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5 star-gazing weekend getaways from Sydney that your family will just love

Make the most of your family time by exploring these unconventional but friendly destinations

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Australia is an amazing place for some serious star gazing not only because there are 100 times more stars visible in the south sky than in the north as you can look at the heart of milky way from here but also because it doesn't take long to get away from the light pollution caused by major cities.

An astro-weekend with family can be real fun. The dark skies around Sydney offer great views to get the child within you off to a celestial treasure hunt. Here are the top picks around Sydney where you can spend 2-3 days creating memories that will last the lifetime:

1. Coona

Alan Dyer / Via amazingsky.net

Coonabarabran, also known as Coona, is considered to be the best place for naked-eye star-gazing in Australia. Located 350 kms from the Sydney, it has a bunch of nice vacation rentals to experience the country life first hand. Warrumbungle national park, recently acknowledged as first Australian Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association (yes, there is one) is an absolute delight for the eyes. In addition to hosting the world famous Siding Sprint Observatory (27 kms), city is also home to the new Milroy observatory (10 kms, open for public) and bunch of other private observatories which host affordable, family friendly night shows.

The 'World's Largest Virtual Solar System Drive' is a day time experience and incorporates five driving routes with 3D planet models on billboards at Visitor Information Centres and on roadsides.

2. Parkes

Ashley Diterlizzi / Via aroundyou.com.au

Parkes, located around 350 kms from Sydney is home to the CSIRO telescope also known as 'The Dish'. It was used during Neil Armstrong's moon landing (remember the movie: The Dish?). The north-west part of the city is ideal for some very cool Astro-photographs. If you time your visit well, you can enjoy the annual Parkes Elvis Festival, which attracts hundreds of Elvis impersonators for this fun celebration in January.

3. Mudgee

Murray Parkinson / Via youtube.com

Mudgee is located just 250 kms from Sydney and is a delight for witnessing the heavens. The place has plenty of good home stays and is excellent venue for wine tours and playing with friendly Joeys in the backyards. Mudgee observatory, located 15 kms from the city, is as isolated and dark from the city lights as it can get. John, the astronomer, is quite knowledgeable and goes out of the way to entertain the visitors.

4. Dubbo

Ashley Diterlizzi / Via aroundyou.com.au

Dubbo, located 350 kms from Sydney, is further out after Mudgee. Dubbo observatory offers a brilliant view of night sky with five power telescopes along with a 90 minute show of live images. It is one of the best places to pamper the budding astro-photographer in you. You can try your hands on mini-golf and take your kids to check out the animals at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

5. Blue Mountains

Ashley Diterlizzi / Via aroundyou.com.au

If you are short on time but high on passion for the cosmos, Blue Mountains is the place to go. Besides being the closest spot to Sydney for naked-eye star-gazing with amazing views of milky way on offer, it is also known for its uniquely majestic scenery, for its cultural attractions, and for its relatively tranquil, alternative mode of life. Linden observatory, built by famous Australian telescope manufacturer Ken Beames in the 1940s, is an excellent place for an educational tour.

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