Manly Camera Club excursion – Parkes 26-28 September 2022

Eleven members and two partners made the trip to Parkes in six vehicles. Peita & Mark made an early start arriving late Friday 23 Sept. Carmen & Alison arrived Sunday as did Trevor and Amanda, with the rest of us arriving Monday.
Shooting the Milky Way in a country black sky was our key objective!
Friday to Sunday – Peita and Mark
Having decided on leaving earlier to keep ahead of any school holiday traffic we arrived in Parkes mid afternoon Friday. Being a forward party we took our scouting to heart and headed straight to the lookout over Parkes for sunset, then over the weekend to the Dish and the HARS aircraft museum, the old gold mine, checked out eating and coffee options (not many), did some general meandering around the countryside in search of subjects, lots of old cars and canola fields, and also went to visit Gum Swamp and Forbes. We were very lucky to find the old ute in the field and even luckier with the crystal-clear skies on the first couple of nights. We managed to get a few wonderful shots. I think our best find was the Henry Parkes Museum and, thanks to Mark, negotiating the night visit there. It was a fascinating place full of interesting old ‘everything’ and we all had great fun there experimenting with lighting.

Monday 26
An early departure from Sydney around 7.30am; with warnings to beware potholed roads we set out early for the 5 hour trip. David & Vic going via Gum Swamp near Forbes to check out a dawn shoot for Tuesday, before meeting up with everyone else at the motel at 2.00pm, while Val, Anna & Simone and Lyn & Margo headed directly to Parkes.
With brief stops for a coffee and to photograph the Canola paddocks we eventually convened about 2.30 and agreed to scout the area for a Milky Way shoot that evening and well as check out the “Dish”.

Conditions were a high cloud cover and glary conditions, so not optimal for photography. Peita & Mark had identified a spot (the Vauxhall Ute) they had used for Milky way shots over the weekend just outside the north end of town which we all checked out.

With the weather looking ominous we adjourned for an early dinner at The Royal Hotel. With drizzly rain setting in we opted for Plan B; a night shoot at the Parkes Historical Museum. A dozen people trying out light painting of old tractors and trucks in close proximity made for an interesting evening watched by a couple of bemused volunteers from the Museum.

Then it was time for an early night in anticipation of a dawn shoot at Gum Swamp.
Tuesday 27
We set out at about 5.00am in drizzling rain and playing dodgem with the potholes, but David found one especially jarring hole as we neared Forbes but at least the rain had started to dissipate.
A couple of hours at Gum Swamp passed quickly with bird life surprisingly scarce we nevertheless enjoyed the peace and quiet of the hides and trails around the swamp.

Breakfast at Isobel’s Place in Forbes was enjoyed by everybody and some stayed on after to photograph the civic buildings. We then spent the rest of the day scouting for a sunset shot or returning to the Historical museum.

The sunset gave us a brief blaze of colour and the clouds rolled in again.

The Royal surprised everyone by being fully booked for dinner so we opted for the only hotel option, the Commercial’s front bar and shared it with the regulars. That was an experience, better for some than others. Then it was off to see whether hope had overcome misfortune, but a Milky Way shoot was not to be. We opted instead for a few quiet drinks using Peita and Mark’s stash of red wine. (We never travel anywhere without wine).

Breakfast after sleep-in at Belle, local café and departed for home about 9.30.
More Canola fields for some while David and Vic decided to find and photograph the old stone railway viaduct in Lithgow. Located adjacent to a holiday park we later discovered that the park owner guards the access jealously with all the zeal of one trained in the art of hospitality by Basil Faulty!

A very late lunch of a sandwich and cup of tea in Lithgow, then it was homeward bound being chased by more rain!