Where we stay…..

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When I’ve been back to Australia on my own I’ve split my accommodation between my kids – sharing the spare room with the snakes at my elder son’s place and taking up the couch at my other son & daughter’s place.
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When the manservant’s work schedule coincides with my trip we get to sleep in accommodation associated with the observatory.    The Australian Astronomical Observatory headquarters is on the grounds of the CSIRO Radiophysics Laboratory-  the Australia Telescope National Facility – which runs the lodge on the grounds.
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The room is cleaned prior to arrival;  you get clean towels every second day and clean sheets once a week.   Practical, not salubrious, it is set amongst gum trees in which incredibly noisy kookaburras and cockatoos perch to act as alarm clocks at the first hint of dawn.  No damn snooze button.      ..
This is approaching the compound – about 25kms (15.5 miles)  from the city of Sydney.  I took this through the windscreen as I was driving into a roundabout – yes, I know that’s not the safest thing to do!    
The entrance …   the first gate is always open; the second gate is controlled with an access card after business hours …
 That’s our little rental car on the left  –  gum trees have a habit of shedding boughs so I made sure to move the rental on the windy days.  This carpark is full of worker’s cars during the day but very empty at night and weekends  – not many of the lodge guests arrive in cars..
That’s why the lodge supplies  bikes: 
 Our room was the one on the right with the door open   –  in there are 2 single beds, a small wardrobe, a desk and a visitor’s chair.  I put my clothes in the wardrobe; the manservant put his on the chair.  The smaller high window is the bathroom which is really, really small – right next door to the neighbouring room’s bathroom and contained with a very thin wall.    At the far left is the laundry room.
 That wooden walkway is super hollow!    It sits about 3 feet over empty space and any footstep sounds like a drum beat.
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No room service – just a shared kitchen  – each room is allocated a couple of shelves in a fridge.   At the left end is the lounge/TV room (no telly in the rooms!).
At night you need a security access card to get into the compound.  It can feel  a little intimidating arriving at the gate after a night out.   I always half expect a zombie to step into the headlight glow or a vampire to fly in just as I get my arm out the window with the  access card….   
 No water view – but there are a couple of pretty cool radio telescopes on the grounds.  
It’s basic but it’s more than adequate;  it’s ideally located for visiting family & friends and the manservant can walk to work!
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46 responses

    • The most annoying thing about sleeping in a room with snakes was that the light was on in their terrarium all night. The head of the bed is only about 2′ from the terrarium so lying on the pillow means one is *really* close and you could just lie there looking at each other! I had to hang a towel over the front glass so that I could sleep.

  1. Oh, WOW!! that’s so incredibly cool!! Being around the telescopes, etc! The area looks lovely (in spite of falling tree limbs and noisy wildlife).

    Some really beautiful and fascinating pix!

    Trying not to giggle about the hollow walkway…must sound like an army approaching. every time a few people walk on it!

    • It really is quite lovely and once inside the compound it’s hard to believe there is a major 6 lane road 2 blocks away. All the rooms were booked when we were there and I was very considerate walking on that walkway – not so anyone else! But then I did put our washing on about 7am a couple of mornings which probably annoyed the residents of at least 2 rooms!

  2. Neato! I’ve been surrounded by lovely eucalyptus trees all my life in southern California. They were imported by short-sighted railroad barons to grow here to provide railroad ties. All too familiar with the enormous limbs they shed during storms.

    • They are beautiful trees but it’s amazing how easily they drop their limbs. My ex-husband built a lot of raised garden beds out of eucalyptus railway sleepers! There are about 700 species of eucalyptus and it’s now the most planted species in plantations around the world.

    • The closest I got to school camp was a high school trip to Sydney where we stayed at the YWCA – it was pretty awful; the building was old and smelt of mildew; there were three or four girls to a room with communal bathrooms down the hall. There was an early curfew and we were locked in at night!

    • It took quite a bit of convincing from my son that the snakes could not get out of the terrarium before I felt okay about sleeping in the room. I don’t think I slept very well the first few nights though as subconsciously I did not believe my son! LOL.

    • LOL – so true. I got a ride home from work today and I said to my colleague that because I rarely drive here I always get in on the correct side no matter which country I’m in – a passenger here; a driver there.

  3. As long as it’s not TOO HOT, I’d be more than pleased with such accommodations. Unfortunately, between lupus and asthma, if it’s hot and humid, I die. Really. Having ones own toilet is nice! Being American, I’m all about en suite. Sure, I grew up where “toilet” means a walk outside down to the outhouse but that doesn’t mean I like it. 🙂

    I’ve always wanted to visit an observatory. Did you get to see cool stuff indoors?

    • Yeah these little tin huts are *really* hot! They do have air conditioning units in each room which is just as well because you couldn’t sleep in there without one. I often tell people about growing up with outside toilets – not only were they outdoors but they used to move every week or so!

