Have you ever heard of New South Wales’ only dark sky park? If not, here’s an account of our trip.

About six hours’ drive north-west of south-west Sydney is a small country town called Coonabarabran.

From there it’s a short drive to the Warrumbungle National Park which is, in my opinion, an even better experience than the chicken schnitzel we ate on Friday night in town. I’ll tell you about that later.

Back to our trip.

The drive up was a long day in the car.

We left at 8am and arrived just after 6pm. although we did stop at a few places along the way — Leura for a visit to the Leura Cascades and then Katoomba.

Then we headed to the HillEnd historic site.

I challenged myself and decided to shoot film along with shooting digital images on the trip. It was fun spending time in the cascades working out my exposures with a light meter.

The walk down along the cascades is not too difficult. There are steps along the path and there are even some boardwalk sections.

I can’t forget the bridge crossings over the creek. You’re rewarded with an amazing view of the Jamison Valley at the end of it.

Simon Bennett

I can’t forget the bridge crossings over the creek. You’re rewarded with an amazing view of the JamisonValley at the end of it.

Back in the car then off to Hill End.

Before leaving we did a happy lap around the town, looking at all the old homes and shops. Historic villages definitely need to be seen.

It was hot and we needed directions so we stopped by the heritage centre which is impressive. There were old ruins under a glass floor and multimedia projections which told us the history of the town.

We went to the café for directions and a cool drink and i got a tasty pink lamington — well, it was Australia Day not so long ago.

We did a short walk where all the water from the mines had left a gully. Landing your eyes upon the arch will leave you awestruck.

Simon Bennett

The woman thought we were there for a rave but we just wanted to check out the arch in GoldenGully.

Then we did a short walk through where all the water which once came from the mines had left a gully from all the sediment. Landing your eyes upon the arch will leave you awestruck.

The walk through the Golden Gully was a short one, just enough to stretch the legs then back into the car toward Mudgee and onto Coonabarabran.

From Hill End it took a few more hours.

The road in and out of Hill End is one of those that needs strong attention the whole way. Not that I’m saying driving doesn’t need that anyway but I think you might understand what I mean.

You have to love the landscape of country NSW — small towns, gum trees, motels, country pubs and cacti in the motel grounds. An interesting juxtaposition against everything.

Simon Bennett

Fast-forward to arriving at Coonabarabran.

You have to love the landscape that country NSW provides — small towns, gum trees, motels, country pubs and cacti in the motel grounds. For me, it all provided an interesting juxtaposition against everything.

Out of the couple of pubs in town, we chose the Imperial Hotel. It had cold beer and cider plus great food.

Now let me tell you about that schnitzel! There’s no fancy quinoa-crust on the schnitzel, it was just an everyday chicken schnitzel done right — with chips and gravy. Just what you need after a long drive.

We stocked up with some supplies at the local supermarket and then headed back to the motel, refreshed, invigorated and, as I said, somewhat awestruck.

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