A Stargazing Trip To Hay

Bracing ourselves for a road trip with patchy phone reception, we stocked our car's glovebox full of second hand CDs instead of preparing for the plague of mosquitoes and flies brought on by the deluge of wet weather that had swept over south-western NSW before us.

 

Our destination was Hay: one of the flattest places in the world and found eight hours drive west from our little studio. The earnest spring rains however had intervened with our plans, flooding the roads a few days before. This caused us to spend more time on the road and stay in odd places that we hadn't intended. We finally pulled in to this small town, with the hip hop harmonics of the Jungle Brothers skipping each time we hit a pothole, and promptly added Hay to the odd list of our road trip.

Picking up supplies in the only open grocery store, we found the locals unsettled by the lush greenery brought by the rains and dramatically sharing recipes of tonics and elixirs to rid themselves of the flies and mosquitoes that had swarmed the town. The one we overheard involved a concoction of Listerine mouthwash, epson salts and stale beer. Puzzled by what you did after you had mixed it (gargle, spray it on you, light it?) we left the store and headed back to our campsite in a hustle to make dinner and make it to Hay's famed sunset viewing platform before the sun set.

Hay's tourism board boasts of their specially built sunset viewing area complete with sculptured reclining chairs and ottoman for optimum sky gazing comfort. We arrived at the platform, well fed but well after the sun had set and stepped into the black void of the outback after dark. With no other casual stargazers around and silence suspended amongst the damp air, the atmosphere took on an eerie ambiance. The only sound to break this vacuum was the whine of the mosquitoes who quickly surrounded us, delighted in a surprise evening buffet of two slightly jumpy tourists.

A breeze picked up and with it some of the lazier mosquitoes were swept away. We set up a minimal stargazing picnic and waited for the asteroid belt of the Milky Way to deepen as the night grew older. For such a reputed stargazing destination we were left underwhelmed as we had seen more stars just outside of Sydney. Concluding that the moon was making the stars shy that particular night, we bid adieu to the few determined mosquitoes still lurking in the air and agreed to return for sunrise. 

Sunrise broke a few minutes after we arrived back at the viewing platform swaddled in blankets against the crisp outback air. Finding the mosquitoes still asleep and to the twit-twits of early rising birds we watched the sun rise with perfect 360 degree views. After our attempts to capture the magnificence of the sunrise above the plains proved futile we gave up and instead enjoyed watching this new clean day, only a few moments old, begin before us.