World's Largest Virtual Solar System Drive

Location of planets

Visitors can choose to travel one or more of five drives as part of their Solar System experience. Starting points are at the dwarf planet Pluto, which is located at five sites:

  1. Dubbo
  2. 6km south of Birriwa (north of Gulgong)
  3. Merriwa
  4. Tamworth
  5. Bellata (south of Moree)

All drives lead to Siding Spring Observatory, 28 kilometres west of Coonabarabran where the 37-metre Anglo-Australian Observatory dome represents the Sun. The Solar System Drive is a daytime experience. Visitors are encouraged to stop at each planet in a safe manner, taking care when pulling off and back onto the roadway. It is important visitors note that Siding Spring Observatory is only open during the day, between 9.30am and 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm weekends and public holidays. Night-time experiences of the Solar System are on offer at various observatories located along the drive.

 

Note: Distances are in kilometres and are measured from Siding Spring Observatory. Distances and times are approximates only.

 

Drive 1 - Dubbo to Siding Spring Observatory

Pluto

Dubbo Visitor Centre, Newell Hwy

190

2.25 hours

Neptune

Gilgandra Cooee Heritage Centre, Newell Hwy

119

1.5 hours

Uranus

Tooraweenah Rest Area, Newell Hwy

79

70 mins

Saturn

Camkeena Rest Area, Newell Hwy

40

40 mins

Jupiter

Timor Road, west of Coonabarabran

21.5

20 mins

Mars

Timor Road, west of Coonabarabran

5.5

5 mins

Earth

Observatory Road, west of Coonabarabran

4.1

3 mins

Venus

Observatory Road, west of Coonabarabran

1.9

2 mins

Mercury

Observatory Road, west of Coonabarabran

1.2

1 min

The Sun

Siding Spring Observatory

0

0

 


 

Drive 2 - Gulgong to Siding Spring Observatory

Pluto

6km south of Birriwa, Castlereagh Hwy

157

2 hours

Neptune

OL Milling Park, Golden Hwy Dunedoo

132

1.5 hours

Uranus

New Mollyan, Mendooran Rd

70

1 hour

 


 

Drive 3 - Merriwa to Siding Spring Observatory

Pluto

Rotary Park, Golden Hwy Merriwa

205

2.5 hours

Neptune

Jorrock’s Park, Binnia Street, Coolah

118

1.5 hours

Uranus

Ulinda, Warrumbungles Way

74

1 hour

Saturn

Deringulla Bridge, Warrumbungles Way

41

40 mins

 


 

Drive 4 - Tamworth to Siding Spring Observatory

Pluto

Rest Area opposite Tamworth Airport

197

2.5 hours

Neptune

Gunnedah, Oxley Hwy, near Rural Museum

133

1.5 hours

Uranus

Oxley Hwy, Goolhi Rd turn-off

79

1 hour

Saturn

Oxley and Newell Hwy Rest Area

34

35 mins

 


 

Drive 5 - Moree to Siding Spring Observatory

Pluto

Sugar’s Park, Newell Hwy Bellata

193

2.5 hours

Neptune

Pilliga Rest Area 2, Newell Hwy, south of Narrabri

119

1.5 hours

Uranus

Yaminbah Rest Area, Newell Hwy

79

1 hour

Saturn

Oxley and Newell Hwy Rest Area

34

35 mins

 


 

Accredited Visitor information Centres are located at the following towns:

Coonabarabran

Merriwa

Dunedoo

Mudgee

Narrabri

Gulgong

Tamworth

Dubbo

Gunnedah

Gilgandra