Warrumbungle National Park

Hike to Grand High Tops in the Warrumbungle National Park (New South Wales, Australia) and you will be treated to countless breathtaking views, not the least of which is this shot of the Bread Knife, a thin slice of rock jutting out of the volcanic soil. It was a rigorous hike, but the sights were spectacular, and I started early enough in the morning that the flies were only horribly annoying instead of hellishly demonic. Now I understand what those hats are for.

I had spent the previous night parked in the middle of the reserve, lying on my back and observing the stars overhead. The mountains around the crater are home, for good reason, home to the Siding Spring Observatory and the Anglo-Australian telescope; lack of surrounding light pollution made this one of the most stunning stargazing experiences I have ever had. Even my cheap little camera was able to detect the various colors of the stars in the Southern Cross – Gamma and Epsilon Crucis are red and orange giants, respectively, while Alpha, Beta and Delta are blue or blue-white. I also had spectacular views of the Magellanic clouds, too faint to be captured, alas, but plainly visible to the naked eye. What a rush!

Enhanced time-exposure of the Southern Cross, with Beta Crucis in the lower-left corner.

As the sky lightened, I drove down to the park entrance, and was treated to some spectacular sunrise shots along the way:

The views along the way were just as impressive as those from the top:

The Bread Knife from below

Warrumbungle – back rim from Grand High Tops

Siding Spring Observatory (star) from Grand High Tops

Would love to come back here and spend more time exploring, but I’m so grateful for the chance to have seen this wonder with my own eyes.

The Old Wolf has spoken.