Visitors Guide to the Narrabri Observatory
The Narrabri Observatory is part of the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF), which is operated by the CSIRO; the Site Leader is Peter Mirtschin. The site contains the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA), which consists of five moveable antennas on a 3-km east-west railtrack with a 200m north-south spur, and a 6th antenna 3 km further to the west. The site used to be the home of the CSIRO's solar radioheliograph. The central area of the observatory contains a control building with offices, a library, laboratories, workshops, and The Lodge for visitors and local staff.
The Observatory is situated 24 km west of the town of Narrabri, which is approximately 540 km north-west of Sydney. Narrabri has a population of about 7,250 and is the centre of a large irrigation and dry-land farming district which produces cotton, oilseed, premium grade wheat, grain sorghum, and raises cattle and sheep. Some of the surrounding tourist attractions are described at the end of this guide.
The telescope is at latitude -30.31498, longitude +149.56394 (east of Greenwich) and is 240m above sea level. The environment is modestly dry. Temperatures are typically above 30oC on summer afternoons (e.g. January,February), and are close to 0oC on winter mornings (e.g. June, July).
How to get to the Narrabri Observatory
Narrabri is at the intersection of the Newell and Kamilaroi Highways making driving from eastern seaboard cities straight forward. Narrabri can be reached by rail from Sydney. Currently there is no direct air service.
Always let the Observatory personnel know your travel plans so accommodation arrangements can be made for you. Please use the ATNF Reservation Form to do this.
Please also let the staff know if your travel plans change.
Going by air:
UPDATE - From Wednesday 13th September 2017, Fly Corporate is offering a week day service from Sydney to Narrabri. Fly Corporate will also offer a week day service from Brisbane to Narrabri direct. See Fly Corprate News for details.
Going by rail:
There is a daily train service between Sydney and Narrabri. The train departs Sydney in the morning and arrives in Narrabri late afternoon. The return journey departs Narrabri in the morning and arrives in Sydney late afternoon.
See the CountryLink Web pages for current information and timetables on rail travel between Sydney and Narrabri. Reservations are required, and the train is often full.
Going by car:
The 565-km drive from Sydney takes approximately 7.5 hours. You have a choice of two routes: North via the Pacific Motorway/Hunter Expressway (Hunter Valley wine country), or west over the Blue Mountains (very scenic). You can obtain an idea of these routes by consulting OpenStreetMap or Google Maps
- Standard Lodge Room (single person including all meals): $95.50, per day - Student Price $60.25
- Lunch : $10.00, per person - Student Price $10.00
- Dinner : $15.00, per person - Student Price $15.00
- 1 Bedroom Self Contained Flat (minimum 3 night stay, no meals included): $75.00, per night - Student Price $37.50
Accommodation & meals
On site accommodation is available for observers wishing to visit the site and those with observatory business. The lodge has 4 single rooms, a double room, male & female bathrooms, a lounge room and a dining room. Although the rooms in the Lodge do not have private bathroom facilities, they are all equipped with hand basins.
To arrange a booking at the lodge, (or any reservation of ATNF accommodation, travel or computing needs) please fill in the ATNF Reservation Form
The cost of accommodation at the Narrabri Lodge effective from 1st July 2016 is:
Children under 12 are given a 50% discount on meals
All of the above prices include GST.
The Flat is self contained.
On arrival at the Lodge, you will find your room allocation listed on a board located on the dining room/kitchen door. Further information about the site will be found in the bedrooms.
Lodge staff provide meals for visitors. Some meals (e.g. in the evenings), will be prepared and left in the lodge refrigerator; these can be re-heated in the convection oven at your own convenience. Tea and coffee is available at the lodge and on the first floor of the Control Building. If you let the lodge staff know what your plans are, you will not starve! If you have any special needs (e.g. special diet), please indicate this when you book your accommodation.
Lollies, chips, and soft drinks can be purchased at the Lodge. The Lodge includes a TV/video room and laundry facilities.
For those not requiring to stay at the observatory, there is plenty of other accommodation in Narrabri township.
Mobile phones are not to be used on site (unless in flight mode). Please speak to admin staff if you need to make outside calls or for appropriate phone numbers if you wish to be contacted by external people while visiting.
The observatory is a safe place. However we ask that you familiarise yourself with information aimed at further safeguarding your well-being. Please complete the general safety information for visitors induction.
Observing with the ATCA
Please see the information for observers.
An on-call person is rostered on at all times. Please familiarise yourself with who to contact should you require after hours support whilst on site.
A computer account is needed to use these observatory computers. It will have the same password as an Epping account. See local staff if you are not sure about this. Please place your temporary files in an appropriately identified sub-directory or folder. Remember to remove your files and directories before leaving.
Backing up your copy of the observing data and any data processing is your own responsibility (see the Duty Astronomer if you are unsure about how to proceed with this) All data is automatically archived, and deleting observing files must only be done by, or with the authority of, the Narrabri operations staff.
A collection of web pages is devoted to describing the computing facilities.
The observatory has a modest-sized paper library, as well as electronic subscriptions to professional astronomical journals.
To provide feedback on the operation of the observatory, please complete an observer's questionnaire at the end of your observing run. It is available on-line.
The observatory has ping-pong and pool tables, as well as bicycles that can be used for cycling around the observatory grounds. However please do not cycle onto the neighbours property. The site includes an unstaffed visitors centre.
For non-astronomical diversions in the region, please see our general pages for the public.
This site is also known as the Paul Wild Observatory or (occasionally) Culgoora.
Please address all communication to:
Australia Telescope National Facility, CSIRO
1828 Yarrie Lake Rd
Narrabri NSW 2390
Telephone: (02) 6790 4000 (International 61 2 6790 4000)
Facsimile: (02) 6790 4090
Original: Penny Nelson (1990)
Modified: Brett Lennon ( 19-Jul-2017)