

Outback Astronomy’s upcoming additions will not conflict with the heritage of the Old RFDS Headquarters as all developments will not involve the heritage building, according to Ms Nadge, who said they are more focused on being outdoors.

“Our work that we’re progressing here is about celebrating the heritage of the building rather than pulling it down,” she said.

“We’re reconfiguring and improving, not demolishing or reinventing.

“All of the developments we’re looking at compliment the gazing or the astronomy experience.”

As Outback Astronomy advances its facilities, Ms Nadge said she’s eager to provide educational support to locals through her tours.

That could lead people to take an interest in career pathways that lead to research and development opportunities in space sciences.

“In the future we do see a link between the tourism, future careers and pathways in astronomy or any science field,” Ms Nadge said.

“Local students for example may end up using this facility, we haven’t really had a lot of interaction with local schools.

“Mind you, we haven’t really gone and asked for any interaction either at this stage.”

Overall, Ms Nadge hopes these new developments will help place Broken Hill on the map for travellers who are curious about astronomy.

“What we’re looking at doing in the future is building up that experience and packing it to bring people to Broken Hill,” Ms Nadge said.

“I see it as being a big attractor for the whole region.”

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