If you're a fan of astronomy, the movie 'The Dish', or both, our Parkes radio telescope in the central-west region of New South Wales is a must-see destination.

More than 90,000 people each year visit our Parkes radio telescope. © Mark James Photography/Parkes Shire Council

Located at Parkes Observatory, just off the main highway connecting Brisbane and Melbourne, and about 380 km from Sydney, the telescope is an icon of Australian science.

Marvel at the beauty of 'The Dish' in the viewing area

Parkes radio telescope was one of the first to be built as a big, movable dish. The moving part of the telescope weighs 1000 tonnes – as much as two Boeing 747s – but it is not fixed to the tower. Instead, the giant dish sits on top of the control tower with its own weight holding it down. From our dedicated viewing area you can watch as the dish moves, controlled by astronomers as they explore the Universe.

Explore the astronomy and space science exhibition

This modern exhibition takes you on a journey exploring the highlights of the telescope's rich history. Starting as an idea in the 1950s, see how the Parkes radio telescope has matured into a world-leading research facility. The exhibition will also have you pondering some of the big questions like 'How big is the Universe?' and 'What is the Universe made of?'. Entry to the exhibition is free.

Discover the Universe in the high-definition 3D theatre

Complete the AstroKids Scavenger Hunt and reveal the secret word to receive the official AstroKids stamp.

The 3D theatre shows a variety of short 3D films together and lasts for 30 minutes. Produced by Swinburne University's Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, these animated features offer a glimpse into the vast complexity of our Universe. The movies change regularly, so please contact the visitors centre for information on our latest shows. Entry to the 3D theatre is $7.50 for adults, $6.00 for students and concession-card holders, $25.00 for families (2 adults and 2 or more children); children under school age are free.

Challenge your kids with the AstroKids Scavenger Hunt

This fun activity takes you on a tour around the visitors centre looking for clues to solve a puzzle. Once you have unveiled the secret word you can then collect the official AstroKids stamp. The activity is suitable for students 7–14 years of age and takes about 30 minutes to complete. You can complete the Scavenger Hunt at any time for $4.95; pre-booked school groups receive a discounted rate.

Taste the delights of the region in the award-winning Dish Café

The Dish Café is open for breakfast and lunch every day. It also serves great coffee and hot scones, and catering is available for groups. For more information contact the Dish Café on +61 2 6862 1566.

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