Timor Cottage R.I.P.

Magellanic Clouds in Moonlight

Word has reached me that my favourite observing site in the world is gone.

Over the weekend, devastating bush fires swept through Warrumbungles National Park and surrounding areas near Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia. Several dozen homes were lost. Some were homes of friends I’ve made there in my many visits to the area in the last 12 years. Among the buildings burned and lost, Timor Cottage, the rental cottage where I stayed in 2010 and in 2012. Previous posts have extolled the virtues of this site. I’m told it is now ashes. Ironically, just last week I confirmed my booking for it, for a stay in early 2014.

Fortunately, all residents were evacuated safely. No one lost a life, just property.

The nearby Siding Spring Observatory managed to survive the fires largely intact, due in no small part to the fire suppression safeguards implemented in the last 10 years since the fires of January 18, 2003 that destroyed Australia’s other major optical astronomy site, the Mt. Stromlo Observatory. Some lessons were learned. However, they did not help the people living near by, many of whom were Observatory employees. It was, and is, a wonderful astronomy community along Timor Road. I wish them the best in their efforts to rebuild their homes and their lives.

It is life in unforgiving Australia — one month paradise, the next hell on Earth.

– Alan, January 14, 2013 / © 2012 Alan Dyer

5 Replies to “Timor Cottage R.I.P.”

  1. Timor Cottage was one of my all-time favorite observing sites, too! I was there in late August and September of 2005 and 2006. Wonderful place, wonderful nights under the southern sky. One year after the fires, I hope that the recovery and rebuilding efforts are going as well as possible for everyone in the Coonabarabran area. I don’t know if Timor will ever rise from the ashes, but I hope so! Whether or not it does, I’ll always have fond memories of one of the world’s truly great observing sites, as well as beautiful mountains, a nice town, and friendly people!

    1. Yes, me too. I was at Stromlo in December 2002 a month before the fires, and on a post-eclipse tour of the country, as I was at Coona & Siding Spring in December 2012. But please don’t implicate me!

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