Parkes - 33° 08' 27" S 148° 10' 17" E

Since watching the movie 'The Dish", Sean has wanted to visit so with some time on our hands and the use of Craig's fully tricked-out Hilux, we headed west almost 400km to Parkes.

The Dish is more correctly known as CSIRO's (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) Parkes radio telescope. It is a 64m diameter parabolic dish used for radio astronomy. Basically it detects radio waves from objects in space and with some rather clever processing, turns these into images of the objects.

CSIRO"S Parkes radio telescope
At times, it is also contracted to NASA and ESA to receive signals from their space craft - Mariner II, IV, Apollo 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, Voyager II, Galileo, Giotto, Huygens...  It was the 1969 Apollo 11 mission with Parkes the prime receiving station, that is the subject of the movie. Although it did deviate from reality just a wee little bit.

It moved to its 'stowed' position when we were there as the winds
 were forecast to exceed its maximum operating winds speed
 of 35km/hr.  Watching it move was very cool!
Parkes is a working telescope, actually it is one of the world's leading radio telescopes, and tours started to interfere with the research.  Therefore tourists are no longer able to tour the actual dish but are compensated with an excellent visitors centre. This includes the sets from the movie which are deemed extraordinarily accurate.

The Dish has been significantly upgraded since it was built in 1961.  The basic structure had remained unchanged but it is now 10,000 times more sensitive than when it built.

Even the strongest signal from the cosmos can be very faint.
Mobile phones and even the microwave in the lunchroom can
cause nuisance when used during observations!

And a bit about the CSIRO - Australia's national science research agency.  Their website state we solve the greatest challenges using innovative science and technology. At the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), we shape the future.  We do this by using science to solve real issues to unlock a better future for our community, our economy, our planet. 

A few of the cool things the CSIRO have invented are:
  • WiFi
  • Plastic bank notes
  • Extended wear contact lenses
  • Aerogard

The gardens contain a variety of fabulous interpretive displays
and a direct descendant of Isaac Newton's famous apple tree!


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