Narrabri Visitors Centre
The Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA), at the Narrabri Observatory, is an array of six 22-m antennas used for radio astronomy. It is located about 25 km west of the town of Narrabri in rural NSW (about 500 km north-west of Sydney). It is operated by the Australia Telescope National Facility, a division of CSIRO.
Visiting the Observatory
Visits by the general public are always welcome!!
Associated with the Telescope is a Visitors Centre where you can view the telescope. There are also a number of displays, both internal and external plus an audiovisual presentation. The Visitors Centre is unmanned but open during normal business hours.
Admission is free. There is a barbeque area available for public use. The visitors centre is at the edge of a dry woodland environment. Kangaroos and galahs are plentiful. Occasionally emus, echidnas and (very occasionally) koalas can be seen.
Group tours can be organised by phoning the Visitors Centre on (02) 6790 4070.
For further information call (02) 6790 4070 or email the Narrabri Outreach staff. By ringing well in advance, we may be able to let you know times which would be best for a visit (e.g. when the Array is reconfigured, or in a more impressive configuration).
How to get there
When travelling from the town to the observatory, there are two paths to follow at first, depending on whether you are approaching from the town centre or from the southern outskirts of the town.
- When travelling from the south: You reach the outskirts of Narrabri (either from Coonabarabran or Gunnedah) at a large roundabout. Continue on towards the town proper crossing a railway track and then arriving at another large roundabout. Here you turn left (away from Narrabri) into Mooloobar Street and on your right hand side the Narrabri Lake will come into view. Keep travelling along Mooloobar Street until you come to a T-Intersection and turn right into Baranbar Street (following the Australia Telescope sign). Turn left at the next T-intersection into Goobar Street.
When travelling from the town centre: Leaving the town centre heading south towards Sydney or Coonabarabran, you cross the main river flow (Narrabri Creek) and then the old dry riverbed of the Namoi River. Shortly afterwards follow the signs to "Australia Telescope" turning right (Ugoa St), left around the Narrabri Lake (Walowa St), and then right again at the Wilga Hotel (Goobar St)
Continue along Goobar St - which changes into Yarrie Lake Rd - keep going west, past the large Cargill cottonseed oil factory on your left, crossing a railway track and the usually dry Bohena Ck. About 20km from town there is a sign directing you right to the "Australia Telescope". Follow this tarred road 2km, and you are there. The Observers' Lodge is the first building that you come to, on your left. Continue straight through a five-way intersection to go to the Visitors Centre. Turn left at the five-way intersection to go to the Control Building.
There are often kangaroos and sheep grazing on the site: please drive carefully, particularly approaching dawn and dusk. Headlights dazzle kangaroos (and other animals), but they tend to react less suicidally if you 'dip' the headlights when approaching them. During and after rain there are a series of causeways/floodways which can become quite deep. Please slow down and cross with care.
For more information, see the maps of the Narrabri district and of Narrabri township. A sketch shows the most important roads more clearly (also available in PDF). Also see the maps of the site and central area
Alternatively you may visit the main ATCA web site.