      The inside mechanisms of a telescope are really, really cool. I’m lucky to have seen a few and been in areas where the general public does not get to go.

  4. Sounds wonderful, waking to the sounds of nature calling, screeching and flapping of wings. the accommodation while on the spartan side does seem to have all the basics including the laundry room. The telescopes would have me swooning.

    • The laundry room is a great asset – actually all observatories the manservant has ever stayed in have laundries. It used to be a joke that he went off with dirty clothes and came home with clean ones!

  5. I suppose the lodge isn’t open to the public? It sounds like a nice getaway, though I know squawking birds are not funny at the crack of dawn. (One of our neighbors had a rooster, which was nowhere as exotic as a cockatoo or kookaburra but could be heard all around the block.) I also would have enjoyed taking a bicycle out for a spin around the grounds. Were there places to go out there? A cafe or pub? Or was this truly out in the middle of nowhere?

    • No, the lodge is only open to those working at either observatory. It is always a really interesting mix of nationalities and ages. This compound is in the suburbs of Sydney so there are places around it – what I would call walking distance although we had a car and I didn’t actually walk anywhere. The manservant walked to/from the railway station a couple of times and that was 3kms (1.8miles) away (I know because I drove him one morning and measured it so that I wouldn’t feel really bad when I didn’t take him or pick him up – I consider that distance to be very walkable 🙂 ). Macquarie University is an even closer walk and there are a couple of restaurants and a very nice cafe with home-made pastries in the other direction.

    • LOL – it’s funny you mention the earplugs!! I forgot they actually supplied them – there were many packets in the desk drawer and they were mentioned in the notes about the facilities and what’s offered to guests.

      Our weekend is going to be wet and cold so I’m thinking Australian spring looks very attractive now!

  6. I’d never heard of this facility before….interesting story and the pictures are great. Sorry about the squarking cockies……we have similar problems….what was God thinking when She designed their voiceboxes!

  7. It all looks very nice and just perfect for a business stay! I would love to hear some squarking cockies…..but probably only for a limited time! I have my chooks crowing in the backyard at all hours of the day.

    • I love that I have people using “chooks” ….. The screech of a Cockatoo is really piercing and when that’s multiplied by a few of them it’s like a radio gone onto some bizarre really annoying frequency.

  8. That is really cool Emjay. While most of us end up staying at a Holiday Inn or something you got to stay at a really interesting place. Thanks for sharing the pics. I don’t think I have ever seen a gum tree either.

    • I’ve been lucky to stay in lodges associated with telescopes in countryside Australia and Hawaii as well as this one on the outskirts of Sydney. They are all really interesting (Hawaii was the nicest but probably also the newest) – one day I hope to go to Chile with the manservant and stay in the lodge in the Andes – that would be super cool!

    • I think we’re conditioned to call them just “gums” because of a silly song we hear everywhere –
      Give me a home among the gumtrees
      With lots of plum trees
      A sheep or two, a k-kangaroo
      A clothesline out the back
      Verandah out the front
      And an old rocking chair
      (http://www.malleeboy.com/music/home_among_the_gumtrees.html)

      Last week a jogger was killed running through a park here – a branch fell off a tree just as she ran past – I don’t think it was a gum though but it was bloody bad timing – it wasn’t even a windy day!

      • That was some bloody bad timing! There was a joke email going around in 1998 after Sonny (of Sonny and Cher) got killed running into a tree whilst skiing, and there was another celebrity who died similarly recently before or after that: “This is the trees. Stop cutting us down or we will kill more celebrities.”

  9. You have such interesting things to share! Although I had to giggle imagining you and the manservant co-mingling on your single beds. Or perhaps you simply waved to each other from across the room. (Have a mentioned that I LUV your blogs??) 😉

    • LOL and thank you Denise! I must say they were *small* single beds too. I’m 5’8″ and my feet were hanging over the bottom – the manservant is 6’3″ and had a tough time getting comfy. He got up and lay on the couch in the common room a few nights.

  10. How fun, Emjay! How adventurous of you, and I always see travel as an adventure. (I have to with the shit treatment airlines give people these days) I would love the kookaburras and cockatoos in the morning! Is your rental a Prius? We rented a white Prius our recent holiday.

    • The rental was a Holden – it was nice to look at and fairly comfy but it didn’t have much “oomph” . It needed a bit of a run-up for the hills going up the freeway and I only got in the fast lane to overtake anyone on flat or downhill stretches. I love our trips away – you can make an adventure of anything – even the suburbs! 🙂

  11. Quite the adventure. I’ve always said…if there is some way for me to shave my legs, I’ll travel anywhere. 😉 We’ve had four friends visit Sydney in the past year and they all loved it. Lucky you. 🙂

    • LOL @ traveling where you can shave your legs! My minimum requirement is being able to wash my hair in warm water – guess that makes me a bit high maintenance 🙂 I hope your friends got out of Sydney and saw a bit of the country – there is so much to see and it’s all terrific.

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