(Pic: Balancing Rock in Chillago National Park. Image c/-FranSo Photography: http://www.franso.hk/photo?type=Starscape)
Growing up in the city, I’ve never really had the opportunity to look up into the night sky and admire our stunning Milky Way in all its glory.
Sure, there were times where I made a trip to the Sydney Observatory and looked upon some amazing planets and stars through the ancient telescope. And I probably did get a glimpse of it at one time when I was a little kid, back in the days of camping and what not – but as a kid you don’t truly appreciated such wonders.
So, when my partner and I heard there was a small observatory in the middle of a small desert town of Queensland, where you could look up in awe at the night sky littered with millions of stars. We had to go.
If you have never heard of Chillago, it’s a small desert town around 3 hours west of Cairns in Far Northern Queensland. It’s a dusty little town, with a population of around 192 people.
Back in the day, Chillago was a thriving mining town, which boasted a wide range of minerals from zinc to iron. And it’s been said by leading Geologists, that Chillago has one of the most diverse geology in the world.
Although there isn’t a huge amount of activities available in Chillago, they do host a most spectacular event every night at their mini star gazing observatory. And I’m not exaggerating when I say mini! The observatory was so tiny, most of us had to wait outside until it was out turn to climb the small staircase of 6 or so steps to peer through the telescope lens.
But, boy was it a treat and so worth the wait outside in the balmy desert heat.
Even without the use of the telescope, the night sky delivered on what was the most spectacular sight; the Milky Way. It’s exactly how everyone describes it. A perfect line of millions and millions of shiny dots streaked across a velvety black sky. I’ve never seen so many stars, glittering in all their splendour.
It’s definitely an experience I will never forget and one I would recommend to anyone.
The observatory is part of the Chillago Observatory and Eco Lodge. When you book your accommodation, spend the extra $25 pp for the late night observatory experience. and if you’re looking for other activities to do there, just out of town is the Chillago-Mungana Caves National Park, which contains anywhere between 600 and 1,000 stunning limestone caves to explore.
Most of the caves are open to the public to tour on your own. However, you do need to report yourself to the rangers station for some specific caves that go very deep into the ground. This is to ensure the Rangers can keep track of which cave you went into, in case you go missing. It makes it easier for the search party to come find you, if you never return.